Zen Arcade Reviews: ROH Final Battle 2012: Doomsday
Posted by Jake St-Pierre on 01.18.2013
ROH takes a step back during their final iPPV of a tumultuous 2012.
After Glory By Honor XI, it looked like ROH was stepping in the right direction after an abysmal couple of months and an overall subpar year. Clean finishes and fantastic matches up and down the card, plus my pick for MOTY in Steen vs. Elgin. The ending was one of the biggest stories out of the PPV, as Kevin Steen was delivered a box with El Generico’s mask inside. This led to newly appointed matchmaker Nigel McGuiness announcing that the main event of Final Battle would be Kevin Steen vs. El Generico in ROH’s fourth ever Ladder War. Besides that, we’ve got the return of the American Wolves, Matt Hardy’s ROH return, Jerry Lynn’s ROH farewell, amongst other things. All the cards were on the table for ROH to get this right, and I’m here to see if they succeeded.
Starting off, ROH shows a video package chronicling the feud between El Generico and Kevin Steen. It’s an amazing package that introduces a new fan to one of the best feuds in indy wrestling history, which incredibly has lasted 3 years. El Generico is WWE-bound now, but that just means a larger audience will see one of the best wrestlers in the world.
We are LIVE in the Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan, NY. Unfortunately, your hosts are Kevin Kelly and that moron Caleb Seltzer. Just because Nigel is matchmaker doesn’t mean he can’t be an announcer either. Seltzer sucks shit. I guess I’ll live...at least it isn’t Dave Prazak. On another note, this crane cam that ROH added to their iPPV’s this year has made the actual watching of the shows a lot more enjoyable. It looks more professional than just a house show set up in a bigger venue.
Michael Elgin vs. Roderick Strong
After being on a tedious slow burn for 9 months, the two former members of the House of Truth collide in what looks to be a great match. I guess this match is as good as any to open the show.
Roddy starts off by spitting in Elgin’s face, so Elgin responds by jumping Strong violently. Strong tries to pescado out onto Elgin, but Unbreakable catches him. Strong gets out of his prone position, but Elgin ducks a chop and causes Roddy’s hand to hit the ringpost. Truth Martini comes down to the ring to watch his two former associates fight it out. Sidenote, if you haven’t listened to Truth on the Art of Wrestling podcast with Colt Cabana, I highly suggest you do. It’s one of my personal favorites and I’ve become a big fan of Mr. Martini because of it. Oklahoma Stampede on the floor by Elgin! They fight on the apron until Roddy decks Elgin with an enzuigiri and DROPS him on the ring frame! They trade chops on the outside and Roddy goes wild with a barrage of shots! Elgin comes back with a huge tackle! They enter the ring where Elgin connects with a DVD in the corner! That only gets him a two count. Roddy catches Elgin up top and HITS A BACKBREAKER ON THE TOP TURNBUCKLE! That gets a 2 count. Elgin gets out of a gutbuster and takes a mean jumping knee for a two count! Elgin goes up top again as Roddy is on the apron and NAILS THE DEADLIFT SUPERPLEX! That’s an awesome move every time he does it. Two count only. Roddy nails the gutbuster, but ELGIN CATCHES HIM WITH A LARIAT! This match rules. Martini slides the Book of Truth into the ring, which Roddy uses to brain Elgin with in mid-powerbomb. The Orange Crush Backbreaker gets Strong the cheap win in 12 minutes. ***1/2Since the feud is going to continue, I don’t have a problem with the cheap finish. This match was absolutely fabulous for a sub-fifteen minute match. Elgin once again put on a fun showing and Roderick complimented him well. Once we get a full blown grudge match between these two, we’ll see how great they really are. This tested the waters and we saw how great their chemistry was together. I approve, and this show is off to a hot start.
Truth Martini tries to kiss up to Roderick, but Roddy isn’t having it and leaves. Truth tries to manipulate Elgin into coming back to the HOT, but that does work either as Elgin drops him with a Buckle Bomb and a spinning backfist.
