Ever since AJ Styles entered the WWE he has taken his main roster position and proven he is more than worthy of the opportunities he has been given. Debuting at the 2016 Royal Rumble, Styles would go on to have one of the most successful debut years in WWE history. This includes rivalries with Chris Jericho, John Cena, and Roman Reigns, along with a title reign as the WWE Champion.
A route not taken
As fans already know, AJ Styles did not follow the same route that many of the new young talent have taken in WWE. Usually when WWE signs new performers to the company, they’re sent to Florida for WWE’s development territory NXT.
AJ Styles on the other hand came straight from the independent scene to the main roster. It’s a no brainer why Styles made such a huge jump with a resume like his. They don't call him "The Phenomenal One" for nothing.
With his tenure in TNA, ROH, and NJPW, AJ Styles is rightly considered one of the greatest wrestlers in the world.
The importance of NXT
Despite all the success that he’s accomplished, even Styles knows how important it is for new talent to go to NXT before making it to the main roster. In an interview with Inside The Ropes, the 39-year-old revealed his thoughts on the development system and the working environment.
"I know I didn’t go through NXT. But the learning curve is very steep and you better learn very quickly if you’re able to bypass NXT. I said this to Triple H that they need to go to NXT. There’s so much that goes on to just the camera and the way that it’s directed at you that I didn’t learn anywhere else. They want it done a certain way. Either they throw you into the fire and it sinks or swim or you go into NXT and learn.”
Camera work isn’t the only part of the learning curve that wrestlers meet in NXT. When the WWE picks up a new wrestler, they usually go to NXT in order to develop their characters and get familiar with the company's way of doing things in the ring. As Randy Orton’s recent Twitter beef has shown, there are differences between the way the Indies put on a show compared to the biggest wrestling company in the world.
Even the greatest stars on the Indy scene that have signed with the company had to go through development but Styles is a rare exception, proving his ability to Vince McMahon and co.
Styles early experience in WWE and status quo
Styles would go on to add a comment about his experiences with debuting in WWE. “If you knew how quickly I had to learn once I got there, how important things are to the big man. Is it a little stressful? Absolutely. And I couldn’t be asked twice to learn it. It’s one time, that’s it. Luckily I was able to learn very quickly.” Styles even mentions there is a night and day difference between WWE and the Indies, and he isn’t wrong there. Styles also mentions that he’s jealous of the wrestlers that have come through the NXT system.
Styles currently is set to wrestle Kevin Owens for the United States Championship at Backlash. Fans may feel that this is a step down from his main event status, but any push is better than being shelved. Smackdown has been generous with The Phenomenal One's booking over the year and he is a righteous candidate for this particular championship.