We can exclusively reveal news about the current plans for the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania, relating to the SmackDown brand and namely the WWE Championship picture.
The original plan was for John Cena to win the Royal Rumble and for Jinder Mahal to drop the WWE Championship to Cena at WrestleMania 34. WrestleMania would have also played host to the first encounter between AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura.
With Mahal no longer Champion, the current plan is that, Styles vs Nakamura, will now become the WWE Championship match, with Nakamura currently pencilled in to win the Royal Rumble.
However, with Vince McMahon initially being very keen on John Cena winning his 17th WWE Championship on the biggest stage possible- that being WrestleMania, there are discussions about putting the title on Kevin Owens and having him drop the title to Cena at WrestleMania. Therefore, Owens would effectively be replacing Mahal, based on the original plan.
According to our sources, Styles vs Nakamura is 100% confirmed, but the decision to make it the WWE Championship match isn’t yet confirmed. If they decide that it won’t be for the WWE Championship, the match WILL still take place. However, this will mean that Cena will win the Royal Rumble instead of Nakamura, and face Kevin Owens at WrestleMania- who will defeat AJ Styles for the WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble. It’s worth noting that NONE of the scenarios will result in Styles vs Cena, based on the fact that Nakamura vs Styles is set in stone.
We can confirm that Styles vs Owens will be SmackDown’s WWE Championship match at the Royal Rumble. Our source strongly believe that Styles vs Nakamura will edge out the Cena option in the end, as the WWE are discussing a Cena angle for the 25th anniversary of Raw, that will have WrestleMania implications if it goes ahead.