Final Battle! It happened! If you’d like to read a review, here it is!
Let’s watch some wrestling, shall we?
Ring of Honor Final Battle 2016 – 12/2/16
We open with a HILARIOUS ‘Storytime with Adam Cole, bay-bay!’ promo, in which he tells us the story of himself and Kyle O’Reilly as two knights, both seeking glory, complete with footage from past ROH matches. One guess which knight is awesome and loaded with talent, and which one is lame and ugly. Excellent package to start us off.
We are LIVE from the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, New York! Your hosts are Kevin Kelly & Steve Corino. The Ballroom is sold out and looks it, as they’re almost literally jam-packed to the rafters. Crowd starts a “Young Bucks!” chant before we even get started, as they are jacked the fuck UP. Let’s get this party started!
We hear music and an upside-down ROH logo on the screen, and here comes the former Cabinet, who would now like to be known as ‘The Rebellion’. Somehow, it’s less stupid than the Cabinet, so we’re already ahead of the curve. Footage airs of them beating down the Guns and Donovan Dijak from a show in Texas, and there’s your setup for the match. And there’s the music of the Motor City Machine Guns! Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin make their way out, with Dijak in tow, who’s wearing a Guns t-shirt with Prince Nana nowhere to be seen.
The Rebellion (Caprice Coleman, Rhett Titus, & Kenny King) vs The Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelley & Chris Sabin) & Donovan Dijak
Crowd is hot as hell from the start, chanting for the Guns and Dijak as Coleman throws streamers back to piss them off further. Corino casually slips in that Dijak is no longer with Nana, by the way. Code of Honor is surprisingly offered by the Rebellion, but the Guns and Dijak decline, shoving them away. Sabin and King start us off. Nice sequences end with dueling armdrags and a stalemate. Dijak tagged in now, and the crowd is ready for him. Coleman calls him a jive turkey from the apron and begs for the tag, so Kenny obliges him. It was all a ruse, though, as Caprice knocks the Guns from the apron and they triple team Dijak. Dijak manages to gain the upper hand, sends King and Coleman to the floor, and now the Guns come in for a triple team on Titus. Bunch of kicks and corner splashes leave Titus a pile of goo on the mat. The Guns hit Rhett with more kicks, then Dijak gets tagged back in and comes in with a springboard flying elbow. Crowd loves it. More triple teaming with the Guns-assisted Dijak splash from the second rope gets two. Titus nails Sabin with a straight shot and makes the tag, and it all breaks down as Sabin gets double-teamed on the floor by Coleman and Titus while King taunts Dijak and Shelley into the ring, then goes flying out with a twisting crossbody over the top onto Chris. They toss Chris back in and proceed to make him their bitch, wailing on him with Rhett hitting a splash for two. More beatdown ensues, with Coleman choking Sabin on the mat. Heel miscommunication leads to Sabin DDT on King and it’s a hot tag to Dijak. Dijak wipes everyone out with boots and tosses Titus halfway across the ring before slinging Coleman over the top onto King. Titus gets goozled on the top rope and brought down with a sloppy backbreaker by Donovan. 1,2, NO! The Guns come in and everyone but Dijak ends up outside, and Donovan does a springboard tope con hilo onto the Rebellion on the outside. Dijak tags in Sabin, which is fucking dumb anyway, because Shelley comes in too and they triple-team Titus again, and poor Rhett takes triple kicks and Feast Your Eyes from Dijak into a double driver from the Guns. All 3 guys try to pin Titus and the ref doesn’t care that Sabin is the only legal man, but it only gets two as Coleman and King break it up. Everybody in now and they trade off moves, but Dijak once again dominates the heels and catches King with a fireman’s carry into a sitout powerbomb. Dijak tries to moonsault off the apron onto Titus, but misses and eats a dropkick, then another one into the barricade. The Guns set up for Skull and Bones, but that gets broken up as Shelley gets sent to the floor, and that leaves Sabin alone with the Rebellion. A Skysplitta from Coleman sets up a Rhett Titus frog splash, and that’s enough. (The Rebellion over Donovan Dijak & The Motor City Machine Guns, pinfall, 12:23)
MATCH RATING: ***. The match was decent action with two plans that succeeded; put over the Rebellion as a threat while also putting over Dijak as the big man that can murder entire teams on his own. Crowd was into Dijak, big-time. And he worked just fine here, as an agile big man that got hot tags and threw the heels around. He works so much better as a face than as a heel, I must admit. He has improved; watch any of his matches from even a year ago and watch him now, and his strikes (which still need work) are better, his move transitions are better, and they’re booking him in a way that emphasizes his strengths in tags while allowing him time to work on what needs improvement. He’s still green, sure, but I’ll never fault anyone for learning and getting better, which he’s clearly doing.
Post-match, the Rebellion celebrates as Coleman picks a fight with a fan in the front row and tosses a roll of streamers at him.
Quick recap of Silas Young calling out Liger from ROH TV.
Young is out now with the Beer City Bruiser, who has a beer can taped all the way around with the word ‘Beer’ written across it. Hee! Liger’s music hits and he gets an ungodly pop from the crowd. Young has been wrestling for 14 years; Liger’s DEBUT was 18 years before that! Dude has found the Fountain of Youth somehow.
