AJ Styles knows who his WWE SummerSlam opponent will be and many fans could not be happier. Samoa Joe will step up to take on The Phenomenal One on August 19 and Styles’ WWE Championship will be on the line.

This may have not come as much of a surprise but that does not prevent the match from being special. Joe is in a great spot right now as he’s finally at the point that he can legitimately challenge for the title. Some would say he’s been at that point for quite some time. Regardless of how long it took to book him in this spot, the fact is Samoa Joe is indeed ready to shine. But what happens when he loses?

This is where the story gets a bit tricky. AJ Styles is at the top of his game right now. The shortlist for best in the world is short indeed and for many fans, AJ is at the very top of that list. He’s arguably been at the top for years and that’s especially true since WWE finally gave him the reins on SmackDown Live.

AJ was hot at one time but his heel turn against John Cena caused Styles to get red hot. AJ was able to fully embrace his dark side and he quickly became the most entertaining heel in WWE. But the asterisk was by the word “entertaining,” because even though he was booed, AJ was still a hugely popular Superstar. So when it became obvious that he had done all he could do as an antagonist, AJ Styles turned babyface once again.

Watch Joe attack Styles on SmackDown:

Samoa Joe becomes AJ Styles' SummerSlam opponent in vicious fashion: SmackDown LIVE, July 24, 2018

Since that time, Styles has been on another level in WWE. His star has never been brighter and he has never looked better. Vince McMahon has a world renowned modern day legend wearing his most important championship. It appears that everyone in the company’s upper echelon is more than happy with AJ’s work as WWE champion. So why make a change now?

A successful world champion’s career is built on highly entertaining feuds and the same is true for AJ Styles. AJ rose up in the ranks of WWE thanks to his work with not only Cena but Dean Ambrose, Kevin Owens, Roman Reigns and of course, Shinsuke Nakamura.

One by one, AJ defeated WWE’s main event roster. There was no question that Styles already had a pro wrestling hall of fame career behind him but now he is in the midst of a WWE Hall of Fame career. The company evidently wanted to showcase Styles against every top talent possible until the time came to crown him WWE champion once again. When the moment happened, AJ Styles assumed the mantle of WWE’s best in the world.

AJ may not be the top guy but he doesn’t need to be. Roman Reigns is that guy. Roman is currently not the Universal champion but that makes little difference. Roman is right where WWE wants him and he’s doing just fine on Monday Night Raw.

Watch AJ’s greatest WWE moments:

AJ Styles' greatest moments: WWE Top 10, Jan. 6, 2018

Styles is perhaps not viewed by WWE as the face of the company because he is not their creation. That doesn’t mean he’s not valued. It certainly doesn’t mean he’s not important. But WWE has invested too much time and effort into Roman to just let it go now. Reigns is younger, he came up within the WWE machine and he is the one WWE has built its future on. Many fans may hate him but that does not prevent the company from spotlighting him as the man to beat.

But AJ has likely never been in a better position. He’s on top of the world and WWE needs him more than he needs them. So when it comes to title defenses, fans probably cannot find any good reason why AJ Styles should not retain. He has beaten every challenger and he has risen to prominence his way. Styles never changed for WWE because he just didn’t have to. The company didn’t want to transform him. He is exactly what they want. But where does that leave Samoa Joe?

Joe is just as important to many pro wrestling fans as AJ is. Like Styles, Joe came to WWE with a tremendous career behind him. He was arguably the most iconic talent working outside of WWE until he was signed. Joe is a legitimate tough guy and he has always been perfect for the company. But also like Styles, the question of how WWE would handle Joe was always there..

However the company has proved time and again that if a guy is successfully established, then he will likely not be altered. WWE may tweak the look and perhaps add a new catchphrase here or there, but the Superstar himself will remain largely unchanged. So considering Samoa Joe is the same man he was before WWE and that he is fully capable of carrying the title, could this be his time?

Watch Joe with Paige backstage:

Samoa Joe and Paige backstage segment - Smackdown: July 24, 2018

More importantly, if Joe does not defeat AJ, then who will? November 7 will mark one year that AJ Styles has held the WWE Championship. He’s a trusted main event star that delivers every time and he always rises to the occasion. There indeed seems to be no good reason to take the belt from him now. But AJ can’t hold the championship forever. Eventually, WWE will make the move. At this point, there’s no one better to take it from him than Samoa Joe.

But then there’s Randy Orton. Orton is a heel once again which means any babyface champion sharing a TV program with him is not safe. WWE loves to spotlight despicable heels on the rise and when that heel is a veteran, then more options immediately become available.

WWE could put the championship back on Randy Orton any time this year and it would work. Orton can pull off just about anything and that’s especially true when he’s running heel. AJ could even win the championship back eventually and that would work as well. Styles does have a world of momentum but he’s so good that he can bounce back from anything.

WWE can do whatever is necessary with AJ Styles and that is why he’s the champ. If Samoa Joe takes him down at SummerSlam, then so be it. Styles is a trusted top star and he’s not going anywhere. But it could very well be that Styles will keep his championship on August 19 and not lose it until later in the year or possibly even at WrestleMania 35 next year. No matter what happens, AJ Styles is ready. He always is.


Tom Clark can regularly be seen on Wrestling Rumors. His podcast, Tom Clark’s Main Event, is available on iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, iHeart Radio, Amazon Android, Windows Phone and online at boinkstudios.com


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