Phenomenal: The Best Of AJ Styles

by Chris Gorst on 6th July 2008

“There are professional wrestlers….and then there is ‘The Phenomenal’ AJ Styles. Throughout the history of TNA Wrestling, no star has been more decorated than this amazing athlete. A triple crown champion, ‘The Phenomenal One’ has held the NWA World, Tag Team and X Division Championships on multiple occasions. Inside the ring, Styles is regarded as a human highlight reel – a daredevil whose no-limits style has electrified fans sine TNA’s inception in 2002. From his humble beginnings to his meteoric rise in the sport, this is the chronicle of a rare breed of athlete who single-handedly revolutionized professional wrestling. Only one word can possibly describe what you are about to witness…PHENOMENAL”

PART I – The Career:
TNA Lockdown 2005 – Number One Contenders Cage Match: AJ Styles vs Abyss
Rating: ****¼
The winner of the match gets a title shot against Jeff Jarrett at Hard Justice. At this point in history, AJ Styles was a 2 time former NWA World Champion, Abyss was still bordering on the edge of main eventing, waiting for his first title shot. The match opens quickly with AJ flying over the top rope through the door way onto Abyss. AJ then pulls off some great spots including getting whipped into the rail but sliding under and hitting a springboard huracanrana on the monster off the barrier, then running up the steps and jumping over the crowd, not once, but twice. Abyss then takes over, slamming the door into AJ’s face numerous times (which in slow motion looked sick), busting AJ wide open. That leads to Abyss taking the match into the cage at last and grabbing his bag of tacks from under the ring and takes them in with him. Abyss just dominates AJ and the blood gets worse. AJ actually kicks out of a Black Hole Slam. Abyss gets frustrated and goes for the tacks. AJ avoids them and hits a Styles Clash directly onto the tacks, and Abyss still kicked out. AJ goes to the top of the cage but Abyss throws the ref into the cage forcing AJ to lose his balance. Abyss then goes to the top and wraps the steel chain around AJ’s neck leading to AJ trying to fight back. AJ hits a sunset flip off the top of the cage onto the tacks and gets the 3 count on Abyss at 19:58, leading to…

TNA Hard Justice 2005 – NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Jeff Jarrett © vs AJ Styles
Rating: ***¼
Jarrett has been champion since June 2, 2004, and this is his ninth defence of the belt (two against Ron Killings, two against Jeff Hardy, two against Monty Brown, and one against Kevin Nash and Diamond Dallas Page). Special guest referee, Tito Ortiz is introduced first. AJ and Jeff start out with some chain wrestling and the crowd is very pro-Styles. Jarrett starts working on taking out AJ’s legs to set up the figure four. AJ fights out and the match is back on. Tito Ortiz gets physically involved by pulling Jeff Jarrett off AJ and we see the first signs of why Ortiz was appointed. Jarrett then goes and gets the guitar but Ortiz stops him before he can use it. AJ then picks it up but Ortiz stops him too, this leads to AJ smashing it over the ring post (pretty smart move really) to take it out of play. AJ does the springboard reverse DDT on his bad leg before he sets up for the Clash. Jarrett gets out of it and eventually powerbombs AJ for two. Jarrett then tries for the Stroke but AJ gets out of it. Jarrett gets a power slam on Styles before AJ gets a succession of near falls. Jarrett then hits the Clash for two on AJ. Styles fights back and hits the Stroke on Jarrett before Monty Brown makes his way into the ring, but misses AJ and hits the Pounce on Jarrett. While Ortiz is sending Monty to the back, Rudy Charles comes out and tries to make the count, but Ortiz pulls him out because he alone is the referee. AJ gets in Ortiz’s face, allowing Jarrett to hit a low blow and set AJ up on the top rope. He pushes Ortiz away, so he grabs Jarrett and lays him out. AJ goes up to the top and hits the Spiral Tap to get the win and the title for the third time at 19:32

