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A2Z Analysiz: TNA – The Essential AJ Styles Collection

Essential AJ Styles

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DVD Release Date: Monday, March 21, 2016

Disc One

~MATCH #1: NWA Total Nonstop Action, 6.19.02~
The Flying Elvises (Jimmy Yang, Jorge Estrada & Sonny Siaki) defeat AJ Styles, Jerry Lynn & Low Ki at 6:20. The action starts off fast and furious just like it should for the first match in a new promotion called Total Nonstop Action. All six men show off their athleticism and unique offense and keep the crowd juiced the entire time. Some babyface miscommunication leads to Ki accidentally kicking Styles in the face, which allows Yang to hit Yang Time to get the pin. This was a good way to start off, allowing the promotion to live up to its name.
Rating: **¾

~MATCH #2: NWA Total Nonstop Action, 6.26.02~
AJ Styles defeats Jerry Lynn, Low Ki, and Psicosis in a Four Way Double Elimination Match at 25:56 to become the first-ever TNA X Division Champion. This is like non-stop round-robin of singles matches, going until three men have been defeated twice. Styles and Psicosis start it off, and they wrestle a fast-paced match until Styles hits the Styles Clash to get the pin at 2:01. Ki is on next and he goes right on offense, but Styles withstands his attacks and finishes Ki off at 4:23 with the German Suplex/Face Crusher combo. Lynn comes in and flattens Styles with the Cradle Piledriver to hand Styles his first loss at 4:45. That brings Psicosis back around again. The action hasn’t stopped at all, but unfortunately for Psicosis he ends the night looking up at the lights with no wins after a Cradle Piledriver at 7:43. Ki comes back and goes to work. He puts up a great fight but Lynn is able to hit another Cradle Piledriver to score his third pin at 12:03. Ki is gone, Lynn is 3-0, and Styles is 2-1. Styles will have to beat Lynn in two straight falls to win this match. Luckily for him he’s able to connect on a Styles Clash to even things up at 3-1 apiece. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat now steps in as the official. Both men are going at a fast pace, desperate to become the first X Division Champion. This is a fun match and all, but the commentators literally calling it one of the greatest matches of all-time while it’s still in progress is a little annoying. Lynn controls a majority of the action, but late in the match they head up to the top rope and Styles knocks Lynn down, and follows him down with Spiral Tap to get the pin and win the title. The opening portions were a little too rapid-fire, but once they got down to Lynn v Styles it was pretty great, and an awesome introduction to the X Division concept.
Rating: ****¼

~MATCH #3: NWA Total Nonstop Action, 5.28.03~
AJ Styles & D-Lo Brown defeat CM Punk & Jason Cross at 6:16. It feels so weird to see Punk in a TNA ring. That being said, he and Cross work well as a team, controlling the opening minutes. They isolate Styles for several minutes until he’s able to haul off with a big lariat that turns Cross inside out. Tags are made and the referee loses control. Brown and Styles get their opponents in position and hit a simultaneous Lo Down and springboard 450 to get the double pins. That was brief and to the point, but it did its job. The finish was pretty neat too.
Rating: **½

~MATCH #4: NWA Total Nonstop Action, 6.11.03~
AJ Styles defeats NWA World Heavyweight Champion Jeff Jarrett and Raven in a Three Way Match to win the title at 14:00. Jarrett has been the Champion since 11.20.02, and this is his eighth defense. Raven and Jarrett both go after Styles right away and send him to the floor so they can face each other. They just talk trash but don’t do anything, and then Styles makes his way back in. The action is fast and furious in the opening minutes here. Raven sends Styles back to the floor and this time he actually fights with Jarett, as they trade right hands. Styles pulls Raven to the floor and Jarrett follows them out. That gives Styles the chance to sneak back in the ring and wipe out both of his opponents with a dive. Styles throws Raven into the guardrail and uses the steel steps as a springboard but Raven moves and Styles hits the guardrail hard. Raven then uses the steps as a springboard to hit a clothesline on Jarrett. Everyone goes back to the ring (including Styles, making a ridiculously fast recovery) and the action continues. Jarrett and Raven trade finisher attempts and Styles breaks that up by cracking Raven’s skull with a steel chair. Raven is busted open now, and Jarrett and Styles stat working together. Of course neither of them appreciate it when the other goes for a pin cover. Raven is able to fight back and he gets a second wind, taking both Styles and Jarrett off their feet with a flurry of offense. He sets up the chair and hits Jarrett with the drop toehold, and then delivers it to Styles as well. Styles gets sent to the floor and Raven hits Jarrett with the Raven Effect. Raven covers and Shane Douglas (making his TNA debut, I think) comes running out to pull Raven out of the ring. Douglas brings Raven through the crowd and out of the building. Meanwhile, Styles blasts Jarrett in the face with the NWA title belt. Styles goes up top and hits a beautiful Frog Splash but Jarrett kicks out at two! Jarrett comes back with an Alabama Slam for a two-count. He does that stupid spot where it looks like he’s going for a rana just so Styles can hit him with a sit-out powerbomb. Jarrett has never, ever hit a rana as far as I know. The referee takes a bump and he’s out of it. Jarrett puts Styles on the top rope and looks for a superplex but Styles shoves him down. Styles tries the springboard 450 but Jarrett gets his knees up. Vince Russo makes his way into the ring with a guitar, and he blasts Jarrett with it. Styles hits the Styles Clash to get the pin and win the title for the first time. This was going along really well, with fast-paced action and a hot crowd. I don’t even mind Douglas taking Raven out, because leaving a title match to Jarrett and Styles is fine in theory. But then of course Russo had to come out and be a part of it, and that’s just never necessary. Still, points for the majority of the match.
Rating: ***¼

~MATCH #5: NWA Total Nonstop Action, 4.21.04~
AJ Styles defeats NWA World Heavyweight Champion Jeff Jarrett at 13:34 in a Steel Cage Match to win the title. Jarrett has been the Champion since 10.22.03, and this is his sixth defense. These two have faced each other many times, so there’s no feeling out process to speak of. They go back and forth in the early going, with neither man controlling the action for very long. They’re wearing pretty much the same color scheme on their gear, which is poor planning on their parts. The referee gets momentarily stunned, allowing Jarrett to throw powder in Styles’ eyes. Then the commentators point out that there are no disqualifications, so why take the referee out? Jarrett continues to cheat, finding a steel chain in his boot. He jacks Styles in the jaw but it only gets a two-count. Jarrett tries to hit Styles with his own Styles Clash, but Styles reverses and hits the move, but it only gets two. Styles goes to the top of the cage, and Jarrett shoves the referee into the cage wall, knocking Styles all the way to the floor! Of course this isn’t a win by escape cage match. Jarrett goes to retrieve Styles and brings a guitar into the cage as well. Vince Russo comes out (of course he does) to try and stop Jarrett from using the guitar. Styles breaks the guitar with a Pele Kick and then traps Jarrett in a crucifix to get the pin. Russo makes sure he’s a focal point of the celebration too. This was a pretty good match all in all, but they TNA’d it up a bit down the stretch. But still, Styles and Jarrett always had pretty good chemistry and this at least felt like a big time title match, so points for that.
Rating: ***½

~MATCH #6: NWA Total Nonstop Action, 6.23.04~
TNA X Division Champion AJ Styles and Jeff Hardy wrestled to a no-contest at 7:00. Styles has been the Champion since 6.9.04, and this is his second defense. Hardy’s appearance here was a surprise, and a solid one since this was a legit dream match at the time. It’s a back and forth contest from the get-go, with both men eager to show what they’re made of. They chain wrestle and fly a bit, mixing up their attacks. Styles works over Hardy’s leg in an effort to keep him grounded. Hardy fights back and hits Styles with Whisper in the Wind, and while they’re showing a replay, Kid Kash and Dallas run out to attack both men and cause the no-contest. That was quite a bit of fun and a good surprise to have Hardy show up. It would have been awesome if they built on this and did a big match between the two down the line. But since we’re talking about TNA here, they didn’t. Hardy and Styles work together with the help of a chair to clean house on Kash and Hoyt.
Rating: **½

