If this venue looks familiar, it should. The War Memorial Auditorium in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida has hosted numerous wrestling shows over the year. ECW ran shows here during the mid to late ‘90s, while ROH ran its infamous Showdown In The Sun events here during WrestleMania Weekend in 2012.
ROH Road To “Final Battle ‘15”: Ft. Lauderdale
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida 12/5/15
1.) Martin Stone & Aaron Solo (with Trina Michaels) vs. Cobly Corino & Shaheem Ali: **1/2
Here we have a pre-show match with four guys who I’m actually familiar with (more so than most ROH pre-show matches). Martin Stone has make appearances in NXT & RevPro in the UK, but has recently made a name for himself on the Southeast Independents. Aaron Solo is a regular on Florida indies and other places in the Southeast. Shaheem Ali has made a number of appearances on ROH pre-shows in the past, and Colby Corino is, of course, the son of Steve Corino. Aside from a scary moment at the start of the match, where Shaheem Ali fell backwards through the ropes, seemingly landing head & neck first on the floor (couldn’t really tell, as the camera was on the opposite side of the ring), this was a better-than expected pre-show match. All four guys seemed to work hard, and for what it was, it was pretty enjoyable. The team of Colby Corino & Shaheem Ali would pick up the win here.
1.) Mark Briscoe vs. Will Ferrara: **3/4
We officially kick things off with Mark Briscoe taking on Will Ferrara. This was a decent opening match. It wasn’t the best opener in the world, but it was fine. A perfectly acceptable pro-wrestling match. Mark Briscoe gets the win here, and he shakes hands with Ferrara after the match.
2.) IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champion Kyle O’Reilly vs. Tim Hughes: DUD
For those who don’t know, Tim Hughes is the “protégé” of “Brutal” Bob Evans. The running gag on commentary is the speculation that Hughes might be the long lost son of Evans. He’s facing Kyle O’Reilly here. This was pretty much a squash match. Hughes got a few shots in, but they were very minor, as O’Reilly dominated and put Hughes away in quick fashion.
After the match, Kyle O’Reilly cuts a promo saying that Tim Hughes just learned what happens when you piss him off. He says that Adam Cole learns that lesson the hard way at Final Battle 2015. O’Reilly says he’ll kick Cole’s ass, and he will be the next ROH World Champion.
3.) Adam Cole vs. Kenny King: ***1/4
Speaking of Adam Cole, he’s in action next against Kenny King. It’s nice that we’re getting more singles matches involving King, as I’ve always preferred him over Rhett Titus, as far as singles competition goes. I thought this was a good match. It had the potential to be better, but still, for a match that went just over eleven minutes, it was still solid. Cole worked over King’s leg, trying to set up the Figure Four, but King fought back, and we got some good back & forth action here. Eventually, Cole would pick up the win.
After the match, Cole blows off a handshake with King, and swears that Kyle O’Reilly will be finished with ROH after Final Battle.
4.) War Machine vs. The Dirty Blondes (Leo Brien & Mike Patrick): DUD
The Dirty Blondes are actually pretty big dudes. It just makes this outing by War Machine even more impressive, as they make quick work of their opponents here. War Machine will be challenging The Kingdom for the ROH World Tag Team Titles at Final Battle 2015.
5.) ROH World TV Title – Roderick Strong vs. Delirious: ***1/2
Since winning the ROH World TV Title, Roderick Strong has decided to start a “Roddy vs. The World” challenge, where he’s declared that he’ll take on any and all comers. On this particular night, Delirious has returned to answer Strong’s challenge. These two actually have some history, as they had a feud back in (I believe) 2007. As far as this match goes, I’d say it was pretty good. Probably the best match on the show up to this point. Strong always delivers a good match no matter where he is on the card, and I think Delirious did a solid job here as well. Of course, Roderick Strong retaining his title was never in doubt, but this was still an enjoyable house show title match.
Strong & Delirious shake hands after the match.
