Mad Icarus Reviews: ROH FInal Battle 2013
Posted by Jake St-Pierre on 01.05.2014
Boy, that guy looks a LOT like NXT's Kassius Ohno...
You might have noticed my lack of ROH reviews since Manhattan Mayhem V and that's for a few reasons: 1) Work, life, a rekindled relationship 2) Laziness, and 3) general apathy for ROH's product. They haven't been bad or anything, because they haven't been truly BAD since the first 3/4 of 2009. It's just that there's nothing interesting going on with the company. They prolonged the World Title tournament a little too much and they ditched iPPV. That factor--while great for rebuilding fan trust and whatnot--has proved to be an adjustment for a company that had a pretty solid foundation with it despite its flaws. Final Battle ever-so-slightly intrigued me, so I figured I'd give my hand at reviewing ROH for the first time in 4 months.
We are TAPED from the Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan, NY.
Your hosts early on are Kevin Kelly and Nigel McGuinness, but we'll see Steve Corino at the booth later on.
Adam Page vs. Matt Hardy
Matt Hardy returns after a 5 month absence to face Adam Page, who has had a decent year as one of the better up-and-comers in independent wrestling. I don't think the winner is in doubt here, but--while the booking admittedly is thrown together--I'm interested to see how they play the match.
Hardy wants the mic to start off, and the crowd is on his case hardcore already. That causes him to chuck the mic and get down to business. They're giving him the John Cena-at-Hammerstein treatment, with the throwing of the shirt and the throwing back of said shirt. Hardy gets cocky as the match starts, which earns him a bitchslap from a confident Page. Hardy chucks Page after a bit and hilariously fakes a Tope Suicda and just ends up punching him instead. Hardy looks for a Side Effect off the apron, but Page pushes him off and COMES DOWN WITH A SHOOTING STAR PRESS! That gets a two count in the ring. Page plays possum and instead hits a diving clothesline for 2. They trade sleeper holds until Page runs into a Side Effect. A second one scores for another nearfall. Page counters a Twist of Fate into a backslide for a nearfall, and counters another one into a Powerslam! That earns him another two count. A spinning wheel kick scores for another nearfall, and counters a Side Effect into a Victory Roll for two! Page dives into a kick from Hardy, and finally eats the Twist of Fate in a fun 8 minutes. **3/4This was a very good opener, something Adam Page has shown to be very skilled at. He's one hell of a talent and I can't wait until he really evolves into something worth giving main events to. Considering how young he is, he's got all the time in the world. Matt Hardy just kind of did his thing, but they had a really decent 8 minute match that served the purpose they were sent out to serve.
Strap Match: Silas Young vs. Mark Briscoe
Mark's promo before this match had the potential to be good if Mark didn't look like he was holding in a massive shit and/or having a stroke his body wasn't quite sure it wanted to have.
Mark takes Silas outside immediately and controls him, but Silas ends up using the strap to ragdoll Mark into the barricade. Mark doesn't let that keep him down for long, as he goes to work on Silas back in the ring. Mark tries to touch the corners, but Silas yanks him into a frontflip, whipping him with the strap. Again goes Mark to the corner, but Silas cuts him off by pulling him in with a lariat. Silas pulls him out onto the apron and Orton-DDTs him on the floor. Smart spot as he gets in the ring, hogtying Mark with the strap and trying to drag him around as he touched the corners, but Mark sandbags him and starts to mount his comeback. Mark takes his time hitting a Froggy 'Bow, and he uses the time after to touch the corners, but Silas bails out of the ring and pulls Mark back from touching the fourth one! Mark has no choice but to head outside, where SILAS FLIPS MARK ONTO THE FLOOR! Silas puts Mark on his shoulders and touches the corners, with Mark touching them immediately after. At the fourth one, Mark tries to take Silas down, but Young slaps the fourth corner to win a surprisingly decent match in 9 minutes. **3/4This wasn't Savio Vega vs. Steve Austin, but I liked what they did here. They didn't bore me and actually worked in a few smart spots in between your run-of-the-mill strap match stuff. I like to think Silas gets some kind of a boost from this and has a year to remember in 2014.
