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Friday, Sep 20, 2019

AJ Styles still sees room for overall improvement despite WWE success

AJ Styles believes his World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) debut at the Royal Rumble was the highlight of his ‘Phenomenal’ career. He also believes he can still improve as a performer.

other-sports Updated: Sep 08, 2017 16:28 IST
Sayan Ghosh
Sayan Ghosh
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
AJ Styles might be called ‘The Phenomenal One’, but he still believes he can improve.
AJ Styles might be called ‘The Phenomenal One’, but he still believes he can improve. (WWE)

There are very few professional wrestlers who can boast of a career like AJ Styles. From being one of the original stars of Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (now known as Global Force Wrestling) to making his mark in New Japan Pro Wrestling, AJ Styles has done it all.

However, the wrestler nicknamed ‘The Phenomenal One’ believes that his World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) debut in the 2015 Royal Rumble pay-per-view was easily the most memorable moment of his career.

“My debut in the Royal Rumble was the biggest moment of my career! I was quite overwhelmed by the support shown by WWE fans and that is something I will never forget,” Styles told Hindustan Times at the sidelines of WWE Summerslam in New York.

READ | Shinsuke Nakamura doesn’t regret turning down UFC gig, is happy at WWE

The 40-year old from Gainesville, Georgia started his wrestling career with National Championship Wrestling (NCW) and over the next three years, he performed in independent promotions all around the country.

He even featured in the now-defunct World Championship Wrestling (WCW), arguably the only professional wrestling promotion to rival and even surpass WWE in terms of popularity for a short time.

Styles’ big break came in 2002 when he signed with Total Nonstop Action (TNA) Wrestling. He became one of the biggest names in the company and his 26 championship wins during his TNA career means he is still one of the most dominant superstars to have ever wrestled for them.

However, he was not content with his stardom and decided to move to Japan in 2014. A lot of experts predicted his style was not suited for New Japan Pro Wrestling, but his two IWGP World Heavyweight title reigns proved his brilliance once again.

READ | Jinder Mahal always had potential to be WWE champion: Triple H

The entire wrestling world was aware of his charisma in the ring and in 2014, he finally made the long-awaited jump to WWE. The move sent the wrestling world into a frenzy, but many once again questioned whether his hard-hitting in-ring style will hinder his chances of success in WWE.

According to Styles himself, the transition between promotions has been quite smooth, adding that he’s made no changes to his in-ring style.

“I never changed my style with respect to how my wrestle. The only difference was that WWE has a lot more cameras facing you than the independent circuit, but I think that was just a learning curve that you need to go through and it has really helped me.”

READ | Samoa Joe says NXT stint helped him adjust to WWE’s style of wrestling

In his two-year WWE career, Styles has impressed everyone with his work rate and at WWE Summerslam, he defeated Kevin Owens to prolong his run as the United States champion.

He is undoubtedly one of the best wrestlers in the company right now, but he still thinks that he can improve.

“Of course I have room for improvement. Look at a talent like Kazuchika Okada; he is one of the best wrestlers in the world and the kid is not even 30. He has won the IWGP championship at such a young age and when you see a talent like that, it inspires you to work harder,” he said.

First Published: Sep 08, 2017 16:28 IST