DVDs - VGames - Books DVD Review: IWC, “Best of AJ Styles, 2003-04,” with Sabin, Daniels, Homicide, Punk
Aug 2, 2005 - 10:00:00 AM
PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO BOOKMARK US & VISIT US DAILY
By Chris Vetter, Torch Contributor
International Wrestling Cartel, the Pittsburgh-based promotion, has recently released a “Best of A.J. Styles” DVD. I am a huge Styles fan, and this was a must-buy DVD for me.
NOTE: IWC DVD’s are DVD-R. I still don’t entirely understand what that means, but IWC warns customers that its DVDs may not play in your system. They do NOT work in my DVD player; it skips and freezes. However, I had no problem when I put it in my Playstation 2. IWC has information inside the DVD case on how to exchange your DVD if it will not play.
This DVD is a series of eight matches. There is no introduction, and no comments between matches, like TNA’s “Best of AJ Styles,” DVD. This is just the matches, plus commentary from those shows. I really like the quality of IWC’s taping, and I think play-by-play announcer Jeff Gorman is underrated.
NOTE: Gorman and the IWC announcers have dubbed Styles move, where he does a springboard moonsault, catches his opponent’s head, and hits an inverted DDT, “The Phenomenon.” I like this name; hopefully TNA, ROH and PWG announcers will pick up on it.
(1) A.J. Styles defeats Super Hentai at 8:10 to win the Super Indy title (3/14/03). Really good, but surprisingly short. Hentai is really short, wears a mask, and blue & red pants. He hit a hurricanrana. Styles hit a shoulder tackle and a Kip-up Rana. This is very quick action. Styles hit a backbreaker over his knee and a gutbuster. Hentai came back with some stiff forearms.
Styles hit an Alabama Slam and some chops. Hentai hit a German suplex. Styles hit the Phenomenon at 5:30. They brawled on the top turnbuckle, and both crashed onto the ropes. Raven interfered, hitting Super Hentai with an Evenflow DDT. Styles didn’t see the interference. He picked up Hentai and hit the Styles Clash for the pin.
(2) Chris Sabin defeats A.J. Styles at 12:57 (11/22/03). Really good for the time given. The announcers say these are “the two fastest rising stars in indy wrestling.” Styles hit a Reverse Rana for a rollup and a nearfall early. They traded mat holds, headlocks, and a standoff, and the crowd applauded the action. Styles hit a nice dropkick to Sabin’s face and a spinal kick.
Sabin came back with a belly-to-belly overhead suplex, a Northern Lights Suplex for a nearfall, and a spine kick. Styles hit his Kip-Up Rana, a plancha to the floor at 6:00, and a gutbuster over his knee. They traded stiff forearms, and Styles hit a power slam. Sabin hit a German release suplex, and both men were down at 9:00. Sabin hit an enziguri, but Styles came back with the Pele kick.
Sabin nailed a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for a nearfall, then a springboard DDT for a nearfall. Styles hit the Phenomenon at 12:00. The crowd is super hot for this action. Sabin scored the pin with a rollup. The crowd gave both men a standing ovation. “A breakout victory for Chris Sabin,” an announcer said. Really good, and could have gone much longer.
(3) Colt Cabana defeats A.J. Styles at 11:51 (12/12/03). Good, but I was hoping for more; these two have a better match in them. They are both faces, and they shake hands. Cabana grounds Styles early on, with lots of headlocks and mat holds. Styles got in his dropkick to the face at 4:00 to pop the crowd. Cabana took over with a back body drop, a neckbreaker in the ropes, an Asai Moonsault, and a top-rope crossbody block for a nearfall.
Styles came back with a gutbuster over his knee, a standing neckbreaker, and a Muta Lock. Cabana nailed a neckbreaker over his knee at 8:30. Styles hit the Pele kick, and they traded a series of nearfalls. Styles hit the Phenonomen. Cabana applied a bearhug, then turned it into a DDT. Cabana went for a Styles Clash! Styles blocked it, but Cabana somehow rolled up A.J. for the pin. Good match, but well below the great matches later on this DVD.
(4) A.J. Styles defeats CM Punk at 17:39 (3/20/04). Really good match. This is only one week after these two met at an ROH show. Great crowd pop for both wrestlers. A.J. worked on the left arm, and this is intense action early. Punk bailed. Styles went for the Styles Clash at 3:00, but Punk escaped it. Styles nailed some hard kicks to Punk’s thighs. Punk came back with a back suplex and he went for headlocks.