TNA Unbreakable 2005 – TNA X Division Championship: Christopher Daniels © vs Samoa Joe vs AJ Styles
Rating: *****
What can be said about this match that hasn’t been said before? This was the main event of TNA Unbreakable, and the first time since going to monthly PPVs that the X Division had held the main event slot. Daniels has been champion since 3.13.05, and this is his fifth defence. Samoa Joe earned this title shot by beating AJ Styles at the last PPV, but Styles was added to the match due to interference by Daniels which lead to Joe winning. Styles has already held the X-Division title four times, Samoa Joe is yet to hold championship gold in TNA. To start the match, AJ and Joe take turns kicking Daniels trying to one up the other. The opening sequence is too fast to recap. Daniels hits some really nice looking jabs on both men, but nobody is able to get a clear cut advantage. Daniels and Joe are fighting on the outside and AJ hits a sweet Springboard Shooting Star to the outside taking out both opponents. This match has so much going on its hard to keep up. Back in the ring, Daniels gets caught in the Coquina Clutch which AJ breaks up with a Spiral Tap. Daniels hits Joe with a Flatliner before attempting the Best Moonsault Ever, but AJ puts a stop to that. More fast paced action and AJ and Daniels are on the outside of the ring, Joe comes flying over the top rope with a twisting body press taking out both opponents. Back in the ring, Joe hits the Muscle Buster on AJ as Daniels heads out to grab the title belt. He goes to hit Joe, but gets a snap slam for his troubles. Joe ends up taking the belt to the face anyway as Daniels kicks it into his face with an enziguri. Daniels and Styles start brawling and Daniels hits a Blue Thunder Driver for 2. Joe back in, but Daniels hits him with the Last Rites. Daniels hits Styles with a superplex. Joe locks on an STF before we get to the final minutes. AJ goes for the Clash on Daniels, but Joe breaks it up. Joe gets taken out of the match and Daniels goes for the Angels Wings which AJ reverses into a bridging pin for the 3 count at 22:50.AJ Styles is a 5 time X Division champion. The best thing about this match was that it was almost 23 minutes of non-stop action. There was always something happening and that made this a clear ***** match.

TNA iMPACT – Non-Title: AJ Styles © vs Roderick Strong
Rating: **
This is the opening match on Spike TV. AJ Styles is the current X Division champion but this is a non-title match. If I recall, this match was selected by the fans to open the Spike TV era of iMPACT. The match starts out quickly as a way to show what the X Division is all about. Styles hits a dropkick and appears to be bleeding from the mouth? Strong is outside the ring and AJ hits a dive over the top onto him. Back in the ring and Daniels makes his way down the ramp causing a distraction. This allows Roderick to get in some offence, but it doesn’t last too long as Styles hits a Pélé out of nowhere and follows up with the Styles Clash for the win at 4:00

TNA Genesis – X Division Championship: AJ Styles © vs Petey Williams
Rating: ****

Styles has been X Division champion since TNA Unbreakable in September and has one successful defence. The match is built as a battle of the finishers, on the iMPACT prior to the PPV, they had a finisher vs finisher match which Petey won with the Canadian Destroyer. A1 is coming out with Petey. Some good mat wrestling to start this one out (see the pattern of these matches?) and both men are getting support from the fans. Styles goes on the offence early, even trying for a Clash, but Petey fights out of it. AJ hits a flip dive and takes a painful looking landing, ass first on the barricade landing in the crowd. A1 jumps into the crowd to try and distract AJ,, but he goes right back to Petey and tries a suplex to the floor. Petey tries for a German Suplex on AJ (from the apron to the floor), but AJ holds on. Petey hits a few shots to AJ’s back before he hits him with the German into the barricade. A1 gets ejected by the referee and heads to the back as Petey argues with the referee. Petey still in control and dives over the top rope into a huracanrana on Styles. Petey takes a water break before getting in the ring, setting AJ up and proceeding to belt out “Oh Canada”. Petey hits a Super Rana off the top rope but AJ rolls through and gets a 2 count out of nowhere. Petey locks on a Sharpshooter and grabs the arm as AJ reaches for the rope, but he forgets about the other arm and AJ gets the rope break. Joe makes his way out to the ramp to distract AJ who is on the top rope, Petey climbs up looking for another Rana, but AJ hooks Petey in the Styles Clash and hits it from the top rope getting the 3 count at 18:19. This match showed just how good Petey Williams can be as well as how great AJ can be, some of the bumps were sick, especially the German into the guardrail.