~MATCH #7: NWA Total Nonstop Action, 8.18.04~
AJ Styles defeats Kid Kash in a Street Fight at 15:18. They start brawling right away and things are heated from the get-go. Action happens both in and out of the ring, as the two heated rivals take it to each other with gusto. Eventually they take it backstage, where Kash sets up a table. They fight up to the top level of the Asylum and slug it out. The crowd goes nuts as they trade shots on the edge of the balcony, and knock each other down through the table Kash set up. Of course, that absurd bump ends up meaning nothing, as they get up and just start fighting back towards the ring. They fight in the ring and trade reversals and counters. Dallas makes his way out and tries to interfere but it backfires, and Styles gets a cradle to score the pin. Dallas and Kash attack, and Ron “The Truth Killings” comes out to help Styles. Monty Brown comes out and starts throwing out Pounces, so Jeff Hardy comes out to even the odds at three apiece, and Hardy clears the ring all by himself. I’ve made my distaste for Kash known in prior reviews, and that continues to be the case here. He’s really bad, and this match was just a messy brawl with spots that didn’t build on each other finished by a rollup. Good effort, but that’s about it.
Rating: **¼

~MATCH #8: Final Resolution, 1.16.05~
AJ Styles defeats Chris Sabin and TNA X Division Champion Petey Williams (w/ Scott D’Amore) in an Ultimate X Match at 20:01 to win the title. Williams has been the Champion since 8.11.04, and this is his fifth defense. This is the sixth Ultimate X match; Sabin has been in four of them and is 3-1, Styles has been in one and is 0-1, and Williams has been in one and is 0-1. Sabin is already a two-time X Division Champion, and Styles has held the title three times. I expect the action in this one to be very fast paced so my play-by-play probably won’t be able to keep up. Williams gets taken out early so Styles and Sabin can battle each other. Styles takes everyone out with a dive to the floor and goes up, but Sabin knocks him down and goes for the belt himself. Scott D’Amore gets in the ring to block Sabin and does, so the referee sends D’Amore back to the locker room! Good move referee. Even without the Coach around, Williams is able to take control of Sabin. The offense is coming from all three guys, with no one taking a clear-cut advantage yet. Very few attempts to retrieve the belt have been made so far. Styles and Williams climb out to where the belt is and Sabin pulls Styles down while Williams just hangs there and doesn’t pull the belt down for some reason. I hate spots like that. The action continues to come fast though as the crowd chants “This is Awesome.” Styles goes up for the belt and Sabin hits him with a missile dropkick for one of the most famous bumps in TNA history. Williams takes Sabin to the floor with a clothesline and all three men are out. Back in the ring Sabin hits Williams with the Cradle Shock and goes up for the belt but Styles pulls him down right into a powerbomb and then a Styles Clash! Styles tries to grab the belt but his arm is injured and he can’t hang on. Williams takes his opportunity to hit the Canadian Destroyer. Sabin hits Williams with an awesome Buckle Bomb. He goes up for the belt and Williams joins him and they fight over the belt. While they fight over it, Styles leaps off the top rope and snatches it from them to win the match and the title! That is probably the best Ultimate X match ever, with some awesome spots and only one or two goofy ones. The pace was frenetic and the crowd was hot.
Rating: ****¼

~MATCH #9: Lockdown, 4.24.05~
AJ Styles defeats Abyss in a Steel Cage Match at 18:00 to earn a shot at the NWA World Heavyweight Title. Styles comes flying through the open cage door and wipes Abyss out on the floor! That’s how you start a main event. Abyss tries to whip Styles into the guardrail but Styles slides underneath it and jumps up to deliver a hurricanrana! This is when AJ Styles was still awesome. Styles slams Abyss into the announce table. Abyss tries to whip Styles into another barricade but this time Styles jumps on top of it and then leaps over to an oddly placed platform. Styles jumps off the platform and levels Abyss with a forearm. He charges at Abyss but the monster dunks and Styles goes crashing onto the concrete floor. Abyss takes control now and throws Styles all around the Impact Zone. Styles fights back at ringside and tries to get into the cage, but Abyss slams the door on his arm and then swings it right into his face! Styles bumps hard off that and it looked awesome. He’s busted open now. They finally make it into the cage, and Abyss brings a chair, a chain and a bag of thumbtacks in with him. Abyss wedges the chair between the top and middle turnbuckle. He then wraps the chain around Styles’ neck for a bit before changing his mind and wrapping it around one of the top turnbuckles. Styles almost comes back and charges at Abyss, but the Monster picks him up and heaves him high into the air and Styles lands face-first on the chain-wrapped turnbuckle. Abyss then hurls Styles directly into the cage twice for a two-count. He unwraps the chain from the turnbuckle and goes for a press slam but Styles reverses it to a DDT right onto the chain! Styles hits an enziguiri and a headscissors. He goes for the flipping Scorpion Death Drop but they botch it. Abyss charges and Styles ducks so Abyss crashes head-first into the chair! Styles then hits a German Suplex for two. He tries a Styles Clash but Abyss blocks it and goes for a chokeslam, so Styles counters that to a cradle for two. Styles charges and Abyss catches him with a Black Hole Slam and Styles kicks out at two! Now Abyss gets the tacks out and goes for another Black Hole Slam but Styles counters it. Tenay says that Styles made eye contact with the tacks. Worst commentator in the business. Styles is able to counter a powerbomb into a Styles Clash right on the tacks! Abyss kicks out at two! Styles climbs up to the top of the cage and Abyss throws the referee into the turnbuckle, crotching Styles on the cage. Abyss grabs the chain and climbs up as well. He wraps the chain around Styles’ neck and hangs him! He tries for a Chokeslam but Styles bites his finger. Styles then grabs Abyss in a sunset bomb off the top of the cage right onto the tacks! Tenay gives away the finish by saying “Count with us!” and Styles does get the pin. It’s so bittersweet to watch these old TNA main events that were this awesome because they just aren’t awesome anymore. This is one of the best TNA matches ever and one of my personal favorites.
Rating: ****½

Disc Two

~MATCH #10: Hard Justice, 5.15.05~
AJ Styles defeats NWA World Heavyweight Champion Jeff Jarrett at 19:30 to win the title. Jarrett has been the Champion since 6.2.04, and this is his ninth defense. They start off slowly, feeling each other out in this all-important title contest. Styles seems to have the upper hand so Jarrett takes a powder. Back in the ring Jarrett briefly takes control but Styles cuts him off with The Dropkick, a bodyslam, and the knee drop for two. The Champion weathers the storm and goes to work on Styles’ leg, even putting him in the Figure-Four Leglock. Styles stays in the hold for quite some time before turning it over and Jarrett gets to the ropes. Back on their feet Styles gets momentum going and hits Jarrett with a swank Tornado DDT. Styles clotheslines Jarrett to the floor and tries a dive but Jarrett sweeps his legs on the apron, sending the challenger crashing to the floor. They fight on the floor and Jarrett avoids a clothesline, sending Styles crashing into the ring post. Jarrett tries to use his guitar but Ortiz gets in his way. Styles grabs the guitar and tries to use it but Ortiz stops him as well. Instead Styles breaks the guitar against the ring post. Back in the ring Styles hits the springboard flying forearm and a leg lariat. Styles hits the flip over inverted DDT for a near-fall. He tries a rana but Jarrett catches him in a powerbomb for two. Jarrett hits a snap powerslam for another two-count. Styles comes back with a backslide for two, an inside cradle for two, and then a sort of Pele kick. Both men are down. Back on their feet Jarrett is able to hit Styles with the Styles Clash! That only gets two. Styles responds in kind, hitting Jarrett with The Stroke to get a near-fall. He goes up top and tries a 450 Splash and misses, but he’s able to land on his feet. Styles goes for the Styles Clash and Monty Brown runs in and accidentally hits Jarrett with the Pounce. Ortiz runs Brown off, and is not there to count for Styles. Another referee starts making the count and Ortiz pulls him to the floor because he’s the referee. Styles is angry and gets in Ortiz’s face about it. Jarrett hits a low blow and puts Styles on the top rope. He delivers some punches and Ortiz pulls him down for some reason. Jarrett gets in Ortiz’s face and Ortiz knocks him out. Styles goes up top and hits the Spiral Tap to get the pin and win the title. This was going along just fine, not great, but as usual with TNA they found the worst possible way to give AJ Styles the title. Instead of Styles going over Jarrett clean and being the Man, he needed help from Monty Brown and Tito Ortiz just to beat Jeff Jarrett. Why would anyone have confidence in AJ Styles as the Champion going forward? Terrible, kid.
Rating: **½

