Monday, March 31, 2008

Performer Analysis: AJ Styles

1) Innovation- 7/10 When AJ Styles started becoming a known name in the industry, he was a guy to watch because he was trying things that you had never seen before. All kinds of aerial manuevers, different slams and new and exciting ways to execute moves. His margin of error is better than most when trying these very experimental tricks which have now become part of his every day repetoire. He helped usher in a new wave of competitor, guys from the indy scene who were really capable performers, not your usual hillbilly indy jabrone doing shows for some extra cigarette money.

2) Conditioning- 10/10 AJ is definitley strong in this category. He's obviously not the biggest dog in the yard, but he can go for long periods of time in very physical matches. He's got a great build, perfect for his size and tons of energy. He doesn't exhaust easily. Doesn't seem to be hampered by any enhancing substances, but of course, now a days, you never know.

3) Skill- 8/10 This guy has a lot of great skills he can utilize in the ring. It's hard to call him a rookie but he's definitley not a veteran at this point. He has an awesome array of moves that he uses while constantly working on perfecting others. He is a phenomenal worker, and usually has a really competitive match with everyone he wrestles. His selling is top notch and he excels against bigger guys. He takes bumps like nobody's business, often many of them in one match when you wouldn't even think it calls for it.

4) Psychology- 7/10 Has AJ every worked a side headlock for 9 minutes straight in a match? Probably not. Psychology these days is different and yet it's the same. He has very good physical match psych which sometimes allows you not to sell a move or even a series of moves. Aftersell is a huge part of the psychology of a match and I think AJ has a good grasp on that notion. He's played quite a few underdog roles in his career with being a smaller guy and he does it quite well. He works like he's a video game character that takes damage throughout the match collectively but always finds that last bit of power to try and come back. Yet he's also guilty of not selling pain in a bodypart, which sometimes becomes the consensus in feds like ROH, where you're only as good as your last high spot.

5) Interviews- 5/10 I think he's improving, but he usually falls flat here. His southern boy accent always suprises people and gives him a unique opportunity to do something with it, yet he never does. He isn't made to cut a tough guy promo because he doesn't have the build or the character to do it. And his latest foray into comedy is all but laughable. I think he's gaining confidence though and will continue to improve.

6) Character- 6/10 The Phenomenal One; that was a perfect fit for AJ. His cocky heel turn was really bad, and showed how green he really was, not only in the ring, but as portraying a character. He's much better as a face who fights for himself and the people. He's a tough kid (well, shit, he's over 30 now) and he worked much more effectively when he was the guy in TNA that could always rise to the occasion and top his last match. Now, he wears Reindeer suits and holds his family hostage over what musclebound freak's corner he stands in while even his wife and priest try to reason with him. Don't ask me what happened; the only explanation I can give you is Russo has struck again.

7) Fans- 7/10 I realize the fan base of TNA and ROH are rabid loyalists who only make up a small margin of the fans worldwide, but wrestling fans know good wrestling and AJ has been all over the world and is pretty well known. I'd say at one time, he was one of the most popular guys in the business during his really hot X Division run a few years back. I think he could play in the big leagues and draw a good section of fans, kind of like an RVD did.

8) Basics- 7/10 You may not think it but Styles has some good basics in him. For one, he's a hell of a striker. He always lays his shots in, despite the opponent which is something i can respect. He's not one of the more skilled technicians but he definitley can hold his own and has come up with some pretty inventive holds on the ground. He can reversal and counter with the best of them, almost a pre-requsite in Ring of Honor and has great near falls. He's a fun wrestler to watch.

9) Feuds/Opponents- 7/10 Samoa Joe. Christopher Daniels. Low Ki. Paul London. AJ has worked programs with great workers, which almost no matter the storyline, as long as the work is there, you can build a tremendous feud. He's probably gotten in the ring with everyone that's come through the pike in TNA since it's inception and has faced every top indy guy in the last 6 to 7 years as well. He's well versed with tons of different sizes and styles in opponents and it would be interesting to see him face the mega-stars of the industry and see how he meshes with them. I believe one day he will have that opportunity and already has faced major names such as Sting, Kurt Angle, and Kevin Nash.

10) Gutcheck- 6/10 AJ has fought hard to become a star in the industry and continues to amaze and awe audiences around the world with his energetic, fast paced and hard hitting style of competition. I think overcoming the size hurdle wasn't as hard in the last 10 years as in the 80's and that kind of open door policy from most companies really helped AJ. His only major flaw I see is his relationship with Vince Russo, which has never done anything for his career besides put him in a reindeer suit on national TV and endorse Russo's shitty Jesus fed which was a sure sign of the Apocolypse.

Score: 70
Rank: Superstar
PO: Thumbs Middle

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