Daniel Bryan captured his fifth WWE world championship on Tuesday night as he defeated AJ Styles in the main event of SmackDown Live.
But fans were left shocked as Bryan cheated in order to capture the gold for the first time since 2014. Late in the match Styles attempted a Phenomenal Forearm but accidentally hit the referee after Bryan jumped out of the way. Seeing an opportunity, Bryan hit Styles with a low blow, then smacked him in the face with a Running Knee just as the referee woke up to count the pin.
And just to prove that it wasn't an accident, Bryan continued to beat down Styles to close out the show.
Tuesday night's episode of SmackDown opened with Styles reflecting on his 371 days as WWE Champion before being interrupted by Paul Heyman. The advocate of Brock Lesnar taunted Styles about not being as good of an in-ring competitor as Bryan (the man Styles beat two weeks prior in a title match), which prompted Bryan to storm down to the ring. He told Styles he'd punch him in the face if he said his name out loud again, which prompted Styles to do so via a compliment. Bryan still attacked the champ, leading the a brawl.
Minutes later the two continued to fight backstage, which prompted Styles to yell at Shane McMahon to give Bryan a championship match for later in the evening.
The title change was a noticeable callback to what happened prior to Survivor Series 2017. Days before that pay-per-view then-WWE Champion Jinder Mahal was booked to face Brock Lesnar in a champion vs. champion match, but dropped the title to Styles on an episode of SmackDown Live in Manchester, England.0comments
With the win, Bryan will now be the one to face Lesnar on Sunday. That scheduled match was just one of many on the Survivor Series card that changed throughout Tuesday night's show as Charlotte Flair replaced an injured Becky Lynch for a one-on-one match with Ronda Rousey and Jeff Hardy replaced Bryan in the five-on-five men's elimination tag match.
Bryan won his first WWE Championship back at SummerSlam in 2013 when he defeated John Cena in the main event. Whether it be by betrayal from Triple H or injury, all of Bryan's reigns with the title have been cut unceremoniously short.