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Following Daniel Bryan’s making of the 2 on 1 handicap match, we ask our writers: how will AJ Styles survive it with his title?

Dorathy Gass:

I won’t lie, I was shocked that SmackDown LIVE General Manager Daniel Bryan booked a 2-on-1 handicap match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match at the Royal Rumble. Not only was that a huge heel move for a face like Bryan to pull, if you really think about it, the entire concept is kind of confusing.
First off, we aren’t talking about a triple threat match, we are talking a handicap bout … so if Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn are working as a team, tagging in and out against AJ Styles, if Zayn or KO pins/gets Styles to tap out … who becomes WWE champion? Well, obviously said man who pins Styles, but you know where I’m going with this. Alas, the entire idea of a handicap match as a championship bout does seem ridiculous; so ridiculous it is rather obvi that Styles will come out on top.
With the match just being booked, my guess is that a special guest referee (or two) will most likely be announced in the coming weeks, leaving the same scenario of two (biased) refs calling the same match as was the case at Clash of Champions – with those two refs being Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan. Shane will probably get involved and help Styles beat KO and Sami, thus helping The Phenomenal One win the match and retain his coveted title to move on to Wrestlemania; thus, setting up a match between DB and Shane (of some sorts) at the big event as well.
John Deegan:
Allow me to answer the question, with a question of my own: who says AJ does survive with his title?
OK, that’s not my entire answer, but it’s a start. Seriously, we’ve all heard the rumblings that WWE will have Styles in the SmackDown championship match at WrestleMania. Most of those rumblings tell us that he will be defending, but some might have been a little vague in that regard.
So why couldn’t we get the old switcheroo…Sami and Kevin take out AJ, and, realizing that it’s just them, one on one, Sami lays down and allows his best friend to win the world title. Then, later in the evening (and this is key, if the SmackDown title match somehow does not happen until after the Rumble-unlikely, but possible-then forget this), AJ Styles becomes a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble and claims victory, and immediately declares he’s taking back his belt on the Grandest Stage of Them All.
OK, fine, it’s a reach, if only because AJ, as champ, would of course have a rematch clause (since it’s basically a given).  But the Rumble win would be cool for Styles, and it would ensure him of a match at ‘Mania, no matter what.
Beyond that…assuming Styles does actually keep the belt, my best guess is that something between Shane and Daniel boils over and causes enough of an issue that Styles can capitalize and retain.

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