Updated: Mar 23
What It’s All About
We hear it all the time from the commentary desk: “Styles Make Fights.” But what does that mean in practice? Welcome to the 5th SMF, where we will be exploring that idea by using my SMF Interactive Dashboard to preview a fight scheduled for the following night's AEW show.
For more details on how this interactive tool works, please take a glance at the "Styles Make Fights" introductory post!
I want to emphasize: please feel free to play around with the interactive dashboard, it’s really neat!
Round 1: FIRST AEW Champ Riho vs. NWA Champ Serena Deeb
Last week, I said that Deeb would control the middle of the match, but that she would have to hold onto a lot of reserves to survive Riho’s comeback. Watching the match, I thought I might have to eat my words, as the middle of the match seemed remarkably even, especially with Deeb’s knee troubles complicating her ability to generate offense. But when the match stats came out, I was surprised, but gratified to see that Deeb had indeed controlled the early and middle stages of the match, as I had expected.
Looking at their mix of offense, both competitors used more strikes and less throws than usual, (but coming from very different starting places!) And, while Riho avoided fouls as always, she did a lot more than usual to get into her opponent’s head. And now is when I would normally expound on the significance those differences have for the strategy they employed with one another, but I just don’t have a clue this week. You tell me!
Round 1: Tay Conti vs Nyla Rose
Normally, I put these SMF previews out on Tuesday nights to preview a match on Dynamite, but It looks like from now through Revolution there are going to be important singles matches to preview on different weeknights every week. And the first of these is tomorrow night on the AEW World Championship tournament Youtube special, with Tay Conti finally getting an opportunity to avenge her first singles match and first singles loss in AEW against the Native Beast, Nyla Rose.
Nyla avoids leaving her feet, but otherwise puts out a balanced mix of every type of offense. She absorbs her opponents’ offense with little worry until devastating them with her power. Tay, on the other hand puts out a lot of offense, a fierce mix of holds, strikes, and throws, and avoids taking a lot in return.
But that’s in general! We have stats for specifically when they are up against each other! In their previous battle, Tay greatly de-emphasized throws, while Nyla did the same in regard to strikes. Tay put out a ton of offense, dominating the fight, but Nyla shrugged it all off with her power to hit her finisher for the win.
Since she won the first battle, I don’t expect Nyla to change up her strategy. Tay, on the other hand, clearly needs to. However, bringing in more throws might be an ineffective change-up against the much larger competitor. Instead, I expect she will slow down a bit, making sure that she has the reserves and is ready with a counter when Nyla attempts to turn the tide with one massive power move.
Tay knows what she needs to do to win this match-up and she knows what to be on guard for. Even though she lost the first time around, with the benefit of experience I would call this Conti's match to lose--hers as long as she avoids a mistake.