ROH Final Battle 2017 (12/15/2017)- New York, NY
WILL OSPREAY vs. MATT TAVEN (w/The Kingdom)- 7.5/10
The Kingdom made their entrance accompanied by goofballs in costumes which the announcers battered into our head were “conspiracy figures” like a “fishman” and a “reptilian.” I will admit that I would not have understood this without the announcers pointing it out to me (although part of that is due to the fact that they seem to be conflating cryptozoology with conspiracies)… but if I need the announcers to point it out to me, then your entrance doesn’t make your point clear enough on its own and thus isn’t worth doing.
We started out hot with dives, but rather than being dives for the sake of being dives to start off hot, they were dives that made logical sense. Ospreay hit a big kick on Taven, then continued on with his momentum for a dive to take out Taven’s pals out the outside… and then Taven took advantage of Ospreay being on the outside after that dive to hit Ospreay with a dive of his own.
That sequence also helped to set up the Kingdom’s interference as one of the stories running through this match. While that story was told well (including a callback to the opening spot later on in the match), it was not without flaw. Specifically, Vinny Marseglia and his axe. Yes, an axe.
At one point, while the referee was distracted and Ospreay was on the apron, Marseglia tried to cut Ospreay’s leg’s off with his axe. For real. Why is Marseglia allowed to bring a f*cking AXE to ringside with him? And even if you want to brush it off by saying that “we see lots of potentially lethal weapons brought to ringside in pro wrestling, there is still the inherent logic issue created by scenarios like the following: A few moments after the attempted dismemberment, Marseglia got the chance to attack Ospreay on the outside… and rather than hit him with the axe like he had tried to do mere moments ago, he just threw him into the barricade.
Aside from the interference of The Kingdom, the we also got stories of Ospreay working over Taven’s head and Taven working over Ospreay’s back, which were both told well until we came to a relatively clean finish. I say relatively clean because there was the interference a few minutes earlier, but it’s not like there was a weapon shot or feet on the ropes or some other heel tactic that directly lead to the finish. The finishing sequence was Ospreay going for his finish and Taven countering it into his.
THIS is what ROH should be giving us on every show. Guys going out there- especially young guys like these two (well… Taven is young in terms of years of major exposure), and a relatively unique match-up- and impressing us with their wrestling skills. Not being goofballs like Marseglia or wasting half of their match doing stupid comedy.
THE ADDICTION vs. WAR MACHINE- 6.5/10
On commentary, Colt Cabana thanked the New York State Athletic Commission for letting Rowe compete tonight despite his recent kayfabe suspension for accidentally hitting a fun during a brawl with The Addiction, and he specifically mentioned the commissioner, “Mr. Frobel.”
This was perfectly fine for a second-on-the-card grudge match, and was a nice combination of brawling and these guys hitting their respective style of offense, so it felt like the grudge match that only these two teams could have together. I also appreciated the spot where Daniels pulled the referee in the way in the corner, which was a little callback to the last match these two teams had in this building.
JAY LETHAL vs. MARTY SCURLL- 7.75/10
The story of this feud is that Marty was given the chance to pick his opponent for tonight and said he wanted to face Jay Lethal… but he essentially told Lethal that he wanted to face heel Jay Lethal not babyface Jay Lethal. Lethal refused to be a heel, and even told Marty (paraphrasing) “I cheated because I wanted to. You cheat because you have to” leading us to tonight’s match-up of… good vs. evil? Maybe? We’ll see how it played out:
Marty is dressed in almost all white (including a white umbrella) rather than his standard villainous black. Whether this was done to mock Lethal or to try to lull him into a false sense of security (with the idea being that Marty is trying to make Jay think that he would wrestle him cleanly to prove that he, too, cheats because he wants to, not because he has to). Either interpretation is equally valid, but I think the latter plays a bit better into the story of the match, and offers a better of explanation of why Marty would break cleanly in the ropes in the beginning.
