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[2004-07-25-FWA-Vendetta] James Tighe vs A.J. Styles

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We are back at the Broxbourne Civic Hall, the FWA’s main home, and this is AJ’s first time back with the company for over a year. The month before this James Tighe had put in a great effort against another high profile import in Low Ki, but continuing the losing streak he’d been on, he was unable to get the win. This is another big test for him to try and snap that streak decisively given the calibre of opposition. AJ is coming in with the TNA X Division Title, although this is a non-title match up.


Unlike the contest with Low Ki, which had far more grappling and submissions, this is much more all out action with lots of high impact exchanges. It starts respectfully until AJ busts Tighe open nastily when he breaks his nose on his trademark drop down, leap frog drop kick. While this would’ve obviously sucked for Tighe, the sight of his own blood works to fire him up and he takes it to AJ with some real aggression including turning him inside out with a German Suplex. Tighe is so fired up that he actually ends us shoving the ref out of the ring when he goes to make a break. Both men stop to help the ref back in, but this will play into the finish later.


Tighe has been so impressive in this FWA re-watch, particularly with his versatility and his ability to change his style depending on his opponent. For the most part he is able to keep up with AJ’s explosiveness hitting some big moves of his own like an underhook powerbomb and a swinging sit down uranage. Styles though, recognising he is getting over powered by a man clearly desperate to get a win at all costs starts to go aerial where he has the advantage and connects with a tope con hilo to the outside, even more impressive considering the guardrails were in fairly tight.


With both men throwing everything at one another, and getting increasingly reckless we get another inadvertent takedown of the ref with AJ absolutely wiping him out with a discuss close line. Unlike earlier however, when AJ goes to check on the ref on the outside, this time Tighe kicks the rope into his balls to a chorus of boos. Further showing his desperation Tighe then goes to the outside for a chair only for an attempt to use it getting reversed. Fired up by the low blow AJ smashes the chair into the mat just as the ref is stirring, who thinking that sound was him hitting Tighe disqualifies Styles to more boos. Tighe’s celebrating and shouting “a win is a win” is glorious.


The ending is pretty cheap and I can see turning people off, but in the context of the story that Tighe was a desperate man trying to do anything to get a win and it building up to the rematch it works. It also works - whether this is intentional or not - as one thing that has been consistent since AJ started appearing in the FWA is him being on the end of poor officiating and unlucky decisions. Finally, the way the match unfolds allows Tighe’s frustrations to finally turn into him becoming a heel. At times, it breaks down into a bit too much ‘your turn, my turn’, but the broken nose and the intensity they hit each with helps to make it a compelling match. (*** ½)

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