Saturday, December 19, 2015

ROH Final Battle Review

Final Battle 2015
December 18th, 2015 | 2300 Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

ROH held their biggest show of the year last night. I was going to watch live but got a last minute ticket to Star Wars and saw that instead. Today, right after work, I watched the PPV on demand with excitement. I already was pumped for the show going into things, but I heard high praise for it as well.

Kevin Kelly and Mr. Wrestling III (Steve Corino in a mask since Corino is barred from commentary) are on commentary.

Number One Contender’s Match: The All Night Express def. The Briscoes and the Young Bucks in 9:19
Coming into this show, I fully expected this to be the opener and I was right. It worked exactly how you’d want your opener to work. The crowd was red hot for the Briscoes and Young Bucks, the match was fast paced and featured some fun spots. It did begin slower than I thought it would, but once they got into busting out the spots, these teams were right at home. We saw multiple dives to the outside, back to back 450 splashes from the Bucks, some fun offense from the Express and the Briscoes being badasses. The teams did the job of getting the crowd going with the frenetic pacing. The Bucks nearly won it with the Meltzer Driver, only for the pin to get broken up. The All Night Express earned the title shot with a super one night stand. Fine opener, but the crowd was not happy about ANX winning, though I liked the decision. ***

Silas Young w/ The Boys def. Dalton Castle in 10:47
Obviously, the story of this match was the Boys. They originally accompanied Dalton Castle to the ring, but Silas Young won their services and has turned them into “men”. It’s a pretty good idea in theory but when I type it, it sounds odd to say the least. The match itself was about on par with the other bouts in their series. Castle was a bit more serious than usual, considering the angle. I like that he played into that. It came off as more physical than their previous encounters and Castle showed off surprising strength. One of the Boys got involved and Castle wiped him out by mistake. He was horrified, allowing Young to get the win. After the match, Young demanded that Castle call him a real man. Castle finally did but the Boys then showed their true colors, siding with Castle. So Castle loses the battle, but wins the war. **½

Michael Elgin def. Moose w/ Stokely Hathaway in 11:55
Ring of Honor is filled with really good wrestlers and athletes, but then you run into a situation like this and you get a good old fashioned hoss battle. I tend to like these, especially when they are different than everything else on the show. Both guys want the ROH World Title, though Michael Elgin already won a shot at Survival of the Fittest. Moose sported some special football themed entrance attire, which was cool. This was entirely back and forth, with both guys being given a chance to showcase their power. Moose kicked out of an Elgin Bomb, then Elgin got his shoulder up after a Spear. Moose shouted that he was coming for Elgin, leaving Elgin ready for it and he was able to catch him with a Burning Hammer to win. I figured this would be the result with Elgin having a title shot coming up at Wrestle Kingdom, I’m just not sure what’s next for Moose. ***

Adam Cole def. Kyle O’Reilly in 16:12
The former Future Shock partners have had issues since Adam Cole seemed to be friends with Kyle O’Reilly again, only to cost Kyle his shot at the ROH World Title back in September. This was billed as a grudge match and Kyle absolutely played into that from the start, taking Cole down. When Cole started to swing the momentum, he targeted O’Reilly’s leg. That was done to set up the figure four, which commentary reminded us was how Cole beat Kyle in their big match in New York in 2012. O’Reilly sold the leg issues rather well, but when they went into their back and forth near the end, this really picked up. Kyle kept going for the armbar, including one after an exchange of superkicks and a rebound lariat. He finally got it locked in seemingly for good, but Cole got his feet on the ropes and pinned O’Reilly to steal it. Kyle didn’t even care, just going after Cole and applying more armbars until officials broke it up. I thought the match was great. It played out like a grudge match mostly, had callbacks to their past and the finish sets up some rematches. This was the first great thing on the show.****

