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[2018-12-16-WWE-TLC] Daniel Bryan vs A.J. Styles


paul sosnowski
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Someone on the TLC thread that this was like watching a 2003 ROH Title match. Yeah, pretty match. This was absolutely amazing with both guys working from a far more mature position than in the early 2000s. So much good in here with all the offense looking amazing, both guys working their characters excellently, and the pacing being fantastic. Styles was able to show off as a fired up babyface with those big punches to Bryan and Bryan returned to some of the classic ferocity that made him a great heel on the indies. Those fishhooks looked gross. 

I mentioned on Twitter that it's amazing that two guys who are seen as pioneers of the nearfall-reliant indie style that dominates wrestling today worked a MOTYC with no finisher nearfalls. Amazing. In two months' time, Bryan worked the two best main roster matches of the year. 

****1/2

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  • GSR changed the title to [2018-12-16-WWE-TLC] Daniel Bryan vs A.J. Styles

These boys done did it again, another classic between 'em. Amazing, brutal as hell work over the ribs of AJ by Bryan & AJ's selling is of course terrific. AJ returns the favor by doing brutal work over Bryan's leg & oh my goodness I loved how over the half crab got. Shows what kind of masters these two are when they got that feeling as a legitimate finish in the match. Bryan's selling was superb too, that Calf Crusher looked & felt so vicious, because of that + AJ really cranked it back violently. Also I HAVE TILL 5 & the knees to the head in the cravate before suplexing AJ = GOAT. And I absolutely loved the finish - always great seeing Mr. Small Package pop up once in a while. ****1/2

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I've loved all the matches they've had against each other this year and this was their best one yet, as expected. And what's more amazing is that they still left a couple of more high end stuff for their next match (probably at the Rumble but I'd love for them to save it for Mania). They are so fucking good at wrestling that they had a back and forth match in 2018 WWE that didn't rely in a single high spot or flippy move to get the crowd invested, and they made a fucking half crab a believable finish. Mr. Small Package strikes again, I just adore that D-Bry is having his 05-06 ROH Title run in WWE, I can't fucking wait for every match he's about to have.


PS: Two favorite parts of the match were the knee strikes-to-cravate suplex that DB pulled off (so brutal, so simple, so effective, that's my kind of wrestling) and AJ selling the 450 splash perfectly. It hurt like a motherfucker to pull the move off, but he still went for the pin as quick as possible because he had a sense of urgency. It's the kind of detail no one in the US pulls off anymore.

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This right here was great in every way. It started off slow but the more it build the these two got in their element. Bryan's aggressive work on the ribs and AJ's counter work on the left leg was masterful. That knee strikes to the cravate suplex was EPIC on all levels. Also Aj's selling was superb especially coming down to  the with hitting the 450. And the finish was was a sight to be hold, Bryan won with a small package but most importantly he won strong. Heels can be heels and win strong, loved it. Great condensed version of Bryan's 06 run and actually have me pumped for something in WWE going into 2019. 

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It really says something when you can get a "This is awesome" chant without a ton of big spots and flashy moves. This was a pretty straightforward yet extremely physical match. It's such a rare trait for wrestlers these days to make matches feel like a big deal without a ton of bombs and kickouts, but that's what A.J. and Bryan did. Even if both haven't had the best years, they reminded everyone that when it comes to pure talent, they're quite possibly still the best in the world. And the small package finish was brilliant as it gave Bryan a clean win and while A.J. looked great in defeat. Sort of a "Got 'im!" that's tough to pull off but works so well when executed properly. ****1/4

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