6.) Four-Corner Survival – Rhett Titus vs. Cheeseburger vs. Moose (with Stokely Hathaway) vs. Dalton Castle: ***1/4
Now this match is filled with a ton of “unique” personalities. I wasn’t expecting much from this match, but it turned out to be much better than I thought it would be. It had the right mix of some good action, as well as fair amount of comedy, which was actually pretty funny. At one point, Castle put Cheeseburger on his shoulders so he could have a better shot against Moose. That was funny. This was just a fun match. It wasn’t the best match of the show or anything, but it was very entertaining to watch. Moose gets the win here after hitting a spear on Cheeseburger.
Up next, we were originally scheduled to get ACH vs. Bobby Fish in a singles match. However, before that match could begin, ACH requested that the match be changed to a tag team match. Since his usual partner, Matt Sydal, has a match with Jay Briscoe coming up later in the show, ACH said that he’s found another partner, in the form of Alex Shelley!!
7.) ACH & Alex Shelley vs. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champions reDRagon: ***3/4
At the time, I know there were a few complaints about not advertising Alex Shelley beforehand. The only reason I could come up with for why they didn’t (and I’m sure this is likely the explanation) is that Shelley was make a big surprise return on ROH TV that very weekend (which hadn’t aired everywhere yet, since this show was on a Friday Night), and him being announced for this show would spoil that reveal on ROH TV. Anyway, lets talk about the match, because it was actually really good! Fish & O’Reilly are such an amazing team. At the same time, however, for being a first-time pairing, ACH & Shelley did a good job here as well. I like how this match was in some ways, a familiar one (reDRagon has faced Alex Shelley on a number of occasions in the form of Fish & O’Reilly vs. The Time Spillers of Alex Shelley & KUSHIDA), but different at the same time, with this new pairing. There was some very good action throughout this match. I’d say it was one of the best matches on this show. reDRagon would eventually get the win, but ACH & Alex Shelley did very well in their first outing as a tag team.
8.) Jay Briscoe vs. Matt Sydal: ***1/2
I think this match was actually supposed to take place several months prior (on one of the Conquest Tour events, if I recall correctly), but a minor injury to Sydal changed those plans. They finally had their singles encounter here, and I thought it was a very good match. It was a little shorter than I was expecting (clocking in at just under twelve minutes), and it wasn’t quite as good as I thought it would be, but still, this was an enjoyable match from start to finish between two of the best wrestlers in ROH. In the end, Jay Briscoe would score the victory, but the two did shake hands after the match.
9.) The House of Truth (ROH World Champion Jay Lethal & Donovan Dijak with Truth Martini & Taeler Hendrix) vs. The Young Bucks: ***3/4
So The Young Bucks are basically trying to help out their Bullet Club partner AJ Styles by softening up Jay Lethal before Final Battle 2015. I thought this was a really good Main Event! For me, it’s an easy contender for the best match on this particular show. The Young Bucks were really over with the fans in Ft. Lauderdale (as you would expect), and they delivered here, as they always do. Once again, the team of Lethal & Dijak really impressed here (Dijak in particular looked very good). It’s a shame that Dijak’s days in The House of Truth would be numbered, as this Lethal/Dijak team has been a lot of fun to watch. I thought the match was hurt a little bit by a spot towards the end of the match, where Lethal pulled the referee out of the ring when The Young Bucks seemingly had the match won, which led to Taeler Hendrix eating a superkick. I know it’s a live event, and I really shouldn’t care that much, but it was just a little too much shenanigans for my liking. The Young Bucks would overcome this brief hiccup to score the win over The House of Truth. The Young Bucks celebrate their victory as the show comes to a close.
While this wasn’t a show that you absolutely need to see, it was entertaining to watch from start to finish, and very easy to sit through. This show just felt like it flew by, and that a real complement. I know we all live for those truly amazing shows that produce a plethora of classic matches, but shows like this can be just an enjoyable. Aside from two squash matches that were meant to build up Kyle O’Reilly & War Machine for their upcoming matches at Final Battle 2015, the rest of the card was pretty solid. While nothing was really great, there wasn’t anything that was bad either. Even the pre-show match was relatively decent. As far as standout matches go, I’d say reDRagon vs. ACH & Alex Shelley, and The Young Bucks vs. Jay Lethal & Donovan Dijak are the two matches that are worth checking out. As a whole, this was simply an entertaining show from beginning to end.