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NintendoLogic

Shawn Michaels vs. AJ Styles

Shawn vs. AJ  

57 members have voted

  1. 1. Who ya got?

    • The Heartbreak Kid
    • The Phenomenal One


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It's been a while since we've had a good comparison thread, and it recently occurred to me that these two guys track each other pretty closely in terms of in-ring style, career length, and popular/critical acclaim. A year ago, I would've picked Shawn without a second thought, but now I'm inclined to give AJ the nod. His 2014 to whenever it ends is shaping up to be one of the all-time great runs by a US worker. It certainly smokes any comparable stretch of Shawn's career. Part of that is having better opponents, but he's also been able to produce quality matches with guys I normally have little use for like Kevin Owens and Finn Balor. I still think that Shawn's very best matches are better than AJ's best, but the gap isn't large enough to overcome the sheer volume of high-end Styles output. Thoughts?

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I like AJ, but Shawn has the edge with character work, at least pre-first retirement.

 

I haven't seen the Brock match yet, but the Owens matches were disappointing. I'd much rather watch a tape of Michaels' 96-97 TV matches than AJ's 16-17.

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I think AJ reinventing himself in New Japan is a real plus in his case. As is that fact that his strikes look like they actually hurt. Both guys are awesome bumpers but AJ smokes Shawn in terms of impactful offence

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AJ Styles is the best American worker of this century. A part of me still loves Bryan Danielson and Chris Hero more - in Danielson's case I really loved his style during the 2000s and I think Hero's probably the smartest and most interesting of the three - but the highs Styles reached in ROH, TNA, NJPW, random indies, and WWE are more objectively impressive, and the fact that Styles is still producing consistently great work in 2017 is amazing. When I saw him taking absurd bumps in the mid-2000s, couldn't imagine him still taking absurd bumps in 2017, and this time it's at dome shows and 20,000 seat arenas.

 

I've seen Styles three times live this year - the match with John Cena at the Alamodome, a house show match with Baron Corbin and Kevin Owens, and the match with Brock Lesnar - and each time I came away thinking this guy is the most complete worker in the world.

 

There's a lot of workers I really like right now, but Styles is the best at having an engaging match beginning, middle, and end. Some people have amazing finishing stretches but the beginning of their matches don't have much going on there.

 

I think Styles clearly surpassed Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart years ago. Styles' resume at this point is ridiculous.

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The interesting thing, though, is that it seems like a lot of people panned Styles before he left TNA. That he was a spot-heavy wrestler or whatever. The universal love of AJ Styles is relatively new. He was seen as better than but in a similar light to someone like Christopher Daniels pre-New Japan.

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I haven't seen a lot of his latter TNA stuff, but I remember A.J. being consistently good in the mid to late 2000's. His 2005 in particular was awesome with MOTYC's against Abyss and Samoa Joe. I do agree though that NJPW-onward is where he took his career to a whole new level.

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Batista in 2005, which was a divisive quote at the time, but had a lot of people on his side: "I've also seen clips of their car wreck matches with AJ Styles doing his stunts. That's not wrestling. Wrestling is storytelling. But at the same time, I have friends in TNA and I wish them the best. Those type of matches definitely have their place, it's just not my thing. I also welcome the competition, which I think can only be good for the wrestling business."

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As for my vote, as much as I am an apologist for post-comeback Shawn (that was the first run of him I ever saw so it might be nostalgia) I give A.J. the nod. Great offensive wrestler, capabale of pulling something good out of almost anyone, and an all-time great bumper.

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Outside of the Suzuki and Nakamura matches, what are the Styles matches to see in NJPW?

 

The Ibushi match from Invasion Attack 2015 in really highly thought of, though I'd have to go back again to give a fair assessment of it. There's about three or four matches each with Okada and Tanahashi and a couple with Naito as well. But the Suzuki G1 match is the standout of the New Japan tenure imo.

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I asked myself, whose career would I rather watch from start to finish? And honestly AJ just seemed so much more interesting. I like HBK too but not as much as I used to, and the fact that most of his career takes place within a specific bubble and style counts against him for me.

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The interesting thing, though, is that it seems like a lot of people panned Styles before he left TNA. That he was a spot-heavy wrestler or whatever. The universal love of AJ Styles is relatively new. He was seen as better than but in a similar light to someone like Christopher Daniels pre-New Japan.

 

I had this spot-heavy view of Styles in the early 2000s, but started to turn around during his 2005-2006 run, though I still viewed Bryan Danielson and Samoa Joe as being better than him at the time. I remember some folks online being upset when he won the ROH Pure Championship, questioning why a worker with his style would win that title instead of a more "technical" worker. But I'd say he was viewed as someone way better than Christopher Daniels, even during those days in the early 2000s. Styles going up against the indy favorites at the time got people way more excited than Daniels going up against the exact same favorites.

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Batista in 2005, which was a divisive quote at the time, but had a lot of people on his side: "I've also seen clips of their car wreck matches with AJ Styles doing his stunts. That's not wrestling. Wrestling is storytelling. But at the same time, I have friends in TNA and I wish them the best. Those type of matches definitely have their place, it's just not my thing. I also welcome the competition, which I think can only be good for the wrestling business."

 

What was so funny about this is that the Kurt Angle vs Shawn Michaels series in 2005 was more of a car-wreck style than AJ Styles vs Christopher Daniels in 2005. Remember thinking Styles-Daniels was so overrated at the time in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and its circles, but watching it again recently, it holds up pretty well and is more of a traditional wrestling match - with clear heel and babyface structure - than what Angle and Michaels were doing on WWE TV and PPV in 2005. Same with the Styles vs Samoa Joe series, which has very clear roles from both men, but I guess I can see the car-wreck thing being applied to the three-way series between Styles, Joe and Daniels.