Adrenaline RUSH vs. The Young Bucks
This is pretty much the one match I wanted to see on this show, pitting the most exciting regular team in Ring of Honor against, well, the most exciting team in wrestling. A bit of a question mark arose regarding whether or not ACH & TD could keep up with the Bucks, but I don't think it'll be much of an issue.
Matt and ACH start off, and it's your usual stuff. Of course, even ACH can make cliches interesting, so it doesn't lose my attention. The Bucks shitcan TD and Nick chucks him into the barricade, allowing the brothers to work him over. ACH get the hot tag and comes in at the appropriate temperature. He sends Matt sailing over the top and dropkicks Nick out, hitting both of them with Tope Suicidas! He dodges a dropkick from Matt, which ends up hitting Nick, TOPPED OFF BY A DOUBLE JUMP MOONSAULT FROM TADARIUS! ACH hits Matt with a slingshot cutter in the ring for two. ACH EATS a superkick, and after a sweet counter sequence, SO DOES TD! EARLY ONSET ALZHEIMER'S ON ACH! ACH dodges one of their tag teams and HITS MATT WITH A RUNNING KICK/MAGNUM DRIVER! TD dodges a knee from Nick, who GETS HIS KNEES UP ON A SPLASH FROM ACH! SUPERKICK ON ACH! SUPERKICK ON TD! TD gets out of More Bang For Your Buck, but eventually FALLS TO A TANDEM TOMBSTONE! ACH BREAKS UP THE PIN! ACH ducks Early Onset Alzheimer's and ranas the Bucks out, but THE BUCKS SUPERKICK HIM MID-AIR JORDAN! JESUS FUCK. That was fucking ridiculous. MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK ON TD! That is it in 13 minutes. ***3/4So I'd say that Adrenaline RUSH had no problem keeping up with the Bucks. This was another great match, if not a tad bit inferior to the awesome Hooligans/Bucks match last time in Manhattan. I don't know what the future holds for these two, but hopefully they keep on since C&C Wrestle Factory broke up. If that is indeed the case, I see gold for Adrenaline RUSH in 2014. They have two of the highest ceilings in wrestling and I look forward to their continued ascension.
Stretcher Match: Michael Bennett vs. Kevin Steen
So this was a pretty WWE match for ROH to have, and probably one of the dumbest stipulations in wrestling period. Rolling a stretcher across a line sounds like an NXT challenge, not a wrestling match. Apparently this is a different sort of stretcher match, but Nigel and Kelly don't really tell us what it is despite the fact that I don't think ROH has evetr had a Stretcher Match.
