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ROH 12/02/16 Final Battle Review

ROH 12/02/16 Final Battle Review
NYC, New York
Hammerstein Ballroom

Full disclosure before I begin this review: I was live in attendance for Ring of Honor’s return to the Hammerstein Ballroom for Final Battle. This is one of my favorite venues to see a wrestling event and to say that I was a thrall to frenetic anticipation would be an understatement. Also, I had four shots of espresso before the show. Take that for what you will as you read on.

Cheeseburger & Will Ferrara vs. The Tempura Boyz (Sho & Y0)
This was a fun opener featuring hometown boy Will Ferrara. The match was a Youtube exclusive for the event and gave the crowd what they wanted to start the action. The venue began filling up from the moment that the doors opened, with many fans heading straight for the autographs/meet and greets. I was personally stuck on what seemed to be an interminable line to buy streamers before the show began and the line behind me stretched on as I made it back to my seat in time for this match. Thusly, fans were not all in their seats, but for those that were, this allowed Yo and Sho to continue to put their talents on display, while also give the crowd a chance to pop for two ROH fan favorites in Ferrara and Cheeseburger. Cheeseburger won the match for his team after hitting Shotei and got things off on the right note. Not the most spectacular match ever witnessed, but solid nonetheless.

Winners: Cheeseburger & Will Ferrara

The Rebellion (Kenny King, Rhett Titus & Caprice Coleman) vs. Chris Sabin, Alex Shelley & Donovan Dijak
For the show proper six man action started things off. The Rebellion were jeered emphatically by the crowd as they came to the ring and alternately, the Motor City Machine Guns and Donovan Dijak had the support of the denizens in attendance for the entire bout. These six men went a long way to earning the respect of the crowd, but it was Donovan Dijak that particularly earned the adulation and deservedly so. Bodies were flying everywhere in this one and ultimately the Rebellion came away with the win, as their time together seemed to overcome the new trio. Dijak seems to have fully embraced the MCMG, coming out with matching attire and although the team lost, the trios division in ROH looks to be very healthy with the formation of this new squad. Match was well paced and the false finishes were effective. Through chicanery and some jive turkey shenanigans,The Rebellion won after a series of finishers, culminating in a Big Dawg splash from Titus onto Sabin for the pinfall victory.

Winners: The Rebellion

Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Silas Young (w/ Beer City Bruiser)
A well booked match that didn’t have the same amount of build or explosiveness that the other matches on the card hard, but this was definitely the case of being on a stacked card. Young coming out with the Beer City Bruiser allowed for a bit of typical heel behavior, while also serving as vehicle for Liger to lose but without simply jobbing to Young. Silas used the Bruiser beer to spit in Liger’s face and worked exceptionally hard to make certain that the crowd was against him. Young won after the Bruiser briefly distracted Liger, who was going for splash, which allowed Young to get his knees up and follow up with Misery for the pinfall victory. Young came out looking strong and as a genuine heel and won a match over a legend and keeps moving forward in a match that would have been more effective with a bit more build before the event.

Winner: Silas Young

Colt Cabana vs. Dalton Castle (w/ The Boys)
The entrances for this match really popped the crowd before this one started. Cabana came out a new theme, a bit slower and more apropos of a heel, with darker gear as well. Castle made an extravagant theatrical entrance, rolling out to the ring in a chariot, powered by the Boys of course. Cabana slightly tweaked his character to just be a bit more smug, with an air of superiority about him and it becomes him, serving as a believable heel. The match featured Cabana throwing the Boys into the ring, who ended up helping Castle hop up to the top turnbuckle safely. Despite being a grudge match at Final Battle it did not seem that this will end up being the end. Castle won the match after both men hit their usual spots with a Bang-a-Rang, but it lacked the feeling of finality that Castle and Young’s program did earlier this year, so it’s likely that the issues between these two will continue into the new year.

Winner: Dalton Castle

Jay Lethal vs Cody Rhodes
Before the match, The Addiction, Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian, came down to the ring and summarily booed and heckled by the crowd, who seemed to be anticipating a tag match or some other shenanigans. However, nothing of the sort followed. Daniels put Lethal and Cody over, saying they respect him by way of the respect they had for his father and then joined commentary for the match. The match itself was a good one, but didn’t reach that higher gear to make it extra special, but Cody really looked like he fit in a ROH ring. The real story here, and what seems like will make Cody’s work in ROH standout was the end. After an accidental ref bump, Cody hit Lethal with a Low blow and then the Cross Rhodes. After the match, he flipped Lethal off and then insulted fans, threw drinks at people and pushed Corino over before leaving, with only the Addiction able to drive him away. The crowd was stunned during this entire end and it was definitely one of shock. Cody being a heel in ROH is something that hasn’t been done and it just raised his profile, as well as ROH’s in making this work.

