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Grimmas

[2005-04-24-TNA-Lockdown] A.J. Styles vs Abyss

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A highly praised match, that I don't think I have ever seen. However, after the last great AJ match (vs Joe) that I watched I need more 2005 AJ in my life.

 

This match starts off hot with AJ diving out of the cage onto Abyss during his entrance. They then brawl through out the arena. Strange choice for a cage match, however it is the main event of a show where every match is in a cage, so they probably needed to change things up.

 

Finally it looks like AJ is going to get into the ring and he gets the cage door slammed into his back and then viciously into his face. Way more vicious than I have ever seen. It might had been the great bump AJ took, but it looked brutal. AJ is busted open and then Abyss goes to work on the cut. This match feels more like a grudge match than any match the WWE has had in years. I miss this TNA.

 

Before they lock themselves in the cage Abyss brings a chair, chain and a bag of thumbtacks.

 

Abyss' destruction segment is fun with AJ being rammed into the turnbuckle which has the chain on it and just being tossed into the cage like a sack of potatoes.

 

 

AJ's comeback starts by countering a gorilla press into a DDT, which looked great. His comeback is destroyed after a minute or so with an INSANE Black Hole Slam! That gets two and now the thumb tacks are brought out by Abyss. He goes for another Black Hole Slam, but AJ counters. He tries to power bomb him into the tacks, but ti's countered into a Styles Clash right onto the tacks. Surprisingly that is not the finish. AJ goes to the top of the cage, but Abyss chucks the referee into the cage knocking AJ down to hang outside. Abyss goes to the top with the chain and hangs AJ. He chokes him, but AJ counters and sunset flip power bombs Abyss into the tacks for three.

 

This was really good, but not on the level of Joe-AJ. It felt like it went a few minutes too long at the end and the crowd brawling at the beginning could had been short. None the less, great stuff.

 

****1/2

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Wow. What a terrific match. They had some excellent stuff together the previous year, but this was incredible.

 

Battling outside was not exactly a change of pace since Jarrett & Waltman began the exact same way the previous match. However here it looked focused, stiff and built to that amazing spot with the door. Awe inspiring bump from AJ. AJA is so great. Such an amazing worker. It's funny how people seem to discover that now that he's in WWE (and since NJ is evil, ya know). Watching back early TNA, AJ Styles was already a great worker in 2003. Abyss has carried himself as quite the game piece of luggage. Bring him a shit opponent (Jeff Hardy), he'll do a shit match. Bring him a great worker, chances are you'll get something very good, maybe even great, like this. And he does bring his A-game in term of pacing and doing smart stuff too.

 

So many great things about this match, how it slowly built, how they smartly set up gimmick spots, how they didn't overused the cage (especially after an entire PPV of cage matches, with a few good moments too like Chris Daniels vs Elix Skipper, a 2/3 of Dustin Rhodes vs Booby Roode, the last half of Team Canada vs AMW and even a decent little fake Wargame including Sean Waltman, Monty Brown and the NAO facing off and building tension) but when they did use it made it important and memorable. Even the thumbtacks spots were well teased and executed.

 

Great match, terrific performance from AJ, Abyss at his best (that big lumbering sado-machistic trucker pretending he's a monster finally grew on me with good stuff like this)

 

MOTYC for 2005. That's two for AJ Styles thus far too, for anyone keeping score.

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Lockdown 2005: AJ Styles vs Abyss - Number One Contender's Match So in a card full of cage matches, what do AJ and Abyss do to ensure differentiation they spend the first half brawling outside. I actually think that is pretty smart given the circumstances The spots AJ hits during the babyface shine are ridiculously awesome and breath-taking. It was the perfect way to establish AJ's speed as a threat to Abyss' unmitgated power. When Abyss took over with those vicious cage door shots on AJ, AJ went into Ricky Morton mode and I knew we were entering classic match territory. Once in the cage, Abyss did some great power offense and a classic Southern-style, bloodbath cage match developed with AJ timing each hope spot for maximum effect. I even liked the inclusion of thumbtacks because it played into the sadism of the match. The finish has everyone on their feet cheering for AJ. One of the better David vs Goliath type matches because AJ never tried to out power Abyss or force Abyss to look weak. AJ shined through his speed offense and wrestling a smart match. Of all the matches, I have seen so far, seek this one out.

