A.J. Styles vs. Roderick Strong
Ring of Honor
Nashville Fairgrounds (Nashville, Tennessee)
This was A.J.’s first match on his 2014 Indie tour but the third one to be distributed (prior two discussed here and here). It is probably the second best – or worst for you pessimists out there – of his matches thus far.
The beginning was good, basic feel-out stuff. Strong’s head-scissors on the mat was something I don’t recall ever seeing him do before. The one major positive for Styles’ US Indie return thus far has been the way all of his matches have at least attempted to lay a foundation early on with good, simple holds and mat work. It sure beats two guys sleepwalking through a lock up and couple of arm-wringers before transitioning straight to the body of the match.
My hope was that this being a TV match and Styles & Strong being veterans, that it would stay relatively basic and focused. It did not play out quite like that. They didn’t go way overboard but some of the more annoying elements found in many ROH matches were on display here. There was a ring apron move, a standing striking section late in the match after no prior build to such a sequence and probably a couple too many near falls past where the match peaked.
Those elements are nothing new to ROH or the US Indie scene. I previously wrote that Styles has perfected the 2004 Indie style here in 2014. Perfected might have been too strong of a word. It is more like he has the formula down to the point where his matches do not stray far from that style. As mentioned in the Alexander match that’s not inherently a bad thing because when done well, there is nothing wrong with that style. When some of the more negative elements are highlighted – too many near falls, match goes too long, big moves with no build – then there it isn’t as great. Unfortunately this match had a few too many of those negative elements.
Overall, I have the Cedric Alexander match above this but Strong is clearly a step above Jaysin Strife so they have that particular match beat. Chris Hero seemed happy on Twitter with how his match versus Styles went in Toronto a couple of weeks ago so it will be interesting to see that when it comes out to compare to this one.
By the way, the botched Styles Clash looked as brutal as it sounded. Hopefully it is a one-time aberration.
US Indie | Common | Individual Performance (Styles)