On last week’s episode of WWE’s SmackDown, Chris Jericho and AJ Styles clashed for a second-time one-on-one. The two started the night by teaming up to face two members of the Social Outcasts in a tag-team match and then closed the show with their main event singles match. The two superstars originally faced off the night after the Royal Rumble with Styles pinning Jericho via the roll-up in his first-ever singles match with the WWE. Jericho, however, would get his revenge last week on SmackDown with a clean pin by way of the Codebreaker.
What’s interesting about the rematch on SmackDown is that reportedly, that’s not how the finish of the match was planned. According to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, and as covered by What Culture, the conclusion of the match was supposed to happen earlier. AJ Styles went to the top rope in hopes of delivering a springboard move on Chris Jericho, but Y2J tripped up Styles, causing him to crash to the mat. Jericho then went for the pin, but the referee stopped the count because Styles’ legs were under the rope. It was that sequence that was originally supposed to end the match.
WWE referees are instructed to call matches as if they were a shoot, abiding by all letters of the law. Therefore, since the referee saw Styles’ legs under the ropes, he instinctively stopped the catch and called for the match to continue. Jericho then improvised by hitting a Codebreaker out of nowhere and made the cover. So if we’re counting at home, that’s one win for AJ Styles and one win for Chris Jericho. And according to some fans, Jericho is damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t. He took the time to comment on that notion on Twitter last week.
After teasing the WWE Universe on Monday Night RAW this week, Jericho accepted Styles’ challenge for a rubber-match at Fastlane. The Fozzy frontman did so after defeating The Miz as Styles watching from ringside. It’s interesting that The Miz has played fodder for Jericho and The Phenomenal 1, but will not be a part of the payoff at the pay-per-view. Some speculated that a triple threat match could have been in order while holding off the final Jericho-Styles showdown until Wrestlemania.
The finish last week on SmackDown was originally designed to somewhat protect AJ Styles. The trip-up spot isn’t necessarily dirty, but a clean pin by way of Jericho’s finisher somewhat diminishes the AJ Styles character. This would lead most fans to believe that Styles will go over Jericho at Fastlane, if, in fact, WWE management is trying to protect him.
What comes next for both superstars still remains in question. The majority of rumored matches at Wrestlemania have centered around Roman Reigns and Triple H, Brock Lesnar and Bray Wyatt, and continued speculation surrounding The Undertaker’s opponent. But what about Chris Jericho and AJ Styles? Should we assume their rivalry will conclude this Sunday? Will the rumors of a Y2J heel turn and subsequent angle with Dean Ambrose come to fruition? Will Styles summon other members of The Bullet Club?
Regardless what happens at Fastlane, both Chris Jericho and AJ Styles should both be prominently featured on the grand stage in Dallas. WWE has a potential Styles feud in their back pocket in the form of Kevin Owens. Owens is set to defend his newly-won Intercontinental Championship Sunday against Dolph Ziggler, but if you recall, Owens is the one who eliminated Styles from the Royal Rumble during Styles’ debut. Jericho-Ambrose has a nice ring to it, but the Lunatic Fringe is certainly making a case for a main event lately.
[Image via WWE]