ROH Final Battle 2016 Reaction
By Nicholas Jason Lopez
Ring Of Honor’s Final Battle signifies both the end and new beginnings.
While we initially saw this as counterproductive to host an annual “payoff”-themed Pay-Per-View typically saved for December’s last week on the month’s second day, you couldn’t knock this card.
It’s funny, since ROH didn’t hammer home the hype until the final two weeks of television, but alas, it came together enough for the in-ring action and events to bring it full circle.
We had Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Cody, hell, even Broken Matt Hardy made a cameo appearance.
A fitting main event too, as we’d see Kyle O’Reilly get his last shot (seemingly) against ROH World Champion Adam Cole.
– The opening video could be criticized for its similarity to the Bound For Glory 2016 “Fairy Tale Storybook” concept, but it made sense in context of the Cole-O’Reilly feud. It was a literal take on “Story Time With Adam Cole Bay Bay,” as he told a story of two knights where he saw himself as the noble knight and O’Reilly as the bad knight who didn’t deserve chances and wouldn’t go away. This was also similar to Cole’s go-home promo where he got angrier as things forwarded, as he slammed the book down and promised that he’d write the final chapter and “finish this.” He called himself a god. Solid camera work as it zoomed in on the ROH World Championship as Cole walked off, only to be snatched by him at the last second.
– The Six-Man Tag between The Rebellion and The Motor City Machine Guns/Donovan Dijak was a good opener. The Rebellion was the renamed Cabinet stable, this time with a “rebel” attitude. Caprice Coleman was dressed like Farooq from his Nation Of Domination days and easily got the most heat, to his credit. Big “Motor City” chants to start, as we were reminded of The Rebellion’s attack on Dijak, which was why he teamed with MCMG. With MCMG also on this recruitment bonanza to represent company honor against Bullet Club, Dijak fit the profile. Most of the in-ring action was fast-paced and shaped around double-team maneuvers, the more entertaining of which came from when Dijak flew around, namely his springboard senton to the outside. The action was constant and slick towards the end, as the Sky Splitter/frog splash on Chris Sabin was too much to overcome. Sure, the loss to The Rebellion put a damper on MCMG’s recruitment group search and the hot crowd in general, but it was necessary to the heels’ mission. The upside down ROH logo is uncreative, but logical.
– The Silas Young-Liger match had late hype, as we learned of it two weeks prior when Young cut a promo on a crowd plant dressed as Liger and called the Japanese legend “a masked coward playing dress up.” As it goes with any big indy show. Liger’s appearances bring nostalgia and legitimacy to whomever he faces. Usually, Liger also goes over, so we figured what to expect. Points for them being able to use Liger’s actual theme song. catchy as hell. He apparently also allegedly turned 52 that week, so that alone was amazing given the moves he can still do. Early heat for Young as he rejected the Code Of Honor in exchange for a rib kick. Liger did some signature spots, like the Gory Special. On the heel side, Young answered back with forearm smashes and tried to unmask Liger, while The Beer City Bruiser attacked him outside. Young took a swig of “Beer” and spit it in Liger’s face while he laid on the canvas. Liger shaped a comeback as he hit a brainbuster, took out Bruiser on the apron and went for a top rope splash, but landed on Young’s knees. Young hit Misery afterwards to get the surprising win. Surely, this gives something for “The Last Real Man” to brag about as 2017 comes.
– Dalton Castle’s video package promo gave us some background on how he and Colt Cabana got along before he was betrayed when disappointment and anger got the best of “Boom Boom” and it was the “low blow heard around the world.” In typical Castle fashion, he spoke of his flight to Alaska, fight with a Great White and how he rode an orca to San Diego. Things were different now, as he questioned if this was Cabana’s plan all along. He promised Cabana’s actions were “recipe for regret.” This was some good mic work from the crazed peacock fanatic, but we actually had hoped to hear from Cabana, who now had the chance to shed his happy-go-lucky nature and actually heel things up.
