WWE Universal Champion Brock Lesnar vs. WWE Champion AJ Styles
(Champion vs. Champion Match)
In what is expected to be the main event of the evening, AJ Styles will grapple with Brock Lesnar to determine which brand, RAW or Smackdown Live!, has the more dominant champion in a match that could go a long way to earning bragging rights for the winning side.
Lesnar has been presented as nigh unbeatable, only briefly derailed by Goldberg, who surprised the Beast Incarnate and wrested the title away from the former collegiate athlete. In subsequent matches, Lesnar was able to escape with his title in their final encounter, but new side of Lesnar was exposed: he could be beaten. Goldberg would have to defend the title in a four way against Roman Reigns, Samoa Joe and Braun Strowman, giving him a chance to make his move without being the only person being targeted in the match, but it became clear that Braun would get his shot alone and that he did.
It was here that Lesnar was exposed- he did not seem to have the stamina to stand toe-to-toe with Strowman, yet still picked up the victory. Despite looking weak, the prospect of Lesnar facing off against Jinder Mahal, the then WWE Champion, was a bit lackluster. Mahal had established himself as a heel champion, but that weaseling out of losing against the likes of Randy Orton did not portend an exciting match for brand supremacy. If Orton was knocked out by Lesnar and cut open the hard way, how could Mahal, who barely escaped Orton, fare any better?
WWE decision makers must have felt the same, because of the recent European Tour, on what would be a tape-delayed episode of Smackdown Live!, Styles was able to unseat Mahal and in three quick seconds, was able to completely change the outlook of the champion vs. champion match.
Since arriving in the company, Styles has proven himself to be quite possibly the best wrestler on the roster and this title change, on a taped episode, shows the faith the company has in him. A Mahal-Lesnar match would have needed to have many moving parts, such as the Singh brothers, to protect both men. Even in the lead up to the match, Paul Heyman, Lesnar’s advocate, spoke about how Mahal was no match for Lesnar. Conversely, once Styles won the title, Heyman’s tune changed, as he extolled Styles’s ability posing a threat to Lesnar.
After Lesnar’s match with Strowman, this really will be a test for him, as the match showed many fans that Lesnar’s age may in fact be catching up with him. Ultimately, Lesnar will come out victorious in this one, as the narrative has been that Lesnar comes out on top against anyone he faces. That build will continue until Wrestlemania, when he is finally upended on the big stage. Styles simply needs to be the same wrestler who was able to make a match with James Ellsworth an interesting one. RAW is and always will be the bigger brand, the one that receives the biggest stars and the most attention. Smackdown will continue to be defined as the home of technically sound.
With Mahal having a bone to pick with Styles, it would not be surprising to see him distract Styles in some way, allowing Lesnar to win without making Styles look weak. This allows both champions to do their best against each other, Lesnar’s streak of looking strong to continue and also gives Styles and Mahal even more history as they head to a clash at WWE’s version of Starrcade within the confines of a solid steel cage. No matter what, this is the match that the fans wanted and hopefully both men are up to the task of delivering on the promise of a spectacular bout.