AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens at WWE SummerSlam 2017 Set After Controversial Finish

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistAugust 2, 2017

Credit: WWE.com

AJ Styles defeated Kevin Owens on Tuesday's edition of SmackDown Live to retain the United States Championship.

Owens inadvertently hit referee Mike Chioda in the eye, impairing the referee's vision. Shortly thereafter, Styles countered an attempted Pop-Up Powerbomb into a pin, and Chioda was unable to see Owens get his right shoulder up before counting to three.

WWE's official Twitter account showed Styles raising his arms in victory:

After the match, SmackDown Live Commissioner Shane McMahon announced Owens would get a rematch at SummerSlam, with McMahon serving as the referee:

Philly.com's Vaughn Johnson enjoyed Tuesday's bout:

Styles and Owens have been engaged in a heated feud over the U.S. title in recent weeks and months, and it has led to the belt changing hands on several occasions.

KO beat Styles by count-out at Backlash to retain the championship, but The Phenomenal One became No. 1 contender once again by winning an Independence Day Battle Royal on SmackDown.

That set the stage for one of the most surprising title changes in recent memory when Styles beat Owens at a live event from Madison Square Garden in New York City to become United States champion for the first time in his career.

Following that shocking result, Owens got his rematch at Battleground, where he won the title back in bizarre fashion.

After the referee was knocked unconscious, KO rolled Styles into a pinning combination. The official slowly counted to three, and Owens was declared the winner.

The finish felt flat, and fans were left wondering if Styles had gotten his shoulder up or if both Superstars had their shoulders on the mat at the same time.

None of that was addressed, though, and it became official that Owens was once again the New Face of America and a three-time United States champion to boot.

Owens was boastful on the following episode of SmackDown and had no plans to defend his title that night despite Styles asking for his rematch.

A wrench was thrown into KO's plans, however, when Chris Jericho made a shocking, unannounced return to WWE in search of his U.S. title rematch as well.

Jericho's last match before leaving to tour with Fozzy had been a United States Championship loss to Owens followed by a post-match attack.

With both Styles and Jericho having legitimate gripes, McMahon booked a Triple Threat for the U.S. title.

Styles won the strap back by pinning Y2J, which led to an incensed Owens demanding a rematch of his own for the following week.

While one school of thought suggests passing the United States Championship back and forth devalues it, the rapid-fire title changes have made for some memorable moments as well.

Styles put a stop to the game of hot potato Tuesday, though, and firmly established himself as the United States champion, but he'll be right back at it Aug. 20 when he faces Owens again at SummerSlam.

     

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