SO, let's take a trip backwards all the way to 1999. Why? You'll see....
Now let's do a little bit of era comparing, shall we? Back in 1999, WCW has been floundering ever since clubbing WWF's skull in the ratings turned the other way and featured just the opposite. Politics and backstage jockeying for status positions became the norm. But you all know that if you've read ANYTHING I've written on the subject of the Rise and Fall of WCW. That said, Chris Jericho was among the most popular self made superstars WCW ever employed. Yes, WCW didn't create Jericho, JERICHO created Jericho. And to that end, when he decided to make the jump to WWF, the fans gave him a heroes' welcome. This came after having been with WCW since 1996, a mere 3 year tenure. Even so, his character earned him big notoriety.
Fast forward to January of this year, the 25th, to be exact, WWE's number 3 entrant into the Royal Rumble match......
Yes, this is AJ Styles' debut....NO, this is NOT official WWE footage. Why not? Because fans at home didn't get the full effect of his entrance thanks to the camera being more concerned with the look on the face of Roman Reigns than the looks on the faces of MILLIONS of people literally losing their minds at the debut of Mr. TNA having made the jump.
Yes, I am very bothered by that. So to the man who posted the single best fan film out there of the event, thank you for never breaking frame to see Roman's response.
Nevertheless, let's look at the tape itself. New music, the crowd takes about a second to catch the drift once the word "Phenomenal" hit the screen. And there it was, the suspension of disbelief until the man himself, crosses the stage.
If Chris Jericho is the debut by which every other WWE debuts are judged, aside from foolish camera work on the part of WWE, this is the jump of the newest era. NO ONE has had a better resume than Styles aside from Sting. In my mind, Sting's jump came nearly 15 years too late as I've stated in another column as to where Sting would have best fit into the WWE timeline. That notwithstanding, though, when you look at the reaction from the fans, AJ's is supreme.
Look, I'm not saying Sting's debut wasn't important, but when you look at the way his tenure has been squandered, even killing his momentum at the biggest stage, Styles comes out of the gate as the single best debut to come from this era's competition, TNA.
So where is this going? Can anyone think of a better first feud for AJ than against the man with the original debut countdown who still holds the record of biggest pop? Me either.