AJ Styles: An Analysis - Wrestling Forum: WWE, AEW, New Japan, Indy Wrestling, Women of Wrestling Forums
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post #1 of 61 (permalink) Old 04-23-2017, 06:27 PM Thread Starter
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AJ Styles: An Analysis

In Ring Work: ****
Mic Work: **3/4
Character Work: ***3/4

It's a shame that the company this man helped build from the ground up turned out to be such a shit show.

For the longest time, when ever I thought of TNA, I thought of AJ Styles. To me, he was TNA. And after he was gone, they lost their identity. I've never really been a fan of TNA to begin with, but unfortunately I had to bear through it and watch a lot of his work in order to truly do this analysis. But my feelings towards TNA is for another time and another place.

In regards to AJ Styles, I've always liked him, even if I feel that a lot of the praise he gets is a bit unwarranted. I guess there are some things he does that are incredible, and that I will be giving him credit for in this. Since that's the part we're all looking forward to the most, lets get this baby started.

Disclaimer: Just like the Flair thread, I'm going to have to cheat with this one and bring up work outside of WWE. But with a lot of the significant work he's done in WWE so far, I'll most likely still be referring to mostly his work with the E.

Character Work

If this was just his TNA work until the last few months, then the rating for this would be lower. For the most part I have always found Styles to be a pretty boring and bland pro wrestler during his time there. And I don't know why. For what ever reason he just came across as bland to me.

But then something happened that seemed to flip the switch for him. He went from this...

To this

Now I do understand that this is talent based, but I want to point out that the facial hair as well as letting his hair grow out ended up giving him a more identifiable look for me. He went from being generic to suddenly having a larger than life look of sorts. He came across as a star to me. Sometimes little things like that are all you need to stand out more.

But it wasn't just that either. The way he acted out his gimmick was different too, and I think that had to do with the transition from TNA to WWE. During his time on his own in the indies, I think AJ learned how to bring out more personality in his gimmick without overacting the part, which is something TNA had a tendency to do. I always felt that AJ was way too serious in TNA. In WWE he's a lot more energetic, but is more relaxed too. He feels more natural and at home and that's always going to make someone easier to get behind. And he seems to have no issue connecting with fans either. As a guy who is known for the amazing things he's able to do in the ring, I think he does a good job presenting himself as that. If I were to have someone who has a nickname based on their in ring work, this version of AJ Styles is exactly what I would want him to be. You want characters in Pro Wrestling, because that's the whole point of it. Sometimes it can be great however to have it just be a natural athlete, someone who is able to bring a balance of sports entertainment but is able to give us a sense of realism to. In this regard, to me, AJ just comes across as a natural person and it works.

I think my biggest problems with him was his heel work, both in TNA and WWE. In TNA I think he was just way too serious, as I said in regards to his face work as well with the company. But I actually have an even bigger issue with his heel work in WWE.

During his time here, through out his entire heel run he was constantly the fan favorite regardless of who he was up against. I think the only times he wasn't cheered over someone was in a couple segments/matches with Ambrose and that's about it. And that'll unfortunately happen in this day and age. But my issue is that I feel like AJ never really made an attempt to make the crowd hate him. He just sort of brushed it off and ignored it, and sometimes he even embraced it. He barely interacted with the crowd during segments, or even on the way to the ring. Good heels will use opportunities like that to make fans hate them. In AJ's case, he basically ignores them. And that can't happen, not when you're being pushed to the main event in the fashion he was.

Regardless, I really like AJ Style's character work and I think it's something he does a very good job in. He's come a long way since his TNA days and I think being with a company that usually does a better job in that department as well as spending a lot of time in the Indies developing his character helped him become the guy he is now. His gimmick is by no means perfect and some of his problems from his early days are still around now, but none the less I think overall he does a very good job in this department. I guess the best way to summarize this is that while he is an okay heel, being a face in my opinion is where he's at his best.

Mic Work

AJ Styles got a lot of praise last year with his mic work, and a lot of it is baffling to me. I don't know why people like his mic work, because to me he's below average in that department.

I think the promo he got a lot of praise for in particular is this promo (if it's not this one then feel free to point it out to me, I remember it being a segment he had with Cena):

So...what are my thoughts on this promo? It's pretty good. But that's it. It's just pretty good. It's not terrible, but it's not great either. But it got a lot of praise from people. Why? Well, I think a lot of it has to do with something I've noticed with quite a few wrestlers. I call it the "you got served" effect, only in this case it has to do with cutting promos. I've noticed that promos where downright brutal shades are thrown are given more praise than regular promos by the same people. The best example off the top of my head was the promo by Natalya against Nikki Bella, where she dropped the "John will never marry you" line, and all of a sudden there was a thread shortly after claiming it was the promo of the year.