~MATCH #11: No Surrender, 7.17.05~
AJ Styles defeats Sean Waltman at 14:37. Jerry Lynn is the Special Referee. They lock up and Waltman starts trying to wear Styles down with a headlock. Styles fights back but Waltman armdrags him down and gloats about it. Styles takes a moment to regroup and they come back with a test of strength. The pace quickens and they exchange holds and counters until Styles hits two harsh bodyslams and Waltman rolls to the floor. Back in the ring Waltman takes a cheap shot and goes to work, but Styles fires right back and hits a backbreaker. Styles follows up with a vertical suplex, a bodyslam, and a flying knee drop for two. He locks on a Muta Lock and then unleashes some kicks to the chest. Waltman briefly fights back before Styles dropkicks him to the floor and follows him out with a beautiful tope. Styles stays in control on the floor until Waltman rakes the eyes and then slams Styles groin first into the ring post. That’s enough to put Waltman in control of the match back in the ring. Styles comes back with a Styles Clash attempt but Waltman kicks his way out of it and then hits the Bronco Buster. Waltman then spin kicks Styles down to the floor and follows him out with a dive off the top rope. He charges toward Styles, who ducks and hurls Waltman into the ring post groin-first. You know, tit for tit. Back in the ring Styles hits the springboard forearm and a series of strikes, including according to Tenay, a “combination elbow knife edge chop.” Styles hits the flipping inverted DDT for two. He goes for the vertical suplex neckbreaker but Waltman blocks it with a low blow and hits a Northern Lights Suplex for two. Waltman goes up top for a cross body block but Styles dropkicks him out of the air. Styles then hits a Styles Clash (Waltman appears to have landed right on his head) but Waltman kicks out at two! He goes up for Spiral Tap but Waltman moves out of the way and then hits the X-Factor but Styles kicks out! Waltman goes outside the ring for a steel chair and wraps it around Styles’ ankle. Lynn removes the chair and Waltman gets in his face about it. That gives Styles the chance to recover and hit the Styles Clash (after Lynn kicked Waltman’s hands off the ropes) for the win. I absolutely hate that spot where referees kick a wrestler’s hands off the ropes, it makes no sense whatsoever. Referees should never touch wrestlers and when a wrestler gets the ropes isn’t the hold supposed to be broken? I’ve refused to do that spot before. The rest of the match was a pretty good back and forth display but I hate that finish.
Rating: ***¼

~MATCH #12: Unbreakable, 9.11.05~
AJ Styles defeats TNA X Division Champion Christopher Daniels and Samoa Joe in a Three Way Match to win the title at 22:50. Daniels has been the Champion since 3.13.05, and this is his fifth defense. This is the first (and I believe) only time the X Division Title ever main evented one of the three-hour pay-per-views, unless you count Victory Road 2007 and Hard Justice 2007, when all the titles were on the line in the main event. Daniels is cocky right from the start, so Joe and Styles double-team him to bring him down a peg. Styles then tries to pin Joe with a variety of cradles, but Joe is able to kick out and lock on a painful looking submission. The action is going to be fast and hard to keep up with here. Daniels is back in the fray but Joe quickly sends him back to the floor. I’m already losing track of the play-by-play, as offense is coming from every direction and everyone is hitting their moves spot on. Joe goes for the Face Wash on Styles but Daniels shoulderblocks him to the floor and then takes him out with an Arabian Press. Not wanting to be outdone, Styles takes both of his opponents out with a springboard shooting star press! Back in the ring Styles covers Joe for a two-count. The Dropkick scores another near-fall for Styles. The crowd is going banana for all three men and every impressive maneuver they pull off. Daniels dumps Styles to the floor and then tries a victory roll on Joe, but Joe counters with the Choke. Styles breaks that up with the Spiral Tap! He tries covering both men but only gets two-counts. Daniels sends Styles back to the floor and goes for the BME on Joe but Styles comes back in and breaks that up. Joe hits the Big Joe Combo on Styles for two. Daniels catches Joe with a Death Valley Driver and all three men are down. Styles and Daniels recover first and take the fight to the floor, and Joe follows them out with a corkscrew press! Who’s house? Joe’s house. Back to the ring all three men go up top and Joe suplexes both men down. The crowd is so loud I can barely hear the idiots on commentary, another great aspect of this match. Joe drops Styles on his head with a release German Suplex and follows with a devastating Muscle Buster. Daniels comes back in and tries to use the belt as a weapon but Joe catches him with a snap powerslam. The referee tries to grab the belt from Joe, who objects, and Daniels lands an enziguiri that sends the belt right into Joe’s face. That worked out well. We’re down to Daniels versus Styles for the time being, and the Champion is in control. Daniels hits the BME but Joe breaks it up. The Champ then takes Joe out with the Last Rites. Styles hits Daniels with the flip-over inverted DDT for two. They go up to the top rope and Daniels hits a superplex. Both men are down so Joe tries covering both for two-counts. Joe powerbombs Daniels for two and then turns it into the STF. Daniels reaches the ropes. Styles catches Joe with the Pele and then delivers a Rack Bomb for two. He’s able to maneuver Daniels into the Styles Clash but Joe breaks up the cover. Joe throws Styles to the floor and then charges at Daniels, but the Champ moves and Joe crashes hard to the floor. Styles comes back in and he slugs it out with the Champion. Daniels goes for the Angel’s Wings but Styles counters it with a backdrop and he holds Daniels down on the mat to finally get the three-count! That was awesome. For nearly 23 minutes all three guys went all out, and everything they tried hit perfectly. The crowd was juiced for the entire contest, and were invested in all three competitors. The closest comparison I can make to this match is Eddie Guerrero versus Rey Mysterio from Halloween Havoc 1997, it’s that good. This is still the best match in TNA history, period.
Rating: *****

~MATCH #13: Bound for Glory, 10.23.05~
TNA X Division Champion AJ Styles defeats Christopher Daniels 1-0 in a 30 Minutes Iron Man Match to retain the title. Styles has been the Champion since 9.11.05, and this is his first defense. Styles has been the champion since 9.11.05 and this is his first defense. Daniels attacks Styles before the bell and away we go. He works Styles over for a minute or so and then Styles comes back with a backbreaker. Daniels takes a brief powder and then back in the ring gets met with a dropkick that sends him right back to the floor. Styles knocks Daniels into the crowd and then jumps off the ring steps into the crowd to take him out. Back in the ring Styles grinds away with a headlock. After several escapes attempts Daniels is able to slip out and lock on an armbar. That doesn’t last long though as Styles goes back to the headlock and stays one step ahead of the challenger. He kicks Daniels in the rib and drops a knee (or a forearm according to Tenay) for a two-count. The champion remains dominant as we cross 10 minutes without a fall yet. Styles comes off the top rope but Daniels catches him with a T-bone suplex. Now Daniels is in control and he wears the champion down, focusing on the neck. He throws in a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for a two-count. He locks on the Koji Clutch and Styles barely makes it to the ropes to force a break. Daniels slams Styles down and hits an Arabian Press for two. At the halfway point the score is still 0-0. Styles comes back and hits the flipping inverted DDT and both men are down. Back on their feet Styles has gotten a second wind. Styles hits a pumphandle gutbuster for a two-count. He tries a slingshot maneuver but Daniels catches him with a Death Valley Driver for two. Daniels then hits the Iconoclasm but Styles kicks out. Styles comes back with the vertical suplex neckbreaker He tries the flipping inverted DDT again but Daniels catches him with a Blue Thunder Bomb for two. Daniels then hits the Best Moonsault Ever but Styles kicks out! We’ve got 10 minutes to go as Styles hits a Rack Bomb for a two-count. Daniels comes back and kicks Styles to the floor and then flattens him with a suicide dive through the ropes. Back in the ring Styles pulls the Pele out of nowhere to knock Daniels back to the floor, and then he hits Daniels with a flip dive. Both men look exhausted on the floor. They make it up to the apron and Daniels backdrops Styles to the floor. Back in the ring now there’s less than five minutes to go. Daniels catches a quick cradle for two. Styles comes back with his own cradle for a two-count. They continue trading pinning combinations but neither man can get a pin. Daniels hits a release German Suplex, and Styles comes back with a discuss clothesline before selling the German. Styles recovers first and gets a cover for two. He goes up top for a cross body block but Daniels rolls through for a close near-fall right around the Two Minute Warning. They kind of meander around and Styles hits an enziguiri for two. Daniels comes back with a jawbreaker and an enziguiri of his own. He tries the Angel’s Wings but it turns into a series of reversals that ends with Styles hitting the Styles Clash to get the first pin at 29:58. He officially wins the match and retains the X-Division Title. I miss the pre-Kurt Angle TNA, where guys could wrestle for 30 minutes and only hit one finishing move between them. The selling was a little spotty but these two always had great chemistry together and there was very little resting once they got going. I’m not sure why AJ Styles had to cry about it, but it was a great match.
Rating: ****

