The Match Up:
The WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Roman Reigns, faces the number one contender the championship, AJ Styles, in the main event of WWE Payback, this Sunday, May 1, 2016. Will Styles fall to the Roman Empire or will a new champion be crowned?
The Road to WWE Payback:
The prize for the 2016 Royal Rumble was not a title shot at the WWE WHC this year. Instead, the Authority forced the champion, Reigns, to defend the title in the match, with the added stipulation that he must enter at number one. When the match got underway, Reigns found himself alone in the ring when the Phenomenal One, AJ Styles, made his WWE debut.
Fast forward to the night after WrestleMania 32, which saw Reigns as WWE WHC for the third time. Shane McMahon, given temporary control of RAW, decided to host a number one contender's match for the championship. AJ Styles pinned Chris Jericho in said match to become Reigns first challenger. The next week, after Reigns' cousins advanced in a tag team tournament to fight for the WWE Tag Team Championship, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson made their WWE debuts, attacking the former tag team champions.
Afterwards, the connections between Gallows, Anderson, and Styles were made, as the three have a friendship from working in New Japan Pro Wrestling together in a stable known as the Bullet Club. The first time Styles and Reigns have a face to face confrontation, Gallows and Anderson attack Reigns while Styles watched, seemingly unaware of his buddies' plan.
Following the attack on Reigns, the Champ insisted that Styles is using his friends to come at him. Styles denied any involvement. Anderson and Gallows, to their credit, claim that there is no collusion with Styles. The two are in the WWE to make their own mark and proclaimed Styles does not need any help defeating Reigns. Things became more physical this past week and Styles has been forced to fight alongside Anderson and Gallows in confrontations with Reigns and the Usos. He still insists that he has no involvement in whatever Anderson and Gallows have planned.
The WWE World Heavyweight Championship is on the line. Also, um, general fan interest in the WWE Main Event scene. It is no secret that Reigns as champion is not an appealing aspect to a lot of WWE fans. The idea of one guy mowing over his competition in predictable and often tedious fashion is not a good one. In fact, it's booty. Anderson and Gallows are interfering in this match. The questions are: Are they really with AJ? Is this some swerve and the two end up turning on Styles? Is there someone else working with them, someone not yet on the show even?
There has not been this much intrigue in a WWE WHC match in quite some time. The outcome could change the landscape of the WWE for the foreseeable future.
WWE Payback airs live this Sunday, May 1, 2016 on the WWE Network at 7pm central time. Be sure to join us here at Cageside Seats for the live blog!