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Guest Phoenix Fury Legdrop

"Best Of A.J. Styles Vol. 2" review

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Guest Phoenix Fury Legdrop



This is a comp tape produced by Steve Martin Productions (who used to produce the Wildside TV shows) filled with singles matches featuring A.J. Styles from December 2000 to January 2002. Let's get to the review...



Chrismas Chaos 2000



Steve Martin (former Wildside owner/former Wildside TV producer) and Steven Prazak are on commentary, and Jeff G. Bailey is in A.J.'s corner, as this is from when A.J. was doing his preppy jock "Role Model" gimmick as a part of the heel NWA Elite stable. This match is overrated, IMO. I've heard people say this is one of the best matches in Wildside history, and that is, for sure, not true. It was miles ahead of a lot of stuff in Wildside during this point in time, though. This was a big spotfest, with no story being told whatsoever, unless you count Jeff G. Bailey interfering every minute or so as a story. A.J. did hit a nice Swanton, better than I've ever seen Jeff Hardy or Sean O'Haire do it. There is one point in this match I want to mention as a comparision to a recent event on WWE TV. During the match, there was a point where they didn't communicate well, and the match looked like it was starting to fall apart. So, A.J. grabs Paris, puts him in a headlock, and gets the match back in order. Fast forward to the mixed tag match from Raw a few weeks ago. Someone should have gotten someone else in a headlock or something and told them what to do next instead of just going on with it. Just thought I'd mention that. The finish is quite lame, as Styles hits a superplex, and they do the double-pin spot, and, just because, Paris gets the win. After the match, SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT insues, as The Kohl Twins (same Kohl twins who beat Harlem Heat in WCW in 1993), Onyx, Jeff G. Bailey, and Steve Martin attack Paris, but Paris's partners in Suicidal Tendencies, John Phoenix and "All That" Adam Jacobs, The Boogaloo Crew (Scottie Wrenn & J.C. Dazz), and "The Beast" Bob Sapp (If you think he looks scary in PRIDE, think of him in a promotion where everyone's 6', 230 pounds, and under).


WINNER: Air Paris




Conyers, Georgia



This was filmed at the Conyers Horsetrack (I think). We clip into this with ring announcer Dan "The Dragon" Wilson standing in the ring, making stupid faces at the camera (which is giving Dan the "Extreme Closeup"). During the entrances, I noticed how good Jeff G. Bailey (who is accompaning a now heel Adam Jacobs to the ring) at getting his boys heel heat. This was an odd mix of the acrobatic style that A.J. works, and a slower Southern style. The stalling at the beginning sucked for the match, but it got the match some good heat from the locals. This was better than the previous match, though nothing mind-blowing. Bailey was great at ringside, working the crowd. He did make a racial slur at a Mexican man in the crowd that I felt was a little out of place. Of course, this is the same guy who praises Timothy McVeigh and brings up Nazi Germany in positive light in his promos. Story of the match was that heel referee Andrew Thomas (who's great in the role) has been paid off by Jeff G. Bailey, and is helping Adam cheat a lot. The finish comes when Bailey "distracts" Thomas after Styles hits the Styles Clash, giving Jacobs the opening to jump A.J. from behind, and hits the Georgia Bulldog Jam (top rope legdrop) for the win. After the match, to add the extra touch, Thomas leaves with Bailey and Jacobs to "get his payoff". Fun, but not mind-blowing.


WINNER: Adam Jacobs

RATING: **1/4



"Out For Blood 2", Athens, Georgia



This was filmed on "Fan Cam", which might be why the footage is fuzzy. This was filmed at the Athens Theatre (I think), and the set-up was the ring on a stage, and the crowd sitting in the house of the theatre, sort of like the WWA Pay-Per-View in Las Vegas. In an XPW-ish move, we see Dan Wilson leaving the ring as his voice-over commentary begins. The crowd is a little more X-rated with their reactions (Example: the place erupts in a "Bailey f*cks goats" chant). This is the previous match (Bailey pays off Andrew Thomas to cheat for his man) with a more ECW-ish crowd, cooler high-spots, less of a Southern feel, and Cross in the role of Jacobs. Cross is doing A.J.'s old "Role Model" gimmick just to add fuel to the fire. They do the mirror sequence spots, which can be annoying sometimes, to put over that Cross is just as good as Styles. They used the Tiger Wall Flip spot three times, twice in the ring, and A.J. did it on a wall in the crowd. The cameraman missed some vital spots, like most of Jason's corkscrew flip dive from the stage to the floor, and Jeff G. Bailey's superkick to A.J. (It literally looked like a foot flew into A.J.'s jaw magically). The lighting during the crowd brawling was weird, as it looked like someone turned off the ring lights and turned on a dark light spotlight. Finish came when Cross hits the Styles Clash on A.J. This was better than good, but not great


