According to PWInsider’s Mike Johnson, WWE is reportedly planning to have AJ Styles face-off against his former TNA colleague, Samoa Joe at WrestleMania 33.
Johnson’s assuming that Joe will probably take a few weeks of rest at home, due to the injuries that he has picked up after facing Nakamura several times in various countries. It is expected that Joe will make his surprise debut in the Royal Rumble match.
According to F4WOnline’s Dave Meltzer, both Nakamura and Joe have sustained injuries from their battles, but Joe seems to have taken a larger portion of it. Fans at various NXT live events reported that Joe wasn’t wrestling much in non-title matches due to these injuries.
Before Joe’s championship bout at NXT TakeOver: Toronto, many fans assumed of him losing to Nakamura and then debuting on SmackDown LIVE.
However, to the fans’ surprise, Joe won that match but lost the title again at NXT’s Osaka event, to Nakamura. In what seemed to be his last title opportunity, Joe faced Nakamura in a Steel Cage match at an NXT live event in Australia, but failed to pick up the win.
WWE seems to have removed Joe from the NXT title picture now, and are more focused on competitors like Roderick Strong, Tye Dillinger, Bobby Roode, and Andrade “Cien” Almas instead.
Next week on SmackDown Live, AJ Styles will defend his WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin in a Triple Threat Match.
Both Styles and Joe have faced each other innumerable times during their tenure in TNA, participating in TNA’s one-and-only five-star match with Christopher Daniels, in a three-way bout at the Unbreakable PPV for the X-Division Championship.
AJ Styles and Samoa Joe teamed up for the last time to face Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian in a dark match on Ring of Honor before Joe left the company to join NXT.