By Jason Powell
Ring of Honor Final Battle 2016
Aired live on pay-per-view
New York, New York at Hammerstein Ballroom
The show opened with a pre-taped Adam Cole segment. Cole sat on a red chair surrounded by various objects including his ROH Title. He said it was story time and told a story about two knights. From Cole’s perspective, he was the good knight, while Kyle O’Reilly was the stupid, ugly night… The broadcast team of Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino introduced the show from a spot away from ringside in what Kelly said was a sold out Hammerstein Ballroom. They ran through some of the Final Battle matches…
1. Alex Shelley, Chris Sabin, and Donovan Dijak vs. Caprice Coleman, Kenny King, and Rhett Titus. There was a loud Motor City chant before the bell. King performed a nice corkscrew dive onto Sabin at ringside. The heel trio isolated Sabin. Dijak took a hot tag around 8:20 and worked over the heels. He took out all three heels with a springboard flip onto them on the floor, which drew “holy shit” chants around 10:00.
The first “this is awesome” chant of the evening occurred at 11:00. Dijak went for a moonsault off the apron, but Titus dodged it and superkicked him. In the ring, Coleman broke up a MCMG double team move. King rolled up Sabin and put his foot on the ropes for leverage, but Sabin kicked out. In the end, Titus performed a frogsplash on Sabin, and King prevented Dijak from breaking up the pin. After the match, Dijack helped a limping Shelley to the back…
Caprice Coleman, Kenny King, and Rhett Titus beat Alex Shelley, Chris Sabin, and Donovan Dijak in 12:20.
Powell’s POV: For those who are not keeping up on the television show, the heels ditched the Cabinet gimmick and even blamed Ring of Honor management for saddling them with it. I’m not a fan of acknowledging that anyone is playing a character, yet I’m happy that they abandoned that silliness. It’s also good to see that Dijak has escaped the oddball pairing with Prince Nana, and the crowd was receptive to him and chanted his name at one point. The crowd was hot for the match even though the heels going over deflated them a bit. The atmosphere is great and this should be a hot show.
Highlights aired of Silas Young cutting a promo on a plant fan who was dressed as Jushin Liger…
2. Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Silas Young (w/Beer City Bruiser). Liger offered a handshake, but Young attacked him and referee Todd Sinclair rewarded his behavior by calling for the bell to start the match. Okay, it wasn’t portrayed that way, but that’s how it played out. Liger came back with a summersault off the apron and onto Young on the floor within the opening minute. The broadcast team raved about 52 year-old Liger’s longevity.
Liger put Young in the surfboard. Young grabbed the referee and managed to break the hold. Young threw several punches at Liger and then tried to remove his mask. “I hear that ugly people wear masks,” Corino said. “Allegedly. I don’t know many masked people.” Silas kicked Liger to ringside where Bruiser backed him into the guardrail while Silas distracted the referee. The fans went into ECW mode by chanting “you fat f—” at Bruiser.
Liger came back and performed a huracanrana into a pin for a two count at 7:50. Young came back, took a swig of Bruiser’s beer, and then spat it on Liger. “Me and my friends call that a Lex Luger,” Corino said. Liger came back with a brainbuster. Liger went up top, but Young cut him off. Silas went for a superplex, but Liger fought him off and knocked hm of the ropes. Bruiser tried to interfere, but Liger chopped him away. Liger went for a top rope splash, only to have Young put his knees up. Young performed Misery and scored the clean pin…
Silas Young defeated Jushin Liger in 11:00.
Powell’s POV: Liger is a freak of nature. Sure, he can’t do everything he once could or go at the same pace, but he still performs moves that a 52 year-old guy just shouldn’t be able to do after years of working the style that he did. This won’t be the best match of the night, but the man is 52! Here’s hoping this win means ROH is serious about doing more with Young. He’s been featured in some higher profile matches lately and even though he lost to Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly, I’m hopeful that they have plans for him.
