AJ Styles
AJ Styles is currently negotiating a new deal and reportedly advocated to lose his WWE championship last week. In this picture, Styles and Smackdown women's champion Carmella speak at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Melbourne, Australia, June 24, 2018. Robert Prezioso/Getty Images

Former WWE champion AJ Styles may be set for a reduced role heading into Wrestlemania season as he negotiates a new contract.

Styles shockingly lost his WWE championship to Daniel Bryan last week, ending his 371-day reign in the process. It meant Bryan would instead take on Brock Lesnar at the WWE Survivor Series event over the weekend.

Many speculated the reason for the title change was because of the change in plans that involved Becky Lynch's real-life injury that forced her off her brand supremacy match with Ronda Rousey at Survivor Series.

However, Fightful reported this week it was Styles himself who advocated for a title change due to the time he had spent away from his family over the past year.

The time away from his family is also a major factor as to why the 41-year-old wants a new deal with a reduced schedule, as he currently is negotiations with the WWE over a new contract. His current deal expires in April next year.

Whether the WWE obliges to his demands is another question though, and while he is likely to agree to a new contract given his overall success with the company since debuting in January 2016, anything is possible.

As Mike Johnson discussed on PW Insider Elite audio, barring exceptions like Jeff Hardy and CM Punk in the past, superstars approaching the end of their contracts are usually given reduced roles. Could the same happen for Styles?

“AJ’s deal is up in April and traditionally when someone’s deal is coming due they’re not really featured in a major way in a pay-per-view," Johnson said, as quoted on RingsideNews.com. "Although there are exceptions to that. Jeff Hardy being against CM Punk a few years ago and things of that nature and Punk against John Cena where Punk could have left. So there are exceptions to the rule, it’s not a hard-rule.”

“But one would think WWE will start to downplay him a little bit if they don’t lock him into a longer term deal. Those discussions are ongoing now so we’ll see what happens.”

Styles has not appeared on WWE programming since his loss to Bryan.

He wasn't backstage for Survivor Series and speaking on the "No Holds Barred" podcast, Joe Peisich revealed the former TNA star was given this week off, which explains why he didn't appear on Smackdown this week either.

However, it's hard to imagine a superstar like Styles not being prominently featured as Wrestlemania season begins, even if contract talks were to stall. He is arguably the face of Smackdown and should be a major part of programming again with the Royal Rumble taking place next month.

He will likely get a big match at Wrestlemania 35 as well, which takes place April 7 at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, with his contract likely to expire afterward.