Just a couple of weeks back, WWE superstar Randy Orton was on top of the world. Orton had just won the WWE’s 2017 Royal Rumble match to set him up for a world title shot at WrestleMania 33. Within hours of his winning the Royal Rumble, rumors were circulating about who Orton’s opponent would be at WrestleMania. Almost immediately, the speculation focused on Orton’s Wyatt Family teammate Bray Wyatt. The problem was obvious: Wyatt didn’t hold a world championship. No problem! There were two WWE PPVs to come, so Wyatt had plenty of time to bag himself a world championship belt.
On Sunday, fans saw Wyatt emerge victorious from the 2017 Elimination Chamber, and the scene was set for Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton at WrestleMania 33. There are times when the WWE network’s creative team have you shaking your head in wonder, and not in a good way. On Tuesday’s WWE SmackDown Live, viewers saw the creative team at its absolute worst.
The sight of Randy Orton on his knees in the SmackDown ring, proclaiming Bray Wyatt as “the master” and announcing that he was refusing to tackle Wyatt at WrestleMania, was humiliating for Orton. One can only imagine how Orton must have felt. The WWE may have declared the shows around Valentine’s Day as the “Festival of Friendship,” but Orton probably wasn’t feeling the love.
For any professional sportsman to be treated in this way is almost beyond belief. Only on the WWE network could you ever expect to see a professional sportsman like Randy Orton on his knees before an opponent he was due to face for a world title belt.
As reported in Rolling Stone, Wyatt deserved to win a world championship. He has had huge matches in the past, but world championships have eluded Wyatt. Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt made sense for WrestleMania: former teammates battling for a world crown has an interesting back story. It also opened the way for an ongoing WWE network storyline for Orton and Wyatt on the SmackDown half of the brand split.
Of course, Wyatt’s win at the Elimination Chamber left a specter hanging in the air, though it might be more accurate to say two specters. Those specters come in the shape of AJ Styles and 16-time world champion John Cena.
What Does Randy Orton’s Humiliation Mean For AJ Styles at WrestleMania 33?
AJ Styles set the WWE universe on fire during 2016. As soon as Styles made his WWE debut at the 2016 Royal Rumble, fans knew they were witnessing a new era. Styles certainly lives up to his ring name, a very skillful and entertaining competitor who has immediately become a huge hit with wrestling fans. Styles almost single-handedly held together the SmackDown brand for most of 2016. His matches against John Cena have been epic, and Styles was a very worthy world champion.
Bizarrely, Styles’ reward was to lose his world championship to Cena at the 2017 Royal Rumble and to face defeat in the Elimination Chamber as he fought to regain his championship. Worse was to come!
There can be no doubt that Styles’ performances over the last 12 months are deserving of a showpiece match at WrestleMania 33. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, the WWE rumor mill claims that Styles will face Shane McMahon at the WWE network’s showpiece event. Seriously, a great champion like Styles facing a part-timer who rarely wrestles these days. Let’s be realistic: McMahon usually puts on a great match, but is this the sort of match that AJ Styles needs?
Styles deserves top billing at WrestleMania, and it could be that Randy Orton’s SmackDown humiliation is designed to open the door for a title tilt, against Wyatt, at WrestleMania.
SmackDown Live General Manager Daniel Bryan announced that next week’s SmackDown will feature a “battle royal” to establish the No. 1 contender for a world title challenge. Cageside Seats reports that AJ Styles will be one of the contenders in that match, and after Luke Harper attacked Bray Wyatt on Tuesday’s SmackDown Live, it is likely that he will also feature.
Fans can probably rule out John Cena’s participation if rumors claiming that he will team up with his partner, Nikki Bella, to face the Miz and Maryse at WrestleMania 33 are correct. If Cena is out of the running, then a victory for Styles would set up an AJ Styles vs. Bray Wyatt headliner at WrestleMania. That would be a match worthy of headlining WWE wrestling’s premier event, it would also be ample reward for Styles and Wyatt, two stars who are increasingly important to the success of the SmackDown brand.
[Featured Image by WWE]