AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura Faced Off Once Again on SmackDown

Just when we all thought the feud was over, WWE announced on Monday that AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura would go at it one more time this week on SmackDown Live.

From a storyline perspective, the bout certainly came completely out of nowhere considering Styles is getting ready to face Rusev this Sunday at Extreme Rules and Nakamura is now firmly implanted in the U.S. title picture. That said, we sure weren't complaining about a chance at seeing Styles and Nakamura go at it between the ropes yet again.

The history of the feud is well established: Styles won at WrestleMania (and Nakamura turned heel afterward), there was a double count-out at Greatest Royal Rumble, the Backlash bout ended in a no contest, Nakamura was victorious in a SmackDown television match-up, and Styles won the Last Man Standing bout at Money In The Bank.

The sixth television match of 2018 between the two on Tuesday night was featured in the second segment of the show, earlier than most expected, with the opening bell ringing just 25 minutes into the show.

Styles and Nakamura weren't alone, though. Rusev and Aiden English entered the arena following the entrances to cut a promo about his match with Styles this Sunday. Nakamura used this as an opportunity to attack Styles from behind at the start, but Styles quickly drop-kicked to try and establish control early.

That was short-lived, as Nakamura dodged in and out of the ring before taking advantage of his opponent. He worked over Styles in the ring with some hard kicks and knees during the commercial break. Styles fought back with an attack in the corner followed by a snap suplex for a two count. Styles worked over Shinsuke's back with a back breaker and an Irish whip into the corner. He followed that up with a knee to the face for another two count.

Back came Nakamura with some kicks and knees in the corner, but he turned around for a second and walked into a side kick to the gut. Styles went for the Phenomenal Forearm but was sent to the outside by his opponent. Outside the ring, Nakamura slammed AJ into the guard rail and brought him back into the ring where he used a headlock submission hold to kill some time.

After dropping Styles to the mat, Nakamura came in with a Kinshasa attempt, but Styles reversed it into a roll-up for a two count. Styles hit a big kick but then walked into one in the corner. Nakamura planted him across the top turnbuckle and nailed him with a knee lift to the stomach. He followed that shortly after with a scoop slam and more kicks as the bout went to a second commercial break.

Whent he show returned, Styles and Nakamura exchanged hard shots. Styles then took control with a jumping forearm in the corner and followed that with a neck breaker following a taunt from Shinsuke to "come on!" AJ went for the Styles Clash but Nakamura turned it into a triangle submission. Styles broke the hold by turning it into a pinfall attempt after a couple tense moments.

Then it was Styles begging Nakamura to "come on!"

He sent Nakamura to the outside and sling-shotted over the top rope with a Phenomenal Forearm in front of the announce position. English began yelling at him and Styles turned around and nailed him with a punch. Styles then turned back around to a big kick from Shinsuke with Rusev yelling "Finish him Shin!" Unfortunately, Nakamura came in with a Kinshasa attempt but hit English instead.

Styles slammed Nakamura into the ring post, tossed him into the ring, and went to set up the Phenonmenal Forearm. However, Rusev pulled him off the ring for a DQ finish just over 15 minutes in. Rusev then brought AJ into the ring and held him for Shinsuke to hit the Kinshasa but Jeff Hardy's theme came on and he ran down to the ring.

Rusev took out both Rusev and Nakamura, clearing the ring of the duo. At that point, Paige came out on the ramp and made a tag team match to begin right away.

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After a third commercial break since the original match began, a worn-down Styles was taking a beating from Rusev. Styles tried to fight out of a bearhug for a hot tag, unsuccessfully, as Rusev continued to dominate. Somehow, Styles eventually turned the move into a sleeper hold before being driven into the turnbuckle. After Rusev missed a big shoulder block attempt, Styles made the hot tag to Hardy.

Hardy worked over Rusev with kicks and dropkicks. He stared down his Extreme Rules opponent, Nakamura, as he did so. He hit the Whisper in the Wind but Nakamura broke up the pinfall attempt. At that point, the match broke down, with Styles taking out Nakamura on the ring apron. Styles turned around into a Machka Kick from Rusev. Hardy then took out Rusev with a Twist of Fate and went up top for the Swanton but Nakamura crotched him. Rusev then hit the Machka Kick for the pinfall.