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AJ Styles Returns to Pro Wrestling in Japan

AJ Styles
(Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)

AJ Styles Returns to Pro Wrestling in Japan

WWE Smackdown superstar AJ Styles is set to return to professional wrestling in Japan. Styles is set to face Japanese wrestling legend Naomichi Marufuji at Pro Wrestling NOAH’s Destination show on July 13th. 

Pro Wrestling NOAH teased a major announcement throughout the past week. NOAH announced that they, along with WWE, had an announcement that would be revealed, as well as a message from an undisclosed wrestler. After a long waited anticipation, “The Phenomenal One” officially confirmed to set foot in Japan in a groundbreaking match. 

Styles had a successful career in Japanese professional wrestling before he arrived in the WWE back in 2016. The match against a four-time Global Honor Crown Champion could be an opportunity to showcase what can occur when brands collide. 

Likely, AJ Styles will not walk alone into Japan. Per reports from PW Insider, he will likely be joined by The Club members and longtime associates Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. Gallows and Anderson have been alongside Styles for a large part of their wrestling career, dating back to the original Bullet Club in Japan. Both men also stood by Styles as he gave his faux retirement speech on the May 31st edition of Smackdown. Having them ringside for the match can serve as a fitting moment in their collective journey.

Additional Collaborations

WWE appears to be more open to having a working relationship with outside promotions. AJ Styles’ return to Japan is a groundbreaking announcement for the WWE superstar; however, this is not the first time a collaboration occurred between the brands. Former WWE Intercontinental champion Shinsuke Nakamura wrestled against Keiji Muto at Pro Wrestling NOAH’s The New Year 2023 show. This would begin the working relationship between the brands, allowing Styles to now have his opportunity to work with the promotion. WWE is also sending former WWE Women’s Champion Iyo Sky to Japan for Marigold Summer Destiny 2024, also set to take place July 13. She is set to face Utami Hayashishita in what many are saying is a “dream match” between these competitors.  

TNA has also established its relationship with WWE back in January. TNA Knockouts Champion Jordynne Grace made a surprising appearance at the 2024 Royal Rumble event. She later returned to WWE television to challenge NXT Women’s Champion Roxanne Perez for the title at NXT Battleground. AJ’s involvement is the latest development in building these outside relationships further. These factors together could lead to further potential collaborations within wrestling, not only in Japan but in promotions worldwide. 

AJ Styles is looking forward to facing Marufuji, stating “You’ve been doing this a long time, and your resume speaks for itself, but I’m not coming to Japan to lose. Let’s tear the house down on July 13.” AJ Styles is set to appear for the first time in a NOAH ring at The Pro Wrestling NOAH Destination Show, available for pay-per-view.

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