Sunday, July 10, 2016

ROH Final Battle 2015 Review

Jay Lethal defends the ROH World Title against AJ Styles, while Adam Cole & Kyle O'Reilly face off in a huge grudge match!

ROH Final Battle 2015
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 12/18/15


1.) “Brutal” Bob Evans (with Tim Hughes) vs. Cheeseburger: **3/4

This match was originally taped as a "YouTube Exclusive". It's the culmination of a several month feud between these former tag team partners. I thought this match was about as good as it could have been. Evans played his role as the bully heel, and Cheeseburger was very good in his role as the underdog. Cheeseburger would get the win in the end, finally vanquishing Evans.


1.) Triple Threat #1 Contender’s Match – The All-Night Express vs. The Briscoes vs. The Young Bucks: ***3/4

The winner of this match will receive a future shot at the ROH World Tag Team Titles. The Briscoes & The Young Bucks both got cheered pretty heavily (as you would expect), but Kenny King & Rhett Titus actually got a lot of boos from the Philadelphia crowd. As far as the match goes, I really enjoyed it!! It was a sprint right from the start, with bodies flying all over the place. All three teams got the chance to shine, and the crowd was really into it. I thought it was the perfect match to have as the opener for this PPV. In the end, ANX would sneak in and score the victory after hitting a Super One Night Stand on Mark Briscoe. They’re now the #1 Contenders for the ROH World Tag Team Titles. That certainly wasn’t the result I was expecting, but we’ll see where they go from here.

2.) Dalton Castle vs. Silas Young: ***

Young still has possession of The Boys, who are now wearing jeans, wife-beaters, and sunglasses. The commentary put over a “Free The Boys” hashtag, and the fans were chanting “Free The Boys”, but there was no stipulation attached to this match. I thought this was fine. It wasn’t their best match, but it was far from their worst match. Nothing really much to say other than that. The Boys tried to get involved towards the end of the match, and Castle ended up accidentally knocking one of them down. This led to Silas Young getting the win.

After the match, Young takes the mic, and demands that Castle admit that he is a real man. Castle initially refuses, but then Young gets two chairs and threatens to sic The Boys on him if he doesn’t call him a man. This causes Castle to give in. He says that Young is a man….but he’s a foolish man! He says those are his Boys, and as he says this, The Boys turn on Silas Young and attack him with the chairs! The Boys are finally free of Young’s control, and are reunited with Dalton Castle! That was a really cool moment.

3.) Moose (with Stokely Hathaway) vs. “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin: ***1/2

Elgin is coming off of winning the 2015 Survival of the Fittest Tournament, and it had already been announced that Elgin would face Jay Lethal for the ROH World Title at Wrestle Kingdom 10 in The Tokyo Dome on January 4th, 2016. I like the fact that commentary made mention that Elgin will still face Lethal regardless of the outcome of tonight’s Main Event, and that a win here for Moose could propel him to a future title shot. While this wasn’t a great match, I thought it was pretty good. I know that some people were a little down on this match, but I enjoyed it. This was just two guys playing a game of one-upmanship, while also trying to beat the crap out of each other. There was good back & forth action, and there were points where the crowd was into it. Eventually, Elgin got the victory over Moose after a series of impressive powerbombs, and the two shook hands after the match.

4.) Adam Cole vs. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champion Kyle O’Reilly: ****1/4

This is the big grudge match between these two. I think it’s their first major singles encounter in ROH in a very long time. Of course, Cole cost O’Reilly the ROH World Title at All-Star Extravaganza VII. I thought this was a fantastic match!! These two went at each other right at the opening bell, and you could really feel the sense of hatred between these two. I’d go as far as to say that this may have been the best singles match these two have had. We saw some great action throughout, and the crowd in Philadelphia was really into it. The only thing to really complain about was the finish, as Adam Cole turned a triangle or armbar submission by O’Reilly (can’t remember which) into a pin with his foot on the ropes, and got the win. It was kind of a deflating finish, especially given that it’s a Grudge Match. However, since the feud would continue, it didn’t bother me as much, with the benefit of hindsight.

Even though Cole got the three count, O’Reilly refuses to let go of the submission hold. He needs to be pulled off by referees. It seems like he’s done, but O’Reilly then goes right after Cole’s arm again, and has to be pulled away by more referees.

5.) Six-Man Tag – The Addiction & Chris Sabin vs. ACH, Alex Shelley, & Matt Sydal: ***

This match came about after Alex Shelley revealed himself to be the faux-KRD member that had cost The Addiction the ROH World Tag Team Titles. Speaking of The Addiction, they’re wearing Star Wars-themed wrestling gear, specifically based on The First Order (as Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, had come out the night before). ACH comes out wearing gear inspired by Dragon-Ball Z, specifically Goku. Given the talent who was involved here, you would think this would be great. Now this was a solid Six-Man Tag, but it wasn’t nearly as good as I was expected. The action was fine here, but I just thought this would be better. Part of the issues was that there were some noticeable botches, particularly from ACH. They did tease interactions between Sabin & Shelley, but they didn’t do as much as I would have thought. Additionally, the match went about fifteen minutes or so. It probably needed to be shortened by five minutes. If it was a sprint, like the opener, this could have been great. Sydal eventually gets the win for his team after hitting the Shooting Star Press on Sabin.