Jushin “Thunder” Liger vs Silas Young (w/ The Beer City Bruiser)
Liger offers the Code of Honor and Silas teases shaking hands before attacking with a kneelift. Liger takes over with a drop toehold and tries for a surfboard, but Young scurries to the ropes and the floor to take a breather. Liger follows him out with a cannonball and chops away on the floor, then gets a kneelift into the surfboard back in the ring. Chinlock by Liger, but Young pulls the ref into him to break. Young takes over with forearms in the corner and tries to pull of Jushin’s mask, which is a no-no. Liger tries a comeback, but gets caught in a reverse neckbreaker dropped across the knee of Silas. 1,2, no! Young tosses Liger and argues with the ref, and the Bruiser takes the opportunity to send Liger to the barricade, earning a ‘You fat fuck!’ chant from the crowd. Young puts on a cravat, Liger gets back up, but Young catches him with a backbreaker and drapes him across the knee. Liger throws knees to get out and send Silas to the apron, but his attempt to suplex Young back in is thwarted by the Bruiser and Liger gets necksnapped across the top. Slingshot double stomp gets two for Silas. Jawbreaker by Liger, and he catches Young on a blind charge by getting the boot up. Again! Both guys off the ropes, they clothesline each other! Shades of Warrior/Hogan! Kind of! Back to their feet, Liger hits a running palm strike in the corner, sets Young on the top, ‘rana off the top rope! 1,2, NO! Ligerbomb attempt is countered by Young, they do a reversal sequence, backbreaker again by Silas gets two. Young gets a swig of the Bruiser’s “beer” and I giggle (I can’t help it, it looks like something out of a middle-school play) and spits it in Liger’s face. Corino calls it a “Lex Loogie”, which….whatever. He’s done a lot for Ring of Honor and he’s leaving soon, I’ll let it slide. Liger is PISSED, and fights back now with strikes and hits the brainbuster. He goes up and Young meets him there, but Liger sends him back to the mat. Bruiser gets up on the apron and charges, but takes a palm strike and tumbles to the floor. That gives Young enough time to get the knees up on Liger’s splash, and Misery finishes for what has to be considered an upset. (Silas Young over Jushin Liger, pinfall, 10:59)
MATCH RATING: **1/2. Nothing you’d be ashamed to watch, but if anyone other than Liger had put on this match with Young, you wouldn’t bother to rewatch it either. Still, I’m beyond impressed that Liger can go out there at 52 years old and have a match at all, so I’ll give him credit for that. Paint by the numbers stuff, with a surprise ending.
Video package for Castle/Cabana airs. “I punched a Great White in the face and rode an Orca to San Diego. Does that not say champion to you?” I have no idea what that means, nor do I really care; Dalton Castle can pretty much say whatever he wants and it’ll sound awesome. “I would NEVER put my hands on another man’s boys!”
….okay, I have to think about that one.
Ooh, Colt Cabana is out to the new EVIL REMIX of his song! How you gonna top that one, Dalton? Well, the answer is obvious, as Castle enters to his music on a chariot being pulled by two of the boys. Yes, a chariot. A motherfucking CHARIOT. Give this man all the titles!
Dalton Castle (w/ The Boys) vs Colt Cabana (w/ EVIL REMIX!)
By the way, Cabana is completely in the right in this feud, in that Dalton did cash in the title shot stupidly. I mean, it doesn’t matter in the slightest, but still. Cabana offers the Code of Honor, but keeps faking out Castle with the threat of more groin trauma of the knee, and Dalton finally just takes him down with a single-leg instead. Gutwrench by Castle and a slap to Colt, and it highlights very well why the Dalton Castle character works so well; he’s flamboyant and weird, but he’s crazy strong and can outwrestle you, which keeps him a threat and not just a comedy wrestler. It’s a thin line to walk, but Castle has it down. They lockup as a few fans try to start a ‘CM Punk!’ chant that quickly gets booed. They trade reversals for a minute before Colt charges Castle and gets tossed. Dalton teases a tope, but does his walk instead and crowd ROARS. You’d have to be DELIRIOUS not to hear how into Castle the crowd is.
Yeah, okay. I thought it was funnier. I apologize.
(No I don’t! I’m proud of my terrible sense of humor!)
