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TonyPulis'Cap

[2004-11-07-TNA-Victory Road] Petey Williams vs AJ Styles

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This is for the X Division Title, and came at the time when AJ would routinely bounce between being a contender for the X Title and then the World Title. This is from TNA's first 3 hour PPV, with the hook being that AJ is the X Division ace that Petey would have to overcome if he wanted to cement his own credibility as champion. Because of this there's a real buzz at the the beginning of the match from the crowd and the opening exchanges are really good with lots of intensity, and I liked, whether through reality or design that Petey looked to be having to work extra hard to keep up with AJ, who just felt like he was just getting started. I think this is the story they were trying to tell in the match, but ultimately it goes too far and this is way to one sided. Again, not sure if this is by design or just simply that in non kayfabe AJ is on that next level, but he just looks several notches above Petey here. He rolls out some fantastic sequences including a back flip off the apron and then scoring with a kick from behind, as well as dodging Scott D'Amore interference on the outside to score with a springboard forearm and is so smooth but also explosive in everything he does.  Petey by contrast rarely gets to land a blow unless it's a opening caused by D'Amore distraction. I remember that being a criticism at the time that Team Canada matches wouldn't often devolve into too many D'Amore spots and that would overshadow matches, and that's the case here. When done right, manager involvement can be a fantastic storytelling tool but here the interference overwhelms the match, and while they were probably hoping for a bit of show stealer coming in, Petey comes across as nowhere in AJ's league and someone that flukes his way to retaining rather than being sneaky or resourceful. (** 3/4)

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