AJ Styles vs. Jerry Lynn from IWA Mid-South’s Ted Petty Invitational 2003
Review by Reed Benson:
This is a quarterfinal match in the tournament. Dave Prazak is on commentary. Icing on the proverbial cake.
Styles and Lynn had feuded over the NWA-TNA X-Division title the year before, so the early story seems to be that they know each other well. They have three segments ending in stand-offs before Lynn finally hits the first move of consequence – a backdrop counter out of a headlock. Lynn seems to have an answer to all of Styles’ signature spots until AJ goes a little unorthodox with a wheelbarrow chest-buster on the apron. This leads to the only dive of the match, a somersault plancha by Styles. Styles is able to work a couple submission moves for perhaps his longest period of control. They duke it somewhat awkwardly before Lynn hits a lariat. So many cool spots come next that I just have to run them all down. Styles catches Lynn with a rana off the top, but Lynn rolls through for a nearfall. Lynn counters a springboard rana into a running powerbomb. Styles escapes a TKO and hits a big brainbuster. Lynn turns a Styles Clash attempt into a Kryptonite Krunch. Styles gets out of a cradle piledriver and hits that over-the-shoulder DDT thing he does. Lynn throws Styles with a top rope release German suplex. These all resulted in two-counts. After Lynn counters a piledriver counter into a school boy, Styles surprises Lynn with a cradle to get a sudden three count.
I really enjoyed this match. It makes me want to go back and watch all of their matches from TNA and elsewhere to see how it stacks up against them. The story here was about how both men were so evenly matched and familiar with each other that neither could establish any extended period of dominance. They each had answers for the other’s marquee moves, so the cradle piledriver and the Styles Clash were both unreachable peaks. There were a lot of spots, but the wrestlers transitioned from one to the next believably and in a manner that built towards a climax. Some may find said climax disappointing in its abruptness, but I thought it was a good way to keep Lynn strong and make the fans want more, both from Styles in the next round and from both men when they inevitably met again. All around good stuff, as expected.
– Reed Benson
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