AJ Styles had arguably the greatest 2016 of any superstar on the entire WWE roster. In fact, you could certainly make the case that he had the greatest first-year of anyone in the history of the entire company. And yet, with WrestleMania fast approaching, he remains without a confirmed opponent for the WWE’s biggest event of the year.
Styles is not alone, however. Plans for marquee names like John Cena, the Undertaker, Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, Kevin Owens, and Bray Wyatt are still up in the air less than three months out. As of this writing, only three matches remain locked into the WrestleMania card this coming April in Orlando: Shaquille O’Neal vs. The Big Show, Triple H against Seth Rollins, and Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar.
That’s been the story for at least the last two weeks. Last week, the Inquisitr pointed out that WWE officials expect to have the final version of the card in place by the January 26 or January 27. That means AJ Styles and the rest of the aforementioned names should have a good idea of what direction they’ll be headed for the grandest stage of them all.
While all those names are interesting considering their drawing power, perhaps the two most interesting are AJ Styles and Kevin Owens. These are the two top champions of their respective brands, after all. However, it became increasingly difficult to project their spot in WrestleMania because the expectation remains that Owens will drop his Universal Championship to Roman Reigns, and AJ will finally succumb to defeat at the hands of John Cena, relinquishing his WWE Championship. Both just so happen to take place at the Royal Rumble.
The Inquisitr pointed out that Vince McMahon and WWE officials have gone back to the drawing board on multiple occasions while trying to come up with the best WrestleMania card they can. As such, it’s entirely possible that they’ll change their mind on Styles losing the title next Sunday. At the very least, AJ will have his championship match and then either defend it again or enter the Elimination Chamber as a challenger for it two weeks later.
But regardless if AJ Styles enters WrestleMania as WWE Champion or not (and the plan as of now is to not), we’re able to eliminate several names as possible opponents for him at the big event. It won’t be Dean Ambrose and it won’t be John Cena for the simple fact that he battled both in lengthy programs within the last six months. The third name is the Undertaker.
Two months ago, the Undertaker was considered a front-runner to face either AJ Styles or John Cena at the Royal Rumble, but plans were scrapped in favor of a Styles-Cena showdown for the title at the pay-per-view. A new plan was pitched that would have seen the Deadman win the Royal Rumble match and go on to challenge either AJ or Cena at WrestleMania, whoever was champion after Royal Rumble.
That, too, was nixed, as current plans call for the Undertaker to face a superstar from RAW outside of the title picture. So where that leaves AJ Styles and those other names will be a mystery until everything is solidified by next week. However, Ringside News is reporting that WWE officials have narrowed down the list of potential opponents for AJ at WrestleMania to two men.
On Monday, we noted how Shane McMahon was a lock to wrestle at the event, and Vince was considering AJ Styles as the man to face him. As of now, that still remains in play, and probably the leader in the clubhouse. The other name being considered at this point is Randy Orton.
Orton and Styles were set to enter a feud after AJ’s storyline with Dean Ambrose had concluded, but officials decided on the Wyatt Family angle instead and extended it beyond its original timeline. The Wyatts are on the verge of imploding, which could be the impetus to turning Randy babyface again. However, any turn would first lead to a culminating match with Bray Wyatt, and it’d be difficult to blow off their feud and quickly transition Orton to Styles in such a short period of time.
As noted, everything will be decided by next week as Vince commits to a Royal Rumble winner and the domino effect of storylines it creates. Shane and AJ had a brief interaction this past week on SmackDown, which could certainly lead to something bigger. But keep an eye on Orton as the blue brand heads toward the Elimination Chamber just two short weeks after the Rumble. It should also be noted that Dean Ambrose has been considered for a match with Shane McMahon in recent weeks.
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