A video package recapped Colt Cabana turning on Dalton Castle, with new comments from Castle, who questioned whether this was Cabana’s plan all along. “I would never put my hands on another man’s boys,” Castle said…
3. Colt Cabana vs. Dalton Castle (w/The Boys). Castle had his real Boys and then additional Boys for his entrance, which included him being led onto the stage on a chariot. It’s a shame they have stairs off the stage rather than a ramp. Colt offered his hand and teased kicking Castle, who then took him down to start the match.
The crowd was pro-Castle and chanted “fan up” multiple times. Castle teased a dive. Cabana rolled boy Boys inside the ring. Castle ran over the Boys backs to get to the ropes and then threw a missile dropkick. The Boys returned to ringside.
Corino said he’s fought against and teamed with Cabana. He said Cabana is very opinionated and has always had a temper. Corino said Cabana returned to ROH with a chip on his shoulder. He said he and Kelly tried repeatedly to get Cabana to return, but he kept saying no. At 6:40, Cabana applied Billy Goat’s Curse. Corino said Castle tapped out. The match continued, so apparently he just broke the hold. The fans chanted “Peacock City.”
Cabana went for a Lionsault. Castle avoided and then performed a German suplex into a bridge for a two count at 8:20. A minute later, they fought for position on the ropes. They went into the ring and Castle set up for his finisher, but Cabana avoided it. Castle ended up hitting the Bangarang a short time later and scored the clean pin…
Dalton Castle beat Colt Cabana in 9:50.
Powell’s POV: This was disappointing and I don’t blame the wrestlers. The Cabana turn was well done, but there was no followup on the go-home show. I was hoping we would hear some Cabana mic work prior to this match. It would have been really fun to hear him heel on the crowd. Instead, he turned on Castle and already lost to him, yet we still don’t even know why he turned on Castle. It feels like ROH started their pay-per-view hype late and ran out of time. This would have been so much better if the Cabana turn had a chance to develop.
Jay Lethal spoke about his match with Cody Rhodes and said they were both trying to prove that they are the best wrestler in the world. Lethal said he proves it whenever he steps into the ring…
A pervert camera shot started at the feet of Brandi Rhodes and moved up. She started to introduce Cody Rhodes, but her mic wasn’t on for the first sentence or two. She introduced him as Cody, and the graphic listed him as Cody. He received the streamer treatment and got a loud “Cody” chant from the crowd. Jay Lethal made his entrance as Kelly labeled him the best first generation wrestler in history.
Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian made their entrance dressed in street clothes. Kazarian said it’s the biggest show of the year and questioned whether the fans really thought they wouldn’t make their presence felt. The fans chanted “Shut the f— up.” Daniels spoke about how he was inspired by Dusty Rhodes. Daniels spoke about how Cody could defeat arguably the best champion in ROH history and he could do so in front of the guest color commentators. He told them to tear it up like he knows they can…
4. Cody Rhodes vs. Jay Lethal. Daniels was polite as he asked the broadcast team to make room for him and Kazarian. Cody and Lehtal shook hands before the bell and the crowd applauded. Cody held up Lethal for a suplex and then dropped him face first. Later, Lethal hit a pair of suicide dives. He wanted a third, but Cody recovered an caught him with a springboard kick that knocked him off the apron. Cody followed up by a run up the ropes and then dropped onto Lethal on the floor at 7:40.
At 8:20, Cody caught Lethal with a Beautiful Disaster kick. Lethal came back with a Lethal Combination at 9:15. Cody came back with an Indian death lock. Daniels said he’d never seen Cody use the move before. Lethal reached the ropes to break it. Cody went to the ropes and went for a moonsault that Lethal avoided. Lethal went up top, but Cody got back to his feet. Lethal leapt over Cody and caught him with a cutter.
Lethal went up top and performed a top rope elbow, but Cody was ready for him and countered into a pin for a two count. Lethal and the referee bumped heads. Cody looked at the referee, who was down, and then caught Lethal with an intentional low blow. Cody smiled and then hit CrossRhodes and pinned him.
