Dean Ambrose has been the WWE Champion since WWE Money in the Bank. He had been building to his first WWE World Title win for several months, but it took winning the Money in the Bank Ladder Match and cashing in on his former Shield brothers Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns to become WWE Champion.
Meanwhile, AJ Styles has feuded with Chris Jericho, Roman Reigns, and John Cena ever since making his long-awaited debut in WWE at WWE Royal Rumble earlier this year. Last month at WWE Summerslam, Styles defeated John Cena clean in a match of the year contender that has catapulted him into the WWE title picture. On Sunday at WWE Backlash, Ambrose and Styles will battle for the richest prize in the game.
What makes Ambrose vs. Styles so interesting is the match at WWE Backlash will be a face-off between two competitors who will battle again for WWE’s “Superstar of the Year” award when 2016 comes to a close. Not only that, but their feud is the culmination of SmackDown’s top face versus its top heel. In many ways, Dean Ambrose vs. AJ Styles is the best that SmackDown has to offer the WWE Universe right now.
The WWE Universe is expecting big things from Ambrose and Styles on Sunday at WWE Backlash. Few are worried about the match quality. Instead, the concern is the result of the match because WWE seems to find themselves in quite the conundrum when it comes to picking a winner of the match.
Ambrose vs. Styles at WWE Backlash for the WWE Championship is a situation where both men truly need the victory and the championship to maintain their momentum on SmackDown for the rest of 2016. AJ Styles is red hot after defeating John Cena at WWE Summerslam, so a loss on Sunday would mean he got that win just to put over Ambrose. On the other hand, Ambrose has just gotten started as WWE Champion.
It has been reported that the popular opinion going into WWE Backlash is AJ Styles. A lot of people feel that his victory over Cena would be wasted if he were to lose to Ambrose on Sunday night, but a title change would force WWE to make some big decision over the next few months. Although AJ Styles is the favorite going into WWE Backlash, there is something that has just come to light that could cement that outcome.
According to a recent report on SmackDown’s ratings, this week’s edition drew the lowest rating since the brand extension. For some reason, the WWE Universe isn’t turning in to see SmackDown every week. The big question that comes from that is about Ambrose’s ability to represent the brand as WWE Champion.
Obviously, WWE officials are looking at those ratings and wondering if Dean Ambrose is the right guy to be leading SmackDown as the WWE Champion. If that is the case, Styles is the best choice to take the title from him based on his momentum, and seeing AJ Styles as WWE Champion would be a sight to behold.
There are also two ways of looking at the low SmackDown rating. The main event segment featured both AJ Styles and Dean Ambrose. Therefore, both men should get the blame for the low rating. Unfortunately, that isn’t how it works. WWE may be looking to make a big title change at WWE Backlash, and few would argue.
No matter which man WWE officials decide to go with at WWE Backlash, the truth is that SmackDown’s product is going to be greatly changed by the result whether AJ Styles become WWE Champion for the first time in his career or if Dean Ambrose retains and his title reign continues on SmackDown.
John Cena will be returning to SmackDown programming shortly, and the expectation is the feud with Styles will continue. On paper, that serves as another reason why WWE should book a title change this Sunday at WWE Backlash. The issue there is WWE will need to decide if Cena vs. Styles for the WWE Championship is the direction they want SmackDown to head in since that is a match Cena wins nine times out of ten.
Also, casting aside Ambrose for John Cena is a surefire way to make the former seem like a transitional champion, and it’ll make it very difficult for him to regain a WWE World title for quite some time. Despite that fact, WWE officials need to decide over the next three days if AJ Styles is the new “face that runs the place” on SmackDown. Is AJ Styles the future of SmackDown? We’ll find out at WWE Backlash on Sunday.
[Image via WWE.com]