– The Cabana-Castle match saw more Cabana heat introduced by commentary, as we saw footage of how Cabana cost Castle a match against Punishment Martinez at Survival Of The Fittest when he ripped up Castle’s trademark jacket at ringside. Castle received a “special” entrance complete with plenty of “Boys” and a chariot (that sadly couldn’t go beyond the stage) but the crowd loved it regardless. It was almost metaphorical. Cabana offered the Code Of Honor as he also raised his knees in a tease of another low blow. Cabana played off the fans well enough to come off like a pompous jerk as his body language screamed, “I can low blow you again at any time” to Castle, so he came off threatening. Also a nice utilization of The Boys as Cabana threw them into the ring to throw Castle off, only for them to be “step stools” for Castle to get to the top rope and pull off a maneuver. Some smooth moves on both ends as the match went on. Cabana applied a rare Billy Goat’s Curse submission (an inverted Boston Crab) before Castle reached the ropes. Castle avoided a lionsault and hit Cabana with an extended German suplex for a two-count. Cabana avoided the first Bangarang attempt, but fell victim to the second. Castle gets his revenge win. Sure, maybe it feels too soon, but it’s the right move for Castle as he gets elevated with a victory over a heel Cabana, his biggest challenger to date.
– Jay Lethal’s backstage promo hyped up his dream encounter against Cody, as he sold the match as a chance to see who was the absolute best pro wrestler. Obviously, he believed it was him and he wanted to show that in front of the world’s best pro wrestling fans, New York City.
– The Cody-Lethal match with The Addiction on commentary had a “big match” feel thanks to the dream scenario mentioned before. Brandi Rhodes even handled Cody’s introduction, as he came out to a big pop with his same TNA theme. His boots read “Honor” and he was over big with the fans. On the other side, Lethal came out with a ring jacket that had “My List” embroidered on it with names like Jay Briscoe, Alberto Del Rio and Kurt Angle checked off, but with an empty box next to Cody’s name. Oh snap. The Addiction decided to come out before the bell, which seemed like a heel thing to do to this crowd. Frankie Kazarian mentioned this was Final Battle and their presence would still be felt. Christopher Daniels was initially met with “Shut the fuck up” chants, but he continued to put over Lethal as one of ROH’s best competitors and how Cody’s father – the late Dusty Rhodes – was the first person to show him what professional wresting really was. They decently built this up as a big chance for both men, as they announced they’d sit at commentary. Some nice chain wrestling to start, as things eventually picked up. Lethal performed two suicide dives before Cody answered with a top rope axe handle. Good, even-handed action right to the finish when it got dramatic. Cody threw Lethal into Referee Todd Sinclair and low-blowed him when he didn’t look. The crowd was shocked by that, as he delivered the Cross Rhodes to win in heel fashion. Since Cody had been a babyface in every other indie appearance, nobody saw this coming. Cody went from most loved to hated in a snap, as he did anything despicable imaginable post-match. He got on his knees and offered Lethal his hand before he flipped him off, escaped The Addiction as they came down to the ring, flipped over a ringside table, threw a fan’s drink at Sinclair and then come back out to shove Commentator Steve Corino to the floor. Like, damn. Sadly, Corino’s murmurs of “Father was right all along” gives us fear that Cody will be inserted into that godawful storyline with Kevin Sullivan, Martinez, BJ Whitmer and Corino. We hope more than anything this was a tease that Cody would become the “American Nightmare.” This was the show’s biggest thing to happen thus far.
