AJ Styles has pretty much set the world on fire in his year-plus in WWE, and has become one of the company’s most popular, marketable, and valuable Superstars in that time. In a rarity for WWE these days, Styles went straight to the main roster when he came in from New Japan, debuting at the Royal Rumble and making nonstop splashes ever since.
While it seems like an absolute no-brainer that Styles would go straight to the main roster, the only other incoming (non-returning) stars to not first go through NXT before moving to the main roster have been The Club, and that’s probably largely because Luke Gallows had already spent years in the company. (Braun Strowman and James Ellsworth have been the other two notable exceptions, because they’re both freaks in their respective ways.) No matter how big the star — Shinsuke Nakamura, Bobby Roode, Eric Young, Samoa Joe, Finn Bálor — they’ve spent time in NXT first.
In the above interview with Inside the Ropes, Styles explained why it’s vital that new talent goes through NXT first — even though he himself didn’t.