By Haydn Gleed
Join Jason Powell for live coverage of ROH Final Battle as the show airs on pay-per-view television and the FITE TV app tonight at 8CT/9ET.
I’ve had some pushback from a number of people about my declaration that Ring Of Honor’s Final Battle PPV has been one of their best built events in history. I can see the argument that has been put forth to me which is simply that Ring Of Honor is about the quality of the matches not the storylines. In the past that has been very true, but let’s take a look at the lay of the land in 2017. ROH is no longer the company that have the fresh up and coming undiscovered independent superstars. They don’t have a class full of the next Bryan Danielson, CM Punk, Samoe Joe, Adam Cole, etc, Those types of young talents are being hoovered up by WWE via NXT. Instead, ROH is a company with talented veterans, talent who want to remain independent, and to some degree talent who have been fairly or unfairly cast aside or overlooked.
With that point being made, it’s important to make the most of the talent that they do have access too. My argument for Final Battle is you have the matches that are what put Ring Of Honor on the map in terms of pure athletic exhibitions such as the six man tag titles match involving the Young Bucks or the exhibition between Will Ospreay and Matt Taven. But you have also have Cody Rhodes, who doesn’t typically put on five star matches or has an offense that makes you stand up and take notice, yet instead thrives on being a character either as someone you love to cheer or love to hate. You have the veterans in Bully Ray and Tommy Dreamer whose physical peak is behind them but can use the cache that they’ve built over the years to get the fans emotionally charged and invested in their match with the Briscoes.
I could go on but you get my point and besides you came here for a preview and predictions piece not a lecture so let’s get into it:
Cody vs. Dalton Castle for the ROH World Championship: I’ve made no secret of how much I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the build to this match from the moment that Dalton and Cody had a verbal exchange several weeks ago. At the time, it felt like it had come out of left field somewhat, but over the weeks we have seen the small little clues that have been intentionally or unintentionally left over the last twelve months in anticipation for this match. I agree with the argument that some of the story feels like it was hidden from the fans who only see the television show in that there were significant developments happening on house shows or overseas, but at this point they have fleshed everything out and the TV viewers are now caught up as to why this is a big match.
In my ROH television show audio review, I described this as a story that just works in any era of wrestling in terms of the cocky, arrogant heel looking down at the popular upcoming babyface. Over the weeks, Cody has tried to weasel out of the match by the suggestion of getting Dalton a foot in the door for NXT and also taking cheap shots when he’s had the opportunity, but Dalton has kept coming and positioned himself as not only a man of the fans but a man of Ring Of Honor.
So with that in mind, I stand by my original prediction that I made on members audio with Jason Powell on the Ring Of Honor roster evaluation in terms of Dalton winning the title and celebrating with the crowd being the last moments of ROH’s biggest show of the year.
Dalton Castle wins the ROH Championship.
Jay Briscoe and Mark Briscoe vs. Bully Ray and Tommy Dreamer in a New York Street Fight: I’ve truly ran out of words to describe how magnificent the build for this match has been in the last two months. It took us a while to get to the full on heel turn for the Briscoes, but when they did, man, it’s been storytelling at it’s best. From the retirement speeches of Bully Ray that played on the heartstrings of the fans (one retirement speech would have been enough but I digress) to The Briscoe’s invading his training school and getting physical with his trainees, there has been a sense of realism that viewers were able to immerse themselves in, which is rare in 2017. There is, of course, no feeling of legit hate between the four guys as far as I’m aware, but watching the feud makes you believe that they want to rip each other apart. They got the fans to the point that they didn’t just want to see this match, they have been begging for it.
Can the match live up to the build? It’s difficult because with all due respect to Bully Ray and Dreamer they are not in their prime and Mark Briscoe is hampered by his dislocated elbow. However, the fact that it’s essentially an old school ECW hardcore match means they will be able to take all the shortcuts in the world if needed. I expect this match to be violent, I expect there to be blood and ultimately, I see the Briscoes to come out on top and cement themselves as the team to fear in ROH going into 2018.
The Briscoes wint.
Kenny King vs. Punishment Martinez vs. Shane Taylor vs. Silas Young for the ROH TV Title: Kenny King is still one of the most underrated and underutilized wrestlers on the independent scene. I think he’s great in the ring and is confident behind the mic and I feel he is someone that if you are flipping the channels you stop and take notice. That being said, he hasn’t been a great TV champion thus far and I put that down to ROH not really giving him a character. As far as television viewers know, he’s someone who was on that The Bachelorette reality series (never saw it) and he has a daughter. That’s literally all we know and it’s a shame.
