Mike Mansury explains why production missed shot of titantron for AJ Styles’ WWE debut at Royal Rumble 2016

Photo Courtesy: WWE

Insight from Mike Mansury. 

Eight years ago, A.J. Styles arrived to the WWE and made his debut for the company in the Royal Rumble match. When Styles’ theme music hit, production kept the camera on Roman Reigns who was in the ring and the shot of Styles’ titantron going from ‘I Am Phenomenal’ into his name was missed. 

A video of the name reveal was later uploaded to the company’s YouTube channel. Mike Mansury, who serves as AEW’s co-Executive Producer and Senior Production Executive, joined AEW Unrestricted and recounted that moment. 

Mansury was Vice President of Global Television Production for WWE and he stated that the plan was to keep Styles’ debut a secret, so production did not have a chance to rehearse. He said the Director did not know the ‘I Am Phenomenal’ was going to convert into Styles’ name. This led to him talking about Mercedes Moné’s AEW debut and the approach to how that presentation unfolded. 

This was something I was laughing about with our Director (at AEW), Andrew Thomas. So when I was on the other side, there’s the famous thing that internet wrestling fans scream about still to this day, A.J. Styles, not seeing his name at the Royal Rumble when he debuted in 2016… But that was one of those things where we couldn’t rehearse it in the afternoon, wanted to keep it very much lock and key. Our Director at the time didn’t know it was gonna happen so in fairness to him, he didn’t know it was the ‘I Am Phenomenal’ was gonna reveal to say ‘A.J. Styles’. I was sitting in the truck with our director Andrew Thomas and we’re just kind of going over notes, etcetera, and I was like, ‘You know what? I don’t know why this just stuck out in my brain,’ because the one thing I had talked to Mercedes (Moné) about was we weren’t gonna reveal her name on her entrance graphics until she had started rapping. We wanted to get the ‘CEO’ chant over which we did and really build up the anticipation and the drama so that there was the initial pop. Then there’s the, yup, this is it, it’s her and then you see her, right? It’s just kind of, you’re building, right? You’re adding layers to what you’re trying to do. I sat with Andrew and we went through it and I was like, ‘Alright, this is the plan of how we’re gonna do it and we’re gonna reveal her name so that you get the, yeah!! And then when she comes out, yeah!!’ That story though just lives so close and I was like, alright, let’s make sure we dot that ‘I’ and cross that ‘T’ on our end just to make sure we cover because that was gonna be a moment, right? Sure enough it was. She came out, she took it all in and it was all genuine.

Mercedes had a sit-down interview segment on the 4/10 Dynamite and she was ambushed when the lights in the room went out. She’ll be challenging for the TBS Championship at Double or Nothing on May 26th. 

If the quote in this article is used, please credit AEW Unrestricted with an H/T to POST Wrestling for the transcription.

About Andrew Thompson 8443 Articles
A Washington D.C. native and graduate of Norfolk State University, Andrew Thompson has been covering wrestling since 2017.