~MATCH #14: Slammiversary, 6.18.06~
AJ Styles & Christopher Daniels defeat NWA World Tag Team Champions America’s Most Wanted (Chris Harris & James Storm, w/ Gail Kim) at 17:47 to win the titles. AMW have been the Champions since 10.22.05, and this is their eleventh defense. It’s actually the longest NWA Tag Team Title reign on record. Gail Kim is so smoking hot at this point that it hurts. Styles and Daniels say they have a special surprise to neutralize Kim. I’m surprised at how badly Chris Harris failed as a singles wrestler after the breakup of this team. Styles and Storm start the match. They go back and forth for a bit, and Styles kills him with a dropkick. Daniels tags in and the challengers go to work on the arm. Storm backs Daniels into his corner and makes the tag to Harris. The champions employ a similar strategy, going after Daniels’s arm. It doesn’t work; Daniels is able to make the comeback and dominate both Harris and Storm. The challengers creatively get both Harris and Storm to the floor and then Styles wipes them out with a dive. Back in the ring Daniels bodyslams Storm and drops a slingshot elbow. Styles tags back in and the champions use some nefarious tactics to overtake him. They beat on Styles on the floor until Daniels comes over and evens the score. Kim gets involved and helps AMW regain the advantage. Back in the ring AMW really isolates on Styles, working him over in their half of the hexagon. Storm goes for the Swinging Noose but Styles counters with the Pele! Both men make tags and Daniels is all over the champions. Once again Kim interferes and this time a freakishly large woman comes in the ring and chokeslams Kim. This is the woman who would be known as Sirelda (trainee Jaime D from Scott D’Amore’s school). She carries Kim off to the back. Back to the action Daniels gets Harris in a victory roll for two. Daniels goes for the Angel’s Wings but Harris blocks it. Undaunted, Daniels goes for an O’Connor Roll but Storm throws a chair in his face but Harris only gets a two-count! Harris argues with the referee while Styles pulls Daniels over to their corner so he can make a tag. That was awesome. Styles is on fire, unleashing all kinds of offense. He goes up top for the Spiral Tap but Harris moves out of the way. Harris gets a pair of handcuffs and hits Styles in the face with them. Daniels pulls the referee to the floor and tells him what happened. Storm knocks Daniels down into the steps. Back in the ring AMW sets up for the Death Sentence but Daniels breaks it up and hits Harris with a Death Valley Driver. Styles hits a short senton for a two-count. Daniels tags in and goes for the Angel’s Wings, and then stands there waiting for Storm to hit him with a clothesline. Storm puts on his Cowboy hat and goes for the Superkick but Daniels catches him with a low blow and hits the Angel’s Wings! Harris elbow drops the referee to break up the cover. The match is out of control now, as Storm brings a beer bottle into the ring. He accidentally hits Harris! Daniels takes Storm out and then drops Harris with a uranage. Styles hits Harris with a Frog Splash and Daniels follows with the Best Moonsault Ever to get the pin and win the titles. What a terrific match that played off the history between both teams, the champions showed plenty of desperation, and the win felt big and well-deserved. This is definitely an overlooked gem in the TNA catalogue.
Rating: ****¼

~MATCH #15: No Surrender, 9.24.06~
AJ Styles & Christopher Daniels defeat NWA World Tag Team Champions Latin American Exchange (Hernandez & Homicide, w/ Konnan) in an Ultimate X Match to regain the titles at 15:30. LAX have been the Champions since 8.24.06, and this is their first defense. This is the eleventh ever Ultimate X match, and the first ever Tag Team Ultimate X match. As soon as the introductions are over the fight is on. Homicide and Styles are left in the ring, and Hernandez joins them for some double teaming. Hernandez hurls Styles over his head and down to the mat. Homicide goes up top as Hernandez worries about Daniels. Unfortunately, Daniels throws Hernandez to the floor and pulls Homicide down. Styles rejoins the ring and they double-team Hernandez. He goes to climb up but Homicide pulls him down onto the top rope. Homicide tries to introduce a steel chair but Daniels avoids it. Instead Homicide knocks Daniels to the floor and hits the Tope Con Hilo. Styles immediately follows with the Fosbury Flop. Hernandez signals for a dive but Daniels cuts him off and locks on the Koji Clutch in the ring. Homicide breaks that up and hits Daniels with a suplex. LAX takes control of both opponents and Hernandez introduces a ladder. Homicide tries to climb it but Styles is all “no way, dude” and smashes it into Homicide’s face. Then the challengers drop Hernandez crotch first on the ladder before throwing it back to ringside. Styles and Daniels both go up top – Homicide pulls Styles down and Hernandez hits Daniels with a super Crackerjack. Konnan takes cheap shots on Daniels on the floor. Hernandez takes a shot at climbing to the belts but Styles knocks him down. Homicide has a chair and he hits Styles across the back with it. He goes up for the belts and Styles follows him out and kicks him down. Daniels goes up and Hernandez takes him down onto his shoulders so Homicide can hit a bulldog off the top rope. Hernandez climbs up again and Styles pulls him down right on top of his partner! Styles is all fired up now, hitting Homicide with the flipping inverted DDT. He and Daniels try a double vertical suplex on Hernandez but he blocks it on the way down and hits a simultaneous neckbreaker. Homicide goes up top for a Frog Splash but misses and the challengers hit him with Total Elimination. Hernandez breaks through a double clothesline attempt and knocks both challengers down. Konnan introduces a table as Hernandez hits Daniels with a backbreaker. Hernandez goes for the Border Toss but Daniels breaks it up and hits a uranage. Styles hits a Frog Splash and Daniels follows with a Best Moonsault Ever, and then Styles follows with a Spiral Tap! That’s badass. Homicide pulls Styles to the apron and pays for it, as Styles hits the Styles Clash through the table! Konnan then knocks Styles out with his slapjack. Daniels climbs up the steel support beam to avoid Konnan with a kendo stick. From the corner Daniels jumps all the way out to the center and pulls down the belt to regain the titles. The action was certainly break-neck and these two teams had tremendous chemistry together. The finish was definitely memorable, and so was this feud to be honest.
Rating: ***¾

~MATCH #16: Bound for Glory, 10.14.07~
AJ Styles & Tomko defeat Team Pacman (Ron Killings & Rasheed Lucius Creed, w/ Pacman Jones) to win the titles at 9:00. Team Pacman have been the Champions since 9.9.07, and this is their second defense. Consequences Creed will be substituting for Pacman Jones tonight; I guess since Pacman Jones isn’t a wrestler? Styles and Creed start the match with some fast paced chain wrestling. Creed accidentally bumps into Tomko on the apron, and Tomko is none too happy about it, asking to be tagged in. Tomko tries a powerslam but Creed slips out and tags out. Truth no-sells Tomko’s offense and hits a missile dropkick and a flying forearm. Creed tags back in for some double teaming. As soon a Truth leaves the ring Tomko flattens Creed with a big boot. Styles tags in hits The Dropkick. Creed comes back and tags out. Truth comes in and hits a gourdbuster. Styles comes back with a Pele kick, and then makes the hot tag. Tomko is throwing Team Pacman around and the match turns into a big brawl. The referee isn’t even trying to regain control. Pacman pulls down the rope on Tomko, causing him to fall to the floor. Creed tries to jump off the apron but Tomko catches him. Truth then follows them out with a dive of his own that does knock Tomko down. Styles follows all of them with a springboard shooting star press. I can do that I just don’t want to. Pacman tries to Make It Rain but Styles knocks the money out of his hand. Referee Earl Hebner is too busy picking up bills to notice Truth is covering Styles, thus it only gets a two-count. While Pacman yells at Hebner, Tomko flattens Truth with a boot to the face. Styles follows with the springboard forearm. Tomko and Styles then hit their version of Au Revoir to get the pin and win the titles. The match was decent, and kicked off a very entertaining run for Styles and Tomko as champs (which ended in just about the dumbest way possible). Imagine what the match would have been like with Pacman Jones in place of Creed. Yikes.
Rating: **¼

~MATCH #17: iMPACT, 2.7.08~
AJ Styles defeats Tiger Mask at 5:00. They start off hot, with Tiger flying around the ring and keeping Styles off his game. Styles quickly regains his composure and takes advantage out on the floor. He gets cocky and goes after the mask, and that proves to be a mistake. Momentum continues to shift, and the referee takes a slight bump, which allows Styles to hit a blatant low blow. One Styles Clash later and Styles gets the pin. This was a fun albeit meaningless little sprint of a TV match, and a nice showing from Tiger Mask.
Rating: **¼

