Final Battle is the biggest event of the year, and as such expectations are sky high when looking at the great card put together. All titles are on the line and a number of feuds will come to an end, with ROH looking to cap off its most successful year to date with a bang.
Number 1 Contenders Match for the Tag Team Titles: The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) vs. The Briscoes (Jay & Mark) vs. All Night Express (Kenny King & Rhett Titus)
This match started fast with the Bucks and Briscoes battle in the ring. There is no possible way for me to call every spot that happened in this match as there were so many and it was at a high pace. The Bucks turned this in to a massive Superkick Party, with my personal favorite spot being when Jay Briscoe had King up on the Electric Chair and Mark went for the Diving Clothesline but was hit with a double Superkick, than Jay got a double Superkick, and King got one as well. ANX were booed mercilessly by the crowd, they had to work hard to get quick pops that eventually reverted back to boos. The Briscoes took a beating but kept coming back with their brawling offense, with Jay taking a Meltzer Driver at one point but Mark broke up the pin attempt. However, ANX pulled off the upset with Rhett pinning Mark Briscoe after he was nailed by the Bucks.
ANX are now number 1 contenders as they set out to reclaim the titles they never lost. Great opening match, the perfect way to open up Final Battle and get the crowd hyped. The quickness of all the guys in the ring made sure this match was kept at a high level. While others dislike these kind of spot-filled matches they have a place in wrestling and the guys involved are amazing athletes for what they are able to do.
Grudge Match: Dalton Castle vs. Silas Young w/The Boys
Back and forth match where neither man really never dominated or asserted control. Castle again showed off his crazy strength with his Deadlift Suplexes, while Silas reminded fans how deceptively agile he is with his quick exchanges and springboard abilities. For whatever reason the match never felt like it got going although fans in attendance chanted constantly for Castle to help with the atmosphere but eventually died out. Silas won the match with Misery when Castle accidently hit one of the boys when they came in to the ring and he looked distraught at what he had done. After the match Silas taunted Castle and told him to call him the real man. After refusing Silas handed the boys chairs and said they would beat him down if he didn’t. Castle conceded and called him the real man, but than called him a fool as the boys attacked Silas with the chairs. The boys rejoined Castle and turned themselves in to a chair for Castle, which got a massive pop from the crowd.
This was a match that fell a bit flat. Both guys worked their butts off but for some reason the time and execution seemed off. Also, because this was suppose to be a Grudge Match I went in expected a hard hitting encounter with both men doing some serious ass-kicking. When Grudge Matches don’t deliver what they are expected to deliver it leaves the match feeling dry. To their credit both guys are phenomenal wrestlers & characters, this just seemed like an off night.
Moose vs. Michael Elgin
Matchup of two powerhouses who are athletic freaks. Both men spent the beginning of the match exchanging shoulder blocks, trying to knock each other down to no avail. Most of the match was really a battle of showoffs, where Moose showcased his great dropkicks that even Okada would approve of, and Elgin his lack of fear when it comes to going to the top rope. Elgin held Moose in a Delayed Vertical Suplex and at another point hit him with a Deadlift Powerbomb for the near fall. After an Elgin Buckle Bomb Moose sprang back to life instantly and connected with his Spear for a near fall as well. It would Elgin who walked away with the win after he stopped a Moose top rope attacked and hit him with a Burning Hammer for the win.
Good match and showcase for these two. Elgin has turned his career around and now sits as the top contender for the ROH World Title, I just wish fans would cheer for him appropriately. Moose on the other hand seemed a bit outmatched, as Elgin had control for a big portion of the match. Since his win streak ended months ago it looks as though he has stagnated a bit. 2016 could see a resurgence for him after failed attempts at being named the number 1 contender for the ROH title.
Grudge Match: Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly
Kyle O’Reilly immediately tackled Adam Cole to the ground and began laying in some shots to the head. Cole ends up on the outside where Kyle sits him on a chair kicks him repeatedly in the chest, eventually performing his signature running knee from the apron on to the seated Cole. The offense does not let up as Cole comes back with strikes of his one, but at every turn Kyle is snapping on a submission hold to derail Cole. These guys go back and forth, eating stiff kicks and slaps while Cole works over the knee and Kyle focuses on the arm. The match reaches its conculsion when Kyle seems to have Cole beat with a Triangle Choke hold, but Cole is able to leverage himself in to a pin attempt while the hold is still on and puts him away for the 3 count thanks to his feet being on the ropes for added help. After the match Kyle goes made and locks Cole in the Cross-Armbreaker, officials have to come out to get him off, but after be pulled apart he locks it right back in. When referees are finally able to get him off Cole is taken to the back in pain while Kyle stand tall in the ring to a big ovation.
Damn good match that is the match of the night so far. Unlike the earlier “grudge match” Kyle and Cole made you feel as though this feud was personal thanks to their hard-hitting offense and relentless pace. Both men are legitimate World Title contenders and it will be interesting to see if they have another match since Cole technically won due to cheating.
