For many years AJ Styles seemed like he would always be most associated with TNA. Having never got past the try-out stage with WWE in any significant way, and having been a big fish in a small pond for so many years Styles seemed like he would be a lifer in the number 2 company. When he left in 2013, no-one believed he was bound for WWE, even though the story was widely known there was an offer on the table, but apparently, it was lower than Styles wanted. Fast forward to 2018 and Styles is one of the longest reigning WWE Champions of the modern era, having arrived directly on the main roster via a celebrated sting in New Japan Pro Wrestling in 2016. It really is quite the turnaround, and in no small part due to Styles eye-catching in-ring style and top-notch work rate. As such, WWE putting out a DVD showcasing his matches under the company banner should be no surprise.
Now, of course, it goes without saying that the match quality here is off the charts. AJ Styles is a very special talent, and he is capable of raising the quality of any match he is involved in, no matter the opposition. Happily, this DVD focuses on the real choice cuts from his WWE stint thus far, including his battles with John Cena at Summerslam 2016 and Royal Rumble 2017, his battles with Roman Reigns from 2016 including a cracking Extreme Rules match from the event of the same name. We see Styles have great matches with Jinder Mahal, Dean Ambrose, Chad Gable and many others, as well as his battles with Shinsuke Nakamura. His showdown with Brock Lesnar from Survivor Series last year (a personal favourite of mine as far as 2017 went) is also included showing the range of opponents Styles has been able to have absolute blinders with since he debuted in WWE in January 2016. Although all of these matches are available on the WWE Network, if you want all the best AJ matches from this run collected in one place, this DVD very much does the job.
It’s hard to pick faults in a release that has this much quality action, however, it does feel somewhat reliant on that. The interview segments between matches aren’t the most illuminating in terms of new information, and we don’t really learn that much about Styles as a person. I appreciate doing a documentary on his career, given that 90% was spent in TNA/ROH/NJPW is not as straightforward as it might have been for other roster members, but there were definitely ways around that. WWE has used ROH match footage before and even recently had TNA footage on the network, so it’s not exactly out of the realm of possibility, although I appreciate there are probably other reasons that may have contributed to that decision. It’s a small thing, but it’s the difference between this set being phenomenal (pun intended) and just very good.
AJ Styles - Most Phenomenal matches is a very enjoyable DVD set, with some big matches and some great moments. It really does provide an excellent showcase of the biggest matches from AJ Styles’ WWE tenure and if it’s purely match quality you are after you find much better. However, in the era of the WWE Network, I’m not sure that’s enough to justify the price of a release like this without going the extra mile, to anyone other than completionists.