Saturday, December 19, 2015

ROH: Final Battle 2015 Review

I made the last minute decision to order ROH's Final Battle PPV event tonight. I guess you could call it an early Christmas gift to myself. Or at least that's what I hoped. The card is loaded and I have a free Friday night like usual so I couldn't resist. So, without further a due, it's time to dive into ROH's grand finale of the year 2015.

1) The Young Bucks vs. The Briscoes vs. All Night Express (Kenny King & Rhett Titus) - #1 Contender's Match for the ROH World Tag Team Titles
What a choice for the opener! The Bucks coming out first is a quality decision. Not to mention the Briscoes. There's no better way to get a crowd hot, but then again, this crowd was hyped to begin with so when these three teams started doing their thing, the fireworks started to explode. Absolutely crazy opener. It's been so long since I've been able to relax in my living room and watch a match like this so I loved it. The Young Bucks never fail to put me in a good mood. SUPAHKICKS galore. It was nuts. The finish came off weirdly because your two most popular teams got beat to start the show. Sigh. Still a barnburner of an opener though. ANX wins and gets booed out of the building.

Match ratin - ***1/4

2) Silas Young vs. Dalton Castle

This didn't have the aggression that you might expect although I still really enjoyed this. They hit a number of cool spots and it did feel like a grudge match despite not having that boiling point atmosphere. The crowd was still fuming from that opener so this was fun. The first semi-over booked finish came at this point, unfortunately, with Dalton accidentally hitting one of his Boys which allowed Silas to get the win. After the match, the Boys turn and reside with Dalton which got a massive reaction from the audience.

Match rating - ***

3) Michael Elgin vs. Moose
HOSS FEST! That's what I expected and that's what we got. Two bulls colliding in the center of the ring and basically assaulting each other with strikes & various shows of strength. Elgin held up Moose for 30 seconds at one point. The Unbreakable One also deadlifted Moose in power bomb position which blew my mind. Moose put up quite the valiant fight, but in the end, Elgin gets the win in amazing fashion. BURNING HAMMER to Moose as Elgin faces the hard cam and calls out Lethal before nailing the maneuver. Elgin is headed to WK10 and he's coming for the ROH World Title! Tons of fun.

Match rating - ***

4) Adam Cole vs. Kyle O'Reilly
For some reason, I thought this was a Fight Without Honor. Maybe it was just wishful thinking, I'm not sure. None the less, it's just a regular match with a lot of hate behind it and boy oh boy, you felt it right from the start. Cole & O'Reilly have a special place in my heart when it comes to pro wres because while CM Punk got me back into WWE, the first Indie guys I saw and got attached to were Future Shock. I've watched them team and feud in ROH, team and feud in PWG, and then, as you probably know, they reunited momentarily this year only for Cole to cost Kyle in a World Title Match with Jay Lethal a few months ago. The Panama City Playboy pulled the wool over everyone eyes and that leads us here. Cole & O'Reilly put on the match you would expect them to with a little extra dose of stiffness that you might not have been expecting. Hard hitting contest with a big time rivalry feel to it the entire team. There were a number of sick exchanges. I would try to detail them, but that's a daunting task and you should just see them for yourself. The finish came, sort of, out of nowhere however looking back on it, it was fine. O'Reilly has Cole in a triangle choke and Cole uses the ropes for leverage as he pins Kyle's shoulders to the mat. As said before, on paper, that's a fine finish, but with this being FINAL BATTLE, it's almost counter intuitive. So, hey, take it for what you will. A top notch match, regardless.

Match rating - ****

5) ACH, Matt Sydal, & Alex Shelley vs. Chris Sabin, Chris Daniels, & Frankie Kazarian
I was SO looking forward to this. Unfortunately, it fell flat. It had it's positives which I will detail in a moment, however, for every positive, there seemed to be two negatives. Something just seemed off about this entire match. Oddly timed exchanges led to sloppy execution. It was just weird, especially considering the names involved. The crowd was burnt out from that fiery Cole/Kyle match too so that didn't help any. The positives, though, include an awesome exchange between ACH and Sabin that made me want to see a singles match between them as soon as possible. The other positive was the continued teasing of a Sabin/Shelley confrontation. Well, I say that's a positive. Once again, I have to bring up the fact that it's Final Battle and a moment like that is still being teased. It's your final show of the year, guys. Let's have some sort of explosive moment to remember! This hasn't been building long so I can forgive it. In fact, I liked the tease on the surface. The timing of this is just weird. But yeah, this match wasn't nearly as good as you'd expect. Last year's six man involving several of this men was on an entirely different level. Weakest match on the show.

