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Charles (Loss)

[2003-11-01-ROH-Main Event Spectaces] Bryan Danielson vs A.J. Styles

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ROH Title Shot Match

AJ Styles vs. Bryan Danielson
After sitting through what I consider to be a horrendous in-ring show that has not stood the test of time, this one saved it in spades. This should have easily been a five star match, but I blame the Scramble Cage for burning the crowd out, as well as the awful fourway in between. This match deserved a Philly, NYC, or Boston crowd.
Not only did these men build off of their All Star Extravaganza classic, but they obviously studied their five star classics against Paul London too. In this one, Danielson came one step closer to his heel turn that was lurking inside him, and instead of a sympathetic London, you had the ultra-aggressive Styles instead. A recipe for a MOTYC if you ask me.
The counters in this match, which were a mix of new stuff as well as moves from their previous major matches, were just beautiful and graceful. The psychology, going back-and-forth between the left arm of Styles and Danielson's left knee, was nothing short of breathtaking. The aggression, not just fueled by the competitive professional spirit of both men, was only intensified all-the-more as both men gave it their all for another shot at the company's premier championship.
If Sapolsky had just paced this event better, this contest could have been on the same level of matches that both men had with London earlier in 2003. This is where the pacing problems began to glare for Sapolsky before he cut a lot of Rob Feinstein's dead weight in 2004. The crowd heat suffered going into this one, and that is through absolutely no fault of AJ Styles or Bryan Danielson.
Not only is the 2/3 falls match against London on Danielson's new ROH comp, but this match is as well. As if you needed another reason to get that DVD now. If you haven't seen this match already, get that comp during the current ongoing sale ROH is having.
Rating: ****1/2

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ROH must’ve read my mind because Gabe & Jeff decide to leave the booth early in this match! I liked this a lot more, with us getting an early test run of ‘06 Danielson shit talking crowds and daring AJ to hit him harder. He really did sound like a dork though on some of the lines but we’ll let that slide. The dueling limbwork covers the middle of this match so you get them centering their strikes and sub attempts on the arm and leg and it feels more focused and purposeful. This match also had far more effort being made to actually counter, block and actually stop a person’s offense. Every big move actually felt earned and not just a moment for the crowd to clap to. The final Styles Clash sends this message home fairly well.

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I loved this one. It's pretty close to the London/Danielson match (mentioned above) just because I loved AJ's explosive and creative offense so much. I particularly enjoyed how AJ picked apart the left knee on the outside of the ring and it even drew blood to the leg Bryan. Bryan's focus on the left arm of AJ throughout the match was awesome, and he got pretty creative as well with some of his counters that led to cool submissions on that arm. That back suplex from the outside/second rope was something else! I agree it doesn't quite hit the level of the London encounter, but like I said... it's pretty close for me. The match was worked at a little faster pace, and I'm not sure AJ got the chance to really sell the left arm throughout as much as London was able to sell his injuries. Or, maybe he just didn't work it in as well as London was able to. I did enjoy the match without the commentary.

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