wrestling / Video Reviews

Views from the Hawke’s Nest: AJ Styles – Styles Clash

December 10, 2018 | Posted by TJ Hawke


Read my reviews of over 150 AJ Styles matches!


A Night of Appreciation
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
April 27, 2002

AJ Styles vs. Low Ki

This was a wild match with both guys going all out for 18 minutes with state of the art action that beautifully blended excitement and physicality. If they tightened up the package (12-13 minutes would have been ideal) and/or integrated some specific story into the match, this would have been great. As it was though, it was very good and something that holds up incredibly well because no juniors work this way anymore. [Ki won with a pinning combo.] (***3/4)


Road to the Title
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
June 22, 2002

AJ Styles vs. Jerry Lynn

This was a Block B match in the tournament for the ROH World Championship.

This was a very 2002-03 indie match in that the pace and physicality were very intense. However, they were not able to take that strong base and produce a memorable or compelling match. There was not much of a story, and Lynn was not capable of being exciting or crazy physical enough to make up for that. It was solid enough though. [AJ eventually won with the Clash.] (***)


AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels

The winner of this match would go on to the final of the tournament that crowned the first ever ROH World Champion.

These two worked a super competitive and physical style here which was nice to see. They basically ruined their work though by just going ON and ON and ON and ON. The crowd was all in early on, too. They just slowly cared less and less until the match had no momentum for what seemed like the entire second half of the match. At least Daniels won cleanly. (**¼)


Honor Invades Boston
Wakefield, Massachusetts
August 24, 2002

AJ Styles vs. Low Ki(c) [ROH Championship]
Given how long they went (about twenty minutes), I don’t think going back and forth for the duration was the right idea to maximize quality. However, the action they produced was still so compelling that they managed to produce a good match despite the lack of strong storytelling.

2001-02 Low Ki *still* feels ahead of the curve (this being written in early 2016 – yes, I take two years or more to finish DVD reviews these days). His style at that time did not always lead to great matches, but it was always compelling and truly felt like something you couldn’t anywhere else (and I still don’t know where I can see it).

AJ often tried to match the styles (pun not intended) of Ki and Bryan whenever he did battle with them in ROH. I’m not sure that plays to AJ’s strengths, but there’s no doubt that he never made a fool of himself. He managed to bring levels of athleticism to the grappling that even Ki couldn’t match.

Overall, this was a good match that I think almost anyone can enjoy. More wrestlers in 2016 (and in 2018) need to study what Low Ki was doing at this time. [Ki won cleanly with the Ki Krusher in what would be his only successful ROH Championship defense.] (***½)


Revenge of the Prophecy
West Mifflin, Pennsylvania
January, 11, 2003

AJ Styles & Low Ki vs. The Prophecy (Christopher Daniels & Xavier) [No Holds Barred]
This match had two issues. The first was rather simple: the rules were Gabe goofy. They took the title “No Holds Barred” literally in that the wrestlers did not have any rules in regards to “holds.” (In other words, they could use the ropes in submissions, etc.) They still had to follow all the other rules of a regular match.

The second issue was that the match went on wayyyyyyyyy too long. They worked super physically as per the style of the time (which was appreciated). The match had very little flow though and just felt endless.

There were of course a handful of moments that were fun. (The highlight of course being Ki smashing a cinder block into Xavier’s chest.) The match itself though never came close to coming together effectively as a cohesive whole. [Ki won after applying a dragon sleeper on Xavier in the ropes.] ()


Expect the Unexpected
Cambridge, Massachusetts
March 15, 2003

The Prophecy(c) (Christopher Daniels & Xavier) vs. AJ Styles & Amazing Red [ROH World Tag Team Championship]

This was yet another big match from this time period in ROH where the work was physically impressive but the match would just go on WAY too long. It was a real shame here specifically, as you could easily see these four putting on a killer match. They really just suffered from the style expectations of the this point in time. (The super clunky finish all did not help matters.) [AJ won after hitting Daniels with a Styles Clash just as Red and Xavier mistimed a spot and awkwardly ran into the winning pinfall as it was happening.] (**)


Night of the Grudges
Cambridge, Massachusetts
June 14, 2003

AJ Styles vs. Paul London

This match once again featured ROH’s patented style of the time of working super physically (great) and going a very long time (not great). This match was still solid overall due to sheer force of will, AJ and London managed to make this match work despite the overlong nature of it. The constant physical action and long runtimes just did not work together. [The match ended in a double pinfall.] (***)


Death Before Dishonor
Elizabeth, New Jersey
July 19, 2003

AJ Styles & Amazing Red(c) vs. The Briscoes (Jay & Mark Briscoe) [ROH World Tag Team Championship]

This match got off to a really awkward and clunky start. It unfortunately never really managed to recover from that sequence. The match was not bad at all, but it did not have enough time to really recover from the oddly off stuff to start the match. (**½)


