It was no accident when Paul Heyman specifically selected Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair as comparison points for AJ Styles following his magnificent match with Brock Lesnar at November 2017's Survivor Series.
Recording the piece for WWE.com backstage after the clash, 'The Beast's advocate was delivering an impassioned and glowing soliloquy on 'The Phenomenal One' as if he were holding court in a bar full of aspiring young wrestlers. Dusting off the David Koresh aesthetic of old, Heyman spoke with a reverence unseen since Barry Blaustein caught his iconic pre-Barely Legal address of the ECW locker room on his genre-defining opus Beyond The Mat.
Styles' latest success story had just concluded - Brock was coming off one of the most dispiriting performances of his career against Braun Strowman at No Mercy, but the WWE Champion had again saved the day just as he had to get into the match in the first place. The originally-planned Lesnar/Jinder Mahal literally didn't bear thinking about - the company canned it (and indeed, the entire Mahal experiment) two weeks before the pay-per-view.
Ironically, AJ was good enough to get 'The Modern Day Maharaja' sufficiently believable as a legitimate headliner in their title trade and subsequent pay-per-view rematch. It hasn't kept Jinder permanently lodged atop blue brand main events in the aftermath, but even a man of his faith probably wouldn't believe in a miracle that big.
Square eyes on a square head, trained almost exclusively to Pro Wrestling, Sunderland AFC & Paul Rudd films. Responsible for 'Shocking Plans You Won't Believe Actually Happened', some of the words in our amazing Wrestling bookazines (both available at shop.whatculture.com), and probably every website list you read that praised Kevin Nash.