WWE SmackDown began with an Intercontinental Championship presentation for AJ Styles following his victory over Daniel Bryan last week, but the segment ended in a much different way than people were likely expecting. Styles defeated Bryan in the Intercontinental Title Tournament finals last week to win the vacant championship, so Renee Young stood in the ring on Friday night with the title belt displayed and ready to give to Styles. Outside the ring were numerous wrestlers, including Bryan, Big E, Mojo Rawley, Shorty G, Kofi Kingston, Sheamus, The Usos, Gran Metalik, Cesaro, Otis, Tucker, and numerous others,
As Young began the ceremony, Styles informed everyone that he's earned the title and he's tired of people looking for handouts. He said that although Young is great, she's not deserving of presenting the title to him. He said that honor should belong to Bryan.
Bryan got in the ring and Styles did everything to grate at his rival. He talked about beating him last week and how Bryan, as a stand-up guy, should have no problem snapping the title around Styles' waist. Surprisingly, Bryan did just that and said congratulations. Styles fumed, saying that's not good enough.
Bryan then got on the microphone and talked about how he knows Styles is going to be a great champion and said he'd even better if he defended the title against the likes of Gran Metalik and Big E. Styles said that none of them have earned a shot. At that point, Bryan said that speaking of earned, Drew Gulak defeated him two weeks ago so he should have no problem defending against him.
Styles said absolutely not, Gulak needs to go to the back of the ring because he would only defend against the number one contender. At this point, the segment was interrupted by Matt Riddle, who strolled to the ring to make his much anticipated debut as part of the SmackDown brand (in the shadow of sexual assault allegations that hit the internet on Thursday.
Riddle said that he understands that Styles is the "face that runs the place." Riddle said he wanted to inform Styles that he's the "bro that's gonna run the show." At this point, Styles attacked Riddle and the two brawled for a moment, with Styles being knocked through the ropes to the outside. Riddle stood tall in the ring as Styles screamed for a referee.
As the match began, Styles had to correct the referee by telling him the match was not for the title. He said, "I don't know if you've seen the sign. No shirt, no shoes, no title match for you." A reference to Riddle's wrestling attire.
The two had a really competitive match, with Styles obviously doing his best to put over the new arrival on the brand. Riddle controlled the early portion of the match, with it turning into more of a back and forth through the middle. Styles flipped the script after Riddle started selling his left leg heavily, with Riddle getting occasional advantages but always being taken out by the pain in his leg.
At the end of the match, Styles and Bryan got into an argument on the outside (the cowd of wrestlers stayed to watch the match). Styles then went up for the Phenomenal Forearm but Riddle caught him and hit the Bro Derek for the pinfall.0comments