Ring of Honor: AJ Styles – Styles Clash


Disc One

Low Ki vs. AJ Styles
“A Night of Appreciation” – Philadelphia, PA – 4.27.2002

This is Styles’ ROH debut. Ki and Styles stand-off after trading control on the mat. Ki kicks Styles’s legs while locking knuckles. Styles kicks Ki in the ribs. They both throw kicks at each other’s legs. They end up kicking each others’ shins. Ki tackles Styles into a front facelock. Styles puts on a reverse chinlock. Styles fights out. Ki kicks and chops Styles in a lock-up. Styles cradles Ki for two. Ki punts him in the face. Ki kicks him in the back of the head too. Styles huracanrana’s Ki from the apron. He gives him a spinning clothesline for two. Ki kicks Styles as he follows him into the corner. Ki throws a chop. Styles enzuigiri’s Ki to the floor. Styles superkicks Ki twice on the floor. Back in the ring Styles gets two with a brainbuster. Ki gives him a Koppu Kick. He sends Styles out with a running boot. Ki puts Styles in the Dragon Sleeper in the ropes. Ki goes for the Ki Krusher. Styles counters it with a DDT. Styles blocks a Dragon sleeper. He quebrada’s into a reverse DDT. Ki blocks a huracanrana with a powerbomb. Styles kicks out. Ki throws some chest and Kawada kicks. Ki Tiger suplexes him for another two count. Styles German suplexes Ki into a facebuster. Ki gives Styles a gord buster so he can recover. Ki hits a cartwheel enzuigiri in the corner. Styles gets his knees up to block the Phoenix Splash. Styles holds up Ki in a Razor’s Edge position, then drops him into a DDT. Ki kicks out! Styles misses the Spiral Tap. They trade blows as they come back to their feet. Ki wins the exchange with an enzuigiri. Styles picks up Ki in another Razor’s Edge. Ki rolls up Styles for the pin at 18:13. This is in a lot of ways was like the previous match. The biggest difference was that this crowd was going ape for everything Styles did. That seemed to be the goal, and boy did Styles ever accomplish that. Again, a lack of focus knocks this down a peg, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t enjoy watching these two beat each other senseless. ***3/4

AJ Styles vs. Jerry Lynn
“Road to the Title” – Philadelphia, PA – 6.22.2002

An aggressive lock-up is broken cleanly in the corner. They exchange wristlocks. Lynn snaps off a pair of armdrags. Styles delivers one of his own, leading to a stalemate. After some leapfrogs, they reach a stalemate again after they go for armdrags at the same time. Lynn shoulder blocks Styles to the mat. He ducks a clothesline and hits one of his own for two. Lynn kicks Styles back before applying a bow and arrow. Styles flips out into a pin and gets two. Styles throws some strikes before Lynn gives him a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. He suplexes Styles into the corner for two. Styles escapes a Kryptonite Crunch and nails a superkick. Lynn comes of the second rope for a bulldog. Styles gives him a divorce court and applies an armbar. Lynn grabs the ropes. Styles works over the arm some more. Lynn gives him a legdrop on the second rope. Styles suplexes him into a neckbreaker. He hits the Phenomenon. Lynn kicks out. He calls for the Styles Clash. Lynn backdrops out of it. He goes for the Cradle Piledriver. Styles flips out but Lynn gives him an enzuigiri. A series of pinfalls leads to Lynn delivering a German suplex for two. Lynn also gets two with a tornado DDT. Styles gives Lynn a neckbreaker across his knee. Lynn crotches him on the top rope. Styles shoves him down and hits the Spiral Tap for two. Lynn DDT’s him before hitting a TKO. Styles kicks out. Styles slips out of the Cradle Piledriver and hits the Styles Clash for the pin at 15:26. I liked that the neck work from Lynn and the arm work from Styles was consistent through out. It never felt like an epic battle and moreso just an exhibition. The Spiral Tap really should have been the finish, even if it didn’t directly play into the limb work put in. Nevertheless it was a good showcase for both competitors. ***1/4

AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels
“Road to the Title” – Philadelphia, PA – 6.22.2002

