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Did Vince McMahon Give AJ Styles A Chance At The 2016 Royal Rumble Without Even Know Who He Was?

aj styles, vince mcmahon
Credit: WWE

WWE superstar AJ Styles revealed this week that when he was signed by the company in 2016 his new boss, Vince McMahon had no idea he had just acquired one of the best wrestlers in the world.

Over the last two decades, AJ Styles has built a resume as one of the most gifted professional wrestlers in the world. He had a legendary run in TNA/Impact Wrestling, then he showed how well-rounded his talents were when he took Japan by storm and became one of the rare foreigners to win the IWGP championship.

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When his contract with NJPW ended late in 2015, he became the top free agent in the industry. Unsurprisingly, WWE and their massive wealth came calling and finally wanted to showcase “The Phenomenal One” to their global audience. It was a smart business move and gave Styles the chance to prove his talent on the biggest stage.

However, it seems the decision to sign the legendary wrestler was not one championed by owner Vince McMahon and instead was pushed by his talent relations staff. During an appearance on the Fanatics Live podcast– which is hosted by WWE alum Tyler Breeze — Style revealed that McMahon had little knowledge about his exploits around the world when he made his debut at the 2106 Royal Rumble.

“I think I’m 37 when I come to WWE. [Vince McMahon] did not know me. He had no clue who I was,” Styles recalled. I think it was guys who had worked with me, probably with TNA and whatnot, that were able to say, ‘Let this guy come in third at the Rumble.’ Finally, he’s like, ‘Fine, let him.’ Then, the reaction happened, but he still didn’t believe it. He was like, ‘It’s a fluke.’

  • AJ Style height: 5-foot-11

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“The next night, I had a match and it was okay but it wasn’t anything special. He’s like, ‘I have 100 guys who can do what you just did.’ What he was saying was true,” he said. “I was trying to be something that is trying to be the babyface. I should have just been AJ Styles. He told me what he wanted and I was like, ‘I know that guy.’”

It is stunning that the WWE founder signed an expensive performer he knew little about, but fortunately, he trusted his staff and the rest is history. AJ Styles is a multi-time WWE champion who has held many other titles in the top company in professional wrestling.

After earning his journalism degree in 2017, Jason Burgos served as a contributor to several sites, including MMA Sucka... More about Jason Burgos

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