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WWE Smackdown: AJ Styles faces Kevin Owens; Jinder Mahal eyes U.S. title

UPI News Service, 12/27/2017 

The final Smackdown Live of 2017 featured WWE Champion AJ Styles taking on Kevin Owens and the start of a United States Championship tournament.

The main event of the night, Owens who was joined by Sami Zayn at ringside, used his best friend once again in order to gain an advantage in the match.

After Zayn was laid out outside the ring by Styles who was aiming for Owens, Zayn then jumped onto the ring apron in order to distract the champion and allow Owens to nail The Phenomenal One with a kick to the face.

The act caused Smackdown commissioner Shane McMahon to arrive and demand to the referee that Zayn be ejected from ringside. Styles then took advantage of the moment and rolled up Owens for a pin but the referee was too distracted by McMahon to start a three count.

Owens then in the confusion, rolled up Styles for a quick three count and the victory after Styles began to talk things over with the referee. Owens and Zayn celebrated the win while Styles gave McMahon a disappointing look as he exited up the ramp.

The United States Championship meanwhile was started by general manager Daniel Bryan following Dolph Ziggler's bizarre moment from last week when he left the title in the middle of the ring after winning it at Clash of Champions.

The first round of the tournament included two matches with Booby Roode defeating Baron Corbin and Jinder Mahal defeating Tye Dillinger after striking The Perfect 10 with the Khallas.

Mahal's participation in the tournament means that The Modern Day Maharaja has moved onto pursuing the United States Championship after dominating much of 2017 as WWE champion.

Other moments from Smackdown Live included Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable defeating The New Day and Rusev and Aiden English earning a shot against Tag Team Champions The Usos; The Bludgeon Brothers facing off against Breezango, which ended in a no contest; Ruby Riott defeating Naomi; and Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura entering into the upcoming 2018 Royal Rumble match.

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