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Outside of the Suzuki and Nakamura matches, what are the Styles matches to see in NJPW?

 

The Ibushi match from Invasion Attack 2015 in really highly thought of, though I'd have to go back again to give a fair assessment of it. There's about three or four matches each with Okada and Tanahashi and a couple with Naito as well. But the Suzuki G1 match is the standout of the New Japan tenure imo.

 

 

His runs in the 2014 and 2015 G1's have a ton of hidden gems as well.

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Batista in 2005, which was a divisive quote at the time, but had a lot of people on his side: "I've also seen clips of their car wreck matches with AJ Styles doing his stunts. That's not wrestling. Wrestling is storytelling. But at the same time, I have friends in TNA and I wish them the best. Those type of matches definitely have their place, it's just not my thing. I also welcome the competition, which I think can only be good for the wrestling business."

 

What was so funny about this is that the Kurt Angle vs Shawn Michaels series in 2005 was more of a car-wreck style than AJ Styles vs Christopher Daniels in 2005. Remember thinking Styles-Daniels was so overrated at the time in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and its circles, but watching it again recently, it holds up pretty well and is more of a traditional wrestling match - with clear heel and babyface structure - than what Angle and Michaels were doing on WWE TV and PPV in 2005. Same with the Styles vs Samoa Joe series, which has very clear roles from both men, but I guess I can see the car-wreck thing being applied to the three-way series between Styles, Joe and Daniels.

 

 

I feel the same way about A.J's 2005 especially when it comes to the Joe and Abyss matches. Guy played a really good babyface.

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Shawn for me and pretty easily. Much superior tag work, his best matches are considerably better. IMO, the 94-97 is superior to any of AJ's runs including the 2014-current run NintendoLogic mentioned (maybe not week to week but high end matches wise). Similar versatility and adaptability with regards to different opponents and types of matches. Shawn has had disappointing and wildly overhyped matches but so has AJ (I personally hate the Cena series, the Nakamura match is not very good).

 

I will say I'm not surprised Styles is winning by a landslide here. Though he did very well in GWE (39), the impression I have got is that his WWE run has really made people take notice and reevaluate him and the perception has gone from "oh that really good worker" to "one of the modern greats".

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The interesting thing, though, is that it seems like a lot of people panned Styles before he left TNA. That he was a spot-heavy wrestler or whatever. The universal love of AJ Styles is relatively new. He was seen as better than but in a similar light to someone like Christopher Daniels pre-New Japan.

 

I'd be in that boat. If I'm being honest with myself, the stink of TNA probably hurt him in my eyes, at least to some degree. It's unfair, but it is what it is.

 

I'm not an AJ megafan, but he's been exceptional most times I've watched him since he got to WWE and bits of that New Japan run really impressed me (the Suzuki match is tremendous and I liked him a lot against Naito, who I couldn't be bothered with at all). I like a handful of his TNA run fine, but he was never really a guy I cared much about from around 2003-2014. Wouldn't have called him bad, wouldn't have called him great -- he was a guy I just didn't have interest in. I'm certainly higher on him now and I think if I were to go back and watch chunks of the ROH/TNA run I'd be way more into it. I guess back then TNA was so bad I assumed everybody associated with it probably was, too.

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AJ is very easily the pick here. Which is funny, because a few years ago MIchaels would have easily been my pick. Until seeing AJ on a regular basis in NJPW I really only saw him sparingly, pretty much through picking up the odd ROH DVD here & there and catching certain recommended TNA matches online or on TV over the years. From those choice clips he looked like someone with spectacular athleticism and spots that could shine when given the chance.

 

Having gone back to a lot of his work that I previously hadn't seen, along with everything he's done on the NJPW & WWE runs, it became clear pretty quickly he was a much more diverse and well rounded performer who excelled working babyface and heel, sprint or psychology, and with an incredible variety of opponents. A legitimate candidate for wrestler of this century and a true all-time great.

 

It doesn't hurt his case that going back to a number of Michaels' classics on the Network didn't hold up nearly the same way. Count me among those who viewed him as the runaway all time company performer, which no longer feels like any kind of certainty.

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I find myself having a hard time choosing between the two. One huge obstacle for me is that AJ really missed out on times where I developed a real emotional investment in him or his career. A lot of that has to do with the fact that he languished in TNA for so long.

 

Meanwhile guys like Danielson, I followed for most of his pimped out feuds and then bought into him even more in the WWE. The closest I came to feeling that for AJ was his 2009-2010 run in TNA and that seriously petered out once the Hogan era began.

 

Meanwhile Shawn is a wrestler I grew up with in his post-comeback era. So while I can be objective and say that AJ has been far more consistent with his work, the sad circumstance is that for a long time, I just didn't care about the guy.

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Shawn Michaels is my favorite wrestler of all time and even I think this is laughable.

It's AJ, probably by a really big margin too. AJ is evolution

And for a worker who had been having great matches since 2002, for it to take 12-15 years for people to finally realize it I think strips away some of the charm and vanguard of this 'net criticism thing that we do. Like what are people doing, seriously, if some how AJ STYLES was being slept on all this time. At Hero's, Joe's, Danielson's peak they were probably better than AJ was at the same times, but think about the years this covers and think about how AJ was great throughout all of that, and still is.

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I'm actually not super-high on the A.J.-Tanahashi matches. They're very good, great even. But the chemistry isn't quite there as much as it is with other opponents. Even before A.J's WWE stint the Suzuki match is pretty clearly his best match (I'd say either the Extreme Rules Reigns match or Royal Rumble Cena match is his best now). And with Tanahashi, I think the later Okada matches and the King of Pro Wrestling match with Suzuki trump the A.J. matches by quite a bit.

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