Cabana looks flustered, but gets an idea and goes after the Boys on the outside, tossing them into the ring. He tries to send Castle into the Boys, but they drop to all fours and Castle uses them as a stepladder to the top rope, then comes off with a missile dropkick to Colt. Cabana stalls to work the crowd up, then charges right into a deadlift suplex by Dalton. Castle gets a back elbow, but goes up and Colt trips him off the ropes to take over. Shots to the ribs in the corner from Cabana and he chokes Castle on the top rope, counting along with the ref and breaking before 5. Castle fights back with chops and rights, Dalton off the ropes, clothesline! Colt tries to come off the 2nd rope, but gets caught with an overhead throw by Castle. Cabana goes for a splash in the corner and gets caught by Dalton, but manages to turn it into the Billygoat’s Curse, which apparently is now known….sigh….as “Cubs Win! Cubs Win!” And now, I’m the biggest Dalton Castle fan there is. KICK HIS CHICAGO-LOVING ASS, DALTON! Castle makes the ropes as the crowd chants “Peacock City!” Castle charges, but Colt moves and Dalton hits the floor, Colt follows that with a dropkick through the ropes on Castle. Colt tosses Dalton back in, but Castle stops that with the turnaround ‘rana off the apron. Back in now, and Cabana goes for a moonsault off the second rope, but there’s no water in the pool! Dalton with the waistlock, delayed German suplex with a bridge! 1,2, NO! Dalton charges in the corner, Colt with a bionic elbow and a diving cover for two. Castle comes right back with a T-bone suplex and puts Colt on the top. Castle goes up, Colt catches him with a Fireman’s Carry and Cabana looks for the Chicago Skyline, but Castle manages to wiggle out and tries for Bangarang, Cabana manages to sunset flip out of it. 1,2, no! Colt charges, but this time Bangarang hits for real, and that’ll do it here. 1,2,3. (Dalton Castle over Colt Cabana, pinfall, 9:54)
MATCH RATING: ***. Castle basically adds 1/2 a star by himself. His being so over adds to all of his matches, as they’re pretty much always hot. Other than that, Cabana played a pretty great heel here, pushing all of Dalton’s buttons and keeping the crowd along for the ride with a good but not excessive amount of stalling and cheap heat, which works for a reason. Fun match.
Lethal promo for his upcoming match against Cody Rhodes, emphasizing his respect for the Ring of Honor fans and the promotion.
Camera is on a pair of high heels as we’re told that “Wrestling has more than one royal family”; we see that those heels belong to the rest of Brandi Rhodes as the camera pans up, and I am NOT complaining. Cody Rhodes is a very, very lucky man. Her mic doesn’t work to start, but it comes on during her “Star that left them in the dust!” line, and she hits a few more before intro’ing Cody. Cody comes down and kisses the mat when he gets in the ring as the streamers fly. And there’s the music of Jay Lethal! He comes to the ramp and turns around, and the back of his jacket has the “List of Lethal”, with checkmarks next to Kurt Angle, Ric Flair, Del Rio, and Jay Briscoe; Cody has a spot without a checkmark.
Lethal gets in the ring and we’re ready to get started, but here comes The Addiction! They don’t have a match here tonight, but apparently they have something they need to say! Crowd would prefer that they “shut the fuck up!”, but even though they have the night off, there’s something that they want to say. Daniels talks directly to Cody, telling him that he’s debuting against arguably the greatest World Champ in Ring of Honor history! And the first man that showed Daniels what pro wrestling could be, what it should be, was a man by the name of Dusty Rhodes! He puts over Dusty a bit more, then puts over Ring of Honor and the wrestlers, then puts over the fans of ROH, calling them the most rabid wrestling fans on the planet! He says that the Addiction will be on commentary and tells them to tear it up! He and Kaz leave the ring and head over to commentary, kicking Corino out; thereby ensuring their babyface turn. At least to me.
Jay Lethal vs Cody Rhodes
Crowd chants for “Both these guys!” as the Code of Honor is followed for the first time tonight. Cody is totally playing up the “aw shucks, just happy to be here” attitude, which is just so great for what’s to come later. Chain-wrestling sequence as neither guy gets the advantage, and Rhodes goes to the ropes to break, then applaud the crowd. This is masterful work by Cody. Lockup leads to more reversals and they exchange hiptosses, Lethal punctuating his with a dropkick. Stomps and a backbreaker by Jay get a one count. Lethal goes for a suplex, but Cody blocks and gets a front suplex of his own. Rhodes works the arm of Lethal and goes for the Disaster kick, but Lethal ducks it and gets a dropkick of his own. He takes over and charges Cody, but Rhodes levels him and covers for one. Cody works the arm more, then sends Jay into the ropes. Cody charges and Lethal moves, Rhodes tries to skin the cat back in and Lethal dropkicks him in the face on the way, sending Cody tumbling to the floor. 2 straight topes from Lethal, but Cody avoids the 3rd by going to the apron, then hitting Lethal with the Disaster kick to send Jay down to the floor now. Cody springs off the top rope and hits Lethal on the outside, then tosses him back in for two. Rhodes does a cartwheel and hits the Stardust pose, but they knock heads off a charge in the corner, and Cody gets another Disaster kick. Both guys back up and they slug it out, Rhodes hits Lethal with a series of clotheslines, but misses the last one and Jay gets the Lethal Combination. 1,2, NO! Belly-to-Back suplex attempt by Lethal, Cody lands on his feet, so Lethal puts him in a Torture Rack, rolls forward to drop Rhodes to the mat, then applies a crossface. Rhodes breaks and gets the American Nightmare on Lethal, but Jay makes the ropes. Crossroads is countered to the corner by Jay, cross-corner whip is countered to a sunset flip by Rhodes for two. Clothesline by Cody turns Jay inside-out, 1,2, no! Cody goes up for a moonsault, but Lethal moves! Lethal goes up for the elbow, Cody pulls him down, Lethal hits him with a cutter and this time, Hail to the King elbow hits….no, Cody was waiting and rolls him over into a crucifix for two! Bicycle kick, 2 thrust kicks from Jay, and he looks like he’s going for the Injection, but Rhodes shoves him away, then hits him so Jay smacks heads with the ref! Lethal turns around, low blow by Cody! Crossroads! 1,2,3!! (Cody Rhodes over Jay Lethal, pinfall, 13:15)
MATCH RATING: ***1/4. Good to better than good match, with a shocker of an ending. Now then, let the REAL fun begin.
