All roads lead to New York City for Ring of Honor biggest show of the year!!
ROH Final Battle 2013
Manhattan, New York 12/14/13
Before the actual show, we get a really awesome video package highlighting what led to the Main Event.
1.) Brutal Burgers vs. Team Benchmark: **
The pre-show match features "Brutal" Bob Evans & Cheeseburger vs. Bill Daly & Will Ferrera. A perfectly acceptable pre-show match. Actually pretty entertaining. Brutal Burgers get the win.
1.) Adam Page vs. Matt Hardy: **1/2
So the story here is that even though he was forced out because of S.C.U.M.'s defeat, he still has one more date that needed to be fulfilled on his ROH Contract. He made a few ludicrous suggestions (like being put in the World Title Match and being Eddie Edwards' partner), but Nigel McGuinness responded with something more reasonable: a match against the young up & comer Adam Page. Hardy tried to cut a promo before the match, but the crowd was booing so heavily that he stops trying. The crowd even throws his T-Shirt back at him! The match itself was decent opener. Page looked good in the loss.
2.) Strap Match - Silas Young vs. Mark Briscoe: ***1/4
This had been building for a few months in the form of a few matches and several post-match attacks. They're 1-1 so this is the rubber match. I know that some didn't like the stipulation of a strap match, but I actually really enjoyed this. A lot of really stiff stuff in here and they actually made really good use of the strap. The ending was kind of predictable but still a fun match. Silas Young gets the win.
3.) Adrenaline RUSH vs. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions The Young Bucks: ****1/4
Since their last ROH appearance, The Young Bucks made their debut in New Japan and won the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Titles. This was an awesome match!!! The Young Bucks once again prove why they the best tag team in the world and Adrenaline RUSH showed a lot in this match. Not as good as the Young Bucks/Forever Hooligans match from Manhattan Mayhem V, but still really great! Their was an awesome spot where ACH goes for a dive on the outside to The Bucks, but they hit ACH with a SUPERKICK IN MID-AIR!! They then give TaDarius Thomas More Bang For Your Buck to finally win the match.
4.) Stretcher Match - Kevin Steen vs. Michael Bennett (with Maria Kanellis): ****
They had a really good video package previewing this match which recapped their feud over the past few months. Weird that they're using an old army-style gurney. At one point Steen throws the stretcher threw the curtain and basically says "Screw The Stretcher"! From this point on it turns into basically a Knockout Match. On the whole, this was pretty great. Definitely one of Michael Bennett's best matches in ROH. Both he & Kevin Steen worked really hard and it showed through their performance. Tables were used, and Steen eventually hits Bennett with a Package Piledriver on top of some chairs to win the match. Personally, with the way they ended up taking it, I feel like a Last Man Standing Match would have been a much better choice if they were going to do a gimmick match. Still, this was a lot fun to watch.
After the match, Maria slaps Kevin Steen, who gives her a Package Piledriver! Steen tells Maria "Merry Christmas, Bitch!" before leaving the HammerSTEEN Ballroom.
I should add that Nigel McGuinness commentated the first half with Kevin Kelly, while Steve Corino takes over for the second half.
Prince Nana comes out as the second half gets started to talk about his role as ROH's Talent Scout, which includes the upcoming Top Prospect Tournament. He also brings up Outlaw Inc. challenging reDRagon and doesn't try to hide who he wants to win. This brings out reDRagon, who after a quick retort, deliver Chasing The Dragon to Nana. Outlaw Inc. come out in response and the next match is underway...
5.) ROH World Tag Team Titles - reDRagon vs. Outlaw Inc.: **
Coming in I'd heard a lot of live reports which said this match was, for lack of a better word, s**t. After watching it, I do agree that it was certainly a bad match, especially for a World Tag Team Title Match at Final Battle, but I would stop short in calling it awful. These two teams just didn't mesh well together. It felt very uncoordinated. It just didn't work and the crowd reactions reflected that. Plus with Outlaw Inc.'s actual alignment (babyface, heel, tweener?) in question since their debut, I really didn't know who to cheer for. reDRagon win via Chasing The Dragon but with a chair instead of a kick.
Outlaw Inc. do not react very kindly to the loss, as Homicide gives Da Cop Killa' and Eddie Kingston cuts a promo saying they're done playing by everyone else's rules, because now they're playing by their own. They then seem to get into a heated exchange (not physical) with some fans in the crowd.
