The much anticipated WWE Intercontinental Championship match between AJ Styles and Matt Riddle finally took place on Friday night during WWE SmackDown on FOX. After getting a victory over Styles in a non-title match during his full time main roster debut a few weeks back, Riddle was granted an opportunity to wrestle for the title this week. It caps a tremendous couple of weeks for Styles, who has had fantastic matches with Riddle, Gulak, and Daniel Bryan of late. The title match with Riddle on Friday night was no different, and the two were given an ample amount of time (over 20 minutes) to craft something really special for television viewers.
Riddle took the lead early, with the champion frustrated and unable to get any real offense in as they went to a commercial break. Riddle used his quickness and background in MMA to stimy the champ. As they came back from commercial, Riddle continued his dominance in the ring by grappling with the champ and keeping him down on the mat. Michael Cole noted, "AJ Styles just does not seem to be in the game tonight."
Styles eventually turned the tide by picking up Riddle and driving him down face first into the mat. He followed that by working his opponent over in the corner. Riddle fought back before Styles quickly hit a dragons crew leg takeover. Following that, Styles worked Riddle's left leg to set him up later for the Calf Crusher.
Styles synched in a headlock in the center of the ring as Riddle struggled to his feet. He fought back with a kick and a couple of forearms in the corner, followed by a throw. Riddle hit a big kick to a downed Styles and hit the Bro To Sleep followed by a Powerbomb. Riddle then hit a running knee for a near fall as they went to commercial.
When they came back, Riddle took advantage. He went for the Floating Bro moonsault off the top, but Styles dodged and followed that up with a big brainbuster from the ring apron into the ring. Styles then hit a neckbreaker for a near fall. Styles then went for the Flying Forearm but Riddle caught him and was going to go for the Broderick finisher but Styles got out of it.
The two then exchanged strikes in the ring until Styles was able to lock in the Calf Crusher. Riddle fought to escape and countered into a submission hold. Instead, Styles rolled through and pinned Riddle out of nowhere to retain the title. The announcers put over Riddle after by saying he went toe to toe with one of the all time greats.
The two ended the show by going face to face in the ring. Styles extended a hand and the two shook hands. Riddle was then ambushed from behind by Corbin. Styles looked on expressionless and left the ring as Corbin gave Riddle the End of Days and left.
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