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AJ Styles is on a collision course with greatness, and he will have a chance to prove he is still capable of being on top of WWE at Backlash on Saturday in France, where he squares off against Cody Rhodes for the first time ever with the Undisputed WWE Championship on the line.

Styles had to defeat Kevin Owens and Rey Mysterio and then defeat LA Knight in a WrestleMania 40 rematch to be able to get to Rhodes, who will be making his first title defense since upsetting Roman Reigns on Night 2 of the WWE’s premiere premium live event.

It has been a long road for Styles to get back into the title picture after about two months on the shelf because of an injury. He was in the fatal four way against Reigns, Knight and Randy Orton at the Royal Rumble but failed to win there. He was also a runner-up for the World Heavyweight Championship, losing to Seth Rollins at Night of Champions last May.


AJ Styles, right, defeats LA Knight during “SmackDown” at PPG Paints Arena on April 19, 2024 in Pittsburgh. (WWE/Getty Images)

He told Fox News Digital he is ready to hold the belt again.

“I think I spent enough time letting other people get their chance,” Styles told Fox News Digital, stressing that 2023 was a bad year for him. “I was barely there, honestly.

“But it was during that time where I had to figure out my body, my eating, my diet, my workouts, everything and just changed it all and came back ready to make a difference in WWE in 2024. Yeah, man, I’m ready to rock, dude. It’s about time.”

Styles and Rhodes’ paths never crossed despite being on the independent circuit for quite a while. Styles actually faced off against Rhodes’ father, Dusty Rhodes, for the NWA Heavyweight Championship in October 2003 at TNA Wrestling’s weekly pay-per-view. He won that match.

“The American Nightmare” mentioned on the penultimate “Friday Night SmackDown” the paths they both took to get to the top of WWE.

LA Knight, right, kicks at AJ Styles during Wrestlemania XL Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on April 7, 2024. (Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)


Rhodes left the company to find success on the indies, in Japan, and he helped found All Elite Wrestling before he came back and took WWE by storm. Styles was the face of TNA Wrestling at its peak and proved himself in Japan before making his shocking debut at the 2016 Royal Rumble.

“I feel like we took similar paths, but his was backward compared to mine where I started off low on the Totem Pole at not a big wrestling company, but then I had to get to a point where I had to bet on myself and show that I could be a champion, that I could be a name worth having,” Styles explained. “In Japan, it got me here to WWE, where he was like he had to prove he was a name worth having, but he had to do it outside – he had to go to Japan and other places, AEW, to get to WWE.

“I respect the heck out of it. I mean going from the biggest company in the world to do what he did is pretty impressive.”

Now, two of the best to do it in the ring in this generation of pro wrestling will square off for the championship.

Cody Rhodes, left, and AJ styles shake hands at Heritage Bank Center on April 26, 2024 in Cincinnati. (WWE/Getty Images)

Backlash will be held in Décines-Charpieu, Lyon Metropolis, France. It is the first WWE premium live event to be held in France.


The show begins at 1 p.m. ET and can be seen on Peacock.

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