Looking back at TNA's greatest rivalry (AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels)
By: Josh Boutwell of Wrestleview.com
Since TNA's inception, AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels have been a constant for the promotion, especially in the early days and maybe the biggest constant. AJ has been a part of TNA since it's very first show, while Daniels joined TNA in July of 2002 (the 2nd month of its existence), though he has had brief departures from the company twice over the years. The two stars paths have crossed more times than you can count and after this past Sunday's "Final Resolution" PPV, it seems that those paths have crossed for the last time (at least for the time being) as they had their "Final Encounter" with Daniels coming out on top.
It's no secret that I'm a big TNA fan, nor is it a secret that I've been a fan since that very first TNA event in Huntsville, AL, so the Daniels-AJ rivalries have been some of my favorite rivalries over the last 10 years. This is the reason I wanted to revisit TNA's original rivalry and remember some of their greatest moments.
In the first few years of TNA, Daniels & AJ's paths rarely crossed with most of the incidents coming in tag team bouts (primarily Daniels & Elix Skipper as Triple-X against the brief team of AJ Styles & D-Lo Brown).
2005 was the year things really began as they feuded for the majority of the year over the X-Division Championship including an epic 30-Minute Iron Man Match (with AJ coming out on top) and the Ultimate X Match which saw Daniels win his first singles title in TNA.
After Daniels finally beat AJ for the X-Division Title, he then was able to stay away from AJ for several months until September of that year when once again the two met, this time with Samoa Joe thrown into the mix for their first of several amazing Triple Threat Matches. AJ regained his title, but this match is most known for being the first and only time the X-Division Title headlined a TNA PPV.
Daniels & AJ once again went at it under Iron Man rules in the rematch to their first epic encounter at the 2005 Bound for Glory and again AJ was able to retain the belt. Samoa Joe then assaulted Christopher Daniels putting him out of action for the next month due to a concussion. Joe challenged and defeated X-Division Champion AJ Styles at the next month's PPV "Turning Point".
After the match, Joe set out to injure AJ Styles as well until Christopher Daniels ran out to make the save for his former enemy. Daniels challenged Joe at "Final Resolution" and during the match Joe pummeled Daniels to the point that AJ Styles threw in the towel on behalf of Daniels to try and save him from another concussion.
Daniels accused AJ of looking out for himself in wanting to be the one to beat Joe, and they rekindled their 3-Way feud with Joe for a few months with Daniels eventually winning back the belt in Ultimate X.
After dropping the X-Division Title back to Joe, Daniels & AJ formed a tag team going from bitter enemies to allies, as the Phenomenal Angels. Styles & Daniels had extremely memorable feud with America's Most Wanted (James Storm & Chris Harris) and L.A.X.(Hernandez & Homicide) and won the NWA (now TNA) World Tag Team Championships along the way.
The feud with L.A.X. was one of my favorite tag feuds in TNA's history as they went the gauntlet of different matches having straight up tag matches along with a violent Steel Cage Match, a Street Fight, and even a high flying Ultimate X Match. In the end AJ & Daniels lost their belts to Homicide & Hernandez and then shortly thereafter split up.
In 2007 Daniels briefly won his 3rd X-Division Title and reformed Triple-X, but was then "fired" (storyline-wise only) later in the year. Daniels then came back under the Curry Man name and he spent the majority of 2008 and 2009 under the Curry Man & Suicide masks with no involved with Styles.
Daniels returned for Lockdown '09 alongside Styles as apart of Team Jarrett against the Main Event Mafia and over the next couple of months they would team together occasionally, but that didn't last long as AJ won the World Title at No Surrender '09 and Daniels was looking at a shot at the belt.
Styles faced both Daniels & Joe in a winning effort in a 3-Way at Turning Point '09 and then defeated Daniels again in another great encounter between the two. Daniels was then legitimately fired by TNA early the next year.
Daniels returned again in early 2011 coming to the aid of Styles and the rest of Fortune in their rivalry with Immortal leading to Daniels taking the injured Styles' place in the Lethal Lockdown Match at Lockdown '11.
Styles & Daniels teamed together numerous times against Immortal members but once again rekindled their rivalry in what was considered a "friendly competition" at the X-Division showcase PPV "Destination X" in 2011 with Styles coming out on top. Daniels asked Styles repeatedly for a rematch and when he finally granted it Daniels was able to pull off the win, but then refused to shake AJ's hand after the match.
Daniels began to taunt AJ after that and eventually several fights led to Daniels leaving Fortune (and was a big part in the eventual split for good of the faction, along with Roode turning on Storm).
Styles and Daniels have spent the majority of both 2011 and 2012 feuding.
Despite being stuck with the horrendous "Crackhead Claire" storyline the two X-Division pioneers continuously made "chicken salad out of chicken sh*t" by putting on yet more incredible matches.
The majority of AJ & Daniels' matches in the past had been high flying, back and forth styled matches, but this time around they put on much more violent matches including the I Quit Match where Styles threatened to stab out Daniels' eyes with a screwdriver.
The "Crackhead Claire" storyline also had another positive outcome as it led to the pairing of Kazarian & Daniels as Bad Influence, and Bad Influence has had a slew of great matches with AJ and a number of partners including Kurt Angle & Mr. Anderson.
Styles & Daniels faced off for the 2nd straight year at Destination X in their violent Last Man Standing Match (which may be by favorite Styles-Daniels match along with their first Iron Man Match) that ended after Styles was able to hit a Styles Clash off the stage and through a table.
Styles & Daniels both took part in a 4-Way Ladder Match that also involved Samoa Joe & Kurt Angle as a part of the BFG Series at Hardcore Justice in which Styles won.
After another string of great tag matches this time involving AJ & Angle (as well as Hernandez & Chavo Guerrero), Styles and Daniels fought this past weekend for the final time (or so they say).
Styles and Daniels went back and forth, flew around the ring, and got physical (though nowhere near as physical or violent as some of their more recent matches) with another gem in their bag full of jewels over the last 10 years. It is highly unlikely that we will never see AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels face each other again, but it IS likely this is the last time they will face each other for some time, and if so they put a great cap on a wonderful feud that has spanned almost a decade.
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