By Jason Powell
Ring of Honor Final Battle 2017
Aired live on pay-per-view
New York, New York at Hammerstein Ballroom
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In dark matches held prior to the event, “The Dawgs” Rhett Titus and Will Ferrara beat Cheeseburger and Delirious in eight minutes, and Jonathan Gresham defeated Josh Woods in seven minutes. [Thanks to Dot Net Member Don Murphy]
The pay-per-view opened with a video package that focussed on ROH in the year 2017 and how it built the foundation for 2018… The broadcast team of Ian Riccaboni and Colt Cabana checked in and previewed the show…
1. Will Ospreay vs. Matt Taven (w/TK O’Ryan, Vinny Marseglia). Ospreay threw a big boot to the head to start the match, but Taven came right back. The Kingdom members provided an early distraction that allowed Taven to connect with a springboard kick off the ropes. Ospreay came back and performed a nice standing shooting star press for a near fall. Ospreay connected with a nice kick to the head at 7:50 and followed up with an elbow to the back of the head for a two count.
At 9:30, Ospreay performed a shooting star press off the top rope and onto O’Ryan and Marseglia at ringside. Taven took advantage of it briefly, but Ospreay lifted his legs when Taven went for a frogsplash. Taven ended up hitting the Climax finisher and scored the clean pin…
Matt Taven pinned Will Ospreay in 10:45.
Powell’s POV: Ospreay makes some of his offense look so easy that the fans don’t react to it the way they would for other wrestlers. For example, the standing moonsault was so effortless and it felt like the crowd saw it that way. The guy is a gifted athlete. Meanwhile, Taven is good in the ring, but his persona with the “Melvin” schtick is a turnoff and not in a good heel way. ROH really needs to pull the plug on the crowd killing piano music that the Kingdom use for their entrance. All of that said, this was a good opening match. Taven going over is logical since he’s the ROH regular.
A video package recapped the War Machine vs. The Addiction feud…
2. “War Machine” Hanson and Raymond Rowe vs. “The Addiction” Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian. The teams brawled to start the match. Cabana said the lawsuit filed by the “fan” hurt during the odd build to this match was dropped. The heel duo isolated Rowe early on. The broadcast team assumed that the winner of the match would end up getting an ROH Tag Title shot.
Hanson tagged in and stacked the Addiction members on the top rope and then hit Daniels (top man) with ten shots to the chest. Rowe checked in and War Machine hit a clothesline into a German suplex combo on Daniels for a two count. Daniels rolled up Rowe and held the tights so referee Mike Posey stopped the count.
Daniels covered Rowe seconds later and used the ropes for leverage, so the ref stopped the count again. “You’re dead,” Hanson told Daniels. War Machine eventually came back and hit a double team move that resulted in Daniels taking a legdrop from the top rope and being pinned…
War Machine beat The Addiction.
Powell’s POV: A rare War Machine match in ROH that didn’t end up being fought under War Machine rules (Texas tornado style). The match didn’t have great storyline support going in and the outcome seemed predictable, but the match was fine for what it was.
A video package set up the Marty Scurll vs. Jay Lethal match…
3. Marty Scurll vs. Jay Lethal. Scurll offered a handshake before the match and Lethal accepted. The crowd was fairly split with dueling chants for the wrestlers early. At 11:25, Lethal delivered a nice Cutter off the ring apron to the floor. Back inside the ring, referee Todd Sinclair was bumped in the corner. Scurll went to ringside and grabbed a chair. Scurll tossed the chair to Lethal and dropped on his back.
Lethal put the chair around his neck and laid on the mat too. When Sinclair turned around, he questioned Scurll. Funny. Scurll avoided Lethal Injection and clotheslined Scurll before hitting him with a brainbuster on his knee for a two count.
At 14:45, Scurll went to ringside and pulled out a white umbrella, which Lethal ended up with. Sinclair took the umbrella from Lethal, then Scurll used his usual Bullet Club umbrella as a weapon and ended up getting a two count. Lethal swung the white umbrella at Scurll, who avoided it. While the referee cleared the umbrella from the ring, Lethal delivered a low blow kick and followed up with a Lethal Injection for the win. Cabana said Lethal didn’t look too pleased with the victory because of how he got it…
Jay Lethal pinned Marty Scurll in 15:55.
