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Cena vs. Bryan for the WWE title, or where’s AJ?

The SmackDown brand house show on Long Island last night (Dec. 27) featured a pre-intermission treat when John Cena tried to win a WWE World title for the 17th time, fighting his old housemate Daniel Bryan in a steel cage match at Uniondale’s NYCB Live:

Bryan retained by grabbing his belt while trying to get through the door, hitting Cena with it and then finishing his escape. Then he came back in to take an AA and let the returning hero stand tall. The Bumblebee star climbed the cage and thanked the fans before heading off to make another town (Baltimore tonight, then tomorrow’s taping of the Jan. 1 SmackDown in Pittsburgh).

Using Cena as Bryan’s opponent was a cool moment for the fans, but it does make one wonder where his advertised challenger was. For the second night in a row, AJ Styles did not work his scheduled match (Mustafa Ali & The Miz subbed in on Wednesday night in Chicago).

What’s up with the Phenomenal One? Is he suspended for punching Vince McMahon? Just working the lighter schedule he allegedly wanted after his long title reign?

According to pre-show announcements in Allstate Arena and NYCB Live, Styles is out sick with the flu. If that’s true - and we’re not saying it’s not, or that there’s a nefarious cover-up at work, but if he is just getting a last-minute extended holiday break to spend time with the family after a workhorse year, illness is a good excuse to miss advertised dates - we wish him a speedy recovery.

We’ll see if he works other shows this weekend. Since his big angle with Mr. McMahon could be pre-taped backstage anywhere (or explained away with something like a suspension), it’s possible he could be out until the new year.

In the meantime, good seats are still available to see The Greatest of All-Time!

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