When WWE pinpointed Roman Reigns as the company's top guy, the plan was for him to carry the WWE World Heavyweight Championship up until and perhaps through the summer of 2016. Reigns was originally scheduled to win the title for the first time at last November's Survivor Series in a singles match with Seth Rollins. But two things happened that changed most of that. Rollins got injured and Reigns wasn't getting over as a top babyface.
Roman still won the championship at Survivor Series, only to be stripped of it five minutes and 15 seconds later when Sheamus cashed in his Money in the Bank contract. With Rollins out of action for the foreseeable future, WrestleMania plans shifted, but the plan to push Reigns as the face of the company remained in place, regardless of the negative reactions he'd receive night in and night out and the blatant backlash his push was getting online and in arenas alike.
AJ Styles, meanwhile, debuted at the Royal Rumble to much fanfare. He even squared off with Roman Reigns in an intentional (or otherwise) foreshadowing of things to come. Styles' popularity grew, his pops were becoming louder, and his merchandise was selling out quicker. This enabled WWE officials to pit Styles against the machine-made Reigns in a main-event program that didn't have to headline a mainstream pay-per-view. And yet, their program leading up to Payback received far better reviews than Roman's previous program against Triple H and The Authority.
Roman Reigns called for backup in the form of his cousins, The Usos, while Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows debuted in an attempt to help Styles capture the title. Rumors of two reuniting factions (The Shield and The Bullet Club) cast a very intriguing shadow over the entire feud. The Payback main event was a solid match, but it served as a background to the decision to enlist both Shane and Stephanie McMahon as co-heads of Monday Night RAW.
Fortunately, the sibling rivalry settled down enough to book a rematch between Roman and AJ later this month at Extreme Rules. By then, the match should be the main attraction, but the Extreme Rules stipulation will certainly invite some measure of outside interference again. However, don't assume that the second Roman Reigns/AJ Styles encounter will settle the score once and for all. Cageside Seats is reporting that this title program will continue up until Money in the Bank.
That would require Reigns and Styles to tangle and headline at three consecutive pay-per-views. There haven't been many complaints, if any, so why not continue running with it? The Roman Empire hasn't been built the way WWE had hoped, but by placing him in a feud with AJ Styles, he's the heel by default, placating the fans' wishes without an official heel turn.
Money in the Bank comes your way on June 19, which is followed by Battleground a little over a month later. And then the big one in the form of SummerSlam airs in August. The Inquisitr has reported that WWE has been planning a Roman Reigns vs. John Cena match to headline SummerSlam. Obviously, that match would be for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, which would mean Styles inevitably comes away from this current angle without the belt. That might not be such a surprise to most fans, but his rising popularity and merchandising sales are forcing WWE to continue booking Styles in high-profile programs.
Interestingly enough, it's being reported that beginning in late June, one house show tour will feature a main-event match between Roman Reigns, AJ Styles, and Sheamus in a triple threat for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. House shows are always subject to change, and Cena has only been booked for select non-televised events at this point due to his injury. But as of right now, the plan is to continue the Reigns/Styles feud until Money in the Bank. What other layers can WWE add to continue building the drama?
[Image via WWE]