Minoru Suzuki v AJ Styles (8/1/14)
Man Suzuki fucking ruled in this. I was pretty excited about watching this to see more AJ (which wasn't the case before the Naito match), and he was great here as well, but it's been so long since I've seen a Minoru Suzuki match that I guess I forgot how much of an epic cunt he could be. I actually thought this was outstanding and up there with pretty much anything I've seen from last year. Even the stare down before the bell was great, mostly because Suzuki has done outrageous things to his hair since the last time I saw him. He now looks like an alley cat that steals food from burning buildings. There were points of this where he was sort of Tenryu-ish in the way he tried to bully AJ, and at times he looked downright disgusted by him. All of his armwork was great (which AJ sold great in return), totally cranking on everything like he's really trying to yank an arm off. It was his finger bending that was the best, though. Any match with finger bending is instantly a better match because of it, and this was some GREAT finger bending. The way it all started was an awesome spot as well, with AJ pointing to Suzuki's head with a handgun gesture and Suzuki just grabbing and bending. Closing stretch was off the charts good, especially the struggles over big moves. I thought I'd seen enough Kurt Angle finishing stretches in my life that I'd never pop for an ankle lock reversal sequence again, but I'll be fucked if they never did an awesome ankle lock reversal sequence. It even ended with Suzuki going back to the arm, and his cross armbreaker looked completely disgusting, like he was trying to just hyper-extend the fuck out of it. Loved the fight for the Styles Clash as well with AJ only being able to hit it one-armed in the end. This also had an actively good strike exchange that never felt contrived at all, but the best part was Suzuki punching Styles dead in the jaw and the ref' losing his shit (Styles only using his left arm to throw forearms was a nice touch as well). I don't want to say this was "shockingly great" or whatever, because I had some high expectations for it, but it did kinda blow those expectations out the water.