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What is so bad about AJ Will? I'm not a huge fan generally but he's got a WOTY case this year, and was one of the few guys who did anything of nite in TNA. What makes your boy Jericho better than him?

 

I am not factoring TNA into my voting. Staying consistent. His Indy run would put him at about 750.

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What is so bad about AJ Will? I'm not a huge fan generally but he's got a WOTY case this year, and was one of the few guys who did anything of nite in TNA. What makes your boy Jericho better than him?

 

I am not factoring TNA into my voting. Staying consistent. His Indy run would put him at about 750.

 

 

I haven't seen anywhere near enough TNA to vote for the guys who were in there but if AJ's stuff in there is on the level of the Bully Ray Last Man Standing match, then he'd have had a great run there. Somehow.

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I've just watched a bunch of AJ to get a feel for whether he warrants a place on my list or not. I tried to hit up most of the stuff recommended in this thread, and to get a good representation of stuff from his whole career. So, I watched some TNA stuff, some ROH, some touring indie superstar stuff, and some NJPW stuff, as well as seeing him working face and heel, in tags and singles, and in longer and short matches. This is my impression of him as a worker:

 

Pros

  • Offence. His spectacular stuff is indeed spectacular, and he hits it very crisply. He's actually a much better flyer than was my general impression going into this. I also like that he puts a lot of oomph into all his moves, making them look painful as well as pretty. Stuff like the springboard forearm smash, or his kneedrop always look good because of the extra he puts behind them. Love his dropkick spot too.
  • I like how he sells the stakes in a match, and he's also pretty good at selling accumulated damage/exhaustion.
  • I found him really good at wrestling from underneath, and the best selling performances I saw from him were against big guys, like Joe or Abyss. Really like the way he takes a beating, and the intensity he shows in doing so. There was a great moment in the Joe match I watched where he just started kicking out of shit at 1, like a last act of defiance before he goes down.

Cons

  • Sometimes his offensive choices were a bit off, and I didn't feel like he built up to big moves as well as he could have. I don't think, for example, that he should be powerbombing or torture racking Samoa Joe.
  • I got the sense that it's too easy for him just to work every match on an even footing, no matter who the opponent. For example, I saw him wrestle Drew Galloway, and he gave no sense in the match that he was more experienced or more rounded than his opponent. It's like he had that go to match, and unless something was going to pull him out of that comfort zone, be it working a big man, or Paul London destroying his leg, it tended to get a bit samey.
  • I don't think he's particularly good at projecting a character in his matches, and he comes across as a bit bland to me. That also makes some of his matches seem too much like moves exhibitions.

I definitely think his style is more suited to working as a babyface, and I think he's the kind of guy who can add a lot to a match with his selling and explosiveness, but I also think he's a guy who needs to be reigned in by a more disciplined worker (or even a more limited worker). His stuff with Angle, for example, is trash, and I wasn't feeling the NJ stuff I saw. I don't think he'll make my list, but I'm not completely ruling him out. I'd say, to me, he's a better version of Evan Bourne.

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On the strength of his indy stuff pre-2007 and his New Japan/ROH stuff this year he is a lock for my list. The gems he managed to have sprinkled throughout his TNA years are just icing on the cake.

 

My favourite kind of AJ is the aggressive, beat the shit out of a smaller guy, AJ. This match is one of my favourite examples of that:

 

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Obviously the Minoru Suzuki match from this year is required viewing as well considering the widespread praise spanning all kinds of fans with different tastes.

 

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x22lrf2_g1-climax-24-block-b-match-aj-styles-vs-minoru-suzuki_sport

 

 

this one with Tetsuya Naito is pretty darn great too:

 

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2266oo_g1-climax-24-block-b-match-aj-styles-vs-tetsuya-naito_sport

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The G1 also saw Lance Hoyt have the best match of his life against AJ. This isn't meant as a knock to Archer/Hoyt, who has improved tremendously over the last few years and has gone from below average to a pretty damn solid pro wrestler, but AJ has shown that he can carry guys to special places that they've never been before.

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I think he's been outstanding this year, enough that it makes me want to revisit some of his early indie work which never struck me too much. 5 years at the level he's performing at right now and he makes the list. But if I feel the same way about his indie work I used to, and given his wasted years in TNA, I'm tending to doubt it. Still, there's all of 2015 before the lists are due and if he has a 2015 as good or better than his 2014 he could sneak on easily.

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The G1 also saw Lance Hoyt have the best match of his life against AJ. This isn't meant as a knock to Archer/Hoyt, who has improved tremendously over the last few years and has gone from below average to a pretty damn solid pro wrestler, but AJ has shown that he can carry guys to special places that they've never been before.

also the Tenzan match which was about as great as a Tenzan match can be that isn't in Korakuen.

