In the advertising for the July 11th episode of SmackDown Live, you may have seen that the show will be dealing with AJ Styles’ United States Championship victory. But when we left things on SmackDown Live last week, the U.S. Champion was Kevin Owens. So what happened? When did Styles win the championship?
AJ Styles won the United States Championship at a house show on Friday, July 7th. The show took place at Madison Square Garden in New York. This was the first U.S. Championship win of his career.
It’s pretty rare for a wrestler to win a title in a match that isn’t even broadcast on television or on the WWE Network. However, it does happen from time to time. For example, in 2016, Samoa Joe defeated Finn Balor to win the NXT Championship at a live event. Doing this every once in a while helps keep live events unpredictable, turning them into more of a draw than they would be if you knew for sure that there was no way a belt could be dropped. It also made for a pretty unforgettable moment when the fans in the arena reacted with pure shock to Styles’ win.
Before this live show, AJ Styles was already set to face Kevin Owens for the United States Championship at Battleground later this month. However, it’s unclear whether that match will still happen now; it has been removed from the WWE’s online preview of Battleground. That’s probably because Kevin Owens technically can request a United States Championship match before Battleground, and so it’s possible we’ll see a U.S. Championship rematch on a SmackDown Live show prior to July 23rd. Still, it seems more likely that we’ll just get the original match that was planned, just with a slightly different dynamic going into it.
Battleground will air on Sunday, July 23rd on the WWE Network.