This week’s Smackdown featured a matchup between AJ Styles and Samir Singh. It ended in less than a minute as Styles easily beat Singh with the Styles Clash. Immediately after the match was over, Styles was attacked by current WWE Champion Jinder Mahal. It was a vicious beating that saw Mahal send Styles into the ring post, stretch his back against the ring post and Mahal hit Styles with The Khallas, which is his finishing move. When Styles got back to his feet as Mahal was about to leave, Mahal went back into the ring and hit The Khallas for a second time. It was a continuation of their rivalry over the last few weeks.
Also on this week’s Smackdown, WWE announced that Styles would face Rusev in a match where the winner gets to be the fifth and final member of Team Smackdown at Survivor Series. The other members of the team are team captain Shane McMahon, Randy Orton, Bobby Roode and Shinsuke Nakamura. However, that’s not going to happen now.
It was announced on Thursday afternoon by Smackdown’s Commissioner Shane McMahon that Styles will now challenge Mahal for the WWE Title on next week’s Smackdown as a result of Mahal’s cheap attack on him. The match will take place in Manchester, England.
Here’s how Styles, Mahal, and Rusev reacted to it.
Why the change? It could have something to do with this week’s Smackdown viewership numbers, which we covered yesterday. It was the second lowest audience of the year (2.12 million viewers) for Smackdown thanks in large part to the World Series Game 6 getting nearly 20 million viewers and it was Halloween night, so people were doing other things.
Since the show is taking place in England, the results of the match should be spoiled online several hours before the show airs in North America, so if you’re curious about the result you can probably read about what happens before it airs.
Could Styles leave with the title? It’s possible, but I doubt it. WWE seems to love Mahal as WWE Champion and likely wants to stay the course with him especially since he is wrestling at WWE Raw live events in India. I think this is just a reactionary move to the low ratings number. My prediction is the match ends in a disqualification and leads to a future WWE Title match between them at December’s Clash of Champions PPV.
No word on how this affects Styles vs. Rusev for the last Team Smackdown spot, but they could do it on the November 14 episode, which is the last Smackdown before Survivor Series.