Initial word was that while the decision to have Kevin Owens reclaim the United States Championship from AJ Styles at WWE Battleground came at the last minute, and despite a less-than-crisply executed finish, the title change was planned.
Multiple sources are now raising doubt about that, starting with Twitter user rovert, who posted this video clip of the end of the match — something WWE didn’t show on the Network broadcast or anywhere else since — and questioning the lack of reporting about whether this went to script, when his sources indicated it didn’t.
Dave and Bryan didn't have the scoop on the AJ/Owen finish – I really wonder what sources they have now nowadays? pic.twitter.com/XRsY7p0oFa
— rovert (@SoDuTw) July 24, 2017
Fightful.com followed up on rovert’s report, and found fans in the arena who said Styles wasn’t in the ring after the match to sell the loss, but seemed visibly upset and got into a “heated discussion” with referee Brian Nguyen. Their sources confirmed the finish wasn’t what was planned as of Saturday, but not whether KO was to reclaim the belt.
Wade Keller at Pro Wrestling Torch, however, said on his post-Battleground podcast that AJ was the planned winner, and there was “chaos” backstage after the finish.
Dave Meltzer reported on the post-Raw edition of Wrestling Observer Radio that Styles was scheduled to win the match when the show started. Meltzer noted that the finish that took place was not the original finish.
WWE.com’s preview for tonight’s SmackDown LIVE indicates that the confusion will be used in the storyline.
WWE Battleground had more than its share of controversy, including the United States Championship battle between AJ Styles and Kevin Owens. In managing to reverse a submission hold by The Phenomenal One, KO scored a surprise three-count to reclaim his title and, perhaps, the right to once again call himself The New Face of America.
How will the next chapter in this heated rivalry be written on SmackDown LIVE?