On the 4th April edition of Monday Night RAW, AJ Styles defeated three other men to become the number one contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
Ignoring the fact that Triple H’s rematch clause seems to have disappeared, this was a great moment and an epic match with a great ending that saw fan favourite Styles pick up arguably his biggest win yet.
With Styles' veteran experience and immense popularity going up against perhaps the most hated champion in recent years in Roman Reigns, you might think it would be a simple choice to put the belt on the newcomer.
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However, how much of a chance does the Phenomenal One have against Reigns when the two eventually square off?
WWE has a long and terrible history of mistreating stars of other companies when they finally arrive. From guys like Dallas Page, Goldberg and Perry Saturn following the dissolution of WCW to Sting in more recent history, WWE hasn’t treated outside talent all that well in the past.
Sure there have been some examples of outsiders getting pushed. Ric Flair, Booker T and Rob Van Dam to name just a few, but even these guys never reached their full potential in WWE due to poor booking. You could even argue that AJ Styles has been a victim of this himself, losing to Chris Jericho in his WrestleMania debut.
Styles has been around the block when it comes to promotions, appearing prominently in the NWA, TNA, NJPW and even (albeit briefly) the aforementioned WCW. Vince McMahon seems to have it in his head that the “other guys” cannot be better than his guys, that his personal creations must always overcome the creations of others in a vain attempt to protect his own ego.
With Styles having such a varied background before arriving in WWE, you have to wonder whether he’ll befall the same fate that Vince’s ego has inflicted on so many others.
There is some hope for Styles, however, thanks largely to the creation and establishment of NXT.
WWE have received a massive influx of indie stars over the past few years, with big names like Kevin Steen, El Generico, Prince Devitt and countless others making their way to WWE and being hugely successful outside of the WWE.
However, isn’t it a little coincidental that all three of these examples have changed their names since arriving in WWE? Again, that’s probably down to ego; somebody else has created something, so I’m going to take it, put my spin on it and then make it a roaring success. Anything Ring of Honour can do, Vince McMahon can do better as it were.
AJ has arrived in WWE under the name he made famous around the globe, displaying no new character traits or gimmick and still using the same moves (albeit under slightly different names). This spells trouble for Styles; he hasn’t been tampered with so, in the eyes of WWE, he’s still an “outsider”, still one of the others, still an enemy. And the enemy cannot win.
AJ has arrived in WWE under the name he made famous around the globe, displaying no new character traits or gimmick and still using the same moves (albeit under slightly different names). This spells trouble for Styles; he hasn’t been tampered with, so in the eyes of WWE, he’s still an “outsider”, still one of the others, still an enemy, and the enemy cannot win.
Hopefully AJ Styles can join fellow former TNA employee, Samoa Joe, in continuing his outside success under the same name in WWE, but when you consider the overwhelming backlog of evidence of outside stars being mistreated in WWE, you have to be a little concerned for AJ as he squares off against arguably Vince McMahon’s favourite current creation in Roman Reigns.
Only time will tell if Vince’s vice grip on the main roster has loosened enough for AJ to be allowed to get over as an independent talent. Let’s hope this is true, because, if AJ, by some small miracle, were to win the world title, it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.
Will Vince McMahon allow AJ Styles to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship? Have YOUR say in the comment section below.
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