Pro wrestling fans will get the belated holiday present some have been waiting years for. Several reports confirm that the WWE has signed arguably the number one free agent in the game A.J. Styles.
Many hardcore fans have been waiting to read that headline for a long time. Like Samoa Joe, Styles is a guy that many hoped but never expected to see in a WWE ring. The wait is not only over, but unlike Samoa Joe, the company has much bigger plans for the former TNA world champion.
Several reports surfaced on Sunday and Monday that Styles, along with other New Japan pro wrestlers signed or will be signing with the WWE. Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter has had various details on the signing. Meltzer provided some clues on the expectations you should have on the signing and let’s just say, don’t temper them.
Meltzer reported on a F4WOnline.com podcast that Styles is being signed for the main roster. Meltzer went on to speculate that based on the money they are paying for Styles, they have big plans for him. Unlike Samoa Joe, this is not a signing for NXT. Meltzer said that based on the money, he wouldn’t expect to see Styles in NXT for more than a couple of matches if at all.
Meltzer also reported that the WWE were hoping to keep the signing a surprise. Meltzer never outright said it, but hinted that Styles was planned to be a surprise in the Royal Rumble. Meltzer also speculated that Styles could be part of the “Balor Club” with Finn Balor and former Bullet Club members that have also been signed but again that was purely speculative.
The signing is a big shift from the doctrine we heard about the last couple of months of the WWE not interested in signing anyone from Ring of Honor or on cable television. Several months after Kevin Owens signed with the company, ROH released a figure and it reportedly infuriated Vince McMahon. Signing Styles also kills other scouting principals which include not signing former TNA guys and wrestlers over a certain age. Styles will be 39 years old in June.
A.J. is most known by casual fans for his run in TNA Wrestling where he was arguably their only home-grown franchise player. Styles left TNA in 2014 and completely reinvented himself in New Japan Pro Wrestling. Styles has been wrestling at another level in TNA, arguably having the best matches on a consistent basis of anyone in the business over the last year or so.
In a little known fact, Styles and the WWE failed to come to terms on a deal in 2002. Styles was still very new to the business but his talent was noticed immediately. Styles worked some matches with the company and turned down an offer which would have had him relocate to Cincinnati, Ohio and train in the Heartland Wrestling Association, which was a developmental group with WWE at the time.
Styles immediately enhances the talent depth of the roster with fans having wishes of dream matches with Styles vs. Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, Dolph Ziggler, and Brock Lesnar among others. From all accounts it would appear that Styles will be a major player in the WWE in 2016 and that…is best for business.