At the WWE Backlash pay-per-view, some match outcomes did not go as the majority expected. For instance, AJ Styles attempted to win his first ever United States Championship by defeating Kevin Owens. Despite many predicting otherwise, the self-proclaimed “Face of America” was able to pick up a victory against Styles. In an attempt to protect the Phenomenal One, Styles’ leg was stuck inside the commentating table, and he was unable to get free before the 10 count expired. On the following episode of SmackDown Live, there was no strong follow-up from the match, other than Owens pleading his case to Commissioner Shane McMahon, feeling unjustified that the person he defeated at Backlash was in the match to become the No. 1 contender for the WWE Championship.
Another match that shocked many at Backlash was the WWE Championship match between Randy Orton and Jinder Mahal. Proving that they are all-in with the focus of gaining more exposure in India, Mahal was able to win the championship after only a few weeks of rising up the mid-card into the main event. As of yet, this is the only championship that Mahal has won in both NXT and WWE, after starting with WWE’s then-developmental company (Florida Championship Wrestling) in 2010. With the help of Harv and Gurv Sihra, now known as the Singh Brothers, Mahal was able to sneak Orton and execute his Cobra Clutch Slam finisher for the victory.
Now, as the top name of SmackDown Live, Mahal faces a number of names who are vying to dethrone him as WWE Champion. One of those names is former WWE Champion AJ Styles. Since facing Shane McMahon at WrestleMania 33, WWE felt that it was no other choice but to make him a babyface, due to the resounding level of support from the WWE Universe. As a result, Styles is now looking to win his first championship in WWE as a babyface and to bring the championship back to his estate.
On the road to defeating Randy Orton for the WWE Championship, Mahal was able to pick up a huge victory over Styles, further increasing his stock as someone for the WWE Universe to keep their eye on. Still needing help from the Singh Brothers, the “modern-day Maharaja” was able to secure a victory, albeit through tricky and villainous circumstances. At a recent event in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Styles faced Mahal again in an attempt to regain a bit of revenge.
Surprisingly, Styles was able to win the match, via disqualification. This is due to him being attacked by the pesky Singh Brothers, which stopped the match and allowed Mahal to gain an advantage.
As of now, there will be a rematch between Mahal and Orton at the upcoming Money in the Bank pay-per-view. Based on speculation of Mahal carrying the WWE Championship for a few months to promote the company’s tour of India, the odds are that Mahal will retain the championship. As a result, another babyface will have to step up to the plate and try to defeat Mahal.
There is also speculation that the WWE Championship match at WrestleMania 34 in New Orleans, Louisiana, will be AJ Styles defending the title against Shinsuke Nakamura. This will require Mahal losing it most likely by the end of the year or the Royal Rumble, to allow WWE to have enough time to build the program. Most likely, the match between AJ Styles and Jinder Mahal will be featured at SummerSlam, with Styles being victorious.
Since Styles vs. Nakamura is penciled in as the head match for SmackDown Live, it will be interesting to see if WWE decides to turn Styles heel again to elicit a more one-sided crowd reaction for Nakamura, or they treat it similar to when Nakamura faced Sami Zayn in his debut match for NXT.
[Featured Image By WWE]