Dialogue in promos to me is like the moves in a wrestling match. They're tools that you use to tell the story. And in this case, AJ had a lot of good things to say. But the thing about mic work is that there's a lot more to it than what you say. For the most part, I thought AJ did a good job with his delivery (which is usually something I have a problem with). The pacing of the promo is pretty good, although there are some off moments. And for the most part, he does sell the feud, so that much I give him. But while he's talking he seems to keep the same facial expression until the end, which can be fine but he talks in a calm matter, which can make it hard to take this seriously. It makes it feel like he's TRYING to come across as angry.

This is anger:

The promo I showed you from Styles is someone who went to eat the last cookie in the jar and found out someone else already did.

What about face work?

I wanted to find a segment where he actually was the best mic worker in the ring (which actually isn't a knock on Styles, look at the list of people he's had major feuds with in the company so far and you'll notice he's been feuding with fantastic mic workers so far...except for this one), so I went with this one:

So yeah in a segment where Styles isn't even the worst mic worker, he still seems to fall flat. I know there are better examples out there, but honestly, the best example comes from a promo where your main goal is to simply sell the feud. As @Brock showed in the Ric Flair analysis thread, Flair was able to sell a redundant feud with Hulk Hogan on a random episode of Thunder almost effortlessly. Here, Styles doesn't really give you a reason to look forward to this match. He seems kind of bored in this promo and in some ways kind of awkward, which was another problem I found with AJ's mic work.

So overall, while I do think AJ's delivery is better when he's a heel and he is capable of selling a feud, he's not consistent with it. Same thing in regards to his pacing, as he chooses to stop in the most random times. He doesn't play off the crowd consistently either. In fact that's actually the biggest problem. His consistency. He can't consistently produce compelling promos. Sometimes he can produce pretty good promos, but other times, not so much. But when he can, he can do it with pretty good storytelling and crowd control and his pacing is decent. And the delivery can be good as well. But when he's off, the opposite happens. The main problems seem to be him just having the same expression on his face, and he can't seem to naturally express his emotion without making it seem like he's acting in some form or fashion.

On the plus side, WWE AJ Styles in the mic is a huge upgrade over AJ Styles in TNA, because that version of him was downright cringe-worthy.

In Ring Work

You know, with the amount of analysis threads I've done so far, I've given quite a few people five stars in this category. And there's about five or so people so far that I've analyzed that got less than four stars for the in-ring part. But with that said, I consider four stars to be a very high rating, and with that in mind, I consider AJ to be a great in ring worker.

In fact, if this was just about the things AJ did well in the ring, he'd get five stars, because those things he does REALLY well. So lets talk about that first.

I LOVE AJ's execution. I absolutely love it. I feel like every single move he does, he is putting everything he has into it. Just look at the way he does the Phenomenal Forearm.

I feel like he's exerting so much effort and energy every time he does the Phenomenal Forearm. But in reality all he's doing is extending the arm back and making it look like he's throwing more power into it. But it makes a HUGE difference. And it's great to watch. Another thing I've always loved about his in ring work was his bumping.

Do I even need to show anything else besides that?

He's a good seller for the most part, although sometimes he does have a tendency to no-sell damage. He does adjust the way he performs in the ring based on the opponent, which always earns bonus points in my book. And for the most part he's shown he's capable of constructing a match from start to finish.

So why only four stars?

That's one critical reason.

What's wrong with this? He was a heel when he did this. And granted, sometimes it can be great for a heel to do this. But in his case, I've noticed that he never truly acts like a heel in the ring. He tends to suffer from the same problem Kurt Angle had in the ring, in that he does way too many moves as supposed to doing more traditional heel work. Heels shouldn't be the ones making the matches exciting, they should be toning the match down in an effort to frustrate not only the opponent but the fans as well. We have to feel frustrated for the face for the things they are going through in the ring, because in that effect it makes us want to see them get out of the rut and really pick up the action. AJ Styles seemed to never understand that, and as a result we at times got spot riddled matches like the ones he had with Cena (even though their match at the Rumble was excellent, and that's something I've noticed Cena likes to do in his matches).

So to add on to what I stated above, he had a tendency to be a spot monkey as well. Granted, it was mostly as a heel, but even as a face he had a tendency to get out of hand with it.

In this match, we go from a basic face vs heel match with a few uses of the no DQ stip here and there and out of no where we seem to just get big spot after big spot. And that's TNA for you, but never the less, it's something I've noticed with AJ.

