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[2009-12-20-TNA-Final Resolution] A.J. Styles vs Christopher Daniels


Superstar Sleeze
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TNA World Heavyweight Champion AJ Styles vs Christopher Daniels - Final Resolution 2009

Daniels puts on a career performance and AJ puts on a performance that is on par with his best. It is very rare I think someone outshines AJ, but I thought Daniels was doing so many of the little things so well and suffocating AJ that I have got to give the nod to Daniels as the better wrestler in this match.  This match is worked so much differently than most TNA matches as they let spots breathe, use strikes effectively to set up spots and has psychology that actually follows the angle surrounding the match. I was really floored how friggin good this match was both when I watched it initially in 2013 and now in 2019. The story is how AJ would overcome Daniels' combination of ruthlessness and familiarity with his moves.

Daniels takes advantage of two early rope breaks to take cheap shots at Styles. He also rushes in after each cheap shot and cinches in a hold on AJ. He is not gloating. He is here to win. I love his attitude. He takes advantage of AJ's good nature, who still has a soft spot for his friend. There are two really good spots that I just loved from Daniels they showed he was not going to give AJ anything in this match and AJ was going to have to earn every bit of offense.  The first one  is Daniels is able to counter an AJ kip up by sitting down on an armbar and the second is he is able to pick an ankle on a criss-cross spot because he knows AJ just that well. When the hell do ever see those two spots absolutely quashed. Nothing should ever be taken for granted and I like that Daniels turns the tables.  They really work the mat effectively I wish they would work this way more often. I liked the dueling dropkicks. Daniels tries to hit AJ's signature dropkick combination, but AJ is too wise for that and sets up his own and nails it.  When AJ does take control because Daniels gets cocky he really lets the fists fly and talks some trash to Daniels. Hate in a TNA match??? Whaaaaaattttttt? They do a great job climaxing AJ's shine. Daniels powders because he is a coward. So AJ baits Daniels by coming out to the apron causing Daniels to charge, but AJ evades and Daniels runs into the post and then as Daniels is selling AJ catapults himself over the top rope crashing down on Daniels. 

There is a great two spot combination that gets Daniels back in control. The first is a wicked monkey flip that sends AJ crashing into the corner causing a bad landing. The second is a rudimentary clothesline while AJ is on the apron. What makes this so special? Watch how AJ takes this bump. It is so gnarly. Yes, I said Daniels was the better wrestler on this night but if Daniels was wrestling at a A+ level then AJ was wrestling at an A level that's how high quality this match was. When Daniels regains control, he sets up AJ to get smacked with a chair and as the ref discards that chair he Rock Bottoms AJ through an chair (obviously silly as the mangled chair is left behind, but I am going to let it slide). This sets up the back psychology and a really damn good heat segment. AJ gets a hope spot and goes up top to capitalize, but Daniels wails on his back. Then Daniels manages to hoist AJ up and basically do a backbreaker but use the top turnbuckle as his knee. If you are going to do innovative spots, then at least make them violent and that fit in perfectly. Daniels continuing working the back with strikes and holds.

I like how AJ re-establishes control first it is by big time punches to the head but when Daniels throws him out of the ring AJ hits a nasty powerbomb on Daniels onto the floor when Daniels tries to hit a huricanrana. Up until that point, Daniels had almost no highspots. Everything was fundamental and ruthless and AJ made him pay. AJ follows up with more strikes and trash talk. This does not feel like a TNA match at all and the TNA crowd does not how to react. I hate to admit, but it was pretty heatless even though this was an insanely great match. There is a great moment when Daniels not only hooks the top rope, but has his foot hooked on the bottom rope too to ensure AJ will not be able to take him over.  Daniels uses AJ's own momentum against him crotches him on the ropes (AJ's bumpis great here). I really liked the suplex from this position. Now Daniels is using some wicked open hand palm strikes. They fuck up a super Franeknsteiner. They fight over a suplex and AJ hits a wicked brainbuster on Daniels' injured head. At some point, Daniels has this massive lump on his forehead that just looks gnarly. Phenomenal Forearm gets two when Daniels gets his leg on the ropes. I like that Daniels used this foot there. It showed that the Brainbuster/Forearm would have done him in. 

They struggle over Styles Clash; AJ hits him with the Pele which is usually the setup for the Styles Clash, but Daniels scrambles for the ropes where AJ hits him with a stiff kick to the back. Daniels throws a desperate open hand strikes. AJ is trying for the German suplex, but Daniels uses the ref and he rakes the eyes to hit an Urnage then hit the BME. Daniels takes his frustration out on AJ's head by punching his head repeatedly and then clawing the eyes. I love the hate and violence. AJ gets a catapult and then follows up with a Styles Clash kickout. AJ gets set up on top rope (maybe Spiral Tap); Daniels hits a big palm strike; goes for another super Frankensteiner this time he eats a super Styles Clash for the 1-2-3! 

This match unlike most TNA matches actually followed the story of the angle. It was two wrestlers pissed off at each other trying to prove they were better than the other. Daniels was great at heeling it up and he left most of the goofy moves at the door. He was out to use his guile and experience to best AJ. He started off really working the arm well before zeroing in on the back with ferocity rarely seen in TNA. AJ is such a great babyface at both selling and those fiery comebacks. His punches were really on point and he too did not work all his usual offensive spots and instead focusing on executing moves that fit the match and would finish his opponent. I liked the finish a lot because it combined smart escalation (Top Rope Styles Clash) with Daniels going to the well once too often (2nd attempt at Super Frankensteiner). I think this is one of the grossly underrated matches in the history of pro wrestling and easily the Match of the Year for 2009. ****3/4

 

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