Lately, the zeitgeist seems to be of the thought that AJ Styles versus Shawn Michaels in the Alamo Dome is a possibility. Admittedly, I'm not sold that it will happen, but I've been entertaining it in my head, nonetheless. How do you build this match? And beyond selling the Alamo Dome, why do you build this match. Creative gears have turned in my head, and I'd like to share with those who have patience for armchair booking. --- Talking Smack; the Tuesday after Survivor Series Highlighted guest of the evening is WWE Champion, AJ Styles. Coming off of a successful (controversial) defense at Survivor Series against Dean Ambrose, AJ is pushing Daniel to think about the next of the Big Four PPVs, the Royal Rumble. Bryan's suggests AJ is getting ahead of himself, because there's still the Smackdown PPV TLC on the agenda, and Bryan admits to considering Dean Ambrose should have one more shot for the title, in a TLC match. AJ vents, but meets Daniel halfway. I'll agree to this match, Ambrose vs Styles one last time at TLC, on one condition. When I beat Dean Ambrose, then I get to choose my opponent at Royal Rumble. Knowing AJs history with such a scenario, Bryan worries AJ will pick James Ellsworth. AJ assures that this is not the case, and that he wants to make history in Texas. Bryan likes the sound of that. He agrees! --- The Build to TLC, distributed through the month as needed AJ remains mum on the subject of Royal Rumble. His focus is on Ambrose, because Ambrose is in the way of real history. Bryan catches some heat from Shane. I don't understand how you agreed to this. What if he wants to defend our championship against someone from Raw? What if he wants to fight Brock Lesnar? What do we do then?. Bryan admits to some small degree of carelessness. But what we're getting out of it is huge. AJ has a disposition to take the easy way out, but in spite of that, he's one of the best wrestlers on the planet. I want to see what he can do when he's LOOKING for a fight? --- TLC AJ Styles def. Dean Ambrose A Styles Clash followed by a Phenomenal Forearm allows AJ to climb the ladder with no interruption. it's a decisive, uncontroversial finish. --- SMACKDOWN LIVE; Tuesday after TLC. Week one of the build to Royal Rumble The show is centered around AJs choice. He cuts his promo alone, in the middle of the ring. To no one in this thread's surprise, and likely to a crowd chanting HBK! HBK!, AJ Styles proclaims to the world; At the Royal Rumble, I want Shawn Michaels! Talking Smack; later that night Top of the show, Daniel is stunned, he doesn't know what to say at all. He and Renee entertain the dream match, but Bryan didn't realize AJ would be asking for a miracle. Shawns retired, end of story. Bryan cites that he'll be negotiating with AJ throughout the week, and they'll come up with an opponent. However, that thought changes halfway through the episode. Producers inform Bryan and Renee that HBK sent out a tweet moments ago. I like to look a man in the eyes when he wants to call me out. I'll see you in #(Insert next SD host city). --- SMACKDOWN LIVE; Week two of the build to Royal Rumble Top of the show, Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon are in the ring, immediately welcoming Shawn Michaels. The familiar drum beat and lady gasping for air on the PA. Shawn Michaels is in the house. He cuts an excitable good to be back promo, before inviting AJ Styles to the ring. AJ comes out, and instead of the cocky smug look he carries, he legitimately seems humbled. AJ thanks Shawn for coming out, and hes honored to be in the same ring. They shake hands. Styles says that he has always seen Shawn as the standard bearer for what a great wrestler should be. Thats why I want to face you at the Rumble. I need to know, win or lose, if I can hang with the Showstopper, the Icon, the Main Event. Shawn looks at AJ with regret. He says he was fired up at hearing his name on Smackdown last week, especially coming from the mouth of the WWE Champion. I got ahead of myself, AJ. My career ended at WrestleMania 26. I will not be your opponent at the Royal Rumble. Styles begins to look petulant. Daniel Bryan says that the offer for AJ to select his opponent at Rumble stands, but Shawn is not obliged to come out of retirement. AJ is understanding, but makes one last request. He asks Shawn if he would do him the honor of standing in his corner at the Royal Rumble. Shawn says that is something he can do, and that would be an honor. They shake hands once more. And then AJ Styles kicks Shawn Michaels in the balls. He storms out of the ring, rejected, angry, but with the last laugh (possibly saying something about a Jesus Zipper). Shawn is on the floor, humiliated, as Bryan and Shane tend to him. After the break, AJ is stomping down the hall before being stopped by an interviewer. AJ is quick to interrupt; Do not ask me ANYTHING about Shawn Michaels. Changing tactics, the interviewer asks who AJ might make challenger for his championship. AJ says that