ROH Final Battle 2016
Watch: PPV, Fite.tv, ROHwrestling.com
Hammerstein Ballroom – New York City, New York
For the first time since War of the Worlds 2014, Ring of Honor comes to us from the Hammerstein Ballroom for their biggest show of the year, Final Battle. Cody Rhodes makes his ROH debut, taking on a former World champion in Jay Lethal. Plus, newcomers TK O’Ryan and Vinny Marseglia look to become the inaugural ROH Six-Man Tag Team champions alongside their partner in The Kingdom, Matt Taven, as they take on the team of KUSHIDA, Jay White, and Lio Rush. Who walked out of New York City, New York, victorious? Read on and find out.
Story Time with Adam Cole kicks off the show. Cole tells a tale of two knights — the knights being himself and Kyle O’Reilly — one whose perseverance and determination allowed him to eventually become king. The other knight, despite not having the skills it took to overthrow him, repeatedly received opportunities that he didn’t deserve and tonight, Cole claimed that was going to come to an end. I found this segment to be rather campy, almost in a way that was sort of endearing.
Commentators Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino give us a brief rundown of the show’s card. noting that the ROH World Television Championship match will now be a triple threat between Will Ospreay, Marty Scurll, and Dragón Lee, as Bobby Fish was unable to make it to the show.
The Rebellion (Kenny King, Rhett Titus & Caprice Coleman) def. Donovan Dijak & The Motor City Machine Guns (Chris Sabin & Alex Shelley)
I like the idea of MCMG servings as mentors to younger talents in ROH, as it could make for some interesting trios down the line. This was fine for a chaotic, back-and-forth six-man tag with very little in the way of substance, if a bit sloppy at times. Dijak got a chance to shine, as he was able to hit all of his power moves in between The Rebellion’s control segments. At one point, Dijak also hit a tope onto King, Titus, and Coleman. Luckily, they kept this one short, sweet and to the point.
Silas Young def. Jushin Thunder Liger
This match stems from the fact that Young recently went on a tirade about Ultra Liger, a fan cosplaying as Jushin Thunder Liger, at an ROH event. During said tirade, Young would go on to insult Liger himself, calling him a coward and saying that he’s “a child playing dress up.” Living up to his “Last Real Man” moniker, Young doesn’t hesitate to jump Liger at the outset. Liger gets all of his signature offense in, including a dive off the apron. Young often comes across as a certifiable jerk, ripping at Liger’s mask throughout the match. In the end, though, a mistake costs ends up Liger the match. Admittedly, the victor was never in question, as Liger is often brought into ROH to give stars a big win. That said, what we ended up with was a fine match, if a bit bland at times.
Dalton Castle def. Colt Cabana
After unsuccessfully challenging The Young Bucks for the ROH World Tag Team Championships at Glory By Honor XV, Cabana turned on his former partner, Castle, prompting a grudge match between the two. The story of the match was that Cabana somehow kept finding a way to counter Castle’s power moves. Although this lacked intensity, I thought it did a good job of eliciting a crowd reaction. There were some nice back-and-forth sequences, particularly one where Cabana continually countered the Bangarang by trapping Castle’s legs for a couple of close near-falls. Decent match by all accounts.
Cody def. Jay Lethal
Cody gets a cheesy pre-match introduction where his wife, Brandi, refers to him as the “star that left them in the dust,” before saying: “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.” Once both competitors have made their entrances, The Addiction comes out to say a few words about Dusty Rhodes and preview the road that lies ahead for Cody. Much like in the last match, these two had each other well-scouted. The crowd was firmly behind Cody until he hit a low-blow on Lethal to steal the pin. Up to that point, this was a good match with a hot crowd. Rhodes got in all of his hope spots, as did Lethal. The finish seemed to add a bit of shock value and allowed Cody to generate heat following a hard-fought battle with Lethal, so I didn’t mind it. Post-match, Cody continues his assault on Lethal, eventually making his way to the announcer’s table to take out Steve Corino.
