By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Ring of Honor Final Battle
Aired December 18, 2020 on pay-per-view, FITE TV, HonorClub
Baltimore, Maryland at UMBC Event Center
Final Battle First Hour Free Preview
The feed kicked in a couple minutes late. The broadcast team of Ian Riccaboni, Caprice Coleman, and Dalton Castle were talking at their perch…
1. LSG vs. Tony Deppen vs. Dak Draper vs. Josh Woods in a four-way for a same night shot at the ROH TV Title. The broadcast team noted that this was the first time Deppen left the house since his new baby was born. The wrestlers adhered to the Code of Honor, though Draper was aggressive with his handshakes and threw Deppen out of the ring.
Two wrestlers were allowed in the ring at once while the other two had to wait for tags. The match had a 20-minute time limit, though it was unclear what would happen to the ROH TV Title match if the match concluded in a time limit draw.
Draper worked over Deppen. LSG tagged in and was immediately tossed to ringside by Draper. The broadcast team indicated that Deppen became the legal man again once LSG was sent to ringside and his feet touched the floor. Draper superplexed Deppen and covered him, but Woods broke up the pin.
A short time later, Draper set up LSG for another superplex, but Woods snuck underneath him and turned it into a tower of doom spot. Woods and Draper finally squared off. Draper performed a Doctor Bomb for a two count. Woods avoided a submission hold and then kicked Draper to ringside. LSG immediately splashed Woods, who rolled out of the ring. Deppen returned and rolled LSG into a pin for the win…
Tony Deppen defeated LSG, Josh Woods, and Dax Draper in a four-way in 11:45 to earn an ROH TV Title shot later in the show.
Powell’s POV: I wasn’t expecting the rules format that they used, so I spent a decent portion of the match trying to figure out what was happening. The broadcast team was good about passing along the rules. Deppen impressed in the ROH Pure Title tournament and the match with Lee should be very good.
The broadcast team spoke at their desk and noted that ROH TV Champion Dragon Lee hasn’t competed since the pandemic started. They set up a video package on the ROH World Championship match…
Quinn McKay interviewed Tony Deppen backstage. Deppen said he already wrestled a match, so Dragon Lee has the advantage over him. Deppen spoke about winning the ROH TV Title for his wife and child…
A video package spotlighted the ROH Tag Title match…
McKay stood backstage and noted that MexiSquad was unable to defend the ROH Six-Man Tag Titles. She informed their would-be challengers Shane Taylor, Moses, and Kaun that ROH officials opted to name Taylor, Moses, and Kaun the new champions. Taylor objected, saying they didn’t want the titles that way…
Powell’s POV: For anyone who missed the news, Bandido, Flamita, EC3, and Kenny King were pulled from the show due to COVID-19 related precautions.
Riccaboni wished Bandido and Flamita well, then noted that Rey Horus was in the building. Castle took interest in Flamita not having a match, then left the broadcast table…
Brian Johnson was interviewed by McKay backstage about his match against Danhausen. Johnson recalled Adam Cole pouring thumb tacks into the mouth fo Jay Briscoe and kicking him, then said it was child play compared to what he would do to Danhausen… HonorClub ad and Final Battle ads aired…
Jay Briscoe was shown arriving at the building while the broadcast team spoke about his match against EC3 being called off…
A video package aired on the Mike Bennett and Matt Taven vs. Vincent and Bateman feud. The broadcast team indicated that the match would open the main card…
Backstage, McKay caught up with Jay Briscoe, who said he heard that EC3 was out licking doorhandles. Jay knocked on Mark Briscoe’s locker room door and told him that he’s free and could team with him. Mark told him that he missed the boat. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some tag team titles to win,” Mark said before going back in his locker room. Shane Taylor approached Jay and said if he was looking for a fight then he found one. Jay accepted the challenge…
Riccaboni and Coleman read through the rules of the Pure Rules tag team match. Breaking up pins and submissions also count as rope breaks. One use of a closed fists results in a warning, and the second time results in disqualification. Anyone who interferes in a Pure Rules match is fired… A video package set up the Pure Rules tag match and included another reading of the rules…
2. Tracy Williams and Rhett Titus vs. Wheeler Yuta and Fred Yehi in the first Pure Rules tag team match. The wrestlers adhered to the Code of Honor, including Williams and Yehi using the Catch Point handshake. Williams and Titus burned through their three rope breaks just over five minutes into the match. Yehi and Yuta used their second rope break a few seconds later.
