The road to finalizing the WWE Championship match at WrestleMania has hit a few potholes over the last several weeks. John Cena became a 16-time WWE Champion by virtue of his victory over AJ Styles in a classic match at the Royal Rumble. Cena only held it for two weeks, however, relinquishing it to Bray Wyatt at the WWE Elimination Chamber pay-per-view.
The same night Cena won the WWE title, Randy Orton won the Royal Rumble match, guaranteeing himself an opportunity to face the WWE Champion at WWEWrestleMania. However, he’d forego that chance on the Valentine’s Day episode of WWESmackDown, forcing blue brand management to book a new number one contender’s Battle Royal the following week. That, too, ended in controversy when Styles and Luke Harper were both eliminated at the same time.
So this past week, AJ and Harper competed in a singles match in what was supposed to be the final, deciding match to name a challenger for Bray Wyatt’s WWE Championship on the grand stage in Orlando. Styles won despite the match being restarted by an intervening Shane McMahon when Harper’s foot was on the rope as the referee was making the three count. AJ was booking his ticket to the WWE WrestleMania main event, but then Randy Orton’s true plan was revealed.
Orton appeared on the jumbotron during Wyatt’s Invocation. The Viper burned down the Wyatt Compound and Sister Abigail’s remains, but in the process, Orton also declared his intention to face Bray for the WWE Championship on April 2. The WWE’s plan all along was to have Orton and Wyatt in the WWE title match, although there was plenty of debate whether or not to include Luke Harper in the mix.
Styles, on the other hand, has always been meant for other things. The Phenomenal One was the longest-reigning WWE Champion on WWESmackDown since the most recent brand extension, but he’s been in line for a WrestleMania showdown with Shane McMahon, a program that has been built slowly, but one we should see cemented next week.
However, there is still one piece of the puzzle to be put into place before contracts are signed between Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt for the WWE Championship, and between AJ Styles and Shane McMahon. As reported by Wrestling Inc, next week’s SmackDown will feature a major main event between Randy Orton and AJ Styles. The winner of the match will be the official number one contender for the WWE Championship at Camping World Stadium.
Including the Royal Rumble match, this will be the fourth number one contender bout to determine an ultimate challenger for the WWE title. Here’s a portion of how the WWE’s official website described the decision to hold what will be AJ Styles’ first-ever match against the WWE’s Apex Predator.
“The whirlwind struggle to determine WWE Champion Bray Wyatt’s No. 1 contender at WrestleMania will reach new heights this Tuesday on SmackDown LIVE when Randy Orton battles AJ Styles one-on-one… But who ultimately has the right to challenge Bray Wyatt: the Superstar who won the Royal Rumble Match or the Superstar who won the honor after Orton refused it? To answer that question, Commissioner Shane McMahon and General Manager Daniel Bryan reviewed all that happened this past week and have determined that The Viper and “The Face that Runs the Place” must go head-to-head this Tuesday at 8/7 C on USA Network to finally establish who will take on The New Face of Fear on The Grandest Stage of Them All.”
Styles has repeatedly stated that one of his dream opponents since signing with the WWE has been Randy Orton. He’ll finally get his chance with significant implications on the line on Tuesday. We should also expect the two to engage in a much lengthier program at some point down the line as there were once plans for them to battle over the WWE title when AJ was in possession of it late last year.
[Featured Image by WWE]