Roman Reigns and AJ Styles are two of the WWE Network’s most important assets. Reigns is hardly the WWE’s most popular superstar. The “Big Dog” is booed every time he enters the ring, and logic would dictate that his beating The Undertaker at WrestleMania 33, effectively retiring the Deadman, will do little to boost his popularity. Reigns has been pushed as the face of Monday Night Raw for some time. Where Reigns has now been a WWE wrestling star for over five-years, AJ Styles is a relative newcomer to the WWE network.
Styles announced himself to the WWE universe with an impressive performance at the 2016 Royal Rumble, and since then, AJ has dominated the SmackDown brand. Of course, Styles is widely regarded as the world’s best wrestler, and his matches against John Cena were superb. The “Phenomenal One” is already a fan favorite. Where Reigns has been promoted as a WWE “face,” Styles has preferred to let his performances in the ring do the talking, so his status is more ambiguous.
Reigns position on Monday Night Raw is interesting. As reported by the Inquisitr earlier this week, by beating The Undertaker at WrestleMania 33, the “Big Dog” became the WWE’s top dog. Having a current star retire a legend is not a new story for the WWE network. The Undertaker retired Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels on his way to becoming the biggest star wrestling has ever known.
Since joining the SmackDown roster, Styles has positioned himself as “the face who runs the place,” while Reigns managed to become the only WWE face to win the plaudits as the WWE’s “worst wrestler.” It would be easy to assume that Vince McMahon intended that Styles would become the “face” of SmackDown Live, whilst Reigns would continue to hold that position on Monday Night Raw. There are, however, signs that this might all be set to change.
Are Roman Reigns And AJ Styles Turning Face?
The post-WrestleMania WWE shows are always fascinating, as they give strong clues as to how storylines will develop in the run-up to WrestleMania 34. Many WWE commentators have been crying out for Roman Reigns to take a heel turn. A Reigns heel turn would be great business for the WWE network; it would be the ideal opportunity to cash in on his unpopularity. According to Comic Book, Vince McMahon refuses to sanction that move. Face it, if a Reigns heel turn was on the cards, it would have happened at WrestleMania 33.
If Reigns had cheated his way to a win over The Undertaker, he would have changed his status from WWE face to arch-villain overnight. That didn’t happen and Reigns won relatively cleanly, and his post-match comments were full of respect for The Undertaker when he spoke about his victory. Reigns even said that the victory was “bittersweet.”
“It’s bittersweet. It almost feels like a loss, you know what I mean? Because, I’ve said this for the past three or four weeks, I’ve got nothing but respect for the Undertaker. If you’ve been a part of this business, and you know, everybody’s got respect for that man.”
Styles’ buildup to WrestleMania 33 suggested he was leaning ever more towards heel status. AJ attacked Shane McMahon on several occasions, including ambushing him in a parking garage and pushing him through a car window. All of that was forgotten in the aftermath of their match at WrestleMania 33. Styles extended the hand of friendship to McMahon, and the pair gushed with mutual admiration and respect. Remember, too, that Styles climbed into the ring on a recent edition of SmackDown to offer McMahon his apologies.
As Cageside Seats reports, that all adds up to Styles positioning himself as a face. Where Styles was a huge hit on SmackDown in 2016, expect Shinsuke Nakamura to become the face of SmackDown in 2017. Nakamura is a well-established “babyface,” as well as a talented and charismatic wrestler, and it is entirely possible that he will replace Styles as the face of SmackDown Live.
On this week’s Monday Night Raw, Vince McMahon announced that a “superstar shakeup” was on the way. Styles took to Twitter to say that the shakeup would be a “phenomenal opportunity.” Many commentators believe that this signals a move from SmackDown to Raw for Styles. One would assume that this means a top superstar will move in the other direction. The obvious choice would be Roman Reigns, but that move is extremely unlikely.
As the top face on the WWE’s flagship show it is unlikely that McMahon would shift reigns to SmackDown, even when the blue brands viewing figures are now neck-and-neck with Monday Night Raw. McMahon will be looking to boost Raw, and having Styles and Reigns in an epic feud would do that. The thing is, that if the pundits are correct and Styles is set to become an established face, what does that mean for Reigns? It takes us all the way back to a Reigns heel turn.
A Reigns heel turn, combined with a Styles face turn, could lead to one of the most exciting feuds the WWE has ever produced. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to see the “Phenomenal One” bring the “Big Dog” to heel?
[Featured Image by WWE]