The winner of this match will enter a four person Iron Man match to decide the first ROH Champion. They look for control on the mat. Daniels tries a cradle but Styles avoids it. He knees Daniels’ arm whilst applying a hammerlock. Daniels armdrags Styles and digs his knee into his head. Styles reverses into a headscissors. Daniels wrenches on a side headlock. He bars the arm after giving Styles an armdrag. Styles escapes and dropkicks Daniels for two. Daniels sweeps out his legs to block an armdrag and re-applies the grounded side headlock. He shoulder blocks Styles, but Styles pops up from the apron and Frankensteiner’s Daniels to the corner. He dropkicks Daniels to the floor. He follows with a twisting pescado. As they fight on the ring apron, Daniels kicks Styles low. He knocks him off of the apron and into the guardrails which busts him open. Daniels targets the open wound. In the ring he misses a quebrada. Styles delivers a brainbuster. He hits a springboard quebrada as Daniels dangles from the second rope. Daniels transitions from the Complete Shot into the Koji Clutch. Daniels then legdrops Styles on the top rope. He does the deal with a Falcon Arrow, yet Styles still kicks out. Styles enzuigiri’s Daniels to buy some time. Styles slams him face first into the mat for two. Daniels ducks a spinwheel kick. He drops Styles with an STO. He hits the Blue Thunder Bomb for two. The BME is countered by Styles shaking the ropes and causing Daniels to lose his balance. Styles turns him from a Razor’s Edge position into a DDT. He goes for the Styles Clash. Daniels rolls through and puts on an ankle lock. He grapevines the legs. Styles rolls forward and kicks Daniels in the head until he is freed. After trading some cradles, Styles goes for the Phenomenon. Daniels counters with the Last Rites for the pin at 21:50. This is just another example of just how good Daniels and Styles worked together. The counter wrestling was a joy to watch, as it kept each other on their toes and had you guessing just what was coming next. The fact that Daniels was able to counter one of Styles’ signatures moves to win was a nice cherry on top. It may have been a little lengthy but that only hurt the overall package slightly. ***3/4

ROH Championship
Low Ki (Champion) vs. AJ Styles

“Honor Invades Boston” – Wakefield, MA – 8.24.2002

Ki controls Styles’ leg in the early going. Styles puts on a Muta Lock and rolls it over. Ki kicks him in the jaw. Styles and Ki kick each others’ legs. Ki ends the sequence with an enzuigiri. Styles kicks him in the back of the head too. Ki kicks him to stop him from getting control on the mat. Ki throws some chops and uppercuts. He gets two with a back elbow. Ki then blocks a Frankensteiner by kicking Styles in the lower back. Styles pulls it off on the second attempt. He throws some strikes before blasting Ki with a crescent kick. Ki throws some Kawada kicks. Styles knocks him down with a rolling clothesline. Styles goes for a suicide dive but Ki cuts him off with an enzuigiri from the floor. More Kawada kicks are thrown in the ring. Ki rolls through a German suplex. He misses the Tidal Wave. Styles hits the German suplex and a facebuster. He goes for the Styles Clash. Ki counters with a high speed huracanrana. He sends Styles face first into the corner. He puts on a Dragon Sleeper in the tree of woe position. Styles recovers and gives Ki his Razor’s Edge DDT for two. He misses the Spiral Tap. Styles kicks Ki in a tree of woe. He delivers a jumping forearm to his face. They trade strikes on the mat, ending with a kick to the head from Ki. He goes from a Ki Krusher position into a brainbuster. Styles gets his knees up to block a Phoenix Splash. He then delivers a brainbuster. Styles cradles Ki to block a Ki Krusher. Ki throws some Kawada Kicks and Styles unloads with forearms in response. Ki counters a Frankensteiner with a powerbomb for two. He goes for a Dragon Sleeper. Styles fights out of it, but Ki gives him the Ki Krusher for the win at 19:47. That was awesome. These guys relentlessly went after one another in pursuit of the title. Styles fought from behind after taking a lot of head trauma and ended up being overwhelmed. As the first defense of the ROH title ever, this was a major success. ****

No Holds Barred
AJ Styles & Low Ki vs. The Prophecy (Christopher Daniels & Xavier)