ACH, Alex Shelley and Matt Sydal def. The Addiction and Chris Sabin in 15:29
After a hoss battle and grudge match, I liked this placement on the card. It allowed for a change of pace. The main angle here was the issue between Alex Shelley and his former Motor City Machine Gun partner, Chris Sabin. Sabin avoided Shelley throughout the match, building up their eventual encounter. The rest of this was honestly lacking in heat. Outside of their angle, this was just the Addiction vs. ACH and Matt Sydal, which was technically fine, but nothing special. I was hoping to see some battle between Shelley and Sabin, but it never happened. Sabin took the loss after ACH hit a 450 and Sydal hit a Shooting Star Press. This was alright and probably could have had a few minutes shaved off to improve it. **¾

ROH World Television Championship: Roderick Strong (c) def. Bobby Fish in 15:23
Roderick Strong won the ROH TV Title recently from Jay Lethal. Bobby Fish came close back in September, and I heard there were plans for him to do so, but it never happened. Here, two of the better guys that I’ve seen in the ring this year faced off for the belt. They worked a rather slow start with both guys feeling each other out. Fish tried to look after the leg, setting up the Fish Hook. They built to something bigger and a high spot came when Fish nailed the Falcon Arrow off the top. He got out of the Strong Hold and applied the Fish Hook. Strong tapped out, but it was done at angle where the official missed it while Fish could see it. Fish released the hold, thinking he won. Strong snuck in and hit a high knee that knocked out Fish to retain. Fish sold it very well. While the finish made him look kind of dumb, I hope this leads to heel Roddy. He’s been very good in that role with other companies. ***¼

ROH World Tag Team Championship: War Machine def. The Kingdom (c) w/ Maria Kanellis in 3:12
Rumors have been swirling for a long time that the Kingdom are on their way out of Ring of Honor. That became more apparent with the finish of this title match. The Kingdom attacked before the bell and Matt Taven hit a nice dive outside, though he almost wiped out badly. He then did get hurt on a Hail Mary on the outside. That injury may have been what caused this to be so short. War Machine rallied from the early assault and hit fallout to become the new champions. Considering the length of the match and the injury, I don’t think it’s fair to give this a rating. The title change was welcome though since I do enjoy War Machine. N/R

ROH World Heavyweight Championship: Jay Lethal (c) w/ Truth Martini and Taeler Hendrix def. AJ Styles in 22:12
This felt like a match that was the biggest possibility on the independent scene. It had a big fight feel to it and Jerry Lynn and Nigel McGuinness joined in on commentary. They worked the kind of start I expected. AJ got the upper hand, forcing Lethal to go out and talk strategy with Truth Martini and Taeler Hendrix. Once back in, Lethal turned his attention to the injured back of Styles. The things Lethal did here worked so well, because not only was it smart to attack the back, but even when Lethal would counter something AJ did, he still went after the injury. Since he works as the heel most of the time, it was strange to see AJ on the defensive so much here. Lethal was really given a platform to shine. When AJ started to rally, things were excited. He hit a springboard right hand to counter a Lethal suicide dive. The Styles Clash was protected too, as Lethal didn’t kick out, instead avoiding it altogether. Lethal Injection connected, but when he tried a second one, Styles avoided it and hit a Pele. He followed with Bloody Sunday and went for the Clash but Lethal tossed him over and outside through a table. They did the countout tease, which the fans bought since they probably assumed Styles might lose that way to stay protected. He got in and survived another Lethal Injection for a great near fall. They went into a series of reversals, which ended when Lethal hit the cradle piledriver, complete with trash talk to Lethal at ringside. A final Lethal Injection helped him retain. Just a great back and forth, smartly worked main event, with a clean finish. This was everything that it needed to be. ****½

Overall; 8/10. Honestly, this was my favorite ROH offering all year. The main event was tremendous and I found the O’Reilly/Cole match to also be great. Outside of the short Tag Title match, everything else on the card was decent to good and that’s all I could ask for. There was a good mix of styles throughout the show, which is appreciated, and it ended by putting the World Champion over in the best possible way.