Williams and Yehi had a spirited exchange around 7:30. Yehi caught Williams in the Koji Clutch. Titus ran in and teased breaking it with a kick, but he realized they had used their rope breaks. Williams was in the ropes with the hold still applied. Titus and Yuta fought at ringside. Titus threw Yuta onto Yehi and Willams to break the hold. Yehi performed a brainbuster and covered Williams for a two count.
Titus and Yuta tagged into the match around the 10:00 mark and traded near falls. Yuta and Yehi used quick tags. The referee made them tag again at one point because Yuta wasn’t holding the tag rope. Yuta performed a top rope splash on Titus for a near fall. Titus caught Yuta with a boot to the face and tagged in Williams, who hit Yuta with a clothesline for a two count.
A short time later, Williams performed a piledriver on Yuta and had him pinned, but Yehi broke it up to use his teams final rope break. Williams applied a crossface. Yuta rolled it into a pin for a two count, but Williams rolled him over and maintained the hold. Yuta grabbed the ropes, but he was out of rope breaks. Williams put his feet on the ropes for leverage and got the submission win. The teams shook hands afterward…
Tracy Williams and Rhett Titus defeated Wheeler Yuta and Fred Yehi in 13:50 a Pure Rules tag team match.
Powell’s POV: The Pure Rules worked nicely. The rules might be tough for casual viewers to follow if they opt to use the rules in all tag title matches as Jonathan Gresham teased on the go-home show. That said, ROH tends to appeal to more of a hardcore fan, so I guess it comes down to which type of fan the company intends to target.
ROH Final Battle Main Card
A brief video opened the show. Riccaboni and Coleman checked in and they went right to the introductions for the ROH Tag Title match. Bobby Cruise was the ring announcer…
Powell’s POV: I must have misunderstood the broadcast team earlier, as they are opening the main card with the ROH Tag Title match rather than the Bennett and Taven vs. The Righteous match. My apologies.
1. Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham vs. Mark Briscoe and PCO for the ROH Tag Titles. Before the match, Lethal said he wanted to see if Briscoe and PCO could wrestle since that’s the name of the game. The champions offered handshakes. PCO looked like the concept was foreign to him, but he and Briscoe adhered to the Code of Honor.
A couple minutes into the match, PCO tagged in. Lethal looked at his arm while the broadcast team recalled PCO breaking it. Lethal was going to tag out, but PCO told him to stay so that he could break his arm again. PCO took Lethal down and applied an armbar. Lethal tagged in Gresham. PCO laughed at Gresham and knocked him down with a chop while Riccaboni noted that Gresham had two title matches on the show.
A few minutes later, PCO performed his usual dive off the top rope onto the edge of the ring apron (after Gresham moved). Ouch. PCO hit Gresham with a low blow a short time later, then performed a power slam and had the pin, but Lethal broke it up. The challengers slammed the champions and then opted to go to opposite corners. Briscoe performed Froggy Bow, and PCO performed a moonsault.
Lethal and Gresham performed their Combination Cutter on PCO and had the pin, but Briscoe broke it up. Lethal and Gresham called for a Doomsday Device and then performed the move on PCO. Lethal took out Briscoe with a suicide dive. Gresham went up top and performed a shooting star press on PCO, who kicked out aggressively. PCO speared Lethal off the apron, then tried to spear Gresham, who moved, causing PCO to spear Briscoe. Gresham rolled PCO into a pin and got the three count…
Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham defeated Mark Briscoe and PCO in 12:50 to retain the ROH Tag Titles.
Powell’s POV: Good match. Briscoe and PCO made for a fun team. I guess this means we will be seeing Pure Rules in the tag division going forward based on that promo that Gresham delivered on the latest ROH television show. By the way, do PCO and Riccaboni have the same barber?