“Revenge On The Prophecy” – West Mifflin, PA – 1.11.2003

Allison Danger is in the Prophecy’s corner. The Prophecy attack the moment the introductions are finished. Ki and Xavier fight on the floor, as do Daniels and Strong in a different area. Ki takes control of Xavier in the ring. Styles makes his way in and helps Ki wear Xavier down. Xavier is able to tag in Daniels. He ends up being chopped up by Ki. He kicks out of a suplex and tags Xavier back in. He suffers the Krush Kombo right away. Styles gets in a kick of his own. Xavier catches him with a boot and a DDT. Styles gets beaten down for a bit but catches Daniels relatively quickly with a neckbreaker. The fight spills back to the floor. Ki slams Daniels on the floor and gets two back in the ring. Xavier comes in with Styles but is quickly sent out. Daniels is worn down again with Ki and Styles keeping Xavier at bay. With Allison Danger’s help, Daniels turns the tide and chokes Ki on the middle rope. Xavier pummels Styles to the floor. The Prophecy isolate Ki. Ki manages to escape by blocking Daniels’ Angels Wings and going for the Dragon Clutch. Although Daniels drops out of it, Ki is able to tag in Styles. He cleans house and drops Daniels with the Phenomenon. Xavier dropkicks Styles’ leg out. This leads to the Prophecy working over Styles leg as Ki recovers on the apron. Styles gives Daniels a chinbreaker and tags Ki back in. Although he’s tired, he’s able to throw some clothesline and give Daniels the Tidal Wave. He Koppu Kicks Xavier and Krush Rushes Daniels into him. Xavier breaks the pin. Xavier catches him coming off the ropes and gives him a Falcon Arrow for two. Styles back handsprings off the ropes to botch crotch Xavier on the top rope and to back elbow Daniels. Ki puts Xavier in an abdominal stretch on the top rope. Daniels palm strikes Ki to break it. He brings Ki down with a superplex. Xavier gives Styles a super gord buster to block a superplex. Styles goes for the Styles Clash on Daniels. Xavier stops him and Daniels put on an ankle lock. Daniels back is too hurt to go for Angel’s Wings. Ki slingshots him to the floor. He suicide dives after him. Ki Koppu Kicks Xavier to stop his dive. Styles German suplexes him and rolls through into a facebuster. Daniels breaks the pin. Xavier gives Styles a Cobra Clutch suplex for two. Daniels gets two with the Iconoclasm on Ki. Ki comes back with the Tidal Krush. Danger jumps in the ring and throws forearms to Ki’s back. Daniels tries to attack but misses and hits Danger. The Prophecy is dumped to the floor. Styles lands n Daniels with a twisting pescado. Ki slingshots Xavier into the ring post. He places one of the concrete barricade blocks on Xavier’s chest and hits a chair into it. Daniels gives Ki and STO for two. He sets up for Last Rites. Styles breaks the pin and takes the Angel’s Wings. Styles kicks out. He goes for the Angel’s Wings on the apron. Styles instead hits a Styles Clash through a ringside table. Ki puts on a Dragon Clutch in the ropes. Xavier submits at 28:36. Boy did that go long for absolutely no reason. The work was okay but it dragged. If they had kept this to about 15 minutes it could have been something really special. I liked the cinder block call back (Xavier used it when defeating Low Ki for the title) as poetic justice in wrestling is always sweet, but I just couldn’t get into this as much as I should have. I think a more compact product would have served this feud ender much better, but as it is, it’s good but forgettable. ***1/4

ROH Tag Team Championship
The Prophecy (Christopher Daniels & Xavier) (Champions) vs. AJ Styles & The Amazing Red

“Expect The Unexpected” – Cambridge, MA – 3.15.2003

Xavier is standing in for Donovan Morgan, who is the actual tag partner of Daniels. Allison Danger is in the Prophecy’s corner while Alexis Laree is in Styles and Red’s corner. The Prophecy jump Red and Styles at the bell. Styles clotheslines them both and Red dropkicks them to the floor. Styles and Red follow with stereo tope con hilo’s. The Prophecy threaten to leave but end up sticking around. Xavier absorbs some kicks from Red. Red gives him a tornado enzuigiri to knock him down. He toreadors into a tornado DDT for two. Xavier bails when Styles and Red whip him to the ropes. Daniels and Styles look for control on the mat. Daniels hip tosses him into a dropkick. Styles gives him and Xavier a spinwheel kick. Styles trips Daniels into a Tiger Feint Kick from Red. Red gets two with a satellite headscissors. Styles works on his arm until Daniels pokes him in the eyes. Xavier gets caught with a kick upon tagging in. He snaps off a powerslam for two. The Prophecy keeps Styles isolated in their corner until he catches them with a double dropkick. Red tags in and hits his own double dropkick from the top rope. He monkey flips Xavier across the ring. He tries to do the same to Daniels, but Xavier grabs Red and drops him neck first across the top rope. Xavier holds Red for a clothesline. Red ducks causing Daniels to hit Xavier. Styles tags back in. He uses the Phenomenon on Daniels and gets two with a neckbreaker. Danger grabs Styles’ legs. Laree and her fight in the ring. The distraction allows Xavier to hit Kiss Your X Goodbye on Styles. Red gives Xavier the Code Red. Daniels breaks the pin. The Prophecy uses a back suplex/neckbreaker combo on Styles. Red breaks the pin. He takes a powerbomb/neckbreaker combo. Styles breaks the pin and sends Daniels out with an enzuigiri. He spinwheel kicks Xavier. He gets two with a brainbuster and a Dominator DDT. Daniels drops Styles with a STO. He hits the BME on Red. Styles breaks the pin. Daniels drops him with a Complete Shot and puts on the Koji Clutch. Red breaks the hold. Daniels gives Styles the Angels Wings and again Red saves his partner. Styles gives Daniels the Styles Clash for the pin at 21:09. This probably would have been better off losing a few minutes but it was a solid encounter regardless. Red and Styles weren’t yet the well oiled machine they would become in their Briscoes encounter but still serviceable. Between this and the last match I don’t know what ROH saw in Xavier back then. Daniels worked his ass off though and held up more than his fair share. This probably would have been better if Morgan had been Daniels’ partner but it was still a fine title match. ***1/4

