Posts Tagged ‘AJ Styles’

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: AJ Styles

February 29, 2016

WILPW

I knew I wanted to write another one of these but I was suffering from too many ideas. I thought about doing a post on Daniel Bryan since it would be kind of timely. However, I am still a little too emotional to cover Daniel Bryan at the moment. I have a lot of other ideas but let’s go with a bright and shining star that is just now getting noticed by a lot of people but who I have known for quite some time now. Let’s talk about “The Phenomenal One” AJ Styles.

On January 24, 2016 the WWE held their annual Royal Rumble event. The Royal Rumble is a payperview where big event matches that often starts or furthers some of the biggest storylines of the year. The event is the official start to the Road to Wrestlemania as it starts a countdown to the biggest show of the year (in the WWE Universe). The crown jewel of this event is the Royal Rumble match itself which involved 30 performers competing in one match. This year the match stipulations were announced that the winner would immediately become the Heavyweight Champion of the WWE. Every year in the match there are surprise entrants but this year was the biggest surprise of them all. Entrant number three: AJ Styles.

Now let’s take it back a bit and explain just who AJ Styles is. At least, let me explain my experiences with him. Back in 2005 I was getting a little bored with WWE’s product, not knowing that business was about to pick up again. For the first time in my life I started to cast about for some other pro-wrestling product to watch. I knew that WCW was dead but was there something else out there? There was. Total Nonstop Action had started up and I found it on Spike TV pretty easily. Thankfully I had missed their darkest days but I was just in time for some of their best years. Part of the best part of those years was AJ Styles.

The X-Division of TNA Impact was amazing. It was full of high-flying, technically proficient and innovative performers who were all pretty young. Up until then I was used to the WWE style which had a lot of drama and tension but less flash or variation. AJ Stlyes knew the limitations of his body and seemed to somehow exceed them. The arms race within TNA forced him to innovate his style and moveset at an alarming pace to keep his spot. He was super over (popular) on TNA television and payperviews and was almost immediately one of their top stars.

Styles then worked with Total Nonstop Action through some great years and then some really bad years. Unfortunately, the company continued to hemorhage money, fans and good will. For whatever reason (and I refuse to speculate or spread rumors), Styles left what was now known as Impact Wrestling, ending a 12 year relationship. At that point he became one of the hottest free agents in pro-wrestling. The WWE would have been smart to snap him up right there and maybe they tried. Styles immediately hit the indy scene and kind of settled in at New Japan Pro Wrestling where he joined The Bullet Club, a hugely popular faction in Japan and among knowledgeable fans throughout the rest of the world.

He put on high quality matches with all sorts of people in Japan and he also came back and put on five star matches with organizations like Ring of Honor here in the United States. Unfortunately, to many fans he simply fell off the face of the Earth because it’s not exactly easy to watch Japanese matches at a whim. Also, if somebody disappears off of cable television wrestling shows they are just gone to most people. I saw a little bit but unfortunately he mostly disappeared for me. I saw him a bit on Ring of Honor television but that was it. Then the rumormills began saying that he and the Bullet Club were coming to the WWE. (Although one of them was already there)

So now he has signed a WWE contract and has already competed in a whole bunch of matches. In fact, he competed against “Y2J” Chris Jericho and beat him in two out of three high profile matches. Now he and Jericho (a WWE and WCW veteran) have formed a tag team and are competing on television in the lead up to Wrestlemania. Now here’s where I get real. While AJ Styles is a great performer in a tag team, his shining moments have come from being a singles wrestler. My hope now is that the WWE will trust his eighteen year career and let him show the world while he still can. Daniel Bryan just ended a sixteen year career because of injury and he barely got a chance to succeed. Don’t do the same with AJ.

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling Episode: Comedy!

September 22, 2014

WILPW

I realized that I could really use a laugh after a long weekend after a somewhat uncertain week so that is today’s subject.  That realization made me realize the obvious fact that we could all use a laugh sometimes.  I will say right away that pro-wrestling is not my main source of comedy.  I have funny friends, funny family and funny co-workers to keep me laughing.  However, when I’m watching my wrestling shows, I like a little comedy there too.

The problem with comedy in pro-wrestling is that, according to the show’s internal fiction, these guys are at either at each others’ throats or allying with each other.  They are all fighting for the top spot so why would they stop and make jokes when their paycheck is on the line?  This is a valid point.  It definitely takes a light touch.  Just like any other comedy, the joke cannot be forced or clash with the fabric of the story around it.

The WWE (back when it was the WWF) ran into this problem with serious wrestlers like Bret Hart having to fight Doink the Clown.  Of course, much of the company had become pretty cartoony by that point.  This led to a backlash movement that quickly became the Attitude Movement where performers dropped the characters they were given and began to play characters closer to their own personalities.  Of course, the comedy continued and segments from Degeneration X, The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin were especially funny.

The WWE is definitely maturing in its comedy as the company ages.  Occasionally, the company will assume that poop and barf are comedy gold.  This is never ever true.  It was not funny when Betty White (yes, that Betty White) dosed Billy Gunn with laxatives.  It was not funny when Titus O’Neil barfed all over the announcers and ringside crew.  I know that little kids do watch their program and they do find barf, poop and pee funny.  Should we really cater to that?  Really?

There are plenty more examples of comedy that does not make me sigh or wish I was watching anything else.

Shawn Michaels returns to Degeneration X

Shawn Michaels and HHH have great comedic timing together and whenever they weren’t trying to kill each other they often teamed up as the leaders of Degeneration X.  This is the most polished of their work that comes to mind.  Sure they did a lot of funny stuff over the decades they’ve been together but for some reason this sticks out in my head more.

Enzo Amore and Colin Cassady

Enzo Amore continues to be the funniest person in mainstream wrestling today.  Everything he says makes me laugh and smile mainly because he just has great delivery.  He does some fun wordplay and purposefully pronounces names and words wrong.  With Big Cass by his side, his jokes will never be S-A-W-F-T.

Chikara Slo-Mo

I have mostly watched Chikara through Youtube which I feel a little bad about.  I should probably break down and purchase some DVDs to support the cause.  If there’s a funny pro-wrestling clip on the internet, it’s probably Chikara.  Since every wrestler in Chikara is a cartoon, they go to outrageous extremes in interrupting matches for comedy bits.  Everybody involved gets in on the act and it’s what fans pay to see so there’s no problem.

Chuck Taylor Scares Kids

This will never stop being funny to me.  The Kentucky Gentleman Chuck Taylor just loves scaring little kids in the crowd or sometimes he will just pick fights with them.  It’s not only funny but it goes a long way towards making him a funny heel.  He’s a villain in the way that Pete is a villain to Mickey Mouse.  He’s a villain because there has to be a villain but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a lot of fun.

Dance Off!

I discovered these a while back.  I have seen these dance offs between wrestlers mostly in Youtube clips from English promotions.  In the WWE they often do a dance off and the joke is that one person is great and the other one is obviously horrible.  Here, the match stops and the two (or more) performers bust out their moves and the fans decide.  Here we get to decide between Curry Man dance moves or AJ Styles’ nerdy dancing.

3MB Verbal Gaffe

Not much to say about this one.  The 3 Man Band was one of the best comedy heel teams of all time.  Thrown together on a whim, three young wrestlers made the most of it.  They really pushed their gimmick to the limit.  I didn’t even complain when they took the dwarf Hornswoggle on and (unofficially) renamed themselves 3.5MB.  Here we get a look at them being the goofballs we all knew and loved.


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