AJ Styles' arrival to the WWE in early 2016 was one of the biggest acquisitions the company had made in several years.
Going back to his days with TNA (now Impact Wrestling), Styles had always been regarded as one of the top performers in the world. However, it was his run with New Japan Pro Wrestling immediately prior to his arrival in WWE that put his reputation over the top, so much so that WWE finally decided to sign the Georgia native.
Styles had assumed the position as the leader of the wildly popular Bullet Club following Prince Devitt (Finn Balor) leaving for the WWE. Styles would go on to become the IWGP Heavyweight Champion and have some of the best matches of his career. He ended his time with New Japan by having an all time classic with Shinsuke Nakamura at WrestleKingdom 10 in the Tokyo Dome, just weeks before Styles would show up at the Royal Rumble.
"When AJ Styles came into WWE, Vince McMahon was skeptical of him for every reason you might think," Jacobs explained. "He came in at Royal Rumble, got a great reaction when he came in and Vince was still skeptical and said ‘well that’s just one audience.’ Can he talk? What’s his character?
"Does anybody know who he is? All the reasons you would think. But it was Vince McMahon’s idea to have AJ work with Roman Reigns a few months later. We had all pitched our ideas and figured you’d want to give him a strong heel.
"The strong heels we had at that point were Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens, and Vince was like ‘we’re going with AJ Styles.’ You have to give the devil his due in those moments."1comments
There's no question that McMahon warmed up to Styles quickly given his booking that first year and eventual WWE Championship victories. Over the last two years, Styles has had very long championship reigns and become the face of WWE SmackDown. He wouldn't be in that position without the ringing endorsement of WWE's head honcho.
That and there's also no way McMahon does this segment with someone he doesn't have a lot of faith in.