Big E's first Intercontinental title defense is set for next Friday's episode of SmackDown.
On tonight's New Year's Day edition of SmackDown, it was announced that Big E will defend his Intercontinental title against Apollo Crews next Friday (January 8). The two teamed together on SmackDown tonight and defeated Baron Corbin & Sami Zayn.
Big E and Corbin at first faced off in a non-title singles match on tonight's SmackDown. Zayn was on commentary for the match and interfered to cause a disqualification after Big E hit the Big Ending on Corbin and was about to get the win. Corbin's Knights of the Lone Wolf (Wesley Blake & Steve Cutler) and Zayn attacked Big E after the match, leading to Crews making the save and Big E & Crews vs. Corbin & Zayn being made.
Corbin walked out on Zayn after dissension between them in the tag match. Crews then pinned Zayn to get the win.
Big E and Crews were interviewed backstage after the match. When Big E announced that he was going to issue an open challenge for his Intercontinental title next week, Crews immediately said Big E can consider that offer already accepted. Crews pointed out that he helped Big E win the title last Friday and half-jokingly said that Big E might not be so lucky next week when Crews doesn't have his back.
Big E won the Intercontinental title by defeating Zayn in a lumberjack match on last week's SmackDown. Crews was one of the lumberjacks and stopped Zayn from leaving when he tried to bail during the match.