Jimmy Korderas with some insight.
At the 2016 Royal Rumble PPV former two-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion AJ Styles made his WWE re-debut in the Royal Rumble match coming out at the #3 spot. As Styles' name appeared on the titantron, fans inside of the 'Amway Center' in Orlando went ballistic as they realized that after weeks of speculation the "Phenomenal One" AJ Styles had arrived. Coming up on two years in the WWE, AJ has won the WWE United States Championship twice and is a two-time and the current WWE Champion.
A man who has watched AJ's ascension to the top of the ranks in WWE is longtime referee and former WWE official Jimmy Korderas. Jimmy is currently a host on the Canadian TV sports network 'Sportsnet'. While promoting the show Korderas spoke with 'Pro Wrestling Post' and among the many topics that were discussed, Korderas touched on AJ Styles' WWE debut and how it is a perfect example of how to take a name who has established himself as a top tier in-ring performer and translate that over the casual audience who may not have known anything about AJ.
"Again, every case and every individual perspective is different. We mention AJ Styles, for me, it’s called strategic debuting." He said. "I don’t know if I could take credit for that term. But we take a guy like AJ Styles, and we debut him at the Royal Rumble in front of that audience who knows who that is, and you know they are going to lose their minds when he comes out, so that’s the perfect place to debut AJ Styles. Now casual fans who had heard of him and had not seen him or anything see that and hear that and start thinking, ‘Oh this guy is a big deal and maybe I should pay attention to him.’
After that, it’s up to AJ to get himself over, which he absolutely did." Korderas said. "AJ is one of the best in the world right now, if not the best overall performer in the world. Others, I know will use the crutch of, ‘So and so’s booking has been horrible,’ or ‘Creative has been killing this guy.’ I come from the William Regal school of thinking: if you are given lemons you make lemonade, regardless of what creative gives you, whether you have thirty seconds or thirty minutes to get yourself over. Sometimes WWE is a little restrictive with talent, but at the same time you have to take chances, and you may fall flat on your face, but if you don’t and you knock it out of the park, all of a sudden people start looking at you differently and they start giving you a little more liberty and not, as they say, sticking to the script, but having you do a little bit more." He explained. "The top guys have that, like Jericho, and again every case is different. Look at Gallows and Anderson, they didn’t get over like we thought they would [coming] over from New Japan, and that goes to another argument where the North American audience that appreciates New Japan is a really small niche audience, compared to the WWE grand audience.
People automatically thinking they will walk in and they are over, that’s not the case. In a case of an AJ Styles or with others, it may appear that way. Again, that hardcore audience will react in kind, but in fact, they truly are the minority, and they have to resonate the talents like the Shinsuke Nakamura’s and the Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn's with the casual audience. They are doing it but at a slower pace. AJ was just ahead of the curve."
AJ Styles will be defending his WWE Championship at SummerSlam against a familiar foe in Samoa Joe. To take a look at the current lineup for this year's "Biggest Party Of The Summer", click here.