Added to this, I’m not exactly wowed by his three opponents in this match in terms of this being a good match on paper. Shane Taylor works well for a big man and certainly brings a sense of menace to this match but I don’t think he’s been defined in the correct way, Silas Young is always a solid and reliable worker, but Punishment Martinez feels to me like he’s taken a step back from his breakout year in ROH last year. Don’t get me wrong, I think it will be a decent match, and I can see Martinez and Taylor taking each other out, leaving King to beat Young and retain the championship. Moving forward I want ROH to tap more into the raw potential of King and hopefully we will see him in a better light this time next year.
Prediction: Kenny King to retain the ROH TV Title
Jay Lethal vs. Marty Scurll: Another match that I’m looking forward to on a number of levels. The obvious statement is both men are hugely talented in the ring and with the opportunity to go out there and throw caution to the wind I can see this being a great match from an in-ring point of view.
I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed the build to this match from the moment that they had a verbal exchange mid-ring with Marty telling Lethal that he’s not as good as he used to be when he was a bad guy. Jason Powell brought up an interesting point in terms of why would Marty tell his opponent of his weaknesses before facing him, and at the time I agreed it didn’t make sense, but in the last couple of weeks they’ve shown it’s a case of now Marty is in Lethal’s head and Jay is second guessing his actions and leaving himself exposed. This will obviously play into the match and from a psychological standpoint both of these guys are good enough to tell that story well.
As for the result of this match, I can see a moment where Lethal “breaks” and tries to cheat but Marty ultimately comes out on top. From there I can see Lethal having a change of attitude moving forward as a result of this loss.
Marty Scurll wins.
“The Addiction” Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian vs. “War Machine” Hanson and Raymond Rowe: This match has been given decent hype from the “fan” being injured during one of their brawls to the interference on a weekly basis that was costing both teams their matches. It’s been okay, but I would argue that at the level this match is positioned on the card okay is good enough. I wouldn’t complain if they had been involved in a barnburner of a storyline but because this match is only in the mid-card it feels that the storyline love that it’s been given is equal to that status.
As for the match itself, I would have preferred if this had been a “War Machine Rules” (aka Texas Tornado) match but that’s more of a personal preference. War Machine have a number of impressive spots which they bring out so frequently that they lose their luster after a while, and with a War Machine Rules match it makes their offense feel less formulaic. Kaz and Daniels are seasoned veterans with still a lot of talent so this will be on the good scale of match quality. With War Machine being essentially part time guys on the ROH roster, I would imagine they would give the win here to The Addiction.
The Addiction win.
Matt Taven vs. Will Ospreay: True definition of an old school ROH exhibition match. What I find most interesting about this match is how well Taven performs in this match. There is not many people better in the world than Ospreay at not only putting on a great athletic exhibition but also making his opponents look like a million bucks, so this is Matt’s opportunity to really shine and show how good he can be in the ring. I think he is certainly good enough, but I’m looking forward to seeing how good.
With Ospreay’s part time schedule in ROH it would seem foolish for him to win over a full time guy, but at the same time they need to keep him looking strong otherwise his infrequent appearances will mean less in terms of the fans having the attitude of, “he will do some impressive moves but will ultimately lose in the end” in the future. On the other hand, Taven is someone who can bounce back quite quickly from a loss with his weekly appearances on television.
Will Ospreay wins.
“The Motor City Machine Guns” Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin vs. “Best Friends” Beretta and Chuckie T for the ROH Tag Titles: Meh. This is the match that I’m looking forward to the least. The Machine Guns just don’t have personalities at the moment and although they can still go in the ring, there’s no question about that, I find myself zoning out anything that they do out as it’s so bland. They really need to turn heel and get the viewers and fans back into a position where they care about their matches and actions. Beretta and Chuckie T are a tremendous tag team and their styles will mesh well with the Machine Guns so the match quality is not going to be an issue, but I find myself not caring either way how the match plays out and that feels really sad for the ROH Tag Titles.
MCMG retain the ROH Tag Titles.
“The Hung Bucks” Adam Page, Matt Jackson, and Nick Jackson vs. Dragon Lee, Flip Gordon and Titán for the ROH Six-Man Tag Titles: The match that it seems most long time ROH fans are looking forward too the most and for good reason. This will be flip city with all six men willing to do crazy and innovative spots. I will say right now that I will be counting the number of superkicks and I’m predicting 22! But in all seriousness, this will be a showcase of tremendous athleticism’s and I’m certainly looking forward to it. The fact it’s for a title seems to have been forgotten and that seems due to the fact that the six man titles don’t mean anything, not because people don’t want to see this match.
After fifteen minutes of crazy action, I see the Hung Bucks coming out on top. For me this would be a great opportunity for the Bucks to give a huge rub to Flip Gordon by losing the match and then raising his arm in a genuine moment to show they have respect for him and thus making the guy, but I don’t see anything pointing towards that unfortunately.
The Hung Bucks retain the ROH Six-Man Tag Titles.
Agree or disagree? By all means let me know on twitter @haydngleed or via email firstname.lastname@example.org
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