For the first time in his career, AJ Styles has won the Intercontinental Championship.
The finals of WWE’s Intercontinental title tournament aired on SmackDown tonight, with Styles defeating Daniel Bryan to win the title. Bryan went for the running knee near the end of the match, but Styles caught him and hit the Styles Clash. Styles then connected with the Phenomenal Forearm to get the win.
The match went through four commercial breaks and was called an instant classic on commentary after it was over.
Styles did a brief interview after the match and said he’s the best champion that WWE has ever seen.
Styles defeated Shinsuke Nakamura in the first round of the tournament and then got a bye to the finals. Bryan defeated Drew Gulak in the first round and Sheamus in the semifinals. The semifinals were originally supposed to be Styles vs. Elias and Bryan vs. Jeff Hardy, but that was changed after the hit-and-run angle involving Elias, Hardy, and Sheamus.
Styles was traded to SmackDown for “future considerations” at the start of the tournament.
Sami Zayn, who hasn’t appeared on WWE television since WrestleMania 36, was Intercontinental Champion prior to the title being declared vacant last month. On social media, Zayn has been pushing that he’s still the rightful champion. He tweeted about Styles vs. Bryan earlier this week: “Two guys who will put on a match that will no doubt be a wrestling clinic, to prove once and for all just who is the bigger fraud.”