There is no doubt that AJ Styles in one of the greatest of all time. From his debut match in wrestling, fans knew that he was something special.
From his work in TNA and WWE, he became known as one of the best wrestlers in North America.
AJ Styles is one of the few men to win both the WWE Championship and TNA Championship, alongside the likes of Kurt Angle, Rob Van Dam and Jeff Hardy,
However, one thing those other wrestlers (except Kurt Angle) have never won is the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship.
Following his debut in NJPW and ousting Prince Devitt (WWE’s Finn Balor), AJ Styles won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in his very first match for New Japan Pro Wrestling.
AJ Styles NJPW Debut
AJ Styles debuted for NJPW at the Invasion Attack 2014 event. This was after he left TNA, following them offering him less money to re-sign, despite interest from WWE.
He turned down the offer from NXT to move to New Japan, which gave fans the chance to see lots of dream matches from the former TNA Champion.
This event also happened to be the scene of Prince Devitt’s last NJPW match. He lost to former Apollo 55 Teammate Ryusuke Taguchi in a fast-paced and exciting match, showcasing the best of the New Japan super juniors’ division.
However, the match saw the Young Bucks turn on Devitt, seeing his ego as a threat to the Bullet Club’s independence. This was the last time Devitt appeared in NJPW.
While it was a good match, it was the post-match action which caught the eye. Former TNA Champion AJ Styles debuted for New Japan later on in the night, claiming the leadership of Bullet Club.
He literally kicked Prince Devitt out of New Japan, taking over as the leader of the Bullet Club going forward.
As that was the stable that Devitt had created 12 months prior, the fans felt great sympathy for The Real Rock ‘n’ Rolla and began to cheer for him.
This stopped the cheers for AJ Styles, making him a hated heel following his debut.
It also helped keep Bullet Club as a heel stable in NJPW. They had long been the top Gaijin team in the company, and this betrayal went a long way to keep the fans against them.
This was, in part, thanks to Japan’s focus on loyalty and respect, something that they value very highly in society.
AJ Styles Won The IWGP Heavyweight Championship In His First Match
In his NJPW debut match, AJ Styles shockingly won the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship.
He wrestled against champion Kazuchika Okada at NJPW Wrestling Dontaku 2014, after he attacked Okada following a tag team match the month prior.
The match was a slower-paced affair than AJ Styles was used to, but still had all the makings of a brilliant match.
Despite huge amounts of interference from Bullet Club, the fans were amazed by AJ Styles in the ring. He had not been seen by many fans, except for a few cross-promotion matches while signed with TNA years prior, and they were amazed by his talent in the ring.
In fact, he was so good in the ring that fans even accepted him winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship on his NJPW debut!
AJ Styles pinned Kazuchika Okada on his NJPW debut, hitting him with a Styles Clash to win the match, and his first world championship in his short run in Japan.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.