WWE Intercontinental Champion Big E will make his first title defense during next Friday’s SmackDown on FOX.

Big E will be defending against Apollo Crews next week. He was set to make his first defense in an Open Challenge, but Crews quickly spoke up and accepted the challenge.

Tonight’s New Year’s edition of SmackDown saw Big E face King Baron Corbin in a non-title match, with Sami Zayn on commentary. Big E just defeated Zayn in a Lumberjack Match to win the title last Friday. The Big E vs. Corbin match ended with interference with Crews making the save for Big E. Crews and Big E then teamed up to defeat Corbin and Zayn in tag team action.

Kayla Braxton then caught up with Big E and Crews as they walked together backstage, some friendly tension lingering in the air. Braxton asked what to expect from Big E as champion in 2021, and he went on about being a fighter champion. Big E then announced that he will be defending next week in an Open Challenge. Crews immediately grabbed the mic and declared that he will be answering the challenge, adding that it will be an honor to fight Big E next week. Crews went on and joked that Big E might not be so lucky when Crews doesn’t have his back next week. They laughed together to end the segment but there was still some tension between the two.

Stay tuned for more on next week’s SmackDown. Below are a few related shots from tonight: