In pro wrestling there is usually a student vs. mentor feud. Typically, the student will get tired of his teacher and turn on him or her. Ring of Honor ran a similar angle in 2005. The feud created one of their best heels in company history, Jimmy Rave.
For most of 2003, AJ Styles took a young Jimmy Rave underneath his wing. Rave was having a hard time winning matches and would get pointers from Styles. Rave was only able to win one match the entire year in ROH.
At the War of the Wire show on November 29th, Rave showed intensity by shoving Styles and getting fed up with AJ yelling at him for the loss. AJ liked seeing that kind of emotion coming out of Styles. After winning a match at the first show of 2004, Styles deemed that Rave was ready to wrestle the Phenomenal One.
Their first match took place at the Second Anniversary Show on February 14th, 2004. They were competing in the ROH Pure Championship Tournament. Styles was the number one seed while Rave was the eighth seed. Styles won after almost eight minutes of action. Afterward, Rave apologized for his outburst towards his mentor.
At World Title Classic on June 12th, Rave was pinned in a six man tag match involving Generation Next (Alex Shelley, Austin Aries & Roderick Strong). As a result, Rave was gone from ROH…
Until ROH Reborn: Completion on July 17th, 2004. At the event, Prince Nana revealed that he had spent a lot of money bringing a guy into the company. That guy was Jimmy Rave who was now being promoted as the prince of Ghana. He had a robe and an arrogant attitude to go along with it. At the event, he pinned Trent Acid following a Styles Clash, dubbed the Rave Clash.
AJ would make a “special one night only” return to ROH on the ROH 3rd Anniversary Show Part II on February 25th, 2005. His reasons for return are obvious… Rave stole his damn finisher.
In without the biggest match of his career, Rave was able to pin AJ Styles after over twenty minutes of action. Rave used some underhanded tactics to get the win as he sprayed air freshener in AJ’s face to earn the victory.
Rave didn’t have to deal with AJ for several months until AJ returned to ROH on a full-time basis started at ROH Death Before Dishonor II on June 18th. At the event, Styles defeated a hired henchmen of the Embassy, Petey Williams. However, Rave got the best of Styles by hitting the Rave Clash. Talk about insulting, right?!
Styles and Rave would meet for a second time at ROH Sign of Dishonor on July 8th. Styles would even the score at one a piece by pinning Rave after countering the Rave Clash with a roll up. After the bout, Rave would choke Styles out with a… plastic bag. Yeah, bringing a 1989 angle into ROH.
They’d meet once again but this time under street fight rules on the July 23rd show named ROH The Homecoming as it was taking place in Philadelphia. After interference from Alex Shelley, Rave would pick up his second win over Styles after hitting the Rave Clash.
Their last singles match in ROH would occur on September 17th at Glory By Honor IV. The match didn’t have a referee as the only way to win the match was to hit either the Styles Clash or the Rave Clash. Whomever lost the match would not be able to use the move anymore. AJ would put an end to the feud following the Styles Clash off the middle rope through a table.
These two didn’t have a standout match during their feud, but the feud was an effective way to make Jimmy Rave into one of the biggest heels that the company had within the first few years of the company running shows. Honestly, Rave is probably one of the most underrated heels in ROH history. He went from being a lame babyface to a main event heel within two months in 2004.
It was vital for Rave to win their first match when AJ made a “special one night” return. It gave him creditability and a reason for Styles to come back later on in the year.
Rave stealing finishers angle is an easy way to get heat on the guy. I mean, once this feud ended he started to use the pedigree. Obviously, ROH fans are not big on WWE and the pedigree reminded them of a certain big nose main eventer. Easy and effective way to book a heel.
Should Rave have won the feud? Probably. I mean, Styles wasn’t in ROH for much longer. Losing the feud didn’t hurt Rave, for the most part. He was still a big part of the show for a good amount of time afterward.
It’s unfortunate that Rave has had issues with drug abuse during his career because at this point in time he could have been ROH World Champion. His ability was improving each time out and he was perfect in his heel persona. I find myself always enjoying Rave’s run in ROH from 2005 to 2007 or so.
The matches weren’t incredible, but they were entertaining more times than not. It’s a fun feud that created a heel star and one of examples of Gabe Sapolsky being able to create a star.
What are your memories or opinions on the Rave/Styles feud in ROH? Share them below!
Thanks for reading.
34-year-old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Long-time fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls, and Minnesota Vikings. An avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on old-school wrestling.