At a WWE live event tonight, AJ Styles shocked the world by winning the United States Championship.
This occurred at a house show at Madison Square Garden, and the stunning win can be viewed in the embedded Twitter video. It’s rare for a WWE title to change hands at a live event. However, it’s not unheard of, and it has happened a number of times throughout the company’s history. Most recently, in 2016, Samoa Joe defeated Finn Balor to win the NXT Championship at a live event.
It’s clear from the video that the crowd never expected AJ Styles to win, and so the moment he actually does get to the three count, the place absolutely erupts. It did not take long for #WWEMSG to begin trending on Twitter because of this.
AJ Styles and Kevin Owens are still expected to face off against one another at Battleground, which airs in two weeks. The only difference is that now, AJ Styles will go into the match as the defender, not Kevin Owens.
This comes just three days after AJ Styles won a battle royal on July 4th’s show and became the number one contender for the United States Championship. The fact that the win came so soon after AJ Styles championship pursuits began only added to the surprise.
So why the title change hands in this way? Well, it helps to promote WWE live events, getting the idea out there that anything can happen at these shows. Fans now have much more of a reason to go to a house show if a title changing hands is a possibility, and the events can’t be easily dismissed as unimportant. The WWE also does just love to swerve its audience whenever possible.
The aftermath of this win will be discussed on the next episode of SmackDown Live, which airs this Tuesday on the USA Network.