Cody Rhodes defeated Jay Lethal in 14:00.
After the match, Cody held out his hand, smiled, and then gave Lethal a double bird. Daniels and Kazarian headed to the ring and Cody went to ringside. The fans chanted “f— you Cody.” Rhodes shoved the referee at ringside and threw a fan’s drink at him. The fans chanted “Cody” as he made his way up the aisle. Kelly said it was absolutely shameful. Corino rejoined Kelly on commentary. Rhodes walked over and shoved Corino. Rhodes went backstage, then Coorino joined Daniels, Kazarian, and ROH’s former owner on the stage…
Powell’s POV: A good match with an unexpected turn for Cody. Kelly did a good job of acting outraged by Cody’s low blow. The fans didn’t see it coming and it was hilarious to hear them chanting “f— you” one moment and then chanting Cody’s name moments later. Cody has been playing the ultimate nice guy in his independent appearances, so I didn’t see this coming. He could be a great heel in ROH if he’s sticking around. By the way, WWE comes off poorly for not letting Cody use the Rhodes name.
A video package recapped how the finalists in the the six-man tag team tournament made it to the championship match…
5. Matt Taven, Vinny Marseglia, and TK O’Ryan vs. Lio Rush, Jay White, and Kushida for the ROH Six-Man Tag Titles. The referee held up three new title belts prior to the match. Rush caught Marseglia with a couple of quick moves for a two count in the opening seconds. The referee held up three new title belts prior to the match. Corino said it all makes sense now. He explained that “The Father” (Kevin Sullivan) said evil was coming, and he was referring to Cody.
White had a big flurry and worked over all three heels aroun 7:30. His partners joined in and they all worked over Marseglia in a corner of the ring. White performed a missile dropkick on Marseglia and covered him for two. A short time later, the wrestlers hit a series of rapid fire spots. The crowd popped for the moves, then sat silently when all six men were down. Rush caught Taven with a nice kicka nd followed up with a suicide dive. Various wrestlers performed dives at ringside. Kushida went up top and dove onto a group of wrestlers. Fans chanted ROH briefly.
There was an awkward spot at 12:40 when Rush performed a move on O’Ryan. Taven told opponent Rush to pin O’Ryan, which set up Marseglia intentionally diving onto the referee to take him out. Taven hit Rush with a stick from the floor, then the Kingdom hit their finisher on Rush and Raven pinned him…
Matt Taven, Vinny Marseglia, and TK O’Ryan defeated Lio Rush, Jay White, and Kushida to become the first ROH Six-Man Tag Team Champions.
Powell’s POV: The best match of the tournament. That’s not saying much, but this was a spot-fest six-man tag match. The new Kingdom winning the title wasn’t a big surprise given that Kushida won’t be a regular. Sure, they could have had the babyfaces go over and then had them drop the titles at Sunday’s television taping, but it would have been silly to have new titles change hands so quickly. Speaking of quick title changes, the TV Title match is up next.
Kelly narrated footage of Will Ospreay defeating Bobby Fish to win the ROH TV Title, and then footage aired of Marty Scurll defeating Ospreay to win the title two nights later…
6. Marty Scurll vs. Will Ospreay vs. Dragon Lee for the ROH TV Title. Bobby Cruise delivered the in-ring introductions for the title match. Bobby Fish was originally advertised for the match, but it was a three-way instead. The broadcast team said it was a very personal situation. Corino indicated that there was a death in the family and they both wished Fish their best. There was a “We Want Bobby” chant to start the match.
Lee performed an early dive over the top rope onto both opponents. Later, Lee was knocked down at ringside, leaving Scurll and Ospreay to face off. Ospreay got the better of it and was setting up Scurll for a move off the ropes, but Lee recovered and broke it up. Later, Scurll caught Lee with a kick from the apron, then Ospreay kicked Scurll’s legs out from under him on the apron. Ospreay performed a great dive onto Lee on the floor, which popped the crowd and drew “holy shit” chants.
