AJ Styles prevailed over Samoa Joe to retain the WWE Championship at Crown Jewel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on Friday.
To cap a back-and-forth affair, Styles hit Joe with the Phenomenal Forearm to pick up the victory and extend his title reign to 360 days:
Styles was originally scheduled to face Daniel Bryan at Crown Jewel, but SmackDown Live commissioner Shane McMahon threw a curveball amid a report from Robbie Fox of Barstool Sports that Bryan refused to compete at the event following the death of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last month.
Rather than move forward with Styles against Bryan at Crown Jewel, McMahon booked the match for Tuesday's go-home edition of SmackDown.
Styles and Bryan did battle in a fantastic, back-and-forth match that saw The Phenomenal One work over Bryan's knee.
That proved to be the difference, as Styles forced Bryan to tap out to the Calf Crusher.
After Styles retained the title, he and Bryan shook hands in a show of respect, but that feel-good moment was short-lived.
Joe interrupted the handshake by attacking both Superstars and causing them to pass out with the Coquina Clutch.
The Samoan Submission Machine then held the WWE Championship above his head and made it clear that he wanted another shot at the title.
Styles begged SmackDown Live general manager Paige to let him face Joe at Crown Jewel, and his wish was granted.
Joe and Styles were embroiled in a heated feud over the summer that featured matches at SummerSlam and Hell in a Cell.
While Joe beat Styles at SummerSlam by disqualification, Styles bounced back to win at Hell in a Cell and retain the title once again.
They also locked horns at WWE Super Show-Down in Melbourne, Australia, last month, which saw Styles win for the second consecutive time.
Joe made the feud personal by stalking Styles' family and even standing outside his home, yet it seemed like their issue had reached its conclusion at Super Show-Down.
The Bryan situation afforded Joe with an opportunity, however, and he pushed Styles to the limit again at Crown Jewel.
But with Styles continuing his nearly yearlong reign as WWE champion, the door is now open for some of SmackDown Live's other top stars to step up as contenders.
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