Match rating - **1/2

6) Roderick Strong vs. Bobby Fish - ROH World TV Title Match
This was the most plodding match of the night. Not in a bad way, though. It was technically sound and worked at a pace that dredged the line of both men's signature styles. You had the Bobby Fish esque submissions & technical wrestling along with the in your face, smash mouth style of Roddy. It was a nice mesh despite not being as exciting to watch at times, as some of the other matches on this show. They built towards several good climax moments, though, and I ended up getting really into it by the end of the match. Then came the weird finish. Roddy taps, but the ref doesn't see it. What's going on? Fish turns around after celebrating what he thought was a win and gets nailed with a jumping knee from Rod Dog. This gets Strong the pinfall and he retains the title to a mixed reaction. Are we seeing Roddy turn heel? If so, maaan, we are in for a treat in 2016!

Match rating - ***1/4

7) The Kingdom (Matt Taven & Michael Bennett) (c) vs. War Machine (Hanson & Ray Rowe) - ROH World Tag Team Title Match
Different. That's the best word to describe this match. Now, it was different from the start however some unpleasing circumstances led to this being even more different than originally expected. Taven & Bennett jumped War Machine before the bell and nailed Rowe with a spike piledriver on the floor. The bell rings and the match begins with a false finish. The action never really slows down and apparently, Taven messes up his leg (I didn't see it when it happened) so the guys rushed to the finish and War Machine picks up the win after a bunch of action. Kudos to them for reacting in such knee jerk fashion without it coming off as a cluster fuck. I like War Machine as champs and can't wait for their eventual matches with the likes of The Briscoes and The Bucks.

Match rating - **1/2

8) Jay Lethal (c) vs. AJ Styles - ROH World Title Match
I had mixed feelings headed into this. It's actually what took me so long to decide whether or not to order this show. I really wanted to see this, but with all the headlines surrounding AJ's reportedly serious injury, I was unsure if it was worth the risk to order and then have them change the match or it not live up to expectations. In the end, obviously, I decided to go with it, due to how stacked the rest of the card was, and more so, out of respect to AJ for duking it out by still committing to go through with this match. Now, after the fact, I can say I'm extremely glad I did because I earned a new found level of respect for Styles. I've always been a fan, but seeing him go out and not only give 100%, but MORE than 100% whilst dealing with a risky injury was mind blowing. It honestly added to the match. That's not to say it was the safe decision for AJ to make however he did it and it was crazy. The match begin with a lot of fast paced counter wrestling that showed me that Styles actually may be healthy. Then Lethal began going after the injured back and it got cringeworthy. Apron bumps? AGHHH! Things slowed down momentarily as Jerry Lynn & Kevin Kelly discussed strategies for both men on commentary however that next level would click in soon and this match got amazing. Lethal went for his signature dive and actually went for a second one which he hasn't really done since becoming a full fledged villain. Lethal knocks AJ into the crowd, over the railing with the second one and goes for a third. Lethal dives through the ropes AND AJ JUMPS OFF THE RAILING AND MEETS HIM WITH A SHOT TO THE FACE! HO-LY SHIT! It was at that moment that this match fully reached that next level. Everything after that moment was purely epic. Styles hit a nasty Bloody Sunday for a near fall only to lose the advantage yet again after a springboard cutter from Lethal. Styles got beaten from pillar to post yet kept fighting for the chance to hold the one title he's never held. Lethal injection, a free throw over the top rope through a table which collapsed right under him, ANOTHER Lethal Injection YET STYLES STILL KICKED OUT! What can Lethal do to win? I honestly had no clue what the finish would be. I was just really hoping it wouldn't be some sort of overbooked mess. Well, it wasn't. It was something far greater. It was beautiful. Styles goes for the clash, Lethal keeps fighting out and reverses. Is he going for a Styles Clash? No! CRADLE FUCKING PILEDRIVER! THAT'S JERRY LYNN'S OLD FINISHER! LETHAL NAILS IT, SPIKING AJ'S HEAD INTO THE MAT AND HE SPATS AT JERRY LYNN IMMEDIATELY AFTER! I love you, Jay! He keeps talking trash and hits another Lethal Injection to finally put AJ away. Lethal retains the ROH World Title in an amazing match. PHEW! That was a ride!

Match rating - ****1/4

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