The IMPACT Wrestling archives are full of unforgettable matches moments. Today, we take a look at the feud between Rhino and AJ Styles in 2007.
AJ Styles had seemingly lost everything. Just a couple months ago, he dropped the Tag Team Championships with his partner Christopher Daniels to the Latin American Xchange in a Six Sides of Steel Cage Match. Then, he accused his former partner of costing him the X-Division Championship when Daniels was just trying to help him. Styles continued to put blame on his peers for his own shortcomings, including the “War Machine” Rhino. Having gone through many of the same struggles that Styles was going through, Rhino attempted to help him. However, instead of accepting his help, Styles deflected Rhino’s efforts and accused him of having ulterior motives. Going into IMPACT Wrestling’s November 2006 pay-per-view event, Turning Point, AJ Styles had no gold, no friends and an angry Rhino charging in his direction.
Styles and Rhino would meet in a singles bout at Turning Point 2006. Looking to gain the early advantage, Styles jumped rhino from behind during a backstage pre-match interview. They fought all the way to the ring and the match officially began. This wasn’t the only unfair tactic that Styles would use that night. Styles went as far as to fake a knee injury to gain the upper-hand and rolled up a distracted rhino to steal the victory.
As you can imagine, this only angered the “War Machine”. The following month on pay-per-view, the two met in a Last Man Standing Match at Final Resolution 2007. If Styles wanted to be victorious once again, he would need more than three seconds – he would need ten! Determined to get revenge on Styles for cheating to defeat him last month, Rhino connected with a devastating Gore more impactful than we had ever seen before. Styles began to recover but instead of continuing to fight, he acted cowardly and stayed down to award rhino the victory. Rhino wouldn’t let Styles escape that easily though. After the match, Rhino looked to smash Styles through a table. However, it came back to bite him as Styles used his agility to avoid the move, sending Rhino crashing through his very own table.
At Against All Odds 2007, there would be no more running for AJ Styles as he and Rhino met in a Motor City Chain Match where the two combatants were chained together. Not only that but also hanging above one ring post was a nightstick and on another, the key to unlock the chain! Rhino was able to retrieve the nightstick but Styles would pry it away from him and use it as a weapon! Styles was also first to grab the key and unlock himself from the chain, giving himself the momentary advantage. With his change of attitude, Styles had not only angered other wrestlers but also the referees! Earl Hebner would get back at Styles by assisting Rhino in unlocking himself from the chain later in the match! However, Rhino’s rage would get the best of him as he missed a Gore attempt as he once again went crashing through a table, allowing Styles to score the pinfall.
The rivalry had to end. On an event that showcased the high-flying X-Division, AJ Styles and Rhino would go higher than they ever had before. At Destination X 2007, the first-ever Elevation X Match took place and they were the two combatants. Towering above the ring was a structure shaped like an X. It was barely wide enough for one man to stand on and there was nothing to help them balance – one wrong move and they would fall several feet to the mat. In fact, that was the object of the match. The first man to throw their opponent off the Elevation X would be declared the victor. After numerous heart-stopping attempts, Styles was in a dire situation. As he was hanging off the structure, Rhino stepped on his hands, sending him crashing to the mat below. On this night, Rhino had won the battle — but the war was far from over.