AJ Styles vs Jimmy Rave
some venue in Piedmont, Alabama, United States
Heard rave reviews (pun intended) from the regular Southern indie Twitter smarks about this match, and I’m tentatively excited for this rare look into a part of the wrestling world I barely ever get to look at. This video starts off with a silly voiceover hyping up this match, taking a look at some dude’s comments on Facebook, and getting some predictions from the sweaty, teeming masses in and out of the building. Adore this bit of work, because for all its flaws, it’s real earnest and heartfelt, and hearkens back to a long dead era in wrestling that sort of lurches on as a zombie here in the Deep South. Goddamn it, state of your hair, AJ. Apparently this is the first time these two have had a singles match in just under ten years, and the first time they’ve been in the same ring since 2008. Some chaining around starts us off here, pretty evenly matches, and Rave does pretty well playing to the crowd in a subtle way. Real snug, methodical chaining here, some of the better chaining I’ve seen in probably years, but through it all, AJ is able to twist whatever Rave’s going for out into a wristlock, and the third time Rave goes for a reversal, AJ spins him down shoulder-first into the mat, and locks in a kimura of sorts. Rave’s able to arm drag AJ out of it, sending him outside, and AJ wanders around and mouths off with the crowd, urging the ref to clean up some mysterious puddle in the corner. Another lockup, and AJ goes right back to a kneeling Fujiwara armbar, and Rave whips him off the ropes, and both men trade arm drags before AJ again locks in the armbar. He transitions to a headlock, and Rave is able to wriggle free into a top wristlock and then a headlock of his own, and takes to the mat when AJ tries to send him off the ropes. AJ changes the gameplan and simply tosses Rave through the middle rope and to the outside. Back inside, a universal spot ends with Rave hitting a big line before grabbing a chin lock, but AJ is able to fight out of it. He tries to backdrop Rave off the ropes, but Rave hits a Russian legsweep and a double armbar thing I’m forgetting the name of, rolling AJ over for a one count as well. Another chinlock from Rave, and AJ drags him out of it, and there’s a bit of miscommunication. Rave charges at AJ in the corner and AJ ducks out of the way, sending Rave flying to the outside, and eats a baseball slide right back out when he tries entering the ring again, and AJ tops it off with a house show dive. AJ hits a sidewalk slam backbreaker and a few strikes back inside, and Rave fires back and goes for a whip, but AJ floats over him and goes for a German. Rave pulls AJ’s leg out and goes for a submission, but AJ pops up from his back with a rana that cuts him off in a nice little spot, and AJ goes back to work. Rave tries to start a comeback, bouncing off the ropes, and AJ stuffs him with a dropkick for two and follows it up with a chinlock. The ref raises Rave’s hand, and he gets it up on the third go, backing AJ into the corner and whipping him into the opposite one. AJ catches him with a pair of boots and hops to the apron, going for a springboard, but Rave smashes him down onto the top rope when AJ leaps for it. Both men trade forearms in the middle, and Rave gets a big STO cradle for two, almost a Jumbo no Kachi-gatame. He hits a flying forearm in the corner and drags AJ out for a sliding kneestrike for another nearfall. Rave goes for the Ghanarhea, and the commentary team hilariously calls it that, but AJ reverses it into a small package for two. Rave shoves AJ back into the corner and goes for a suplex, but AJ reverses it into one of his own into the turnbuckle, and the crowd’s all about it. AJ comes off the ropes with a springboard forearm for two. AJ goes for the Styles Clash, and Rave fights it and reverses it into the Ghanarhea, and AJ rolls towards the apron. Both men meet on the apron, and Rave goes for a suplex and AJ fights it, hitting a trio of leg kicks and going for a forearm, but Rave drops him on the apron with an STO and rolls back in the ring. I should probably note here that the commentary for this match is surprisingly, like, really good, quite professional and… homey, if that makes any sense. AJ makes it back in the ring before the ten count, and Rave slowly strikes him in the corner, but AJ shoots a leg and gets a quick single leg Boston crab and then the calf killer. Kind of sloppy, because I’m not sure if Rave knew how to take the calf killer at first, which is why AJ first locked in the crab, but regardless, a solid spot before Rave reaches the ropes. AJ grabs his leg and Rave gives him an enzuigiri for his troubles, and AJ stays on his feet and fires back with a Bloody Sunday. He climbs the turnbuckle and is met by Rave, but AJ sends him right back down with a punch. Rave again meets him on the top and comes down with a fairly fast superplex, almost a snap superplex, for a double down. Rave’s facials here are pretty nice as he chops down AJ, and his selling of giving AJ a punch to the face is real fantastic, the kind of thing I wish I saw more. AJ gets his flurry of strikes out but Rave ducks a line and comes off the ropes with a headscissors and comes down with a Crossface before AJ drags himself to the ropes. Rave throws a line and AJ ducks it and gives him a Pele, and goes for a line himself, but Rave ducks it and drops him down with a pretty gross backdrop driver. He puts AJ on the top and goes for a Frankensteiner, but AJ catches him and brings him off the top with a Styles Clash for the three. Fun, fun stuff here, a nice, systematic Southern-style wrasslin’ match, and Rave was especially good here with the finer touches. Give this a go if you can.