Mr. Wrestling starts out hot, clotheslining Bennett out of the ring. Bennett turns things around quickly, but he doesn't get anywhere. Steen's next move is to naturally run Bennett dick-first into the ringposts. Mr. Wrestling just goes around and takes peoples' chairs, but it backfires on him as Bennett gets ahold of them and goes to town. Steen turns it around with a Codebreaker into the chair and FOLLOWS IT UP WITH A CANNONBALL INTO THE CHAIR! Bennett counters an attempted Package Piledriver into a TKO. Popup Powerbomb scores for Steen, and so does the Package Piledriver! I guess the stipulation is that you have to have him carried out by a couple muscleheads from the ROH School. Maria tries to stop that from happening, so STEEN DOES A FUCKING SOMERSAULT PLANCHA OVER THE TOP ROPE ON TOP OF BENNETT!~! Holy crap. Steen disposes of the stretcher and basically says that this isn't a stretcher match anymore...he's gonna beat Bennett until he can't stand anymore. So I'm assuming from here that this is a KO match? Steen allows too much time for Bennett to recover, and Bennett low-blows him and goes crazy with a chair. Bennett goes outside and sets up two tables side-by-side, but nearly takes a powerbomb out to them. Luckily, he counters and hits a spinebuster. Bennett goes outside and looks for the piledriver on the apron, but Steen looks for a Package Piledriver as well. BENNETT HITS A BOX OFFICE SMASH THROUGH THE TABLES~! I'd say this is pretty comfortably Bennett's best match yet. Steen crawls out of the wreckage and stumbles back into the ring, and Bennett's piledriver scores. Without the stretecher, he can't do much. Bennett looks for a piledriver on the chair, but STEEN COUNTERS INTO A BRAINBUSTER ON THE CHAIR~! STEEN HITS BENNETT WITH A STUNNER! PACKAGE PILEDRIVER! PACKAGE PILEDRIVER THROUGH THE SET-UP OF CHAIRS! Paul Turner calls the match at the 17 minute mark. ****This match far-and-away surpassed my expectations and really made me think that Michael Bennett is worth his spot in ROH. I've never actively disliked him and in fact, he's improved steadily over his ROH tenure. This might have had the advantage of being a gimmick match, but I loved this. The story was solid, the action was top-notch, and they had a very fitting blowoff for a decent little rivalry. This is comfortably Match of the Night for me so far.
After the match, Maria slaps the victiorious Mr. Wrestling. Steen tries to take the high road...but he's Kevin Steen, so he GIVES HER THE PACKAGE PILEDRIVER! Nigel's appalled reaction makes it all the better. Everybody piles into the ring to check on Maria AJPW-style and Steen leaves a happy man.
After intermission and an intro from Steve Corino, Prince Nana makes his entrance and talks about his talent acquisitions. An Outlaw Inc. mention gets a chorus of boos, which doesn't foreshadow the upcoming match very well. Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish make their entrance after that promo, and Fish takes the mic. Nana takes Chasing the Dragon, and cue the Outlaw Inc. entrance.
ROH World Tag Team Title Match: reDRagon (c) vs. Outlaw Inc.
This feud ran out of steam pretty quickly after an exciting debut at Manhattan Mayhem V. Hopefully it rebounds here.
Things start off...cold as King and Homicide do their thing. Kyle dives out onto Kingston with a dropkick outside. Kingston gets a bit agitated at Fish's kicks, but doesn't really do much to get out of them. Rinse...repeat...rinse...repeat. Homicide finally gets the hot tag, but comes in very lukewarm amongst a pissed-off Hammerstein Ballroom. They hit double dives out onto the champs, but struggle to get a decent reaction. Steve Corino playing oblivious to the Three Amigos from Homicide is the best thing that's happened all match. He tops it when Kyle comes in and does the Eddie Guerrero taunt, and then screams "Kyle O'Reilly reminds me of Eddie Guerrero!" reDRagon takes control over, but not for long. Ace Crusher and Sliding D score, but Fish breaks up the pin. This crowd is just incessant with the booing. Backfist to the Future scores on O'Reilly, but Kingston eats a boot from Fish. Homicide shitcans Fish and looks for a Cop Killa on O'Reilly, but he gets out and reDRagon pins Homicide after Chasing The Dragon with a chair. That's it after a rough 15 minutes. *1/4I'm pretty sure that this was a failure on every front imaginable. Kingston and Homicide looked so uninspired here that I wonder if the Lizard Man is going to even think about booking them again. I was somewhat optimistic for the match after Outlaw Inc. had a good match with The American Wolves in Columbus, but boy, did they really stink the joint up here. reDRagon's offense was the only saving grace here, basically earning big pops from the crowd because King and Homicide weren't half-assed going through the motions. I hope that either A) Outlaw Inc. comes in with more motivation or B) ROH doesn't worry about messing with them again, because this was awful.
