Main roster or bust for AJ Styles.
The wrestling world was shocked at Royal Rumble 2016 when AJ Styles made his WWE debut in the Royal Rumble match. While many Independent or Japanese stars go through NXT before jumping up to the main roster, Styles immediately made an impact on the top brands.
Speaking to Cathy Kelley on WWE Now, Styles discussed the decision for him to bypass NXT.
"I wasn't the youngest guy. Going through NXT, for me, wasn't going to be an option unless you're talking about a month just to get used to everything and learn how WWE works. Literally everything worked out the way I needed it to. Sometimes I'm very jealous of the people who went through NXT because they know each other so well. But at the same time, time is of the essence for me to get to the main roster and do what I do."
Many thought that Styles would never be signed by WWE due to his previous ties with TNA/IMPACT and the perception of Independent workers at the time. According to Styles, the success of Samoa Joe in NXT helped paved the way towards him joining WWE.
"I remember when Samoa Joe went to NXT and got signed. He and I just started laughing," recalled Styles. "It's crazy how it all came together. I think Joe is the reason why I was able to come here because they said, 'this guy is a good talent. Very professional. Maybe there are some guys from over there that can get the job done and are professional to do it.' I think he set the tone."
Styles and Joe shared the ring plenty of times during their run in TNA together. But the relationship between the two wrestlers and promotion turned sour, leading to their respective exits. When asked if Styles ever reflects on that time along with Joe or anyone else from the TNA days, Styles said, "We try not to reflect. As good as something could have been, there were so many mistakes done. Obviously the talent was there but the brains to develop that talent [and] push them to the next level -- it's frustrating, but now all of us being in WWE, it's unbelievable what [TNA] had and now WWE scooping them all up and using them, I think pretty well, is kinda crazy to think back."
WWE has plucked many TNA mainstays over the past year to work as producers, including Jeremy Borash, Jeff Jarrett, Abyss, and Sonjay Dutt. As for Styles, he's thrived in the WWE as a multi-time WWE Champion and current United States Champion.
If you use any of the quotes above, please credit WWE with a h/t to Fightful.