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[2016-05-01-WWE-Payback] A.J. Styles vs Roman Reigns


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Holy shit this was amazing. It's a serious best WWE match ever contender for me. I really don't get why people get so upset over the overbooking, and honestly it was fine here. I don't remember the last time a WWE match so ambitious. The early portion was PERFECT in establishing Reigns' power and AJ made himself look good in the process too because when he did overcome it it meant that much more. I loved how it was paced, it had the greatest table spot in WWE history and a plethora of neat little touches. AJ avoiding Reigns' big suicide dive and then quickly leaping on him with the diving forearm was such a neat spot that made him look great. All of the big counters looked almost shockingly organic and natural for a 2016 WWE match and the rope break nearfall made my heart stop for a second. They both took some disgusting bumps here. Another thing I loved is how AJ used the Pele Kick as a way to upgrade his striking combo after it failed to take Reigns down earlier in the match instead of using it as a counter spot like he usually does, and to that point AJ quickly hitting Reigns with a Snapmare after Reigns survived his striking combo also made him look like a smart wrestler. I want to re-watch this and I don't remember when was the last time I felt that way about a WWE match. And Reigns hitting AJ with another Superman Punch after the big counter one also put AJ over as a serious threat and was just a badass thing to do and then AJ did that awesome delayed selling instead of popping up like you'd see in the Zayn-Owens match. These two have a five star match in them. ****3/4

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Watched this based on the review above and it actually is a really good match. Surprisingly violent and the theme of power vs. speed/smarts was played to great effect. The match was also filled with great selling by both but particularly by Reigns. His selling of the hurt hamstring was amazing. He looked really really good in this and it's unfortunate he will never get the credit for it as per the John Cena syndrome because of his unpopularity it somehow means he is a terrible wrestler. *** 3/4


The overbooking was unnecessary but didn't really hurt the match. For a moment, I thought this suddenly turned into El Satanico vs. El Dandy after the lowblow spot but Styles was not actually faking.

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  • 7 months later...

This was incredible, and probably my MOTY. The point about pacing is spot on especially early on when you’ve got these moments of actual tension and intrigue about what’s about to happen and when it turns into a violent clothesline from Reigns or a counter by AJ it feels all the more special. The work from the opening up to the insane phenomenal forearm spot was perfect and I oddly have to give the crowd credit for turning in a Cena/Punk MITB ‘11 performance here with how into this they were. The overbooking stuff doesn’t bother me and in between we still get some awesome stuff like Roman getting crushed by a diving kneedrop from AJ and those back to back Superman punches that had this sort of authoritative and hierarchy-defining attitude behind them that you want an ace to showcase when he’s put in one of these “away game” type situations. "Phenomenal" match (as was the ER one) and you really wish these guys meet up again down the line.

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  • 4 months later...

Just saw this today, and I got to say that I fall on the side of people who feel the overbooking did take away from it a little. Don't get me wrong, it's still a fantastic match. The opening stuff is pretty much perfect. Watching stuff like that, it continues to baffle me the hate that Roman Reigns gets online. He is clearly without a doubt, just a top of the line worker with uncanny in-ring charisma. The forearm table spot was INSANE and I honestly did not see it coming. I did love that the interference in the finishing stretch was able to incorporate the cronies in really great ways. I loved how Reigns just tossed Styles right into the crowd and the dive dodge into barricade leap looked absolutely wonderful.


However, I do feel that the count out and the DQ slowed things down unnecessarily. Shane and Steph hogging some spotlight didn't look that hot either. This would have been greatly improved with just having been a No DQ, No Count Outs match to begin with so you could have a more organic flow while still getting the fun shenanigans in down the line.


Still, though, a pretty great match.



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  • 5 months later...

Reigns is one of few people on the roster who I consistently enjoy watching, but his greatest weakness is his inability to work effectively on top - it's not a coincidence that his best two opponents are Brock and Braun - and the first half of this match really dragged due to this very reason. It seemed like Reigns took control almost immediately and forced Styles to crawl around selling while he sauntered around the ring trying to look menacing. The first time this match really kicks up a gear is when he hits that springboard forearm to the outside that lays waste to Roman. Styles desperately trying to get Roman back into the ring and, just before the 10 count, he realises he just won't make it is a fantastic moment, as the look he shows is of raw disappointment. I have to say I was surprised they went that route and it did feel like the match was a little short. Lo and behold I was right, as out comes Shane and the glut of bullshittery that followed was foreshadowed right then. I hated the DQ and the subsequent interference but that seems to be more a personal preference thing as it hasn't seemed to put off others as much as me. I feel that there's a good match in here somewhere, but I just can't quite find it.


OKAY (2-2.75*)


Edit: Upon a further rewatch, I can only think that I had 2000s WWE fatigue when I initially wrote this. I still have major issues around the McMahon involvement but there's too much quality here for me to ignore. This match didn't exhilarate me, but I'll admit that I was at least titillated this time round.


GREAT (3.75-4*)

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  • GSR changed the title to [2016-05-01-WWE-Payback] A.J. Styles vs Roman Reigns
  • 2 years later...

Reigns is hated by this crowd and he leans right into this. He might be WWE's ace, but he's happy to look at the WWE fans who can't stand him with absolute disdain. Reigns' power spots all look fantastic and Styles does a sublime job of realistically taking control of Reigns. That Phenomenal Forearm through the announce table spot went off without a hitch and I also didn't see it coming. The count-out/disqualification tease false finish are so passe and you can see them coming from a mile away. I was fine with the interference, but I can't stand those dive spots where everyone stands around waiting to catch the wrestler, and this match had two of those said spots. Both Styles and Reigns put in incredible performances here, but the main thing stopping this from getting the full five-star treatment from me is the horrendous booking.  ★★★★½

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