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#FinisherFriday (11/2/18): The Styles Clash


Welcome to another edition of #FinisherFriday! This is Wreddit_Regal with an analysis of one of the weirdest finishers that you have seen and loved over time.

"The Phenomenal" AJ Styles is undoubtedly one of the greatest in-ring performers of this generation. From TNA to ROH to NJPW to WWE, he has left the fans breathless as he unloads his arsenal of wrestling moves to his unfortunate victims.

Staying true to his moniker, he became TNA's first Triple Crown and Grand Slam Champion, the first TNA wrestler to receive the #1 spot on the Pro Wrestling Illustrated 500 list, became Wrestling Observer Newsletter's Wrestler of the Year in 2016, and later inducted to the WON Hall of Fame in 2017. Add to his CV the numerous titles he has held over the years, as well as being the third leader of the Bullet Club, and the word "Phenomenal" speaks for itself. (For the complete list of his achievements and championship reigns, please go to this page.)

Surely, a wrestler as phenomenal as Styles would have some jaw-dropping and aesthetically-pleasing finishers in his arsenal. I would answer that with "75% yes." So far, he has shown four finishers, with three fitting the "aesthetically-pleasing" description:

1. The Phenomenal Forearm


2. Calf Crusher


3. Spiral Tap


4. and his infamous finisher, the Styles Clash


The fourth one is the "25% no" of my answer because of its cartoonish-looking setup. Let me break it down for you into chunks:


  1. From a position in which the opponent is bent forward against the wrestler's midsection, the wrestler grabs that
  2. The wrestler lifts so that the opponent is held upside down, facing in the same direction as the wrestler.
  3. The wrestler takes two steps and moves his legs in front of the opponent's arms
  4. The wrestler falls forward planting the opponent's body into the mat face-first
  5. The wrestler rolls to his right; since his legs are now under the opponent's arms he can also turn the opponent's body in the process, enabling him to use his legs to cover the shoulders for a pin



I don't know, chaps. I know that this is a bloody dangerous move to perform, but the setup and execution are just too cute for me. It doesn't have the flash or pizzazz that the other finishers possess, hence my ambivalence to the move. But let me show you how the move deals damage anyway.

How the Styles Clash hurts you

1. Technically the Styles Clash is a belly-to-back inverted facebuster, which means that the primary damage-taking part of the body is the face. Everybody should know by now that any solid hit to the face can cause a knockout if it can generate enough force to make the brain bounce back and forth inside the skull.

Image from the Queensland Brain Institute website

But one thing that most wrestling fans point out is how can the Styles Clash deal substantial damage to the face when the head is positioned at such a short distance to the canvas? The second mechanic is the answer to that query:

2. Notice how the recipient's chest is flared, and the torso leaning backward when AJ performs the move. In reality, aside from the face, the xiphoid process, floating ribs, and the diaphragm also take the brunt of the impact.

Aside from possible fractures to those bones, a 218-lb (99 kg) weight pressing down on a wrestler's diaphragm after completing the finisher is technically a brute version of a Heimlich maneuver: Styles's own body exerts pressure on the bottom of the diaphragm, which compresses the lungs and "blows" all the air away, which can also render the average person unconscious. Talk about literally getting the wind knocked out of you. *ugh*

Image from Wikipedia

BONUS: Also take note that almost all recipients of the move do not tuck their chin, but instead tilt it backwards. This ensures that they would not experience the worst-case scenario of taking a Styles Clash: receiving a mini piledriver PLUS AJ's entire weight pressing on the head and neck. Well, except for these guys:



FUN FACT: James Ellsworth almost suffered the same fate as the guys above, if not for AJ noticing at the last minute and protecting him in the process:



So there you have it chaps, the Styles Clash deconstructed. As much as I dislike the setup, the move has gained the notoriety of being a deadly finisher inside and outside the WWE. What do you think about the Styles Clash? Let us know in the comment section below!

*****

Wreddit_Regal is the resident sports kinesiologist of Reddit's wrestling forum, r/squaredcircle. From the most basic of punches to the most intricate double-team maneuvers, he can explain them within the realm of human anatomy and physics, because when doing absolutely nothing wrestling-related, he also happens to work as an operating room nurse.

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