There is no doubt when you are discussing the best wrestlers in the world, the name “AJ Styles” is mentioned.
Styles began his professional wrestling career in 1998. Since then, he has wrestled all over the world, but most notably in TNA (now IMPACT) and New Japan Pro Wrestling.
He debuted in WWE entering the 2016 Royal Rumble and has had quite the success since joining the company. He has been WWE Champion twice and has now held the United States Championship on three separate occasions.
On the July 1st edition of Raw, Styles turned heel after losing in a match with Ricochet for the US title- reuniting the Club alongside Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows in the process.
As ‘the Phenomenal One’ enters his next big storyline, let’s take a look at ten of his greatest matches since joining Vince McMahon’s company.
AJ Styles vs Shane McMahon – WrestleMania 33
Remember when the ‘Omni-Shane’ hadn’t been created and instead we had “What’s up Nashville!?” Smackdown Commissioner, Shane McMahon? The good times.
The feud between Styles and McMahon surpassed expectations and provided an exciting match at WrestleMania 33. The rivalry was built on gaining respect and Shane’s head being delivered through a car window.
Styles was one of the biggest heels in the company at that point. He blamed McMahon for the lack of more opportunities for the WWE Championship.
The match kicked off WrestleMania 33 and it was a great way to set the tone for the rest of the evening. A fun opener with high-spots, Shane’s usual painful jabs, a ref bump, a coast-to-coast into a trash can and much more.
Styles picked up the win following a failed shooting star press and a Phenomenal Forearm, turning into a mega babyface by shaking Shane McMahon’s hand on the following SmackDown. A phenomenal match with a phenomenal outcome.
AJ Styles vs Samoa Joe – Super Showdown (2018)
This rivalry may have been more exciting back in TNA but both men tried their best to make excitement occur with the story they had. It was highly personal, however, lasted long over its due date.
The potential was there for a great rivalry, but a series of bad finishes derailed the audience’s interest. By the time Styles and Joe competed at Super Showdown, they had already had two pay per view matches in less than two months.
Super Showdown was the best fight between them in WWE. They brawled and tried to decimate each other. Melbourne was loud for the whole match. Styles retained his WWE Championship in this fun bout.
AJ Styles vs Dean Ambrose – Tables, Ladders & Chairs (2016)
The Styles vs. Ambrose feud was one of the top reasons why Smackdown Live was so good at the beginning of the brand split. This rivalry saw Styles win his first WWE Championship before eventually defending the title against Ambrose in a Tables, Ladders and Chairs match.
This match saw some violent moves with the weapons stipulated. The most memorable being the chair spot from Ambrose where he created a steel chair bed to put Styles to sleep. Styles was able to retain the title with an assist from James Ellsworth.
The match put a cap on Styles’ incredible 2016, a year that saw him be named Wrestler of the Year in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter awards. Conversely, if Ambrose still had extreme matches like this, we may not have Jon Moxley in AEW today.
AJ Styles vs Roman Reigns – Extreme Rules 2016
It only took Styles four months to gain a shot for the WWE Championship. He had a solid match against Roman Reigns at Payback but the two really meshed when they met in a rematch three weeks later.
On the build to this match, Styles’ Bullet Club stablemates, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows debuted to create WWE’s own rendition – ‘The Club’. This extreme rules match was the climax to the Club vs the Bloodline feud.
The match had hardcore spots, such as a Styles Clash onto a chair, announce table havoc and interference from both stables. The ‘Big Dog’ retained his championship with a spear to counter the Phenomenal Forearm.
This match was overshadowed by the post-match angle, as this was the same night that Seth Rollins returned from his severe knee injury.
AJ Styles vs Daniel Bryan – TLC (2018)
Daniel Bryan shocked the world when he won the WWE Championship from AJ Styles on SmackDown Live in November 2018, turning heel with a low blow on the former champ.
