The Styles Clash has been AJ Styles’ finisher for years. It’s a s belly-to-back inverted mat slam – arms and legs hooked, opponent goes down face first. It’s a simple move that shouldn’t be dangerous at all. But is the Styles Clash really safe?
For over 10 years, AJ Styles and his Styles Clash have defeated countless opponents but had injured none, until this year. In January, Roderick Strong suffered a neck injury and was out for several weeks after he took the move in ROH.
In March 2014, British wrestler Lionheart broke his neck in two places after being on the receiving end of the Styles Clash. He hasn’t wrestled since.
Yoshi Tatsu was the latest victim of the Styles Clash. He wrestled AJ Styles at Japan Pro Wrestling’s pay-per-view Power Struggle on 8 November. AJ Styles’ finisher caused two breaks in Tatsu’s cervical vertebrae, almost leaving him paralysed.
The way the neck bends during a botched Styles Clash is cringe-worthy. Normally, the manoeuvre should look something like this:
AJ Styles is probably not directly to blame for a Styles Clash gone wrong. Styles is a professional and is known to be a safe wrestler. The person taking the move has the reflex to look down and contract his muscles before hitting the mat, which causes the accidents. However, if the move causes serious injuries for whatever reasons, not using the Styles Clash is an option that should be considered.
After the Yoshi Tatsu incident, Lionheart posted on his Facebook page an open letter to AJ Styles pleading with him to stop using the Styles Clash. Here’s what Lionheart wrote:
I’ll make the assumption he sees this somehow so please read and share… I’d like to openly address him…
Firstly, I hope things are well for you and family… I wanted to write you because I feel it’s important someone speak up in a more formal and diplomatic manner, as opposed to simply throwing abuse via anonymous social media ramblings…
Here’s the truth… The move is not directly dangerous… It’s a simple move in principle… Arms and legs locked, you fall forward, guy looks up/back, easy… The Styles Clash ‘on paper’ is a fairly safe and basic process…
That said, what is dangerous, is the instinctual reaction of your opponent… The wrestler taking the move, who like any wrestler taking any move, their safety and welfare is the priority…
Without ANY injuries, it could be argued that the mechanics of the move are unnatural, and injury could easily happen due to the physical restrictions and instinctual habits of the recipient… The numbers now are surely too great to even call it an argument?
I’m more than happy to be educated on my statistics, but there can be no move in wrestling history that carries more (documented) serious and potentially career threatening injuries than this… This, is what makes the move dangerous, whether indirectly or not…
Thus far, more specifically the last 12 months, several performers, actual experienced athletes, have been injured with this, 2 of them now with broken necks… The question I want to put to you honestly is, what does it take? What will it actually take for you to stop using this move, at the very least on an independent level, with people not necessarily exposed to the experience of working with you and taking the move semi regularly… How honestly will you feel the day you receive the news that the man you just wrestled has a broken neck and will never walk again? Statistically, that day is coming… It is a mathematical certainty…
I take this opportunity now, to openly and publicly beg you… Please, stop using the Styles Clash… You are unquestionably one of the greatest in ring performers of our time, I truly believe that… But the time is now, to put all pride, ego, blame aside, and acknowledge that irrelevant of fault, circumstance or anything else, the move is a direct risk and a danger to the safety and well being of your fellow wrestler…
All the best.
The question here is should AJ Styles bid farewell to his finisher ,although the injuries due to a bad recipient reaction, rather than its execution? The move is technically safe. Even Michelle McMcool used it without any issues and it’s well known how diligent the WWE are when it comes to health & safety, especially for the divas.
Dropping the finisher or not is a personal choice but if I was in AJ Styles’ place I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. The scenarios could be too grim to wave off easily. I’ll give you an example.
It’s the same moral problem as accidentally killing somebody on the road. Yes, he ran in front of me on the highway because he had been drinking too much with his friends in the camp over there and didn’t know what he was doing. Yes it was foggy and rainy, and yes, I was in the speed limit, even if it was just about. Yes, I don’t have any legal responsibility for his death but is this person’s face going to haunt my dreams? Am I going to think “what if I had been a bit slower that night” ? Yes.
And I think AJ Style faces the same issue. If Yosih Tatsu had been paralysed, wouldn’t AJ Styles think: “What if I had stopped using the Styles Clash after the Lionheart incident”?
Maybe for AJ it’s a question of pride. Maybe he feels no guilt, knowing that it was the other person’s fault for not taking his move properly. Then again, what if the next Styles Clash ends somebody’s life? Is it worth the risk?
I believe AJ Styles needs to make a careful decision here because potentially more than one life depends on it.
Do you think AJ Styles should stop using the Styles Clash? Share your thoughts in the comment section, on FB or Twitter!