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Monday, January 02, 2017

2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Reigns v. Styles I

6. Roman Reigns v. AJ Styles WWE Payback 5/1

Me, watching live on 5/1:

ER: Man AJ's haircut is bad. Bad length, bad style, it even has that annoying crimp at the end so you know he's been wearing it in a ponytail all day. Yuck. Roman is clearly working heel and I like it. I dig everything I've seen so far, like the Calf Crusher, Roman's big ass delayed sit out powerbomb, and then hot damn that flying forearm through the table was vicious. And hahahahaha we get a count out finish. Oh, but Shane McMahon is out because remember he's the guy who puts on a good show!! Not like all these dogshit terrible shows that have been put on by people with the goal of putting on dogshit terrible shows the last several years. Why didn't he come out and reverse the Montreal finish? Was he in the restroom when it happened? Or does his magic GM powers only exist for main events and men matches? But now there's a low blow that didn't look like a low blow so Steph can come out and flex HER GM POWERS. This is so fucking brainlessly terrible. Roman took that clothesline over the barricade like a man. Too bad about all the horseshit in this match because both guys have looked really good. So the stoppages completely cut the dick off this thing, and they were STILL able to craft an exciting match. They work Gallows/Anderson's interference nicely into the whole mess, craft a couple good nearfalls (the one where Reigns got his foot on the ropes legit made me think Styles was winning), cool moment with Reigns pushing Styles off the top into the throng of interferers, and yeah both guys worked a real nice match. Shame, then, that they were not the true stars of the match. So fucking sick of the hack McMahon children.

Me, watching the match far removed from live:

ER: This was really great, truly one of the best big fed main events of the modern era. At the time I was clearly way, WAY burned out on MacMahons as watching it again they literally took up just 2 minutes of a 24 minute match. At the time it annoyed the hell out of me, now I can just 30 second skip past all of it. I had already sat through the unbearable Wrestlemania show the month before which featured well over an hour of MacMahon spotlight hogging, and I was clearly feeling PTSD during this show. They made all of WM into their moment, and when they started coming out during this match it felt like the same desperate attention craving. I hated it, and hated how it was distracting me from a match that I was loving. But I'm over it, the match is great. Bell to bell this was total class, from AJ buckling Roman's knee with early kicks, to the devastating spear finish, and everything in between. The way the match progressed was masterful, both guys making the other's offense look super explosive. Styles was great outpacing Roman to start, and it made Roman finally connecting with a shoulderblock (sending AJ flying to the floor) that much more satisfying. There were also some twists on some old spots we've seen these guys work against others, my favorite being Styles going for a springboard forearm and Roman grabbing him off the ropes on his shoulders. I had seen the Styles spot many times where he gets forearmed off the apron mid-springboard, had never seen him physically grabbed by his opponent from there before. They really worked this match like it was going to be the match of their lives, missing bigger than normal, taking stuff more spectacularly. Watch Reigns getting clotheslined over the barricade and bouncing sickly off the announce table on his way over; watch Styles get punched out of the sky by the greatest Superman punch performed. Those kind of things made this leap out as special. The build was impeccable, allowing them to pace themselves without resorting to cheap kickouts. I actually really like the first match restart, especially how Styles handled the situation. Shane making the announcement still felt like a glory hog moment but Styles handled it like an ace. It's a fun situation to build a match to, the champion is zonked on the floor, Styles can't get him into the ring in time, so his choices are either double count out, or count out win. Frustrating situation and the restart was great. I loved him rolling Roman back in and going up top for the kill, and Roman wisely crawling farther away from Styles. Roman's body language during his crawl was perfect. The stretch was hot fire, the whole match was an expertly crafted main event. Excellent.

PAS: I didn't watch this live and on it's own I thought it was completely awesome. Loved the early part of this match with Styles peppering Reigns with shots and Reigns getting more and more frustrated. His shit talk after the big shoulder block was great, and I loved how he would blast Styles every time he took charge. That flying forearm through the table was one of the best individual  spots in WWE history, Styles had such insane height, the impact was crazy and the table collapsing was organic and not set up looking at all. I can't remember a table spot I liked more. Shane and Stephanie coming in was dumb, but pretty minor in the overall structure of the match. As much as I loved that table spot, post restart there were two spots which were almost as cool. Reigns superman punching Styles in midair was nutso, the timing was perfect and it really looked like he beheaded him. I also loved Reigns dive into the pile and how Styles followed that up by sneaking into the crowd and knocking him off. Loved all of the near falls here, as I totally bought into a couple of them, Reigns is great at knowing right when to kick out. Styles was awesome in this, but fuck Roman Reigns is great, he really felt like he let Styles wrestle his match.

2016 MOTY MASTER LIST


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