Sunday, 28 April 2013

A.J. Styles: Styles Clash - DVD Review

We’re taking a trip into Ring of Honor territory once again, and this time around we’re looking at another DVD tribute to a former employee. The man in question is A.J. Styles, and the two disc set is entitled Styles Clash.

And as is the custom with these things let’s start at the beginning with….

Disc One
April 27th, 2002
The collection begins with our man facing Low Ki at A Night of Appreciation.

There’s an old saying - start as you mean to go on - and after seeing this match I hope this collection is like this throughout.

These two went at it full tilt for nearly 20 minutes, and if Styles was looking to make a lasting impression on his ROH debut then he certainly achieved what he set out to do. They held nothing back as they beat the proverbial out of each other. It really was that good, and they even had the fans giving them a standing ovation before the match had even ended.

Sadly only one man could go over, and the end saw Styles countering the Ki Crusher before falling to a small package as Ki took the win.

June 22nd, 2002
Our man goes up against Jerry Lynn at Road to the Title.

There was a lot on the line in this one, with the winner facing Christopher Daniels for a spot in the match to determine the first ever ROH Champion.

While the opener may have been a hard hitting affair this was a highly technical one. Lynn is the kind of wrestler who can have a good match with anyone, even with his eyes closed. But against the likes of Styles he had a great one.

These two were perfect for each other. Everything they did looked so effortless and smooth. It was the sort of match you could watch time and time again. It was also one of those matches you didn’t want to end, but because of the tournament format it had to, and that end saw Styles countering Lynn’s cradle piledriver attempt with the Styles Clash for the winning pin.

Later in the show Styles faced Christopher Daniels for that spot in the ROH title match.

If you’ve only seen these two against each other in TNA then this match will definitely push all your buttons. With Simply Luscious watching from ringside they put together a worthy instalment in their storied rivalry. It was so good and so intense you actually forgot that they’d already had some hard matches on this show.

All of the big moves and sequences were there, and if anything I actually found this more enjoyable than their TNA encounters. Maybe that’s different bosses want different things from their workers.

It was the Fallen Angel who emerged victorious here. When Styles came off the ropes and went to take Daniels down with his reverse DDT Daniels blocked the move and took our man down with his Last Rites neck breaker for the win.

August 24th, 2002
Our man faces Low Ki once again, and this time around he’s challenging him for the World title at Honor Invades Boston.

In many ways this was quite similar to their previous encounter, but it had just enough differences to keep it interesting. It wasn’t quite as frantic as the first match, but it still featured a ton of great action. The hard hitting exchanges were as brutal as before, and the technical transitions, particularly on the ground where they countered each other’s submission attempts were great as always.

Despite Styles’ best attempts Ki ended his first title defence with a victory, taking the winning pin after his KI Crusher finisher.

January 11th, 2003
This time Styles teams with Ki as they face World Champion Xavier and co-holder of the Tag Team titles Christopher Daniels in a no holds barred match at Revenge on the Prophecy. Although when I say no holds barred there isn’t a no DQ rule in effect.

Now this was a heated battle. With the Prophecy’s newest member Allison Danger watching on from ringside the two teams gave us a hard hitting 30 minute encounter.

It began with a mass brawl around ringside before it settled down into a regular match, and with the wrestlers allowed to use the ropes to aid their submissions this meant there were some very inventive moves on display.

Both Ki and Styles took the punching bag treatment before the big brawl resumed, with Ki getting a measure of revenge on Xavier for the way he lost the title when he put a concrete block on his chest and clobbered it with a chair.

Then we saw the move of the match. After Daniels took Styles down with the Angels Wings he looked to do the same move on the ring apron. Styles managed to block the move, and a few seconds later he took Daniels apart with a Styles Clash through the very table that Daniels himself had set up at ringside.

Xavier, now recovered, then went to see what had happened to his partner as he held his injured ribs. As he looked on from the ring Ki came up from behind and locked in a rope-assisted Dragon Sleeper. Xavier had no choice but to tap out.

