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[2005-02-13-TNA-Against All Odds] A.J. Styles vs Christopher Daniels (Iron Man)

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This is the first of two ironman matches between these two in 2005, and this is the better one of the two by a slight margin. While the one at Bound For Glory was more of a wrestling clinic, this was more of a war, as both AJ and Daniels were going all out in order to win the X Division title, and AJ was even bleeding! Both were tied after 30 minutes, and Dusty Rhodes gives the match 5 more minutes, in which AJ gets the deciding fall with the Styles Clash.

 

****1/2 (Great match that put over both competitors very well, the right story in that this was all about the belt, and the right person went over as AJ only won the title last month)

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I watched this match weeks ago and so can't remember much about it, other than it was really, really good. The main difference I've noticed between 2005 and 2017 is that whilst both years emphasise a fast-paced, all-action, nearfall heavy style (generally speaking, of course), 2005 is more about variety and diversity, and not so reliant on finishers and 'hard-hitting' strikes .

 

Working #2 MOTY behind Mistico/Averno. **** 1/4

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I watched a bunch of AJ Styles long before this match database was a thing and I am getting around to copy & pasting them.

Against All Odds 2005: X-Division Champion AJ Styles vs Christopher Daniels Wow, way better than I remembered and a true joy to go back and watch. The opening is really well done and makes AJ looks like a million bucks. Daniels sells the arm so well even during his heat segment and puts on a clinic working over AJ's mid-section. AJ, for what is worth, not holds his ribs, but actually sells it like he is sucking air. The only time I have seen that is in Japan. AJ is fuckin good. The finish to the first fall may be one of my favorite finishes ever. AJ goes for a big bomb to polish off Daniels, but on the 450 he eats knees, which plays right into the mid-section work and Angel Wings (AJ with a full layout because he is ALL MAN~!) sees Daniels goes up 1-0 in sublime fashion. The rest of the match is well-worked and AJ times his hopes spots so well and keeps the crowd constantly heated. Im ok with AJ getting the pin in a quick rollup, but I would have liked it better done Steamboat style with a ton of desperation cradles rather than kinda out of nowhere. My main critique is that match is structured weirdly down the stretch because you have Daniels in desperation to get the last pin and AJ just trying to hang on (emphasized by his bladejob). They do the Koji Clutch and AJ is saved by the bell. I hate this because I think the babyface should be the guy doing this down the finishing stretch. Daniels needed to really heel this portion up to save it. Then of course AJ pulls it out in OT in really weird booking. It was like they wanted to protect AJ due to weak as finish in regulation, but then they cut off Daniels' balls. Classic match until last 5 minutes, which leads to believe there will be better matches.

[AJ vs Daniels have amazing chemistry, part of me thinks I should re-watch this one. I am pretty sure it is ****+ based on my review & memory]

 

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I actually really liked the finishing stretch. The first part was engaging and well worked but felt a little lacking in heat, but the blood really kicked things up a notch, and Styles bleeding in the Koki Clutch was a terrific visual (it made for an awesome video package for sure). Felt like they should have just gone with the draw, though, as AJ coming back to win felt like it undercut the moment. But that's a somewhat minor quibble on a really good match, maybe the best match I've seen on my recent dive into aughts era Impact (right there with the threeway involving these two and Samoa Joe from later in 2005).

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X-Division Champion AJ Styles vs Christopher Daniels - TNA Against All Odds 2005 Ironman Match

There is no doubt in my mind that AJ Styles was Wrestler of the Year in 2005. He had three match of the year contenders including this one and was really good in every role he was called upon in TNA.  

First Fall: They did a great job building to the first fall in the opening 15 minutes of this classic. I really liked how Daniels made AJ earn his dropkick. Leapfrog->nope Daniels Rollup. Dropkick -> nope Daniels holds the ropes. Then AJ just nails one when Daniels is unaware. Shows they really know each other. Good chain wrestling early and strong quick covers. AJ Gets a couple big highspots. AJ's balance on the ropes is so good! When Daniels pulls in the ref, AJ is able to pause on the rope and come back down. Daniels uses the momentary hesitation to knock AJ off the apron onto the railing. Daniels works a clinic on AJ's ribs. AJ sells so well sucking for air and bumping in such a way that he lands on his ribs. The Split Leg Moonsault was a good nearfall. AJ gets a mini-comeback where he hits a lot of his low-grade signature spots. However, when AJ goes for 450 splash he eats knees. "Where?" Mike Tenay asks, "RIGHT ON THE RRRRRIBBBBBSSSSS" - Don West exclaims! I loved it. AJ did a full layout on this because he is All Man and he takes the Angels Wings full layout too. Great stuff. Daniels goes up 1-0 in a super tight 15 minutes. 

Second Fall: Daniels continue his work on the ribs. I like how he has added taunting and trash talking to each move now that he is up 1-0. Lots of great gutbusters and selling by AJ. I loved the abdominal stretch as a cutoff against one of AJ's comebacks. It was sudden and tight. AJ never died and kept fighting. The Phenomenal Forearm was a good nearfall. I love the Pele Kick. It is just a great transition. It comes from out of nowhere and it is a head kick so it stuns the opponent and really feels like a momentum change. They throw out a little too much stuff here. The takeaway is AJ hits the Angel Wings to get two. AJ wants the Styles Clash, but thats reversed and he reverses into a rollup for three to tie it up. 

Third Fall: I love Daniels reaction to Styles' pin. He very forcefully shoves AJ out of the ring. He has snapped and wants the title. He drives AJ's head hard into the ringpost busting him wide open. Daniels works the cut great lots of punches and headbutts. That one headbutt was a great nearfall. AJ shows some fire under a minute, but Daniels plants him into the Koji Klutch. Great visual with clock winding down and the blood pouring from AJ's head like a faucet. The match goes to a draw or does it...Daniels feels like he would have won the match if he just had one more minute. He calls for Sudden Death and Dusty Rhodes agrees! Daniel beats AJ down and crosses himself with AJ's blood. Cool visual but the follow up move was pretty lame. He should have hit Angel Wings or the Best Moonsault Ever. AJ throws him off the top rope and then hits a rana to set up the Styles Clash and win. 

Awesome match from an awesome year from AJ Styles! Not quite as good as his matches with Abyss and Samoa Joe, but this still ruled. Great ribs work that was sold well and Daniels did a great job working on top. I thought the third fall was awesome in its urgency and a great comeback for AJ. ****1/2

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