Bobby Lashley survived his first singles encounter with AJ Styles Monday night to retain his United States Championship.
The Raw title bout saw Lashley and Styles square off in a much-hyped contest that didn't disappoint. Both men grappled in a somewhat tentative way that you might expect from first-time opponents. Lashley targeted AJ's back, while Styles kept trying to knot up the All Mighty's leg.
The match had a bit of gaga in the middle section, with Miz and Ciampa coming down to ringside to distract and attempt to interfere, but after Dexter Lumis jumped the barricade and was ejected, the referee also tossed Miz and Ciampa, and the title bout continued unabated.
The ending saw Styles counter a spear with a calf crusher, which Lashley reversed to a Hurt Lock, which AJ reversed to a pinfall attempt. Moments later, Styles went for a Phenomenal Forearm, which Lashley ducked and then hit a spear for the win.
This match and last week's defence against Ciampa are pretty clear attempts to validate and re-establish the United States Championship as a serious title. Having a champion go out and just wrestle good, competitive matches week in and week out is one proven way to make a title mean something. Combined with the recent video packages about the title, you can see what Triple H is aiming for here.