Cody gets a shit-eating grin on his face, then mocks the crowd, throwing streamers back at them and doing a jackoff motion towards them. He holds up his hand as if asking if he should shake Lethal’s, then gets down on his knees and throws Jay the double bird instead before booting him in the chest. This is so fucking awesome. Daniels and Kaz get off commentary and hit the ring, causing Cody to bail and a “Fuck You Cody!” chant to get going. Rhodes turns over the timekeeper’s table and grabs a beer from a fan to throw at the referee, which briefly turns him face again, then heads to the back while still mocking the handshake. The graphic for the next match comes up, but Cody apparently isn’t done, as he comes back out and shoves Corino over at the commentary desk before retreating for good, as Corino, the Addiction, and Cary Silkin stand onstage at the entrance way.
Great. Perfect. Rhodes’ whole schtick on this tour of the indys has been how much he respects everyone and everything about independent wrestling, and he’s adopted such a submissive attitude towards it all, that the turn was shocking and still can make sense. “Oh, I’ve seen the indys now, and I’m not impressed!” or something along those lines works just fine. The Addiction coming out before the match made you think that they would interfere, but nope, it was all a setup for the heel turn at the end, obfuscating just enough to make the payoff worth it, and now they’ve got a clear chance to turn face for a last run for Christopher Daniels if they want to do it. Rhodes, meanwhile, gets to be a top heel in the company for his run after playing the fans like a piano. Brilliant stuff; not quite on the level of Pillman running down the ECW fanbase, but close.
Highlights from the 6-Man tournament play – we’re down to two teams! The Finals is up next!
And there’s the music of The Kingdom! I still dig that music, man. Matt Taven leads TK O’Ryan and Vinny Marseglia to the ring. Hey, it’s better music, because it’s the music of KUSHIDA! He’s out with Lio Rush and Jay White, and the crowd chants his name. Good job, crowd! He’s sweet!
The Kingdom (Matt Taven, TK O’Ryan, & Vinny Marseglia) vs KUSHIDA, Jay White, & Lio Rush – Ring of Honor World 6-Man Tag Team championship tournament Final
Code of Honor is declined by the Kingdom, who attack right after doing so. That goes relatively badly, as TK and Vinny get sent to the floor and Rush hits Rush Hour on Taven, then goes up; frog splash by Lio! 1,2, NO! Jay and TK start us off proper, and Jay gets the upper-hand until TK goes to the eyes. White tags in KUSHIDA, and he goes to work on the arm of TK. More punishment, tag to Rush. Lio dominates, but misses a blind tag to Taven and gets DDT’d as a result. The Kingdom beats down Rush for awhile, with TK getting a brainbuster for two. More double-teaming from the Kingdom, as a spear forces White to save it. Rush gets sent to the outside, and he fights back there and it’s hot tag KUSHIDA. He runs wild and counters a sunset flip attempt by swiveling the hips and applying the Hoverboard Lock. I seriously adore this man. JUST before TK taps, he makes the ropes, probably by cheating. KUSHIDA continues to punish the arm of O’Ryan, but gets caught with a Side Russian legsweep by Vinny, and a moonsault by Taven leads to a jackknife cover for two. Taven distracts the ref so the other Kingdom members can beat down KUSHIDA in the corner, as they’ve cut the ring in half on him now. He tries to fight out with a ‘rana on Vinny, but Taven cuts off the tag. Double Irish whip turns into a double handspring elbow from KUSHIDA, and now it’s HOT…uh, lukewarm…well, it’s at least a tag to Jay White. Jay puts all three Kingdom members down, then suplexes O’Ryan onto Vinny in the corner, then Taven onto both of them. That leads to a triple team from the faces with some nifty work in the corner and a triple kick to Vinny. KUSHIDA and Rush fly off the apron with dives onto Taven and O’Ryan as White comes off the top with a missile dropkick to Vinny. 