ROH Six-Man Tag Team Championship Tournament Finals: The Kingdom (Matt Taven, TK O'Ryan & Vinny Marseglia) def. KUSHIDA, Lio Rush & Jay White
There’s a real sense of urgency about Rush, as he hits two of his signature moves mere moments into the match. There wasn’t anything particularly interesting about The Kingdom’s work on top here, but the flashy offense of KUSHIDA, White and Rush counter-acted that. His counterparts looked good, but I came away from this match especially impressed by Jay White, who served as a tremendous hot tag. Marseglia caught White’s knee in the top rope at one point, which KUSHIDA was able to counter with a Hoverboard Lock on the former. Rush was his usual impressive self, hitting a flurry of dives and high-risk maneuvers. Once we got into the dive train portion of the match, this was really fun. I will say, however, that this match had a distinct lack of convincing near-falls. The Kingdom picking up a win here shouldn’t come as a surprise.
ROH World Television Championship Match: Marty Scurll (c) def. Will Ospreay & Dragón Lee
As commentary mentioned earlier, this was originally scheduled to be a four-way match, but it has been turned into a Triple Threat match since Bobby Fish was unable to make it to Final Battle. This was as fast-paced and chaotic as you might expect, with the highlight of the match being the interactions between Ospreay and Lee. At times, this fell into the tropes that plague many triple threats. For example, one competitor would often stand out the outside while the other two went at it. But,those tropes didn’t prevent this from being an incredibly fun, aerial battle between three quality talents. My favorite part of the match came when Lee attempted his signature diving head scissors over the ropes. but Ospreay landed on his feet on the outside. This ended up being a very good match for what it was and Scurll held his own against the high-flyers.
ROH World Tag Team Championship Match: The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) (c) def. The Briscoes (Jay & Mark Briscoe)
The Young Bucks are at their best when they’re working with a no-nonsense team that’s going to rein in their offense, which was The Briscoes’ game plan here. That’s not to say The Young Bucks didn’t hit their flashy, unorthodox offense, because they did, but their offense was done in a way that was less over-the-top and obnoxious than usual. These two teams had a tough act to follow in the last match, but they did so effectively, delivering the frenetic pace you’d expect from a Young Bucks match. What impresses me most about this match is how The Young Bucks and The Briscoes manage to add new layers to the action, despite having faced each other on numerous occasions. The Young Bucks went overboard with the Superkicks down the closing stretch, but that’s just one knock on an otherwise good tag match. Post-match, “Broken” Matt Hardy appeared on the titantron, saying that he and Brother Nero must come to the Honorable Ring to render The Bucks of Youth obsolete.
ROH World Championship Match: Kyle O'Reilly def. Adam Cole (c)
Per the request of O’Reilly, this has been made a No Disqualification match. Cole and O’Reilly waste no time, going after each other with strikes the second the bell rings. Cole came off as an arrogant, dislikable jerk, often pandering to the crowd and taking O’Reilly lightly as opposed to viewing him as an equal. Try as he might, O’Reilly found himself unable to mount any semblance of offense, weakened, helpless in a way that he’d never been before. This was another very good match that, at times, suffered from having to follow three fast-paced, non-stop contests. Cole busting O’Reilly open added to the overall intensity of the match, and helped make him feel like more of an underdog. It felt like a gritty, hate-fueled war, which is what this needed to be.
ROH FINAL BATTLE 2016 (12/2/16)
Good - 7.5/10
After a fun beginning, Final Battle began to fall off with a series of acceptable matches that overdelivered, despite not being overly appealing on paper. The top three matches stood out as being the best on the show, with my favorite being the triple threat between Dragón Lee, Will Ospreay and Marty Scurll. The crowd reaction wavered at times, as fans were often subject to matches similar to the ones they had previously seen. Even then, we ended up with a very good show, capped off by an emotional title win for Kyle O'Reilly.