SmackDown Live may have a brand new top babyface on its hands in AJ Styles.
On tonight’s episode of SmackDown Live, AJ Styles seemed to turn face. This came in a segment with Shane McMahon following their WrestleMania match. AJ Styles entered, and just when we would have expected him to gloat and generally be a jerk to Shane, AJ did the opposite.
Styles told Shane McMahon that he doesn’t want to leave SmackDown Live in the “superstar shake up” because SmackDown is his home.
He then surprised the audience in Orlando, Florida by offering Shane McMahon a handshake. Shane accepted, and AJ then pretended like he was going to hit Shane, only to stop and smile, as if he was just playing around with a pal.
On Talking Smack later in the evening, Shane McMahon said that what AJ did was a “classy move” and that he really appreciated it.
This whole segment definitely played as an AJ Styles face turn, and the audience was loving in, chanting for AJ and saying “Yes!” when AJ said that SmackDown Live is the house that AJ Styles built.
This would be AJ Styles’ first time as a face on WWE programming since last year. When he debuted with the WWE in early 2016, he was a face, with his first major storyline involving an alliance with Chris Jericho; Jericho ultimately betrayed Styles, with Jericho being the heel in that story.
AJ Styles turned heel in May 2016 when he attacked a returning John Cena, which lead to a match between the two of them at Money in the Bank.
It makes some amount of sense to turn AJ Styles into a babyface. After all, John Cena is going to be gone for much of 2017, and so AJ Styles can function as the top babyface for the immediate future.
Of course, we’ll find out next week in the superstar shake up whether AJ Styles will stay with SmackDown Live at all or if he’s going to Raw instead.