After years of speculation, the “Phenomenal One” AJ Styles has signed a WWE contract and is now a part of the WWE universe. After more than a decade as the face of TNA and years of experience in Japan, we finally get to see AJ Styles throw down in the WWE. However, with his arrival comes many questions. This is someone that has made a name for himself in the independent scene, who is now in unfamiliar territory. This was one of the worries Vince Russo had, when he heard AJ was starting up in WWE. How do you treat him? Well, we’ll see if we can make things comfortable for the newcomer. Here’s How I Would Book… AJ Styles’ Road To Wrestlemania 32.
To say that this is AJ’s first rodeo with WWE would actually be untrue. AJ was actually in the developmental territory for the WWF as he was starting out in wrestling. His initial run is highlighted by a WWF Metal appearance, when he wrestled the Hurricane. Now though, he enters the company as an established wrestling superstar. His reaction at the 2016 Royal Rumble tells you just how much of a hot commodity he is. People want to see AJ Styles and WWE have pulled quite a coup with the signature of AJ Styles.
Signing these top stars is all well in good, but it means nothing he is not booked accordingly. AJ’s actually coming in during an exciting period for the company. He’s too big enough star to be lost in the shuffle for Wrestlemania period. In fact, he helps WWE tackle their issue of having the stars at their disposal. AJ will probably be getting a big match at Wrestlemania.
However, which match is right for AJ? Which match will firmly establish him as a future main-eventer in the company. Well, let’s take a look at the options.
As hinted by the elimination of AJ at the Royal Rumble and based off reports from Wrestling Observer, it appears that WWE has some kind of plan with AJ and Kevin Owens. That would actually be a good feud going into Wrestlemania for Kevin, after losing his feud to Dean Ambrose. Going up against AJ, who has already got instant overness, will benefit Kevin and maintain his own overness. It makes sure that he doesn’t get lost in the shuffle and has direction, keeping his momentum up at the same time. However, is this the best thing for AJ too? Well, let’s take a look at the other options.
On Monday Night RAW, AJ beat Chris Jericho. This was followed by a resistant handshake by Jericho, who seemed confident that he was going to beat AJ. If this were to lead to a Wrestlemania match, I think this would be a great Wrestlemania debut match for AJ to really shine. Their match on RAW was pretty good and I think it’s just a matter of getting used to each other. Since they’ve already competed on television, there’s no harm in putting it on during the house shows leading into their big match. Then again it would take away from their big Wrestlemania match, if they fought several times before that. Surely AJ’s big Wrestlemania match should be a special one right?
When looking at the active roster at the moment, it would seem that our options for AJ are limited in terms of true star power. However, there are other mouth-watering prospects for AJ at Wrestlemania. Wouldn’t it be truly fantastic to see a triple threat match with fellow high-flyers Kalisto and Neville? You could put the United States Championship on the line if you wanted, but it’s really debatable about if AJ’s first title win should be the US Championship. Alternatively, he could challenge the former US Champion Alberto Del Rio. That would be an unique mix of styles… no pun intended. Dolph Ziggler could be a great opponent for him, as Ziggler would be capable of keeping up with the speed of AJ. Sometimes, Dolph has a tendency of working too quick for a lot of wrestlers. Thankfully, AJ has worked in environments that features a lot of fast-paced action and is very quick himself… even at 38 years old.
When looking at all of those options, it’s a tough call which ever way you slice it. However, I believe the right man to face AJ… is Dean Ambrose.
This is the perfect way for AJ’s status as an upper midcard/main eventer to be cemented early on. Dean’s just coming off being in the final two of the Royal Rumble and has a lot of momentum at the moment. My scenario would have AJ challenge Dean for the Intercontinental Championship at Wrestlemania… and win the belt.
Here’s what’ll happen.
Dean’s match at Fastlane is already set. He will face Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar in a triple threat match with the winner going up against Triple H for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania. He’s taken care off until then. For AJ, it’s a lot more tricky.
AJ Styles’ only just debuted, so no major feud is already in place. This interests me. We’ve got a great opportunity to throw AJ in with a number of upper midcarders right off the bat. My idea would be for Kevin Owens to start off Monday Night RAW, complaining that he is not in the picture for any championship. He demands a shot at something when Alberto Del Rio comes out. He does the same and demands a rematch for the US Championship. Chris Jericho comes out and throws his name into the hat for a title shot. This results in Stephanie McMahon making two matches for that episode of RAW, claiming that she’ll be watching. It’s Chris Jericho vs Kevin Owens and Alberto Del Rio… vs AJ Styles.
