Now, I have been watching wrestling for majority of my life and much like everyone else, they have their favorites. Fans will say Hogan or Macho Man for the 80’s and early 90’s or if you watched NWA/WCW, you might say Ric Flair or Dusty Rhodes. Shawn Michaels, Stone Cold, The Rock, for the Attitude Era. But myself being younger; AJ Styles was the first one I connected with.
WWE had some popular names that I knew from watching with friends and family, a couple caught my interest but, when I turned on Spike TV for the first time in 2009; I knew there was one wrestler that I paid the most attention to. The raining pyro, the awesome entrance, the power and agility like a modern day Sting. Turning on TNA Impact for one day, made me a fan of the “Phenomenal” AJ Styles.
The past eleven or so years since I first saw Styles to current day; I’ve constantly followed him, always excited to see his next match or just watch a classic against other elite caliber wrestlers. This list however isn’t just my personal favorite matches of AJ Styles; but, these five matches are matches that the fans can watch for free on YouTube without having to subscribe to a website or pay for a stream.
Before we had the Planet’s Champion, Daniel Bryan take on the WWE Champion, AJ Styles, we had the dominant ROH World Champion in The American Dragon pitted against former ROH Pure Champion in The Phenomenal One.
If you wanted to see the true technical stylings of Bryan Danielson against an young and early AJ Styles; this is the perfect way to see it. Way before the Yes or No Movement, way before The Original, The Official, The Only Club That Matters; we had the cocky and brash Danielson that could do any hold and make you tap instantly and the more high-flying and flashy Styles.
This one is my first live memory of watching on Pay-Per-View match. Everything with this match was suspenseful with all five competitors. Hernandez cashed in his Feast or Fired, which was TNA’s equivalent of the Money in the Bank match, trying to obtain his first singles title for the company. Kurt Angle and Sting being part of the tyrannical Main Event Mafia and having an internal fight within the family. Matt Morgan; trying to become the sixth member of the Main Event Mafia and prove himself to the self-proclaimed Godfather of the Mafia, Kurt Angle.
Finally, the story for AJ Styles was, can he still be the top level competitor? Can he actually win the TNA World Championship with the stranglehold the Main Event Mafia had over the World Championship? He had all of his doubts in his career and it was looking like The Final One for the Phenomenal One. This lead up to the eventual Bound For Glory Main Event of “Is It Showtime, For The Last Time” against Sting.
If you watched the WrestleMania 36 SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match, you might see a similarity in the finish of the match. If you are unfamiliar with TNA however; allow me to explain this match. Ultimate X was a match that had wires intersect across the ring with either the X Division Championship or a giant red X for Number One Contendership in the middle of the wires.
The competitors have to climb allowing the wiring to get to the prize and take it down, more of an extreme Ladder Match. Petey Williams was the unstoppable X Division Champion at the time with the backing of Scott D’more and their stable, Team Canada. Chris Sabin was the new face to the X Division and made an explosive appearance in the scene with multiple reigns as X Division Champion already. The main story they focused on however; can AJ Styles, the man with the most reigns as X Division Champion, finally win an Ultimate X Match? Often claimed as the greatest Ultimate X match; even by Impact, this is one of the must see matches for the company in general.
Less than a month before his Royal Rumble entrance at number three and a month before we got the artist in NXT; the Leader of Chaos faced off against the Leader of the Bullet Club for the first time. Shinsuke and AJ put on a classic in the Tokyo Dome four years ago and it wasn’t for the Heavyweight Championship, it was for the championship the Shinsuke built up himself; the IWGP Intercontinental Championship.
The constant fight between the two stables finally came down to it’s leaders in their final Wrestle Kingdom match. A back and forth, thirty minute match that came down to the final strike and a show of respect between the two. If people liked their match at WrestleMania for the WWE Championship, you should definitely go and watch this match in it’s entirety.
At last, we get to not only the most nail biting match on the list, it’s the most talked about TNA match in it’s history. A little fun fact, not only is this a five star rated match, it is TNA’s only match rated five stars.
Samoa Joe was built up as the unstoppable, unbeatable, undefeated juggernaut in TNA. Christopher Daniels, the current X Division Champion, put in a losing situation with the match up between the two and finally, AJ Styles, the man who put the X Division on the map; trying to obtain his fifth X Division Championship and remain the Poster Boy of the Division. This match had beautiful back and forths, unbelievable moments with aerial maneuvers and perfect chemistry between the three wrestlers. As Jeremy Borash said to introduce the match, “This is for the X Division Championship of the World” because that’s how prolific the X Division was at the time.
Those are my personal favorite matches you can see for free of “The Phenomenal One” AJ Styles. Impact’s channel has a lot of uploaded matches on their channel along with Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling. There might have been some I missed; maybe some I entirely forgot and might shuffle into my top five.