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Over the last month or so I've rewatched the Styles/Daniels/Joe Triple Threat, Styles v. Bully Ray Last Man Standing, and Styles v. Abyss from Lockdown 05. I have to say if you are the type of voter who really emphasizes high peak performances AJ deserves a lot of credit. Those three matches are all really different and require different things and I thought AJ was pretty great in all of them. The Abyss match is the freshest on my mind, and if I'm completely honest I think it's an incredible performance by Styles, the kind of match that almost made me feel like I had to rate him after it was over. I am sure this will sound crazy to hardcore Michaels fans, but it honestly reminded me of a cross between Mindgames and HITC. I am not saying I'd rate it ahead of Mindgames (I'd definitely rate it ahead of HITC I but I have never been a huge fan of that match), and you an find flaws with it, but Styles performance, and the way he worked in his big spots in that setting was really impressive to me. You can argue that TNA kills him, but I remember a Jarrett title shot I absolutely loved, some other stuff with Joe, the tag team with Daniels having matches I was really into and a several other things of some note. On top of that his year this year is really top tier in the world stuff. I want to watch some of his older ROH/indie stuff, but at this point I'm leaning strongly toward including Styles in some capacity

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I've seen probably less than 15 AJ Styles matches in my life and I've never seen an Abyss match. So I figured I would give that a shot. I agree it is a terrific performance from AJ. It seemed like every bump he took (even more basic ones like off a boot or a clothesline) was totally insane. His offense also looked really good. I usually like Big Guy vs Little Guy matches, so it would be cool to see AJ against a really good monster. This was more of a great one man show. My favorite spot was when Abyss whipped AJ towards the guardrail and AJ slid underneath it and then hit a flying elbow. Really creative spot that looked better than I would have ever imagined. There were some things I didn't like in the match but honestly they came from Abyss or the commentators. I didn't like the finish or anything Abyss did with the chain. Just wrap it around your fist and hit the guy in the face. But AJ's performance was impressive enough to overcome those things that bugged me. Why the hell did WWE never pick him up? I want to see AJ vs Mark Henry.

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This is vaguely anecdotal, but there was a highly touted AJ vs Daniels match from a few years ago. I think it was a FCA. I remember enjoying Styles a lot in it but getting frustrated because Daniels kept doing stupid things and screwing up the match. I get the feeling that this might be a common theme for most of AJ's career, and I might underrate him accordingly.

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I finally watched the AJ-Suzuki match from this year's G-1 and it was sensational. AJ delivered one of his best character performances, reacting to Suzki's violence and insanity. And he did a fantastic job tweaking some of his usual offense to make it feel like an organic response to what Suzki was doing. I know I'm hardly the first to say this, but it really made me wonder what kind of career AJ might have pumped out, given the right opposition and context.

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The 2003 ROH AJ/Paul London match that was London's last match before heading to the WWE was really good save the ending. Some good leg work in the match and I remember it being a lot different than the ROH matches that were going at the time because it looked like there was a concerted effort to tell a story, which was missing in ROH back then. That sold me on AJ being a lot more than a spot monkey.

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I've said it before. AJ Styles is what would happen if Sting was actually a great worker, but stuck in a company even more screwy and self-destructive so that no one wants to wade through the shit booking and storylines to get to the matches.

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That cage match against Abyss was awesome. I totally didn't expect that. It's a shame that the only other match I've seen from that show (AMW vs Team Canada) also features brawling outside the cage but what do you expect? This is TNA, not a promotion that lays out their cards in a logical fashion.

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AJ is one of a handful of active guys I'll consider. Right now I've got him high 40's. His athleticism & bumping are on a separate level that almost make up for his short comings. He's an ultimate babyface IMO; undersized, works well from underneath, gets some great sympathy. Also, can't discount his tag work especially with Chris Daniels.

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In a world with no Danielson, he's the best US indy worker of that entire generation, and spent huge chunks of that time, without the opportunities or infrastructure of his peers (his doing of course, but a man's gotta eat) He's a top 150 guy, if not top 100, if not top 50, I'm ABSOLUTELY SURE of it. If he's not a top 100 guy it's not because he didn't possess top 100 talent, top 100 offense, selling, structure, innovation, etc. Just spent his formative years . . . in hell. It's the only case against him.

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I just watched him take a local worker who looks and wrestles like a local worker to a 3 star match on local tv. The promotion is called WrestleCentre and I think the shows are online somewhere.

 

My point being, AJ is much better either than I had thought he was or than he could be in TNA. Between this Indy run and his NJPW run, he's jumping into contention for me.

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