AJ Styles will defend his WWE Championship against both Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens in a handicap match at Royal Rumble.
The rivalry between Kevin Owens and Shane McMahon feels like it has been going on forever. From SummerSlam to Hell In A Cell to now, there have been so many twists and turns. Various people have been dragged into their beef too. Vince McMahon suffered KO's wrath in one of the best segments of 2017, Sami Zayn has turned heel as a result of the feud, and who knows what Daniel Bryan is up to?
The latest Superstar to be involved in the long-running rivalry is WWE Champion, AJ Styles. It's hard not to feel sorry for the poor guy as he didn't ask for any of this. Last week, The Phenomenal One suffered defeat to Owens thanks to people sticking their nose in where they shouldn't and this week the exact same thing happened in his match with Sami Zayn.
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By the end of the night, Styles had understandably had enough and grabbed a mic so that he could address the four men making his working life a nightmare right now. The champ announced that he believed the only solution would be for him to have a handicap match with Owens and Zayn, that way neither man can illegally interfere. Bryan took the request the wrong way and not only booked the match but made it for the WWE Title at Royal Rumble.
The announcement from Bryan is a confusing one, to say the least, and adds fuel to the fire that the SmackDown Live General Manager may be on the cusp of a heel turn. The normal thing to do in that situation would be booking a triple threat match, not a handicap one. The apparently neutral Bryan now comes off as extremely biased towards the challengers and actually a little stupid if he continues to try and claim that he is the voice of reason.
The reason WWE has opted for a handicap match over a triple threat one at Royal Rumble is likely because the Owens/Zayn alliance still has a lot of legs in it yet. A three-way for the title would inevitably lead to a wedge being driven between the two whereas a handicap match means they can work together and ultimately get defeated by Styles without having to terminate their friendship by the end of it.