There are numerous wrestling fans complaining that TNA’s main storyline with AJ Styles is nothing more than a rip-off of WWE’s CM Punk storyline from 2011. Like Punk, AJ Styles left and took the title hostage with him. While the storylines are practically identical, there is one clear distinction. The Phenomenal One plans to go around the globe to different promotions and defend his TNA title. WWE truly had a chance to do something special with CM Punk and prove to the world that the WWE is where the best wrestlers are at. After Punk left with the WWE title, he was back within 2 weeks. He returned in such a short time that fans didn’t even get a chance to miss him. Yes, he got a big pop upon his return, but I would imagine his pop would have been much louder and more meaningful had he been gone for several months.
Countless have argued that the WWE wouldn’t have benefited from Punk defending his title at other companies. While other promotions would’ve benefited from having the WWE Champion on their card, WWE and Punk could have gained even more. Punk had the chance to compete in other promotions, beat their top ranked competitors, and return to the WWE still crowned champion. Had that happened, the WWE would have been able to claim that their champion beat the best competitors the world had to offer and that he returned because there is no competition like that of the WWE. That is exactly what TNA is trying to do with The Phenomenal One.
Dixie Carter recently announced that AJ was stripped of the championship and that there would be a tournament to crown a new TNA Champion. However, with AJ still in possession of the TNA title, he confirmed that he will go around the globe to defend it. AJ Styles is slated to compete in Mexico’s AAA wrestling promotion on November 3rd. In a recent interview AJ stated that he chose AAA for his first title defense because he has previously competed there and he knows that they have high level competition. Styles made an open challenge to the entire roster and the man who answered his challenge was Mesias. Though Mesias competed for TNA in the past, he and AJ Styles never crossed paths.
Although it is almost guaranteed that Styles will successfully defend the title, it is still good to see TNA taking this storyline to the next level. They are hopeful that AJ defending the title around the world will garner TNA more national and international exposure. TNA has also worked with CMLL in the past, so there is a chance that Styles may compete in Mexico’s other top promotion. As for other title defenses, AJ is expected to go to Japan and compete at Wrestle-1 promotion. The Phenomenal One is no stranger to wrestling in Japan. He has competed for several organizations in the Land of the Rising Sun.
These title defenses will surely boost AJ Styles’ wrestling stock and add to his legacy, but will it do anything to help TNA? Only time will tell and it will depend on how this story continues to develop. On the surface, this storyline is very similar to what WWE did with CM Punk, but TNA has taken it a step further and took it in a different direction. If executed properly, this move may show signs of life for this struggling company and TNA has the chance to make this angle special and their own.