The broadcast team spoke about Bandido, Flamita, EC3, and Kenny King missing the show due to COVID-19. Riccaboni wished all four men well and everyone else who has dealt with the virus…
2. Dalton Castle vs. Rey Horus. Horus wore one of the ROH Six-Man Tag Title belts to the ring. Riccaboni explained that the belts will stay with his team after all. Castle had two Boys with him during his entrance. One of the Boys pumped hand sanitizer into Castle’s hand, and then he rubbed his hands together before heading to the ring.
Horus took a powder a few minutes into the match. Castle followed him wot ringside and punched him, then rolled him back inside the ring. Horus cut off Castle as he was returning. Horus ended up executing a flip dive onto Castle on the floor. The wrestlers fought at ringside. Castle charged Horus for a running knee attempt, but Horus moved, causing Castle to tumble over the ringside barricade. Castle sold knee pain.
Later, Castle tripped up Horus on the ropes, then hit him with a running knee. Castle slammed Horus to the mat and then covered him for a two count. Castle followed up with a German suplex that led to another two count. A short time later, Horus caught Castle on the ropes and performed a huracanrana style move from the ropes and then scored the clean pin…
Rey Horus defeated Dalton Castle in 9:10.
Powell’s POV: A cool finish. I believe Riccaboni called the final move a tornado driver, but I could be mistaken. Castle showed frustration afterward. It will be interesting to see if Castle does his own thing or if they put him right back with Joe Hendry once things get back to normal.
A video package set up the tag team grudge match…
3. Mike Bennett and Matt Taven vs. “The Righteous” Vincent and Bateman (Vita Von Starr). The tams brawled as soon as all four men were in the ring. Riccaboni said he assumed the match would have relaxed rules. Von Starr entered the ring and distracted Bennett just long enough for Bateman to regroup and take offensive control. Bennett was isolated by the heel duo.
Bennett made a hot tag around 7:00. Taven dropkicked Vincent off the apron, then worked over Bateman. Vincent returned to the apron only to be knocked off again by Taven, who then performed a suicide dive onto him. Taven threw punches at Vincent until Bateman arrived and brought Taven back inside the ring. Vincent entered the ring and applied a guillotine. Riccaboni pointed out that Vincent was not the legal man.
Taven was isolated by the heels. Vincent performed Redrum onto Taven and covered him for a two count. A short time later, Bennett and Bateman checked back into the match. Bennett got the better of Bateman. Bennett and Taven teamed up for a spike piledriver. Taven sold a knee injury. Bennett covered Bateman for a near fall. Bennett performed a Death Valley Driver on the apron, but Vincent hit him with a move.
Taven chased Vincent into the ring while Riccaboni noted that they were not the legal men. Taven went for a frogsplash, but Vincent put his knees up. Taven rallied and went for a submission hold, but Vincent reached the ropes to break it. Bennett hit Vincent from the floor, then pulled him out and held him while Taven went up top and splashed Vincent to the floor.
In the ring, Bennett performed a piledriver on Bateman. Bennett performed a backpack Stunner on Bateman while Taven hit Bateman with a shining wizard. Bennett covered Bateman and scored the pin.
Mike Bennett and Matt Taven defeated “The Righteous” Vincent and Bateman in 16:15.
After the match, Bennett and Taven were celebrating when Von Starr entered the ring and gave them simultaneous low blows. Vincent performed a cutter on Taven, then zip tied him to the ropes. Von Starr used her legs to choke out Taven.
Vincent wished Taven a happy anniversary, then slid a wooden block into the ring. Bateman placed the block between the legs of Bennett. Vincent wound up with the chair and slammed it on Bennett’s ankle. Riccaboni called for medical help while Bennett sold it inside the ring. Vincent placed the block on Bennett. Bateman laid down and waved as security showed up and helped Bennett to the back…
Powell’s POV: The heels got some of their heat back afterward, but I really felt like this would have been a good time to put them over so that the babyfaces had something to avenge. I guess they still do with the injury angle. It just feels like Vincent and Bateman needed this win a lot more than Bennett and Taven did. I thought we might see Von Starr be the difference in this match to set up the return of Maria, but no suck luck.
4. Danhausen vs. Brian Johnson. The stipulation is that Danhausen must win in order for his ROH contract to go into effect. Johnson yelled at Danhausen to shake his hand. Danhausen shook it, then hit a move and got a near fall just seconds into the match. Danhausen ended up on the apron with Johnson down on the floor at ringside. Danhausen called for his music to play, which it did, and then hit hit a running knee.
