While AJ Styles is among WWE’s top stars now, management originally saw him as a WWE Superstars-level wrestler who could potentially be slotted in a midcard role.
Dave Meltzer says in this week issue of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that when TNA wanted to cut his salary significantly and he was looking to get out two years ago, WWE made him “a joke of an offer.” He ended up going to New Japan, which really helped his career. WWE’s perception on Styles changed after he drew a strong reaction at the Royal Rumble and even more so at house shows despite having little exposure on WWE television. Now he’s considered one of WWE’s top five regular stars.
Vince McMahon is very high on Styles. He was overheard saying at a recent WWE event that wished he would have signed him a decade ago.