#1 Contenders Trophy
AJ Styles vs. Paul London

“Night of the Grudges” – Cambridge, MA – 6.14.2003

Both guys aggressively fight for control on the mat and end up reaching a stalemate. Styles snapmares him into a back kick. London accepts Styles’ handshake Styles rolls London into a cross armbreaker out of a knuckle lock. London has his foot on the ropes immediately. Styles grapevines his legs while London horse collar’s Styles’ leg. Styles turns down London’s hand shake offering. They slap each other in the face and then shake hands. London forearms him in the face after breaking a lock-up. They reach a stalemate after an armdrag exchange and both of them throwing stereo dropkicks. Styles gets in his own forearm. He goes for an early Styles Clash but London fights out and gets to the corner. Styles sends him out with a springboard dropkick. He misses a pescado and London baseball dropkicks him into the barricades. London avoids being sent into the barricades and drop toe holds Styles into them. Styles hops into the crowd. London avoids a superkick and slams Styles’ leg into the barricades. Back in the ring Style gives London a swinging neckbreaker for two. He gives London an enzuigiri. London holds onto his hurt leg however and dragonscrews him to the mat. He wisely continues to do damage to that leg. Styles sneaks in a brainbuster to give himself some relief. Styles tries for a baseball slide and gets his leg slammed against the apron. London key locks his legs and digs his foot into Styles’ knee. Styles fights out of it. They throw rapid fire strikes. Styles knocks London down with a rolling clothesline and falls down in exhaustion. Styles recovers and hits an arm-capture suplex for two. London comes off the second rope with a spinwheel kick. Styles kicks out. He gets two with the Phenomenon which also hurts his own leg. London throws Styles off the top rope. He follows with a London Star Press to Styles’ hurt leg. London puts on the figure four. Styles fights his way to the bottom rope. He and London fight on the ropes. Styles gives him a Sunset Bomb and the Styles Clash! Styles clutches his knee and gets a two count. Styles German suplexes London. However, he can’t bridge up due to his hurt knee, so the match is ruled a draw at 24:22 since both guys’ shoulders were counted to the mat. That was some incredible wrestling with a great story. Both guys beat the snot out of each other and had the crap captivated from the opening bell. It really felt like two top talents in the world were fighting for supremacy and even with that the finish didn’t take anything away from the work they put in. I rarely hear people talk about this match when discussing the great ROH bouts of all time and they really should. ****1/2

ROH Tag Team Championship
AJ Styles & The Amazing Red (Champions) vs. The Briscoes (Jay & Mark Briscoe)

“Death Before Dishonor” – Elizabeth, NJ – 7.19.2003

Jay and Styles forearm the crap out of each other, spilling to the floor. Mark back elbows Red to stop his dive. He misses a dive onto Styles and gets thrown into the barricades. Jay throws Styles into them. In the ring, Red hits Jay with a slingshot Code Red for two. Mark springboards in with a clothesline to Styles and dropkick to Red. Styles and Red give him a double enzuigiri for two. Mark finds himself trapped in their corner until he kicks out Red’s knee to counter an Irish Whip. The Briscoes then take turns working over his leg. Jay rakes his eyes when he gets close to tagging out. Red ends up giving Mark an Air Raid Crash and tagging out. Styles fights off both Briscoes. Styles pump handles him into a gutbuster and a scoop powerslam. Mark breaks the cover. He uranage suplexes Styles for two. Red tornado kicks him. Jay boots him in the face. Styles slingshot crossbody’s onto Jay for two. Jay powerbombs Styles, who carries Mark down into a superlex, into a powerbomb from Red. Jay and Red trade chops. Mark assists Jay with the Jay Driller. Styles shoves Mark onto them to break the pin. The Briscoes give Styles the Doomsday Device for two. Styles hits the Phenomenon on Mark. He rolls to the floor. Jay goes for the Jay Driller. Red hits him with a Shining Wizard. Styles then hits the Styles Clash for the pin at 14:28. That was fast and fun, but their match at “Night of the Champions” is far superior. ***1/4

