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Is SmackDown building to AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton for the WWE World title?

Monday’s Rude Awakening wonders where the blue brand is going, covers WrestleMania 33 fallout, and looks ahead to where Shinsuke Nakamura will land.

We publish a whole lot of content here at Cageside Seats. We’re also [looks around and whispers so the bosses can’t hear] not the only place producing wrestling content on the internet. So, as a service to you on the weekdays, we’ll be producing a wrestling newsletter, "Rude Awakening." Well, it will be a newsletter eventually: for now, it’ll just be part of your experience here at Cageside, collecting the news, recaps, and social moments from the greater wrestling universe daily so you won’t fall behind, with a newsletter format to come.

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AJ Styles won his WrestleMania 33 match against Shane McMahon. That’s good! Randy Orton won his WrestleMania 33 match against Bray Wyatt for the WWE World Championship. That’s... less good. On the surface, anyway: once you realize that this means we’re likely in for an extended Randy Orton vs. AJ Styles feud for SmackDown and WWE’s top title, then Orton winning his 13th World Championship is suddenly a positive.

Styles and Orton wrestled on SmackDown a little under a month ago for the right to challenge Bray Wyatt at Mania. Losing that match to an RKO out of nowhere is what sent Styles over the edge and led to him attacking Shane McMahon in the first place. Now that he’s defeated Shane — and still has not received his one-on-one rematch for the WWE World Championship that he lost to John Cena — Styles is in a prime position to make his one-time match with Orton into a post-Mania feud that helps carry SmackDown into their first full year of story telling as a live brand.

There was obvious magic to the first Styles and Orton encounter on SmackDown, even as it was clear that the two were not going all-out — there were clearly moves and tricks being held for a later meeting between the two, and this was an impressive feeling out process. Orton vs. Styles won’t be John Cena vs. Styles, but we already have that in, well, Cena vs. Styles. Orton vs. Styles as an extended feud can be a completely different kind of greatness, and it certainly feels like, once Bray Wyatt has his rematch, that this is the direction we’re going in.

Plus, we might get an extended look at a Wyatt Family breakup, and that’s a lovely little bonus to get out of Wyatt losing the WWE World title, too.

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