Worst: No one ever wants to be Luigi
My boyfriend’s sister in law once told us a story about a little kid they invited over to play with their sons. As they sat down to play whatever Wii game the kids enjoy these days, the kid grew obstinate because he was not player one, and he ABSOLUTELY HAS TO BE PLAYER ONE. Whenever I see AJ Styles come to the ring with his P 1 hat that he no doubt got embroidered at a mall kiosk, that’s all I can think of. AJ Styles is here, and he’s gonna throw the biggest hissy you’ve ever seen because he absolutely has to be player one.
I’m still not of the school of thinking that AJ Styles can successfully pull off a great segment on his own. He’s more grumpy teenager than golden child to me, and oh man is he ever mad that Momma Dixie is grounding him. To be fair, the addition of Bully Ray doesn’t make this great either, but there is a very clear difference between what AJ relies on to connect with a crowd, and what Bully Ray does.
When someone is tied up in the corner, and their opponent is standing over them on the turnbuckles punching them in the head, we know to count 1-2-3 with every punch until 9, wind up, then 10 – the finishing blow. When Dolph Ziggler doesn’t do that, and just starts into a flurry of punches around five or six, the audience doesn’t know what to do so they rush 6-10, if they can, and it’s just a garbled mess. Wrestling fans are conditioned to hit their cues, and Bully Ray knows just how to lead them. When he says people in the arena chant “AJ! AJ!” we know they don’t necessarily do it organically (or, some of us do because again, only Eric Young and I watch the show, apparently), but know when they’re supposed to based on the proper cues. AJ Styles’ desperate attempt to get a JOE’S GONNA KILL YOU chant going is….not successful, and truthfully kind of sad. AJ doesn’t know how to read that crowd. Bully does. And it’s so, so frustrating.
Bully Ray is very, very good, and he’s been good for a very, very long time. He knows how to draw the ire of the fans, and he knows how to whip the crowd into a lather. But for all of this, he’s getting boring. Stale. Sure, AJ Styles watered-down man of the people act make me want to see Bully Ray decimate him at Bound for Glory, but that’s the only reason. On his own, I don’t want to see him succeed, and it’s not because he’s using the tools and talent at his disposal to make me dislike him. It’s because the yelling and the gross misogyny and the things he says in the ring are exasperating. It’s lazy, and I’m over it. I’ve written hundreds, if not thousands of words about the merit of Aces & Eights from an extended storytelling point of view, but none of this serves to expand upon or improve any of that in any way. Either he’s the king of a crumbling kingdom, fighting desperately to cling to the only symbol of status he has left, or he’s just an asshole who doesn’t need to be around one way or the other. Say AJ Styles beats him for the title. What then? Where does he go from here? Will Aces & Eights go hand in hand, or will he walk alone in fear? Will he join up with Dixie Carter, a woman willing to do whatever it takes to keep the rebellious pap bomb dropping AJ Styles down? Will Dixie Carter realize that without a contract, AJ technically has no business being in the building and just call the cops (like they probably should have done with Aces & Eights before the stipulation match that only technically applied to the Impact Zone but whatever) and have him removed once his match at BFG is over, win or lose? Will I now go listen to Once More With Feeling because there’s no way I’m going to get that song out of my head? The answer to one of those questions is yes, absolutely, of course I am. The rest….god, I don’t know. I do know that I would probably be looking forward to Bound For Glory a lot more if it were just a bunch of Soap reruns. Or City Slickers, because Billy Crystal was at his second-most likeable (Mike Wazowski being the first), and I will shoot fight anyone who bags on City Slickers. If you don’t think that Jack Palance makes every mythic attribute of Chuck Norris looks like wimpy kid stuff, you need to back up outta this column and adjust the settings on your life, you goon.
Best: Dixie Carter
I really appreciate her explaining why AJ Styles is still competing at BFG despite the expiration of AJ’s contract. It means someone actually put some thought into plugging the gaping plot holes TNA tends to leave in their wake. I bet it was Eric Young.
Worst: AJ Styles
NO MOM, YOU DON’T HAVE TO USE ATLAS SECURITY TO SEND ME TO MY ROOM. I’M ALREADY GOING THERE. /huffs upstairs /slams door /notices his Game Boy is gone /angrily tries to comb out hat hair to vent his frustration
I want more like this!
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