WATCH: Surprise! AJ Styles wins WWE United States title at MSG house show
AJ Styles beat Kevin Owens to win the U.S. title for the first time in his career
It did not take long for the No. 1 contender to successfully cash in his championship shot as AJ Styles won the United States title from champion Kevin Owens in rare fashion on Friday night. Why rare? Styles beat Owens off television at a WWE Live house show in New York's famous Madison Square Garden arena.
WWE has acknowledged the title change as official, and fans in attendance at the event were kind enough to record the history-making moment as Styles captures his first U.S. championship.
Styles became No. 1 contender for Owens' championship on Tuesday after winning an Independence Day battle royal on SmackDown Live. He previously challenged for the title at Backlash in May but lost via countout after his leg got stuck in a hole on the announce table.
Though Styles, who joined WWE in 2016, is a decorated professional wrestler whose career truly began in 2002, this is just his second title with the company. His first championship was the WWE title, which he won on Sept. 11, 2016 and held for 140 days before losing to John Cena in January 2017 at the Royal Rumble.
Title changes at house shows are few and far between, particularly over the last few years. They usually occur either due to an injury suffered by the champion prior to the show, a contract dispute or simply as a means of WWE giving fans additional incentive to attend their non-televised events. Owens has been dealing with a variety of injuries as of late, though it is unknown if the decision to put the strap on Styles was for that reason.
The most notable house show title change occurred at Madison Square Garden in 1994 when Diesel defeated Bob Backlund for the then WWF championship. The last time a WWE-related title changed hands at a house show was Samoa Joe winning the NXT championship from Finn Balor back on April 27, 2016.
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