While it’s the norm for a ready-made star to keep their name upon signing with WWE today, when AJ Styles joined the company in very early 2016, it wasn’t.
The Phenomenal One noted in an interview with ESPN that a name change was pitched, something he was ‘cool’ with. However, his trademark tattoo provided a welcomed stumbling block.
“When Triple H and I were talking, he said: ‘I don’t know if we’ll be able to keep your name.’ I said: ‘That’s fine, I’ll be any name you want me to be called, except I do have this huge AJ tattoo on my side so that might be a problem.”
Despite being OK with the prospect of changing his name, Styles is thankful he didn’t have to: “I think it worked out for the best because we weren’t taken and being changed into something else.
“We were the same characters that they saw from different companies and that they were familiar with and people were already invested in. I think that was a good move by WWE.”
Against all the odds, AJ has gone on to become one of the elite performers in WWE today. Despite his size, accent, and name being made elsewhere, Vince McMahon has been able to put all of that to one side to make The Phenomenal One the face of his soon-to-be marquee show (once the move to Fox is completed next October).
How weird would it have been at the 2016 Royal Rumble if AJ appeared and was announced with a different name?! Thank goodness for that tattoo, hey?