Rumors of AJ Styles vs. Shawn Michaels at the 2017 Royal Rumble have been firing up since earlier in the week. It’s no surprise why such a match may make sense – WWE’s first big pay-per-view of the new year will be held in San Antonio, which is Michaels’ hometown, while Styles is the reigning WWE World Champion, just months after WWE made him their most touted free agent signing in quite some time. And while the rumors of the Phenomenal One defending his WWE World title against the erstwhile-retired Heartbreak Kid are far from confirmed, a recent interview with Styles suggests he’s all for the match taking place.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated published Thursday, the 39-year-old Styles covered a variety of different topics, but one key takeaway was his thoughts on the rumors of AJ Styles vs. Shawn Michaels at Royal Rumble 2017. The former TNA, Ring of Honor, and New Japan Pro Wrestling standout, who himself made his WWE debut at the 2016 Royal Rumble, isn’t thinking much of the rumors right now, but if they were to be true, he said that it would be an honor to face the “Heartbreak Kid” in front of his hometown crowd.
“I would love the opportunity to wrestle him. I’d love to learn from him, but who’s to say if that’s going to happen. Right now, it’s all speculation and rumors that I’m finding out like everyone else is, but man, what a match that would be.”
Should AJ Styles vs. Shawn Michaels become a reality, it would mark Shawn’s first match in WWE in almost seven years. Michaels, 51, had retired from in-ring competition after losing to The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVI, in a “Streak vs. Career” match. As such, it’s going to be risky for a man in his early-50s to return to the ring, much like many have held reservations about 49-year-old Bill Goldberg coming back to WWE to face Brock Lesnar. But according to WrestlingNews.co, there are multiple reasons why it would be a good idea for the rumored Styles vs. Michaels match to take place.
“I agree with Styles. Michaels has said before that he didn’t want to go back on his word after his retirement match with The Undertaker in 2010 but I don’t think fans would mind seeing him just one more time against one of the greatest wrestlers of this generation. You’d think that Michaels would have some sort of role on the show since the 2017 Royal Rumble would be the 20th anniversary of the last Rumble held at the Alamodome.”
Another interesting excerpt from the interview came when Styles addressed former WWE Superstar Ryback’s claims that he was originally booked to dominate him in a “squash match” at WrestleMania 32. Styles, then working as a babyface, did lose at that event, but it was a competitive match against Chris Jericho that furthered what was then his first WWE feud. Ryback, on the other hand, lost a pre-show match for the United States Championship against defending champion Kalisto.
“I think what Ryback said may have been true at that time,” Styles told Sports Illustrated writer Justin Barrasso. “I don’t know that Vince knew exactly what he had in AJ Styles, and I think his opinion of me changed somewhat quickly. That’s OK, I’ve been doing that my whole life — changing people’s opinion of me and what I’m capable of. I’m not mad at Ryback. If it was said, it was said, and I’m not mad at Vince McMahon. Opinions vary, and they change.”
Once again, it should be stressed that AJ Styles vs. Shawn Michaels is not yet a sure thing. But with the current trend of WWE courting longtime fans by bringing back their old favorites from the Attitude and Ruthless Aggression eras, it won’t be surprising if this match does get confirmed at some point in the near future.
[Featured Image by WWE]