Powell’s POV: A good match with some genuine mystery regarding the outcome or at least there was in my mind. I thought Scurll would go over when Lethal refused to play dirty, so Lethal actually going down that road and not being happy with himself is interesting. Here’s hoping that 2018 is a better year for Scurll in the storylines. I’m sure he has no complaints with that sweet, sweet Bullet Club merch money coming in, but he’s been rather directionless since dropping the ROH TV Title.
The Motor City Machine Guns were featured in a backstage promo. It started without audio for a few seconds. They cut to a promo from The Best Friends, who goofed around about delivering an intense promo. They showed several edits…
4. “Motor City Machine Guns” Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin vs. “Best Friends” Chuckie T and Beretta for the ROH Tag Titles. Ring announcer Bobby Cruise delivered the in-ring introductions for the title match. Paul Turner was the referee. Shelley heeled it up by standing between the Best Friends to get them to back off from working over Sabin, then he poked them in the eyes and swiveled his hips.
Cabana said the fans appreciated the Guns for their in-ring skills, but no one ever said they were great guys. He said the tide has turned against them a bit and it doesn’t seem to bother them. The Guns spoofed the Best Friends by hugging each other at one point. Late in the match, Taylor performed a piledriver on Sabin, who shot right up and somehow pinned Beretta…
The Motor City Machine Guns beat Best Friends in 10:25 to retain the ROH Tag Titles.
Powell’s POV: Good action with a strange finish. Cabana praised Sabin for being a veteran and knowing where he was at despite taking the piledriver. I give Cabana credit for trying to make sense of it, but it was just an odd finish. It was nice to hear Chuck Taylor talk for once in ROH, but it’s too bad it was in a spoof promo. I’m sure that appealed to fans who are familiar with the duo from the independent scene, but as someone who watches ROH television every week I still have no idea what they are about. Meanwhile, it seems like the Guns had a WWE style heel turn in that there really wasn’t a turn, they just became heels.
A video package set up the ROH TV Title match…
5. Kenny King vs. Punishment Martinez vs. Silas Young (w/Beer City Bruiser) vs. Shane Taylor in a four-way elimination match for the ROH TV Title. Martinez had a special entrance with an upright coffin and a bunch of vampire looking extras on the stage. They came to the ring with him and the female vampires bowed for him while the three male vampires struck a pose and looked into the camera. A couple of women came out and threw rose petals for King’s entrance.
Martinez performed a springboard flip dive onto all three opponents at 4:45. At 6:30, all four wrestlers ended up in the ring and took turns throwing punches. King performed a nice Blockbuster on Martinez. At 8:00, Taylor hit a Death Valley Driver on Martinez into the corner and followed up with a second rope splash for a two count. Martinez performed a springboard dive onto Taylor and pinned him to eliminate him from the match at 9:20.
Powell’s POV: So much for my hope that the story would be that Silas paid off gun for hire Taylor to help him win the match.
At 13:05, Silas struck King with one of the beer bottles that Bruiser brought to the ring and pinned him. The match came down to Young and Martinez. At 14:25, Martinez had Young pinned, but Bruiser pulled him to ringside. Martinez dove over the top rope took out Bruiser on the floor. Martinez sold rib pin after the dive.
Young barked at Martinez to get up and fight him like a man. Martinez hoisted him up for a powerbomb, but he dropped him to sell rib pain. Young had Martinez against the barricade and hit him with several knees to the head. Back inside the ring, Young ran into a foot stomp from Martinez, but avoided a move in the corner and threw more knees. Martinez no-sold the knees briefly, but Young threw more to the ribs and then hit Misery before pinning him to win the match…
Silas Young beat Kenny King, Punishment Martinez, and Shane Taylor in 17:35 to win the ROH TV Title.
Powell’s POV: It’s cool to see Young win his first championship in ROH. It was also good to hear Cabana play up Young as Mr. Final Battle while acknowledging his undefeated record and wins over Mark Briscoe, Dalton Castle, and Jushin Liger in his past appearances. The crowd was quiet to start, but they got into it more as it went on. Check out an interview I conducted earlier this week with Young about this Final Battle record, his past heroin addiction, and much more at PWAudio.net.