1,2, NO! Superplex attempt is blocked by Vinny and he shoves White down, then applies a Liontamer on the top rope! That’s neatoriffic! KUSHIDA decides to get in on the fun and goes to the top and applies the Hoverboard Lock to Vinny’s arm, so Taven goes up and superplexes KUSHIDA off the top. Rush comes flying in with a frog splash on Taven after he hits the mat, TK comes off with a flying elbow onto Rush, Jay with a half and half suplex to TK, Vinny with a bicycle kick to Jay, KUSHIDA with the wind-up right to Vinny and everyone is down. That sequence was something else. Rush and Taven in now, and Rush is just so fast it’s insane. Kicks send Taven outside, then he hits a tope onto Taven, runs back through the ring and hits one to to TK on the other side, then back through for another one to Taven. He slows down enough to get hit with a tope from a returning TK, who takes one in turn from White, followed by a springboard dive from Vinny. KUSHIDA decides to get in on the fun with a somersault off the top rope to put guys down again, as it’s become hard to keep track at this point. Rush springs off with a clothesline to TK, and Taven finishes the dives with a running one over the top rope that takes out everyone. Triple powerbomb attempt on Rush is countered with a ‘rana! 1,2, NO! Lio goes for Rush Hour, but Taven counters with a Bulldog Driver for two before White saves it. Taven is in trouble now, as he takes a spinning kick from Rush and a brainbuster from White. Rush covers, 1,2, Vinny swantons the referee! But the ref didn’t see which guy did it! Anyway, ref is down and TK brings the cane in the ring. White pushes KUSHIDA out of the way and takes the shot for the team as KUSHIDA winds up another right hand for TK, but Taven tosses him right after, then sends Rush into him on the apron to take KUSHIDA out of the equation. Rush tries to make a go of it against Taven, but gets thrown into a cane shot from O’Ryan on the outside, and the triple powerbomb finishes to give us our 1ST ever Ring of Honor 6-Man tag team champions. (The Kingdom over KUSHIDA, Lio Rush, & Jay White, pinfall, 15:25)
MATCH RATING: ***1/4. Match started slow and then went from 0-60 in the last five minutes or so, with tons of great near-falls and dive after dive on the outside. Not really my cup of tea, frankly, but the effort was there from these guys, particularly Lio Rush, who is going to be something special if he can overcome his size disadvantages. Very spotty, so it’s not for everyone, but it holds up well enough if you don’t think about it too much. Although I wish they would just make all the 6-Man matches essentially Tornado rules by default, because the ‘tags’ just become a complete joke after awhile.
Post-match, someone throws a roll of toilet paper in the ring, and being the epitome of class that he is, Matt Taven pulls down his tights, wipes his ass with it, and THROWS IT BACK INTO THE CROWD. That might be one of the more disgusting things I’ve seen a wrestler do in awhile. It gets thrown back at him, but still.
Footage from the Reach for the Sky tour airs, as we see the title wins of Will Ospreay and, just 48 hours later, Marty Scurll. The TV title match is next!
And there’s the music of Dragon Lee! We’re reminded that this was supposed to be a one on one affair with Fish after their Proving Ground match, but due to all the craziness, it’s a multi-man match instead. Will Ospreay is out next, blah blah blah, and THERE’S the music I want to hear, as we finally see “The Villain” Marty Scurll on ROH PPV! Crowd chants for Marty as he makes his entrance, because they SHOULD.
“The Villain” Marty Scurll (c) vs Will Ospreay vs Dragon Lee – Triple Threat match for the Ring of Honor World TV title
Kelly and Corino tell us that Fish is not there due to a family emergency, as his mother passed away. Code of Honor is followed, although Ospreay and Scurll are a bit reluctant to let go. Marty gets tossed quickly and we get our requisite gymnastics routine from Lee and Ospreay. Scurll does want in on that action, though, and he comes back in for a series of reversals amongst the three that ends in a 3-way standoff, similar to Ospreay’s match with Ricochet. Scurll gets tossed and Lee manages to somehow reverse about 9 holds to send Will to join him via an armdrag. A few thrust kicks from Scurll and Lee end up with Will and Marty on the floor, allowing Lee to hit a tope con hilo onto both. He tosses Scurll back in and comes off the ropes with a kick for two before Will makes the save. Lee works over Ospreay now, but gets caught with a tornado DDT off a tilt-a-whirl, and Will adds a running shooting star press that pretty much missed. It gets two anyway before Marty saves. Scurll goes for the chickenwing, but Will kicks him in the face to block that. Scurll fakes him out and kicks him low, then rolls him up off a lariat for two. Match has been literally non-stop action so far. Dragon throws strikes at both guys and tells them to ‘come on’; what’s the spanish word for mistake? Ospreay and Scurll make him their bitch with superkicks, but both try to cover and now they’re at it again. Will tucks Marty’s head in the corner and kicks it there, then goes up, but Lee had the temerity to roll out of the ring and actually sell a superkick, so now he comes back in and shoves Will down, tying Marty in the tree of woe. He takes Marty