– The Six-Man Championship Tournament Finals between The Kingdom and Kushida/Jay White/Lio Rush to crown the inaugural Champions had a tough mission to follow Cody’s heel outburst, but they met the task thanks to the quick ring work of all involved. Also loved the implementation of Matt Taven’s “Final Battle Curse” as Commentary mentioned in 2013 when he lost the ROH World Television Championship to Tommaso Ciampa and 2015 when he tore his ACL. Kushida added to the fast-paced action and even wore glowing shoes to the occasion. Sadly, that reminded us more of WWE’s Naomi. Crowd loved when Kushida gyrated over one of the Kingdom members. Creative spot where White hit corner exploder suplexes on all Kingdom members, as they stacked on each other. Also done was a top rope submission pyramid, which lasted a few seconds. After that was a wave of suicide dives, sentons and an “Air Taven.” Vinny Marseglia purposely landed a senton on the Referee to stop a count. Eventually, The Kingdom used a cane behind the Referee’s back and hit their finisher to get the win and become the first Champions. Since the group had been undefeated thus far, it made sense to give this to them. Having Marseglia and TK O’Ryan with Taven can only raise their careers going forward. In a final grab for crowd heat, Taven grabbed a streamer and wiped it with his ass before he threw it into the crowd. Ew. Hilariously, it was thrown back towards the ring.
– The Three-Way for the ROH World Television Championship between Dragon Lee, Champion Marty Scurll and Will Ospreay was also random upon its card spot, but ended anything but. The belt had changed hands over the course of 48 hours in London when Ospreay made former Champion Bobby Fish tap out and then “The Villain” defeated Ospreay two nights later. Fish was conspicuous by his absence, but had lost his mother and couldn’t work the show. Sucks, but that scenario created this three-way. We were familiar with Ospreay’s work, but this was our first real chance to see Scurll in action. Everything was unsettling about him from his appearance to creepy music. There was an awesome triple chain wrestling exchange to start as they flipped around, countered huracanranas and whatnot. This was the Lucha Libre match of the card and it didn’t disappoint. Gives the card some diversity. Ospreay countered a huracanrana from Lee that went from the apron to the floor, as he landed on his feet. Ospreay also hit a top rope shooting star press onto Lee for a big pop. Another impressive maneuver as Ospreay hit a handspring back kick on both opponents. Scurll performed a sick finger snap maneuver where it looked like Lee’s fingers actually bled. We almost couldn’t tell. The finish was designed to be fit, while it also put heat on Scurll. Ospreay hit a springboard cutter on Lee but was thrown out of the ring by the Champion. Scurll applied his Chicken Wing submission to make Lee give up. An excellent match, probably the night’s best match. How about that. Apparently they also flaunted Dave Meltzer acclaim.
– The Briscoe’s backstage promo hyped their shot at ROH World Tag Team Champions The Young Bucks, as they sold the personal edge of when YB attacked them after they lost the IWGP Tag Team Championships in Japan. They expressed that YB got away with anything because of who they were, but they still “didn’t look right with the belts.” Typical redneck hardcore promo we’ve come to know. Good stuff.
– The ROH World Tag Team Championship match between The Briscoes and Champions The Young Bucks saw the ever-popular Bucks defend their belts as the Briscoes tried to become nine-time Champs, a number thrown around plenty in the hype. The crowd respected The Briscoes, but favored The Bucks it seemed. 50/50 dueled chants before the bell even rang. Good action early as they played off each other’s signature moves. The Briscoes even had their own superkick. The crowd chanted for each one like Corino, which sparked him to comment on an “echo” he kept hearing. Funny. The first big false finish came when Matt Jackson kicked out of the Jay Driller/Froggy Bow combo. That sparked a “This is awesome!” chant and it wasn’t over. Matt kicked out of the Doomsday Device. By golly, he might as well have been Superman. YB hit Five Stars but that was broken up by Jay. Things winded down to the finish, as YB hit three consecutive superkicks on both men, who didn’t fall. They went superkick crazy for the next 15 seconds, equivalent to getting shot with an automatic rifle. The commentary call was awesome. That was enough for YB to win. Excellent match between the best ROH has to offer on the Tag Team scene. Wait, there was more. The lights went out and on the big screen came Broken Matt Hardy, for the night’s biggest pop. The audio was first out on Hardy’s promo (we assumed it was the crowd pop drowning him out), as he mentioned that him/Brother Nero needed to prove they were the best tag team in time and space and needed to “delete the spot monkeys.” Words?! There are no words. That probably means they’re free to work in ROH, but either way, pro wrestling wins. The internet will probably break.
