AJ Styles returned to WWE SmackDown last week, defeating Shinsuke Nakamura in the first round of the ongoing Intercontinental Championship tournament, having officially been announced as a blue brand Superstar during the 22 May broadcast itself.
WWE stated that Styles had been moved to the FOX show in exchange for a future pick for his old show, Monday Night Raw. Paul Heyman's brand is yet to play its hand.
Per Dave Meltzer on Wrestling Observer Radio, 'The Phenomenal One' was traded to SmackDown because WWE didn't want to limit him to the four appearances allowed by the new brand-to-brand invitational rule, which allows wrestlers to cross between shows a handful of time every year. Rather than break their own rules (which they are prone to doing anyway), WWE made AJ an SD full-timer.
Styles himself has spoken out on the move during a recent appearance on Corey Graves' After the Bell podcast. He told the host that "doing something different" and getting away from Raw after his friends Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows were released "is good for me," as while he "doesn't know if I'll ever get over it, it helps change the atmosphere around me."
AJ faces Elias for a spot in the IC Title tournament finals on tonight's show.
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