A.J. Styles started off 2016 by being in the co-main event for New Japan Pro Wrestling’s biggest event of the year, Wrestle Kingdom, and less than a month later debuted in WWE at the Royal Rumble. And according to the man himself, 2016 has been his best year in the business yet.
Styles had some uncertainties going into WWE, but has nothing but good things to say about his time since day one.
“I did feel like the new guy in the locker room [at first], but I was pleasantly surprised how the roster had so much respect for everything I’ve done outside the WWE,” Styles told Sports Illustrated. “It was really great to be part of a roster like the WWE where guys didn’t hold it against me that I wasn’t in WWE. They welcomed me with open arms. I felt like the new guy at first, but now I just feel like part of the family.
“Everyone thinks the style changes, but mine never has. The one thing that I’ve accredited to AJ Styles’ being able to adapt wherever I go, whether it be here in the WWE or somewhere else, I’ve always been blessed to be with great guys in the ring. I would love to take credit for all these great, amazing matches I’ve had in the past seventeen years I’ve been doing this crazy sport, but I can’t do that. I’ve been a part of some great matches because of the opponents that I’ve had, and here in the WWE is no different.
“The great thing about being part of WWE is the opportunity to do things that you didn’t expect to be able to do. It’s just an open door. That’s the great thing with the WWE. They want you to be like John Cena, they want you to be like The Rock, and they definitely give you that platform. I’m open to anything and everything. I’m just here to have a good time, and, whatever opportunity presents itself, hopefully I’ll get after it.
“Who knows what next year brings, but as far as right now and everything that’s happened in my career, this—by far—has been the biggest year of my career. Who would have ever thought that, within a couple months of getting into the WWE, that I’d be wrestling in the main event for the world championship? Then, nine months after getting here, actually being the world champion. So yes, being on the biggest stage in sports entertainment is easily the best year for AJ Styles.”