out with a double stomp off the top, then does a sequence with Ospreay ending in a suplex into a powerbomb by Lee. 1,2, NO! Will ends up on the apron, Lee goes for the ‘rana over the top rope to the floor, but Ospreay lands on his feet! Forgot about Scurll, though, and he hits the apron to take out Lee with a superkick, but that leaves him open to one from Ospreay. Back in, Will takes out Scurll, then goes up to the top to hit a BEE-YOO-TI-FUL Shooting Star Press to Dragon on the floor. Someone take another day off the Will Ospreay wheelchair countdown. Crowd loses their shit for that, obviously. Will goes up to finish off Scurll, but Marty is back up and goes to the eyes to stop that. Ospreay manages to tuck the head of Scurll into the buckle again, Scurll hits him with boots to stop the kick, but has a suplex reversed into a stunner by Will. Will goes up, moonsault attempt lands on his feet after Marty moves, second one gets the same result, so Will changes tacks and hits a shooting star press instead, then rolls through to the buckle to hit a twisting press on Marty. Ospreay goes for the cutter to finish, but gets caught in mid-air and brought down into the chicken wing! Lee flies in with a double stomp to break that up. 3-way chop fest in the middle of the ring, and now Marty goes to the eyes of both guys, but doesn’t keep the advantage long as Ospreay springs backwards off the ropes to wipe out Scurll and Dragon. Will goes up, Phoenix splash on Lee hits the knees! Scurll and Lee are at it now, and Marty calls for the crowd to quiet down right before he breaks the fingers of Lee. Scurll’s facial expressions are tremendous. The crowd would like to affectionately let him know that he is a sick fuck. Lee counters a chicken wing with a rollup for two, and Ospreay nails him with the twisting kick right after Marty kicks out. Ospreay off the ropes, floating cutter out of midair! He goes to cover Lee, but Marty tosses him to the floor and applies the chicken wing to Dragon instead! Lee doesn’t last long before tapping out and keeping that title exactly where it belongs. (Marty Scurll over Will Ospreay & Dragon Lee, Submission, 10:46)
MATCH RATING: ****1/2. Absolutely non-stop, the match moved at a frantic pace with big moves and a nice ending that played up Scurll’s stealing the victory from Ospreay, keeping in character for him. That counter into the chickenwing in mid-air from Scurll on Ospreay was something to behold. The pace played off that story, with Lee and Will hitting the big moves, but Marty outsmarting all of them and grabbing the duke. Match was so good, it may have had a role in the theft of the show.
Promo from the Briscoes about tonight, calling back to the Bucks attacking them after Jay and Mark lost the IWGP tag titles, and that tonight is about revenge and becoming 9-time champs.
“Reach for the sky, boy!” Here come Dem Boys! Mark and Jay hit the ring to some nice applause. What the HELL happened to Jay Briscoe’s head? It looks like a flowbee malfunctioned. Anyway, the Bucks come out and the place EXPLODES. Pop of the night, and it’s really not even close. “Thanks for the house, boys!” says Kelly as the Bucks pose. Shut up, Kevin. The Bucks hold up their belts right in the face of Jay and Mark, as the arena is going nuts.
The Young Bucks (c) (Matt & Nick Jackson) vs The Briscoes (Jay & Mark Briscoe) – Ring of Honor World Tag Team title match
Code of Honor is declined. Nick and Mark start us off and immediately do a reversal sequence with both guys getting armdrags on the other. Jay in now and both teams do some cheatin’, the Bucks go for superkicks and get caught, and we’re nose to nose. Jay takes Matt out of the ring with a Cactus clothesline while Mark and Nick battle it out inside. Mark gets whipped into the ropes and takes advantage by jumping through the middle rope with a dropkick to Matt. Everyone battles it out, with Jay and Matt back in the ring and Jay Briscoe eats the first superkick of the match. Tope con hilo by Nick onto both Briscoes on the outside, and the Bucks rule the ring. Blind tag from Jay to Mark turns the tide and the Mark gets two off a big boot. The Bucks come back with speed and a pop-up ‘rana on Mark and a kick to the head of Jay, as the advantage keeps going back and forth. Stereo powerbombs on the apron by the Bucks sets up the Terminator dives, but the Briscoes cut that off with lariats. Jay drops Matt on the outside with a big tope, and Mark follows with a Cactus Jack elbow to the floor. Back in and that gets two. Overhead belly-to-belly by Mark gets two. Double shoulderblock and the Briscoes wipe out Nick on the apron, and the Briscoes are essentially playing heel at this point.
