AJ Styles has had a rocky year to say the least. The leader of The OC came into 2023 on the sidelines due to breaking his ankle at a live event in late December and didn’t return to the company until the following May. He went on to have a strong showing in the World Heavyweight Championship tournament, with singles victories over Bobby Lashley, Rey Mysterio, and Edge, before eventually losing in the finals to Seth Rollins at Night of Champions.
Later in the year, he began feuding with The Bloodline and appeared to be set to team up with his old rival John Cena in a match against Solo Sikoa and Jimmy Uso at WWE Fastlane. However, the former WWE Champion was assaulted backstage by Sikoa and Uso on SmackDown the week before the Premium Live Event. He was later replaced by LA Knight as Cena’s partner and has been absent from WWE programming ever since.
However, it seems Styles is finally headed back to the blue brand. A pop-up advertisement on WWE.com promoting tonight’s Tribute to The Troops edition of SmackDown features various members of the SmackDown roster, including LA Knight, Charlotte Flair, The Street Profits, Bobby Lashey, IYO SKY, and Styles himself. Should Styles appear on SmackDown tonight, it would mark his first appearance on the program in over two months.
His appearance in advertising for the event follows Dave Meltzer reporting earlier this week that Styles’ return is planned for this week’s SmackDown. It was previously reported that Styles would return on the November 10th edition of SmackDown and appear regularly on the blue brand from then on, but it appears those plans were scrapped as he has yet to make his return. Styles last competed on the September 15th episode of SmackDown where he lost a singles match to Finn Balor.