AJ Styles AEW debut was planned from the start of the companies lifespan, but sadly for them he signed a new deal with WWE during that time. A reported $3 million contract was put on the table for the former TNA Champion and he couldn’t resist before signing his bumper new deal with the WWE.
He joined WWE in 2016, making his debut in the 2016 Royal Rumble. While he was considered one of the best wrestlers in the world, few expected him to reach the level of success he did in WWE. He is a former WWE Champion in the promotion, as well as having huge matches against top stars like Roman Reigns, John Cena and even The Undertaker (he was the last man to face The Deadman at Wrestlemania).
He has since settled into his role as a main event talent in WWE and has been tasked with working with young talent in the company over the past few years. However, his in-ring prowess and star power is such that he can step into a world title program within a moments notice and has no doubt earned himself an induction into the WWE Hall of Fame.
However, that could never have happened if AJ Styles has signed with AEW in 2019, as was planned for the debut episode of AEW Dynamite.
AJ Styles Debuting On AEW Dynamite
AEW were planning to bring AJ Styles to the company in 2019 during the advent of their premier TV show, AEW Dynamite. The debut show featured a number of top wrestlers, like Kenny Omega, Chris Jericho and Jon Moxley, but the company were looking for another former WWE star to bring some extra star power to their debut Dynamite.
Matt Jackson, Executive Vice President of AEW and one half of the legendary tag team The Young Bucks revealed in an interview on Talk ‘n Shop podcast hosted by Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson that they planned to bring the Good Brothers and a third mystery man to debut on AEW Dynamite.
Jackson revealed another “Bullet Club member” looked set to join the company but backed out early on, with the implication being that the superstar was former WWE Champion AJ Styles.
“When we were pitching ideas to have you guys [Anderson and Gallows] come in, it was not going to be just the two of you [debuting on AEW],” Matt Jackson said, “There was going to be another person who I would not name.
“Let us just say he’s another Bullet Club member you may not want to talk about.”
AJ Styles being wanted by AEW for their Dynamite Debut episode in October 2019 seemed likely but was actually confirmed by wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer. Being close to the Elite (Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks) he is generally considered a trustworthy source when it comes to matters of the trio.
He revealed in a 2022 edition of his Wrestling Observer Newsletter that AJ Styles was set to be joined by Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson (Known as The Good Brothers) as the big surprise debut in the early days of AEW.
However, he did reveal that AJ Styles turned down the deal with Tony Khan’s promotion, not being excited with moving to the fledgling promotion. He instead was happy to take the bumper contract with WWE and earn $3 million per year whilst coming towards the end of the year.
“When AEW started, the idea was for the final angle on the first TV show to be Gallows & Anderson & Styles to come out with the Young Bucks & Omega and turn on them to start the first main event faction feud. But the impression we had at the time is Styles wasn’t that interested as he was making big money here (WWE) and at the time nobody knew if AEW would make it, plus there’s the idea Styles is one of those guys who will get a job here after wrestling.”Dave Meltzer on plans for AJ Styles in AEW
Instead of The Club ( the faction involving Styles, Gallows and Anderson in WWE) decided to stay in WWE, while AEW decide to debut Chris Jericho’s new Inner Circle faction. While Styles remains a big star, Gallows and Anderson were released by WWE just a year later and would find their way into AEW and as part of the Elite in 2022.
AJ Styles is likely to retire once his current WWE deal is expired and is unlikely to sign with AEW in the future.
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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.