Marty would eventually try to cheat, using things like weapons and illegal leverage. One spot I really liked was Marty trying the Eddie Guerrero “smoking gun” spot, but Lethal outsmarted Marty by playing dead and wrapping the chair around his own head after Marty threw it to him, showing that although he is currently a babyface, Lethal still remembers all of the old tricks of being a heel.
Marty eventually got one over on Lethal by thinking one level above him, setting up a spot where Lethal expected a weapon shot so Lethal went to block it but Marty instead put the umbrella in Lethal’s hand, and while Todd Sinclair started to yell at Lethal and took the umbrella away, Marty grabbed his usual black Bullet Club umbrella from under the ring and hit Lethal with it to set up an excellent false finish. Lethal kicked out and the other umbrella once again wound up distracting Todd Sinclair… and this time, when Sinclair turned his back to get the weapon out of the ring, Lethal kicked Marty in the nuts to set up the finish.
Colt Cabana noted on commentary that Lethal did not look very happy about his win, so there is definitely something brewing here. Whether this is supposed to be the first step in Lethal being seduced back to the Dark Side of The Force or merely just a set-up for a rematch with Marty now able to turn Lethal’s accusation about not being able to win without cheating back on him, I like the possibilities this finish provides. I also loved how all of Marty’s cheating set up for Lethal using a low blow to feel completely justified, so that if this is the beginning of a gradual flirt with villainy for Lethal, it will feel much more organic than simply having the switch in his head be thrown from babyface to heel.
ROH WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH: Motor City Machine Guns(c) vs. Best Friends- 6/10
Before this match we got promos from each team. MCMG were completely serious and talked about how much the title meant to them. Best Friends treated everything like a complete and total joke. This did not make me want to see Best Friends win under any circumstances.
They had a match that was mostly just moves. It would have been a lot better without Best Friends’ inherent goofiness, and I really HATED the finish, which saw Sabin essentially no-sell a Piledriver in order to roll Trent up with a jackknife pin (or at least delayed-sell, but I still didn’t like it). Piledrivers are just one of those moves that should not ever be no-sold.
FOUR-CORNERS ELIMINATION MATCH FOR THE ROH TV TITLE: Kenny King(c) vs. Punishment Martinez vs. Shane Taylor vs. Silas Young (w/the Beer City Bruiser)- 7/10
The announcers seemed to think that there were count-outs in this match, but neither the wrestlers nor the referee ever acted like there were. Martinez took out Taylor with a big splash, Silas took Kenny King out with a beer bottle to the head, leaving us down to Silas and Martinez. Martinez had things won but Bruiser pulled Silas out on the ring. Martinez took BCB out with a dive, but at the cost of extreme damage to his own ribs. He sold this well I enough that I thought it was totally legit. Silas would spend the rest of the match targeting Martinez’s ribs to cut him off or put him down, then switching to his head once he was down, eventually picking up the win via Misery for his first ever title in ROH, something that was both well-deserved and much needed, as it breaks a streak of Silas being given the win in big feuds only to be sent right back down to the mid-card.
NEW YORK CITY STREET FIGHT: The Briscoes vs. Bully Ray & Tommy Dreamer- 6.75/10
Yup. ROH is in the ECW nostalgia act business almost seventeen years after the company died. And speaking of such things, Tommy Dreamer has his polka-dotted Dusty Rhodes tribute tights on. And of course those tights (as well as Tommy’s shirt) have the House of Hardcore logo on them.
Ian Riccaboni was completely unbearable during this match. So was the stupid spot with the lightsabers. It’s a f*cking no DQs grudge match blow-off to something that has been building up for six months! Can we please take it seriously? And combined they were atrocious, as after the lightsaber spot, Ian said that “it’s all fun and games.” In a match where just a few moments ago he wanted me to worry about Bully suffering permanent brain damage because he was getting punched in the head.
They did their stuff with their weapons. It was fine for what it was. Unfortunately, their big finish was kind of killed by table not breaking correctly.