Kingston takes the mic after the match, and tells Homicide to "do what he's gotta do, brother." Homcide gives the Cop Killa to a student and Kingston turns heel on the crowd, saying that he's playing by his own rules now. Homicide and Kingston head into the crowd and squabble with a fan, while Homicide throws a trashcan into the ring. Hey presumably drunk/annoying fan in the front row with the Santa hat: sit the hell down please. After Outlaw Inc. throws a hissy fit, we transition...
ROH World TV Title Match: Matt Taven (c) vs. Tommaso Ciampa
I was looking forward to this match a lot too, because it gives Ciampa some much-needed direction after not doing much besides a few great matches since he got back from his injury.
Ciampa starts off by going straight at Taven during his entrance! The Hoopla Hotties distract Ciampa, allowing Taven to tilt the momentum a little bit. Kasey Ray batters Cimapa with elbows outside while Todd Sinclair is distracted. HUGE PLANCHA from Taven scores. Ciampa's all "Fuck that" and starts a barricade off in the aisle, and HE GIVES TAVEN AN AIR RAID CRASH ON IT! He takes Taven back in and knees him in the corner, but Scarlett puts herself in his path. CIAMPA KNEES THEM BOTH! PSYCHO DRIVER ON TRUTH MARTINI! PROJECT CIAMPA ON KASEY RAY! FROG SPLASH BY TAVEN ONTO CIAMPA! NEARFALL...INTO THE RINGS OF SATURN!~! TAVEN TAPS! Tommaso Ciampa destroys the HOT and wins the title in 5 ridiculously awesome minutes. **1/2The rating doesn't really matter here. This was the best thing (besides the Elgin match) that Tommaso Ciampa has been involved in since he began with Ring of Honor. He looked like an out-of-control badass here, a role I'm fully convinced he's a master at. He disposed of the House of Truth in short order, something nobody else has been able to do for 9 months. He did it in such a way that you've got to think his stock just rose even higher than it did when he wrestled Elgin in June. I have nothing but hyperbole to say for this match/segment, so watch it for yourself.
Roderick Strong & Jay Lethal make their entrance, and Nigel takes the mic to introduce Eddie Edwards' mystery partner since Davey decided to be himself again. Nigel introduces Eddie...and BJ Whitmer! Apparently BJ wanted to leave on his own terms, which is respectable. I don't know why everybody got so pissy over it, but h8as gon' h8.
Eddie Edwards & BJ Whitmer vs. Jay Lethal & Roderick Strong
Eddie embraces Roddy and Jay before the match, as this is supposed to be Eddie's last match despite no confirmation he was actually signed. The whole thing confuses me.
BJ and Jay start things off, and it's your usual stuff that leads to the first GENERIC INDY STANDOFF!~! of the night. Eddie comes in and schools Roddy for a little bit, not messing around in his last match. BJ and Jay come back in, where Jay hits a nice dropkick. BJ hits a powerslam and they both are down. Jay prevents the hot tag and tags Roddy, who continues the assault. BJ drops Roddy with a spinebuster, and both get their tags. Eddie comes in on top, and he BOOTS Roddy off of the apron, following up with a barrage of chops on Lethal. Chinchecker scores right into the Achilles Lock. Lethal Combination scores for Lethal, but he only gets 2. Backbreaker scores for Roddy, but BJ breaks the pin up and trades chops with Roddy. Two superkicks and a Funplex score for BJ & Eddie, but only a 2 count. BJ hits an Exploder in the corner on Jay, but eats a superkick from him! EDDIE SUPERKICKS JAY! Eddie shitcans Roddy! Jay and Eddie pretty much let each other dive onto their partners, but JAY HITS HIM WITH LETHAL INJECTION OUT OF NOWHERE! BJ SUPERKICKS HIM! RODDY DROPS BJ! EVERYONE IS DOWN! Eddie and Roddy go at it now, while Lethal superkicks BJ out of the ring. Roddy