Later, Scurll caught Ospreay and was going for his chicken wing finisher, but Lee came off the top to break it up with a double stomp. The fans chanted “this is awesome.” Later, Scurll twisted the fingers of Lee and snapped them, then acted disgusted by what he did. Lee countered out of Scurll’s attempt to apply his finisher. Ospreay performed a nice spinning kick on Lee, then followed up with a great springboard stunner. Scurll dumped Ospreay to ringside and then applied the chicken wing on Lee and got the win…
Marty Scurll defeated Will Ospreay and Dragon Lee to retain the ROH TV Title.
Powell’s POV: First off, my condolences to Fish. As for the match, it was easily the best of the night thus far. The crowd was really hot as the match went on and many were standing for several minutes. Scurll and Ospreay made a great first impression for fans who were not familiar with them, and Lee continues to impress.
A Briscoes promo was shown…
7. The Young Bucks vs. Jay and Mark Briscoe for the ROH Tag Titles. The fans chanted “Man Up” and “Too Sweet” following the introductions. Kelly noted that there has been a lot of conversation about the futures of the Young Bucks as of late. The match was fast paced from the start with the fans continuing to be passionately split or just cheering for both teams and big spots. The Bucks had the first prolonged stretch of offense. Matt and Nick Jackson simultaneously powerbombed the Briscoes onto the ring apron. They struck the Terminator pose and ran the ropes, but the Briscoes cut them off with clotheslines at 4:15.
Later, Jay, who has quite the new hairstyle, spun one Bucks superkick into the other Buck. The Briscoes performed superkicks. The Bucks came back only to be knocked down by a clothesline. For some reason, the teams went to their corners and made tags, as if anyone else remembered who the legal men were. At 10:00, Nick kicked Mark off the shoulder of Matt for a Doomsday Device on the floor. The Bucks got a near fall on Jay back inside the ring.
At 11:15, the Briscoes set up for a Doomsday Device on Matt, but Nick crotched Mark. The Bucks set up for the Meltzer Driver, but Mark recovered and caught Nick with a cutter off the ropes. Jay hit Matt with the Jay Driller, then Mark hit Froggy Bow. Jay covered Matt, who kicked out. A short time later, Matt took a springboard Doomsday Device and kicked out again.
At 14:00, the Bucks hit Mark with the Meltzer Driver, but Jay broke it up. The Bucks hit several superkicks on the kneeling Briscoes, who spat at them and told them f— you. The Bucks hit rapid fire superkicks on both Briscoes and then covered them for the win…
The Young Bucks beat The Briscoes in 15:30 to retain the ROH Tag Titles.
After the match, the lights went out and the crowd gasped. Broken Matt Hardy appeared on the big screen. The audio wasn’t on initially, but it came on quickly and said that he and Brother Nero have been mandated to become the greatest tag team in all of time and space. He said they were going to make the rednecks and the spot monkeys obsolete. He said once he and Brother Nero come to the Honorable Ring they will delete, delete, delete. The crowd chanted delete along with Matt, then chanted “holy shit” while the Bucks sold it with a look of a surprise…
Powell’s POV: A hell of a spot fest match followed by a huge shocker. You have to wonder if this means the Bucks will actually appear in the Apocalypto match on Impact or if this is simply a case of Matt and Jeff being free to work in ROH. Either way, it was an unexpected and really cool surprise.
A video package set up the main event… Ring entrances for the ROH Title match took place with challenger Kyle O’Reilly out first, then champion Adam Cole out next. Bobby Cruise delivered the in-ring introductions for the main event…
8. Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly in a No DQ match for the ROH Title. Matchmaker Nigel McGuinness was on commentary. The wrestlers traded punches to start the match. O’Reilly took Cole down and threw more punches and then applied the armbar. Cole stood up and stomped himself free. O’Reilly got up and his left eye was swollen. Cole caught O’Reilly with a kick to knock him off the apron. Cole played to the crowd and O’Reilly pulled him down to ringside and ran him into the guardrail.