Jay Lethal vs. Rhino
This match is because Lethal can’t face Steen, and Lethal has made sure to bitch about it. I am really liking his new character personally, as it’s given him something to really sink his teeth into. He hasn’t really had that in ROH so far, and he’s showing that he’s up to the task.
Steve Corino is on commentary! Yes! He immediately wins me over by calling Caleb Seltzer ‘Forrest Gump’. Lethal starts off hot and drops the Man Beast with a tope suicida. A basement dropkick gets a two count for Lethal, but Lethal soon after falls to a mean spinebuster for 2. Corino just called Seltzer “Corky”. HAHAHAHA. I fucking love this guy. Lethal starts coming back and hits a back handspring elbow and a rolling lariat for 2. Rhino comes back with a belly-to-belly and sets up for a GORE!~! Lethal counters into a reverse STO into a Koji Clutch! I’d watch a sixty minute Iron Man match between The Great Khali and Mark Henry as long as Steve Corino could do commentary on it. Rhino counters the Clutch by dropping Lethal on his back, but Lethal wins with the Lethal Injection in 9 minutes. **Inoffensive match which got Lethal over as a man-on-a-mission. Nothing more, nothing less really.
Corino gets on the mic and runs Lethal down for saying he’s going to interfere in the main event. Jimmy Jacobs comes down and they attack Lethal, and Rhino GORES!~! him.
Prince Nana vs. RD Evans
THE EMBASSY LIMITED EXPLODES!~! RD is with QT Marshall, who did a great job in trolling the dumbshits at the ROHWorld forum, thus earning my respect for the time. Evans’ gear is delightfully silly, and his theme music is fantastic. Like seriously, the best in ROH as a standalone song. This should actually be a decent match.
Evans starts off with a bitchslap, so Nana jumps him. Evans takes a mean bump off of a missed pescado and NANA HITS A TOPE SUICIDA! The crowd comically chants “Power Ranger” at Evans, who maintains control over Nana, until Evans eats Nana’s boot on a diving elbow. Nana flops on top fo Evans with a senton for a two count and catches a springboard into a cutter! Here’s Ernesto Osiris! Osiris takes out QT Marshall as Evans looks for a top rope elbow again, but Nana crotches him. Superplex from Nana! Two count! Inverted Styles Clash gives RD Evans the win in 8 minutes. **1/2Although both guys have wrestled before (and especially Evans, a regularly awesome addition to CHIKARA) I was surprised at how good this match was. For 7 minutes, they kept my attention and worked a simple but fun match. I guess the one complaint you could have would be that the finish fell a bit flat, but everything before that was really good.
Tommaso Ciampa is here! He’s getting around pretty well for a dude who tore his ACL four months ago and proceeded to wrestle a fantastic match on it.
Street Fight: Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team vs. Rhett Titus and BJ Whitmer
It’s taken me a while, but I’m fully convinced that Rhett Titus is a terrible singles wrestler. He’s just lost without Kenny King, and sorry, but I’m not sure BJ Whitmer has what it takes to replace him. Oh well. Charlie Haas is in it. All is well. Thank God Shelton got released too. I never thought I’d ever see him as the weak link to WGTT.
