WWE: The Phenomenal Rise of AJ Styles – Best Matches in WWE (So Far)

Perhaps TNA’s flagship for more than a decade, AJ Styles seemed destined to make a career out of the WWE ring, but he arrived at the world’s most famous pro wrestling company on the cusp of his 40s and it was still time to win titles and provide fights… phenomenal.

Born June 2, 1977, in Jacksonville, North Carolina, he was trained by Rick Michaels and debuted in pro wrestling in 1998 with a Georgia company called National Championship Wrestling.

In 2001 he reached the big leagues, having participated in episodes of Nitro and Thunder of WCW in dark matches of several shows of the then-called WWF, but it was in the following year that he began to truly show himself to the public in ROH and TNA.

After re-launching in WWE at the 2016 Royal Rumble, the Phenomenal One embarked on a successful path with the company, which included winning the WWE Championship (two, including a 371-day reign), the Intercontinental Championship (one), the United States Championship (three) and the Raw Tag Team Championship (one, alongside Omos).

So it’s worth checking out our list of the top ten AJ Styles matches in WWE, in chronological order.

Extreme Rules 2016
Extreme Rules | WWE World Heavyweight Championship :
Roman Reigns (c) vs. AJ Styles

On the first Raw after WrestleMania 32, on April 4, AJ Styles won a four-way match to earn an opportunity to fight for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship held by Roman Reigns. The following week, he retained the title opportunity by beating Sami Zayn.
On the April 25 episode, Styles saved Reigns from an attack by Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows, but Reigns attacked Styles afterwards.

In their duel at Payback, Reigns was defeated twice, first by countout and then by disqualification, but the match was restarted both times (first by Shane McMahon and then by Stephanie McMahon), making it a match with no disqualifications. After interference from Anderson, Gallows, and The Usos, Reigns achieved the victorious settlement.

However, Vince, Shane, and Stephanie McMahon all agreed that Styles should have a rematch at Extreme Rules, in an Extreme Rules match. On the May 2 episode of Monday Night Raw, Anderson and Gallows wanted Styles to hit Reigns with a chair, but Styles refused. When the Usos attacked Styles from behind, Styles retaliated, only to be power bombed by Reigns at one of the commentators’ tables.

Money in the Bank 2016
AJ Styles vs. John Cena

On the May 30 episode of Raw, John Cena returned to WWE programming after recovering from a shoulder injury that ruled him out of the ring for five months. AJ Styles showed up to welcome him, until his former teammates at The Club, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, showed up ready to fight. Cena and Styles seemed prepared to fight Gallows and Anderson, but Styles betrayed Cena and attacked him along with his friends, turning heel and returning to The Club. Days later, a match was scheduled for Money in the Bank that WWE described as a “ WrestleMania Dream Match”.

On the June 13 episode of Raw, Cena presented Styles with two contracts: one allowed Gallows and Anderson to be present in the vicinity of the ring, and the other banished them from the area adjacent to the ring. And Styles chose the latter.

SummerSlam 2016
AJ Styles vs. John Cena

After AJ Styles’ victory at Money in the Bank with interference from friends Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, the feud continued over the next few weeks, first with Styles and Gallows attacking Cena during a match with Karl Anderson, then with Cena and Styles cost each other the opportunity to be present at the WWE Championship match at Battleground.

The Club attacked Cena again on the 4th of July Raw, but Enzo Amore and Big Cass appeared to save Cena, which led to a match between the two factions being scheduled at Battleground, with the triumph smiling upon Cena, Amore and Cass after a Super Attitude Adjustment of Cena in Styles.

After the two rivals were transferred to SmackDown in that summer’s Draft, Styles challenged Cena to one more match, this time at SummerSlam, which was once again accepted by Cena.

Backlash 2016
WWE World Championship: Dean Ambrose (c) vs. AJ Styles

At SummerSlam, Dean Ambrose retained the title against Dolph Ziggler, while AJ Styles beat John Cena. On the following episode of SmackDown, Styles proclaimed himself the top contender for the WWE World Championship at Backlash, which motivated Ziggler to demand another title shot. All of this led to a match between Styles and Ziggler in which, if Ziggler won, it would turn the title match into a triple threat match. However, Styles won and the following week, Styles interfered in a match between Ambrose and Baron Corbin, attacking the champion. A week later, Ambrose and Styles clashed, with the Phenomenal One hitting Ambrose with a low blow.

TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs 2016
Tables, Ladders and Chairs match for the WWE World Championship :
AJ Styles (c) vs. Dean Ambrose

A champion since Backlash in September, AJ Styles retained the WWE World Championship by beating Dean Ambrose and John Cena at the No Mercy pay-per-view.
However, Ambrose continued to chase the title. On the October 25 episode of SmackDown, he would become the leading contender if he won the champion, but was disqualified after James Ellsworth attacked Styles. The following week, Ambrose managed to defeat Styles and thus earn the right to fight for the title at TLC, prompting commissioner Shane McMahon to turn the duel into a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match

However, there was still more than a month to go before the title fight. At Survivor Series, Ambrose and Styles were part of Team SmackDown and Ambrose took advantage of it to attack Styles but was then eliminated by Braun Strowman. Still in that elimination match against Team Raw, Ambrose returned to the ring to attack Styles again and help his partners from The Shield, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, apply a Triple Powerbomb to Styles at one of the commentator tables, which allowed the Rollins eliminates the WWE Champion moments later.

On the following episode of SmackDown, Dean Ambrose, who was supposed to be off duty and had been repeatedly kicked out of the arena, helped James Ellsworth win a match against AJ Styles Later, on the November 29 episode of SmackDown, Ambrose invited Ellsworth to his talk show, Ambrose Asylum, but Styles interrupted them and attacked them both. As a result, Ellsworth had to be stretchered out of the area adjacent to the ring. And later that night, Ambrose attacked Styles backstage.

Royal Rumble 2017
WWE Championship: AJ Styles (c) vs. John Cena

At the December 2016 TLC, AJ Styles retained the title by beating Dean Ambrose in a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs match. Nine days later, on SmackDown, Dolph Ziggler defeated Ambrose, The Miz, and Luke Harper in a four-way elimination match for a shot at the WWE Championship on the December 27 SmackDown, but before he could do so, he was confronted by Baron Corbin, who challenged him to put the title shot on the line. The duel between Ziggler and Corbin ended in a double count-out before Styles attacked them both with a chair

As a result, the title was on the line in a triple threat match between Styles Ziggler and Corbin, but before that, John Cena returned after nearly three months of absence and challenged the winner of that match to a title match at the Royal Rumble. Styles ended up retaining the belt and Cena appeared to shake his hand On the January 17 edition of SmackDown, Styles faced The Miz in a no-contest after Cena, who was at the commentator’s table, was attacked by the champion. A brawl followed which ended with Cena applying Attitude Adjustment to both The Miz and Styles.

SmackDown Live (January 31, 2017)
AJ Styles vs. Dean Ambrose

Two days after losing the WWE Championship, AJ Styles angrily watched the footage of the loss during the opening moments of SmackDown and told Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon to start thinking about the rematch against the new champion, John Cena, but in a match of one-on-one and not in an Elimination Chamber match, as the next pay-per-view would be the Elimination Chamber.

Shane McMahon announced the next time the WWE Championship would be on the line at the Elimination Chamber match, in which John Cena, AJ Styles, Bray Wyatt, Baron Corbin, The Miz and Dean Ambrose would participate. After the announcement, Ambrose stepped in, had a verbal confrontation with Styles, and challenged him to a match that night. Styles didn’t accept, but Shane liked the idea and scheduled the duel.

TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs 2018
WWE Championship: Daniel Bryan (c) vs. AJ Styles

Daniel Bryan made his return to the ring in early 2018, but he wasn’t exactly having a successful year, having lost to The Bludgeon Brothers at Extreme Rules and The Miz at SummerSlam and Hell in a Cell, However, Daniel Bryan defeated The Miz at Super Show-Down to become the main contender for the WWE Championship. On the October 30 episode of SmackDown Live, he faced then-champion AJ Styles but was defeated.
However, Bryan did get a title shot again on the October 13 SmackDown Live, having beaten Styles after a low blow and continued to attack the opponent after the match, turning heel.

A week later, Bryan explained his actions, stating that he was following his dreams and complained that fans had not supported him during his recovery from his injury, calling himself “New Daniel Bryan ”. However, a rematch was scheduled between Bryan and Styles with the title on the line for TLC.

Money in the Bank 2019
WWE Universal Championship Seth Rollins (c) vs. AJ Styles

On the April 22 episode of Raw, Triple H scored two triple threat matches whose winners would face off to determine the new main contender for Seth Rollins ‘ Universal Championship In one of the matches, AJ Styles beat Rey Mysterio and Samoa Joe. In the other, Baron Corbin defeated Drew McIntyre and The Miz. Afterwards, Styles beat Corbin and became the leading contender for the Universal Title at Money in the Bank.

SmackDown (June 12, 2020)
WWE Intercontinental Championship :
AJ Styles vs. Daniel Bryan

On May 12, 2020, the WWE Intercontinental Championship was declared vacant after champion Sami Zayn chose to abstain from wrestling during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Three days later, an eight-man tournament began to determine the new champion. Daniel Bryan reached the finals after beating Drew Gulak and Sheamus in the quarterfinals and semifinals, while AJ Styles beat Shinsuke Nakamura in the quarters and was exempted in the semifinals due to an injury to Elias.

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