TOP FIVE MOMENTS IN FINAL BATTLE HISTORY- Just to compare, I came up with my own list, just to see how it differed from theirs. Mine was:
5. Dragon & Morishima finally get their blow-off (2008)
4. Aries ends Joe’s title reign (2004)
3. Nigel McGuinness turns on the fans (2007)
2. Steen turns on Generico (2009)
1. Homicide wins the ROH World Title (2006)
(with Honorable Mentions to Hero returning at FB 2013 and Matt Hardy appearing on the Tron last year).
Their list was:
5. Homicide wins the title
4. Lethal beats AJ (2015)
3. Dragon & Morishima finally get their blow-off
2. The two Steen vs. Generico matches (2010 & 2012- and picking two for one is bullsh*t, IMO)
1. Aries ends Joe’s title reign… which I assume means that Aries is coming in soon. If not tonight.
WOMEN OF HONOR ANNOUNCEMENT- they’re doing a title tournament next year, starting in January. Do you know what would have been great? If they had the women come out in wrestling gear instead of f*cking evening gowns.
YOUNG BUCKS & ADAM PAGE PROMO- they said nothing, but at least it was short.
ROH WORLD SIX-MAN TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH: Bullet Club (Adam Page & the Young Bucks) vs. Flip Gordon, Titan, & Dragon Lee- 6.75/10
Scorpio Sky joined Colt & Ian commentary. He said he was a little disappointed that Flip didn’t choose him to be on his team because they’re such good friends, so hopefully this actually leads to something rather than them flying Scorpio Sky across the country just to have him do commentary.
The match was your predictable FLIPZ. I just can’t get behind a dude named “Flip,” who just does flips, especially when the angle is based off of something they’re doing on the Young Bucks’ goofy webshow.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- good
Scorpio Sky went to go check on Flip. Meanwhile, The Addiction showed up and attacked the Buck from behind. Sky then turned on Flip (though the camera missed it) and posed with Kaz and Daniels, so we’ve got a new trio and two new feuds. Unfortunately, one of those feuds is heel vs. heel, and another involves a babyface named “Flip.”
ROH WORLD TITLE MATCH: Cody Rhodes(c) (w/Brandi Rhodes) vs. Dalton Castle (w/the Boys)- 6.5/10
Dalton got a big entrance with lots of Boys. Cody has dyed his hair an atrocious shade of blonde, marrying his own ugliest features with that of his brother to combine to form some sort of ultimate monster of hideousness.
Once again our world title match went less than thirteen minutes, including some stalling by Cody. We also got a ref bump and a visual tap out, and a spot designed to stall by having the Boys and Brandi ejected from ringside, but was done in an idiotic manner because it came right after they set them up to get a big pop by having Brandi dive onto the Boys. Yes, you read that right: Brandi- the heel- was the one who got to do the big dive for big pop.
Dalton won the belt, and quite, frankly, it doesn’t feel like that big a deal to me. Dalton Castle doesn’t feel like a main eventer. He feels like a popular singles upper-midcarder. Being a main eventer in ROH requires a proven track record of top-notch singles performances and Dalton doesn’t have that. Factor in that the guy he took the belt from doesn’t have that, either, and that guy won it from a clearly-aged Christopher Daniels who wasn’t even given the time to have great title defenses due to Delirious’ poor time management, and we’ve got what really feels like a midcard belt right now.
This was yet another ROH PPV that was hurt by Delirious’ poor time management. The “old guys doing plunder” match does not need to get sixteen minutes (second longest on the show, down to just the TV Title match), and the all-flips match does not need to go fifteen. Chop three minutes off of each other those and give them to the ROH World Title main event, which absolutely NEEDS to go at least seventeen to feel worthy of the lineage of the ROH World Title. ROH World Title matches should feel like a war where guys leave everything in the ring, and this one- like many in the past few years, was WAY too short, especially on a PPV. Look… I loved the Ospreay vs. Taven match, but if you can’t fit everything into the show that you want to, you need to cut that match, stick the Kingdom on the undercard as a trio, use Ospreay to replace Titan to save time on your show for the things that need it. Delirious doesn’t get that, and it is hurting the product, on both TV and especially on PPV. This show would have been good as a regular show, but for a PPV- and FINAL BATTLE no less- this was just plain unacceptable.
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