Whitmer and Titus jumps WGTT from behind before they even enter the ring. Titus brings out a big stocking filled with huge candy canes so he and BJ can whack Haas and Benjamin with them. Titus brings out a goddamn CHRISTMAS TREE, but Shelton hits him with it. “Shelton Benjamin was an All-American at Minnesota and he’s fighting with a Christmas tree.” – Kevin Kelly. Charlie disconnects a guardrail, but Whitmer takes control and tries to piledrive Haas on the floor. Shelton saves his partner by superkicking Whitmer against the guardrail. Shelton and Charlie beat Haas with their belts as BJ crawls back. The crowd wants WGTT to use the Christmas tree, but Shelton throws it out of the ring to piss them off. Haas and Benjamin look for a double powerbomb on Titus, but BJ saves him and cleans house. Why the fuck is ROH calling him the BUZZSAW? Jesus, you don’t need some phony MMA nickname for everyone guys. Haas hits an Olympic Slam for a two count. WGTT brings in the loose guardrail and DROP WHITMER WITH A BACKBREAKER ON IT! Benjamin brings out a chair and sets it up, but Titus LEG LARIATS HIS FACE ON IT! Owww. Two count only. Titus sets the guardrail in the corner and hiptosses Haas onto it! Benjamin sets up a table on the outside and HITS A FUCKING PAYDIRT ON TITUS THROUGH IT! That was an awesome spot. That leaves Titus and Whitmer to fight it out in the ring. Whitmer gets two off of an Exploder Suplex and wastes no time in getting a table. Whitmer sets Haas on the table, but Haas jumps off and meets Whitmer up top and SUPLEXES HIM THROUGH THE TABLE RIGHT ON HIS FUCKING HEAD!~! Scrape him off the mat, he’s DEAD. That’s it in 16 minutes. ***1/2There were some awesome spots in this one and if the match didn’t have a tedious middle portion and had a bit more intensity, the rating could be a lot higher. As it is, it’s still a really fun street fight with some crazy spots. I’m not sure if Whitmer meant to land that way during the finish, but it was vicious either way. This was Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team’s best match since Best in the World when they dropped the titles to ANX.
Jerry Lynn vs. Mike Bennett
This is Jerry Lynn’s final ROH match, and he’s going to retire soon against Lance Storm I believe. He’s one of the most underrated wrestlers to ever put on the boots and it sucks he never got what he deserved. He does NOT look like he’s 49 years old, either. It’s good that he’s retiring on his own terms too. He’s still rather healthy and can live his life without any hindrances.
Lynn takes control early, even after a couple of swift attempts by Bennett to escape. Lynn looks for the cradle piledriver but Bennett quickly gets out, only to be bombarded with an ever-classy “Sloppy Seconds’ chant from the Hammerstein Ballroom. Lynn takes Bennett down with a tilt-a-whirl headscissors takedown and follows with a pescado. Bennett uses Maria as a human shield while Brutal Bob yells at Lynn; “Somebody took his Ensure backstage.” – Caleb Seltzer. Okay, I’ll give him that one. Brutal Bob decks Lynn during a chase around the ring, allowing Bennett to take control. Bennett foils a Lynn comeback until Jerry fires up and nails a somersault eyepoke, a backrake, and a DDT for a two count! TOWER OF LONDON ON THE FLOOR FROM LYNN! Two count only. Bennett connects with a spinebuster for a two count. Brutal Bob throws in a chair for his trainee but Jerry Lynn takes advantage of a Maria distraction by hitting a TKO on the chair! Maria strangles Jerry on the top rope and Bennett gets the cheap win with the Box Office Smash in 11 minutes. **1/2Not long enough to really flesh out and in all honesty, a real disappointment for Jerry Lynn’s (a former ROH World champ) final match in Ring of Honor. It was just fine and rather good for the time they got, but add on the crappy finish with a rushed match and you’ve got wasted potential.
The Prodigy and Brutal Bob try to attack Lynn, and Maria comes in when they’re unsuccessful. SHE EATS A DDT! CRADLE PILEDRIVER ON BENNETT! The crowd gives him a huge ovation for that. I guess it makes up for the subpar match. Jerry grabs the mic and thanks the fans, while putting ROH and especially Cary Silkin over. Even though ROH is for the up-and-comers Lynn says, he thanks ROH for giving him a spot. Some of the babyfaces in the mic plus Nigel McGuinness come out, and Nigel takes the mic. Nigel talks about a match against Jerry Lynn and getting crickets during his entrance, while Jerry got a big pop. Fast-forward five years where Jerry is wrestling Nigel for the World Title. Nigel got a good pop and he says “well, try to top that Jerry.” The place came unglued again when Jerry came out. “You’ll always be over to us, Jerry.” Nigel presents a plaque to Jerry and gives him the mic back. Man, even up close Lynn looks like he hasn’t even broken 40. “There’s no crying in wrestling, but you’re making it really hard on me.” Jerry takes a photo op with Nigel and the plaque. Thanks for an awesome career Jerry. You deserved what was a really classy sendoff.
