WWE SmackDown: Why AJ Styles will retain against Jeff Hardy

WWE, Jeff Hardy (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)
WWE, Jeff Hardy (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images) /

AJ Styles and Jeff Hardy will have an Intercontinental Title match on the episode of WWE SmackDown before SummerSlam.

In a TNA throwback segment that featured Joseph Park, aka Abyss, AJ Styles received a challenge from Jeff Hardy for the Intercontinental Championship. And while the match will happen next week, it will happen on Friday on WWE SmackDown and not on Sunday at SummerSlam.

Or will it?

I remember WWE did something similar with the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championships before The Horror Show at Extreme Rules. They announced a match on Friday a week before Extreme Rules between Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro and The New Day, who had the belts at the time. But the match ended in a disqualification, so they had the actual match at SummerSlam where The Artist Collective won in a Tables match.

This time, WWE are cutting it a little closer. Maybe they really don’t have the time on the card to fit in the IC Title, since there are already eight matches on the card at SummerSlam. WWE seems to want to make shows shorter during the pandemic, but it would seem off for the IC Title to not be defended at SummerSlam. So I think it’ll be a late addition to the card.

There are several possible finishes for this match on WWE SmackDown

There are a couple of ways WWE can go about this when Jeff Hardy and AJ Styles face off on WWE SmackDown next week. Firstly, they can have a straight-up finish. Hardy or Styles win, and we either get a rematch or a new challenger suddenly emerges. That honestly seems unlikely, but if WWE have a clean finish to pop people before the Pay Per View, Hardy is definitely winning.

Thus, I think it’s not going to be a clean finish, much like that match between The New Day and The Artist Collective. I feel that we could get a huge brawl between the two of them to amp up the emotions, playing off their history and promo the week before, so that fans forget about being disappointed with a non-finish.

But we could also get interference from other wrestlers, leading to a multi-man match at SummerSlam involving AJ Styles’ Intercontinental Title. Ladder matches for the IC Title at big PPVs are always exciting, and there are a lot of guys like Chad Gable, Drew Gulak, and King Corbin who are involved in the mid-card scene.

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For that reason, I think we’re going to see Styles retain on WWE SmackDown and a new match made for SummerSlam, either a singles bout between Hardy and Styles or a multi-man match. I’m leaning toward the former, but I would be excited for the latter. No matter what, Hardy seems ticketed for the feel-good win on Aug. 23 at the Amway Center.