March 15th, 2003
Our man teams with the Amazing Red as they challenge Daniels and Xavier for the Tag Team titles at Expect the Unexpected.

This may not have been as heated as the big grudge match but it was still jam packed with action and a nice little storyline throughout.

When Xavier took a shot to the head early on it looked like he’d suffered a concussion, and although he joined Daniels in doubling up on Styles when they controlled the match his situation would come into play later in the match.

As for the rest of this encounter I think fast and furious would be the best way to describe this. Both teams did extremely well in an encounter that had everything, from exciting double team moves to some nice sequences and a brawl between ringside Allison Danger and Alexis Laree, the future Mickie James.

As for the aforementioned concussion, as the match went on Xavier began to look the worse for wear, and he became a passenger as Daniels tried to take Styles down with his trademark moves, the Angels Wings and the BME.

Styles managed to fight back though, and it wasn’t long before he took Daniels out with the Styles Clash for the winning pin.

June 14th, 2003
Our man goes back to singles action as he faces Paul London at Night of the Grudges.

This one had a bit of back story to it. London was originally meant to be Styles’ partner, but emergency surgery meant that he had to pull out of their title match against Daniels and Xavier. Styles chose Red as his replacement, and the rest is history.

Oh, and this was also for the number one contender’s trophy.

When I saw the first match of this collection I thought that it couldn’t get much better than that. Then I saw this one, and it was even better.

It was twenty minutes of flawless action between two evenly-matched wrestlers. It began as a friendly rivalry with a few mind games before they settled down to give us a tremendous encounter.

For me this was a reminder of just how good London is. In fact I would even go as far as saying that London was the better wrestler in this match.

They hit each other with everything they had. The early exchanges were good, the exchanges at ringside were great, and everything after that was even better.

London did a good job of working over his man’s legs, and even though Styles managed a few comebacks London always looked in control as he set up the figure four leglock.

As the action moved on Styles came back again, but he was clearly hampered by his injured wheel. The best example of this was when he took London down with the Styles Clash. The pain in his leg meant that he didn’t go for the immediate cover, and when he did London kicked out, having had time to recover.

With so much great action it seemed fitting that this match ended in the way it did. When Styles took his man down with a bridging back suplex the referee counted with both hands, and after a brief chat with the ring announcer it was revealed that the match had been declared a draw because both men had been pinned.

July 19th, 2003
Our man teams with Red once more as they defend the Tag Team Championship against the Briscoes at Death Before Dishonor.

This was the third match in their series, and with a no rematch clause that affected all parties it meant that there was a lot more than a couple of title belts on the line.

Red came into this one hampered by a knee injury, and although he was able to pull off a few moves early on it wasn’t long before the Briscoes used his injured limb for target practice.

It was during these sequences that Jay and Mark began to use heel-like tactics, at one point they even went as far as spitting at Styles as he watched from the ring apron. Red eventually made it back to his corner for the tag, and as the bodies began to fly around the ring both teams came close to getting the final pin.

In the end though it was the champions who came out on top. As Jay was about to take Styles down with the Jay Driller Red came back and took him out with a Shining Wizard. One Styles Clash later and our man had the winning pin.

October 16th, 2003
The final match on this disc sees our man going up against C.M. Punk at Tradition Continues.

This would be considered a dream match if it was held today. Mind you, it was a pretty high profile match back then.

Stripped of the Tag Team titles because of Red’s knee injury Styles was trying to get into the top five rankings so he could get a shot at the World title, and with Punk sharing those aspirations it made this a more interesting encounter.

The early stages reminded me of the Low Ki encounters. As with those matches they spent the first few moments on the ground exchanging various holds, and at times it seemed more like an MMA fight than a wrestling match. The action then moved along nicely. These two were well suited to each other, and that’s what made this encounter so enjoyable.