WINNER: Jason Cross




IPW Show, Tampa, Florida



This was not very good. Sullivan tried to be flashy and stuff, but he can't pull off that style. That dragged Styles down, as he had no one to feed his spots off of. Sullivan had some valet that annoyed the crap out of me. She kept screaming, "Yeah!", or "Go, Mike!", or just marking out in general. I thought I even heard her join in yelling "Whoo!" with the 20 or so fans in attendance whenever either guy would connect with a chop. I think there's some sort of interpromotional war going on here, as the crowd chanted "I-P-Dub" during the match, and A.J. responded with "IPW What?" A.J. did break out the Spiral Tap, though he didn't hit it. Can't think of much else memorable in this match other than Wildside referee Andrew Thomas worked this match. Sullivan won after sort of reversing a quebrada by Styles into what was supposed to be a powerslam, but Sullivan botched it badly. It wasn't crap, but it wasn't good.


WINNER: Mike Sullivan

RATING: *1/2



NWA 54th Anniversary, Tampa, Florida



Styles is working heel tonight, and, to get heel heat, he brings along Jeff G. Bailey to be his cornerman. Bailey cuts a short, yet effective promo, saying that "when Styles worked Nitro, he walked out to a standing ovation, while when (Daniels) was on Nitro, he landed on the top of his head and was wheeled out to yawns." Andrew Thomas reffed this match as well. I expected more from this match. It was a glorified spotfest. It was a higher-quality spotfest due to Daniels's nice moveset complimenting A.J.'s, but a spotfest nonetheless. The selling on A.J.'s part was not good. Example: Daniels hits his swank spinning Blue Thunder Bomb, and 10 seconds later, they're doing a waistlock reversal spot. But, if you're going to do a spotfest, do the spots well. The spots were done very well, which was the big posititve to go up against the negative. A.J. hit a Tiger Wall flip where, if he jumped just an inch higher, he would have landed on Daniels's throat. Jeff Bailey was excellent at getting the crowd heat, getting the fans on his side of the building to want him dead. Near the end, everyone in the crowd was calling for the Angel's Wings, so Daniels, being the nice guy that he is, gives it to Styles for them. Finish comes when Styles hits the Styles Clash after interference from Bailey. Nice, but they should have worked in some psychology.


