WWE’s biggest mistake in booking WrestleMania 33 this year has been the way it has handled AJ Styles.
The former world champion deserved a better hand than the one dealt to him in a match with SmackDown Live’s commissioner, Shane McMahon. Once again, the company that has said it wants to move forward, has shown it can screw up what should have been a big moment in Styles’ career.
You would have thought that after WWE booked the son of company owner Vince McMahon in a match with The Undertaker last year, it would have known better. Styles, who has been arguably the best performer on the company roster since his arrival last year at the Royal Rumble, should have been part of the WWE world title match with Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton. A numbers game and lack of depth once again foiled any chance for excellence.
The match itself with McMahon may prove to be better than advertised. With his penchant for highflying antics and better than average ability in the ring, we could see another over the top performance like last year. The only problem is that a match like this in my opinion doesn’t help Styles in his ascension back to the main event.
I would hate to think that the creative team for SmackDown Live has decided to make him part of the supporting cast and keep him away from belt consideration. I realize why it is the right choice right now. For some reason, I can’t help but think WWE is going to once again dropped the ball and leave Styles is that purgatory no wrestler wants to stand in.
The storyline, aside from everything else, is solid. The jilted performer who won a chance to headline WrestleMania, only to be brushed aside, feels jilted and does exactly what he should do – come face-to-face with the man took his football away. The only problem is with this is McMahon is not Lucy Van Pelt, is Styles isn’t Charlie Brown.
A time-honored storyline that has worked for decades in many promotions doesn’t fit here. It’s mid card filler at best when Styles deserves so much more. This isn’t a storyline they can move past this pay-per-view event. McMahon doesn’t need to be in the ring more than he already has, and Styles needs to find a new opponent. Depth prevents that from happening, which makes me think following Orlando he will turn baby face and possibly move to the Raw roster. That isn’t confirmed yet.
One can only hope.
On a night where everything should click, but never does, this could be either the most impressive match of the night, or the most disappointing. We were all worried last year that our buddy Shane O’Mac would be overmatched and under prepared for the Dead Man. Much to my surprise, we were wrong. It’s amazing what a 20-foot dive off the top of the steel cage will do for your career, so to speak.
Now McMahon needs to follow up by making styles look like a million bucks. Styles already has the fan support afforded an international superstar. But because of the storyline, McMahon will have to sell this match more so than he did last year in Hell in a Cell.
Taking bumps for The Undertaker might’ve been a little bit easier for McMahon. Getting in the ring with styles present more of a challenge. My only hope is that this match doesn’t become a clown act and lives up to its potential hype. In this case, a program like this isn’t as much about what Styles has become, which is great. What it amounts to is whether McMahon can once again get in a ring and prove he is worthy to be at an event like this.