As noted, AJ Styles has not wrestled since sustaining an ankle injury at last week's TLC pay-per-view. Styles' ankle injury occurred when he took an over-the-top rope backdrop from Dean Ambrose during their match.
WWE was hoping that Styles would be able to return to action on last night's SmackDown and defend the WWE Championship against James Ellsworth, however plans were changed. Styles ended up not wrestling on the show, and Dolph Ziggler defeated Dean Ambrose, Luke Harper and WWE Intercontinental Champion The Miz in a Fatal 4 Way Elimination Match to become the new #1 contender for the WWE Championship. Ziggler will face Styles for the WWE Championship on the December 27th SmackDown from Chicago. The storyline reason given was that James Ellsworth was too sick to face Styles. WWE SmackDown General Manager Daniel Bryan noted on Talking Smack that Ellsworth will still get a WWE Championship opportunity in the future.
Styles has been removed from all upcoming SmackDown live events until the December 26th show at Madison Square Garden in New York. Styles is scheduled to defend the title against Ambrose and the returning John Cena in a triple threat match at the event.
Styles appeared on Talking Smack last night and dodged questions about if he was cleared to wrestle, but said that he "could go."
"Health-wise I'm ready to rock, I was ready to go with Ellsworth tonight and then he got sick," Styles said. "I'm ready to go... listen, I can go."