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Top Rope Report: Why the booking for Styles vs. Reigns is actually brilliant

AJ Styles and Roman Reigns have been amicable at times heading into their match at WWE’s Payback.

This just in: The WWE may actually be doing a good job of booking its main event feud heading into a pay-per-view.

Despite some awkwardness between Roman Reigns and AJ Styles on the microphone Monday, the direction WWE’s writers are taking these two is some inspired work.

To recap, they both came into the feud as babyfaces by general booking, with Reigns seemingly leaning toward a heel turn to go along with the boos he gets anyway. Everyone has known that Styles’ former Bulet Club mates Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows were on the way, and they’ve recently debuted by attacking The Usos and then Reigns himself on back-to-back episodes of Monday Night RAW.

Now people were anticipating that the Bullet Club boys’ debut would signal the heel vs. face direction for this feud, but for once, WWE has gone more complex than that. While Anderson and Gallows are acting on Styles’ behalf and the WWE is recognizing their past with Styles, the “Phenomenal One” has denounced their work, claiming he doesn’t need it and didn’t ask for it.

Leaving future options open

What’s going to be the turning point?

While this particular bit of writing has more fully established Styles as a babyface for now, which he was going to be anyway, it has left the door wide open for Reigns to continue operating as a tweener.

If Styles had accepted responsibility for the underhanded attacks, that makes him a heel by storyline, which makes Reigns the face by default. But that would be another awkward turn considering we all know most fans would cheer Styles anyway.

On the flipside, some people were predicting that Anderson and Gallows might shock everyone by teaming up with Reigns. That would certainly have been a surprise and would’ve gotten true heat, it would’ve also solidified Reigns as a full-fledged heel and would have limited his future opponent options.

As is, Reigns can work with nearly anyone on the roster because he “isn’t a good guy and isn’t a bad guy.”

Still not too late to turn back

Can Roman become the true heel in all senses?

And this also has something of a Monday Night Wars feel, not just because of the obvious correlation between Anderson and Gallows and the NWO’s “Outsiders.” Something about this feels like Styles could very easily accept the help of Anderson and Gallows to shock the fans with a heel turn of his own, and it wouldn’t be too hard to buy as believable.

Now, that would only truly work if Reigns had established himself as a babyface somehow, which doesn’t seem likely. But the point is, the writers have left themselves that option.

On top of that, Gallows and Anderson could still technically be aligned with Reigns after all this. Roman’s character has been clearly established as one who can work with his enemies and fight his friends, depending on the situation.

He teamed with Daniel Bryan for an entire episode of Smackdown leading up to their match at Fastlane in 2015, and he just recently teamed with arch-nemesis Bray Wyatt on RAW. On multiple occasions, he’s battled against “brother in arms” Dean Ambrose for the World Heavyweight Championship only to be back on the same page the following night.

As such, would it really be too much of a reach for him to determine that Anderson and Gallows would make better allies than enemies, especially if Styles is openly rejecting their help? No, it’ wouldn’t. As a matter of fact, that would be a logical move for a mega-heel Reigns, if the WWE wants to go that route.

The ultimate finish to the feud

Will Balor be called to the main roster?

But none of those options carry the same potential as what would be the true ideal finish to this feud, and it involves a call-up from NXT that has been anticipated for more than a year.

For this one, Styles continues to reject the assistance of his friends, but they continue to attack Reigns, even in the actual match at Payback. That costs Styles the world title, although he technically wins the match via disqualification.

When he starts to berate Anderson and Gallows for messing up his shot at the belt, we hear Finn Balor’s music or some sort of clear Bullet Club theme song. Balor enters the ring, and after a moment of tension, he joins Gallows and Anderson in beating down both Styles and Reigns.

This is far from an original idea, as it’s been floating around the Internet a good bit over the last day or so, but it has some really cool implications that haven’t really been a part of the WWE of late. That attack would set up a three-faceted main event picture involving a big-time babyface in Styles, a fan favorite who has battled the loathed Reigns as well as his former friends. It would also establish the Bullet Club as heels who work for themselves instead of any authority figure.

And last, it would leave Reigns as a true tweener, capable of drawing on the huge pops he gets as a favorite at house shows while also interacting with the boos he gets on televised shows and pay-per-views.

Those three men – Styles, Balor and Reigns – could feud for the world title, or one of them could branch off while the other two battled. Regardless of how that played out, it would be a fresh angle at a time when WWE badly needs it.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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