Last night on SmackDown, AJ Styles defeated Baron Corbin and Sami Zayn to become the No. 1 Contender for Kevin Owens' United States Championship because WWE officials are trying to kill many birds with one stone over the next few weeks. The bird in this scenario is AJ Styles because WWE kept him on SmackDown after the "Superstar Shakeup" for several reasons, which will all be revealed over the next couple of weeks.
As a result of the "Superstar Shakeup," SmackDown has traded Dean Ambrose, The Miz, and Alexa Bliss to Raw for Kevin Owens, Charlotte, Sami Zayn, and more. The brand lost the Intercontinental Championship when Ambrose moved to Raw but gained by the United States Championship with the acquisition of Kevin Owens. Overall, the WWE Universe is quite pleased with most of the roster changes made by WWE officials.
SmackDown still has a few balls up in the air heading into WWE Payback in a few weeks. Owens is still set to defend the US Title against Chris Jericho, which could see the title return to Raw if there is a title change, and Randy Orton is defending the WWE Championship against Bray Wyatt, who moved to Raw during the roster moves this week. However, WWE officials are hoping Styles can keep things going through the PPV.
The WWE Universe was expecting AJ Styles to re-enter the WWE Title hunt after WrestleMania 33. There was a lot of speculation about him moving to Raw, but many fans were surprised that he became the No. 1 Contender for the US Title instead of challenging Randy Orton immediately. Apparently, there are a couple of reasons why WWE officials are booking SmackDown this way until after WWE Payback is in the books.
First and foremost, WWE officials have no plans for Styles to win the US Title from Owens or to be a part of the title picture after the next few weeks. It's being reported that WWE officials want to kill time with Styles until after the feud between Orton and Wyatt is over after WWE Payback. On paper, that means that we will see Orton vs. Styles shortly after the PPV, which means AJ Styles will be back in the WWE Title hunt soon.
Another thing WWE officials are looking to do with Owens vs. Styles is having extra prestige on the US Title now that it's on SmackDown Live. The idea is the feud with AJ will help cement Owens as a top heel for the brand and further help The Phenomenal One connect with the WWE Universe as a babyface going forward.
The WWE Universe is organically forcing WWE officials to turn AJ Styles into a babyface after the grandest stage of them all. His work has been phenomenal on SmackDown over the past several months, so WWE is embracing his role as a top babyface while John Cena is gone and working with Kevin Owens will be a huge help to continue that trend. That way, the rivalry with Orton for the WWE Title will have more momentum.
WWE officials will be leaning on AJ Styles to bring prestige and heel heat to Kevin Owens and the US Title, kill time until Randy Orton is ready for a new challenger on SmackDown, and continue to build momentum for AJ Styles as he slowly turns babyface. It's a lot to do all at once, but The Phenomenal One is on of the few that is capable of doing all of those things. There is no doubt that SmackDown is AJ Styles brand right now, so WWE officials are embracing his role as "The Face That Runs the Place" and he will rise to the challenge.
[Featured Image by WWE]