One night after losing to Chris Jericho at Wrestlemania 32, AJ Styles is the new No.1 contender for the WWE World Heavyweight championship after winning a fatal four-way match in the main event of Monday Night RAW.
With new champion Roman Reigns addressing a booing audience, Styles along with Chris Jericho, Kevin Owens, and Sami Zayn, made their presence felt. All four men wanted a shot at Reigns’ championship gold and began brawling as the “Samoan Superman” looked on. Back from commercial, Shane McMahon — who was put in charge of RAW by Vince McMahon at the start of the show — informed Reigns that the winner of a fatal four-way featuring the aforementioned superstars would be his next challenger.
After a lengthy back-and-forth contest, Styles caught Jericho with his Styles Clash finisher, getting a three count just before Owens could break up the pin. With the victory, Styles now heads to WWE Payback to face Reigns for the most prestigious prize in the company.
It will be an apropos initial main event for Styles. When he debuted at the Royal Rumble in late January as the No. 3 entrant, Styles was met by Reigns, the only competitor in the ring. They two men went at it for a few minutes before the next entrant entered the ring. Now, they will fight it out
Having left New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) and turned down Total Nonstop Action (TNA), Styles has one goal during his run with WWE. He will get a chance to continue building on his legacy in a few weeks at Payback.
“I think for me, personally, is to be that guy everyone wants to wrestle,” Styles told FOX Sports last week. “I want to be that guy. They expect great matches from me. Despite the fact that yes… Sunday I’d love to be at the main event of WrestleMania, but [what’s] most important to me my peers respect me, and at the same time, want to have me around.”
As for Reigns, coming off his triumphant Wrestlemania moment and victory over Triple H, he will look to cement himself as a credible performer in the fans’ eyes. The boos have gotten progressively worse for Reigns, culminating with the deafening chorus of negativity from the Dallas crowd on Monday evening.
“I’m not a bad guy…I’m not a good guy….I’m THE guy,” Reigns said with a smirk on his face to the live audience. He acted dismissive toward all four men who answered his challenge, calling out any wrestler who wanted a shot at his newly-won championship. Reigns’ demeanor was a lot more cocky than usual, leading many to believe that the process of him transitioning from a face to a heel (bad guy) is underway. It remains to be seen how this match against Styles develops as Triple H is still technically guaranteed a rematch.
One of the performers involved on Monday night’s festivities may have received a bad break.
Moments before the match, Zayn was assaulted by Owens backstage as the “Underdog of the Underground” was giving an interview. There are rumors that Zayn re-injured his shoulder during the brawl earlier in the show. Per Wrestling Inc, Zayn awkwardly hit a rope during his brawl with Owens and ran backstage clutching his shoulder.
Owens powerbombed Zayn through a table, taking him out of the No.1 contender’s match. Zayn’s vacancy in the match was filled by a returning Cesaro as the Dallas, Texas, crowd greeted the “Swiss Superman” with a thunderous roar.
If Zayn is required to miss a lengthy period of time, it would be a sad finish to an otherwise outstanding weekend. At NXT Takeover: Dallas, Zayn battled NJPW legend Shinsuke Nakamura in his first WWE match. The bout has been referred to as a possible match of the year candidate. Two nights later, Zayn wrestled at his first Wrestlemania in the opening match for the Intercontinental championship.
[Featured Image via WWE]