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January 22, 2013
Ring of Honor has been blessed with a number of great performers over the years. Sometimes it feels as if there were so many talented guys that some of them seem to be a little bit overlooked. Such is the case with AJ Styles. I feel that he is so closely associated with TNA since he has been there since day one and has been a fixture there for so long that his time in ROH doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. The two-disc DVD set AJ Styles: Style Clash aims to shed some spotlight on the man often referred to as “Phenomenal.”
Styles made his debut, appropriately, in style at A Night of Appreciation against one of the biggest names in ROH, Low Ki. After a hard-hitting contest, Ki got the duke but that would not be the last time they squared off. Styles was then one of 16 men participating in the tournament to crown the first-ever ROH Champion. He defeated his TNA nemesis / partner Jerry Lynn in the opening round at Road to the Title, but later that day lost in the semifinals to another long-time rival and sometimes partner Christopher Daniels. Still, Styles made an impressive enough showing to be granted the first ROH Title shot against the eventual tournament winner, Low Ki, and Honor Invades Boston. While he was unsuccessful in taking the title, the two had another tremendous match and certainly earned each other’s respect.
That mutual respect led to Styles and Ki joining forces to battle ROH’s first big heel faction, The Prophecy, led by Christopher Daniels. Styles and Ki teamed up to battle Daniels and ROH Champion Xavier at Revenge on the Prophecy in a No Holds Barred Match. Ki was able to score the victory with the Dragon Clutch on Xavier, and Daniels was unable to break it up because Styles had put him through a table with the Styles Clash. Styles then put another dagger into the Prophecy’s heart when he teamed with The Amazing Red to defeat Daniels and Xavier for the ROH Tag Team Titles at Expect the Unexpected to become the second ROH Tag Team Champions.
Even while holding the Tag Team Titles, Styles was still considered a threat to the ROH World Championship. At Night of the Grudges, Styles battled Paul London with the #1 Contender’s Trophy on the line. After an intense battle both men simultaneously pinned each other, resulting in a draw. London had a higher spot in the Top 5 Rankings so he was awarded the title shot, but that doesn’t take away from what an incredible match this was, probably the best ROH had ever seen to that point and still a classic. It often gets overlooked but this is a true gem of a match that should be sought out if you haven’t seen it.
Styles continued on as both a singles and tag team specialist. He and Red defeated Jay and Mark Briscoe for the third straight time at Death Before Dishonor to retain their titles in a terrific match. After having to drop the titles due to Red’s injury, Styles continued on as a singles competitor. At Tradition Continues Styles beat CM Punk, and then defeated Bryan Danielson in a tremendous clash at Main Event Spectacles to win the #1 Contender’s Trophy. Styles received his title shot at War of the Wire, and put forth a great effort but couldn’t dethroned the juggernaut Champion Samoa Joe.
At the onset of 2004 Styles’ stock in TNA was continuing to rise, but he was still a major player in ROH as well. Styles defeated Homicide at Battle Lines Are Drawn, and then won a tournament to crown the first ROH Pure Wrestling Champion by besting CM Punk at the Second Anniversary Show. Unfortunately, before the Pure Wrestling division could take off, TNA pulled Styles from all future ROH events, and it would be almost a year before he would make his return.
That return took place at the Third Anniversary Celebration Pt. 2, when Styles squared off with his protégé Jimmy Rave. In a shocking upset, Rave captured the win and set off a months-long feud between the two former friends. Rave even began using Styles’ finishing maneuver and renamed it “The Rave Clash.” The two would next meet at Sign of Dishonor several months later, and this time Styles picked up a win. Rave was a sore loser that night, and attacked Styles after the match and tried to suffocate him with a plastic bag. It was one of the more horrific attacks in ROH up to that point.
Before he could get his hands on Rave again, Styles had to get by Roderick Strong in a great match at Fate of an Angel. The following week at The Homecoming Styles met Rave in a Street Fight and Rave once again emerged victorious. While anticipating his final match with Rave, Styles took on the Dragon Gate Icon CIMA in his ROH debut. CIMA got the win that night in an excellent match.
Finally the stage was set for Styles and Rave to end their feud, and they would do so in a “Clash vs. Clash” match at Glory By Honor IV. As always Rave had The Embassy leader Prince Nana in his corner, but on this night Styles countered by having the Hardcore Legend Mick Foley by his side. On this night Styles proved the better man and hit the Styles Clash to defeat Rave and prevent him from ever using the “Rave Clash” again in the future.
AJ Styles may be a bit overlooked in the ROH history books, but this DVD set goes a long way in reminding everyone what a great run he had there. The match with Paul London is the standout, but matches against Bryan Danielson, Samoa Joe, CIMA, Homicide, Low Ki, Jimmy Rave, Roderick Strong, CM Punk, and The Briscoes show that Styles had good matches with a wide variety of opponents and faced the best ROH had to offer. This is a very good collection of matches from a surprisingly underrated ROH performer. You can purchase this DVD at the ROH Shop.