We are three weeks away from yet another WrestleMania and of all of the superstars on the roster with a grunt or complaint; former WWE world champion AJ Styles may have more room for aggravation than anyone on under contract.
After finding his niche in the company, and being arguably the most popular WWE champion to hold the top spot since the departed CM Punk, Styles has been relegated from his top position to a simple matchup with part-time WWE competitor Shane McMahon, who hasn’t competed in a WWE ring since last year’s Hell in a Cell bout with the legendary Undertaker. While last year’s bout with the “Dead Man” saw fans receptive, this proposed (and now booked) matchup has drawn the ire of fans everywhere who expected to see Styles either compete for the championship or at least find himself in a situation where he would be a facing a highly touted opponent capable of giving us a five-star match.
With rumored bouts that had Styles competing against the likes of Shinsuke Nakamura, Samoa Joe and The Undertaker all making the rounds on the internet, it is easy to see how the fans feel slighted by seeing the “Phenomenal One” in a meaningless bout against his storyline boss with absolutely no gain or appeal currently visible.
After dropping his title to John Cena at the Royal Rumble, a loss at Elimination Chamber and a Smackdown Live main event loss (with WM main event implications) to Randy Orton, it is hard to see how a matchup with McMahon propels Styles back into the championship picture with so many blips on his record. In fact, in its current state, a win for Styles at Wrestlemania merely puts him one up against an already underdog McMahon, an opponent many are not enthused to see Styles facing in the first place. With that in mind we look at a few ways to make this matchup matter in a matchup I have dubbed “McStyles”, a bout ordered off the “billion dollar” menu when the “filet mignon” matchup was no longer a viable option.
1) The “Triple Threat” Scenario
Much like WWE was forced to do a couple of years ago after blowing it big time with Royal Rumble winner, Batista, WWE made a matchup between Triple H and Daniel Bryan with the implication that if Bryan were to win, he would be part of the Mania main event and it would go from being a singles bout to a triple threat. Why not replicate this stipulation in a contest between McMahon vs. Styles? In its current state, it is merely a meaningless matchup with little for Styles to gain. Whether or not the pendulum were to swing in his favor in the outcome, this simple stipulation could change the tone of fans who would immediately expect Styles to win and compete again later in the night or WWE could throw the curve ball scenario and have an ending that saw Styles lose via interference or halting the bout via some other method. Either way, it either sets the tone for a new storyline involving Styles or it sees him included in the main event after all; a pure win-win scenario for the fans.
2) Turn Shane McMahon Heel
With more people rooting against Shane than for him, a heel turn could be just what the doctor ordered in a weak bout in dire need of sprucing up. Having Shane organize an attack perpetrated by a Smackdown superstar in need of a push or an incoming NXT superstar could greatly benefit more than just McMahon and Styles, but could benefit the others involved as well. A heel turn would also mean a complete change in the Daniel Bryan/Shane McMahon dynamic, which WWE could spend weeks and weeks illustrating on Smackdown Live in addition to new feuds involving Styles and his attacker(s). Once again, it is another scenario that benefits everybody. Personally, I know a certain “heel” that has been wasted in a feud with Apollo Crews and Kalisto (for some reason) without anything meaningful to do on the show and it could be high time for him to recover the ball WWE creative has had him fumbling erratically.
3) “RAW” Castoffs
Having someone unexpectedly switch shows and take Shane’s spot in the match as a rare Wrestlemania surprise would be a welcomed situation, especially if we are all expecting a fruitless bout with no gain and WWE knocks it completely out of the park with a far superior matchup in its stead. Names like Finn Balor, Cesaro and Sami Zayn all come to mind, the latter two with a wealth of talent being wasted on RAW as the writers cannot seem to find an exact place for them to fit in. Neither one has anything to lose from the bout, and could put over Styles in a losing effort that the fans will applaud as long as the bout is a good one. The match could end with McMahon giving this superstar a Smackdown contract and could even prompt a little heat between Stephanie and Shane, enabling them to do a little back and forth on a rare night where the two shows cross over.
This, to me, is the most ideal scenario if you are trying to create a WrestleMania moment and build up a superstar while managing to keep your top guy relevant all at the same time.
The internet is currently full of opinions regarding the bout (some good and some bad) but nonetheless, this is the matchup we are getting. Do you have an ideal scenario to make this match one worth seeing? Do you care to tell us your thoughts on the matter? Do you agree with my scenarios? Be sure you follow me @NicholasGrooms and follow our page at @FightBoothPW on Twitter and let your opinion be heard!