In his first title defence, Bryan defeated Styles in a wrestling match that would have fit in on any great card in the world. The two wrestled for just under 24 minutes when Bryan got the pin with an inside cradle.
It was a style that you do not often see in WWE. The grappling and working over of Styles’ ribs being much more akin to what you would see in a New Japan Pro Wrestling match. However, Bryan and Styles were able to pull off once of WWE’s best matches of 2018.
AJ Styles vs ‘Demon’ Finn Balor – TLC 2017
Just imagine if it was ‘pumpkin king’ Finn Balor vs. ‘Sister Abigail drag queen’ Bray Wyatt at TLC 2017…
Luckily, as a result of Wyatt catching an illness, we got a taste of Styles vs. Balor. This match managed to get you invested with no storyline reason whatsoever and is certainly one of the greatest matches for both guys’ WWE careers.
Balor won and they shared a ‘Too Sweet’ moment at the end. Hopefully, we get a blood feud between the two, one day.
With the reunion of the Club, it is a big mystery if Balor will turn heel and join them. Don’t say it can’t happen because of Balor being on Smackdown. Wildcard Rule fixes that dilemma.
AJ Styles vs John Cena – SummerSlam 2016
John Cena vs. Styles – the greatest AJ Styles rivalry and all because of one catchphrase… “Beat up John Cena!”
The two wrestlers proved that their storyline was not just a catchphrase though as they went to war at SummerSlam 2016 and it was one of the best matches in both guys careers. It was just the usual big match John routine but something felt different. Everyone was invested and eager to see a change in the Cena match formula.
Styles being victorious after a phenomenal forearm was that change as Cena wasn’t on top anymore. This did allow the Phenomenal One to catapult up the ladder in WWE, becoming WWE Champion not long after that.
AJ Styles vs Brock Lesnar – Survivor Series 2017
Remember when Survivor Series was the only night RAW and Smackdown go head to head in direct competition? Brock Lesnar vs AJ Styles could happen on a random episode of Smackdown Live if it happened in WWE today.
This match was surreal. When Lesnar appreciates what he’s doing, he can go. You could tell he has a ton of respect for Styles and gave it his all. The match was nicely paced with Styles persistently trying to get the advantage over Brock just to be throttled into the mat.
Whenever Lesnar slipped up slightly, Styles would lay his offence, locking in the calf-crusher or hitting another devastating move from his arsenal.
The match came to a halt when Styles went for a second Phenomenal Forearm just to be hit by a devastating F5.
It would have been exciting if Styles won and Survivor Series was some sort of kryptonite for the beast incarnate, but WWE had other ideas.
AJ Styles vs Seth Rollins – Money In The Bank 2019
Dream match was written all over this when they locked horns at Money in the Bank 2019. How did WWE manage to keep them apart for their whole careers?!
Definitely match of the night and should be mentioned when talking about a match of the year candidate in WWE. The match was quick-paced with big spots and high flying action. Each move was altered in a final grasp of getting the advantage over one another – such as the inverted falcon arrow.
This match presented one of the most unique stomp counters when the Phenomenal One managed to precisely hit a Styles Clash, catching Rollins by the boot and hammering it down. It was insane.
AJ Styles vs John Cena – Royal Rumble 2017
A solid choice for Styles’ greatest match in WWE would be his final pay per view singles encounter with John Cena, where he defended his WWE Championship at Royal Rumble 2017.
This match had a lot more on the line than their SummerSlam match and that is the reason why it is placed higher on the list. Styles’ couldn’t face giving up his title and his ego had grown since defeating Cena months earlier.
John Cena couldn’t afford a loss because he couldn’t allow the fans to see that he isn’t up to the standard he used to be. Emotions certainly ran high throughout.
The match increased the pace and hard-hitting spots from their SummerSlam battle. Each move was blocked as each man tried to gain the upper hand.
Cena had to plant Styles with three Attitude Adjustments to finally put an end to the champ. Cena became a 16x champion tying Ric Flair’s record, albeit only for two weeks.