Next Sunday at the SmackDown Live exclusive event Backlash, AJ Styles is set to challenge ‘The New Face of America’ Kevin Owens for his United States title. On that same night, Jinder Mahal will face Randy Orton for the historically more prestigious WWE title. Although they’re competing for a less important belt though, many fans are pointing to Styles and Owens as the event’s premier match. Styles isn’t unaware of the scenario himself but sees it more as motivation, rather than a relegation.
"I'm excited about it. I think the United States Championship is as big of a deal to me as the WWE Championship, I'm just not in line for that right now and that's okay,” Styles told Sky Sports. “I set goals and being U.S. Champion is one of those and I want to make that Unites States Championship as important as the WWE Championship."
For over four months, Styles held the WWE Championship in a critically acclaimed run. Winning the title from Dean Ambrose at last year’s Backlash event in September, ‘The Phenomenal One’ eventually dropped the belt to John Cena in a classic at the Royal Rumble. During that same time Owens was Styles’ opposing champion and carried the Universal Title on RAW. Now with both back on the same brand, the two’s rivalry feels very fresh, regardless of the belt they’re competing for.
While talking to the British broadcaster, AJ also discussed his prior experiences working in the United Kingdom, "I love the UK. I've been wrestling for 18 years and it's always been one of my favorite countries to visit because they have some of the craziest fans. They love what we do, especially the WWE. You'd better watch out because, as we've seen, we get a lot of UK fans that come out for Wrestlemania and the Monday and Tuesday after on live TV they'll take over the show if you don't watch it."
Styles was certainly well received at the O2 Arena for SmackDown Live this past Tuesday and with only one week remaining prior to the event, focus now shifts to Backlash. On popularity and credibility alone Styles and Owens are likely to elevate the United States title and it will be interesting to see who comes out of Backlash as the champion. For the full interview with Sky Sports click here.