AJ Styles versus Christopher Daniels is a rivalry which has been a constant in TNA Impact Wrestling for the last decade.
The two are advertised to collide one last time 8 p.m. ET Sunday, Dec. 9 at the Final Resolution pay-per-view from Universal Studios Orlando.
During a recent TNA Wrestling conference call to promote the pay-per-view, Styles reflected the first time he met Daniels. It was at the 53rd Annual NWA Anniversary Show in 2001 from the WrestlePlex in St. Petersburg, Fla.
“It was the first time I had met Christopher Daniels, and what a match it was,” Styles said. “Two guys who knew nothing about each other and having an unbelievable match. I think it’s what helped me in my career to get to the next level. When you have matches like that with Christopher Daniels, you get noticed. My popularity grew ever since I wrestled Christopher Daniels. As far as changing over the years, I can tell you there hasn’t been that much change as far as the wrestling goes. As far as characters, we have been the closest friends and now bitter enemies.”
Styles and Daniels have met more than 100 times through the years, but the two have been able to make each match stand out. This Sunday should be no different.
“They’ve all been pretty good, so the bar has been raised,” Styles said. “The last time we met was the Last Man Standing match and literally about killed each other. It was such a brutal match for both of us that ended with me putting him through a table off the ramp with the Styles Clash.
“It’s hard to top that because we literally left everything we had in the ring and outside the ring. There was nothing left after that match, except to have one final match. It is a lot of pressure because we want to make something people will remember and never forget. We want to put on a classic. It’s hard, but I think we will be able to do it.”
Styles will strive to make his match different from anything else on the card and something fans haven’t seen or will forget.
“Classic wrestling and story-telling, it’s everything that is involved in professional wrestling, as far as what it has and what it will be,” Styles said. “...With rivalries who knows who the next guy is. As friendships, I think I have done enough of those. So I think it’s about time AJ Styles does his own thing and stop worrying about everyone else. [It’s time] to stop being the janitor of TNA and cleaning up everyone’s messes and do my own thing.”
Even though this Sunday’s battle is being billed as the final encounter, Styles isn’t naïve. He knows it’s never say never in his line of work.
“What if he is in the Bound for Glory Series, and I’m in the Bound for Glory Series?,” Styles said.
“How can we not wrestle each other? How can we stay apart? Is there going to be some rule? Or maybe it’s the final time where I ask him, and he accepts? That’s going to be a hard one to get around, so we will see.”
The Phenomenal One has had so many memorable moments in TNA history and a number of them involved the Fallen Angel. Styles and Daniels have one the tag team championship, and Daniels hoisted his close friend on his shoulders to celebrate Styles’ world title win. He ranks their last man standing match at Destination X as their most brutal encounter against one another. Comparisons were made that their competitiveness and chemistry in the ring resembled the classics put on by Ric Flair and Ricky Steamboat.
“We always bring out the best in each other and have had so many great matches,” Styles said. “I think Christopher Daniels is my rivalry when it comes to professional wrestling.”
Daniels has been a big part of Styles life, which will be chronicled in a future autobiography. It was announced in November that the TNA original had signed a book deal through VIP Ink Publishing. The future tome will chronicle the devout Christian’s life inside and outside the ring.
“I worked on it so very little at this point,” Styles said. “…I look at myself as a pretty boring guy, but a lot of people don’t see it that way from where I came from as a kid to where I am now. Things have changed, so I think people are interested in that change and how AJ Styles is outside the ring. I look forward to doing it and hope to get it done sooner rather than later. I hope to have the time to really make it something worthwhile.”
Sometimes his faith and beliefs contrast with some of the more controversial storylines Styles has been put in during his TNA career. Look no further than his involvement in the Claire Lynch storyline or his rule-breaking stint with Flair.
“Ric Flair was kind of difficult to get around trying to be like Ric Flair, but not being like Ric Flair,” Styles said. “Most of the times it’s a heel turn, but let’s face it, the nice guy thing is the heel in professional wrestling. If you don’t cuss or don’t say whatever, you’re looked at as a heel…It’s not as bad as it looks. Even when I was with Christian, we were heels, and I was the goofy one. It was easy for me to do…It depends on what character they want me to portray.”
When the Gainesville, Ga. native returns from TV and the road, it baffles him when people can’t see the difference between the entertainment and the real person.
“It just goes to show that people want to believe this stuff, which is not a bad thing,” Styles said. “If more people did, it would be a lot easier. We could stay in a headlock for 20 minutes like we used to. People have asked my wife what she thinks about [things that happen on TV with me]. She is like, ‘What? Why would you ask that?’ There is Allen Jones, and there is AJ Styles. They are two different guys. When I leave work, AJ Styles stays there. It’s not that hard to separate the two for me.
“The only time I take AJ Styles out is when I’m meeting a fan, and I will always be good to them, whether I’m a heel or a face. It’s kind of crazy sometimes that people can’t separate the two. I think I separate them better than everyone. Some wrestlers run into the problem where they couldn’t separate who they were in the ring and who they were outside the ring. That’s a shame.”
• TNA trimmed next year's pay-per-view schedule from 12 to 10. Against All Odds in February and No Surrender in September were cut, giving more time to create a buzz for Lockdown and Bound for Glory.
“I think it’s a great idea reducing it to whatever number they decided on or less,” Styles said. “I would love for our pay-per-views to get reduced to four. You have four big pay-per-views a year and just build up those pay-per-views to something spectacular, but that is not up to me…To me, it’s a great idea. It gives more stories to these pay-per-views and gets more people to tune in. The thing about pay-per-views these days is that you can just get them on the Internet for free. That is the problem.”
• AJ Styles faces Christopher Daniels one last time 8 p.m. EST Sunday, Dec. 9 at TNA Impact Wrestling’s Final Resolution pay-per-view from Universal Studios Orlando. Jeff Hardy also defends the TNA championship against Bobby Roode. Chavo Guerrero and Hernandez put the tag titles on the line against Matt Morgan and Joey Ryan. Rob Van Dam defends the X Division championship against Kenny King. Tara faces Mickie James for Knockouts gold. Austin Aries meets Bully Ray. Kurt Angle, Samoa Joe, Wes Brisco and Garett Bischoff face off against the Aces & 8s.
• The TNA “Make an IMPACT” campaign is also hosting a coat drive in support of Super Storm Sandy victims on Dec. 9 at Final Resolution and the Impact Wrestling tapings on Dec. 10 and 11 at the IMPACT Zone, 600 Universal in Orlando. Fans are encouraged to donate coats, sweaters and/or any other form of outerwear. Fans who donate will receive a special meet & greet with superstar Bully Ray and others. All donations will be shipped to victims living in the Northeast region. For more information, visit www.TNAmakeanimpact.com or www.facebook.com/TNAMakeAnIMPACT.
• Follow AJ Styles on Twitter @AJStylesOrg.
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