Now Jay Lethal comes out taped up and with a mic. He bitches and moans to Nigel about how SCUM attacked him. “Guess what SCUM, ya pricks, I’m still standing!” sez Lethal. He says that the Final Battle main event spot belongs to him and vows that he will get involved in the main event. Nigel responds by saying that if Generico wins the title, Lethal will be first in line, which is the best Nigel can do. Lethal responds by saying that he wants to fight Kevin Steen only because he wants to defend his family’s honor. He again demands that Nigel makes a match for tonight, but Nigel stands his ground. Lethal asks him if he would like his mother to spat on, and then SPITS ON NIGEL! NIGEL LUNGES AT LETHAL! Officials quickly separate the two. Nigel orders that Lethal be ejected from the building as we go to INTERMISSION. Really good segment to stop at, if I’m honest.
After intermission, Kevin Kelly gives Mike Mondo an interview, broken tibia and all. Mondo is apparently going to be back in FOUR WEEKS instead of a year. Is that such a good idea? Who knows. Mondo throws away his crutches which leads to Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly coming out. Thank God Bobby Fish is tagging with O’Reilly, because he’s a really good talker. O’Reilly SUCKS. Fish says he heard that there will be no American Wolves reunion, so he asks Mondo if he wants to be Davey’s partner instead. Mondo wants to, but O’Reilly sweeps his bad leg and they attack him. Here’s Davey! Two on one attack follows, but here’s Eddie!
American Wolves vs. Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly
This match ought to rule, and the build-up to it wasn’t half bad considering Eddie wasn’t there for it.
The Wolves start off hot, and they waste no time with stereo tope suicidas! O’Reilly eats multiple kicks and chops from the Wolves and when Eddie eats a boot, he BLASTS Kyle with a chop. We get things in order as Davey locks on the arm-trapped cloverleaf as well as taking advantage of a distraction from O’Reilly by using Eddie to torque the hold even more. Fish scouts Davey’s running Murderdeathkill kick on the apron and drops him down, while O’Reilly comes off the apron to dropkick Edwards on a chair! Fsh and O’Reilly double-team Eddie with a backbreaker/knee drop, only for Davey to break up the pinfall. Davey watches his partner get punted in the chest and decides to intervene and does with a flurry of big offensive moves, culminating in a German for O’Reilly! SUPERKICK BY EDDIE ON FISH! SUPERKICK ON O’REILLY! STEREO SUPLEXES TO THE OUTSIDE! O’Reilly and Richards are alone in the ring and BITCH SLAP FIGHT! SPIN KICK FROM DAVEY! ROARING ELBOW FROM KYLE! GUILLOTINE FROM DAVEY! ANKLE LOCK WHILE KYLE IS STILL IN THE HOLD! O’Reilly eats an enzuigiri in the corner and a superkick/tombstone for a two count! Fish tries to prevent a powerbomb/backstabber and does, allowing Kyle and Fish to isolate Eddie. FISH BREAKS UP AN EDWARDS ROLL UP WITH A MOONSAULT! A LARIAT DROPS KYLE RIGHT ON HIS FUCKING HEAD! POWERBOMB/LUNGBLOWER! ACHILLES LOCK/DOUBLE STOMP! STOMPS ON O’REILLY! TODD SINCLAIR STOPS IT! The American Wolves win a fantastic match in 14 minutes. ****I don’t think they could have packed more action into 14 minutes than they did here. Say what you will about Davey Richards, but ever since he returned to ROH after his hiatus he’s been the Davey Richards we all loved before he got stale and formulaic. Everyone else did a fantastic job (especially Eddie in the Ricky Morton) role, and once the action kicked into high gear it was solid gold. Great stuff and MOTN so far.