it doesnt matter, but before he can continue, hes interrupted in frame by Bray Wyatt, flanked by Luke Harper and Randy Orton. Bray simply circles AJ, putting his hand on the title, laughing. Bray leaves, and Harper follows immediately. Orton hangs back, staring at the WWE title, before locking eyes with AJ, and then leaving. Later on, Shawn is seen in the parking lot approaching his chauffeured vehicle. He opens the door, but Daniel Bryan stops him. Daniel mentions their student/teacher history, and other parallels between the two, such as how they were both born to do this. Shawn mentions another parrallel. Theyre both retired. Thats true, says Daniel. but if you let this chance pass you by, the opportunity to wrestle just one more time in front of your hometown, in front of the WWE fans, there will be one more similarity between us. You miss this chance, youll be resenting that your career didn't end on your own terms. Daniel leaves Shawn to his thoughts. Shawn considers his vehicle. He considers going back into the arena. End segment. The main event for the evening is Bray Wyatt vs Dolph Ziggler, both vying for favor (not directly addressed as a #1 contenders match) to challenge AJ Styles at the Royal Rumble. The Intercontinental Champion is on the verge of picking up the win, but the count is broken up by Orton and Harper. A three on one assault begins. Another HBK chant, no doubt. However, only Slater and Rhyno answer the call to make the save. Or attempt to make the save, anyway. They fall to the Wyatts as well. Ok, NOW Shawn Michaels comes out, and hes wielding a steel chair. Hes able to fall Luke Harper, and otherwise fends off Bray and Randy. Shawn is a man on fire. Ziggler and the Tag Champs are finding their footing. Dolph is lining Harper up for a superkick, but Shawn steps in his way as if to say I got this, and absolutely BLASTS Luke Harper with Sweet Chin Music. Shawn is looking down at Harper, and up at the audience. The house is (hopefully, likely) going absolutely ballistic. Dolph, Rhyno and Slater are fanning the flames while Shawn remains almost tranced. No music plays, but AJ Styles comes out to the entrance ramp, watching extremely attentively. Shawn finally notices him. After a few moments of staring each other down, Dolph brings HBK a mic. After a measure, AJ Styles, you want me at the Royal Rumble? YOURE ON! From the entrance, AJ's grin is from ear to ear, as he raises the WWE Championship above his head --- The Build to Royal Rumble, distributed through the month as needed The story being told through the program is doubt on Shawns ability to compete, years removed from a WWE ring. Shawn makes occasional appearances on Smackdown to build the program. AJ begins using Sweet Chin Music to finish matches against the likes of Ziggler/Slater/Rhyno. Shawn Michaels shows up on Raw to promote the Royal Rumble as a cross brand PPV. He is accosted by Gallows and Anderson, which transitions into Michaels standing in the corner of whoever faces the Club that night. The go-home Smackdown ends with AJ Styles eating some Sweet Chin music from the man himself. --- ROYAL RUMBLE 2017 Theres really only one way the match can go. AJ Styles def. Shawn Michaels via Submission What would hopefully live up to the Dream Match expectations. Perhaps AJ could look for a Phenomenal Forearm only to eat a Sweet Chin Music ala-Benjamin, but get his foot on the rope. However, AJ ultimately gets the better of Shawn by working the leg throughout the match, and locking in the Calf Crusher AJ Styles celebrates what is the greatest victory in his career. After a few minutes of celebration, AJ looks at Shawn, starting to stir on the ground. For a moment, we believe he's going to help Shawn Michaels up, but instead leaves with his head held high and his WWE Title retained. Shawn eventually finds his footing, and is greeted by a full standing ovation in the Alamo Dome. Shawn is shedding tears, and waving. Thank yous. Blown kisses. The works. A classy goodbye to his hometown crowd. But then, the lights go out. GONNNNG The lights go up. The Undertaker is in the ring, making eye contact with Shawn Michaels. The Deadman looks possessed by a fury. He looks like he absolutely wants to kill Shawn Michaels on live television. As best we can tell, Shawn is quietly apologizing to the Undertaker. A few tense moments until Taker confirms that the apology is unacceptable. He lays out Shawn with a Chokeslam. As done countless times in his career, he follows it up by picking Shawn up and delivering the Tombstone Piledriver in the center of the ring. Announcers are left speechless. Close up shots of reactive members of the audience. Undertaker leaves Shawn prone, and leaves the ring, quite possibly to audible jeers in the Alamo Dome. END OF PART ONE Never said I was ONLY booking AJ vs HBK, did I? Hope you enjoyed. And if you were wondering, Randy Orton broke the Wyatt shackles, and wins the Rumble to challenge AJ at Wrestlemania. But that's not this story.