Back inside the ring, Johnson performed a cutter for a near fall. Johnson grabbed a mic and told Coleman to shut up while saying he sucks at his job anyway. Johnson taunted Danhausen while insulting the viewers. Johnson continued to heel it up on the mic, then put it down in order to slam Danhausen. Johnson followed up with a fist drop and got a two count. Johnson picked up the mic and said he’s an equal opportunity ass whooper.
Danhausen took the mic and yelled something. Johnson continued to dominate the offense. Johnson picked up the mic again and spoke about how he’d worked his entire life to be standing where he was. He complained about Danhausen. He said he was going to put an end to the charade. Johnson ran the ropes and then clotheslined Danhausen before covering him for a two count.
Danhausen ducked a mic shot and then suplexed Johnson. Danhausen ended up performing another suplex and a running elbow in the corner. Danhausen performed a German suplex into a bridge for a near fall. Danhausen grabbed the jar of teeth that he keeps in his corner of the ring. Johnson kicked Danhausen and then the ropes. Danhausen hit a GTS and had the pin, but Johnson put his hand under the bottom rope.
Johnson rolled to the floor. Danhausen performed a suicide dive. Johnson ended up kicking the ropes into the groin of Danhausen as he was trying to get back inside the ring. Johnson poured the teeth into Danhausen’s mouth and tried to kick him, but Danhausen rolled him into a pin for a two count. Johnson performed a running kick that knocked Danhausen into the referee. REF BUMP!!! Johnson had Danhausen pinned, but the ref wasn’t looking.
Danhausen took the mic, rubbed it against the makeup on his forehead, and then acted like Johnson hit him with it. The referee disqualified Johnson…
Danhausen defeated Brian Johnson by DQ in 8:45.
Powell’s POV: Ugh. The match overstayed its welcome. I’m also not a fan of the finish, as we’re told repeatedly that pro wrestling referees can’t call what they don’t see. This felt like it belonged on the pre-show or even on the weekly television show.
The broadcast team recapped Tony Deppen winning a pre-show match to earn the ROH TV Title shot…
5. Dragon Lee vs. Tony Deppen for the ROH TV Title. Amy Rose came out with Lee and then sat in on commentary. Deepen picked up a couple of early nearfalls, including one off a backslide. Lee came back and sent Deppen to ringside, then dove onto him. Lee did sit-ups on the floor. Back inside the ring, Lee performed a double stomp onto Deppen and covered him for a two count.
Deppen sent Lee to ringside and then performed a somersault dive through the ropes onto him. Back inside the ring, Deppen picked up another near fall off a springboard missile dropkick. Lee came back and was cocky as he slapped the back of Deppen’s head. Deppen fired up and threw a series of slaps at Lee, who stopped him in his tracks with a punch to the head. Lee and Deppen took turns hitting moves that they initially no sold, then they both remained on the mat at the end of the sequence.
Later, Lee caught Deppen in the ropes and then performed a top rope double stomp that led to yet another near fall. Deppen came back and connected with a running knee that led to another near fall. Lee performed a Poison Rana and followed with a running knee and still only got a two count. Lee showed frustration and then got another near fall. Lee performed another running knee and scored the pin…
Dragon Lee defeated Tony Deppen in 11:50 to retain the ROH TV Title.
Powells POV: A well worked match that was hurt by the overall near fall count on the show. They definitely added to that count in this match and I started to feel numb rather than suspense as the near falls kept coming. We’re also at the point in the night where the show is starting to drag due to the one-hour pre-show. The previous match didn’t help matters. Less is more, folks, especially when the show is held in an empty venue.
Riccaboni and Coleman spoke at their perch and set up the next match…
6. Jay Briscoe vs. Shane Taylor (w/Moses, Kaun). Briscoe offered a handshake. Taylor didn’t accept at first, then Briscoe told him to shake his hand and Taylor engaged in a tense handshake. A few minutes into the match, Taylor caught Briscoe’s leg as he went for a kick, then Taylor threw a punch that Briscoe sold big time. They went to ringside and traded strikes. Briscoe dropped Taylor with a big boot to the head and then rolled him back inside the ring.
