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[2003-05-17-FWA/ROH-Frontiers of Honor] A.J. Styles vs Jonny Storm


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This is a rematch from British Uprising I eight months previously. They were due to clash as part of the round robin tournament at Seasons Beatings at the end of 2002, but Storm being pulled mid way through the tournament with an injury means this is the first time they have clashed since then. Storm won the first match - although that was after a ref bump when it looked like AJ had a visual pin - so Styles is coming in determined to even the score on a personal level, while ROH are also now 2-0 down in the inter-promotional matches.

 

I said before the opener of the show that ROH were not being treated as the heels despite them being the ‘away team’, which goes even further in this match with Jonny cutting a pre match promo (and not a particularly good one, although it’s hard to tell with the terrible acoustics) on the crowd. This was mainly due to Jonny having turned heel at Crunch 2003 in March for a big feud against Jody Fleisch, but also I think because they predicted that the fans were going to be on AJ Styles side anyway.

 

Like their first match this is very spot heavy, with a distinct whiff of early 2000s indie wrestling about it, but it’s definitely not as good as their first meeting. In the Uprising contest, the transitions were smoother and there was more of a feeling out process, whereas here they just launch straight into things. The first match also worked better as in that one AJ worked as a subtle heel, and he is far better and more varied on offence than Storm is. That match felt more structured with AJ being able to dictate the pace more and Jonny able to build sympathy from the crowd through his selling. The FWA clearly wanted to get behind Jonny as a top heel – which we’ll see from the post match actions after the main event of this show – and while he had the obnoxious personality bits down to a tee, he was still at times wrestling very much like a babyface with his high flying.

 

There’s still a number of fun moments: AJ’s vault over the barrier into a superkick, AJ’s signature Quebrada DDT, and a nice springboard wheelbarrow into a DDT from Storm and I enjoyed a number of the counters of some of the big moves playing into the first match between the two. The set up the FWA had at the York Hall with the stage and big entrance ramp means there is always the temptation to use it and we get Storm trying to swing off the lighting supports into a rana only for AJ to block and go for a Styles Clash. I’m not sure this section was necessary, but does make it feel different than their first match.

 

The finishing sequence sees Storm getting a top-rope rana (after a few attempts at hitting it) but AJ wining it following a rolling Shotei and a springboard 450-splash to even their personal score at 1-1 and bring ROH back into things at 2-1. Unfortunately the pinfall is botched by ref Steve Lynskey which brings some confusion as to whether the match is over, which in a way is symptomatic of the match where they were seemingly a step off their game. Post match, Storm shakes AJ’s hand before attacking him from behind until Fleisch makes the save. (** ½)

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