AJ Styles proved tonight that he truly is phenomenal. The 39-year-old veteran defeated Dean Ambrose in the main event of WWE Backlash to win the WWE World Champion, becoming the first man in wrestling history to win the WWE World Championship, TNA World Championship, and IWGP Heavyweight Championship.
Brock Lesnar had previously held the WWE and IWGP titles, Shinsuke Nakamura has been IWGP Champion and NXT Champion, Finn Balor is a former IWGP Jr. Champion and WWE Champion, and there are several wrestlers who have been WWE and TNA champion, but no man until Styles has managed to obtain the top world titles of all three top professional wrestling promotions in the world.
As additional icing on the cake, Styles is also a former Ring of Honor Pure Champion, PWG Champion, and because of the early association between TNA and the NWA, he is also technically a three-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion.
What makes all these even sweeter for the self-proclaimed “face that runs the place”? Styles left TNA as world champion in October 2013, meaning that he has accomplished this feat in a little under three years. In addition, it was only 14 months ago that he lost the IWGP title to Kazuchika Okada, and he is currently only in his ninth month as a WWE Superstar, debuting at the 2016 Royal Rumble.
Continuity Note: Kurt Angle has held the IWGP Heavyweight title recognized by Antonio Inoki and the IGF after its split from New Japan Pro Wrestling. The title was not recognized by New Japan as its world title, as they had stripped Brock Lesnar of the belt and created a new title won by Hiroshi Tanahashi, leading to Inoki leaving the promotion. TNA also recognized this version of the title as the world championship in order to promote their star as the IWGP champion, but his reign is not recognized by New Japan Pro Wrestling.