Chinlock by Jay and he lays in the trashtalk. Matt fights up, but the Briscoes cut off the tag; Matt fights them off again and gets a stunner off the top on Jay. Tag to Nick, and he runs wild on Mark in the ring, hitting a facebuster on him before leaping to the outside with a tornado DDT to Jay on the floor. Superkick from Matt hits Mark back in the ring, but Jay stops the one aimed for him and hits Nick with it instead, then fires right hands and headbutts. He avoids a double superkick by grabbing the top rope, then he and Mark drop the Bucks with superkicks of their own. The Bucks come back with superkicks on Mark, then on Jay, but Jay hits a double clothesline before he hits the mat. Tags on both sides, and the Bucks hit the powerbomb/enzuigiri combo on Jay in the corner. Rope-assisted Swanton by Nick gets two on Jay before Mark saves. Matt tosses Mark to the apron, and that’s followed by a Superkick Doomsday Device on the floor by the Bucks on Mark. More Bang for your Buck hits Jay Briscoe in the ring! 1,2, NO! Mark breaks up a Meltzer Driver attempt and Jay hits a Death Valley Driver on Matt. Doomsday Device attempt by the Briscoes is broken up as Nick crotches Jay on the top, and now the Bucks go for the Driver again, and this time Jay breaks it up with a cutter in mid-air on Nick! Yeah, he stole that spot from Ospreay in PWG, who cares? Jaydriller on Matt! Froggybow on Matt! 1,2, NO!!!!! Damn, they had me there for sure. Matt ends up on Jay’s shoulders, and Mark springs off the top, Doomsday Device! 1,2, NO! Nick ends up back in the ring and takes on the Briscoes by himself, doing a decent job with kicks and a bulldog/clothesline on both Briscoes. Meltzer Driver hits on Mark! 1,2, Jay saves it! The Bucks pound the mat in frustration. The Bucks are back on their feet as the Briscoes are on their knees, superkick to both Briscoes! Again! Again! They won’t go down! Jay Briscoe spits at Matt and flips him the double bird, telling the Bucks to bring their worst! And now they do, as they hit superkick after superkick on the Briscoes, 20 in total, and the Briscoes FINALLY go down to end a hell of a match with a fantastic finish. (The Young Bucks over the Briscoes, pinfall, 15:36)
MATCH RATING: ****. To get it out of the way first, yes, this match did have a lot of the excesses that cause me to groan about the Bucks. BUT, I liked the build of the match a lot, with the early moves leading into the bigger and bigger sequences. No team really controlled the match for a very long portion; that lack of a wrestler in peril made the comebacks in the match easier to swallow, as no one took an overwhelming amount of punishment to the point where their comebacks were too far-fetched to buy. And, more to that point, the kickouts that both teams had off of their own big moves gave a real gravitas to the end of the match, as the Briscoes couldn’t win, but went out defiant to the last superkick as the old guard of ROH tag teams gave way to the new. Whoever came up with the finishes up and down the card tonight has done a tremendous job. This is two PPVs in a row that I’ve given a Bucks match at least ****, so I must be going soft in my old age.
Post-match, the Bucks celebrate with their titles….and the lights go out. MATT HARDY appears on the screen! “Bucks of Youth. Dem Boys. That was quite the intoxicating matchup you just participated in!” In case they didn’t know, Matt and Brother Nero are on a quest to prove they are the greatest tag team in history! And if they have to come to ROH, they’ll prove that you ramshackle rednecks and spot monkeys are obsolete! But be warned, should they come to the honorable ring, the Bucks will be DELETED! Crowd chants ‘delete’ as the Bucks look confused in the ring.
Yeah. Okay, I’m glad that Matt has his thing going on and he’s making money with it, but I got over the Final Deletion pretty quickly. I have no idea how that translates into Ring of Honor, and I have no idea exactly why ROH is working with TNA (I thought it meant that the Bucks would show up at the Hardy compound special as a tradeoff, but Meltzer says that isn’t the case), but I suppose we’ll see. It was shocking, to be sure.
Well, there’s only one match left….
We segue into a replay of Kyle’s promo from ROH TV, as a way to answer the show-opening promo from Cole. O’Reilly has asked Nigel to make the match no-DQ, because he doesn’t want to be responsible for what he’s going to do to Adam Cole tonight.
“Dance Away” starts up, and here comes Kyle O’Reilly! The #1 contender to the Ring of Honor World title makes his way to the ring, no Bobby in tow. “Bullet Club….Bay-Bay!” There he is! The Ring of Honor World champion, Adam Cole, makes his way to the ring, also alone. If I’m being objective, Cole is definitely getting a bigger reaction than O’Reilly did, despite being the clear heel in the feud. But I have no plans to be objective, so suck it.
Man, I know how this match ends as I’m writing this review and I’m still nervous, like the result could change or something.
Adam Cole (c) vs Kyle O’Reilly – No-DQ for the Ring of Honor World title
Why couldn’t we just call it a Fight Without Honor? I always liked that instead of just being ‘no-DQ’. No Code of Honor because, duh. They HATE each other. Opening slugfest, but Kyle takes him down with a double leg and goes for the armbar almost immediately, which Cole escapes quickly. Cole tosses O’Reilly and tries to cut him off at the apron, but that leaves him open to a cross-armbreaker in the ropes from Kyle. Both guys end up outside and Cole gets tossed to the barricade. Adam runs for his life around the ring, but Kyle catches him and hits an overhead belly-to-belly throw on the floor. Kyle takes over in the ring with kneelifts and a straight kick for two. O’Reilly gets his boots up on a Cole charge in the corner, but goes up and Adam shoves him off all the way to the floor. Back in now, and Cole is in control, whipping Kyle from one corner to the other. He trashtalks O’Reilly on the mat, so Kyle spits in his face. I find this to be a proportional response. He blocks a kick from Adam and hits him with Ax and Smash, sending Cole to the floor. Adam grabs the belt; Kyle comes off the apron with the knee and gets leveled by Cole, leading to the single most obvious bladejob I’ve seen in wrestling in a long time, as Kyle goes halfway under the ring and the camera stays on him for some idiotic reason.