CM Punk vs. AJ Styles
“The Tradition Continues” – Glen Burnie, MD – 10.16.2003

They go to the mat for the opening exchange. Styles puts on a body scissors while he and Punk are in a double knuckle lock. That leads into them slapping each other while in headstands. Styles kicks Punk in the leg, so Punk gives him a Saito suplex. He also delivers a mule kick. Styles responds with a dropkick. He drops a knee onto Punk’s face. Punk drop toe holds Styles to the corner and follows in with a baseball slide. Styles goes for a Styles Clash. Even though Punk escapes, he gets sent to the floor with an enzuigiri. Punk avoids a dive and throws Styles back first into the barricades. He gets two with a delayed vertical suplex. He puts on a modified crossface and then gets two with a side Russian leg sweep. Styles tries the Phenomenon and ends up caught in a backbreaker. Punk’s split-legged moonsault goes awry when Styles gets his knees up. Styles takes a clothesline but then huracanrana’s Punk from the apron. Chops are exchanged. Styles gets two with a pump-handle suplex. Punk gives Styles a hammerlock DDT for two. Punk can’t get the Pepsi Plunge, so he settles for a Sunset Bomb. Styles manages to hit a rolling clothesline after recovering. He tries for a super Styles Clash. Punk blocks that and a tornado DDT. Styles counters the Shining Wizard with the Styles Clash for the pin at 18:08. That finishing stretch ruled. Before that this was a great showcase of competitive, smart wrestling. Both guys were on so point back then and rarely had a match that wasn’t worth watching. ***1/2

Disc Two

#1 Contenders Trophy
Bryan Danielson vs. AJ Styles

”Main Event Spectacles” – Elizabeth, NJ – 11.1.2003

These two have a knuckle lock and waistlock exchange that takes to the mat and reaches a stalemate. They spill to the floor where they keep looking for control. They both get back in the ring when no clear control is established. Styles cleanly breaks a lock-up against the ropes. For it, Danielson elbows Styles and suplexes him. Danielson follows Styles to the floor where he delivers an uppercut. Styles jumps into the crowd to avoid being thrown into the barricades. Styles hits an enzuigiri from the crowd. In the ring, Styles nails a dropkick. Danielson throws Styles across the ring by his neck. Danielson kicks Styles’ arm while it’s trapped in the ropes. Danielson of course decides to now focus his attack on that very arm. Danielson butterfly suplexes Styles. The crowd gets a little more hostile when Danielson yells at them and he gets a bit more aggressive with his attack on Styles’ arm. Styles suplexes Danielson off the ring apron and to the floor. Danielson badly lands on one of his legs. Styles gets a bit of payback by attacking that very leg. Back in the ring Danielson puts on a half crab, grinding one of his arms into the bridge of AJ’s nose. Danielson’s kick to AJ is very weak. AJ kicks away at that leg, then dragonscrews his arm into the mat. Styles puts on a figure four. Danielson reverses causing Styles to grab the ropes and break the hold. Styles grabs Danielson’s leg. Danielson tries an enzuigiri but misses. He goes for a second, so Styles wisely dragonscrews his leg. Styles kicks away at Danielson’s leg which gets Danielson angry. Styles then stomps Danielson’s head in which gets the crowd going. Danielson fights Style out of the corner and delivers an uppercut off the second rope. Danielson’s bad wheel lets him only hit a weak top rope headbutt, only getting him a two count. Styles flips off the second rope looking for a reverse DDT. Danielson catches him in a cravate, knees him in the face, then suplexes him for two. Styles reverses the momentum of Danielson’s superplex. Styles goes up top. Danielson hits the ropes so that he lands on the top rope on his stomach. Danielson brings him in with a suplex off the second rope. Styles’ landing looks a bit nasty, but he still kicks out at two. Danielson locks in Cattle Mutilation, but not for long as Styles is close to the ropes. Danielson tries for a Dragon suplex. When Styles resists, he brings him to the mat and puts on Cattle Mutilation. Styles fights out of another dragon suplex attempt and hits a Pele kick. Styles’ rolling clothesline gets him a two count. He goes for the Styles Clash. Danielson turns it into a cross armbreaker. Styles picks up Danielson and hits a modified version of the Styles Clash for two. Styles hits the real thing for the pin at 24:15. These two picked a body part, worked it over, and based the whole match around it. There’s no simpler and more effective storytelling in wrestling. These two told that story to near perfection and got the crowd responding to it. I can’t say much more else about these two that hasn’t been said over and over again. ****

ROH World Championship
Samoa Joe (Champion) vs. AJ Styles

“War of the Wire” – Framingham, MA – 11.29.2003

Joe elbows Styles a couple times in the side of the head and shoulder blocks him down. Styles snaps off a Frakensteiner. Joe does the same. Neither of them get control on the mat. Joe throws some kicks. Styles trips him into a side headlock. He delivers a dropkick and a knee drop to the face. He gets two with a suplex. Joe punches Styles to block a discuss clothesline. He kicks him to the floor and follows with an elbow suicida. Styles avoids the Ole kick but eats a superkick instead. Styles jumps into the crowd to avoid being whipped into the barricades. He leaps over and clotheslines Joe. He powerbombs Joe back in the ring for two. Joe catches Styles with the STJoe. He facewash kicks Styles in the corner. Joe sweeps out his legs to cut off his momentum. He powerbombs Styles into an STF. Styles gets his foot on the ropes. Joe rolls him in a cradle. Styles catches Joe with a Pele kick. He hits the Phenomenon for two. He puts on a Muta Lock. Joe escapes and hits an enzuigiri. Styles fires up with forearms. Joe responds with slaps. Styles throws a gamengiri and both guys are on the mat. Joe fights Styles from the top rope. Styles brings him down in a powerbomb. He gives him the Styles Clash for two. Styles goes for the Phenomenon again. Joe catches him with the Island Driver for two. He throws some knees. Styles nails a rolling clothesline. He goes to the top. Joe catches him and hits the Muscle Buster. He locks on the Coquina Clutch. Styles passes out at 16:41. That was a lot of fun, as you would expect. The one thing I learned from this and the Low Ki title match was Styles is great in getting his ass beaten, showing glimmers of hope, and then ultimately losing in the end. He fits that role flawlessly and it worked here too. ***1/2

