AJ Styles has had a pretty good run as the current WWE champion. He’s been holding it down for over seven months and has defended his belt three times against Shinsuke Nakamura. But it’s about time for someone new to take a shot at the throne.

To name the next challenger, this week’s Smackdown included a special main event—a gauntlet match in which five superstars would have a chance to win a shot at the belt. In a gauntlet match, two superstars enter the ring. Once one of them gets pinned, another superstar takes his place until they’ve all been in the ring. Whoever gets the last pin wins the match.

The match began with The New Day’s Big E facing off against the hugely popular Daniel Bryan. Bryan is known for his next-level endurance, having lasted over an hour in the Greatest Royal Rumble. While E held his own against Bryan, he eventually fell victim to a pin.

The next competitor was the behemoth known as Samoa Joe. Joe appeared to have the upper hand against Bryan, managing to trap him in multiple submission holds. But he was disqualified when he misjudged the length of time he’d been outside the ring.

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Bryan, clearly winded after his face-off with Joe, then took on the infamous trash-talker The Miz. Before Miz entered the ring, however, Bryan was blindsided by a surprise appearance from Smackdown tag-team champions The Bludgeon Brothers, who hit Bryan with a devastating double powerbomb and let Miz get the pin. 

This left The Miz to take on his final challenger, the “Bulgarian Brute” Rusev. The match went back and forth, but Rusev was able to land a Machka Kick and force Miz to submit with his signature Accolade submission hold.

With Rusev triumphant, the fan favorite now has an opportunity to take on “The Phenomenal One.” Will the Extreme Rules event be remembered as “Rusev Day”? We’ll find out in a few weeks.

Catch the annual Extreme Rules event on Sunday, July 15 on the WWE Network.


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