Disc Three

~MATCH #18: Slammiversary, 6.8.08~
AJ Styles defeats Kurt Angle (w/ Tomko) at 22:45. They start off cautiously but aggressively. Angle takes it to the mat, which is obviously a good move on his part. Styles comes back with a series of armdrags that sends Angle to the floor. Back in the ring Angle unleashes a series of European Uppercuts and Styles comes back with the exact dropkick sequence he works in the beginning of every match ever. Tomko distracts Styles, allowing Angle to poke the eyes and go back to work. Styles avoids a charge in the corner and hits the springboard flying forearm. Angle knocks Styles down to the floor and Tomko stalks him. Referee Earl Hebner jumps to the floor and banishes Tomko to the back. Angle throws Styles into the guardrail behind the referee’ back, as West acts like that’s getting away with something, like it hasn’t been done all night. Back in the ring Styles knocks Angle off the apron with a forearm and then wipes him out with a dive. Styles gets a one-count off that. Angle comes back by slamming Styles down to the mat a couple of times. Now Angle is firmly in control, wearing Styles down. Styles has a bit of a bloody nose. They fight up on the top rope as Angle goes for a superplex, but Styles reverses to a gourdbuster. Back on their feet Styles gets a second wind and hits Angle with a flurry of offense, including a pumphandle gutbuster for two. Styles hits the hangman’s neckbreaker for two. Angle pops up and starts hitting German Suplexes. Nice selling, Kurt. Styles reverses to one of his own, and Angle flips all the way over so he lands on his chest. Back on their feet Styles tries a discuss lariat but Angle ducks and hits the same suplex that Styles just hit on him. Styles pops up and hits an enziguiri. Back on their feet Angle suplexes Styles into the turnbuckles for a two-count. Angle tries the Angle Slam but Styles reverses to a DDT for two. Styles tries the Styles Clash but Angle rolls through into an Ankle Lock, and Styles rolls through that. The champ hits the flipping inverted DDT for another two-count. Styles goes up top and Angle pops up (Tenay calls it a “quick burst of energy” but I call it “being a no-selling piece of shit”) and hits a Super Angle Slam, but it only gets two. The straps come down and Angle locks on the Ankle Lock, but Styles gets a rollup for two. Styles hits the Pele and gets a two-count. He goes for the Styles Clash again but Angle reverses to an Ankle Lock. Styles kicks Angle off and the referee gets bumped. He then knocks Angle to the floor. Karen Angle makes her way out with a steel chair. She’s so hot. Anyway, she distracts her husband, allowing Styles to hit him with the Styles Clash and get the pin. After the match Styles and Karen hug, so Kurt cracks Styles across the back with the chair. Karen slaps her husband across the face and then runs, so he spits on her. Kurt starts beating on Styles again and Tomko returns to assist him by fighting off security. Despite the feud being so stupid, the match was going along just fine until the stupid finish. It was still very good, but they let the storyline overwhelm the match, and the storyline sucks.
Rating: ***½

~MATCH #19: Hard Justice, 8.10.08~
AJ Styles defeats Kurt Angle at 25:00 in a Last Man Standing Falls Count Anywhere Match. This is the type of Last Man Standing Match where you have to pin your opponent first, so it’s more of a Texas Death Match. Angle stalls a bit and then works to keep Styles grounded at a methodical pace. They fight both in and out of the ring, both trying to use the environment to their advantage. Angle controls the bulk of the match, consistently cutting Styles off every time he tries a comeback. Eventually Styles is able to fight back with a pretty nice flurry, and they trade finishing maneuvers because it wouldn’t be a Kurt Angle TNA Match if they didn’t. After more intense back and forth, they end up on the top rope together and Styles brings Angle down with a super DDT! That gets a pin and the count is on. This time Angle is not able to rise to his feet and Styles gets another victory. Last man standing matches can be a tricky beast to pull off, and these two did a pretty good job. There wasn’t a lot tying all the big moves together, but they certainly worked hard and the finish was unique.
Rating: ***½

~MATCH #20: Destination X, 3.15.09~
AJ Styles defeats TNA Legends Champion Booker T (w/ Sharmell) at 9:14 to win the title. Booker has been the Champion since 10.23.08, and this is his fourth defense. They start off with some chain wrestling, with both guys going after the arm. Booker gets a brief bit of offense before AJ comes back with his signature dropkick. The champ tries to take a powder but AJ follows him out with a flying forearm off the ring apron. Back in the ring AJ control the action. After a few moments Booker catches AJ with a hot shot and a spin kick for two. Booker goes to work on AJ’s arm now. AJ almost makes a comeback but Booker hits a nice superkick for two. The challenger ducks a clothesline and hits a German Suplex with a bridge for two. He tries a springboard but Booker knocks him out of the air with a kick (sort of). Booker tries the Axe Kick but AJ avoids it and hits the Pele. AJ hits the Styles Clash and gets the pin to win the Legends Title. That was solid but better suited to free TV. I find myself saying that a lot during TNA pay-per-views.
Rating: **¼

~MATCH #21: iMPACT, 9.3.09~
AJ Styles defeats Chris Sabin (w/ Alex Shelley) in a Tournament Semifinal Match at 5:30. Alex Shelley joins the commentary team to bring the awesome. Neither man wastes any time in this semifinal match in a tournament to decide who gets a TNA World Title opportunity at the upcoming No Surrender pay-per-view. Both men cut a fast pace and are ready for action in and out of the ring. These two are familiar with each other’s styles and are able to counter each other expertly. Unfortunately for Sabin, Styles is able to catch him with a Pele Kick and then the Styles Clash to get the pin and advance in the tournament. This was about as good of a five-minute match as you’re likely to see, with plenty of crisp action and a nice clean finish.
Rating: ***

~MATCH #22: iMPACT, 9.3.09~
AJ Styles defeats Doug Williams in a Tournament Final Match at 7:15. This should be an interesting clash of styles, no pun intended. Williams tries to keep it on the mat and Styles is able to keep up with him in the early going. The momentum swings back and forth, and Styles gets a chance to shine when he knocks Williams to the floor and follows him out with a dive. Williams fights back but it just looks like Styles’ night, as he’s able to counter most of his attacks. Styles hits the Phenomenon, which rarely gets a pin, but this time it does. He now gets a title shot at No Surrender. Much like his earlier match with Sabin, these two made the most of the time they had, and it’s always a pleasure to watch Williams work.
Rating: ***

~MATCH #23: No Surrender, 9.20.09~
AJ Styles defeats Hernandez, TNA World Heavyweight Champion Kurt Angle, Matt Morgan, and Sting in a Five Way Match at 15:12 to win the title. Angle has been the Champion since 6.21.09, and this is his fifth defense. This was originally scheduled as a four-way match, but Hernandez decided to cash in his Fest or Fired briefcase because he was not satisfied by Eric Young not fighting back in their match earlier. The champ gets right in Hernandez’s face, and Super-Mex throws him around with his amazing power. Hernandez executes an extreme delayed vertical suplex. He clotheslines Angle to the floor and then the bell finally rings. Styles and Sting work together on Morgan while Hernandez and Angle fight up by the announce table. Hernandez suplexes Angle on the entrance ramp. Back in the ring Morgan uses his power to throw Styles out of the ring. Morgan bodyslams Sting for a two-count. Back up by the entrance, Hernandez sets up for the Border Toss and Eric Young comes out with a club of some kind and hits Hernandez with it. Young then hits a piledriver on Hernandez to effectively take him out of the match and bring us back to where we started. Angle recovers while Sting and Styles hit Morgan with a double vertical suplex. Morgan powders and the two best friends agree to wrestle. Styles hits Sting with the dropkick, and then takes Angle and Morgan out on the floor with a dive from the apron. Morgan brushes it off and pulls Sting to the floor. He whips Sting into the guardrail and the crowd could not care less. Back in the ring Angle wakes them up with an Ankle Lock. Styles counters with a cradle for a two-count. He hits a nice headscissors that sends Angle to the floor. He hits a baseball slide into a headscissors on the floor. Sting throws Morgan in the ring and Morgan goes to work on him. After hitting Styles with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, Angle joins Morgan in double-teaming Sting. Tenay says the fans are surprised Angle and Morgan are working together; I say they’re bored. Styles makes it back to the ring with a springboard forearm on Angle. Morgan catches him and hits a Fallaway Slam. Sting recovers and clotheslines Angle to the floor, but Morgan then levels Sting with a clothesline for two. Angle gets back in the ring and hits Styles with a belly-to-belly suplex. He kicks Sting to the floor and now the two of them go to work on Styles. Angle tries a charge but Styles avoids him and Angle crashes shoulder-first into the ring post. Morgan knocks Styles down with a dropkick. He works Styles over for a little bit until Styles fights back with a Pele. Angle gets back in the ring and German Suplexes Styles, and then Sting gets back in the ring with a missile dropkick on Angle. All four men are down and when they get up Sting takes control. Sting hits a Stinger Splash on Angle and then has one for Morgan as well. Angle pulls Sting out of the mounted punches with an Olympic Slam for two. Styles hits Angle with the Styles Clash but Morgan breaks up the cover. Morgan takes control, booting Styles out of the air and hitting the Hellevator but Sting breaks it up to no pop. Sting hits Morgan with the “Scorpion Style Death Drop” (Tenay) and Angle breaks it up. He then goes for the Scorpion Style Deathlock and Angle reverses it to the Ankle Lock. Morgan breaks that up with the Carbon Footprint. He charges at String but gets low-bridged and crashes to the floor. Angle is down, and Sting purposely goes after Morgan to clear the way. Styles hits Angle with the springboard 450 splash to get the pin and win the TNA Title for the fourth time. Wrestlers and fans come into the ring to celebrate what should be Styles’ big moment. But if I may play my favorite pinball game here for a minute, I have to say it would have been a much bigger moment for AJ Styles if he had earned it by himself instead of having it handed to him on a silver platter by Sting. I understand that the idea of this was for Sting to pass the torch to Styles, but what it looked like was that Styles needed Sting to step aside in order to win the match. Even given the lame way he got the belt, his reign was shaping up to be an epic one and could have really defined TNA in the Monday Night Era, but they decided to rely on Ric Flair and Rob Van Dam and Hulk Hogan and anything else that’s not AJ Styles. The match was fine but had no crowd heat whatsoever.
Rating: ***