AJ Styles vs. Homicide
“The Battle Lines Are Drawn” – Wilmington, OH – 1.10.2004

Armdrags ahoy! Each guy goes for the finish early. Homicide rolls out to create some distance. He puts on a side headlock when he gets back in the ring. Styles takes him to the ropes. He gets to the ropes again to break a front facelock. After a dropkick, Styles holds onto Homicide’s arm after an armdrag. He gives Homicide a Saito suplex. Homicide rolls to the floor again. Styles tries a baseball slide but gets shoved into the barricades instead. Styles leapfrogs over Homicide sending him into the barricades. From the crowd Styles delivers a superkick. He drops a knee back in the ring. Homicide Jon Woo dropkicks him to the corner. He scrapes his boot across Styles’ face and drives his knee into it. Homicide butterfly superplexes him for two. Styles stops his second superplex attempt and gets two with a high crossbody. Homicide hits an Ace Crusher. He gets two with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. Styles catches him with a rib breaker. He does more damage to his mid-section with an abdominal stretch. Homicide sneaks in a fisherman’s suplex. Styles hot shots him on the top rope. Homicide sends Styles to the floor. He hits a tope con hilo, but his back badly hits the top of the barricades. In the ring he tries a crossbody. Styles catches him with a backbreaker. Homicide goes for the Cop Killer. Styles slips out so Homicide kicks him low. He delivers a piledriver for two. He tries for a lariat. Styles counters with his own discuss lariat for two. He Pele kicks Homicide off the top rope. Homicide hits a quick boot before falling. After a strike exchange, Styles rolls Homicide into the Styles Clash for the pin at 21:32. This was pretty hot in the opening but cooled off significantly when Homicide did his tope con hilo. They picked it up in the end but the selling came and went and didn’t make for the best overall contest. ***1/4

ROH Pure Championship Tournament Finals
CM Punk vs. AJ Styles

“Second Anniversary Show” – Braintree, MA – 2.14.2004

The winner of this match becomes the inaugural ROH Pure Champion. Traci Brooks is in Punk’s corner. Punk uses the ropes to counter a wristlock which the referee counts as one rope break. Styles goes for the Styles Clash early. Punk grabs his leg and Styles gets the ropes to block whatever submission may be coming. That brings him down to two rope breaks as well. A lock-up ends up on the floor. Back in the ring they criss-cross the ropes. Styles goes after Traci to neutralize her. Punk pescado’s onto him. Punk stops himself from being whipped into the barricades but Styles dropkicks him. He lands on his previously injured leg. Punk notices this and puts on a Boston Crab back in the ring. Styles uses his second rope break to escape. Styles puts Punk in a headscissors in the ropes. The referee counts that as Punk’s second rope break. Styles goes for a springboard move and gets his legs swept out. Punk puts on a half crab. Styles’ third and final rope break is used to escape that hold. Punk puts on a key lock. Styles violently rips away in a chinlock to force Punk to the ropes. No both guys are out of rope breaks, so the ropes can be used. Both guys fight on the top rope where Styles brings Punk down with a super Gourd Buster. Styles hits a discuss lariat which he used earlier in the night to beat Jimmy Rave. Punk rolls to the floor to avoid being pinned. When Punk comes back in he hits a Shining Wizard for two. Punk puts on a modified cloverleaf. Styles uses the ropes to twist himself around and kick Punk away. Punk kicks out his leg. Styles blocks the Shining Wizard to hit the Styles Clash for two. Styles hits one from the second rope for the pin at 16:34. That was a masterful way to introduce the title. They showed off the three rope break rule in a very clever way and showed how losing those rope breaks can help if you’re smart about. There was some ingenious work put in from both competitors. I really do feel this gets overlooked by the awesome World title match on the same show, and the rematch they had at “At Our Best”. ***3/4

AJ Styles vs. Jimmy Rave
“Third Anniversary Celebration Part 2” – Dayton, OH – 2.25.2005

