AJ Styles hasn’t missed a beat — or a show — since his memorable WWE debut in the Royal Rumble back in January. His ascension into the main event isn’t entirely shocking; it’s just surprising it’s happened this quickly. Styles’ surprise entry into the Rumble led into a lengthy feud with Chris Jericho that ended up culminating at WrestleMania. AJ let his work inside the ring do most of his talking, and now it appears that approach is catching up to him.
PWInsider is reporting that AJ Styles is currently battling numerous nagging injuries, and as a result, he was not booked to wrestle on this week’s edition of Smackdown. It’s not clear whether that decision was made in advance of the taping, or the day of, but it should be noted that Styles did work a six-man tag match with Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson against Roman Reigns and The Usos on Monday Night RAW. WWE had advertised a Smackdown main event featuring Reigns vs Gallows, but pulled the plug on that as well, and went with The Usos vs Gallows and Anderson in a straight tag match.
Due to the nagging injuries, WWE will be taking it easy with AJ Styles in an effort to keep him fresh and as healthy as possible for his main event match against Reigns for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Extreme Rules. There is only one more episode each of RAW and Smackdown before the pay-per-view, so fans might have to expect a less physical version of Styles during next week’s go-home shows.
Wrestling News World reported that Styles was dealing with severe back injuries at the beginning of 2015, right as he was negotiating with WWE. But he felt it was “now or never” in terms of signing with the preeminent sports entertainment company in the world at that time, and battled through the pain. Clearly, his work has not suffered because of any injury he might be dealing with, consistently putting on top matches with both Jericho and Reigns during his near five-month tenure with WWE to this point.
If you recall, the Inquisitr reported that the plan as of last week was to continue the AJ Styles/Roman Reigns feud up until Money In The Bank on June 19. Plans also included Reigns retaining the title at every turn, so the Money In The Bank pay-per-view will be interesting to see how they transition both superstars away from one another. It’s been reported that Finn Balor is scheduled to make his main roster debut on May 23 (the RAW immediately after Extreme Rules), but if Styles is still scheduled to compete for the championship at Money In The Bank, then it’s unknown what Balor’s immediate role will be.
Speculation has swirled around Styles, Balor, Gallows, and Anderson, now known in WWE as The Club. Will Finn insert himself into the group, and how will Styles react to his inclusion? Will that be the catalyst for an eventual feud between the two that could add to what is already shaping up to be a solid SummerSlam card?
If WWE is invested in AJ Styles long-term, it’d be wise of them to protect that investment, and with this move, it appears they are. With the impending arrivals of many top-level talents looming, the main event scene is about to get very crowded. It’s a scene Styles wasn’t projected to be a part of this early, but because of increasing merchandise sales and top crowd reactions, there may be no other choice. His impact has already caused some top talents and backstage producers to go to bat for The Club in terms of pushing them more and making them look stronger as a unit.
Plus, the last thing the WWE needs is another injury. Especially to AJ Styles.
[Image via WWE]