WWE Survivor Series just received a shot of adrenaline at the top of the card. AJ Styles' Tuesday night win over Jinder Mahal means he'll replace The Maharaja as Brock Lesnar's opponent in a brand-against-brand battle.
The Phenomenal One vs. The Beast Incarnate promises to be a thriller.
The collision of SmackDown and Raw's top titleholders will be a David-vs.-Goliath tale with heavy doses of athleticism and power. WWE's most compelling in-ring performer will meet its biggest marquee attraction. It's squared circle Christmas come early.
It looked for weeks as if Mahal vs. Lesnar was set for the Nov. 19 pay-per-view.
But Styles battled The Maharaja for the WWE Championship on the latest SmackDown. And to the delight of screaming fans in Manchester, England, he dethroned the champ.
Now Survivor Series' main event goes from shrug-worthy to something special.
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Despite the prospect of the WWE champ facing the universal titleholder, Mahal vs. Lesnar didn't feel big. The former's underwhelming reign and average ring skills had plenty to do with that. Now in walks Styles with his dizzying offense, and suddenly it looks like we're set to see Lesnar's best match since 2013 against CM Punk.
Even before Paul Heyman has had a chance to sell it as expertly as he is famous for doing, this meeting feels momentous. Vaughn Johnson of Philly.com commented on the scale of it:
As for the in-ring action, Styles' speed and agility will marry well with Lesnar's battering-ram style. It will make for a beautiful juxtaposition and a violent symphony where each moment differs greatly.
WWE hasn't let Lesnar off the leash in the ring of late. The universal champ's last several matches have been against big hosses: Goldberg, Samoa Joe, Braun Strowman. This has resulted in short matches akin to two rams smashing their horns together for but a few minutes.
The layout of Lesnar vs. Styles won't look anything like that. Because of the size difference between the two men and the fact that The Phenomenal One will have to out-quick and outsmart his foe, their clash is sure to more closely resemble Lesnar vs. Punk from 2013.
Plus, Styles has made a career out of bringing out the best in his foe.
We just saw that with Mahal on Tuesday. After months of so-so showings, The Maharaja finally came through with his opus. It's no coincidence that Styles was on the opposite side of the ring from him.
The Phenomenal One has been historically good.
WhatCulture's Michael Hamflett wrote: "Styles has become a modern-day Bret Hart. An artist that has chosen a 20x20 canvas to grace with his work."
That artistry has led to impressive star ratings from Dave Meltzer in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t the Internet Wrestling Database). Not counting the 2016 Royal Rumble, where he was in the event's trademark Battle Royal, 12 of Styles' 20 PPV matches have earned four stars or higher.
He was a part of an instant classic with John Cena. He was Roman Reigns' opponent for The Big Dog's very best. And he even elevated the former enhancement talent, James Ellsworth.
Styles will next get to work his magic with Lesnar.
Lesnar has to be psyched about trading out Mahal for WWE's No. 1 in-ring performer. The Beast Incarnate will be pushed in one of the fastest matches he's been a part of. And Styles is sure to sell the hell out of his German suplexes.
Survivor Series will end with a fresh matchup of top-tier talents, a warrior and monster crafting something different, something memorable, something great.