~MATCH #24: Bound for Glory, 10.18.09~
TNA World Heavyweight Champion AJ Styles defeats Sting at 13:15 to retain the title. Styles has been the Champion since 9.20.09, and this is his first defense. I really hate the entire buildup to this match, wherein Styles looks like an ineffectual chump who can’t even win a match on his own without Sting’s help. I just hate the Sting character’s holier-than-thou attitude. The champion is the aggressor early on, grinding away with a headlock. Sting comes back with a hiptoss. They go back and forth with Styles using his agility to wow the veteran challenger. Sting then locks on a headlock, and then knocks Styles down with a shoulderblock. He misses an elbow drop, and then Sting misses a knee drop, as the crowd chants “TNA.” The challenger takes control and clotheslines the champion over the top rope to the floor. Then Sting holds the ropes open for Styles, which is so lame. Styles makes him pay for it with an enziguiri. Sting comes back with a couple of face plants and a big back body drop. Styles hits the big dropkick, which sends Sting to the floor. He tries jumping off the apron but Sting moves and he crashes into the guardrail. Moments later Sting tries to charge into Styles, and he meets the same fate. Back in the ring both are acting like nothing happened, so they start slugging it out. Styles tries a charge in the corner and misses, and then tries another charge and takes a boot to the face. He tries a tombstone piledriver, but Sting reverses to one of his own for a near-fall. Styles is so hurt that he rolls to the apron, but then decides he’s okay enough to hit a springboard forearm for two. A backbreaker gets another two-count. They trade Scorpion Death Drop attempts, and Sting is able to land one as the morons in the crowd chant “This Is Wrestling.” Sting hits a Stinger Splash and lands another Scorpion Death Drop but Styles once again kicks out. He locks on the Scorpion Deathlock, and Styles simply powers out of it. Back on their feet they trade blows until Sting Hulks Up and hits a clothesline for two. Sting lifts Styles up to the top rope, and Styles knocks Sting down with a headbutt. Styles falls to the apron and hits a Pele. He follows up with a springboard splash to get the pin and retain the title. That was a severely anticlimactic finish to a dull, boring main event. Also, they built this up as Sting’s last match, which we know as of this writing is not the case, so what was the point really? Styles gets on the microphone, which doesn’t even work (so bush league TNA), and tells Sting to show some love for the fans. He thus concedes the spotlight to the veteran, showing who TNA thinks the real star is.
Rating: *½

~MATCH #25: Turning Point, 11.15.09~
TNA World Heavyweight Champion AJ Styles defeats Daniels and Samoa Joe in a Three Way Match at 21:50 to retain the title. Styles has been the Champion since 9.20.09, and this is his second defense. I appreciate the fact that TNA tried hard to build this feud up, but the exchanges between Styles and Daniels reeked of afternoon soap opera drama. Daniels takes the first shot when he punches Styles, and then he punches Joe. Styles quickly gets back to his feet and everyone is going after everyone; no alliances here. The action is quite fast and hard to follow in the early going here. Styles gets a quick O’Connor Roll on Daniels for a two-count. Joe regroups on the floor while Styles and Daniels battle it out. Styles hits a dropkick, and has one for Joe as well. Joe once again takes a breather and Styles grabs Daniels in a side headlock. Styles kicks Joe down to the floor and keeps the headlock on. Joe trips Styles from the floor and then Daniels hits him with an STO. Back in the ring now Joe works Daniels over in the corner. Daniels goes to the floor, leaving Joe and Styles to fight. Styles hits a vertical suplex. They go back and forth, and then Daniels gets back in the ring and locks Styles in a Boston Crab and Joe in a Camel Clutch at the same time. Joe breaks that by biting Daniels, and then hits the STJoe. He face washes everyone and looks to be firmly in control. Styles is able to send Joe to the floor, and he hits Daniels with a vertical suplex. He tries a springboard on Joe, but Joe kicks his leg out. Daniels wipes Joe out with a suicide dive. He goes for the Arabian Press but Styles catches him. Joe locks Daniels in the Choke on the floor, and Styles breaks that hold with the Fosbury Flop. Back in the ring Styles hits Joe with a headscissors. The champion is flying all over the place, hitting Daniels with a springboard hurricanrana for a two-count. Joe comes back and powerbombs Styles for two, and then locks on the Samoan Crab. He turns that into the STF and then a Crossface. Styles reaches the ropes. Joe hits Styles with the snap powerslam for two. Daniels comes back with some more simultaneous offense. This match is cool. Taz calling the almost 40-years-old Daniels “kid” is funny. Styles hits Daniels with the suplex/neckbreaker hybrid. Joe recovers and unleashes strikes on both men, and Daniels responds in kind. Styles hits Daniels with the Pele. He backdrops Daniels to the floor and then hits Joe with the springboard forearm for two. He gets Joe with a rana for two. He this the back flip into a reverse DDT for another two. He tries the same move on Daniels, but Daniels counters with the Last Rites. Daniels hits Joe with a release German Suplex. Joe comes back and crotches Daniels on the top rope and hits him with the Muscle Buster for two. He traps Styles in the rolling sunset flip for two. Styles comes back with a spin kick to the face. Daniels breaks up the Styles Clash with an enziguiri and then goes for another Last Rites. That doesn’t work either and a series of reversals ends with Joe breaking it up and hitting both men with a clothesline. Styles and Daniels team up to take out Joe, harkening back to their days as TNA World Tag Team Champions. They take the match to the apron and then up to the ropes. Joe knocks Styles to the floor and then goes for a Muscle Buster on Daniels. That gets countered with an STO, and then Daniels hits the Best Moonsault Ever. Styles gets back up and on the top rope and hits Daniels with a 450 Splash (his knees landed right in Daniels’s back, ouch), and then pins Joe to retain the title. I haven’t seen every match from TNA in 2009, but I’m pretty sure this is a good choice for number one. The action was pretty much non-stop from the opening bell and they came up with some pretty creative spots. It makes me want to go back and watch the original Unbreakable match to see how it compares.
Rating: ****½

Disc Four

~MATCH #26: Lockdown, 4.18.10~
TNA World Heavyweight Champion AJ Styles (w/ Ric Flair) defeats D’Angelo Dinero at 13:35 to retain the title. Styles has been the Champion since 9.20.09, and this is his twelfth defense. Before the introductions are even made referee Earl Hebner banishes Ric Flair to the locker room. Styles is the aggressor early on, hitting an aggressive biel out of the corner. He goes after the arm but Pope keeps pace with him. They trade holds back and forth a bit and Pope gains an edge. Styles fights back with chops but the Pope no-sells them and unloads with some strikes in the corner. Every time Styles tries to fight back Pope has an answer for him and cuts him off. Finally Styles sidesteps a charging Pope and hurls him into the cage. Styles hits his signature dropkick and then locks on a chinlock. He switches that up and goes after the leg. The champ tries the flipping inverted DDT but Pope avoids it and throws him into the cage. Pope hits a DDT and both men are down. They get up and trade shots, with Pope getting the better of it. Pope hits a powerslam for two. Styles fights back with shoulders to the midsection and a thumb to the eye. He goes up top and hits the flying forearm for two. The champ goes up top with Pope but gets knocked down. Pope hits a diving headbutt for two. Taz calls it the “Nestle Plunge” but what he means is “Nestea Plunge.” Meanwhile Styles comes back with the Pele for two. Styles then goes up top and hits a perfect 450 Splash but Pope kicks out at two. He then goes to the top of the cage for a flying body press but he misses! Pope gets a quick cover for two. He follows up with an awesome Codebreaker but Styles kicks out again! Pope goes for the Dinero Express but Styles moves out of the way. Styles then reaches through the camera hole to grab a pen from the camera man. He jabs Pope in the eye with the pen and levels him with a discuss clothesline. Styles then hits the Styles Clash for the win. That was pretty solid, but had the unfortunate reality of being placed between a Kurt Angle match and Lethal Lockdown. The crowd really got into Pope by the end there.
Rating: **¾

