PHILADELPHIA — Although his victory came with its share of controversy, AJ Styles managed to survive stacked odds, defeating Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn in a 1-on-2 Handicap Match to retain his WWE Championship at Royal Rumble 2018.
Owens & Zayn set out to frustrate the WWE Champion, tagging in and out before Styles could get his hands on either of them. Styles attempted to divide and conquer the two best friends, but the numbers game continually got the better of him.
Owens & Zayn took every chance to use their 2-on-1 advantage, grinding Styles into the canvas as the WWE Champion writhed in pain. Styles finally created separation by clobbering KO with a Pele Kick and creatively using Zayn and Owens as weapons against each other. Styles nearly pulled off the victory after locking the Calf Crusher on Owens.
Zayn was able to make the save, however. In the ensuing scrum, Zayn almost captured the title with the Blue Thunder Bomb, but Styles kicked out at the last second. That sent Styles on a tear as he battled back.
The Phenomenal One isolated Zayn, coming close to keeping Owens out of the match. Before being dumped out of the ring, though, Zayn appeared to tag KO in by his fingertips. That proved to be their undoing, as Styles countered a Pop-up Powerbomb attempt and rolled up KO for the victory.
KO & Zayn were furious after the bout, going straight to SmackDown LIVE Commissioner Shane McMahon to argue that Zayn had missed the tag and was still the legal man. McMahon was not going to make any cha