WWE Champion AJ Styles on His Phenomenal Year

AJ Styles 2K17 2K
AJ Styles in WWE 2K17

AJ Styles is like that actor who honed his craft, finally landed a dream role after almost two decades and won an Academy Award for his efforts.

In WWE, the Oscar equivalent is the WWE World championship, which the 39-year-old acquired in less than a year while working for the company. It’s been a phenomenal 2016 for the SmackDown Live performer.

“Who would have thought within a couple of months of being in WWE that I would be wrestling in the main event for the WWE World Championship and be the WWE World Champion,” Styles said during a media call to promote the upcoming season three update of the “WWE SuperCard” collectible card-battling game.

“Being on the big stage in sports entertainment, this is easily the best year in the career of AJ Styles.”

There are many milestones that have already come for Styles, who now has the massive WWE machine behind him. This means inclusion in action figure lines, shirts and other merchandise with his likeness, as well as the opportunity to be featured in “WWE SuperCard” and the “WWE 2K17” video game. This is a big deal in more ways than one for the avid gamer.

“I love video games,” Styles said. “I’m a video game guy and always have been. Ever since I was an eight-year-old, and I got my first Nintendo. Just being a part of the 2K series is amazing…”

One thing about the video games is the chance for fans to see dream matches realized. Among ones Styles wants to see come to life is a run-in with a Viper.

There are several guys who I haven’t gotten the chance to get in the ring with and can have great matches with,” he said.

“There is one guy in particular on SmackDown who I have yet to wrestle, and that’s Randy Orton. I think that is a match that everyone would look forward to. When the time is right, I think it will happen.”

Another top name the superstar wouldn’t mind meeting is the retired Shawn Michaels.

“It seems there is this thing going around the internet about the Royal Rumble and Shawn Michaels,” Styles said. “I would love the opportunity to wrestle him. I can’t say that will happen. Right now it’s just speculation and rumors. I’m finding out about it like anyone would. But man, what a match that would be? Who knows what would bring Shawn Michaels out of retirement?”

Nothing is out of the realm of possibility. Styles’ arrival and rise in WWE is proof of that. Ever since his debut at the Royal Rumble, the Georgia native has felt welcome by audiences and colleagues alike.

“I did feel like the new guy in the locker room, but the roster had a lot of respect for me given what I did outside the WWE,” he said. “It’s really great to be part of a roster like WWE where guys didn’t hold it against me that I hadn’t been in WWE. So I was a new guy at first, but now I’m part of the family.”

Styles found success and earned a solid reputation for his stellar matches. He won titles for major companies all around the world. Now the current “Face that Runs the Place” is achieving more than he probably ever realized. The transition into WWE has been seamless.

“Everyone thinks that the style changes here, but I never have,” he said.

“The one thing that I credit AJ Styles with doing is the willingness to adapt pretty much wherever I go. Whether it is here or somewhere else, I’ve been able to work with a great group of guys in the ring. I would never take credit for all these amazing matches that I’ve had in the past 17 years I’ve been in this crazy sport. I can’t do that. I’ve been a part of some great matches because of the opponents that I’ve had.

“Here in WWE you see some of the best athletes and having dream matches as some would call it is special. Being in the video games is special and being in SuperCard. All these things that have happened, you see that WWE is so much bigger than anywhere else. You just can’t compare WWE to anything else. There is nothing like it, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Styles is looking for his stay with the sports entertainment juggernaut to be long-term.  He alluded to a conversation he had with Paul “Triple H” Levesque, the executive vice president of talent relations, live events and creative when he came on board. The champion can see himself working and staying with WWE, even after his in-ring career is over. And even though a lot of his goals were reached early on, there is still much Styles wants to do.

“There is still another WrestleMania,” Styles said.

“There is still the opportunity to hopefully main event that show and a couple of the bigger shows. That is something I’ve wanted to do. There are also so many things outside of WWE as well. The great thing about being part of WWE is to be able to do these things that you don’t expect to be able to do and will make you a bigger star. I think it’s great. They want you to be John Cena. They want you to be The Rock. I’m just here to have a good time and have these opportunities present themselves.”

  • Watch AJ Styles on SmackDown, Tuesdays at 8/7CT on USA Network.
  • “WWE SuperCard” will increase its extensive content offering with Season 3, an update available for download free on the App Store for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, as well as the Google Play Store and Amazon Appstore for Android devices. Look for the first real-time gameplay mode, three new card tiers, new ways to compete and engage with fellow players, as well as an increased roster.
  • “WWE 2K17” is available now for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Xbox 360.
  • Follow me on Twitter @smFISHMAN.