TNA Slammiversary – NWA World Tag Team Championships: Americas Most Wanted © vs AJ/Daniels
Rating: ****
AMW have been the champions since 10.22.05 (beating the Naturals), and this is their sixteenth defense. They’ve already successfully defended them against Styles & Daniels three times (Impact on 1.1.06, Impact on 5.4.06, and Sacrifice on 5.14.06). Match begins with AJ and Storm showing some intensity. AJ hits his patented dropkick. Daniels and Harris come in and start exchanging holds, with Daniels standing on the back of Harris’s head. Daniels encourages a “Brokeback Mountain” chant. Storm accidentally flips Harris outside the ring and Styles and Daniels send him out too. With AMW on the floor, AJ hits a nice dive to the floor. Back in the ring Daniels continues working on Harris. The fight spills to the floor before the champions take advantage. Back in the ring and Harris gets a few near falls on Styles. Storm goes for the Eye of the Storm but AJ slipped out and goes for the tag, but falls just short. Storm nails AJ with a twisting butterfly suplex but Daniels breaks up the pinfall attempt. Styles fights back and hits the Pélé. AJ makes the hot tag and Daniels comes in on fire. Blue Thunder Driver but Gail distracts the ref and climbs to the top rope. Styles pushes her off and here comes the equalizer (who we later come to know as Sirelda) who hits a big time chokeslam on Gail. Gail is then thrown outside and carried away leaving the focus on the match. Back in the ring, Daniels gets a near fall on Harris with a victory roll. He goes for the Angels Wings but its blocked. Daniels eats a chair shot but kicks out at 2. Styles hits the ring and starts taking out everyone. He goes for a Spiral Tap but nobody home. Harris hits Styles with handcuffs but only gets 2 as Daniels pulls the ref out of the ring. The match breaks down into a brawl and Daniels hits a Death Valley Driver which AJ follows up with a flipping senton for another 2 count. Storm puts the cowboy hat on before setting up for a superkick. Daniels ducks and hits the Angels Wings but Harris hits the ref to stop the count. Storm tries to hit Daniels with the beer bottle but hits Harris instead. Daniels hits a Urinage on Storm. Styles up top and hits a frog splash followed by a BME leading to the 3 count at 17:44. This was one of my favourite tag matches in a long time. Everything just seemed to flow very well.

TNA No Surrender – Ultimate X – NWA World Tag Team Championships: AJ/Daniels © vs LAX
Rating: ***
Homicide & Hernandez have been champions since 8.24.06 iMPACT when they defeated AJ and Daniels in a Gringo Street Fight, and this is their first defence. It’s a big brawl to start, and this is the very first tag team Ultimate X match. Homicide goes for a Gringo Killer early on but can’t hit it. Hernandez tosses Styles around while Homicide makes the first attempt for the gold but Daniels stops him and works on the arm. Styles and Daniels use their speed, but Daniels gets thrown out of the ring and Homicide hits the Tope Con Hilo. Styles follows Homicide out with a Fosbury Flop. In the ring, Daniels locks Hernandez in the Koji Clutch but that doesn’t last long as Hernandez carries on throwing Daniels and Styles around. A ladder comes into play which Homicide ends up eating in a cool spot and Hernandez takes it in the nuts but Hernandez gets back into the match by hitting a top rope CrackerJack on Daniels, throwing him across the ring. Konnan takes cheap shots at Daniels on the outside while AJ takes a beating on the inside. Hernandez goes for the belt, but AJ stops him. Homicide brings in a chair and nails AJ with it before going for the belt again. As he is climbing, AJ makes his way up after him, but Homicide hits a Gringo Cutter off the X. Daniels tries to climb but gets caught by Hernandez, Homicide is on the top rope and hits a bulldog off the shoulders of Hernandez. Cool spot where Hernandez is climbing across the X, Homicide has Daniels set for a piledriver, Daniels reverses and hits an STO under Hernandez, AJ runs in, grabs Hernandez by the legs and pulls him down on top of Homicide. AJ fires up and takes out LAX with clotheslines before hitting a Pélé on Hernandez. Homicide whips Styles into the corner and follows in, but AJ gets the elbow up and hits a springboard reverse DDT before trying to hit a suplex on Hernandez which is almost reversed until Daniels runs in and makes it a double suplex into a neckbreaker. Homicide fights back but nobody home on a frog splash attempt. Homicide staggers around and AJ/Daniels hit a Total Elimination type, high/low move taking him out. Hernandez back up and uses his power to dominate both challengers hitting an over the shoulder back breaker on Daniels. While this is happening, Konnan sets up a table outside the ring. AJ and Daniels hit the combo that won them the titles on Hernandez to put the big man down and Styles adds a Spiral Tap for good measure. Homicide and AJ fight on the apron which leads to Homicide eating a Styles Clash through the table Konnan set up earlier. Daniels climbs up the outside of the structure to the top before leaping from the corner post to the centre of the X before pulling the title down to win the match. The ending of this was amazing as a foot out and Daniels was heading straight to the mat. The match didn’t have as much flow as the Slammiversary match but all in all it was a good match. This match got TNA Match of the Year for 2006, personally it was in the top 5, but not number 1 for me.