O’Reilly controlled the next couple minutes, but Cole pushed him off the top rope and down to the floor. The broadcast team played up that O’Reilly landed on his bad shoulder. Cole laid on the mat in front of O’Reilly and told him he’s not in his league. O’Reilly spat at him. O’Reilly blocked a kick and then caught him with a great elbow. A short time later, O’Reilly leapt off the apron and into a belt shot from Cole. O’Reilly ducked his head under the ring and bladed, as his forehead was bloody when Cole pulled him out.
Cole performed a an overhead suplex. O’Reilly got up and struck a fighter’s pose, then tumbled backward through the ropes and down to the floor. The broadcast team played up the possibility that the referee may want to stop the match. Cole grabbed a trashcan and put it over the head of O’Reilly before superkicking it. Cole grabbed a chair and slammed it over the back of O’Reilly, who fired up. Cole jabbed him with the chair and slammed it over his back again. O’Reilly no sold it and hit a series of strikes at 10:15. O’Reilly dropped Cole onto a chair that was set up in the ring and applied a kneebar, but Cole kicked himself free.
O’Reilly applied the Cross Arm Breaker, but Cole managed to get under the ropes and down to the floor. Nigel said he wouldn’t be surprised if O’Reilly had suffered a concussion. Um, shouldn’t he stop the match? Anyway, O’Reilly had Cole seated on a chair on the floor with a trashcan in his lap. O’Reilly leapt off the apron and dropkicked the can into Cole. O’Reilly pulled out a table and set it up in the ring while a brief ECW chant played out.
Cole caught O’Reilly on the ropes. However, O’Reilly regrouped and performed a suplex from the ropes that drove both men through the table. Cole low blowed O’Reilly, then went for a piledriver. Cole returned the favor by low blowing Cole. O’Reilly applied a choke on the apron, then Cole fell off the apron and they crashed through another table on the floor at 15:00.
O’Reilly reached under the ring and pulled out a chain. Cole also bladed and was bloodier than O’Reilly, who tied the chain to the ropes, then pulled it free while one guy yelled “you f—ed up.” Sigh. Cole low blowed O’Reilly and hit the Last Shot for a two count. Cole went ot ringside and brought a back of tacks, which he spilled inside the ring. They fought near the tacks and O’Reilly applied a guillotine and then applied a triangle. Cole powered up O’Reilly and slammed him onto the tacks. O’Reilly regrouped and performed a brainbuster onto the tacks, then went for the Cross Arm Breaker. Cole blocked it by holding his arm, but O’Reilly kicked him until Cole gave up the arm and he had the move locked in. Cole tapped…
Kyle O’Reilly defeated Adam Cole in 18:50 to win the ROH Title.
Former ROH owner Cary Silkin entered the ring and presented the title to O’Reilly, who celebrated on the ropes and in mid-ring. Highlights of the match were shown.
Powell’s POV: A very good main event. After seeing so many spot fests, it was nice to get a change of pace for the final match. These two didn’t need the hardcore elements, but it was logical given the stage they are at in this blood feud. O’Reilly winning the match didn’t get the huge ovation that I expected in the moment, but the fans did cheer once he was handed the title and celebrated. Overall, ROH’s best pay-per-view to date and they did it without much help from New Japan Pro Wrestling. Here’s hoping they can carry this over to television. ROH has a hell of a roster and they deliver good pay-per-view events, but the television product still has plenty of room for improvement. Speaking of the roster, does O’Reilly winning the strap mean he is sticking around even though his contract is up at the end of the month? It’s that time of year when we wonder what several finishes mean in regard to the status of multiple wrestlers with the company. I will have more to say in the member exclusive ROH Final Battle audio review later tonight.