6.) ROH World TV Title – Roderick Strong vs. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champion Bobby Fish: ***1/2

Fish earned a victory over Strong at Reloaded Tour ’15: Chicago Ridge a few months prior, which was before Strong won the ROH World TV Title. I like how they’re using a prior victory by Fish to set up this title match. For the most part, I thought this was really good. There was some very solid back & forth action throughout, and the crowd was into it. Both guys are just so good, that it’s impossible for them to have anything less than a good match. Of course, the big controversy came with the finish, as they basically used the Brock Lesnar/Undertaker finish from SummerSlam a few months prior. Fish had a Strong in a submission hold, and Strong trapped out, but it was subtly, and out of the view of the referee. Fish releases the hold and started celebrating like he won. Where it deviated from Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker is that instead of one guy later passing out in a submission hold, Strong took advantage of the confusion to hit a high knee out of nowhere, which allowed Strong to score the win and retain his title. I really don’t like the fact that ROH basically used a WWE finish. You don’t need to copy WWE. Plus, turning Strong heel after the incredible 2015 he had just seems so odd, in my opinion. The match was still very good, but the finish definitely hurt it.

Cedric Alexander & Veda Scott then come out and cut a promo at ringside. Alexander was all dressed up. Veda says that they weren’t invited to Final Battle, and that’s a mistake ROH won’t make again. She then says that they’ve been in litigations with ROH over “unsafe working conditions”, and that they’ve finally reached a settlement. Veda says they all will be seeing more of Cedric Alexander & Veda Scott in 2016.

7.) ROH World Tag Team Titles – The Kingdom (Matt Taven & Michael Bennett with Maria Kanellis) vs. War Machine: N/R

So this was a very interesting match, to say the least. The Kingdom jumped War Machine before the bell. They hit Ray Rowe with their Hail Mary Tandem Piledriver on the floor, with Taven jumping off the second rope. As soon as Taven hit the floor, his knee buckled, and you could tell that he was hurt. It was around this time that commentary mentioned that The Kingdom may have jumped on War Machine early because Bennett has a crapped rip, and they wanted to end things quickly. They then brawl for another two minutes or so, and Taven still tried to do stuff, despite the fact that he was clearly in a lot of pain (he was visibly limping). Bennett took a nasty powerbomb into the barricades, and then got hit with Fallout in the ring, and that was it. I’m not sure if the intent originally was for the match to go short, or if things changed on the fly due to Taven’s injury, but at the end of the day, War Machine are the new ROH World Tag Team Champions, and I think everyone will be happy about that.

Before the Main Event, Mr. Wrestling III leaves commentary, as ROH Matchmaker Nigel McGuinness is going to call the Lethal/Styles match with Kevin Kelly. BJ Whitmer (who was barred from the show, along with Adam Page) shows up, and tries to take over on commentary, claiming once again that Mr. Wrestling III is Steve Corino. Security quickly sends BJ Whitmer off.

Former ROH World Champion Jerry Lynn comes out to be on commentary with Kevin Kelly & Nigel McGuinness. Lynn recently had a confrontation with Jay Lethal on ROH TV, after claiming that AJ Styles was going to win the ROH World Title.

8.) ROH World Title – Jay Lethal (with Truth Martini & Taeler Hendrix) vs. “The Phenomenal” AJ Styles: ****1/2

This is actually a pretty big moment. AJ Styles has been pretty dominant in ROH since his return in 2014. His only singles loss was against Michael Elgin in April of 2014. Despite his long winning streak, Styles is coming into this match with a bit of a disadvantage, as he’s been having nagging issues with his back over the last few months (It got bad enough that Styles had to pull out of New Japan’s World Tag League a few weeks prior). However, Styles was able to fight through the pain, and stepped up in a big way here. I thought this was an awesome Main Event!!! They were actually able to incorporate the back issues Styles was suffering into the story of the match, which was actually really cool. The action, of course, was fantastic. There was some really insane stuff in this match, including Styles leaping up on the barricade to intercept a dive to the outside by Lethal, and an unexpected table spot, where Lethal just dropped Styles right through the table on the floor (the fact that it came out of nowhere actually made it that much more of a big moment). The crowd was really behind both guys from start to finish. They were awesome here. Lethal & Styles both hit their finishers, and both kept fighting. The match finally came to an end when Lethal, in a insult to Jerry Lynn, hit AJ Styles with the Cradle Piledriver (Lynn’s finisher), before hitting a 2nd Lethal Injection to definitively put Styles away. The fact that Lethal beat Styles clean as a sheet in the middle of the ring with no interference just added onto what was already a fantastic match. For me, this was the best ROH match of 2015.

Jay Lethal posed with the ROH World Title, standing over the defeated AJ Styles, to close the show.

Overall: 8.5/10

I should note that, when I watched this show live, I decided to watch it on my PS4 through the Live Events App. If you have a PS4, I would totally recommend watching future ROH PPV’s on your PS4!! The cost is lower than ordering on traditional PPV, and the stream is a lot better compared to watching the show on ROH’s website. I only had very sporadic streaming issues, which only lasted five seconds max. I heard from others who watched the show via PS4 that their streams were totally flawless, so again, definitely try ordering and watching ROH PPV’s on PS4 in the future.

As far as this show goes, I thought it was great!! I think it’s fair to say that this might have been ROH’s best PPV outing of 2015. You had two must-see matches with Jay Lethal vs. AJ Styles for the ROH World Title (which is my ROH MOTY from 2015), as well as Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly. Those matches alone make this show worth checking out. Aside from the ROH World Tag Team Title Match (which was, at the very least, hindered by the injury to Matt Taven), the rest of the undercard was pretty good, with the opening match being the real standout. There were a few questionable booking decisions, mainly revolving around the finishes of Cole vs. O’Reilly and Roderick Strong vs. Bobby Fish for the ROH World TV Title, but other than that, the match quality of this show was relatively great. An action-packed show from start to finish, and (for the most part) a pretty great way to end 2015!

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