Styles hit a Crucifix Takedown for a nearfall and a flying kneedrop at 7:00 for a nearfall. Punk hit a vertical suplex for a nearfall, a neckbreaker in the ropes, and he worked on A.J.’s neck. Styles hit the Pele kic at 11:00. Punk hit a backbreaker over his knee, a Mafia Kick, and a top-rope guillotine legdrop for a nearfall. Styles hit two consecutive enziguris.
Punk hit a German Suplex with a bridge for a believable nearfall at 14:30. Styles hit the Phenomenon, and they traded stiff forearms. Punk’s nose is bleeding. Punk hit a Shining Wizard/running knee, but Styles fell to the floor. Styles came back with the Styles Clash for the pin. Very good action.
(5) A.J. Styles defeats Homicide at 23:30 (4/17/04). This is Homicide’s IWC debut. The ringside camera is slightly out of focus early. They traded arm holds and headlocks, and this is intense early. Homicide hit a shoulder tackle and some armdrags. The crowd is really behind Styles. Styles hit his dropkick for a nearfall at 8:00. Styles hit a flying kneedrop, and they brawled to the floor.
Styles flipped Homicide into the ring post. Back in the ring, Homicide hit a belly-to-belly overhead suplex, flipping Styles into the corner at 10:00. Styles hit the Kip-Up Rana, a Muta Lock, and he worked over Homicide’s left leg. Homicide went for the Tope Con Helo, but Styles stopped it with a spin kick. Styles hit a springboard flying elbow. Homicide later nailed the Tope Con Helo/dive to the floor at 15:00.
Back in the ring, Homicide hit an Exploder Suplex for a nearfall. Styles hit a top-rope crossbody block. Styles hit a Brainbuster Suplex for a nearfall at 18:00. Homicide hit a second-rope Ace Crusher for a believable nearfall. They traded stiff forearms, and Styles hit a hurricanrana and the Styles Clash at 21:00, but Homicide kicked out. The crowd is going nuts! Homicide hit the Copkillah/backslide driver, but Styles kicked out! “This is almost surreal,” an announcer said. The crowd is on its feet.
Styles missed a 450 splash. Styles then pinned Homicide with an inside cradle. WOW, that was good. The announcers say, “That was incredible,” and “IWC’s Match of the year.” I agree; this tops a lot of really good matches on this DVD.
(6) A.J. Styles defeats Christopher Daniels at 28:29 (5/8/04). An intense lockup, and quick mat reversals. Balls Mahoney is on color commentary; and I personally think he distracted from the match, as he talked about how he should be in the super indy tournament. Styles is the Super Indy title holder, but, by IWC rules, his reign is over, and he must relinquish it after this match, win or lose.
Lots of armbars and headlocks for the first 10 minutes, until Styles hit a dropkick at 12:00, then a backbreaker over his knee. Daniels hit a gutbuster over his knee, and Styles bailed to the floor. Styles hit a back body drop. Daniels hit an enziguri at 17:00, then an Arabian Press to the floor on Styles, which popped the crowd. A loud “Fallen Angel” chant begins. Daniels hit an Arabian Press back into the ring. Styles hit a spinning uranage, a headscissors takedown, and a forward roll dive to the floor, then the Phenomenon for a nearfall.
Daniels came back with a Blue Thunder Bomb for a believable nearfall at 22:30, but he missed the Best Moonsault Ever, landing on his feet. Styles hit a Northern Lights Suplex for a nearfall, then he connects on the B.M.E. Styles hit an enziguri, and they traded stiff forearms. A.J. hit the Styles Clash for a nearfall at 27:30, and the crowd was on its feet. Styles won it with a spinning short-arm lariat for the pin. They both got a standing ovation, and the crowd chanted “Match of the Year!” The first 10 minutes were a bit slow, but it built nicely with a hot finish. Very good match.
Daniels and Styles hugged after the match. Chris Sabin (who had won the Super Indy tournament earlier on that show) came out, and Styles put the title on Sabin. Classy segment.
(7) Christopher Daniels defeats A.J. Styles and Homicide in a three-way elimination match at 20:23 (8/13/04). Excellent, excellent match, and worth the price of the DVD. This is just non-stop action right from the opening bell. Daniels and Styles both went to dive onto Homicide on the floor, but Daniels turned and clotheslines Styles. Homicide hit a belly-to-belly overhead suplex on Styles, then an Exploder Suplex on Daniels. Styles and Homicide trade some stiff forearms. This is just an unbelievable early pace.
Styles hit a snap suplex on Homicide for a nearfall. Homicide put Styles in a Boston Crab. Daniels hit enziguris on both opponents at 9:00. AJ hit a plancha to the floor on Homicide. Homicide went to put Daniels in the Copkillah, but Daniels escaped it. Styles hit Daniels with a standing neckbreaker at 13:00.
