AJ Styles and his WWE Debut has made for a whirlwind 48 hours since he entered the 2016 WWE Royal Rumble match. His 5-star quality matches at Wrestle Kingdom 10 against Shinuske Nakamura and Ring of Honor’s Final Battle against Jay Lethal 6 weeks ago have become distant memory.
There is something to behold about the WWE machine and the buzz surrounding AJ Styles, because of how hardcore IWC fans evaluate and examine his appearance in the Royal Rumble match and then his debut on RAW with Chris Jericho.
Listening to one of my favorite wrestling podcasts Monday night, hosted by two long time WWE fans residing in New York City, the polarizing commentary and feedback on their program compelled me to write about how different fans view AJ Styles’ debut in WWE.
There are haters in the IWC of anything that is not WWE using the debut to vilify AJ Styles, talking about everything from crowd response to the numerous reasons why God forbid did it take so long for AJ to finally show up in the “Major Leagues”. WWE is a company that is so popular and so dominating that fans are stuck in a bubble or enjoy wearing blinders while denying the existence of any other wrestling companies with a TV show.
I can understand how a website like TMZ or a TV show like Maury plays to the drama and the gossip that readers and viewers take as a sinfully-addictive guilty pleasure. It’s the same reason why fan podcasts that I listen to religiously on demand Mondays and Thursday nights (Don Tony and Kevin Castle, Solomonster Sounds Off and Wrestling Soup), are smart to placate to the hundreds of thousands of listeners with polarizing commentary that triggers lots of social interaction, traffic and downloads.
As for my humble and growing wrestling fan podcast, you can be assured that I approach stories like AJ Styles like I always have, looking at how it “real”istically (as in Wrestling is Real podcast) benefits wrestling fans like us looking to be entertained and the wrestlers themselves entertaining us. This might not be the most exciting point of view to have but its the point of view that balances out all the other commentary from those podcasts ( that make me agree to disagree while justifying their educated, yet sometimes not well-rounded opinions.) That’s why this podcast claims we are why “Wrestling Needs Us!”
Getting back to AJ Styles, I weigh only so much of what he did or did not accomplish in his TNA run, but I credit how AJ Styles was ambitious to pave his own career path. He has come to WWE on his terms and regardless of how WWE uses him they are using him very good right now. Just because he is now in WWE will he viewed as a failure unless the run WWE gives him is less than phenomenal. -KOP