Background: Being two of the biggest names on the independent wrestling scene at the time, AJ Styles and Samoa Joe had the opportunity to wrestler for a chance to become the number one contender to the Pro Wrestling Guerilla Heavyweight Championship.
All Star Weekend Night 1
Los Angeles, CA
April 1, 2005
AJ Styles vs. Samoa Joe
Both men showed incredible grappling acumen on the mat as the opening minutes witnessed both men jockeying for a clear advantage by exchanging holds. Then Samoa Joe made a big mistake by trying to outmaneuver Styles on his feet, giving the former NWA World champion a chance to dropkick, body slam and even suplex the big man. AJ’s pride got the better of him as the fans rallied behind Joe, going the well once again for the dropkick. Joe stopped short, causing Styles to land on the back of his head. Styles used a kip up head scissors to toss the mouthing-off “Samoan Submission Machine” to the floor, but his vertical stability was still weak. And Joe didn’t help matters by tripping Styles when he moved onto the apron.
Joe had AJ all twisted up when the action returned to the ring, giving the fans a reason to chant in favor of Styles – who was now bleeding from his nose. Seeing blood, Samoa Joe went after that nose, raking his boot across Styles’ face before landing a big boot in the corner. To make matters worse for AJ, he was stuck in the ropes and prone to some more knees and kicks that eventually put him on the floor following a loud, sickening thump. Just like minutes earlier, Joe was in complete control as the action returned inside the ropes – giving Samoa Joe the confidence to utilize and uncharacteristic double stomp. With “Phenomenal” in prime position, Joe yanked AJ into his patented submission – the rear naked choke. Thankfully for AJ, he was close enough to the ropes to save himself and actually used the ropes to spring off and reverse DDT Joe when Samoa let him get up.
Once again, it was AJ going for something that worked before that cost him an advantage when he flying forearm paid off the first time, but ended with Styles taking STJoe on the second attempt. Styles rolled to the floor, only to rise and see Joe flying his way to take “The Phenomenal One” down again. The landing took something out of Joe as well, causing him to take a little more time than usual to set up a follow up attack in the ring. This moment allowed AJ to spring off the ropes again, slipping badly; yet clipping Joe’s left knee. Barely able to stand, Joe felt Styles’ spinning heel kick for a near fall. “The Samoan Submission Machine” caught the running AJ with a power slam-senton splash combination to gain a close two count of his own.
Just when it seemed AJ was on the ropes, he exploded with a discus lariat that was topped by his Styles Clash attempt. Kicking his way out of the predicament, Samoa Joe almost clotheslined AJ’s head off … for a two count!
AJ survived another submission attempt from Joe, ducking a clothesline before using the Pele kick. The kick didn’t drop Joe, but left him wobbly enough for AJ to hoist him into the air for a torture rack power bomb! Somehow, some way, “The Samoan Submission Machine” kicked out – leading to a strike exchange that ended with both men on their backs. Styles recovered first, scaling the ropes. Joe stopped whatever AJ had in mind, pulling him off the ropes for the Muscle Buster attempt. Styles slipped free, sunset flipping Joe. When Samoa Joe kicked out, “The Phenomenal One” kept his grip before muscling Samoa Joe into the Styles Clash for the three count.
Winner: AJ Styles (20:16)
Is It A Classic: A wonderful match indeed. Not only did it feature two men willing to go above and beyond to deliver a great bout, but it also had the story of AJ being too reliant on maneuvers that worked against other opponents costing him, but his toughness overcoming his biggest mistakes. Definitely worth checking this one out if you can.