The best sequences came towards the end. With Both men having defended against the other’s finisher Punk went for a Shining Wizard, only for Styles to catch him in mid-flight before taking him down with the Styles Clash.

Disc Two
November 1st, 2003
Our man goes up against another future WWE superstar as he faces Bryan Danielson at Main Event Spectacles, with the winner getting a shot at the World title.

If I recall correctly this one was also on the first Danielson compilation that ROH released a while back. What reminded me of that was when the announcers decided to leave the commentary table because they thought a match of this calibre could speak for itself.

They were right, and I’m glad I got to see this again because what we had here was a technical classic, and in a way it was completely unlike any of the stuff Styles had been doing anywhere else.

The storyline was simple, Danielson worked over Styles’ arm, Styles worked over Danielson’s leg, and they traded advantageous positions as they worked towards the finish. It was as simple as that, and that’s what made this match so good, because it was wrestlers just wrestling, with a few hard hitting exchanges and hardly any high spots thrown into the mix.

In the end it was Styles who came out on top. Having survived Dragon’s cross arm breaker attempt he finally managed to finish his man with the Styles Clash for the winning pin.

November 29th, 2003
Our man, having won the number one contenders trophy, now challenges Samoa Joe for the World title at War of the Wire.

This was the perfect follow-up to the technical master class with Danielson, a hard hitting encounter that ticked all the right boxes.

This was the Samoa Joe we rarely get to see these days, a virtual war machine who dominates his opponents, mixing technical mastery with hard hitting blows and a touch of high flying finesse.

There were times when these two were beating the proverbial out of each other, and it made for great viewing as Styles came extremely close to winning the title. But when Joe kicked out of the pin after the Styles Clash the challenger knew he’d need something special to get the job done. It never came, and when Joe locked in what could only be described as a cross between a rear naked choke and a Camel Clutch Styles passed out to give the champion the win.

January 10th, 2004
Our man takes on Homicide at The Battle Lines are Drawn.

As the match began our esteemed announcers described this as an encounter between the two MVPs of 2003. As I didn’t watch much ROH back then that’s something I can’t corroborate, but I can sat that this was a very good match.

Once again Styles was up against a man who could match him move for move and hold for hold. In that respect they were quite equal. There was one particularly scary moment when Homicide took to the air as he took Styles out with a suicide dive that sent him into the front row. Several officials came out to check on his condition before he stood up favouring his right shoulder and announcing that he would continue.

Despite the injury he still managed to keep up with Styles, and although he put in a great effort it wasn’t enough to stop his man from getting the win after the Styles Clash.

February 14th, 2004
Our man faces C.M. Punk once more, this time in the final of the Pure title tournament at the Second Anniversary show.

You might recall that I reviewed this match a few weeks ago. I enjoyed it then, and I enjoyed it once again. It was a fine example of why I enjoyed watching these Pure division matches, no brawling, no weapon shots, just great wrestling.

Styles came out on top in this one, taking Punk down with a Super Styles Clash from the second rope to win his only singles title in ROH.

February 25th, 2005
Our man returns to ROH after an extended absence to face Prince Nana’s crown jewel Jimmy Rave at Third Anniversary Celebrations Part 2.

The back story behind this one was simple. Styles had mentored Rave before he left the company, and since than Rave had disrespected him, joining The Embassy and using the Styles Clash as his finisher, renaming it the Rave Clash.

This was touted as a one night only return for Styles, and this extremely heated affair was a great way for him to make his return. It had all the elements that a big grudge match should have, the stare down at the beginning, the brawl at ringside and through the crowd, and the manager jumping around like a headless chicken whenever his man was in trouble.

Although this was a grudge match the best parts were the technical exchanges between the two, with Rave showing that he was more than capable of hanging with his former mentor. As for the finish, Nana played his role perfectly. He jumped onto the apron when his man looked in trouble, and with the referee distracted Rave sprayed an aerosol into Styles’ eyes. The referee then turned his attention back to the matter at hand, counting the pin as Rave rolled Styles up for the winning pin.

