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[2016-06-19-WWE-Money in the Bank] John Cena vs A.J. Styles

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I watched their matches back to back and I think this was more engaging to me. It might sound odd, but if you switched the order of their matches and have the big bombfest "dream match" here + interference finish and have the Summerslam match be about AJ knowing he's better than Cena and then capping it off with a (clean) win then I think it means more.

 

I liked the idea of AJ outsmarting Cena and using his speed and strikes where he could plus I think this was one of the better sequences of countering Cena's big stuff that I've seen since Punk was doing it during their matches. There were a few things that seemed too choreographed or took too long to develop, (like Cena looking straight at AJ on the ropes for a good chunk of time and AJ going ahead with the leapfrog attempt) but I think it built to an exciting finish plus more compact final stretch than the Summerslam match. Maybe not as "big" or "epic" but I could buy this as a major moment anyway.

 

Also I really liked Cena's selling in this, from the leg selling late after the calf crusher plus strikes but just in general how he was portraying the damage of the match with how he moved around the ring. Plus I love whenever he does a lariat.

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Great performance from Styes. He was laying in some forearms at the beginning that Cena sold like legitimate weapons. He also carried his end in bringing a certain level of crispness to the proceedings, his counter into the Calf Crusher being the best example.

My issue is that they were going for Cena being rusty or not fully healed after his injury and layoff, but the sequences laid out at the beginning required a level of intricacy that Cena isn't capable of. He's categorically not a micro wrestler but instead excels at the macro. Here the timing was consistently off and the work was less fluid than you would expect, even from a Cena match.

Was a big fan of Cena's selling however - when he finally managed to hit the Five Knuckle Shuffle he didn't even manage to hit the ropes, and dropping down to deliver the punch he looked decidedly old.

I'm becoming increasingly annoyed by Gallows and Andersons' involvement in Styles' big matches. I would have preferred for Styles, separate of The Club, to win here, then win the Summerslam match clean, and ultimately to definitively win the series, knowing in hindsight that Cena would get his win back at the Rumble anyhow. Plus that ref bump was weak.

 

GOOD (3-3.5*)

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