6.) ROH World TV Title - Matt Taven (with Truth Martini) vs. "Sicilian Psychopath" Tommaso Ciampa: GREAT SEGMENT
This whole thing was just fantastic. Ciampa comes in, kills EVERYONE (Taven, Truth Martini, and both Scarlett Bordeaux & Kasey Ray), wins the title, and leaves. Badass. Think of it as an extended version of the Honky Tonk Man/Ultimate Warrior Intercontinental Title Match from SummerSlam 1988. Great stuff. Not much else two say.
7.) Roderick Strong & Jay Lethal vs. Eddie Edwards & BJ Whitmer: ***1/2
This was originally going to be Strong & Lethal vs. The American Wolves, but after the Davey Richards Fiasco (his departure from the company), Edwards was left without a partner, so ROH promised a surprise partner, which Nigel McGuinness announced as being...for one night only...BJ Whitmer. Yeah....the guy who was forced to retire a few months prior. In the end, it ended up being a pretty solid tag match. Pretty standard stuff given the four involved. Actually kind of felt is was missing a little something. Edwards scores the winning fall to end his ROH Career (for now)...
After the match, Jay Lethal tells Edwards he's going to leave so he can say his stuff, but Strong & Whitmer stay. Edwards puts over ROH, Cary Silkin & the fans. He then turns to BJ Whitmer, who was also wrestling his last match, and thanks him even though his career was cut short. As they hug, Whitmer says that his career is just getting started, and he turns Eddie around into a BIG KNEE from Roderick Strong, then Whitmer hits The Exploder!! Jimmy Jacobs comes out and says that it makes him sick to see people applauding people like Eddie Edwards who "walk out" on ROH while people like himself, Whitmer & Strong have been in ROH for so long and don't get the same appreciation. He then attacks Edwards with his trademark spike, and The Decade has officially been formed, albeit in shocking fashion.
The turn was pretty shocking. Although I would have enjoyed to see a Jacobs babyface run last a little longer than it did, I really like the idea of this stable. I think Corino & Kelly sold it really well with their reactions. From what we would see in later shows, BJ Whitmer's injury must not have been as serious as what we were told because he is wrestling again. A lot of questions there but we'll save it for another time.
8.) ROH World Title - Triple Threat Match - Adam Cole vs. "Real" World Champion Jay Briscoe vs. "Unbreakable" Michael Elgin: ****1/2
Once again we get to see the awesome video package that awesomely recaps this feud.
The match started off slow for sure, with Cole avoiding Briscoe & Elgin, but then he got back involved and things really picked up as the match progressed. They came up with some really cool spots which I enjoyed. It was a pretty great main event. Some people might see the match rating as a bit high, but for me personally, this deserves an extra 1/2* (at least) for the story that led up to this match. I cannot understate how AWESOME the build-up to this Main Event was. The match eventually involved Table Spots, Matt Hardy (who revealed himself to be Adam Cole's Mentor), and Mark Briscoe. Elgin looked awesome in here and Jay Briscoe looked good as well. In the end, Adam Cole sneaks away with a roll-up to retain. People may not like the fact that Cole won with a rollup, but in the context of the match it was perfect booking in my opinion, and it worked in the context of the match and Cole's character.
After the match, Adam Cole & Matt Hardy lay out Michael Elgin & The Briscoes, but then Chris Hero's music hits, and That Young Knockout Kid (who had wrestled earlier that night at CZW Cage of Death XV) entered through the crowd and laid out both Matt Hardy & Adam Cole!! He cuts a quick promo saying that you can't have Final Battle without Chris "Mother-Fucking" Hero and makes his intentions clear that he's back and that he's coming for the World Title. Awesome way to end the show!
In the end, I really enjoyed this show. While the show did suffer from a stinker of a World Tag Team Title Match, the combination of great wrestling, as well as major storylines/returns takings place more than made up for it. The Young Bucks proved that ROH needs to book them more regularly. We saw great blow-offs to the Briscoe/Young and Steen/Bennett feuds. The formation of The Decade was truly a surprise that nobody saw coming. The main event had a combination of both wrestling and storytelling, with Cole trying to avoid Briscoe & Elgin as much as he could, great action in the ring (including some new, unique spots), the revelation of Matt Hardy as Cole's mentor, and the return of Chris Hero. I'd say that ROH definitely ended 2013 on a high note and it looks like 2014 will be even bigger!