As announced on the latest edition of SmackDown Live, AJ Styles will defend his WWE World Championship in a Triple Threat match against Dean Ambrose and AJ Styles at WWE No Mercy 2016. Although all of the focus has been on Ambrose and Cena so far, it should be Styles who leaves Sacramento with the title intact.
WWE was wise in putting the title on Styles when they did at last week's Backlash pay-per-view because no one has more buzz around them right now in the entire organization than he does. Coming off his blockbuster victory over John Cena at SummerSlam, he was the true face of Tuesday nights and thus needed to be crowned world champion as soon as possible.
Styles has exceeded all expectations since making his highly anticipated WWE debut during the 2016 Royal Rumble match. Despite the excitement surrounding his arrival, it was never guaranteed he would ever be given the "star" treatment, especially having previously been the heart and soul of TNA for well over a decade.
But WWE soon saw the stardom in Styles once he started having above-average matches with almost everyone he went up against. From Chris Jericho to Kevin Owens to even The Miz, his matches quickly became the best part of any program he competed on.
That said, it was merely a matter of time before he captured the WWE World Championship and now that he finally has the gold around his waist, there is no need for him to be dropping it any time soon.
Cena made it clear upon his return to the blue brand that he had his sights set on becoming a 16-time world champion. He had last been seen losing to Styles at SummerSlam, but now avenging his loss to The Phenomenal One has an entirely new purpose with Styles in possession of the prestigious prize.
Meanwhile, Ambrose is still owed a one-on-one championship rematch from Backlash, and was promised by SmackDown Live commissioner Shane McMahon that he will receive it at some point. But at No Mercy, he will have to deal with both Styles and Cena in a Triple Threat matchup.
There was tension on Tuesday between Cena and Ambrose with the face that runs the place calling Ambrose out on not delivering as the top guy in his absence. Ambrose then retaliated by referring to Cena as a "lazy part-timer," lighting a fire underneath the 15-time world champ.
The night's main event, which featured Cena and Ambrose teaming up to take on Styles and The Miz in tag team action, primarily centered around Cena and Ambrose. Following their defeat of the champions, Ambrose promptly laid out his partner with a Dirty Deeds, planting the seeds for a future feud between the two.
Already, Styles feels like the third wheel in this three-way rivalry, which is why it is all the more imperative he successfully retains his title come No Mercy.
It is likely that following the pending pay-per-view, Ambrose and Cena will be embroiled in a full-fledged feud with each other. That's a big enough feud where it won't need the championship at stake, and therefore Styles should hold on to it for a while longer.
The former face of TNA is simply getting started as WWE World champion, and the amount of feuds he could have with the rest of the roster is limitless. There are a number of notable names on SmackDown which could contest great matches with Styles over the strap in the coming months.
Apollo Crews, Baron Corbin, Bray Wyatt and Dolph Ziggler all come to mind, but the real money match will be with Randy Orton. Of course, he is currently involved in a program with Wyatt, but once that concludes, his championship chase in a storyline with Styles would be a blast.
There is little doubt Styles is the best all-around performer on any brand at the moment, so it would be logical for him to remain champion through the remainder of 2016. In fact, he would be the perfect person to carry the title into WrestleMania 33, though that is more than six months down the road.
Styles vs. Cena vs. Ambrose has the potential to be a barn-burner of a bout, but there is only one outcome that would make sense: Styles reigning supreme over his adversaries to resume his reign as WWE World champion.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is a Digital Journalism major at Endicott College. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.