Rusty may be too tough a word. Perhaps not yet in a groove? Styles’ style, no pun intended, is tough on the body. 11 years of spots can’t be fun on the knees and back. Could this more strike and submission offense be the company’s way of preserving him for pay per views?
It’s not that his match with James Storm was terrible, it wasn’t. It was just different. It was like ordering a steak and getting a broiled chicken and mashed potatoes instead. You’ll eat and enjoy, but it’s not exactly what you wanted, or craved. Never in the driver’s seat, Styles sold a ton from Storm before locking in a nifty little submission to earn the win. Is this the dangerous version of Styles that Impact Wrestling General Manager Hulk Hogan wants?
If anything, it’s the kind of repertoire that makes him a perfect fit for the Aces and Eights.
The old Styles, the guy who could have Iron Man matches on Impact would have gone a long way in establishing the group’s in-ring credibility, but to have Styles change even his move set to become a part of the group is an interesting concept. Even it is essentially bait and switch advertising. When you think of a Styles match, the last thing you think of is a submission finish. Sure, strikes are part of his offense, but they weren’t featured as heavily as they were in his Impact return. In order for this “new” Styles to work, the company needs to keep the submission wins coming and against top talent. Drill this into fans’ heads. This is the new AJ Styles. take it or leave it.
They may not like it and may even draw some boos, but if the guy’s going to be a heel, he might as well get used to it.
Because, in all fairness, what else can they do with the guy creatively at this point?