In what could go down as the most shocking moment of the year, Daniel Bryan defeated AJ Styles to end his one-year reign as WWE Champion - all while turning heel and booking a match vs. Universal Champion Brock Lesnar at Survivor Series.
After accidentally hitting the referee, Bryan got away with a low blow on The Phenomenal One. Bryan then hit Styles with a Running Knee finisher and captured the WWE Championship via pinfall.
Bryan then completed the heel turn by brutally attacking Styles after the match - putting the cherry on top of what will go down as one of the most memorable and shocking series of events in the history of SmackDown Live.
With the victory, Bryan will face The Beast Incarnate this Sunday in what many consider a "dream match." It prevents a second consecutive year of having Styles face Lesnar in a champion vs. champion match - giving fans something new to look forward to now.
But no matter what happens on Sunday - a likely Lesnar victory - the main storyline here is a new feud between Bryan and Styles. WWE simply couldn't have both of these perennial babyfaces clash as good guys, so the creative team made the bold decision to turn the beloved Bryan bad guy.
Bryan had attacked Styles earlier on the show, when the latter asked him about the apparent beef. That began to tease a major heel turn and title change taking place in St. Louis. And indeed, it all happened.
What This Means
WWE is clearly devoted to rolling with Styles even more as the ultimate babyface of SmackDown Live. They tried turning him heel two years ago, but the fans treated him like a good guy anyway.
Bryan made his return to the ring at WrestleMania 34, but he was stuck in the mid-card and wasn't getting the push as a main event star. It seems like WWE was just waiting for the right moment to put him back in the spotlight, and they certainly caught us by surprise tonight.
Styles was running out of worthwhile opponents on SmackDown - with Shinsuke Nakamura and and Samoa Joe all moving onto new feuds. Now, we get to see Bryan vs. Styles - and it promises to be nothing short of epic and entertaining.