A video package set up the NYC street fight…
6. Bully Ray and Tommy Dreamer vs. Jay Briscoe and Mark Briscoe in a New York City Street Fight. Bully and Dreamer made their entrance from the balcony where the each slammed a beer in Sandman style. Fans chanted ECW. Mark wore a black protective sleeve over his surgically repaired right arm. The babyface duo made their way to ringside and brawled with the Briscoes at ringside. Bully performed a big dive onto both opponents early on.
Bully and Dreamer won a battle of the teams swinging chairs. The Briscoes went to ringside and pulled kendo sticks out from underneath the ring. Bully and Dreamer went to ringside and pulled out light sabers. Yes, really. The fans had fun with it by chanting “holy shit” and then “use the force.” Dreamer pulled out a kitchen sink and struck Jay with it.
Bully led the crowd in a “get the tables” chant before he and Dreamer went to ringside and pulled one out. Mark dropkicked the chairs into them. Cabana said that was the same spot that caused Bully’s head trauma issues. Bully stayed down on the ground and when they showed him again he had bladed. Mark put a ladder over Dreamer and then performed a senton off the apron.
Bully backdropped Mark over the top rope and to the floor. Mark slid two chairs into the ring. Jay and Bully both picked one up. Jay swung his chair into Bully’s chair and knocked it into Bully’s head. Bully sold it like he was shot. Dreamer worked over Mark and ended up performing a Spicoli Driver off the apron and through a table at ringside.
In the ring, Bully worked over Jay with two kendo stick shots and a boot to the head. Bully set up a table and placed Jay on top of it. Bully went up top and splashed Jay through the table for a two count. Bully set up another table and poured lighter fluid on it. However, the Briscoes ended up performing 3D, but the table didn’t break. Mark went to the ropes and performed Froggy Bow, which gave the Briscoes the win…
The Briscoes defeated Bully Ray and Tommy Dreamer in roughly 14:00 in a NYC Street Fight.
Powell’s POV: A fun ECW throwback style match in front of a highly receptive crowd. The right team went over in that there wouldn’t have been any reason for the feud to continue had the babyface duo got the win and their revenge. It would have been nice if they had stuck with the post match scene as they simply cut away when it appeared Dreamer was showing concern for Bully. By the way, Mark Briscoe is a trooper for working this match despite suffering a dislocated elbow roughly two months ago. Hopefully he didn’t do any additional damage.
A video package recapped the top five moments in Final Battle history: 5. Bryan Danielson vs. Homicide, Jay Lethal vs. AJ Styles, Danielson vs. Takeshi Morishima, Kevin Steen vs. El Generico in a Ladder War, and Samoa Joe vs. Austin Aries…
Powell’s POV: It’s nice to see that politics didn’t lead to them selecting all Sinclair Broadcast Group era matches. The production work left a little to be desired as they simply identified the participants, but they didn’t include the year.
Ian Riccaboni stood on the stage while the Women of Honor graphic was on the screen behind him. Riccaboni introduced WOH wrestlers Brandi Rhodes, Deonna Purrazzo, Jenny Rose, Jesse Brooks, Kelly Klein, Mandy Leon, Stella Gray, Sumi Sakai, and Mayu Iwatani. Riccaboni announced that they will crown the first WOH Champion in 2018. He said they will begin competing for the title on January 20 in Nashville. The new WOH Title belt was shown…
Cabana applauded and said the crowd was excited by the announcement. Cabana set up a pre-taped promo from The Hung Bucks…
Powell’s POV: Dot Net Member Don Murphy is at the show and said the Women of Honor announcement came off flat in part because Bully Ray was still in the ring and left his boots there while the announcement was playing out. Ouch.
7. “The Hung Bucks” Matt Jackson, Nick Jackson, and Hangman Page vs. Dragon Lee, Titan, and Flip Gordon for the ROH Six-Man Tag Titles. Scorpio Sky joined the broadcast team for the match. Page performed his dropkick into one opponent while flipping into a moonsault and onto another opponent at 6:00. Moments later, Matt performed a running flip dive from the ramp onto his three opponents.
Gordon performed several Bucks superkick attempts. He performed a nice springboard forearm onto Page and then dove onto the Bucks at ringside. Nick eventually hit Gordon with a superkick. Later, Lee ducked a Nick superkick, which hit Matt instead. Lee got a nearfall and then tagged in Gordon, who crashed into Matt’s knees following a top rope move. Page and Matt teamed up for a shooting star indy taker on Lee.
