WWE SmackDown: Kevin Owens beats AJ Styles in non-title match
By Jefferson Lake, WWE Editor
Last Updated: 27/12/17 9:28am
Kevin Owens defeated WWE Champion AJ Styles in a non-title match on the final episode of SmackDown of 2017.
In what is perhaps a signal as to who Styles' first opponent in the New Year will be, Owens picked up a huge win with a roll-up after the champion was distracted by events outside the ring.
SmackDown commissioner Shane McMahon went to ringside to attempt to convince the referee to eject Sami Zayn, whose presence had been problematic throughout the match.
But Owens capitalised on the confusion for a vital victory over an opponent with whom he had a series of very good matches for the United States championship earlier this year.
Styles seemed less than pleased, and it appeared as though McMahon was offering him an apology as he made his way to the back.
Gable & Benjamin earn title shot
The Usos' first defence of their SmackDown titles in 2018 will come against Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable, who won a triple threat match against the New Day and Aiden English & Rusev.
The high-quality contest provided further evidence of the huge popularity of Rusev but he was unable to help his team score a victory.
Instead, it was Gable and Benjamin who came out on top, picking up a win after executing their tandem bulldog on Big E.
US Championship tournament begins
Daniel Bryan confirmed he has heard nothing back from Dolph Ziggler and so has assumed the Showoff has relinquished his title after leaving it lying in the ring last week.
As a result, he has commissioned an eight-man tournament to establish a new champion, and booked two of the matches for this week's episode.
Bobby Roode and Jinder Mahal were the winners who progress to the next round, defeating Baron Corbin and Tye Dillinger respectively.
Having lost the US title to Ziggler at Clash of Champions, Corbin therefore is denied an immediate chance to regain it, and ends the year on a major low.