Owens and Jericho fight to a double DQ and AJ beats Del Rio. This leads to Stephanie claiming that she’ll need one more match to decide who is truly worthy of an opportunity. Jericho, Del Rio and Owens are booked in a triple threat match, which is won by Owens. Stephanie decides to give all these men an opportunity to earn a title match of their choosing at Wrestlemania (except the WWE World Heavyweight Championship of course). If the winner selects the Intercontinental Championship, he will challenge for the title on the night after Wrestlemania if Dean wins at Fastlane. I’m pretty sure that covers that aspect of the storyline. We want to make Stephanie seem that she’s got everything figured out. If Dean ends up winning, she’s got a back-up plan. Whether’s it’s stripping Dean off the title after Fastlane or scheduling the title match for RAW, we want to keep the Intercontinental title in the mix.
At Fastlane, it’ll be a fatal four way match. It’ll be Chris Jericho vs Alberto Del Rio vs Kevin Owens… vs AJ Styles. At Fastlane, AJ picks up the win. On RAW, we get an all-champions tag team match. It’s United States Champion Kalisto and Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose vs the WWE Tag Team Champions the New Day. The New Day cause a DQ and do a three-on-two beatdown, when AJ comes down to the ring to even things up. When the New Day flee, AJ decks Dean with the Pele. He holds up the Intercontinental Championship and declares that he will challenge for that title.
In the weeks leading up to the event, AJ talks about how he’s no rookie when it comes to professional wrestling. He’s been wrestling for nearly two decades and has been successful everywhere he’s been. He’s says WWE will be no different. AJ talks about hearing “stories” and “myths” of how those that love professional wrestling are treated like dirt in WWE. AJ says that he doesn’t care about those stories and the “backstage politics” won’t stop him from being the best in the world. He vows to win the Intercontinental Championship and surpass the title reigns of every other great that’s ever held the belt.
It’s not a heel turn but it’s AJ showing ambition. AJ’s letting off some of the cockiness and arrogance in him without becoming a full-blown heel. AJ will also NOT hit the Styles Clash on anyone during this road to Wrestlemania. He can win matches by heel locks or corkscrew splashes, but he’ll never win with the Styles Clash. He’ll never use it. The anticipation builds to Wrestlemania, where AJ and Dean meet. The people are starting to think “will this be the day he hits it?”
NOTE: On this week’s edition of SmackDown!, AJ Styles actually did hit the Styles Clash on Curtis Axel. This does annoy me because you had a great opportunity to really put over the move. It should be a move which you should build anticipation for, like when Hideo Itami kept teasing the GTS on NXT. Make the fans wait and wait. Make them wonder whether WWE are not allowing AJ actually hit the move because of how dangerous it can be if something goes wrong. WWE spent the entire Royal Rumble having AJ try to hit the Styles Clash, only to be stopped by someone in the match. Why not continue that until at least Wrestlemania? Why throw it away for an episode of SmackDown!, which does not have an audience like RAW or Wrestlemania?
If we’re lucky, these two are given 20 minutes to wrestle on that show. AJ and Dean give each other anything but they both keep kicking out. AJ goes for the Pele on Dean but Dean moves out of the way. AJ ends up hitting the ref somehow. Dean hits Dirty Deeds on AJ but the ref is down. As Dean wakes up the ref, AJ low blows Dean. The ref is still not up and Dean gets back up slightly from the low blow. AJ goes to the outside, picks up the title and hits Dean with it. The referee finally wakes up and makes the count but Dean kicks out. AJ brings up Dean and yells in his face, which leads to Dean spitting at AJ. AJ gets mad and finally hits the Styles Clash to pick up the win and win the championship.
That is how I’d do it. I feel the Intercontinental Championship is the right belt for AJ to have and I feel he should have it sooner rather than later. After he’s done with Dean, it actually sets up a nice little feud with one of NXT’s top stars. Someone that is reportedly on his way to the main roster soon. That man… is Samoa Joe.
That about does it for this edition of “How I Would Book.” I’m pretty sure a lot of people would have wanted somebody other Dean. A lot of people probably want AJ to go up against a true star like Brock Lesnar or Triple H. Others might want to have AJ go up against someone like Daniel Bryan or Kevin Owens. I’m sure there’s TNA fans that would want to see AJ going up against a debuting Samoa Joe AT Wrestlemania. I’m positive that NJPW fans will want to see AJ in some incarnation of the Bullet Club. However, I feel this is the right way to throw AJ into WWE as a serious player. Dean Ambrose is currently a main-eventer in WWE, which makes the timing perfect for AJ and Dean to tear the house down in Dallas. Whether WWE does it my way or a different way, I just hope that the road to Wrestlemania for AJ Styles is a phenomenal one.
Have any suggestions for a How I Would Book? Simply tweet me at either @ArmbarExpress or @TomRobinson5199 on Twitter with your suggestions. Do also check out the rest of the content on my blog. I do a lot of other cool fantasy booking blog posts with my playthroughs of fantasy booking game Extreme Warfare Revenge. And there’s all sorts of other wrestling content as well. You never know, you might just like what you see!