Still though, I can't deny that he's a great in ring performer and it's by far his best quality as a Pro Wrestler. And like I said before, the things he does good he does REALLY fucking good. And it's not as if the things he doesn't do well he does terribly. But unfortunately they are big issues, ones that I don't think he's ever really learned from. But who knows. Judging by the way he's performing right now, I'd say he still has quite a few years left. Only time will tell.


For a high flyer and a guy mostly known for his in ring work, AJ has some good qualities outside of it. He's shown that he is capable of playing his gimmick well and he has had some good promos. But he seemed to have some consistency issues in those regards. And overall he seems to struggle more with playing the heel role as opposed to being a face, which is where I think he's at his best.

I consider him a very valuable Pro Wrestler, and a capable main eventer. Even if he doesn't necessarily have the mic work, he does well enough in other areas to make up for it. And for some people that's enough. It's not like Bray Wyatt where we are more focused on the things he has to say. With Styles it's more-so about the things he has to do in the ring, because in the end that's what his character is all about. It's why he's called "The Phenomenal One". And in that regard, I think he does more than enough to prove he's worthy of being the top guy on any brand he's a part of. And I'm glad he's a part of Smackdown.

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post #2 of 61 (permalink) Old 04-23-2017, 06:46 PM
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Re: AJ Styles: An Analysis

hes excellent in the ring as a face imo
as a heel i see the drawbacks, thought hed use the submission finish more as a heel to finish matches if im honest
agree hes came on leaps and bounds since he was in tna in the ring, on the mic and as a character in general
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post #3 of 61 (permalink) Old 04-23-2017, 06:53 PM
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Re: AJ Styles: An Analysis

Great analysis once again and can't really argue with them ratings but even with the heel/face problem I'd still give AJ at least ****1/2 because he's that dam good. Mic work, he gets by, he's one of those special talents that lets his in-ring work do the talking for him and as for his character, it really is hard to believe how far he's come since his TNA run (especially when he was with Ric Flair), he doesn't even seem like the same guy anymore, he seems like an actual superstar.

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post #4 of 61 (permalink) Old 04-23-2017, 07:06 PM
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Re: AJ Styles: An Analysis

Aj Styles is the face of pro wrestling. I like your analysis and your opinion should be respected but AJ in a scale of 0 to 5, is a solid 10 stars in the ring, it just doesn't get any better (At least for me), that also explains why the crowd gets behind him. The way he puts on a show doesn't let anyone be indifferent. He has a move for every situation, a new trick to get out of a grapple, the guy is like an encyclopedia.
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post #5 of 61 (permalink) Old 04-23-2017, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Brollins View Post
Aj Styles is the face of pro wrestling. I like your analysis and your opinion should be respected but AJ in a scale of 0 to 5, is a solid 10 stars in the ring, it just doesn't get any better (At least for me), that also explains why the crowd gets behind him. The way he puts on a show doesn't let anyone be indifferent. He has a move for every situation, a new trick to get out of a grapple, the guy is like an encyclopedia.
i think at times in his early career he lost the "fight" element in his matches and it strayed on the spot monkey side
since hes went to japan though dear god hes excellent in the ring
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post #6 of 61 (permalink) Old 04-23-2017, 07:30 PM
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Re: AJ Styles: An Analysis

AJ Styles is the best professional wrestler in the world today. He may not be the best of all-time, but when his career is done, I think he will deserve coverage in any sort of comprehensive list. It's a great point you bring up about his in-ring never really changing. It's fair criticism whether or not you want to agree or not.
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post #7 of 61 (permalink) Old 04-23-2017, 07:39 PM
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Re: AJ Styles: An Analysis


Best wrestler in the world today, and without a shadow of a doubt top Ten overall
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post #8 of 61 (permalink) Old 04-23-2017, 11:40 PM
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Re: AJ Styles: An Analysis

Good article. I think Mic and Character Work you are as spot on as can be. I would rank him slightly higher in ring IMHO. AJ's moveset is so crisp and clean.

Thanks for these. Looking forward to your next entry.
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post #9 of 61 (permalink) Old 04-24-2017, 02:00 AM
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Re: AJ Styles: An Analysis

The man could wrestle a broom in an iron man match and still make it entertaining

4 stars for in-ring work seems harsh

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post #10 of 61 (permalink) Old 04-24-2017, 05:06 AM
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Re: AJ Styles: An Analysis

As a big AJ fan for 10 years now, gotta say it's very refreshing to see someone here that doesn't hype him as the in ring GOAT. I personally would give him the 5-star rating when it comes to in ring department, but as I said, it's very refreshing to see someone not do that.

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