‘SmackDown Live’: Daniel Bryan Ends AJ Styles’ 371-Day Reign as WWE Champion (Video)

Tuesday’s shocking main event is a pretty good lead-in for the series premiere of USA Network’s “Real Country”

Daniel Bryan Retires

Daniel Bryan just ended AJ Styles’ record reign as WWE Champion in the surprise main-event of Tuesday’s “SmackDown Live.” Talk about a pretty good lead-in for USA Network’s new country-music competition series, “Real Country.”

The shocking squared-circle triumph wasn’t a clean win, however: Bryan turned heel (the pro-wrestling phrase for becoming a bad guy) by delivering an illegal low-blow to Styles before finishing off the “Face that runs the place” with a trademark running knee. The referee had been inadvertently knocked down and missed the infraction.

Watch the title change hands here:

The bad behavior from the former good guy continued after the bell rang.

Bryan’s return to the top of the wrestling world has been an uphill battle. The fan-favorite submission specialist was sidelined for two years by WWE’s medical team after suffering numerous head injuries. During that retirement, it was believed that Bryan’s in-ring career was over for good.

Before tonight, Styles had held the belt for 371 days — that’s the longest anyone on “SmackDown” has ever been WWE Champion. The previous record-holder was John Bradshaw Layfield, who made a big belt buckle out of the company’s iconic belt for 280-straight days.

Styles became WWE Champion back on Nov. 7, 2017, when he bested Jinder Mahal in Manchester, England.

With his win, Bryan will now take on “Raw” champ Brock Lesnar at Sunday’s “Survivor Series” pay-per-view event. So, good luck with that.

“SmackDown Live” airs Tuesday nights from 8 to 10 p.m. ET on USA Network. “Real Country” now follows. “Survivor Series 2018” will stream Sunday night on WWE Network, starting with a one-hour pre-show at 7/6c.