WINNER: A.J. Styles




Christmas Chaos 2001, Cornelia, Georgia



Great match. Both men brought their "A" game for sure. Michaels is probably the most under-utilized guy in the indies today. Most guys don't get a break because they're too small. Rick hasn't gotten much of a break because he's too big. He's not the prototypical independent Jr. heavyweight, so he doesn't get to do the traveling that A.J. and David Young get. Hell, NWA:TNA employs the guy, but not as a wrestler. You say, "so, why is he working for them?" He's their damn COSTUME DESIGNER. That's right, the man behind the Elvis suits, Rick Michaels. Anyway, let's get to this match. The matwork was tight, though A.J.'s tendency to flip around sort of ruined its credibilty (for instance, he used a fancy flip as a segway to a short arm scissors). A.J. was very intense in this match, which is probably his strong suit to getting his character over, since he can't cut a promo without sounding like "Deputy Dawg". They did some WWF 2000 main event-style brawling, which was very good. They told a hell of a story, with A.J. as the blue-chip student with all the physical abilities in the world, and Michaels as the rugged veteran (10 years, only 28 years old, by the way) who is trying to show up this "snot-nosed punk" the old-fashioned way: by kicking his ass. Dan Wilson proved why he should have been Eric Gargiulo's replacement in Ring Of Honor, and why he, at only 21 years of age, is one of, if not the best, play-by-play man in the business today. His commentary provided an insight into the story of the match without completely overshadowing the match itself. This match just had the feel of a big-time match, even in a wore-down abandoned one-room schoolhouse with 300 fans (if that) in attendance. The finish was a little Sports-Entertainment-ish, which will take a little off of the rating, first by doing a false "Halloween Havoc 1990" finish, with Michaels & Styles brawling to the back, and then Michaels bringing back Jason Cross with his face covered to get the three-count, and then Wildside owner/NWA VP/Jeff Jarrett's personal chairshot bitch Bill Behrens revealing Cross's face (which was a nice touch, since they did this exact same finish at Fright Night 2001, only Michaels got away with it and won the belt from Scottie Wrenn by pinning David Young). Then Styles came back out and hit the Styles Clash on Cross on the ramp. Then, David Young came out and turned on Rick Michaels, helping Styles hit a botched top rope Styles Clash for the win. Match Of The Tape, for sure. Michaels is a diamond in the rough, and Styles, when he's on (like he was here), can be just stupendous. If the finish wasn't so clustered, I'd have no problem giving this four stars. If you're reading this, go pick up some Rick Michaels tapes, it'll be worth your time.



RATING: ***3/4



Wildside TV Taping, Cornelia, Georgia



In the match listing on the box, it actually has "*****" right by the match. It wasn't quite *****, but it was good. A little spotty, but good. Better than their TNA match, for sure. I'll agree with Larry Goodman, the guy who does Wildside TV recaps for the major sites, in that the teeny-boppers filling the Wildside undercard should watch Young's matches closely, as he does a lot of the little things well, and can sell his ass off. He made A.J look like a million bucks in this one, and, not surprisingly, both guys were over more by the end of this thing. The one thing I don't like about Young, and I didn't like about this match, is that Young, much like Jerry Lynn, seems to go more his opponent's style, rather than mesh his and the guy who he's working with's styles together, which would have made this a much better match. Young, who can be a master psychologist in the ring at times, instead went for the highspot style that A.J. employs when he's not lead elsewhere by the guy he works with. Though, what it's worth, David, like Lynn, doesn't look out of place doing the high-speed style. There was some good matwork, but it lasted about a minute, and wasn't referenced to later in the match. Really, this match seemed like segments from a few different matches thrown into one, and a few of the "segments" seemed like they'd make worthwhile matches if built around. This match originally goes to a 15-minute time limit, but Young and Styles ask for 5 more minutes, and they get it. They fight in the crowd, and Styles hits a really good-looking somersault press on Young. They get back into the ring, and the 5 minutes run out while Young has Styles pinned after reversing Styles's Dragonrana into a spinebuster. Like I said at the beginning, this was good, but not mind-blowingly awesome like Wildside would have you believe. This was worthwhile, as this was the match that made David Young a main event player in Wildside, and probably the match that got Young into TNA (since Young's TNA tryout match with Styles at the Tojo Yamamoto Memorial was the exact same match, only Young was champion).


WINNER: none

RATING: ***1/2


OVERALL THOUGHTS: If you're expecting a series of five-star matches in this tape, you may not want to watch. But if you want to see A.J.'s progression in the year 2001 from just one of the guys in Georgia to a really good talent who's getting national exposure now, you should watch this. Everything but the Sullivan match ranged from solid to really good. The tape quality for the tape depends on which match you're watching. The Daniels and Cross matches seemed to have the worst tape quality, as my VCR, which shows a blue screen every time the footage gets fuzzy, gave me about 30 seconds of blue screen during the Daniels match due to some scrambling and discoloration. I will recommend this tape.


To order "Best Of A.J. Styles Volume 2: Rise of The Phenomenon", go to http://nwa-worldwide.com/merchga.htm


Next time, I'll start a three-pack of Wildside event tapes with "Freedom Fight 2001".

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Guest Phoenix Fury Legdrop

Thanks for the compliment. Update on the Freedom Fight review: I thought I could pump it out by today, but I've been really tired for some reason lately, and I'm holding it off until after I get back from vacation next week.

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