hits a superplex, followed up by Hail to the King! Eddie kicks out! Eddie starts to come back, and he kicks Roddy inside the ring. Fisherman's Busters score for BJ, FOLLOWED UP BY A DOUBLE STOMP FROM EDDIE! LETHAL BREAKS IT UP! Chops by Roddy, followed up by "Come on motherfucker!" They trade chops because I guess they like it, while Whitmer and Lethal fight outside. Jumping Knee scores for Roddy, and some Misawa elbows! SUPERKICK FROM EDDIE! ROARING ELBOW FROM RODDY! GIBSON DRIVER! NEARFALL! STRONGHOLD! SICK KICK FROM RODDY! END OF HEARTACHE COUNTERED INTO AN O'CONNOR ROLL! Eddie picks up the win for his team in a great 17 minutes. ***3/4The only thing keeping this from the four star mark was the lack of a real story, but everything else was really good stuff. BJ was protected well but did enough to not seem like a non-entity, while Eddie again showed why he's one of the best wrestlers in the world. I loved that the latter part of the match was sort of like a...final battle (nyuck, nyuck, nyuck) for Eddie and Roddy after having wrestled so many times over the years. Jay Lethal didn't really do much of note in this one, but since it really was all about Eddie and BJ, I can forgive it. This was a really, really good match and one that I'm sure Eddie was happy to go out on given that his partner messed up the only thing that could have been better in these cirumstances.
It's your usual farewell stuff after the match, hugs all around and whatnot. Jay Lethal takes the mic. Jay says he's going to leave since this is Eddie's time, and he wants him to enjoy it. Eddie puts Lethal over after he leaves, as well as Cary Silkin. He puts over the fans for braving a shitty snowstorm to make it out to the show. He says he respects BJ for everything he's done, and they embrace. But BJ says "My career is just beginning," and FEEDS HIM TO A JUMPING KNEE FROM RODERICK! EXPLODER FROM BJ! HERE COMES JIMMY JACOBS! Jimmy takes the mic and says that it makes him sick that Eddie gets to leave while the constants don't get appreciation. Jimmy takes out the spike and brains Eddie with it! That's certainly something I wasn't expecting. I have no gripes other than that Jimmy was on a great babyface run, but the turn certainly does make sense so I'll W8NC. That was a great segment either way and especially interesting considering the news of Eddie allegedly not being offered a contract.
ROH World Title Match: Adam Cole (c) vs. Jay Briscoe vs. Michael Elgin
Adam Cole won the title back in September at Death Before Dishonor, a show I tried to watch, but I'm sure you can tell what happened there. This has been a nice little three way feud, but it still feels a little anticlimactic for a Final Battle main event. I love that heel Adam Cole is the top guy in ROH though, so I'll forgive pretty much anything involving him right now.
Michael Elgin...cut the fucking mullet, dude. Please? Cole dips as the bell rings and lets the other two fight it out, basically being a sneaky asshole. Jay and Elgin do a poor man's Kobashi/Joe exchange to no heat. Jay dives onto Adam Cole suddenly with a Tope Suicida! Elgin and Briscoe rip off the WM XX main event by trading shots at Cole, but end up working together instead. Elgin ends up Bicycle Kicking Jay in the face in order to get Cole for himself. Jay butts in after Elgin drops Cole with a delayed vertical suplex. Elgin puts Cole in the Tree of Woe and German Suplexes Jay onto him! ST-Joe scoes on Cole, and more hokey strong style stuff from Briscoe and Elgin. Elgin flips Cole over the top rope, where he DDTS JAY ON THE APRON! Elgin gets 2 on a Black Hole Slam to the champ. Jay pulls Elgin off the top rope in an Electric Chair, but Elgin gets out...until he finds himself the recipient of a reverse