Ring of Honor returns to pay-per-view to showcase their biggest show of 2015 in Final Battle. The match card is arguably one of the most stacked cards in wrestling this year. With tons of variety, title opportunities, grudge matches, fun wrestling, and more on the horizon come Friday, December 18th, ROH has the chance to redeem their past mistakes on PPV. Wrestling With Words has the low-down on all things Ring of Honor Final Battle 2015. As part of our coverage of the event, here is our official preview. I will be providing insight on the massive 9 match card in both this preview aspect, as well as a review aspect after the show ends on Friday night.
Pre-Show/Taped (or Streamed) for YouTube
Cheeseburger vs. Brutal Bob Evans
ROH has labelled this both as a streaming YT exclusive, and a taped for YT exclusive. I have no clue which way they’re going to go, and besides the fact, it’s slightly depressing that they don’t even put this fairly big match on the main card. This has been built to for a long time, with TV matches between the two ending up with someone falling through a table or getting rolled-up for an upset victory. I expect no different here, with Cheeseburger’s confirmed pre-show Battle Royal appearance for Wrestle Kingdom 10 on the horizon; I see him somehow permanently getting over the mountain that is Brutal Bob. This probably won’t go any longer than their past encounters, but it’ll be just as fun, if not more, as well as providing the first culmination to a feud of the night.
#1 Contenders Match for the ROH World Tag Team Championship
The Young Bucks vs. All Night Express vs. The Briscoes
This match is a mixture between fun graps and fan service, as the ‘rest’ of the tag divison is being placed into a contenders match for the belts. Simple and effective, with the majority of the betterment of the division in the match itself. This wasn’t booked on the fly either, as these teams have cross-beef with Briscoes/ANX feuding since the Express came back, The Bucks and Briscoes facing on TV recently, as well as the general consensus that you’re willing to do anything to get a shot at the belts. The result won’t be shocking, yet could go different ways. The simplicity of giving ANX the shot seems intriguing and the right way to go. No way The Bucks will win, and The Briscoes will take the fall as they beat ANX on TV last time. I’m no booker man, but I see between the lines, and this is what I want as a fan. Even if The Kingdom don’t retain for some reason, The All Night Express will have a chance at gold, and if The Kingdom have the belts by then still, expect new champions in that aspect.
Prediction: All Night Express
Michael Elgin vs. Moose
Man oh man, does this ever have potential. In an interesting turn of events, both men have provided some of the quickest squashes in ROH history; leading them to believe that one is better than the other (and that they should solve their problems, a la a hoss battle; potentially even a shadow Contenders Match). Via their interactions in SOTF things as well as other moments, I can tell this will be something special if they stick to their usual guns aka beating the hell out of people and making it fun for everyone watching. Unfortunately, this match is taking place at an awkward time for Moose to get benefit, as Michael Elgin is about to face Jay Lethal for the ROH World Championship in the Tokyo Dome on January the 4th. Even if he won’t win like he did in the standout match vs. Cedric in the summer, Moose will get benefit from being in the same ring as Elgin and putting on a potential brawl for the ages. Elgin will eventually shoot down Moose, on his way to possibly becoming top of the mountain in ROH yet again; but this time, with more fans by his side.
Prediction: Michael Elgin
Alex Shelley, ACH & Matt Sydal vs. The Addiction & Chris Sabin
It’s hard to even act like I have major interest in this match, as it’s probably the least appealing matchup on the entire Final Battle card. However, good things could potentially still come out of it, with an ongoing K.R.D. epidemic with Shelley at the forefront as the face putting a stop to it — with Sabin being the ‘real’ red masker. In another twist, ACH & Sydal are climbing towards supremacy in the improving tag team division. They were put over big on ROH TV, and put through hell and back this year with their battles (mostly in the Best of 5 Series in which ACH won). However, The Addiction promised to win the NJPW World Tag League, and didn’t. This will be their bounce back match in ROH, and they will undoubtedly pin anyone on the other team to win this. I can’t see ACH & Sydal getting pushed any harder than they were before the match, I can’t see instant gratification on the fact that Shelley is trying to take down the bad guys/his former partner, and I certainty can’t say Sabin will pin Shelley. I’m going with a safe pick in the Addiction getting a solid win to rejuvenate their heel momentum.
Prediction: The Addiction & Chris Sabin
Dalton Castle vs. Silas Young
This is called Final Battle for a reason. Whether or not The Boys have been brainwashed too far to come back or not, Dalton will be sure to give everything he has to his 2015 definitive rival: Silas Young. I hope these two get time, and work a serious match, as they’ve gone the comedy route before. Now’s not the time for that, except if we get some occasional boys stuff that hands out freewill laughs. This feud has had many ups-and-downs, evident via my show and TV recaps over the past months, with the comedy/serious balance being hard to deal with at times. These two have definitely met more than once, but there’s nothing that’ll make me think Silas will get the last words in this grudge match. He already has many times, using the boys as leverage, even on the most recent go-home edition of ROH TV. Whether The Boys will be back in town or not, Dalton Castle will come out on top, headed into 2016 with a clean slate.
