WWE Champion AJ Styles and SmackDown LIVE General Manager Paige communed in the ring to reveal Styles’ next challenger for SummerSlam. The Phenomenal One spoke on how excited he is for WWE Evolution, the importance of his title reign and how he was ready to write another epic chapter to his story at SummerSlam, regardless of who he faces. From there, Styles signed the contract, ready for whoever would challenge him at The Biggest Event of the Summer.
However, before the drumroll could get going and the WWE Universe could find out, James Ellsworth arrived to claim that he was the rightful challenger for the WWE Title at The Biggest Event of the Summer since he had beaten Styles three times. With Paige and Styles greatly perplexed by Ellsworth’s arrival, the SmackDown GM quickly brought a snippy Ellsworth down to earth, informing him that not only would he not be challenging for the championship at SummerSlam, but that, in fact, he was fired.
A shocked Ellsworth was then dragged away by security, and with Styles distracted by the shenanigans, he never saw Samoa Joe enter the ring from behind. The Samoan Submission Machine viciously blindsided The Phenomenal One with a barrage of strikes before locking in the Coquina Clutch, then signing the contract for the title match.