July 16th, 2005
Turns out it wasn’t for one night only as our man faces Roderick Strong at Fate of an Angel.

This was touted as a dream match by our esteemed announcers, and even though I may not have agreed with that sentiment at the time I probably would agree with it now.

Why? Because this was an excellent encounter, a 15 minute hard hitting affair with tones of great sequences. It began as a friendly enough rivalry, but it wasn’t long before Strong took control with the first of his many back breaker variations, this time slamming his man onto the ring apron. Then, as Styles tried to recover on the floor Strong kicked him in the back, sending him crashing into the ringside barrier.

From there Strong showed what a great technician he is as he worked over Styles’ back. Our man made a brief comeback but soon found himself in the Stronghold, barely making it to the ropes to survive.

Strong then went to take Styles out with a half nelson suplex, but our man quickly countered as he took Strong down with the Styles Clash for the winning pin.

July 23rd, 2005
Our man faces Jimmy Rave once again, this time in a street fight at The Homecoming.

Dressed in tee shirts and jeans, and with their hands taped up, these two came to fight, and this they did, in the ring, around ringside, through the crowd and back again. It certainly was a very heated battle, and at one point Styles busted Rave open after a succession of head butts. In fact there were so many of these they everyone lost count.

Prince Nana and his thugs tried to interfere until Styles took them all out at the same time with a dive over the top rope, but just when it looked like he was about to put Rave away Alex Shelley stormed the ring and took Styles out with his Shell Shocked move. A now-recovered Rave then sealed the win after taking Styles down with the Rave Clash.

August 27th, 2005
Our man faces international opposition in the form of CIMA at Dragon Gate Invasion.

This was probably the most unique match style-wise on this collection, and it made for great viewing. CIMA put in a really impressive performance here as he matched Styles move for move early on, and as the match progressed both guys began to introduce their A-games into the equation. The most impressive move of the match saw CIMA going coast to coast to dropkick Styles while he was hanging upside down.

In the end the foreign visitor came out on top. Styles went to put his man away with the Styles Clash, only for CIMA to counter with a cradle and a roll-up for the pin.

September 17th, 2005
It’s the final match of the collection, and our man, with Mick Foley in his corner, faces Jimmy Rave for a third time in a clash versus clash match at Glory by Honor IV.

The rules for this one were simple - no time limit, no pins, no submissions, no count outs, no disqualifications, with the winner the first man to use their particular version of the Clash move declared the winner. Oh, and the loser was banned from ever using that move again.

So with no referee needed and the list of things they couldn’t do greatly diminished these two put on a worthy feud-ending encounter. It wasn’t as heated as the street fight but it was still pretty good.

With Foley making sure that Prince Nana and his boys kept away Styles and Rave put together a match that was part-brawl part-technical. It started off in the normal way, well, normal without a referee that is, before the action was taken up a notch of two as they brought out the wood.

The holy you know what moment came when Styles suplexed Rave through a ringside table. Mind you, the moment he took Rave down with a brain buster on a chair wasn’t that far behind.

Towards the end a group of Nana’s flunkies came running in. Foley soon sent them running for cover before Styles finally reclaimed his move and took Rave out with a Super Styles Clash through a table.

In conclusion - remember, way back when, when I said how much I enjoyed the first match of this collection?

Well, that’s how I feel about this entire set. Styles Clash is the perfect chronicle of our man’s ROH career. It shows that he’s capable of putting on great matches no matter what the style or stipulation.

But what’s also great about this is that like other ROH collections it contains a veritable who’s who of stars who either graced the main stages before or after their ROH tenures. If you include Styles himself there’s six former and future World Champions here.

So with all of that being said there’s just one more thing to do, and that’s to give this collection the big thumbs up.

With thanks to the powers that be for supplying a copy of this release. A.J. Styles: Styles Clash is available to buy online at

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