‘The Phenomenal’ AJ Styles has spoken out about his infamous WWE debut at the 2016 Royal Rumble and quite miraculous reaction he received from the capacity crowd.
Every year when Rumble season rolls around, speculation goes into overdrive about which surprise entrants we’ll see in the 30-Man Royal Rumble Match be they returning legends or indie darlings making their debut.
For years prior to 2016, fans had been citing the name AJ Styles as the man they would have loved to see make a surprise appearance thanks to the solid reputation he had built in TNA and New Japan Pro Wrestling where he had commandeered the Bullet Club. However, so successful was he elsewhere that the chances of him committing his future to WWE was slim to none.
And then everything changed on January 4, 2016, when Styles lost the IWGP Intercontinental Championship to Shinsuke Nakamura at New Japan Pro Wrestling Wrestle Kingdom 10. After that, a trend became visible in Styles’ career as he began to put his affairs in order with 5 Star Wrestling and Revolution Pro Wrestling, losing the RevPro British Heavyweight Championship to Zack Sabre Jr.
One week later, as Roman Reigns stood alone in the middle of the ring awaiting the countdown to end and the next entrant in the Royal Rumble Match to appear, the building almost exploded when a blue mist clouded the titan-tron and the words, ‘I. Am. Phenomenal’ slowly revealed themselves as a hooded Styles made his WWE debut at number three.
Now, the former WWE Champion has talked to Bleacher Report about his upcoming WWE Untold documentary, and his initial exposure to the WWE:
“I knew that I was WWE-bound when I had that last match in Japan. I knew I was on my way. Did I know that I was in the Rumble? Nope. It seemed like until the very last minute that I was even going to be in the Royal Rumble. I was told zero things. Nobody kept me in the loop, so I was waiting around thinking, ‘I hope I can get into the Royal Rumble. That’d be cool, but I’d understand if I’m not.’
I didn’t really tell anybody because it was one of things where I didn’t really know. Was I actually going to be in the Rumble, or was I going to be doing something in the Rumble? I didn’t know, so yeah, I didn’t tell a soul, as crazy as that sounds.”
Following his debut, Styles soon entered a rivalry with Chris Jericho and Roman Reigns over the WWE Championship, reformed The Club with Gallows and Anderson – who followed their friend to the company – went to war with John Cena and finally snagged the big prize when he defeated Dean Ambrose at WWE Backlash on September 11.
Since then, one of the greatest wrestlers in the world today has captured the WWE Championship twice, the WWE United States Championship on three occasions and the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
Credit for the interview and transcription: Bleacher Report