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[2004-11-13-FWA-British Uprising III] A.J. Styles vs James Tighe (30 min Iron Man)


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From main eventing British Uprising II the previous year, 2004 was not a good year for James Tighe. Well in kayfabe terms. In ring, he was one of the company’s strongest performers. In a storyline sense, his failure to capture the British Heavyweight Title led to him losing a lot of matches, often in upsets to guys lower on the card than him. I don’t think a losing streak gimmick has ever really worked in wrestling, but it was with the goal in mind of building his frustration at losses to a heel turn. Given how impressive he was in 2003 and in the title match with Doug Williams I feel the FWA should’ve kept pushing him as face challenger at the title level, but with his lack of charisma, it was probably right that the fans would end up picking more outgoing and flashier personalities over him.

Tighe faced off with Styles at Vendetta in July, in a match that began sportingly but that saw Tighe getting increasingly desperate to win against a big name - to well and truly snap his losing streak. In the match, Tighe was able to go toe to toe with AJ for large parts, but, starting to feel he was being outgunned, resorted to trying to use a chair. The end result would actually see Styles on the end of a very dodgy referee call – whether intentional or not a recurring theme for Styles’ matches in the FWA – and he ended up as the one getting disqualified giving Tighe the much needed, if tainted win.

Which is pretty much the reason for this being a 30 minute Iron Man Match – to decisively find out who was the better man. As I’ve noted in the reviews of other matches on the show, British Uprising III was mainly booked on the basis of matches built on feuds, but the fairly clear aim was for this to be the workrate match to carry that requirement of a big indie show.

This is the main event of the show and has the task of following the controversial end to the FWA Title match which initially has an impact on the atmosphere, but the massive pop that AJ gets brings the crowd back. The first 7-8 mins are wrestled very cautiously, but I enjoyed the feeling out process given that the match is going a half hour and it doesn’t make sense to go too hard too quickly, I could see some finding the opening stretch dull, but I liked the struggle in the holds and every counter being fought over. This is shown in them fighting over the headlock, including Tighe snatching one when AJ is going for his patented drop kick. AJ’s tactic is to up the pace, and following getting the drop kick, able to follow Tighe out, jump the guardrail and catch him with the superkick.

This leads to a period of AJ dominating, until being caught and driven face first by Tighe. But just when Tighe is starting to feel confident and in control, he takes his eye off the ball going for a suplex and gets caught in a crucifix for the first fall. I liked that as Tighe is protesting, he almost gets rolled up for a good close near fall.

Following a period of back and forth, they both fall to the outside on a hurucanrana that didn’t look very smooth, but added to the sense of struggle in the match. This leads to a double count on the floor during which AJ takes a nasty over head suplex into the guardrail, which is enough to allow Tighe to sneak back in and level things at 1-1.

I really liked Tighe smelling blood and going in for the kill and secure that big career defining win; he doesn’t want the draw. AJ is finally able to break the momentum with the Pele kick and then hits a brutal looking brianbuster for 2, knowing he has to bring out the big guns. AJ then going for a chink lock didn’t really fit the storyline but the flurry of strikes is more like it and just as in their first match, Styles manages to once again break Tighe’s nose. As the clock ticks down, AJ is the one going for the win while Tighe is just trying to survive. With 3 mins on the clock he desperately fights out of the Styles Clash on multiple occasions, as the crowd go nuts knowing that it’s a kill shot this close to the end. Sadly for him a kick out from a powerbomb puts him naturally in position for the Styles Clash and AJ goes 2-1 up with 2 mins to go. With 10 seconds to go Tighe gets a great nearfall with a roll up to try and tie at 2-2 – the equivalent of a late chance in football – but Style sees the last few seconds out by ducking and weaving as the clock strikes down. Not a typical babyface way of doing it but very smart.

Post match, Styles tries to show respect but gets a Tighe low blow for his troubles. Jody Fleisch, who had made a big non-wrestling return on the show after more than a year away tries to make the save but gets taken out by Tighe’s tag team partner Mark Belton. We then get the big return of Jonny Storm to the FWA as well, and after the tease of a confrontation with his long time friend/rival Fleisch, we get AJ as the peacekeeper and a reunion handshake to a big pop.  

In terms of a match, I think this is very good. Some may think the opening segment doesn’t have much going on, but I liked the struggle and the building of the match. The little stories interweaved without having to resort to big moves and kick outs is very much appreciated by me, although I did think the match had a higher gear it could’ve found as it went into the final stretch. The main downside is that for the second year in a row in the main event of the biggest show of the year, and as he often did when facing the top names, Tighe loses the big match again. (*** ¾)

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