TNA iMPACT – X Division Championship: Chris Sabin © vs AJ Styles
Rating: **
Sabin has been champion since 10.22.06 and this is his first defense. This is just after Sabin’s heel turn and the back story is that AJ couldn’t stand the disrespect Sabin was showing to the title. The match starts extremely quickly with AJ taking down Sabin. Some quick chain wrestling which ends with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker from AJ who locks in a surfboard. Sabin reverses and gets a quick backslide for 2 followed by a dropkick to the knees followed by a kick to the back of the head for another 2 count. Sabin takes down Styles with a rear chinlock . AJ tries to fight out but Sabin pulls him down and gets 2. A legdrop from Sabin gets another 2 count. AJ fights back to his feet before taking Sabin down with a spin kick. AJ gets elevated over the top to the apron and hits a springboard superman forearm. Sabin reverses a Clash attempt and hits an enziguri before hitting a springboard tornado DDT for a close 2 count. AJ ducks a discus clothesline and hits a Pélé. Goes for the springboard DDT but gets reversed. AJ in the corner and Sabin with a high foot in the face of Styles. Cradle Shock attempt on Styles, but Styles slips out and rolls up Sabin with a small package for the 3 count and a sixth X Division title reign.

PART II – The Chronicle:
This is the documentary segment of the DVD. AJ talks about growing up as a Marine brat even though he only lived at the camp for 1 year. AJ talks about what his family did when he was a child and how his family was poor, but not poor enough for welfare. He goes on to talk about his high school life and how he was sent to jail for hurting someone in school. He also talks about going to college and wrestling in college. I honestly can’t keep up with this commentary so I’ll just cover the main topics:
– Growing Up
– High School
– College
– Meeting his wife
– What he wanted to be when he grew up
– Watching wrestling growing up
– Getting into the wrestling business
– From Wildside to WCW and back to Wildside
– Turning down WWE and getting into TNA
– His first TNA appearance and working in a broken ring
– Did he think TNA would make it?
– His family life
– Naming his son Ajay Covell
– His memories of the first X Division matches
– Injuring his knee against Joe and wrestling with a broken foot
– His favourite match in TNA
– What keeps him going in TNA
– How he wants to be remembered

PART III – Bonus Features:
• The first part is called “Going Home,” which is AJ Styles going back to the trailer park where he grew up. It’s his first time going back since he left.
• Next is a tour of Styles’ old high school, where he was a jock who won lots of awards for sports. It turns out his favourite class was the one that taught him about hand massage and manicures.
• Now we get footage of Styles’ son, who is actually named Ajay Covell (Christopher Daniels’s real last name) Jones, balancing while standing on his father’s hand. He can do that at 21 months old!
• The last bonus feature is a match from NWA Wildside from January of 2000 between AJ Styles and Ron Killings. Andrew Thomas and AJ Styles are doing the commentary here. I don’t feel like doing a full match review, because this is really atrocious. Styles makes fun of his own ring gear. They both look incredibly amateur here and I can’t imagine what anyone who watched this at the time would have thought of either guy.
• Lastly we get a photo slideshow, with photos by Lee South.

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