The Addiction (Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian) & Chris Sabin vs. ACH, Matt Sydal & Alex Shelly
Daniels opened the match with some good back and forth action between he and Shelly. The heat for this match was the anticipated battle between Shelly and Sabin, former partners who owned the TNA tag division as the Motor City Machine Guns. When they were finally in the ring together the crowd went nuts, but Sabin tagged himself out immediately to the chagrin of the crowd (damn heel). Sydal was worked over a bit but was able to get ACH in for the hot tag where ACH proceeded to lay out his opponents, even performing his Air Jordon (Springboard Suicide Dive) that got the crowd on its feet after being a bit quiet. The match broke down and became a free for all with a lot of quick hits and spots. Shelly’s team won the match when Sydal pinned Sabin after a Shooting Star Press.
Really good match. We are entering 2016 and Christopher Daniels continues to impress me. In match where he was the slowest man in the ring he controlled the match for his team and went at it with some athletically gifted wrestlers. I expected Shelly and Sabin to not mix it up, but when did just that I felt disappointed since it’s a match I want to see. Match suffered a bit from the crowd not being too into it, they may have been tired from the previous match.
ROH TV Title Match: Roderick Strong © vs. Bobby Fish
Unfortunately it was difficult for me to pay attention to this match because seated behind me was a group of very annoying fans who spent the entire match chanting about Bobby Fish’s scarf. While watching the match I did catch some nice reversal sequences where Roddy looked out matched when it came to submission holds. Both guys laid it in to each other, Roddy with his running elbows & high knees, Bobby with his kicks to the back and chest. The finish however was pretty screwy as Bobby had Roddy in the Leg Lock and Roddy tapped but the ref didn’t see it, so Roddy came back with a jumping knee that knocked Bobby out for the win.
A match that was spoiled by annoying fans for me. But from what I saw I think these guys had a better match together in Baltimore back in March during a TV taping I attended live. The finish leaves me guessing Roddy is turning heel, which would be for the best since his heel work is on another level. Bobby looked hurt after that jumping knee to close out the match, I hope he was just really good at selling .
ROH Tag Team Title Match: The Kingdom (Mike Bennett & Matt Taven) © w/ Maria vs. War Machine (Hanson & Rowe)
Before the bell rings the Kingdom immediately attack War Machine with their championship belts. They wail on War Machine and connect on the Hail Mary to Hanson on the outside! However, on the landing it looks like Matt Taven busted his knee and was riving in pain on the floor. Because of the injury they immediately have to go to the finish as War Machine hit Bennett with Fallout to pick up the win and become the new ROH Tag Team Champions.
Real shame this match had to be cut abruptly short, it could have been great. What’s even worse is that a competitor as talented as Matt Taven suffered an injury when he is no longer under contract with ROH. It may be the last fans see of him in ROH.
ROH World Title Match: Jay Lethal w/ Truth Martini & Taeler Hendrix vs. AJ Styles
The match gets started with a lot of back and forth chain wrestling sequences that leave the crowd in awe at how crisp these guys are in the ring. The speed at which they were going back and forth was on another level reserved for the top talents in the world. Jay Lethal is able to take control and focuses on the back of AJ Styles. Styles came in nursing a legitimate back injury and Lethal did not let up on the attack. At one point he tossed Styles against the guardrail so hard fans around me began to worry for AJ’s health. Watching Lethal dig his knee in to the back of AJ was hard to watch, but AJ battled back and blocked a Tope Suicida with a signature Flying Forearm from the guard rail. Back in the ring the quick sequences continued, and Lethal was able to connect with Lethal injection but AJ kicked out! AJ connected with Bloody Sunday, but when he attempted the Styles Clash he was picked up and dumped to the outside of the ring and through the table! Although he was able to beat the 20 count back in to the ring, Lethal connected with a 2nd Lethal Injection for the pinfall.
Lethal retained in a convincing way, controlling the match and being able to match the technique of arguably the best wrestler in the world. This was Lethal’s best match all year and a signature win for his career. Gutsy performance by AJ. The bumps AJ took were insane and something to applaud when considering his injury and his looming confrontation with Nakamura at Wrestle Kingdom. The main event delivered in every way and was the true match of the night.
As a stand-alone show this was a great card, but in the respect that it was Final Battle and the biggest event of the year I suppose I expected everything to be amazing and when it wasn’t I was a bit disappointed. The matches that were great were amazing, with the main event & the O’Reilly/Cole matches being just that. Also, sitting in section with some of the worst fans I’ve ever been around didn’t help the cause as their obnoxious chants took away from some matches (like seriously, them heckling Bobby Fish about his scarf really hurt the match). The endings for some matches left more to be desired, but in every case I think the right guy won.
MOTN: AJ Styles vs. Jay Lethal
Wrestler of the Night: Jay Lethal