These days, it’s pretty rare to see the WWE Championship defended outside of a PPV or WWE Network special. However, it’s even rarer for it to actually change hands. But that’s exactly what happened this past week on SmackDown LIVE when AJ Styles defeated WWE Champion Jinder Mahal to win the coveted championship.
While it was undoubtedly a shock, Styles’s win comes with a certain amount of benefits for WWE. Thus, with that in mind, let’s take a look at why the company made the right move when they had the WWE Title change hands.
AJ Styles Vs. Lesnar Will Be A Major Draw For Survivor Series
While Jinder Mahal’s WWE Championship reign wasn’t perfect, he did end up proving himself to be a worthy champion. However, since he was initially a jobber, it took a while for us to buy him as a sudden champ – but eventually, we did. He pulled out all the stops to defeat some of the blue brand’s biggest stars, and reigned supreme. But that same strategy wouldn’t have worked at Survivor Series.
Being SmackDown’s WWE Champion, Mahal was set to battle RAW’s Universal Champion – the Beast Incarnate, Brock Lesnar. And no matter how much Mahal proved himself on SmackDown, it was clear that fans didn’t see him as a legitimate threat to the unstoppable Lesnar.
On the other hand, Styles isn’t just a former WWE Champion, he is also a wrestling veteran (having wrestled in WCW, TNA and Ring Of Honor) and is widely regarded as one of the greatest professional wrestlers in the world today. If anyone can defend SmackDown’s honor against the Beast, it’s Styles.
Furthermore, both men are two of WWE’s biggest draws. Thus, with Styles now in the mix, it creates an added excitement that the original Mahal vs. Lesnar match did not have. Both Lesnar and Styles excel at what they do, and their contrasting styles should make for an interesting match. And that interest should ensure that this match is a major draw for Survivor Series.
SmackDown Needed A New Champion
It’s safe to say that this time last year, nobody predicted that Jinder Mahal would become WWE Champion. The former WWE superstar had been misused by the company, constantly jobbing to other superstars, only to return and once again do the same. But, despite all that, Mahal overcame the odds and suddenly became SmackDown’s WWE Champion.
After years of questionable storylines and bookings, WWE suddenly decided to take a chance on an athlete that had been underappreciated for far too long. But they did it so quickly and unexpectedly that we weren’t really sure if it was feasible. However, they made it work.
But despite Mahal becoming a great heel champion, the title reign soon became repetitive. Unable to give us anything fresh, WWE continually recycled the interference of the Singh Brothers in the closing moments of most of the Champion’s title defenses. And this constant interference had many of us finding it hard to take Mahal seriously as a worthy champion.
After the likes of Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura came close to defeating Mahal, it was AJ Styles who was able to bring an end to the Champion’s reign. Not only does this victory finally allow us to see a fresh champion on the blue brand, it gives SmackDown LIVE a fighting chance in the ongoing battle against RAW. While the show was initially acclaimed after the brand split, Superstar Shakeups and rating drops have left SmackDown in a much worse-off position.
But now, with an extremely talented and adored veteran like Styles steering the ship, it seems that the blue brand’s future is in good hands.
While the decision to suddenly end Jinder Mahal’s impressive WWE Championship reign seemed rather unplanned (especially as Mahal was due to represent SmackDown at Survivor Series), it could end up doing WWE a lot of favors.
While it will not only put an acclaimed veteran in the ring with Brock Lesnar, it may result in more interest for SmackDown in general. Having Styles represent the blue brand at one of the “Big Four” events may lead to casual viewers tuning in SmackDown more often to see the new WWE Champion in action.
An AJ Styles title reign may just return SmackDown LIVE to the prominent show it once was – and that is undoubtedly the biggest benefit of all.
Do you think WWE made the right choice by making Styles champion? Let us know in the comments below!