Prince Nana and Jade Chung of the Embassy are in Rave’s corner. This is Styles’ first match back in ROH since March of 2004 due to the Rob Feinstein controversy. They go to the mat. When Rave’s aggression picks up, Styles throws him to the floor. Rave tackles him from behind and rubs his face into the mat. Styles throws some forearms until he is poked in the eyes. Rave goes to the floor. Styles baseball slides the back of his head, causing him to collide with the barricades. Rave catches Styles’ pescado with a gutbuster. Styles hops into the crowd to avoid being thrown into the barricades. Rave dives over too, but Styles catches him and suplexes him into some chairs. They fight into the bleachers where Rave plants Styles face first. Ringside, Styles nails a clothesline. In the ring he gets two with a dropkick. Rave blocks an O’Conner Roll with a belly-to-back suplex. Styles gives him a backbreaker and a short-arm lariat. Rave trips Styles, but he comes up from the apron with a huracanrana. Rave leg sweeps out of the corner for two. He signals for the Rave Clash. Styles slams him in the corner to block it. Rave then puts on a seated abdominal stretch. Styles escapes and suplexes Rave on the apron! Styles springboards in with a forearm strike. He strings a suplex and facebuster together for two. Rave hits a backbreaker and Ghanarhea for two. Styles clotheslines him inside out. Rave comes back with From Dusk Til Dawn. Styles escapes and throws a series a strikes to take Rave off of his feet. As Rave comes off the ropes, Styles cartwheels into a Pele Kick! He calls for the Styles Clash. Rave rolls through it. He hits the Doppler Effect for two. Styles hits a back elbow. He spins Rave out of a torture rack for two. Nana distracts the referee. Styles sends him down. Behind the referee’s back he sprays air freshener into his eyes. Rave rolls Styles up for the pin at 22:05. Styles looked awesome in his return, and both he and Rave did a tremendous job portraying their hatred for one another throughout the match. The finish was garbage, especially when at the time this was going to be a one and done sort of situation. Thankfully it wasn’t in the long run. ***1/2

At “Sign of Dishonor” in July, Rave tries suffocating Styles with a plastic bag. Thankfully Styles was able to escape.

AJ Styles vs. Roderick Strong
“Fate of an Angel” – Woodbridge, CT – 7.16.2005

Styles schools Strong on the mat. Strong picks him up and places him on the top turnbuckle. Styles bails to the floor. Styles fakes him out with a dropkick, but then sends Strong to the ropes with a Frakensteiner. He delivers a spinebuster for one. He calls for the Styles Clash. Strong grabs hold of the ropes. Styles moonsault kicks him as he dangles on the second rope. He drops a knee for two. He dropkicks Strong to the floor and pescado’s onto him. Styles hops into the crowd. From there he springboards back ringside with a diving forearm. Strong gives him a backbreaker on the ring apron and kicks him face first into the barricades. Back in the ring he tosses Styles overhead to block a monkey flip. He boots him in the corner after a vertical suplex. He applies a legged full nelson. Styles gets the ropes. Strong mocks him with a dropkick. He gets two with a butterfly suplex and then kicks Styles in the face. Styles enzugiri’s and Pele kicks Strong to end a forearm exchange. Styles gets two with a reverse DDT, then again with a suplex/pump-handle gutbuster combo. Strong responds with a two backbreakers. He follows that up with Death by Roderick. Styles sweeps out his legs to counter a senton. Strong hits the Sick Kick for two. Styles avoids an over the shoulder backbreaker and hits a clothesline. Strong follows him to the top rope. Styles shoves him to the mat. He misses the Spiral Tap. Strong puts him in the Strong Hold. Styles grabs the ropes to escape. Styles blocks a half-nelson backbreaker and hits the Styles Clash for the pin at 16:38. I think my favorite thing about the Styles Clash is the clever ways Styles manages to counter moves into it, or bust it out from various positions. Strong was a perfect match for him and the two put on quite a war. ***1/2

Street Fight
AJ Styles vs. Jimmy Rave

“The Homecoming” – Philadelphia, PA – 7.23.2005

Rave throws some punches. Styles brings Rave to the floor with some punches and drives the back of his head into the barricades repeatedly. He then whips him shoulder first into the barricades twice. He throws Rave into the crowd. He drops Rave onto the merchandise table. Styles avoids being whipped into the barricades and delivers a spear. Styles goes for a suplex on a chair but Rave counters with a DDT. He throws Styles into the barricades a few times before bringing him back into the ring. He gets two with the Doppler Effect. When he goes for the Rave Clash, Styles fires up and throws punches and headbutts. He suplexes Rave off the apron and through the timekeeper’s table. He sets up for the Styles Clash back in the ring onto a chair. Rave backdrops Styles onto the chair instead. He stomps his face into the chair too. He sets up the chair. Styles gives him a brainbuster onto it. Members of the Embassy run in to help but Styles gets rid of them (Killer Kreul and Fast Eddie Vegas to be exact). He pescado’s onto them and Prince Nana. Jade Cheung even comes into hit Styles. Styles shows some mercy and leads her out of the ring. He once again sets up for the Styles Clash. Alex Shelley runs in and gives him the Shell Shock. Rave then hits the Rave Clash for the pin at 12:52. That was a really solid street fight without reaching a new level with weapons and blood. Granted, the litany of interference towards the end did kill a lot of momentum the beginning portion of the contest created, it was still a fun watch and set-up the impending feud ender very well. ***1/4