[Yeah ****1/2 sounds right based off memory & review but definitely need to rewatch]

AJ Styles vs Abyss - Lockdown 2005 Steel Cage Match

So in a card full of cage matches, what do AJ and Abyss do to ensure differentiation they spend the first half brawling outside. I actually think that is pretty smart given the circumstances of the match, which Don West poignantly points out. This is actually one of the best Don West calls ever. His hyperbole is well-suited for a match as violent and as brutal as this and he actually does well to describe the strategy. AJ would find the cage restrictive as opposed to outside the cage where he would have more freedom to evade Abyss and create opportunities to attack. That's why AJ decided to start the match outside the ring by flying through the door wiping Abyss out. The spots AJ hits during the babyface shine are ridiculously awesome and breath-taking. It was the perfect way to establish AJ's speed as a threat to Abyss' unmitigated power. I loved how Abyss remained strong during this. AJ could not Irish Whip Abyss. He had not done enough to earn that. So when Abyss reversed the Irish Whip, AJ slid under the railing to avoid that shot and then hit the rana. In a similar moment, AJ avoided the stairs and flew into the stands soaring above the fans. He then went flying with a beautiful forearm on Abyss back over those same fans. That could be one of the single coolest spots in the history of pro wrestling. As Don West so eloquently describes, AJ goes to the well one too many times and ends up tumbling over the railing and crashing on the floor. AJ did such a fantastic job setting up his aerial maneuvers to make them plausible. Abyss sold them as exactly as they should with a register but not enough to do serious damage to the monster. 

I thought the arena brawling was good. I liked Abyss' response to AJ's defiance, goozling him and then hurling him back first into some steel fencing. The match really kicks into the next gear when AJ decides he will die for our sins. AJ takes like 8 million ridiculously awesome bumps in this match. First it is the crazy snap back bumps after Abyss whips the steel cage door into his face, which causes AJ to bleed. Then in the ring, AJ just get ridiculous elevation on all sort of bumps as Abyss hurls him. The best part of this match is AJ never dies. He keeps fighting back and he keeps letting us know he is there. I loved how AJ spun out of cover instead of kicking out. Great way to sell within a cover. Once in the cage, Abyss did some great power offense and a classic Southern-style, bloodbath cage match developed with AJ timing each hope spot for maximum effect. I loved how the hope spots were all about driving Abyss' head into hard metal objects and they were also a taste of his own medicine because Abyss was setting these spots up but AJ was countering them. Really good shit here. AJ was averting disaster but it looked like his nine lives ran out when Abyss finally wrangled him in the Black Hole Slam, which was a great nearfall from Abyss, the first really strong nearfall of the match. Abyss understands he needs to up the ante so he pours out the thumbtacks. Loved the struggle and drama of who would go into the thumbtacks. It is AJ hitting a Styles Clash into the thumbtacks! I love how both men sell. My only nitpick is that really should have been the finish. I thought the finish was a little overwrought. AJ realizes he needs to up the ante so he ascends to the top of the cage. Abyss throws the ref into the cage and this causes AJ to lose his balance, which by the way is insane. Like AJ could have killed himself there, he is a nut. What I didnt like was the whole hanging with the chain it didnt feel like much and didnt like how AJ was able to survive, climb back in and hit a sunset flip powerbomb on the tacks for the win. It was a literally perfect match up until the chain hanging spot.

If someone wanted to argue this is the greatest David vs. Goliath match, I would listen. AJ shined throughout this match. He came in with an excellent gameplan, he bumped like a madman, wrestled a smart counterwrestling match, hit two massive moves late. Really awesome performance. Credit to Abyss for not just being an imposing monster, BUT not wrestling small. He resisted the Irish Whips early and he did not let himself look vulnerable at all until he started having head bashed into steel. Abyss made himself a mountain to scale. That made AJ's victory all the sweeter. My pick for the best match of 2005 anywhere in the world! ****3/4

 

 

 

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Loved this. Surprised no one above focused on the crowd, which is often a hindrance in TNA but is really good toward the end here. It's not just that they're behind AJ - they start a fucking mosh pit after the Styles Clash into the tacks. Such a cool moment. AJ's performance was absolutely over the top incredible, a real masterpiece on his end.

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