CLEVELAND — Oh, what a tangled, patriotic web we weave.
After AJ Styles regained the United States Championship from Kevin Owens last week in a high-octane Triple Threat Match that also included Chris Jericho, The Phenomenal One immediately went from hunter to hunted as Kevin Owens invoked his rematch clause to kick things off on SmackDown LIVE.
The two fierce rivals held nothing back, giving the WWE Universe a dazzling show of athleticism and grit in equal measure. However, much like their match at WWE Battleground, this contest wasn’t without controversy, as the referee was accidentally knocked down by a brutal haymaker from Owens, and Styles caught KO in a rollup to score the three-count. However, because of the damage he sustained earlier in the match, the referee never saw that Owens’ shoulder was up before his hand hit the mat for the third time.
Styles celebrated the victory and KO flipped out, heading backstage to look for SmackDown LIVE Commissioner management.
When Owens found both Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan, the irate former U.S. Champion shoved the referee before Shane-O-Mac intervened. The result of the match was deemed final, but even amidst all the chaos, Owens was granted a rematch for the United States Title at SummerSlam. However, Owens, now weary of the refereeing of the last several weeks, made a point to say that he didn’t trust the current crop of officials. The Team Blue front office yet again agreed, and Bryan said he would provide Owens a referee who would meet his lofty standards … and his name was Shane McMahon.