Kyle, of course, comes out bleeding and Cole takes advantage, ramming O’Reilly’s head into the mat to open it up. “Fuck PG!” is the chant as Cole hits a high-angle German suplex to drop Kyle on his noggin. Kyle comes up ready to fight…..and falls out of the ring instead, as he’s got a nice crimson mask going now. Cole finds a trash can under the ring and levels Kyle with it, then puts it on top of Kyle and superkicks him. He tosses Kyle back in and grabs some chairs as well; he wallops Kyle over the back with a chair, but that just makes Kyle angry, as does the 2nd shot. O’Reilly fires at Adam with strikes and a legsweep, then sets up a chair in the middle of the ring. Running forearm in the corner from Kyle, then a snap of Cole’s arm across his shoulder before Kyle hits a belly-to-back suplex on the edge of the chair to Adam. Kneebar attempt, but Cole kicks him away. Kick from Kyle, but Cole spits at him and gives him the finger; O’Reilly jumps on the arm when Cole extends it and puts on the armbar! Man, I damn near leapt out of my chair watching that live; it was such a little spot, but really well-placed and cool. Cole manages to break it by getting out of the ring, but that doesn’t exactly work out well as Kyle kicks him into a chair, smashes him with the trash can, and then hits a running knee to Cole as he’s sitting in the chair, holding the trash can.
O’Reilly tosses a table into the ring now and sets Cole on it. He goes up, but Adam cuts him off at the top and goes for a superplex through the table. Kyle escapes and hits Cole from behind, now O’Reilly goes up behind him, super belly-to-back suplex through the table! Kyle drapes his arm across Adam, 1,2, NO! They end up on the apron with Kyle eyeing another table at ringside, but Cole hits him with a low blow, which Kyle responds to with one of his own. Kyle puts Cole in a guillotine choke now, and Cole falls forward to try to break…..resulting in him being DDT’d through the table. Kyle goes and finds a chain as we now see that Cole has himself some color, as he’s busted open. O’Reilly attempts to tie the chain to the top rope, ala Supercard of Honor in Dallas, but it keeps coming off and he turns around into another low blow and the Last Shot from Cole! 1,2, NO!
Cole rolls out and gets a bag from underneath the ring, and we’ve got ourselves some thumbtacks, by GAWD. He pours them all over the ring, then attempts to hit Kyle with the Florida Key onto the tacks, but O’Reilly elbows out, they trade a few shots and O’Reilly counters a fireman’s carry into a guillotine! Will Cole tap? Kyle transitions into a triangle choke instead, but Cole picks Kyle up with the last of his strength and powerbombs him on the tacks! Cole goes for the superkick to finish now, but O’Reilly catches his leg….Brainbuster to Cole on the tacks! 1,2, NO! But Kyle grabs the arm on the kickout! Cole is fighting, trying to keep his arms locked, Kyle fights for it, he’s got it! He puts on the cross-armbreaker by LYING DOWN ON THE TACKS TO DO IT! Cole’s trying to fight him off, trying….COLE TAPS! COLE TAPS! O’REILLY WINS!!! Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a NEW Ring of Honor World champion! (Kyle O’Reilly over Adam Cole, submission, 18:51)
MATCH RATING: *****.
What? Match of Year!
….Okay, not really.
REAL MATCH RATING: ****. They’ve had better against each other, but this was still an excellent match. I freely admit that I’m biased, as I’ve never been the biggest fan of garbage brawls like this, but I completely understand that they wanted to differentiate themselves from the rest of the card, particularly the title matches that came before it, which were slick and smooth and spotty, so they went this route, with a bloody brawl. It did a good job of emphasizing how personal this match was, although I was surprised (pleasantly, mind you) that there was no interference from the Bucks in this one; perhaps because Fish wasn’t around, they nixed any run-ins? Regardless, the intensity was there as these guys just destroyed each other in that ring, and the visual of O’Reilly laying down in the tacks to put Cole in the armbreaker, ignoring the pain because he just wanted to win that badly, that’s a great way to kick off any title reign.
Post-match, Cary Silkin comes in and presents Kyle with the title. Replays are shown, and our last image of ROH PPV in 2016 is of a bleeding, but triumphant, Kyle O’Reilly holding the Ring of Honor World title belt aloft.
FINAL THOUGHTS: ROH saved their best for last. Put it up against any other North American PPV of 2016, and Final Battle more than holds it own. 3 matches at **** or better, an undercard with nothing that stuck out as complete garbage including *** matches all over, and you’ve got one of the top 5 PPVs of the year, easily the finest ROH PPV of the year. Ring of Honor had a very up and down year, but they finished with a bang that gives me hope for 2017. Keeping the talent agreements in place with NJPW and CMLL are good, but it was also nice that Final Battle really focused on ROH wrestlers, as the NJPW guys like Liger and KUSHIDA were both losers on the night. The Cody heel turn was executed extremely well, and if the rumors about him joining up with NJPW are true, it could lead to more in 2017. I do suspect that we’re starting the process of saying goodbye to Adam Cole, in that his contract ends in April and I would have expected him to retain if he were staying, and some rumors are also starting to pop up about Jay Lethal as well, as his contract is set to expire at the end of the year.
In short, I’m more optimistic about ROH in 2017 than I have been for a long while, even though some familiar faces may be leaving the company; and a big part of that is the blowaway show that was Final Battle 2016.
Good job, Ring of Honor.
As always, thanks for reading this thing I wrote,
@MrSoze on Twitter