You can almost sense it coming, can't you?
The delicious inevitability of AJ Styles' heel turn was further developed on Thursday's TNA Impact!, which saw the normally upstanding AJ Styles downtrodden and morose.
At the Turning Point pay-per-view, Styles was involved in a three-way number one contender's match for a shot at the TNA World Championship.
The stipulation being that the loser, whoever was pinned, would be restricted from title competition until 2013 Bound for Glory series.
It should be noted that this still does not guarantee the loser a title shot as I'm guessing he would still have to compete in the tournament like everyone else.
The Turning Point match, which also featured fire-hot Bobby Roode and "The Cowboy" James Storm, was a barn burner, seeing James Storm pick up the expected win. He did so by pinning the very surprising loser, AJ Styles.
This means that Styles is out of the title picture for the better part of a year, making for another set back in what would prove to be a horrible year for the TNA legend.
On Thursday night, Styles walked to the ring to address the Impact Zone with a trucker hat low over his eyes and his shoulders slumped—this was not the Phenomenal One.
What's more important is what he said once in the ring. AJ Styles took the heel approach and blamed everyone for his problems except for himself.
The Impact Zone was death bed silent as no one knew how to accept this AJ.
Should they cheer or should they boo?
Several calls of affirmation came from the unsure crowd as AJ continued his razor sharp promo of self pity.
AJ is on that edge.
His character is staring face-first into the abyss, needing only a slight nudge to push him over completely—and it is possibly the most compelling thing that has happened to him in quite some time.
The reason is simple and was actually highlighted by current nemesis and half of "The Real World Tag Team Champions of the World," Frankie Kazarian. AJ Styles has grown stale.
If that character criticism sounds familiar, it should.
WWE's John Cena faced similar circumstances when he found himself on the losing end of his match with The Rock at Wrestlemania 28. The match was billed as one Cena could not lose.
So when he did lose, it turned everything everyone expects out of Cena on its ear—and that was a good thing.
Like Styles, Cena's constant winning had grown tiresome to a viewing audience that wants more from its wrestling than a Superman with no kryptonite.
Therefore, WWE fans rejoiced when Cena's losing streak extended to Monday Night Raw where he lost to Lord Tensai. At that point it was confirmed that his earlier loss to The Rock was not a one-off occurrence.
Cena's character appeared to be going through a long overdue overhaul in the form of a losing streak and when Brock Lesnar reappeared on that fateful Monday Night Raw, the WWE universe could've drowned in the fanboy salivation.
There were so many places Cena's story could've gone.
He could've lost to Lesnar, making Lesnar look like a 100 bucks and building on a later confrontation down the line.
He could've continued his losing streak, building on the character's self doubt and insecurity until one final confrontation with some unnamed heel where he rediscovers himself and overcomes all hate, both outside and in.
Of course, we all know that did not happen.
WWE, in normal fashion, refused to allow its biggest star to lose to Lesnar.
This destroyed any momentum that Lesnar had, reinforced the WWE's lack of concern for the feelings of their audience and ultimately destroyed any hopes of a deepening of the "John Cena" character.
If there's one thing that fans should know by now is that the WWE is not in the game of Taking Chances. TNA, on the other hand, doesn't care much about what's considered "normal."
This brings us back to AJ Styles.
Since the Claire Lynch debacle—or as I call it: The Angle That Shall Not Be Named—Styles has been on an impressive losing streak.
With his mind elsewhere during the Bound for Glory series, he continuously lost key matches, eliminating himself from the finals; he and Kurt Angle then teamed up to challenge Kazarian and Christopher Daniels for the TNA tag team titles at No Surrender, only to lose.
He and Angle tried once more for the belts, this time in a six-man tag team match at Bound for Glory, coming up short once more; finally, this past Sunday, Styles found himself at the end of a Last Call Superkick, knocking him out of title contention for a year.
At this point, it would be understandable to find AJ Styles on a week-long bender with Ke$ha and Lindsay Lohan on either arm.
After Styles' pity party in front of the Impact Zone this Thursday, that appears to be where his story is going. But this is why the AJ storyline has so much promise, because it has everyone wondering just how far will TNA's Golden Boy fall before he hits bottom.
AJ Styles is exactly where John Cena was before his match with Brock Lesnar. Therefore, TNA cannot make the same mistake WWE did with Cena: it is paramount that Styles' lose his upcoming match with Daniels.
Losing to Daniels, someone AJ has continuously trounced time after time, would further cement Styles' self destructive descent.
From there, the storyline can go anywhere; and when you've done everything there is to possibly do in a company, any opportunity to press the Refresh button should be readily accepted.
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