A noticeable pattern was developing on Raw in the second half of 2019; the younger babyfaces were being fed to AJ Styles.
Ricochet, Cedric Alexander, and Humberto Carrillo were all repeatedly beaten by the Phenomenal One. In the case of Alexander, the losses to Styles directly led to his exit from relevancy on Raw.
In defense of WWE’s booking, this is AJ Styles we’re talking about. He’s a supremely talented wrestler who fits right in at the main event position. He’s a bigger star than all of those guys, and he still performs at a very high level. Should AJ Styles be sacrificed to put over Humberto Carrillo? A good argument can be made that Styles should not be losing to mid-card babyfaces, or that it should be a rare occurrence. And if the idea is to give AJ all of these wins so that he can eventually put over the next big babyface star in WWE, then it makes a lot of sense.
This week (Mar. 2) on Raw, Aleister Black just suffered his first ever pin fall loss on the main roster. It was at the hands of AJ Styles.
Black has been protected for more than a year on the main roster, so if WWE is going to beat him like they did this week, it should mean something. So what is this loss for Black leading to? The most immediate answer is that it’s leading to a rematch with Styles at Elimination Chamber on Mar. 8, this time in a No Disqualification match.
Normally I would be super hyped to see Styles and Black go at it in a No Disqualification match. Hell, I was intrigued to see their match on Raw, after it was promoted for a full week. But then WWE let me down by essentially turning it into a gauntlet match, where the bulk of time was spent on Black versus Karl Anderson. Just like at Super ShowDown, AJ Styles’ physicality was limited.
Considering AJ’s recent shoulder injury, and the fact that he has not wrestled a regular singles match since then, it seems like there is a good chance that the stipulation at Elimination Chamber is just there to allow AJ to hide for most of the match while others do his dirty work. Or maybe it will just be a quick match that is interrupted by the Undertaker. It’s probably best to keep expectations low as far as the in-ring action from Black versus Styles is concerned.
This takes me back to the question I posed earlier: what is this loss for Black leading to? My instinct is to suspect that Black’s loss isn’t leading to anything meaningful for Black. It’s just there to be a footnote during the build to the Styles/Undertaker match at WrestleMania 36.
And we know what almost always happens at WrestleMania; Undertaker wins.
I think AJ Styles is beating all of these younger babyfaces just so he can put over the Undertaker at WrestleMania.