~MATCH #27: No Surrender, 9.5.10~
AJ Styles defeats Tommy Dreamer at 16:30 in an I Quit Match. Styles is the current TNA TV Champion, but the title is not on the line here. The match starts up in the aisle, and as they make it toward the ring Dreamer is able to snap Styles’ arm off the top rope. Dreamer tries an early Texas Cloverleaf but Styles kicks out of it. Styles charges but Dreamer backdrops him all the way to the floor. They trade shots back and forth for a bit, and then roll back in the ring. Dreamer locks on the Sugar Hold but Styles won’t quit. Styles fights back and uses a fishhook, which wouldn’t be legal in a normal match. Dreamer comes back and throws Styles’ shoulder into the ring post and goes for a submission, but Styles wisely rolls to the floor. He follows Styles out and hits a running clothesline off the apron. They take it over by the entrance ramp and Styles reverses a suplex, causing Dreamer to land back first on the ramp. Styles goes for a Figure-Four Leglock but Dreamer grabs a light off the set and bashes Styles with it. Dreamer then wraps a cable around Styles’ throat and mouth. Styles gets out of that and tries a Styles Clash on the unprotected floor but Dreamer avoids it; Styles then tries to charge but Dreamer moves out of the way and Styles rams his already injured shoulder into the post. Dreamer hits a shoulderbreaker and then throws Styles and a chair into the ring. He wraps the chair around Styles’ arm and then legdrops it. He then locks on a key lock around the chair and Styles pokes him in the eye to get out of the hold. Styles grabs a fork but Dreamer blocks it and hits a flying armbar (according to Taz anyway) and then tries a Crossface but Styles rolls to the floor. Dreamer tries to use the guardrail to coax a submission but no such luck. Styles then drops Dreamer nuts-first on the guardrail, because Dreamer apparently loves to do that spot. Now Styles is firmly in control, working on Dreamer’s leg. Styles locks on the Ring Post Figure-Four but Dreamer won’t quit. Back in the ring Styles uses the chair to further weaken the knee, and then puts on the Figure-Four Leglock. Dreamer turns it over, and Styles gets out of it and slams Dreamer’s head into the chair. Styles then sets Dreamer’s face on the chair and goes for a dropkick but Dreamer moves out of the way and that traps Styles’ leg in the chair! Dreamer uses the chair to use advantage and then grabs the fork. Luckily for Styles he avoids it and hits the Pele. Dreamer rolls to the floor, and when Styles goes for a dive Dreamer whacks him with a Kendo Stick. Back in the ring Dreamer uses the Stick to further inflict damage, and then takes his t-shirt off to reveal a singlet. Tenay tells me I have to love the new ring attire, but I really don’t. Dreamer then locks on a Kendo Stick-assisted Crossface, and the stick breaks across Styles’ face. Styles pulls out another fork and gets Dreamer in the eye. He hits a dropkick and then attacks the eyeball with the fork. That’s enough and Dreamer says “I Quit.” For what I expected this was actually really solid, and the fork to the eyeball is a sick finish.
Rating: ***

~MATCH #28: iMPACT, 9.23.10~
AJ Styles (w/ Matt Morgan & Ric Flair) defeats Sabu in a Ladder Match. The winner of this match will give his team the man advantage going into Lethal Lockdown at Bound for Glory. This is a bit of a dream match, although Sabu is quite a bit past his prime by this point. The fight quickly spills to the floor, where a ladder gets involved as a weapon. Midway through the match, Mick Foley makes his way out to counteract Flair and Morgan at ringside. That’s timed with a commercial break, and when we come back there’s a ladder and several chairs in the ring, which means Sabu is in control. Morgan attacks Foley on the floor, so all the members of EV2 and Fortune come down to ringside and it’s mass chaos. In the scrum James Storm is able to blast Sabu with a beer bottle, knocking him off the ladder. Storm then helps Styles climb the ladder and pull down the key to get the man advantage. This tried to blend angle and match together to build up for Lethal Lockdown and they did a pretty decent job of it.
Rating: **½

~MATCH #29: iMPACT, 10.28.10~
AJ Styles & Rob Van Dam defeat Christopher Daniels & Jerry Lynn at 5:40. The match starts with Daniels and Lynn dragging Styles out from the back and into the ring. RVD quickly comes out to make the save. Styles and RVD work well together, and Lynn and Daniels counteract them by cheating. The referee loses control of the match, and everyone but Styles winds up on the floor so he joins them with a swank dive. Back in the ring Styles hits Daniels with the Styles Smash and tries the Styles Clash but Daniels avoids it and shoves Lynn right into a Pele Kick. Daniels totally bails on his partner as Styles hits Lynn with the Styles Clash to get the pin. This was a decent little tag team match to build up a couple of matches on the pay-per-view, but it wasn’t particularly interesting otherwise.
Rating: **

~MATCH #30: Bound for Glory, 10.16.11~
AJ Styles defeats Christopher Daniels at 13:50 in an I Quit Match. Much like Jerry Lynn and Rob Van Dam, haven’t these two wrestled each other enough? They start right away with a flurry of punches and whatnot. Basic submission holds are not enough to coax an I Quit out of either guy, as one might suspect. Momentum shifts back and forth until AJ knocks Daniels to the floor with The Dropkick and then follows him out with a somersault dive. Daniels goes under the ring and pulls out a toolbox. He throws a wrench at AJ but thankfully misses. Daniels then decides to try a screwdriver attack but AJ fights it off. They take it to the apron and Daniels sort of hits a Blue Thunder Driver on the edge of the ring frame. Back in the ring Daniels tries to get AJ to quite but it’s not happening so he hits the Best Moonsault Ever right on the back. Daniels locks on a single-leg crab and AJ reaches the ropes as the crowd tries to get AJ back into the match. A sizable group is cheering for Daniels too. Daniels goes out and gets a chair and sets in on AJ’s throat and tries to get him to Quit again but AJ still won’t. Daniels is spending too much time on the microphone, and even tells AJ’s wife to take the kids out of the room. This is getting ridiculous. It gives AJ time to recover and he unleashes a flurry of offense. AJ hits the back flip inverted DDT and an enziguiri. He follows with the springboard flying forearm and signals for the Styles Clash but Daniels blocks it with a uranage slam. Daniels tries another BME but misses and AJ hits the Pele and the Styles Clash. AJ grabs a chair but then changes his mind and grabs the screwdriver. Daniels pulls a JBL and quits before AJ can hit him. It started off solid but there was way too much talking from Daniels and a ridiculous, ripped-off finish. How can this feud still be going on over five months later? I’ll live if these two never wrestle each other again. But since Daniels attacks AJ up on the ramp, that is obviously not going to be the case.
Rating: **¼

