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AJ Styles Beats Rusev with Phenomenal Forearm to Retain Title at Extreme Rules

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistJuly 16, 2018

Credit: WWE.com

AJ Styles defeated Rusev at Extreme Rules on Sunday night in Pittsburgh to retain the WWE Championship.

Aiden English inadvertently cost The Bulgarian Brute the match.

English exposed the top turnbuckle in one of the four corners of the ring. Moments later, Rusev went face-first into the exposed turnbuckle.

With Rusev out on the canvas, Styles hit a springboard 450 splash and a Phenomenal Forearm for the win:

WWE @WWE

#AndStill ✅ @AJStylesOrg #WWEChampionship #ExtremeRules https://t.co/lSPLERqXFp

After he came out on the losing end, many wished for Rusev to get another crack at the world title down the line:

Dave Schilling @dave_schilling

Good match. Expected result. I hope Rusev gets a run with the title soon.

Adam Pacitti @adampacitti

Rusev's push came far too late and I truly hope this isn't the end of it. A good match but not as good as it should have been. #ExtremeRules

Daily DDT @FanSidedDDT

Tom Phillips called Rusev's opportunity at the WWE Championship "once in lifetime". I sincerely hope that isn't literally the case. He was absolutely brilliant tonight and fully earned similar chances in the future. My hat is off to Rusev on this Rusev Day.

After a lengthy rivalry with Shinsuke Nakamura that began prior to WrestleMania 34, The Phenomenal One was in search of a new challenger to his throne.

The Bulgarian Brute stepped in as No. 1 contender by winning a June 19 gauntlet match that also included Daniel Bryan, Samoa Joe, The Miz and Big E.

Rusev was the final entrant and used that to his advantage, as he last defeated Miz to earn arguably the biggest opportunity of his career.

For the past several months, Rusev has been among the most popular Superstars on the roster because of how over his Rusev Day gimmick has become.

While WWE has been reluctant to fully turn him face, the fans continue to react to him in a positive way, and that created a great atmosphere at Extreme Rules.

For as popular as The Super Athlete has become, it can be argued nobody in WWE is more beloved than Styles, which gave Sunday's match a babyface vs. babyface dynamic even if Rusev generally acts like a heel.

Rusev winning the No. 1 contendership came as something of a surprise since The Miz, Bryan and Joe all looked like more likely opponents for Styles.

Despite his popularity, WWE has long held back on putting Rusev in a bigger spot, but having him face Styles on a pay-per-view suggests the company does see something special in the former United States champion.

One thing that has never been in question about Rusev is the fact he knows how to perform in the ring and put on some solid matches.

Styles can carry almost anyone on the roster through a passable match at the very least, but Rusev didn't need any help at Extreme Rules.

He put on a strong performance across from perhaps the best pure wrestler in the world, and there is little doubt he raised his stock in the process.

Although Styles won as expected and paved the way to move into a different program against someone such as Samoa Joe for SummerSlam, Rusev showed Sunday he has the tools needed to compete at a main event level when given the chance.

             

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