The current WWE Champion, AJ Styles, just recently defended his title against Jinder Mahal at Clash of Champions. Now that Jinder looks to be out of the title picture, the question becomes who is next for Styles going into the Royal Rumble? RAW has two big events taking place before the Royal Rumble with their Christmas episode and the 25th Anniversary episode coming in January. Smackdown, on the other hand, has no set event.
It is unlikely Jinder will get another opportunity at Styles, with his submission loss. And if he was to get another shot at the top prize it would likely take place on an episode of Smackdown Live. Where he goes from here is anyone’s guess, but it appears that Jinder’s time in the spotlight has been extinguished.
From what transpired at Night of Champions it appears Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn will be continuing their feud with Shane McMahon, so it is unlikely either of them will challenge Styles. Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura are also involved in that storyline, and many fans are hoping to see Styles and Shinsuke battle at WrestleMania rather than the rumble.
It’s not what people say before the fight.
It’s who’s left standing after it.
— AJStyles.Org (@AJStylesOrg) December 17, 2017
Perhaps someone from the midcard could rise to the challenge, but Baron Corbin and Bobby Roode are intertwined with the new U.S. Champion, Dolph Ziggler. Tye Dillinger hasn’t been set up to take such a spot. While anything is possible, don’t expect to see him square off with Styles in January.
Since Royal Rumble is a dual branded event, we could witness a RAW Superstar challenge Styles. Finn Balor did defeat Styles at WWE Tables, Ladders, and Chairs, giving him good ground for a championship match. Likewise, John Cena did defeat Styles last year at the same event, and could look to repeat and even make history. Big returns are also not out of the picture. A handful of names come to mind who could challenge Styles at the Rumble.
Of course, there is still a month between now and the rumble, and the landscape of Smackdown Live could be drastically altered by that time.
Who do you think could be next to challenge AJ Styles?