~MATCH #31: Slammiversary X, 6.10.12~
AJ Styles & Kurt Angle defeat TNA World Tag Team Champions Christopher Daniels & Kazarian at 14:25 to win the titles. Daniels and Kaz have been the Champions since 5.13.12, and this is their first defense. Any storyline directly involving Dixie Carter is one I’m automatically not interested in. Styles charges the ring and gets beat down. For some reason his partner just stands there and does nothing. Is Angle on drugs? Styles and Kazarian go back and forth to start. Kazarian gets taken out with a dropkick, and when Daniels charges into the ring he gets the same treatment. Styles goes to the floor and hits Kazarian with a springboard flying forearm off the guardrail. Elsewhere, Angle flies off the apron to take Daniels out. Back in the ring the challengers are looking good. Kazarian rakes Angle’s eyes to take control. It doesn’t take long for Angle to fight back and tag out. Styles goes to work on Daniels. Again, that doesn’t last long and the Champions isolate Styles in their half of the ring. After several minutes of abuse Styles reverses a suplex and hits the suplex into a neckbreaker. Or as Tenay calls it “Suplex Over, Then Straight Down Neckbreaker Style.” I hate how he uses his words. Anyway, tags are made and Angle is a house afire. Angle hits Daniels with the Angle Slam and Kazarian breaks up the cover. He then hits Daniels and Kazarian with a German Suplex, at the same time. The straps come down and Angle puts Daniels in the Ankle Lock! Kazarian breaks it up. Daniels goes for the Angel’s Wings but Angle counters into a back body drop. Styles gets the tag and he’s all over the place. All four men end up in the ring and the referee has lost control. Styles takes Kazarian up top and Kazarian shoves him down. Angle runs up and takes Kazarian down with a super belly-to-belly suplex. Daniels takes Angle down with an STO. Styles and Daniels trade shots now and Daniels hits a uranage slam. Daniels goes up but misses the BME and Angle grabs him in a huge German Suplex. Styles takes Kazarian down with the Pele. Angle hits Kazarian with an ugly as sin Frog Splash but Daniels pulls the referee to the floor. Styles takes Daniels out with a springboard Shooting Star Press to the floor! That was awesome. Back in the ring Kazarian goes for the Fade to Black but Angle counters to the Ankle Lock and Kazarian taps the titles away! That was crazy non-stop action from four of the best athletes in TNA. They never really got much of a structure going and just went back and forth a lot, but that style works with these guys and the crowd was super-hot for it.
Rating: ***¾

~MATCH #32: Hardcore Justice, 8.12.12~
AJ Styles [36] defeats Kurt Angle [48], Samoa Joe [54], and Christopher Daniels [33] at 16:21 in a Bound for Glory Series Four Way Ladder Match. Styles is in tenth place, Daniels is in eighth, Angle is in a fourth-place tie, and Joe is in third. Daniels is one half of the TNA World Tag Team Champions of the World. Styles attacks Daniels right away because they’re in the middle of a never-ending feud. Angle and Joe take their shots at Daniels as well. The united front doesn’t last too long and now it’s every man for himself. Daniels pulls Joe to the floor and then Styles wipes both of them out with a dive. Back in the ring Styles and Angle fight it out. Styles goes for a springboard maneuver but Daniels takes his legs out from under him with a ladder! That was cool. Angle tries to come to the rescue but Daniels takes him out too. Back in the ring Daniels uses the ladder as a weapon on Joe. He charges into the corner but Joe hits the STJoe on to the ladder! Styles gets back in the ring and drills Joe with The Dropkick. No one can sustain control for very long, as four men and a ladder is a recipe for chaos. In the coolest spot so far, Styles whips Angle into the ropes under the ladder, and then shoves the ladder into his face. Styles then hits Joe with the Pele. The Phenomenal One is all over everybody, which is cool because he’s in tenth place so he should be the most motivated. Joe sends Styles to the floor and hits the elbow suicida. Angle grabs Joe in a belly-to-belly suplex. Daniels comes out and hits Angle with a DDT. Back in the ring Joe is the dominant one. Joe goes for the Muscle Buster on Styles and Angle tries to hit a German Suplex on Joe but everyone just sort of crumbles. It was a great idea anyway. Daniels sends Angle to the floor. Styles hits Daniels with the springboard flying forearm. He climbs up the ladder and Daniels shoves him out to the floor. Daniels tries to climb up but Joe and Angle thwart his efforts and remove him from the match with a sequence of “Can You Top This?” Joe and Angle trap Daniels in the rungs of the ladder and unleash kicks on his unprotected chest and midsection. Finally they turn their attention to each other. Angle tries to climb up and Joe grabs another ladder and goes up that one. Joe knocks Angle down and appears ready to grab the points but Styles springboards to the top of Angle’s ladder and grabs the contract to win 20 points! These are arguably the four best guys in the BFG Series, so it was great to see that much awesome concentrated into one match. They did some awesome spots with the ladder and the pacing was perfect. Styles needed it the most and it showed in the way he wrestled the match. Great stuff here. Styles moves all the way up to seventh place, and Daniels falls to ninth.
Rating: ****

~MATCH #33: IMPACT Wrestling, 7.25.13~
AJ Styles [22] defeats Jeff Hardy [17] at 12:55 in a Bound for Glory Series Match. I think it’s fair to say that both men came a long way since their first match in 2004. For one thing, they’re both wrestling in t-shirts for some reason. Hardy takes the early advantage but they take a commercial and when we come back it’s Styles in control. Styles is working a slower, more aggressive style than he normally did in TNA, which is what made this an interesting run for him. Hardy counters the new Styles with his usual offense, but when Styles traps him in the Calf Killer, Hardy has no choice by to tap out. Good stuff here, with Styles looking great by going over so strong, and Hardy wrestling the right match to maximize how good Styles looked by beating him. He’s good at that.
Rating: ***¼

~MATCH #34: IMPACT Wrestling: No Surrender, 9.12.13~
AJ Styles defeats Austin Aries at 14:37 in a Bound for Glory Series Semifinal Match. Weird that they’d put the semifinal match on this DVD but not the finals, but it should be a good match anyway. Despite the fact that these two haven’t wrestled each other a ton of times in TNA, they seem very familiar with each other and counter a lot of attacks in the early going. After a commercial break both men are still going at a fast pace, and countering each other with great frequency. After a handful of signature moves and counters, Styles avoids a charge in the corner and lands a sweet Pele Kick. That leaves Aries hanging in the corner, and Styles goes up to the ropes and brings Aries down with a Styles Clash! Really fun match, showing that both men were skilled without it feeling like they just forgot or didn’t care to sell. Awesome finish too.
Rating: ***¾

~MATCH #35: Bound for Glory, 10.20.13~
AJ Styles defeats TNA World Heavyweight Champion Bully Ray (w/ Brooke) at 20:28 in a No Disqualification Match to win the title. Bully has been the Champion since 8.15.13, and this is his second defense. The Champion uses his size and power to intimidate AJ in the early going. Tenay calls AJ a former five-time World Champion, but that’s not true, he’s at four right now. Bully talks a lot of trash as he beats on AJ, as they try to ramp up the drama. AJ gets angry and unleashes with The Dropkick. He locks on the Calf Killer and Garett Bischoff runs out to break it up and give Bully the hammer. Bully tries to use the hammer but AJ blocks it and takes control of the weapon. AJ goes to use it but Bully stops him as well. No hammer for anybody. Bully continues to abuse AJ, but the fiery challenger gets right back in Bully’s face and tells him to bring it on. AJ goes to the top rope but Knux makes his way out, and he catches AJ coming down and crushes him with a Chokeslam. Bully crawls over to make the cover but only gets two. The crowd is not popping for anything. Bully accidentally takes Knux out with a clothesline and AJ grabs a quick rollup for two. The fight spills to the floor and Bully tries to hit AJ with the hammer but AJ stops him with the Pele. AJ puts Bully on a ringside table and tries a springboard 450 splash but he misses and AJ destroys the table. Taz gives Bully a box cutter and Bully starts tearing apart the ring. Bully exposes the boards underneath the mat and then calls out Dixie Carter for some reason. Dixie hands Bully a steel chair, but AJ has recovered and he hits Bully with the springboard flying forearm, knocking the chair back into his face. AJ then connects with the springboard 450 but Dixie tells referee Earl Hebner not to make the count. This is lame. AJ goes for the Styles Clash but Bully backdrops him onto the exposed wood. Ouch. Bully goes to the second rope and (sort of) hits a senton but it only gets two. The Champion cracks AJ with a steel chair and then goes for a piledriver. AJ escapes and hits the Pele, and then decks Bully with the chair. He goes up top and hits Spiral Tap to get the pin at 20:28. I was worried when Dixie came out that they were going to do too much with her, and thankfully they kept her involvement to a minimum (although none would have been preferable). AJ and Bully have good chemistry together and had they cut out a lot of the forced drama in the opening minutes it would have probably been a better match. They mixed in some good high spots and false finishes, and I love that AJ has a move that he always wins with. This was pretty good but not the epic TNA was presenting it as.
Rating: ***¼

A2Z Analysiz
At 35 matches and nearly 12 hours, I think it’s safe to say that this is an exhaustive and accurate chronicle of AJ Styles’ time in TNA. There may be some quibbling on the match listing, but it’s fairly sound – his big X Title wins are here, his World Title wins are here, and there’s a great selection of gimmick matches (Six Sides of Steel, Ultimate X, Iron Man), and an awesome cross-section of opponents (including Abyss, Jeff Hardy, Kid Kash, Austin Aries, Sting, Samoa Joe, Chris Sabin, Kurt Angle, Christopher Daniels, and many more). Twelve hours is quite a time investment, but there’s no denying that whoever put together this DVD did a perfect job. Highest recommendation here.

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