Few would have thought 2016 would be the year the WWE signs arguably the best wrestler on the planet, AJ Styles.
Even fewer would have thought AJ Styles would go on to defeat John Cena clean in the middle of the ring at SummerSlam.
And if you said that before the end of 2016, AJ Styles would be the WWE Champion, people would have probably been laughing at you.
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But that’s exactly what’s happened this year. Nobody has had a rise to the top as quickly as Styles has, debuting at the Royal Rumble in what was one of the biggest shocks ever.
Then facing Chris Jericho at WrestleMania and a few months down the line, he beat Cena and then Dean Ambrose to capture the WWE title.
He obviously has the talent to do that and so much more, but in previous years fans have been heavily critical of the WWE’s treatment of independent talent, that they’re not pushed as much as they should be.
Obviously, that notion has now changed with Styles and Kevin Owens as the major champions, and many more former independent or rival stars are dominating on NXT.
Regardless of how talented Styles is, his success has come as a surprise. Not only to fans, but Jim Ross as well.
Speaking to TSN Canada, JR admitted he’s surprised by the response The Phenomenal One has had in the WWE.
He said: “I’m a little bit surprised because I didn’t know how the general WWE audience would receive AJ, those who weren’t overly familiar with his work.
“There are some folks who only watch WWE. They don’t watch New Japan or TNA or what have you, so I was a little surprised that the audience embraced him so quickly. You saw that immediately upon his entrance at the Royal Rumble.
“I believe he’s the best in-ring talent currently wrestling.”
It’s certainly high praise, but that sort of endorsement from a legend like JR can only mean good things for Styles.
Maybe Vince McMahon will be kicking himself for not trying to bring him in earlier on in his career.
But with the work he’s doing right now, along with the merchandise he’s selling, he probably has a huge smile on his face that Styles is doing big things for his company.
What do you make of AJ Styles' rise to the top of the WWE? Have YOUR say in the comments section below.