CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Cedric Alexander made an unlikely, arduous climb to a United States Championship Match against AJ Styles at WWE Clash of Champions Kickoff, sealing the opportunity with a pinfall victory over Styles in Madison Square Garden. Still, despite the latest of his many impressive efforts, the former WWE Cruiserweight Champion will climb no further. Styles is still champion, though his challenger was certainly in the fight, nearly riding a wave of hometown support to what would have been the biggest statement of his career.

AJ Styles sends a message in showdown with Cedric Alexander: Clash of Champions 2019 (WWE Network Exclusive)

AJ Styles turns the tables and makes a statement against Cedric Alexander in a United States Championship showdown.

Instead, Styles made the statement, withstanding a blistering onslaught from Alexander to turn the tide with a single shove off the turnbuckle, slowing the bout to his preferred pace and allowing him ample time to pick the dynamic challenger apart. AJ wisely zoned in on Cedric’s legs, mangling them in the Calf Crusher and salting the wound with blistering kicks to the back of the challenger's shins. Cedric had enough in the tank to rock Styles with an elbow over the ropes, but The Phenomenal One quickly dashed the North Carolina native’s hopes of a miracle win with a one-two punch of a Phenomenal Forearm and Styles Clash.

As if to reinforce AJ’s dominance, The O.C. — whom Styles had sent away for the bout — returned after the bell to administer a three-on-one attack of Alexander, punctuated with a shared Too Sweet over the fallen challenger. It was as much a display of AJ’s position atop the mountain as it was a warning to Alexander should he ever try to again make the climb, and it was very, very effective.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Cedric Alexander made an unlikely, arduous climb to a United States Championship Match against AJ Styles at WWE Clash of Champions Kickoff, sealing the opportunity with a pinfall victory over Styles in Madison Square Garden. Still, despite the latest of his many impressive efforts, the former WWE Cruiserweight Champion will climb no further. Styles is still champion, though his challenger was certainly in the fight, nearly riding a wave of hometown support to what would have been the biggest statement of his career.

AJ Styles sends a message in showdown with Cedric Alexander: Clash of Champions 2019 (WWE Network Exclusive)

AJ Styles turns the tables and makes a statement against Cedric Alexander in a United States Championship showdown.

Instead, Styles made the statement, withstanding a blistering onslaught from Alexander to turn the tide with a single shove off the turnbuckle, slowing the bout to his preferred pace and allowing him ample time to pick the dynamic challenger apart. AJ wisely zoned in on Cedric’s legs, mangling them in the Calf Crusher and salting the wound with blistering kicks to the back of the challenger's shins. Cedric had enough in the tank to rock Styles with an elbow over the ropes, but The Phenomenal One quickly dashed the North Carolina native’s hopes of a miracle win with a one-two punch of a Phenomenal Forearm and Styles Clash.

As if to reinforce AJ’s dominance, The O.C. — whom Styles had sent away for the bout — returned after the bell to administer a three-on-one attack of Alexander, punctuated with a shared Too Sweet over the fallen challenger. It was as much a display of AJ’s position atop the mountain as it was a warning to Alexander should he ever try to again make the climb, and it was very, very effective.