WWE Rumors: Two major title changes happening at the Royal Rumble 2017
Possible bad news for the current heel world champions of WWE.
What’s the story?
According to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, there are no plans for AJ Styles nor Kevin Owens to head into WrestleMania as either WWE World Champion or Universal Champion respectively. The Observer noted that both champions could end up dropping the titles at Royal Rumble this Sunday.
In case you didn’t know...
As of 27th January 2017, Kevin Owens has been Universal Champion for exactly 150 days, while AJ Styles has been the WWE champion for 137 days. It is a considerably long reign given that both superstars are first-time world champions in WWE.
Kevin Owens won the Universal Championship in a Fatal-4-Way Elimination match on the second RAW after Summerslam. AJ Styles won the WWE Championship from Dean Ambrose at Backlash, the first brand-exclusive Pay-Per-View since the 2016 brand split.
AJ Styles has received praise for his title reign, while Kevin Owens has not had the same luck. The issue that Owens faced is that he has only had two competitors challenging him for the Universal Championship: Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns. One of the other criticisms his title reign has gotten from fans is that they felt he has been constantly overshadowed by Chris Jericho, his storyline best friend.
At Royal Rumble, Kevin Owens defends the Universal Championship against Roman Reigns, while AJ Styles defends the WWE Championship against John Cena, who is looking to attain his 16th world championship and tie Ric Flair’s record number of reigns.
The heart of the matter
Since Wrestlemania season begins on Sunday, it would not be surprising to see WWE put the championship on names with bigger star power. Generally, around Wrestlemania season, the bigger names, a few of whom are part-timers, start occupying the top spots. While this does not favour the full-time superstars, it's the way WWE gets more eyes to the table for their biggest show of the year.
Roman Reigns and John Cena are the two top stars of WWE and while they may not need a championship to be in marquee Wrestlemania matches, it still adds prestige to their matches. This applies more so to Roman Reigns, who WWE are still trying to push as the face of the company. Last year, he had his coronation when he defeated Triple H to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. This time around, it could be different, with Reigns going in as the defending champion.
Kevin Owens will most likely have his program with Chris Jericho at Wrestlemania, while AJ Styles is rumoured to face SmackDown Live commissioner Shane McMahon at the grandest stage of them all. Depending on how the next couple of months go, Owens and Jericho could even be for the United States Championship.
Kevin Owens and AJ Styles deserve good spots on the WrestleMania card. Unfortunately, they are not high enough in the ranks yet to be in the world championship match at WrestleMania. It is a shame given that the two have been one of the integral parts of WWE in 2016, especially AJ Styles, who many feel has carried the SmackDown Live brand on his back since the brand split.
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