Just one year after making his WWE debut at the 2016 Royal Rumble, AJ Styles was on top of the WWE ladder when he became the WWE Champion and defended his title against the former 13-time champion of the same belt, John Cena. Although Styles left empty-handed that night, he noted to the panel on WWE’s The Bump that match will go down as one of the greatest matches he’s had in his career.
“It was awesome! I think about this match with John Cena, and I would say, out of all the matches I’ve had, this was the best one,” AJ Styles mentioned when discussing his Royal Rumble match with Cena in 2017. “A lot of people don’t know this, but we never left the ring in this match. We never went outside of the ring; it was all in the ring, which is not really heard of these days. I’m really proud of that match.”
Fast forward four years after his first entrance in the Royal Rumble, Styles was back again and looking towards another shot at becoming the No. 1 contender for any of the big titles for WrestleMania 36. Although Styles was off to a decent start, his spotlight was taken away when WWE Hall of Famer Edge made his in-ring comeback during the event. Styles recalls the electricity he felt both from the crowd and Edge when the two clashed in the center of the ring before Styles was eliminated.
“I think I was definitely outdone by freakin Edge. Man, it was awesome,” he stated. “Standing in that ring and waiting for him to make his entrance was pretty unbelievable. Knowing the moment we were going to have, I was excited. I wish I hadn’t separated my shoulder. But if anyone was going to do it, I was glad Edge helped me with it.”
It came as a surprise for many fans when the former leader of CHAOS, Shinsuke Nakamura, and the former leader of The Bullet Club, AJ Styles, both ended up in WWE around the same time. Since their debuts, Styles and Nakamura have tried to plant seeds towards renewing their feud. Although both men are on different brands, Styles is hopeful they’ll cross paths in the future again.
“We never really talked about it. But, I know there were some moments that we could make out of it,” he stated about him and Shinsuke Nakamura’s interactions in WWE. “You gotta remember that at Money In The Bank, there was a moment where we both had to move the ladder out of the way before we took shots at each other. I wanted to plant a seed to see if fans wanted to see us go at it [down the road]. It looks like it worked because we got to do it [again] at WrestleMania.
“But yeah. We never really talked about it, but we hoped something would happen.”
You can watch AJ Styles’ full interview above. If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit WWE’s The Bump with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.