On Sunday night, WWE held its first SmackDown-exclusive pay-per-view of the new brand split era, as Backlash took place at the Richmond Coliseum in Virginia. And it turned out to be one of the company’s best-booked events of the year, culminating with AJ Styles defeating Dean Ambrose to become the new WWE World Champion.

Styles and Ambrose tear the house down in thrilling main event

Although AJ Styles has been Wrestling all over the world for close to two decades, he has been in WWE for only eight months so far.

And that’s all it took the “Phenomenal” Styles to win his first main event title, as he built on the momentum of his big SummerSlam win over John Cena to defeat Dean Ambrose in the main event of Backlash. The match lasted all of 25 minutes, with the fight spilling outside the ring and coming with its fair share of false finishes. But with referee Mike Chioda temporarily down, Styles took advantage of the situation, and used a low blow to set up his Styles Clash finisher and defeat Ambrose for the WWE World Championship to close out the show.

With Styles now reigning as WWE World Champion and having pulled off the win through shenanigans, this should set up a rematch with Ambrose In the next pay-per-view. However, it may also set the stage for another epic confrontation between Styles and Cena, possibly at November’s Survivor Series pay-per-view, and this time, quite possibly for the title.

New belts: Becky Lynch, Slater/Rhyno become SmackDown Women’s and Tag Team champs respectively

Backlash also saw the SmackDown Women’s Championship and Tag Team Championship contested for the first time ever, with Becky Lynch winning the former title and Heath Slater and Rhyno winning the latter.

In the six-pack elimination match for the Women’s title, the fact that Lynch won the title came as no surprise, given her high-profile WWE debut last year alongside RAW Women’s Championship rivals Charlotte and Sasha Banks. But it was interesting to see relative newcomer Carmella end up as the last elimination, and since she did eliminate the veteran Nikki Bella earlier in the match, that could heat up their ongoing feud going forward.

Not surprisingly, The Usos easily polished off The Hype Bros in the second-chance match for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship. The identical twin brothers built up on their villainous turn on the last SmackDown Live, appearing far more serious than they were as fun-loving babyfaces. But they were stopped cold in the Tag Team Championship finals, as Rhyno charged at Jimmy Uso with his Gore finisher and gave him and Heath Slater the belts.

This also allowed Slater to finally get signed by a WWE brand, with the popularity of his “free agent” storyline making him a surprise hit as a wrestler turned babyface through fan support.

Other matches: Kane destroys Wyatt with help from Orton

The other matches on the Backlash card had more than their share of entertaining moments. In pre-show action, Baron Corbin defeated the seemingly directionless Apollo Crews in what was still a solid match.

The Miz retained his Intercontinental Championship against Dolph Ziggler, after his wife/valet Maryse blinded Ziggler with what looked to be a spray from a perfume atomizer. And after Bray Wyatt defeated an injured Randy Orton when the latter forfeited due to injury, he got a new match with Kane, a No Holds Barred match where the “Big Red Machine” relied on an assist from Orton to pull off the win.

Orton hobbled out to the ring toward the end of the match, hitting one of his signature RKOs “out of nowhere” on Wyatt, and allowing Kane to hit a chokeslam and defeat him in what was a surprisingly good match.

Quick results:

Baron Corbin d. Apollo Crews (pre-show)

Becky Lynch d. Carmella, Nikki Bella, Natalya, Naomi, and Alexa Bliss

The Usos d. The Hype Bros

The Miz d. Dolph Ziggler

Bray Wyatt d. Randy Orton (via forfeit)

Kane d. Bray Wyatt

Heath Slater and Rhyno d. The Usos

AJ Styles d. Dean Ambrose

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