Why AJ Styles deserves a title match at Wrestlemania 33.
On September 11th of last year, AJ Styles made history in a way that no man in the professional wrestling industry has ever done before. By defeating Dean Ambrose that night at Backlash for the WWE Championship, Styles became the first man to ever hold world championships in the WWE, TNA, and New Japan Pro Wrestling. The victory firmly entrenched Styles as one of the greatest professional wrestlers to ever grace the squared circle and proved that he was one of the best free agent signings in the history of the company.
But just when Styles had the right to become complacent, he did the opposite. His title reign so far has been nothing short of brilliant, battling the aforementioned Ambrose as well as a host of other challengers, churning out spectacular matches and seething heel promos. And let’s be clear, Styles is the biggest reason that Smackdown has clearly been the better brand than RAW since the brand split in July. I mean, come on, when you can make a compelling feud with James Ellsworth, you’re truly a genius of the wrestling business.
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So now here comes the 2017 Royal Rumble and a match with Mr. Invincible himself, John Cena. The former Dr. of Thugonomics has quite a bit on the line January 29th as well. In defeating Styles he would become a 16-time world champion, tying the record of the great Ric Flair. It’s truly one of the biggest, if not the biggest accomplishment in all of wrestling. But when it comes to reality, Cena’s 16th title reign should have to wait. Right now, it’s AJ Styles’ time. He’s carried the company on his back for the better part of a year, even managing to create some magic with John Cena 2.0, Roman Reigns, throughout his tumultuous title reign and in the ring has set the bar for the rest of the roster.
Wrestlemania is and should always be the night when everyone pulls out their best performances and although Styles has had only one Mania match so far, his resume in big matches speaks for itself throughout his career. You can look no further than the 2016 SummerSlam when he and Cena clashed in a classic that ranked 7th in our top 15 matches of 2016.
But if you look back even further with The Phenomenal One, his big match showings go back more than a decade, especially with a world title on the line. Look no further than his world title defenses against Chris Daniels and Samoa Joe at Turning Point 2009, and against Kurt Angle at Genesis 2010, both under the TNA banner. Both world title matches. Both main events. Both wins.
Then after leaving TNA, Styles took his talents to Japan and New Japan Pro Wrestling. It was there his career resurgence continued as he put on stunning, world title, main event matches with the likes of Kazuchika Okada, Tetsuya Naito, and Hiroshi Tanahashi while twice capturing the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Suffice to say, Styles knows to perform when the time calls for it.
So the Royal Rumble will prove what direction the WWE wants to go in. Will they go with the Hollywood face Cena to push the prestige of the upcoming Wrestlemania, or will they do the right thing and give the guy who has been the cornerstone of the company for the last year that spot? It’s clear what this writer thinks. AJ Styles should not only be in a world championship at Wrestlemania, he should be in the main event as well. Come on. Who wouldn’t tune into AJ Styles/Undertaker main event? Or what about Kurt Angle? With the rumors that Angle has been canceling his independent dates with a return to WWE on the horizon, what an amazing main event that would be.
Regardless of who Styles tangles with on April 2nd, this should be the night that he is officially promoted as THE guy in the WWE. He’s currently putting on the best performances of his career and is poised to be the man that can keep the company moving forward. He’s not a part-time performer, he’s not a Hollywood superstar, and he’s certainly not a sideshow act, which are characters already slated to be at Mania. He’s just a pure, unadulterated sports entertainer who wants nothing more than build his own legacy as well as the WWE’s. Wrestlemania should end with AJ Styles standing tall.