AJ Styles commenced his first United States Championship reign by defeating Kevin Owens at a live event, or “house show,” held Friday evening at Madison Square Garden. This was after Styles had to defeat Chad Gable, as well as outlast every other contender in the battle royal, to earn his opportunity against the self-proclaimed “Face of America,” Kevin Owens.
Seemingly, the match was going to occur at the Battleground event on July 23. However, since that pay-per-view is over two weeks away, perhaps WWE needed a spark to cause a greater level of interest for the blue brand. While the ongoing WWE Championship feud between Jinder Mahal and Randy Orton can be viewed as monotonous and disengaging to some, Styles has unanimously gained fan support, which was clearly shown when he won the U.S. title at MSG.
Winning the championship at a house show certainly comes as a surprise, because this has been something very uncommon for the company to do over the past 15 years. In fact, this is the first time this title has ever changed hands at a house show under the WWE umbrella. So, not only did Styles win his first U.S. Championship, but he also made history in being the first person to win it at a house show.
When the title was owned by NWA and early WCW, there were numerous times when the title changed hands at a house show. Mainly, because the level of programming was not as heavy as it evolved to be.
The last time the title changed hands at a non-televised event was when Lance Storm defeated Terry Funk on September 23, 2000, to commence his second reign as champion. The night before, Funk won the title at a house show in his hometown of Amarillo, Texas. However, as Lance Storm verified, these reigns were not recognized by WCW. However, they are recognized by the WWE.
For the last house show title change that was recognized by WCW, fans would have to go back to 1991, as Sting commenced his first United States Championship reign by defeated “Stunning” Steve Austin in Atlanta, Georgia.
While Styles winning the championship at a house show came as a surprise, it did generate a great deal of buzz, which does wonders to elevate the status of the U.S. title.
[Featured Image By WWE]