The July 8 edition of WWE Raw was the first full night of AJ Styles’ recent heel turn, a move that should do wonders for not only The Phenomenal One, but the entire red brand in general.
Last night’s WWE Raw was the go-home edition of Raw heading into Sunday’s Extreme Rules pay-per-view, a night that will see Ricochet defend the United States Championship against AJ Styles, but this version of The Phenomenal One is different than he has been for over two years now.
After failing to capture the U.S. Championship last week, Styles turned heel by attacking Ricochet after the match and realigning himself with Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson after a few weeks of tense moments between the two sides. Last night saw Styles and company out to get one-up on Ricochet heading into Extreme Rules, which started out as Ricochet vs. Gallows.
Ricochet took out Gallows in no time, but Styles wanted more punishment dished out to his opponent on Sunday and challenged Ricochet to take on Anderson immediately after the match. The U.S. Champion obliged and he took care of business yet again by knocking off Anderson, but that’s when things went downhill for Ricochet. After the match was over, Styles attacked Ricochet and put the hurt to the U.S. Champion.
Gallows and Anderson helped Styles out as well, stacking the deck against Ricochet heading into Extreme Rules where the U.S. Championship will be on the line. This new heel turn for Styles comes at a great time in which not only does he need a change, but the entire red brand needs a change of this magnitude. For as great as Styles has been over the past couple of years as a babyface, it was starting to feel like it has run its course.
He had one of the lengthiest WWE Championship reigns in history as a babyface that lasted all the way until November of 2018. Since then, he hasn’t necessarily felt the same even though his performances haven’t waivered even a bit. He has done plenty of good things since then, but there was a time in which he felt like he really had no direction as a babyface and he felt a bit bland.
Things really started turning when Styles joined the Raw roster and immediately earned the right to challenge Seth Rollins for the Universal Championship at Money in the Bank, leading to one of the best matches of the year. Many thought he would turn heel during that feud with Rollins, but it didn’t come to fruition and not long after that, he was temporarily sidelined with an injury. Since his return, the dynamic between himself and Gallows and Anderson has been interesting.
The timing just felt right to turn Styles heel, especially considering how much he can help make Ricochet an even bigger star. For as great as The Phenomenal One has been as a babyface, he has also proven to be a great heel as well. This should be a great change that betters Styles and the red brand because let’s be honest, Monday night needs a true top heel, because there really isn’t one right now.
Baron Corbin is the challenger for the Universal Championship right now, so he can’t be considered a top heel. Brock Lesnar is rarely ever on TV, so he can’t be considered the top heel. That leaves Styles, who is still a full-time competitor that now has two lackeys by his side that gives him a different dynamic as a heel. Ricochet should probably keep his title post-Extreme Rules, but that could open the door back up for Styles to reenter the world title picture as a heel.
Who wouldn’t want to see a heel Styles vs. a babyface Rollins for the Universal Championship at SummerSlam? That would be one of the biggest matches of the year, especially considering how great their recent match was at Money In The Bank. Regardless of whether or not Styles is in the U.S. Championship picture or the Universal Championship picture, this recent heel turn makes perfect sense.
The Phenomenal One has undergone a villainous makeover that is bound to make a big difference in his career and provide Monday night with a bonafide top heel for months to come.