It all comes down to the main event of this Friday’s SmackDown. Sami Zayn was forced to relinquish the Intercontinental Championship as he is unable to compete. As a result, a tournament was announced to crown a new champion and the finals are here. The final of the Intercontinental Championship tournament will see Daniel Bryan take on AJ Styles in a match that many are highly anticipating and that could result in two incredibly different reigns. For Daniel Bryan, it will lead to being the fighting champion who has promised to defend the title week in and week out. For “The Phenomenal One,” a reign with the Intercontinental Championship gets him one step closer to the WWE Hall of Fame as this is the lone singles championship Styles has yet to win. Both men have a reasonable claim to the title but it’s a matter of who should walk out as the winner, making for a better SmackDown and champion. Here’s the case for both men.
The Case For Daniel Bryan
Daniel Bryan has been in an interesting role as of late, with his main focus being that he wants to show the world he is the best wrestler, period. To prove that, he wants to capture the Intercontinental Championship and re-establish its prominent role as the workhorse championship in the WWE. It’s an intriguing possibility if he were to win the main event Friday night. He’s made it clear that if he wins the championship, he is going to defend it on every episode of SmackDown to show he is a fighting champion and the workhorse that the WWE hasn’t seen in some time. It would create intrigue every single week heading into SmackDown, something that the FOX show is in dire need of.
Bryan also wanted to give wrestlers an opportunity they don’t receive every week. It was something he managed to do as WWE Champion and would have an even better shot to do so with the Intercontinental Championship. On WWE Backstage last week, Bryan specified that he was looking to feud with someone like Big E of The New Day soon.
“I’ve had maybe about two or three singles matches with him. Every single one, when I’ve been in the ring with him, how is this guy so good? He’s so good,” Bryan said.
That attitude makes his possibility of being champion incredibly enticing, as he sees this talent and wants to give them a shot. Nothing is for sure as of this moment, but a win over AJ Styles would bolster SmackDown all around.
The Case For AJ Styles
AJ Styles has not been the same Styles of old for quite some time now as his time on Raw left much to be desired. He has had one match since being traded back to SmackDown and besides the cinematic Boneyard match, it was arguably, his best in a long while. Styles is fighting father time and has signed the final contract of his career according to him. So he has to make these a good final few years to solidify the WWE chapter of his storied career. The Intercontinental Championship will be his last singles title that he needs to capture. With the chance so close, this could be what picks him up after a couple of struggling months, or year really. More than anything, Styles needs the win whereas Bryan doesn’t.
Styles has been suffering ever since his loss to The Undertaker at WrestleMania. Another massive loss could drive him off the deep end and into uncharted territory in his illustrious career. The case for Styles winning is a selfish one, but one that has to be made. Since he has returned to SmackDown, the blue brand has been far better off. A win can inch him closer to those days as “The House That AJ Styles Built.” Anything but a win causes AJ to reassess what he is doing next in his career. That could certainly be an interesting twist.
The Verdict: Daniel Bryan
While a Styles title reign could usher in a new era of SmackDown, the idea of a fighting champion ready to elevate new talent is too enticing to pass up. Helping SmackDown improve instead of a single man is what matters most here meaning a win for Daniel Bryan means that much more. Again, it goes back to the idea of the best wrestler that the company may have putting on a show week in and out against new blood every single week. AJ Styles floated his way to the finals by only defeating Shinsuke Nakamura. Bryan managed to defeat his coach Drew Gulak in an excellent match and fended off Sheamus to make it to the finals. He earned it and will arguably do far more with the title than Styles. A win for Bryan is a win-win for SmackDown’s future, making that the obvious selection on Friday night.
Be sure to check back Friday night to see who walks out as the new Intercontinental Champion.
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