A.J. blocked a move by Homicide, and Styles rolled up Homicide for the pin at 13:53. Homicide is upset and he shoved Styles, until people from the locker room came out and escorted Homicide to the back. Daniels hit Styles with a Blue Thunder Driver at 16:00.
Daniels has taken over on offense with a single leg crab and a bow & arrow tieup. A.J. hit an enziguri and both men are down. The crowd is really hot! Styles hit a brainbuster suplex for a nearfall at 18:30. Daniels hit Styles’ Phenomenon/backflip into inverted DDT. Styles hit Daniels’ Angels Wings for a nearfall. Daniels won it with his Last Rites/spinning neckbreaker faceplant for the pin. Excellent.
(8) A.J. Styles defeats Chris Hero at 14:02 (8/28/04). Surprisingly short for a Hero match. The announcers say this is only their second-ever one-on-one match. (The first one was in IWA-Mid South in Dec. 2003). New Jack is on color commentary, and he is really funny; I enjoyed his input more that Mahoney’s color commentary earlier on this DVD.
Hero opened with a headscissorslock and we have some mat wrestling. Styles hit the dropkick and a plancha to the floor at 4:00. They brawled on the floor. Styles hit a flying kneedrop to Hero’s head, and he planted some hard chops on Hero. Hero applied a cravat hold at 7:00, and they traded more stiff forearms and chops. Hero hit a backbody drop, and he celebrated like he won the match. Hero put A.J. in a Boston Crab, but Styles reached the ropes.
A.J. came back with an enziguri and a Pele kick, and both men were down. Styles hit a pair of hard clotheslines and the Phenomenon. Hero hit a cravat neckbreaker at 12:00 for a nearfall. Hero blocked the Styles Clash, and he put A.J. in a Hangman’s Clutch. Styles escaped it, hit a 450 splash, and scored the pin. Good match.
Final thoughts: If you enjoy watching A.J. Styles matches, you’ll want to purchase this DVD. The Pittsburgh crowds are hot and into every match. Styles brings his top game to every match I’ve ever seen him in, even when only 80 paid are in attendance. Sure, you see a lot of the same offense when you watch eight straight matches of one wrestler, but that’s the case with any “Best of” tape.
This DVD is highly recommended. Purchase it at www.rohwrestling.com for $20.
THE TORCH REACHES MORE COMBAT ENTERTAINMENT FANS THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE
PWTorch editor Wade Keller has covered pro wrestling full time since 1987 starting with the Pro Wrestling Torch print newsletter. PWTorch.com launched in 1999 and the PWTorch Apps launched in 2008.
He has conducted "Torch Talk" insider interviews with Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Eric Bischoff, Jesse Ventura, Lou Thesz, Jerry Lawler, Mick Foley, Jim Ross, Paul Heyman, Bruno Sammartino, Goldberg, more.
He has interviewed big-name players in person incluiding Vince McMahon (at WWE Headquarters), Dana White (in Las Vegas), Eric Bischoff (at the first Nitro at Mall of America), Brock Lesnar (after his first UFC win).
He hosted the weekly Pro Wrestling Focus radio show on KFAN in the early 1990s and hosted the Ultimate Insiders DVD series distributed in retail stories internationally in the mid-2000s including interviews filmed in Los Angeles with Vince Russo & Ed Ferrara and Matt & Jeff Hardy. He currently hosts the most listened to pro wrestling audio show in the world, (the PWTorch Livecast, top ranked in iTunes)
REACHING 1 MILLION+ UNIQUE USERS PER MONTH
500 MILLION CLICKS & LISTENS PER YEAR
MILLIONS OF PWTORCH NEWSLETTERS SOLD
PWTorch offers a VIP membership for $10 a month (or less with an annual sub). It includes nearly 25 years worth of archives from our coverage of pro wrestling dating back to PWTorch Newsletters from the late-'80s filled with insider secrets from every era that are available to VIPers in digital PDF format and Keller's radio show from the early 1990s.
Also, new exclusive top-shelf content every day including a new VIP-exclusive weekly 16 page digital magazine-style (PC and iPad compatible) PDF newsletter packed with exclusive articles and news.
The following features come with a VIP membership which tens of thousands of fans worldwide have enjoyed for many years...
-New Digital PWTorch Newsletter every week
-3 New Digital PDF Back Issues from 5, 10, 20 years ago
-Over 60 new VIP Audio Shows each week
-Ad-free access to all PWTorch.com free articles
-VIP Forum access with daily interaction with PWTorch staff and well-informed fellow wrestling fans
-Tons of archived audio and text articles
-Decades of Torch Talk insider interviews in transcript and audio formats with big name stars. **SIGN UP FOR VIP ACCESS HERE**