With his partners down, Gordon had to face all three opponents on his own for a stretch. He fought them off for a bit before performing a springboard flip into multiple superkicks. Page held up Gordon and Lee and then the Bucks came off the ropes fo a combo super indy taker and Rite of Passage, which led to the pin…
The Hung Bucks defeated Dragon Lee, Titan, and Flip Gordon in 14:55 to retain the ROH Six-Man Tag Titles.
After the match, Scorpio Sky came to the ring. Daniels and Kazarian came out as well and they attacked people from both teams and held up the six-man tag title belts…
Powell’s POV: The spot fest style match that you knew it would be, but the crowd wasn’t as hot for this as expected. For that matter, we’ve seen crazier spot-fests from the Bucks and I’m still not convinced that anyone cares about the six-man tag titles. I’d like to see ROH get more out of Lee by putting him in singles matches when he appears. Obviously, the post match attack sets up The Addiction and Sky as challengers for the Hung Bucks. I’m cool with it in that it positions the Hung Bucks as the babyfaces when the fans cheer them either way.
A video package focussed on the main event… Dalton Castle made his entrance and had a collection of Boys including the two regulars. Cody made his entrance and his wife Brandi Rhodes accompanied him. Cody wore a hooded robe and pulled the top off to reveal his knew blonde hair…
8. Cody (w/Brandi Rhodes) vs. Dalton Castle (w/The Boys) for the ROH Title. Bobby Cruise delivered the in-ring introductions for the title match. The regular Boys were at ringside while the others used as part of the introduction were not. Todd Sinclair was the referee for the match. They fought to ringside and Castle went for a huracanrana from the apron, but Cody powerbombed him through the timekeepers table at 5:30.
Cody picked up a chair while the broadcast team questioned whether he was trying to get himself disqualified. The Boys took the chair away from Cody. Brandi went up top and performed a cross body block onto The Boys. Referee Sinclair ejected The Boys and Brandi. Cabana said he felt like Cody got the better end of the ejection deal.
Back inside the ring, Castle threw punches and then a clothesline at Cody before suplexing him. Cody went for a Beautiful Disaster kick, but Castle caught him and suplexed him. Cody set up to crotch Castle on the ring post moments later, but Castle pulled his legs in, causing Cody to hit the post at 8:40. Cody came up with a bloody forehead. Castle got him back inside the ring and threw punches at him and then yelled to get a rise out of the subdued crowd.
Castle missed with double knees in the corner. Castle got back on the apron only to eat a Beautiful Disaster kick at 10:10. Cody went to ringside and ended up taking a suplex from Castle, who then rolled Cody back inside the ring. Castle went for his finisher, but Cody avoided it. Cody went for his finisher, but Castle avoided it. They jockeyed for position and Cody accidentally struck the referee. REF BUMP!!!
Castle applied his submission hold. Cody tapped out, but the referee was out. Cody came back and performed CrossRhodes for a two count. The broadcast team said no one in ROH had kicked out of the move. Cody charged at Castle, who hit his Bangarang and scored the 1-2-3…
Dalton Castle beat Cody in 12:55 to win the ROH Title.
After the match, Cary Silkin presented Castle with a new ROH Title belt. Fans threw streamers while Castle held up the title belt. The Boys entered the ring and joined the celebration while confetti fell from above. Cody was shown sitting on the entrance steps looking dejected. The Boys made a human chair for Castle, who sat down and held up the title belt.
Powell’s POV: The crowd was quiet for the body of the match, but they popped big for the finish. It was a good match that could have used more time, but they appeared to be up against the clock as the show ended less than two minutes before the top of the hour. I’m not a big fan of the ref bump swerve. I know what they were going for in that they led fans to believe the visual submission win that Castle got was going to be followed by Cody winning, but I really wonder if the spot is worth it when they could have simply worked a straight forward match without the ref bump spot. Anyway, Final Battle was a quality event with a little something for everyone with spot-fests, the hardcore match, the straight forward approach of Lethal and Scurll, etc. It wasn’t a home run show, but it was entertaining and newsworthy with the two title changes. I will have more to say in my member exclusive audio review later tonight.