Roman Reigns vs. AJ Styles: Winner and Reaction from WWE Extreme Rules 2016

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMay 23, 2016

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR WWE - WWE superstar new world heavy weight champion Roman Reigns celebrates his victory at WrestleMania 32 at AT&T Stadium on Sunday, April 3, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. (Brandon Wade/AP Images for WWE)
Brandon Wade/Associated Press

Roman Reigns defeated AJ Styles and successfully retained his WWE World Heavyweight Championship for the second consecutive pay-per-view Sunday night at Extreme Rules.

A spear in midair was enough to register the victory for Reigns.

After the win, Seth Rollins make his return to WWE programming and attacked Reigns. WWE captured video of Rollins hitting Reigns with a Pedigree: 

It was Rollins who stood tall as the PPV concluded, hoisting the most prestigious belt in WWE:

During the match, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson predictably helped Styles by attacking Reigns, and WWE Universe provided video of their entrance into the match:

The Usos would come to Reigns’ aid, and it turned into a three-on-three event temporarily.

But ultimately, the action in the ring between Reigns and Styles was as good as it gets featuring multiple big spots by both stars. Bryan Alvarez of the Wrestling Observer, Scott Fishman of the Miami Herald and WrestlingINC.com provided their initial takes on the match: 

Reigns and Styles have been engaged in WWE's most intriguing storyline since the night after WrestleMania 32 in April, when the Phenomenal One was victorious in a Fatal 4-Way match to become No. 1 contender for the company's top prize.

Styles fell short in his effort to take the belt at WWE Payback on May 1, but he technically beat Reigns twice in that bout by count-out and disqualification before Shane McMahon and Stephanie McMahon restarted the match.

The rivalry between the two top stars has intensified since then due largely to the inclusion of Anderson, Gallows and The Usos.

On an episode of Raw leading up to Extreme Rules, the Big Dog snapped and put Styles through the announce table after he saw him hitting his cousins with a steel chair:

Styles, Anderson and Gallows were part of the Bullet Club in New Japan Pro Wrestling, and collectively came together as The Club in the weeks prior to Extreme Rules.

Anderson made it clear that the new group intended to run roughshod over WWE:

In addition to that, Gallows announced The Club's desire to take down Reigns and The Usos, who have been labeled as The Family in recent weeks:

The Family has been defiant, however, as Jimmy and Jey vowed to keep fighting alongside their cousin despite The Club's advances:

The dynamic between Reigns and Styles as well as their seemingly internal struggles with regard to right and wrong carried the angle in the weeks ahead of Extreme Rules.

Reigns employed heel tactics at times—such as putting Styles through a table—as did Styles when he attacked The Usos with a chair. Even so, they showed respect for each other much of the time and exercised restraint, such as when Styles refused to hit Reigns with a chair despite the urging of Anderson and Gallows.

That situation made for an unpredictable landscape at Extreme Rules since it was unknown who was playing the heel and who was playing the face, as well as what role the likes of Anderson, Gallows and The Usos would play.

Despite all the question marks involved, Reigns managed to come away victorious once again and maintained his spot at the top of the mountain in WWE.

He and Styles put on a remarkable in-ring performance at Payback, and they were excellent once again in the hardcore environment at Extreme Rules.

While the crowd was clearly behind Styles more so than Reigns, the former Shield powerhouse may be starting to gain more widespread respect from the WWE Universe because of his showings in the ring, on the mic and from a character-development perspective in recent weeks.

It will likely take more time and more similar performances before Reigns is fully embraced, but Sunday was seemingly another step in the right direction. It now appears Rollins will be the next opponent for Reigns—and the first legitimate threat to take his belt in quite some time. 

For more wrestling talk, listen to Ring Rust Radio for all of the hot topics or catch the latest episode in the player below (some language NSFW).

Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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