For almost 2 decades, AJ Styles has wowed and amazed wrestling fans worldwide with his amazing agility, innovation, and high impact, high flying moves such as the Spiral Tap, The Phenomenal Forearm and, my personal favorite, Superman. He has won countless championships including the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, the ROH Pure Wrestling Championship, the TNA X Division Championship, the NWA TNA World Heavyweight Championship and of course, the WWE World Heavyweight title, which at the time of writing this article, he is the current owner of.
While the amount of championships and amazing moves he has in his repertoire are quite phenomenal (pun intended), he also, in that time, has put on some classic matches with the likes of John Cena, Kurt Angle, Christopher Daniels, Shinsuke Nakamura, Jerry Lynn and Chris Jericho. With names like that, it truly is no small thing to just pick 15 matches and yet still, here I am, making this list. Well, without further ado, here is a list of just some of those classics.
15. AJ Styles vs. Kevin Steen – House of Hardcore V
For those of you who don’t know, the current reigning WWE Universal Champion Kevin Owens used to go by the name of Kevin Steen. Styles puts on a great show as he usually does, while Steen does a masterful job at “entertaining” the crowd. This includes mocking a fan, putting Styles in a submission hold and shouting “I will keep this on all night,” and kicking a camera man, for what appeared to be no apparent reason. The match comes to an end when Steen attempts a package piledriver, AJ counters and connects with his signature Pele Kick, and not too long after that follows up with a Styles Clash for the win. As much as this victory was sweet for AJ, this had to have been an even sweeter victory for the fans watching.
14. AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels vs. Samoa Joe – Turning Point 2009
This is the rematch from the trio’s classic encounter at TNA’s Unbreakable PPV that took place about 4 years prior. If you had been watching TNA Wrestling from 2005 until then, you’d probably know that a lot of things changed since the last time these three had a match. For one, the once bitter rivals Styles and Daniels became friends and even won the NWA TNA World Tag Team Championships. Plus, Samoa Joe reached the top of the mountain when he became TNA World Heavyweight Champion in 2008 at TNA’s Lockdown. However, the fact that so much changed did not stop these three from once again putting on a classic fight.
13. AJ Styles vs. John Cena – SummerSlam 2016
John Cena gets a lot of heat due to what some fans feel is a stale and played out gimmick. Add the fact that a lot of fans think he lacks a lot of wrestling ability and buries potential main event caliber superstars and you have a recipe for disaster, right? Well, not this time. Style’s SummerSlam match with John Cena seemed next to perfect and fans who both like and hate Cena seem to agree. To top it all off, Styles didn’t lose, which meant that Cena didn’t have to worry about all of his detractors telling him that he’s selfish and doesn’t want to pass the proverbial torch.
12. AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels vs. Samoa Joe – TNA Unbreakable 2005
It’s hard to find anything good to say about this match. Not because it sucked, but because there isn’t that many great things about this match that I haven’t already heard by another wrestling fan. The match starts off with Daniels trash talking both Styles and Joe followed by Daniels paying for it by getting double teamed. Daniels would definitely get retribution later on in the match with an enzuigiri to the X Division Title belt and Samoa Joe’s head simultaneously. Other than that, there are loads of other must-see moments as well, like AJ Styles hitting a springboard shooting star press onto both Daniels and Joe. Heck, the match was so impressive that it got a five star rating from wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer. Why wouldn’t it make the list?
11. AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura – Wrestle Kingdom 10
What made this match so special was that it was AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura’s first one-on-one encounter. What makes it even more special was that the match took place at New Japan Pro Wrestling’s WrestleMania: Wrestle Kingdom. While the two began the match with some traditional, yet respectable wrestling holds, it got way more intense as the match progressed with plenty of amazing counters and some suspenseful near-falls as well. Although it was Nakumura that ultimately won the match, AJ still put up a hell of an effort.
10. AJ Styles vs. Kurt Angle – Genesis 2010
These two put on a number of wrestling classics in TNA and this match was no exception. The biggest highlight had to be the ending, when Styles was given the TNA World Title by Ric Flair so he could hit Angle with it and capitalize off the fact that the ref was knocked down. When you think about it, this is kind of a let down considering these two were both babyface wrestlers going into the match AND that for the most part, at least, that during the match it stayed that way. In my opinion, it would have kind of been cool to see them shake hands after the match. Instead of that, Styles hits Angle after what seemed to be signs of hesitation and the rest, as they say, is history.
9. AJ Styles & Christopher Daniels vs LAX – Bound For Glory 2006
This match had a number of highlights but here are a few: Styles hits a picture-perfect crossbody dive off the top of a cage, Daniels gets stabbed with a fork, and at nearly 300 pounds, Hernandez dives off of the top of the cage. The more I think about it, though, these two teams are like night and day. On one side you have the high flying tactics of AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels that I guess you could call a thing of beauty to see. On the other side, you have the ruthlessness of the Latin American Xchange with a lot of their moves just being… plain ugly. Honestly, to really appreciate this one you have to see it with your own eyes to understand.
8. AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels – Against All Odds 2005
Daniels and Styles are great as a tag team, but their matches against each other are exceptional, as well. A perfect example of this is the match they had at TNA’s Against All Odds Pay Per View in 2005. With this being a 30 minute Iron Man match, you know these two had to pull out all the stops and they did just that. Also, if you’re a fan of wrestlers getting busted open, you’ll want to check out this match. At one point in the match, Daniels has Styles in the Koji Clutch and let’s just say that it’s a pretty gruesome sight. One more thing, if you’re not a fan of Christopher Daniels winning the X Division title then watch this match until the end. However, if you are, skip to Destination X a month after this match took place.
7. AJ Styles vs. Sting vs. Matt Morgan vs. Kurt Angle – No Surrender 2009
It’s hard to believe that, not too long before this match, AJ was contemplating retirement. This, of course, didn’t come to be, as Sting convinced AJ to stick around and told him to get his head back in the game and claim what is supposed to be his. AJ did just that and at TNA’s No Surrender 2009 (with an assist from Sting), he became the TNA World Heavyweight Champion. After his win, AJ began to celebrate his victory with the TNA fans and his sometimes rival/sometimes tag team partner, Christopher Daniels. The moment is very touching, as Styles was a TNA original and the TNA fans truly respected him for sticking with the company so long.
6. AJ Styles vs. Dean Ambrose – Backlash 2016
Speaking of AJ Styles winning a world title, let’s take you back to September 2016 when Styles defeated then-champion Dean Ambrose with a low blow followed by a Styles Clash. This match made the list because it marks the first time AJ won a world title in the WWE. Well actually, this marks the first time he has won any championship in the WWE. Overall this was a great match, that I think could have had a better ending. It would’ve been cool to see him get a clean win, but hey. The ending may have been messed up, but the match was still marvelous.
5. AJ Styles vs. Kazuchika Okada – Dominion 7.5
Keep in mind that at this time, AJ Styles was a member of the dreaded Bullet Club and also at the time, was the reigning IWGP heavyweight title holder. His opponent was no small potatoes by any means. His opponent was Kazuchika Okada. The Styles Clash vs. The Rainmaker, man to man, mano a mano. You know, while sometimes I spoil the endings to certain matches, totally ruining your experience in the process, I don’t think I’m going to do that this time, but trust me, if you see the ending to this match, you’ll probably be quite impressed.
4. AJ Styles vs. Kurt Angle – Slammiversary 2008
One thing that needs to be pointed out is that towards the end of the match, Karen comes to the ring and blindsides AJ with a steel chair – just playing! Karen came to the ring with a steel chair not to help Kurt, but to distract him long enough for AJ to recover and get the one, two, three from The Styles Clash. Although this would spell the end of the match, Kurt Angle got the last laugh on AJ when he hit him in the back with a steel chair. Karen then slaps Kurt and just as it seems Angle is about to retaliate he comes to his senses. If you’re wondering why all of this is happening, here’s the story: AJ and Karen suggest that they are just friends and Kurt thinks that’s a load of bologna. Around this time, Kurt Angle and AJ Styles were pretty close, too. That is until AJ gets beat down by his “friends” and Kurt comes out seemingly to help, but then a few moments later blasts Styles with, you guessed it, a steel chair.
3. AJ Styles vs. Jerry Lynn – October 2, 2002
This match took place during TNA’s early days, which is a time that some wrestling fans consider TNA to be at its peak. At the time, the veteran Jerry Lynn wanted to teach the much younger AJ Styles a lesson in respect, and as you can imagine, AJ Styles did not make that easy. This was after Styles, who was once a young, humble, talented up-and-coming superstar in TNA, quickly turned into a complete prick. The killer was that these guys were tag team partners and even tag team champions while they were feuding. Anyway, this one ends with Sonny Siaki hitting the ring, sticking his nose where it didn’t belong and costing Lynn the match. Even though Styles technically won, Bullet Bob Armstrong comes to the ring and strips AJ of the title and gives it back to Jerry Lynn. Gee, if only that could happen all the time.
2. AJ Styles vs. Chris Jericho – WrestleMania 32
Over the years, Y2J has not only shown us he can make us laugh with his antics, but we’ve also seen plenty of great wrestling matches from him as well. His match with Styles at WrestleMania 32 is one for the record books. Though the two shook hands after their first encounter, showing each other a bit of mutual respect, things began to get a bit more competitive. Still, there didn’t seem to be too much bad blood between the two and at one point they even became a tag team. Things changed when not too long after that, Jericho turned on Styles and went back to being a heel. This feud ended at the Showcase of The Immortals, with Chris Jericho defeating the phenomenal one.
1. . AJ Styles vs. Chris Sabin vs. Petey Williams – Final Resolution 2005
Although this wasn’t the main event that night, it kind of felt like it. As a lot of X Division matches are, this one was fast-paced and explosive. At that time Petey Williams was the longest reigning X Division Champion of the world. Chris Sabin had quite the luck in Ultimate X matches, as he won 3 in a row, and going into the match, it was pointed out by Mike Tenay that AJ never won an Ultimate X match, but that all changed after the match was over. The crazy thing is, Styles wasn’t the person to pull the belt down. That was actually both Williams and Sabin’s doing. As the two fight over the title while still hanging high above the ring, Styles springs off the six-sided ring, knocks the belt out of both of their hands, and moments later, a new X Division Champion is crowned. On a side note, if you’re keeping score, this would make AJ Styles a four-time X Division Champion
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