Prediction: Dalton Castle
Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly
Another match that has unlimited potential, yet could trip up in some aspects if taken down the wrong path. I wouldn’t be surprised if ROH strapped on the Fight Without Honor stipulation on it because of Whitmer/Corino not being able to happen. It’s only fitting. None the less, I see this being the same intense grudge mess with or without said stipulation. Cole screwed O’Reilly out of not only the ROH title, but a win in the biggest match of his career vs. Jay Lethal back in September. Since then, Cole has vacated the Future Shock void that was temporarily filled to go back to The Kingdom. He’s said over and over again that he will not only end O’Reilly’s time in ROH, but his career in general, which was a great way to build up hype for the battle. There will be blood. There will be violence. There will be a grudge settled clean on the mat. Kyle will come out on top, after (SPOILERS) he solidified his dominance back on PWG turf to combat Cole who joined Mount Rushmore 2.0. He hasn’t done that same thing vs. Cole in ROH yet, but will at Final Battle. This is Kyle’s match to win.
Prediction: Kyle O’Reilly
ROH World Television Championship
Roderick Strong (c) vs. Bobby Fish
Both men have filled the ‘workhorse’ roles within the company this year. Bobby (in a smaller aspect) being placed in nice looking singles encounters to ring general, and continuing to anchor the reDRagon team with Kyle. Roddy has had the best year of his career, with incredible performances vs. Lethal, to fantastic matches vs. the midcard, and lastly his current television title reign as he’s defending against anyone at anytime seemingly. This will be nothing short of good, with both men simply wrestling for the most consistent workers championship in the promotion. Bobby won’t win again, unfortunately, but will put up a more-than-valiant effort against one of the top performers in the world. This is the flat-out wrestling match on the show, for a wrestlers’ belt, and I’m definitely okay with that.
Prediction: Roderick Strong
ROH World Tag Team Championship
The Kingdom (c) vs.War Machine
This would fall behind the 6 man as one of the lower-end matchups on the card. There hasn’t been *a lot* of build to this, and the tag division has continued it’s mostly generic tone with Nigel booking more matches on screen than he ever has in other divisions. You may be scratching your head post-match.With Adam Cole most likely losing his grudge match to Kyle, bumping The Kingdom down a notch, I can’t see them being completely wiped off with a title loss as well. War Machine have been built as absolute killers, which is great, and it wouldn’t make sense to pin them clean in their biggest opportunity of the year on the biggest show of the year. I’m more confident in ROH sticking to the Kingdom, although if no other titles change hands I see War Machine easily winning. There’s something that tells me that this will either be overbooked or dumb. Maybe both. I can picture The Kingdom stealing this and go on to brag about their reign until another team (cough, ANX) dethrones them. Maybe I’m crazy and War Machine will get a clean win, then go on to have fresh matchups. It’s either ANX beating The Kingdom, then feuding with The Briscoes, or War Machine straight up winning and making the division quite interesting. Expect the unexpected with Delirious on the sheet.
Prediction: Roll of a dice (Probably War Machine)
ROH World Championship
Jay Lethal (c) vs. AJ Styles
Yes. This match is still happening. After a lower back scare that made him pull out from the NJPW World Tag League, AJ gave the ‘A okay’ to both ROH and New Japan. He’s working this show and Wrestle Kingdom still. However, I don’t think the result is hard to see through. Even though there is always other options and alternatives, Lethal is booked in the Dome to face Elgin, and it’s going to be for the title if he retains. What’s the point in the match if the title isn’t on the line? What would that even do in the grand scheme of things besides being a dumb ROH showcase match where Lethal doesn’t have the title to even show people who he is, whilst Elgin gets his home away from home crowd to go nuts for him? That’s what I thought. This is hopefully going to be a great match, with AJ giving 100% in a refreshing ROH singles match environemnt. However, it’s very hard to say AJ’s going to win the title. It’s nearly impossible, but with ROH, you always have to keep the door slightly open. Big Mike is waiting for Lethal. Lethal will get past Styles to meet him in the best arena in the world for wrestling on January 4th. Styles has Nakamura anyways, and that, may even be more important than the ROH title. I’ll stop breaking kayfabe, but I assure you that somehow, Lethal walks out champ. If not, then I don’t even know anymore. Maybe I should stop being a mark.
Prediction: Jay Lethal
That is your 2015 Final Battle card. I’m sure there will be lots of violence and shocking moments on the biggest show of the year. However, the booking this year is pretty stale beyond the awesome matches created. Reminds me a bit of the Gedo WK situation. None the less, Cole/Reilly, Dalton/Silas, and the main event to a lesser extent, have been built to exceptionally well. The premise of Elgin/Moose draws you in, and the rest is fun filler with some exceptions, limitations, and stipulations. Even though there are negatives to the card, the fact that this is one of the most stacked cards in wrestling this year remains in-tact. I’ll see you live on Friday night for the matches. Let’s hope that ROH can end the year on a high note before shifting gears to Japan and other things come 2016.