Winners: Cody

Six Man Tag Team Championship:
Matt Taven, Vinny Marseglia & TK O’Ryan vs. Lio Rush, Jay White & KUSHIDA
This six man tag team tournament for the titles seemed like a vehicle to establish the Kingdom as a significant force and it did just that. With the spectre of his quick losses at Final Battle, it almost seemed that Taven would three peat that feat as the Kingdom seemed overmatched to start almost took a quick loss. The match became much more exciting around the five minute mark, with KUSHIDA,White and Rush flying all over the place in this one. The finish was a bit odd, as Marseglia could have interrupted the pin but flying off the top and hitting Rush, but he instead he hit referee Paul Turner. Commentary sold it by attributing it to Marseglia motto “I do this thing called whatever I want”,but after the referee bump in the Rhodes match, as well as the fact that the Kingdom should come off as strong and not needing to stoop to that level.

Winners: The Kingdom

ROH World TV Championship: Marty Scurll vs. Will Ospreay vs. Dragon Lee
This is a match that can’t be done justice through the use of written word. Before the match, it was revealed that Bobby Fish would not be competing due to the recent passing of his mother and his presence was missed, as it would have been great to see him involved in the match. That said, these three men put on a heck of performance and pulled out all the stops to ensure that despite Fish’s absence, this match would deliver and boy did it. Ospreay is an unbelieveable talent, but Daragon Lee and Scurll also showed American audiences exactly what they are all about. Watch this match. You will not regret it. Ospreay hit a cutter off the top on Lee and was poised to win, but Scurll retained after tossing Ospreay to the outside and making Dragon Lee tap to the Crossface Chickenwing. Excellently paced match up, unbelievable work rate and smart booking to allow the Scurll reign to continue, while also planting the seeds for more from him and Ospreay.

Winner: Marty Scurll

ROH World Tag Team Championship:
The Young Bucks(c) vs. The Briscoes
Considering how many times these teams have fought, it is astounding that they are able to add new layers to every match they have. The Young Bucks were the recipients of one of the biggest pops of the entire night, which is saying a lot considering how over the Briscoes are. The use of the false finishes after both teams hit moves that have won them matches and titles before really served to further tell the narrative that these teams know each other so well. The Briscoes couldn’t win the match with the Doomsday Device or the Jay Driller/Froggy-bow combination, but just as surprising the Bucks could put it away after More Bang for Your Buck and a Meltzer Driver. The end saw the Briscoes taking repeated superkicks while on their knees and responding by defiantly spitting in the faces of Matt and Nick. An absurd number of superkicks later and the Young Bucks retained, but you could just feel that this is not the final chapter in the story between these two teams and if they continue to put on wrestling matches like this one, it will be welcome to see the teams clash again. If the match weren’t enough, the arena went dark afterward and BROKEN MATT HARDY APPEARED ON THE SCREEN! He said that he and Brother Nero were coming to ROH to DELETE “The Bucks of Youth”.

Winners: The Young Bucks

ROH World Championship: Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly

This match was changed to a No DQ match and it brought the spectre of possible interference into play, but in the end it was used to put an exclamation mark on this bitter rivalry and also harken back to the match these two had in the same building. The match did not disappoint, as they used garbage cans, chains and even tacks to make the match that more brutal. O’Reilly was busted open early and it almost seemed as if he wouldn’t be able to stand, let alone win, but he was able to fight it off. Cole and O’Reilly work really well together and the Violent Assassin seemed to earn his moniker during this one. This is where the story was leading and the New York crowd’s love of Cole just added so much to the uncertainty of the end. When O’Reilly made Cole tap to a cross armbar while enduring the pain of rolling over tacks to earn the title it felt like an unexpected moment after all he had dealt with in the match. There seemed to be a pause between the tap out by Cole and the announcement which stole a bit away from the pop of O’Reilly’s win, but his post match promo established what his reign will be: that of a fighting champion who is spectacular in the ring. The images of Cole and O’Reilly both gushing blood as they tried to destroy each other are lasting ones that will no doubt be part of both of their future best of DVDs.

Winner and NEW ROH Champion: Kyle O’Reilly

Final Battle Reaction: A-/B+
I really enjoyed the PPV. Being there live and hopped up on coffee had been jumping out of my seat the entire time, but some time away and watching it on VOD tempered a bit of my excitement. However, this is still a show to watch. The championship matches mattered and the participants laid it all out in the ring. Cody’s work was inspired and surprising. Worthy undercard competitor Dijak stepped up to the plate and made NYC eat out of the palm of his hand. This is a must watch for any ROH fan. Sure there was a misstep or two throughout the night, but ROH’s return to the Hammerstein felt important on both sides of the barricade. The fans were rabid and the company delivered on the most important notes.

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