STO into the second turnbuckle from Jay. Elgin puts a Boston Crab on Cole, and A CAMEL CLUTCH ON JAY SIMULTANEOUSLY! Jay eats an enzuigiri from Cole and a German from Elgin, who runs into a Shining Wizard for 2. Cole falls victim to a double suplex. Cole takes a Hellevator for a nearfall. Elgin hits a nice Fuckin' Machine superplex, but EATS A SPLASH STRAIGHT AFTER! That only gets 2. Knee Brainbuster scores on Jay for Cole, followed by the Figure Four. ELGIN COMES DOWN WITH A CORKSCREW SENTON! JAY COUNTERS PANAMA SUNRISE INTO A BACKDROP...WHICH ELGIN CATCHES INTO A BUCKLE BOMB! Cole escapes the Elgin Bomb, and JAY EATS A RAINMAKER ELBOW! ROARING LARIAT ON COLE! Elgin gets the Timekeeper's table ready for something, as Cole stands around helplessly. Jay comes out, and THEY DOUBLE CHOKESLAM COLE THROUGH THE TABLE! Now it's Jay and Elgin with no interruptions. Elgin hits an ST-Joe on Jay, but misses the corkscrew senton. Rude Awakening scores for Jay, but only a nearfall. Jay eats a Bicycle Kick and a sweet deadlift German Suplex for a two count. Elgin brings Jay out to the apron and tells Kevin and Steve to clear the table, so ELGIN CAN DRIVE JAY THROUGH IT! Adam Cole comes in and tells Todd Sinclair to count them out! For some reason, Sinclair tells them to stop...so MATT HARDY CAN COME OUT AND GIVE A TWIST OF FATE TO JAY! Elgin shitcans him, but RUNS INTO A SUPERKICK FROM COLE! TWIST OF FATE FROM COLE! REAR NAKED CHOKE! "Choke him into unconsciousness," says Hardy. Mark Briscoe fights Hardy off! JAY COUNTERS PANAMA SUNRISE INTO A POWERBOMB OUT TO EVERYBODY ON THE FLOOR! SOMERSAULT PLANCHA FROM MICHAEL ELGIN! JAY DRILLER ON ELGIN!~! ELGIN KICKS OUT! A SECOND JAY DRILLER! ELGIN KICKS OUT AGAIN! COLE ROLLS ELGIN UP FOR THE WIN! Adam Cole steals it in 34 minutes. ****The first 10 minutes or so, I was ready to call this the third straight Final Battle disappointment. I was yawning and ready to save the match for a day when my lazy ass felt like tolerating it, but boy, am I glad I waited it out. Unfortunately it tops out at four stars due to that, but I still loved the last half of this match. I could get angry about the finish, but it makes sense, so why waste time slagging on it? It wasn't the best match of the year, but it didn't leave me bored like a lot of the Ladder War did last year. I'd call this a success, considering the stories it furthers and what happens to come afterwards...
Matt Hardy takes everybody out with the belt after the match. Elgin nearly gets out of it, but eats a Twist of Fate. CHRIS IS AWESOME HITS!~!~! HERE COMES CHRIS HERO!~! ROARING ELBOW ON HARDY! MAFIA KICK ON COLE! ROARING ELBOW WITH THE LOADED ELBOW PAD! Damn, it's great to hear Viro the Virus in Ring of Honor again. "It wouldn't be Final Battle without Chris muthafuckin' Hero!" says That Young Knockout Kid. "Chris Hero's back!" We fade out on that note, and suddenly, 2014 gets a lot more interesting.
The 411: This was a show of two halves, basically. The first half was solid but unspectacular until we hit the excellent one-two punch of the AR/Bucks and Bennett/Steen matches. The next half--even if it did start off horribly with the tag title match--was so much better for pure quality, with Tommaso Ciampa's sensational performance, the awesome Eddie Edwards farewell match, and the great main event all coming in succession. Now that second half notwithstanding, this didn't feel like a Final Battle. Even though it was a pretty subpar show, Final Battle 2011 felt pretty big all things considered. 2012's edition not-so-much, but as a standalone wrestling show, 2012 and 2013 are pretty similar in quality. I doubt you'll come away regretting the purchase--which is why I'm recommending it--but don't expect "biggest show of the year."