Tradition Continues
Glen Burnie, Maryland
October 16, 2003

AJ Styles vs. CM Punk

This was a cool match for sure. Punk was a step ahead of AJ throughout the contest. They worked a physical style and kept up a solid pace. AJ continued to fight back until he made things close enough. Then when Punk went for the Wizard, AJ managed to reverse it into a Clash to pick up the win. Nifty fucking match. (***½)


Main Event Spectacles
Elizabeth, New Jersey
November 1, 2003

AJ Styles vs. Bryan Danielson

The commentators left the booth after a minute, which was an occasional ROH gimmick to make the match seem more important. Neither man could get an advantage. Dragon finally got control after he started targeting the left arm. Styles was able to come back after dumping Dragon to the floor. Styles went after the left leg. Dragon fought back though and applied a single leg crab before going back after the left arm.

AJ came back and called Dragon a “faggot” because AJ Styles is a homophobic asshole. Dragon fought back and got control. AJ reversed a back superplex into a crossbody. Dragon then hit a Fucking Machine Back Suplex to get firm control again. AJ came back after hitting a Pele. Dragon went for a cross armbreaker on the injured arm, but AJ reversed it into a modified Styles Clash.

This was a compelling match overall, but I was hoping for more focused work on the injured limbs story that they started exploring early on. (***1/2)


War of the Wire
Framingham, Massachusetts
November 20, 2003

Samoa Joe(c) vs. AJ Styles [ROH World Championship]

This was probably the weakest Joe defense so far, but it was still perfectly solid. These two worked a much more 50/50 story. It was also more methodical than previous matches which took some of the steam out of it. AJ ended up getting close to taking the belt as he was able to connect on the Styles Clash. Joe survived though and later choked AJ out to retain. (***)


The Battle Lines Are Drawn
Wilmington, Ohio
January 10, 2004

AJ Styles vs. Homicide

This was a very sluggish match with no real flow. There were some occasional moments and sequences that had some energy to it but overall this was not much at all. It also really dragged and felt incredibly disconnected. Styles eventually won cleanly with the Clash to bring one of the weakest matches from either man’s careers to a merciful end. (*1/4)


Anniversary Show
Braintree, Massachusetts
February 14, 2004

AJ Styles vs. CM Punk [Pure Rules]
First part of the match was all about establishing the rules of Pure Rules for the audience. The rest of the match was very methodical. A lot of the work was smartly done and substantive, but it did not really excell in any particular manner which prevent the match from ever getting above “solid” status. [AJ won after a middle rope Styles Clash.] (***)


Anniversary Celebration
Dayton, Ohio
February 25, 2005

AJ Styles vs. Jimmy Rave

A lot of the work was solid, but to do such a long match only to give it a fuck finish was really frustrating in a “I’m an unsatisfied customer!” way and not a “I hope AJ really beats up Jimmy!” way. (**1/2)


Sign of Dishonor
Long Island, New York
July 8, 2005

We saw footage of an angle where Jimmy Rave tried to suffocate AJ Styles with a plastic bag. If he had watched Four Brothers in theaters that summer, AJ would have known to go straight for the plastic in front of his face instead of around his neck.


Fate of the Angel
Woodbridge, Connecticut
July 16, 2005

AJ Styles vs. Roderick Strong
This was a *VERY* Ring of Honor match. They worked very physically. They worked very fast. And they went a very long time. That combo is really hard to pull off because all the action can start to blend together and lose all meaning after a while, and that is what sadly happened here. Great effort though. [AJ dropped Roddy on his dome with a Styles Clash.] (**½)


The Homecoming
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
July 23, 2005

AJ Styles vs. Jimmy Rave
This was a street fight.

Much like pretty much every match between two, this was super long and mostly pretty boring despite the great effort! They worked physically and did a convincing job of portraying hatred but boy did it not lead to anything much in the way of fun. Rave won with a RAVE CLASH after Alex Shelley gave AJ a Shell Shock.] (**¼}


Dragon Gate Invasion
Buffalo, New York
August 27, 2005

AJ Styles vs. Cima
This is probably one of the coolest matchups on paper to ever happen in a Ring of Honor ring. They treated it like a friendly. There never ended up being any in-ring hook to organically develop which meant it never really reached that second gear. It was still pretty cool to watch though, and Cima’s fruit roll-up win was done well. (**¾)


Glory by Honor
Lake Grove, New York
September 17, 2005

AJ Styles vs. Jimmy Rave
The first to hit the Styles Clash would win the match.

Yet another long and boring match between these two. Jimmy Rave in 2005 had an amazing feud with Punk, but this one has aged terribly. They tried though. [AJ won after a Clash through the table.] (**)



Read my reviews of over 150 AJ Styles matches!

article topics :

AJ Styles, ROH, TJ Hawke