It's fair to say that 2017 was a great year for AJ Styles, as he put on several incredible matches and earned many title reigns. The Phenomenal One has already started 2018 just as strong as on the first day of the year, he added his name to the WWE record books once more.
Styles started off 2017 as WWE Champion after winning the title from Dean Ambrose at Backlash in 2016. He defended the title against John Cena at the Royal Rumble. Although he lost the title on the night, the bout has been considered by many as one of the best matches of 2017 in the WWE.
The Phenomenal One then went on to feud with Shane McMahon, which culminated with a match between the two at WrestleMania 33. He then turned his focus to Kevin Owens and the United States Championship. After exchanging the title several times with Owens, Styles finally retained the United States title at SummerSlam in a match that was officiated by Shane.
In a triple threat match at Hell in a Cell, Styles lost the United States title to Baron Corbin, who pinned Tye Dillinger to win the match. He then started a rivalry with WWE Champion Jinder Mahal, who he defeated for the title on the November 7 episode of SmackDown Live in Manchester, England, the first person to win the WWE title outside of North America.
With the win, The Phenomenal One would replace The Modern Day Maharaja in the champion vs. champion match against Universal Champion Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series, a match which he would go on to lose. Styles then defeated Mahal at Clash of Champions to retain the title, ending 2017 as WWE Champion.
By ending the year with the WWE title, Styles became one of just six men in WWE history to start and end a calendar year holding the WWE Championship, according to Fightful. He joins the likes of Bruno Sammartino, Bob Backlund, Hulk Hogan, John Cena, and CM Punk as the only superstars to have achieved this monumental accomplishment in WWE history.
Sammartino started and ended the year as WWE Champion an incredible ten times in his WWE career (1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1974, 1975 and 1976), with Backlund doing it four times, and Hulk Hogan also managing it three times.
Cena has managed to achieve this accomplishment once in 2006, while Punk was the most recent WWE superstar to manage the goal back in 2012. Now The Phenomenal One adds his name to this list.
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