Adam Cole vs. Matt Hardy
A lot of ROH fans got pissy that Matt Hardy was brought in, and while it was purely a Cornette move, there is a lot of potential behind it. Hardy has seemingly gotten his life back on track and if that’s so, then let him wrestle. EVERYONE in the building is going to hate him, so you have a clear heel while Cole can be the plucky face in the situation. Hardy puts Cole over, no harm no foul. Too bad people are too close-minded to see that.
After soaking in an overly-negative reaction from the crowd, Hardy tries to actually make Cole flinch. Cole gives no fucks and just backs Matt off. After taking a dropkick, Hardy bails and walks around until he eats a tope suicida! Cole enters the ring and plops on top of Hardy with a pescado, followed by a barrage of punches. Hardy doesn’t let himself get into too much trouble (ha) and KILLS COLE WITH A SIDE EFFECT ON THE RING APRON! Hardy takes further control by putting on a butterfly guillotine amongst a crowd of hecklers. Cole counters a Twist of Fate and locks on the Figure Four, so Hardy turns it over, thus making Cole break it. Hardy hits three more Side Effects in row, and after chucking Cole off, nails another one. Hardy drops down to Cole with an elbow, but eats a superkick! Two count! This moron Seltzer is actually trying to play as if Cole beating Matt Hardy would be an upset. Well screw you, dickhole. TWIST OF FATE FROM ADAM COLE! Two count. Hardy drops Cole with a sitout powerbomb for a two count and looks for the Twist of Fate. Cole counters and looks for the Florida Key, and Matt dips out with Cole still latched onto him. FLORIDA KEY ON THE FLOOR! HOLY HELL! Man, Hardy took a mean bump on that. Two count! TWIST OF FATE FROM HARDY! NEARFALL! Hardy looks for his second rope leg drop, but Cole drops him down and puts on the Figure Four! Matt gets the ropes to break. Matt Hardy pulls Paul Turner’s shirt over his head, kicks Cole in the grapes, and cradles him for the three count in 13 minutes. ***1/4That actually turned out to be a really good match. Of course, Hardy isn’t going to win over anyone easily AT ALL, but I think he earned some more dates with ROH by surpassing expectations. Cole did a good job as usual but I really think he needs to have something huge go his way because he hasn’t really done much since his crazy match with Kyle O’Reilly at BITW seven months ago. This feud with Hardy is going to continue and I think that’s a good thing based on the promos and this match. I just hope this heated it up enough. If Hardy gets himself into a little bit better shape (he wasn’t too bad tonight, but had a bit of a gut still) he could really do a lot to resurrect himself. As it is, he still turned out a really fun match against a hot prospect in Adam Cole and satisfied me (and I hope other fans) enough to want to see where this goes.
Predictably, everyone goes after the champions until everyone starts breaking up pinfalls. S.C.U.M. starts leaving as the Briscoes beat on Coleman and Alexander, but the Brothers notice this and go after them. After decking Corino with a leg lariat, Alexander takes out everyone on the outside with a huge somersault plancha! Redneck Kung-Fu from Mark knocks Coleman down, so Jacobs comes in. Jacobs misses the Contra Code but hits a springboard cutter for two. Jay and Alexander fight and Jay DECKS Cedric with a rolling elbow. Big Cravat Neckbreaker on Jay by Coleman, but Caprice eats a Spear from Jacobs and a backdrop driver from Corino for a close 2 count. Emerald Dream from Corino gets another two count. Corino tries to deck Alexander with a roll of quarters, but he eats a big kick! JUMPING SUPER RANA FROM COLEMAN! Corino DECKS Alexander with the quarters, but Cedrick kicks out! All of a sudden, Jimmy Jacobs eats a Doomsday Device from the Briscoes, who win their 8th Tag Titles in 8 minutes? 8 MINUTES? Come on ROH. **1/2Non-stop action, but why in Jesus’ name did Delirious book this to go 8 minutes? In an ideal world, you could have had C&C win the match after a hard fought 15 minuter, but they barely got half that and The Briscoes (who have been suffering from an astonishing lack of direction until now) win the tag titles, which they don’t need at this point. Oh well, the match was fun and it’s not like anyone was really buried.
