AJ Styles Would Have Been Happy To Start In WWE NXT
When AJ Styles was linked with WWE back in late 2015, many assumed he’d follow the route of contemporaries like Samoa Joe, and would have a stint in NXT before making his way to WWE’s main roster.
However, AJ debuted straight onto main roster, with a surprise entry in the 2016 Royal Rumble announcing his arrival to the WWE Universe. Now, in a talk with Ryan Satin on the Out of Character podcast, Styles admits he’d have been more than happy to have gone the NXT route:
“It was one of those things that I was like, ‘Hey, listen if they’re looking for an AJ Styles, I would be happy to give it a shot’ and I was willing to go down to NXT for a couple of months to get my feet wet and then get to a main brand like a Raw or SmackDown. I had no idea what was going to happen. There was talk of, ‘Hey, I don’t know if we can keep your name.’ I said, ‘Well, that’s fine, I’ll be whoever you want me to be but I have this huge tattoo on my side that says AJ, but you can call me whatever you want.’ Listen, I was worried about this southern accent that I can’t shake, that Vince was going to make me wear overalls and come out to a little country song or something with a banjo. I was more worried about that.”
Styles admits he was surprised that he ‘skipped’ NXT – a move that is very rare in modern WWE:
“Absolutely, the fact that Samoa Joe was still in NXT and I was able to jump the line I was like, ‘Okay.’ I was not going to argue with them about it. I was happy to get the opportunity.”
AJ continued, “Timing. I think that had a lot to do with it. Being in Orlando was a huge thing for me, being in TNA for so long. Then, to have the opportunity to be number three, as crazy as that sounds, in the Royal Rumble, was huge for me. It was huge.”