AJ Styles vs. CIMA
“Dragon Gate Invasion” – Williamsville, NY – 8.27.2005

This is CIMA’s Dragon Gate debut. The first initial exchanges end in stalemates. Styles goes for the legs. CIMA turns it into a Gedo Clutch for two. A double knuckle lock sees both guys go for some pins. Styles grabs a front facelock. CIMA backs him to the ropes to escape. Styles flips out of a German suplex. He snaps off a pair of armdrags. Styles dropkicks CIMA to the floor. CIMA throws Styles’ shoulder into the ring post and then goes back into the ring just so he can hit a suicide dive. In the ring he headscissors Styles into the turnbuckles and stomps onto his back. He snaps his throat on the bottom rope. Styles catches CIMA coming off the ropes with a backbreaker across his hip. He does more damage to CIMA’s back. CIMA kicks his leg out. Styles back elbows him down. CIMA hot shots him on the top rope. They crossbody in mid-air. Styles throws some forearms. CIMA catches a kick and gives him a dragonscrew leg whip. CIMA charges in with double knees to the corner. He hits the Perfect Driver for two. Styles avoids double knees again. He tries the Phenomenon but CIMA holds onto the top rope. Styles springboards in from the apron with a forearm strike. He goes to the top rope. CIMA hits him with Venus and a superkick that puts him in a reverse tree of woe. CIMA of course hits Tokarev. After another Venus, he brings Styles down with an Iconoclasm. Styles gets his knees up to block the Mad Splash. Styles absorbs a super kicks and nails the Pele Kick. He goes for the Styles Clash. CIMA goes for Schwein. When Styles blocks it, CIMA rolls him into the Dos Caras Clutch for the pin at 16:59. This was an awesome debut for CIMA as he was able to bust out all of his cool offense. Styles was a formidable opponent and deserves credit for CIMA looking good as well. With a more engaged/knowledgeable crowd it could have been better, but it’s still a solid debut that CIMA and friends would one-up on every other occasion. ***1/2

Anything Goes – No Time Limit
AJ Styles vs. Jimmy Rave

“Glory By Honor IV” – Lake Grove, NY – 9.17.2005

The winner of the match is the first person to hit the Styles Clash/Rave Clash. The loser is barred from ever using that move again. Prince Nana is in Rave’s corner while Mick Foley is in Styles’ corner.

Rave attacks Styles at the start. Styles explodes out of the corner with a shoulder block. He backdrops Rave as he comes off the ropes. He whips him into the corner and kicks him to the floor. Styles pescados onto him. He goes for the Styles Clash. Rave escapes and goes to the floor. Styles hits him with a baseball slide and throws him into the barricades. In the ring he does some damage to Rave’s neck. Styles clotheslines a masked man who tried to run in. The momentary distraction allows Rave to recover and throw some punches. He gives Styles a reverse suplex. Foley encourages the fans to chant “Jimmy likes balls.” Rave chops Styles towards the entrance ramp where he goes for the Rave Clash. Styles backdrops him onto the ramp instead. Rave side steps Styles’ charge sending him into a ring post. Back in the ring they fight over a waitlock. Rave trips Styles but gets taken over with a Frakensteiner. Styles German suplexes him. Rave stops a facebuster and hits Ghanarhea. Nana helps Rave bring a table into the ring. Rave hits the Doppler Effect causing Styles head to hit the table. Foley gives him some words of encouragement as he recovers. They fight on the apron and the ropes. Styles and Rave end up crashing through the timekeeper’s table. Rave tries picking Styles up. Styles cracks him over the head with a piece of the broken table. In the ring he tries for the Styles Clash. Rave trips him and hits the Doppler Effect. Nana hands him a chair. He props it up. Styles ends up giving him a brainbuster onto it. Styles sets up the table. Multiple masked men hit the ring and Foley fends them all off with a chair. Nana knocks Foley down. Styles gives him a punch. Rave forearms Styles in the back. He looks for a superplex through the table. Styles turns it into a second rope Styles Clash through the table, making him the winner at 18:39. The finish was sweet, but the overbooking was unnecessary and took away some of the flare the match had. I thought it was an effective way to end the feud and it allowed both men to move on to bigger things. As it stands, it will forever be a foot note on the show where Danielson won the ROH World title. Sad, but true. ***1/4

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