As I write this induction, it’s just hours before what has proved over the last couple of years to be one of my favorite times of the week, that being AEW Dynamite on Wednesday nights. It is a fun show most of the time and I really look forward to chatting with everyone over on old man social media. If you’ve not been joining us, honestly, what’s wrong with you?
Don’t get me wrong – the show is anything but perfect, and some weeks I feel I like the idea of AEW more than the company itself. That said, the company way more often hits the mark than misses, with good to great matches, interesting storylines that don’t insult me, with characters you can sink your teeth into and don’t act like idiots or talk using scripted, bizarre language no one on planet earth actually speaks.
One of the things I like most about AEW is they showcase young talent that has never been given an opportunity on national television. I’d not seen much of Hangman Page prior to AEW, but I am now a huge fan. Same can be said for so many other folks, like Dr. Britt Baker, Jungle Boy, Orange Cassidy, Max Caster, and countless others.
Near the top of that list would be the diabolical MJF, who is currently in a feud with Chris Jericho. In order to foil his arch nemesis, Max has come up with a scheme by which Jericho has to win several matches in a row in order to be granted a match between the two. It’s been dubbed the Labors of Jericho by the promotion and pits Jericho against seemingly insurmountable odds each week.
Welp, that’s been done before.
And it was done by THIS MAN:
That, kids, is a young AJ Styles. And as you can see here, having questionable hair is nothing new for the guy.
As you can also see here, apparently TNA needs REX SEXTON. Not going to lie, I have no idea who that is and I am under too tight a deadline in order to go and do any research.
I’ve got TNA to talk about for crying out loud!
More specifically, I have a match I want to induct this evening:
While the Labors of Jericho serves as a storyline device, such was not the case for poor AJ Styles in 2003. Nay, this was just good ol’ hapless TNA having arguably the most talented wrestler on the planet and putting him up against people he should have honestly never been with in the ring.
Thus the Labors of Styles.
One match I’ve already inducted, as a while back I covered AJ taking on Larry Zbyszko. I’d make a joke about Larry being a spry 52 at the time, but c’mon – WWE is still carting Goldberg out for main events so who am I to judge. Regardless, as bad as that match was, I’d argue it was a ******* Dave Meltzer bonafide classic to what we’re about to bear witness to as AJ battles, with the good Lord above as my witness and I am not making this up, THE SANDMAN.
Yes, THAT Sandman.
There’s living the gimmick, and then there’s LIVING THE GIMMICK.
And let me tell you, ol’ Sandy is doing the latter here.
So he comes out, completely smashed out of his skull, and starts to make his way to the ring. Prior to doing so, he takes a detour to stop by and essentially manhandle one of the cage dancers.
OH! I should probably explain this concept to newer fans who may not have witnessed this family friendly promotion in its prime.
So on either side of the entrance ramps were hot chicks who would be in cages and would dance to the delight of, well, folks who were into hot chicks dancing in cages.
Apparently, one Man, Sand, fell into that category.
Sneaking in behind poor Lollipop, Sandy jumped into the cage, began to dry hump her, took her by the hair, spun her around, stuck his tongue down her throat, then proceeded to play a big ol’ game of grab @$$.
I really wish I was making any of that up.
And by the looks of it, it appeared that Lolly ALSO wished I was making that up.
Poor girl has a look on her face that screamed, “WTH was that?”
So Sandman does his normal smoking and beer drinking entrance, only now instead of the smellbads in Philly getting it, it was smellbads in Nashville getting it.
Look how proud that guy is of his no smoking sign.
I bet his family was equally thrilled!
For his part, AJ decided to have none of that, immediately doing a giant flipparo to put an end to the fun.
Not sure if AJ was supposed to be a babyface or heel at this point, but by doing that I was ready to run to the gimmick table and buy a giant “AJ #1” foam finger.
Back into the ring we go, and we get Styles and Sandman doing a scientific, catch as catch can wrestling exhibition.
One really hasn’t lived until they’ve witnessed Sandman CHAIN WRESTLING.
And by “chain wrestling”, I mean AJ flipping and flopping all over the place in an effort to wrestle himself.
Soon enough, AJ took control of the match, nailing Sandman with a beautiful kick to the kisser. It was so brutal that Sandman could do but one thing:
Sell it THREE STOOGES STYLE.
Like seriously, stop, look at that.
PLEASE TO EXPLAIN what on earth he is doing there.
Despite attending the Moe Howard school of self defense, Sandman finds himself repeatedly thwarted by his far superior adversary. For instance, here AJ takes a trash can and throws it right into Sandman’s noggin.
That is actually really impressive. I mean he hit him PERFECTLY square in the skull.
In an attempt to get back into this, Sandman sits a table up at ringside, gets punched a couple of times, and then helpfully climbs up on the table. I probably should have done a GIF of him gently climbing up there, but I decided to save that bandwidth for…
..AJ crashing and burning…
…before clobbering Sandy with a gorgeous superkick.
I don’t know why, but watching Sandman getting clobbered repeatedly brings me nonstop laughter.
So Sandman goes for a school boy.
This, somehow, some way, causes a ref bump.
Before you ask how such a thing is even possible, allow me to give two very logical answers:
- It’s TNA.
- It’s the Sandman.
Makes perfect sense now, right?
Just as it looked like Sandman might score a top rope Frankensteiner (!!!), Raven runs in and whacks his old ECW colleague in the spine.
Which allows AJ to hit a second rope Styles Clash for the win.
No joke, I’ve been watching this GIF for like three minutes straight to try to figure out what Sandman was doing with his arms. Your guess is as good as mine.
And thus ended the second Labor of Styles. I’ll be back in a couple weeks for the third. Maybe the fourth too. Depends on how much I want to punish myself. Don’t want to hurt myself too much or…
Yeah, you know.