By John Napolitano
Dear WWE television ratings,
Get ready to fly! Yes, the “Phenomenal One,” AJ Styles has touched ground in World Wrestling Entertainment, after debuting in the 2016 Royal Rumble Match. Styles had a very strong performance in the 30-man over-the-top rope Battle Royal, followed that up with a great one-on-one bout against “Y2J” Chris Jericho, and had a good showing against Curtis Axel on Smackdown. He’s only had three matchups under the WWE banner, and the seeds for two potential feuds have been planted.
Tension between Kevin Owens and the “Phenomenal One” came about after they got fiercely physical in the Royal Rumble Match, and Owens proceeded to eliminate Styles. AJ was also snubbed by “Y2J” after he pinned the six-time world champion during his Monday Night Raw debut. These are two readymade programs for AJ Styles, but the sky’s the limit for WWE’s newest signee. I am confident that he will be main eventing WWE pay-per-views for years to come; hopefully, with any luck, AJ Styles will be in primetime with these three WWE Superstars.
If TNA is the house that Styles built, then Samoa Joe furnished the damn thing. These two amazing competitors will go down in history as the men who put TNA on the map; they have had countless rivalries and five-star matches in every corner of the globe, and they just so happen to be prominent figures in WWE for the first time ever.
Styles and Joe know each other so well. Their backstage, in-ring, and on-mic chemistry are second to none. WWE’s casual fan base might not see these two meeting as anything more than a standard meeting of a babyface and a heel. To everyone else, AJ Styles and Samoa Joe doing battle under a WWE roof is like seeing King Kong vs. Godzilla II in outer space.
This phenomenal fantasy feud does not need to headline a future WrestleMania; it doesn’t even need to be over championship gold. All you need is a backstage stare down, some context clues from Michael Cole, and a 20-foot by 20-foot squared circle, from which they will proceed to tear down the house. Recently, there has been speculation that Samoa Joe will debut on the main roster on the Monday Night Raw after WrestleMania XXXII. I don’t know what better way to utilize his abilities than to have him squash an unsuspecting member of the main roster and then brush shoulders with AJ Styles, while he exits the building. Subsequently, they could clash at Extreme Rules, Payback, and up and down the road for years to come.
“The Future” vs. the “Phenomenal One.” Book it. Ever since he disbanded the S.H.I.E.L.D. in June 2014, Seth Rollins has proved to be one of, if not, the greatest professional wrestler that WWE has to offer. His rivalry with Dean Ambrose in the summer of 2014 was historic; his WWE World Heavyweight Championship victory at WrestleMania XXXI was earth shattering, and he punched his stamp on 2015, emerging as the Superstar of the Year. In November of last year, Rollins tore his ACL and MCL. Despite the severity of Rollins’ injury, he is primed to return to action in a big way. What bigger way can one return than into a phenomenal fantasy feud with AJ Styles?
These two bona fide superstars are capable of putting on an archaically acrobatic, dreadfully dramatic five-star classic. Their in-ring styles would mesh fantastically, and the narratives they could create would be physical poetry.
Rollins will likely return to the ring with a hero’s welcome, as he has been the centerpiece of WWE programming for the last year and a half. Although I know he can get over as a beloved babyface, imagine if he swerved the WWE Universe and attacked AJ Styles in the ring, after supposedly having a change of heart. Considering AJ Styles is a massive fan-favorite, Seth Rollins would regain all of his lost heat by laying waste to the “Phenomenal One.”
AJ Styles could be a great foil to Seth Rollins. His respected veteran status is the perfect ideological counter to Rollins’ arrogance as the “Undisputed Future of the WWE.” I would love to see Seth Rollins target AJ Styles immediately upon his return this summer.
I have wanted to see AJ Styles vs. John Cena ever since the “Phenomenal One” flew onto my radar in 2009. It is easy to see, even seven years ago when I first watched TNA, that AJ Styles has unmatched charisma, unmatched appeal, and an unmatched work ethic. Well, unmatched by all, except the face of WWE, John Cena. For years Styles and Cena stood apart from each other on the two furthest ends of the wrestling spectrum. AJ Styles, the name synonymous with TNA, and John Cena, the top WWE Superstar for the last 11 years, have never been closer than at this exact moment.
The most apropos analogy I can make to emphasize the enormity of this event is: Ric Flair is to Hulk Hogan as AJ Styles is to John Cena. We never got to see Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan go one-on-one on WWE television, but we have the opportunity to see the reincarnations of their essence manifested on an even bigger stage.
John Cena is currently out of action with a severe shoulder injury, and AJ Styles is still just getting his feet wet in WWE waters, but this match needs to happen down the line. If WWE protects Styles and builds upon his already impressive résumé, there is no need to reference the fact that AJ Styles vs. John Cena has been a dream match for the better part of a decade. The vociferous vibe and big fight feel that these men are so skilled at projecting to the WWE fanatics will speak for itself. This matchup would undoubtedly have to take place at future WrestleMania near you. I don’t know about you, but I am ready to see the two faces of our generation collide.
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