Jay Briscoe takes the mic and sends out an open invitation to any tag team in the world who wants a shot at their newly won titles. Jay says he’s handing out a shot to Coleman and Alexander out of respect, which was at the January 5th TV taping and was supposedly a fantastic match. I guess we’ll see what happens.
Steen’s gut is looking mighty big tonight. More to absorb the ladders I guess. Predictably, these two start off exchanging shots. Generico starts off hot with a tornado DDT and a Yakuza Kick and a big somersault plancha, which Caleb Seltzer calls a tope suicida. He’s been calling a shit ton of moves wrong tonight. If ROH ever delivers on their new commentator promise, they better have a damn good one. Generico gets a ladder and simply chucks it at Steen, and drops down to throw some punches. Generico sets a ladder on the ropes and STEEN BACKDROPS HIM RIGHT THROUGH IT! Cannonball on the ladder! Awesomely, Kevin Kelly basically tells everyone that Cornette didn’t care about El Generico. HA. HUGE IRISH WHIP INO A LADDER IN THE CORNER. Steen gets the big ladder and goes for the belt, but Generico pulls him down and HITS AN EXPLODER ON THE CORNERED LADDER! HALF AND HALF SUPLEX ON A LADDER! Steen counters a tornado DDT into a backbreaker and chucks him out of the ring. Steen tries to climb up the ladder and when Generico pulls him down, he chucks him out again. Generico does it one more time so Steen Irish whips him into the crowd. Steen sets up on the ladder on the ring apron and guardrails and opts not to powerbomb him through the table, instead opting to soften him up. He gets a table and sets it on the propped up table just like at Final Battle two years ago! GENERICO BACKDROPS HIM THROUGH IT! Generico gets the HUGE maintenance ladder that showed up at the very first Ladder War over five years ago. Well not THE ladder, but one akin to it. Generico looks for a top rope brainbuster, but STEEN HITS AN F-CINQ THROUGH THE TIMEKEEPER’S TABLE! The two bigger ladders are set up across each other in the ring and Steen makes a PLATFORM on them with a smaller ladder so he can POWERBOMB GENERICO ON IT! GENERICO HITS A PACKAGE PILEDRIVER ON STEEN! Steen gets another ladder and hits El Generico with it while making a SECOND PLATFORM. Generico follows him up the ladder and they fight on the second platform! LOW BLOW! A GODDAMN PACKAGE PILEDRIVER THROUGH THE LADDER!~! It’s fucking academic. Kevin Steen retains his (new) ROH World Title in 28 minutes. ***3/4I really hate to say this, but I found myself really underwhelmed by this match. It was still great mind you, but comparing this with their Steen Wolf and Final Battle ’10 matches, this is only but a patch on them. I actually found myself getting bored through the middle portion and it seemed like they were going through the motions most of the time. However, Steen and Generico’s 80% is better than most wrestler’s 110% and thus was still a really good match with some pretty sick spots. I just didn’t feel the hatred and that’s a shame, because for the second straight year, ROH ends Final Battle with a disappointment.
The 411: The good news about Final Battle this year is that it's consistently enjoyable. There are no matches that dip to the "bad" label and even the lesser matches on the show are bouts that you aren't going to regret watching. Now the bad news: this was not very special by Final Battle standards. Steen and Generico had a ladder match that disappointed me (and a lot of other fans it seems), the three way tag match was astonishingly rushed, and a lot of the finishes were stuff that we should be seeing on TV to further storylines, not the last show of the year where the big stuff is supposed to be settled. I was okay with one or two, but by the third I was a little peeved. If this was a PPV like Boiling Point I'd go a lot higher with the rating. But since it was ROH's biggest show of the year--even with a lot of really good matches--I just don't think it was that good overall. A definite step back from October's classic Glory By Honor XI PPV.