Most wrestlers who show up in WWE from other wrestling promotions head to NXT first. Even Samoa Joe, who has been competing at a high level since 2002, started out in NXT.
However, AJ Styles, who has close to the same experience as Joe and worked together for a decade in Impact Wrestling, skipped NXT completely and went straight to the main roster. As a matter of fact, Styles debuted at the Royal Rumble and won a world title in the first year.
In an interview with WWE Now on YouTube, AJ Styles explained why he was not interested in making a stop in NXT despite many wrestlers believing it is the best place to be. Styles said he is too old.
I still get goosebumps from watching this.
AJ Styles' WWE debut at the 2016 Royal Rumble still remains as one of my favorite debuts. pic.twitter.com/9BTHaWLYbE
— P̷u̷n̷k̷.̷™̷ (@TheEnduringIcon) July 26, 2019
“I wasn’t the youngest guy,” Styles said. “Going through NXT, for me, wasn’t going to be an option unless you’re talking about a month just to get used to everything and learn how WWE works.”
With his debut at the Royal Rumble, and then his Bullet Club friends and partners Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows also making their debut on the main roster, Styles said the everything worked out the way it needed to.
AJ Styles is not young. While he can still go like a 20-year-old and fly around like someone half his age. Styles is 42 years old. He was almost 39 when he made his WWE debut. To understand this, John Cena is also 42 and is already winding his career down completely. Ricochet, who Styles just feuded with, is 30.
While the comparison is there with Samoa Joe, who is the closest person AJ Styles has to a contemporary in WWE, he is only 40. When Joe made his debut in WWE NXT, he had just turned 36. Joe was almost 38 when he made his main roster debut, just one year younger than AJ Styles.
WWE Monday Night Raw airs Mondays at 8/7c on USA Network.