– The ROH World Championship main event No Disqualification match between O’Reilly and Champion Cole with Matchmaker Nigel McGuiness on commentary was a personal feud for the industry’s biggest prize. At least that’s what ROH sold. We’re surprised they don’t advertise that those who win the belt move on to become big stars. Both men looked banged up, as Cole had some facial cuts and O’Reilly sported a swollen left eye. They utilized the hardcore stipulation nicely, which added to the card diversity. Given the feud’s personal nature, it felt justified. Cole knocked O’Reilly in the eye as he jumped off the apron towards the Champ. O’Reilly bled from that point. Cole taunted him further as he superkicked him with a garbage can over his head. Cole wreaked havoc with a chair, but O’Reilly no-sold them and fought back. The backdrop on Cole on the seated chair looked painful. He followed up with a dropkick off the apron that pushed the garbage can into Cole’s face while he sat in a chair. He backdropped Cole off the top rope and through a table in the ring. Cole low blowed O’Reilly, who did it in return. O’Reilly then hit a double-armed DDT off the apron and through the ringside table. Cole landed face first, which busted him open. O’Reilly brought in the chain and tried to replicate Supercard Of Honor when he tied it to the ropes, but it fell off, which drew some boos and “You fucked up” chants. Oh, New York City. Cole hit a Last Shot for a two-count. The Champ introduced thumbtacks, which always draws a big pop and made us cringe. O’Reilly had Cole in a triangle choke, but was picked up and dropped into some of the tacks. O’Reilly countered a superkick and landed a brainbuster onto the tacks. To sell his craze for victory, O’Reilly laid in thumbtacks himself to make Cole tap out to his armbar, which meant that O’Reilly was new Champ. The crowd popped initially before they quieted down. It was the “happy ending,” but not seemingly what the crowd wanted. Their Final Battle 2015 match had more animosity, but this was still an exceptional main event by ROH standards. O’Reilly got his storybook win over Cole and we’re curious to see how O’Reilly does as Champ, especially as his contract was set to expire at month’s end. Perhaps that was why they had the event so early in the month?
- Six-Man Tag – The Rebellion def. The Motor City Machine Guns/Donovan Dijak via pinfall
- Silas Young (w/The Beer City Bruiser) def. Jushin “Thunder” Liger via pinfall
- Dalton Castle (w/The Boys) def. Colt Cabana via pinfall
- Cody def. Jay Lethal via pinfall
- ROH Six-Man Championship – ROH Six-Man Championship Tournament Finals – The Kingdom def. Kushida/Lio Rush/Jay White via pinfall to become new Champions
- ROH World Television Championship – Three-Way – Marty Scurll (Champion) def. Will Ospreay and Dragon Lee via pinfall to retain
- ROH World Tag Team Championship – The Young Bucks (Champions) def. The Briscoe Brothers via pinfall to retain
- ROH World Championship – No Disqualification – Kyle O’Reilly def. Adam Cole (Champion) via submission to become new Champion
Posted on February 12, 2017, in ROH and tagged Adam Cole, Brandi Rhodes, Broken Matt Hardy, Cody, Colt Cabana, Dalton Castle, Donovan Dijak, Dragon Lee, Final Battle, Jay Lethal, Jay White, Jushin Thunder Liger, Kevin Kelly, Kushida, Kyle O'Reilly, Lio Rush, Marty Scurll, Nigel McGuinness, Paul Turner, Silas Young, Steve Corino, The Addiction, The Beer City Bruiser, The Boys, The Briscoes, The Kingdom, The Motor City Machine Guns, The Rebellion, The Young Bucks, Todd Sinclair, Will Ospreay. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.