A short time later, Briscoe avoided Taylor going for a knee strike and then hoisted him up and performed a Death Valley Driver. Mark Briscoe came out and stood in his brother’s corner. Jay went up top, but Taylor cut him off and set up for a draping neckbraker, but Jay countered into a chokehold. Taylor backed Briscoe into the corner and broke the hold. Briscoe climbed onto Taylor’s back and applied a sleeper that dropped Taylor to his knees and then the mat. The ref checked Taylor’s arm, but he held it up the third time and then reached the ropes to break the hold.
Jay set up for his finisher, but Taylor avoided it. Briscoe threw some punches and then a clothesline before going for a pin and getting a two count. Briscoe followed up with a neckbreaker for another two count. Taylor rallied with a package powerbomb style move and got a two count, then hit Welcome to the Land and scored the clean pin.
Shane Taylor beat Jay Briscoe in 13:49.
Afterward, Taylor shook hands with both Briscoes before leaving the ring with the SOS tag team. Mark held up his first, and Jay eventually bumped fists with him…
Powell’s POV: This was just the match the show needed. They had a good, physical battle and didn’t go crazy with the near falls. It was good to see Taylor get the win after he dropped a match to Brody King in a recent television match. The win means more for Taylor than Briscoe, who won’t miss a beat from taking one loss.
A video package set up the ROH Pure Championship match…
7. Jonathan Gresham vs. Flip Gordon for the ROH Pure Championship. Gordon used his first of three rope breaks roughly 90 seconds into the match. He used his second rope break around the 3:00 mark. Gresham continued to control the majority of the offense and forced Gordon to use his final rope break around 7:00.
Gordon rallied and went for a pin, but Gresham grabbed the bottom rope to break the hold. Riccaboni questioned the strategy of Gresham using a rope break because he felt he could have kicked out. Coleman defended the rope break in a good exchange of sports talk dialogue from the broadcast team. Around 10:30, Gresham sold a knee injury. Gordon stood in the corner for a moment, then opted to attack the bad knee with moves and holds.
Gresham threw a chop and went to run the ropes, but his knee gave out. Gordon stomped the bad knee. Gordon eventually went for a dropkick on the knee, but Gresham pulled his leg up with his hand, then hit Gordon shortly before the 15:00 mark. Gordon performed a dragon screw leg whip, then applied an STF. Gresham scrambled to break the hold by using his second rope break.
Grodon threw a superkick and followed up with a falcon arrow for a two count. Gordon applied the STF again. Gresham threw elbows at Gordon’s head and was forced to use his final rope break, meaning both men were out of rope breaks. At 20:00, Gresham and Gordon traded forearms. Gordon threw a punch and was was given his one warning. Riccaboni praised the use of the the punch because it changed the momentum, while Coleman said it was dirty.
Gresham came back with a suplex into a bridge for a near fall. Gordon responded with a kneebar and then turned it into a half crab. Gordon reapplied an STF. Gresham reached the ropes, but he was out of rope breaks. Gresham dragged Gordon to the apron and then both men fell to the floor. Both men beat the referee’s count. Gordon immediately kicked Gordon’s arm.
Gresham dodged a charging Gordon and placed him on the ropes, then kicked his bad arm. Gresham wrenched the bad arm, then performed a hammerlock suplex from the top rope for a near fall. Gresham ran the ropes and threw a forearm, then covered Gordon for a near fall. Gresham repeated the sequence and got another near fall. Gresham was going to do it a third time, but the referee stepped in and called off the match because Gordon was out.
Jonathan Gresham defeated Flip Gordon in 24:38 to retain the ROH Pure Rules Championship.
After the match, Gresham offered a handshake to Gordon, who left the ring without adhering to the Code of Honor. Riccaboni and Coleman acted surprised by his actions…
Powell’s POV: A really good match. The Pure Wrestling format continues to be a breath of fresh air. The use of multiple in-ring styles is going to help provide a real sense of variety to ROH shows. The broadcast team was at their best during this match with the sports-like call, including a couple of interesting debates. I also liked the MMA style finish with the referee stepping in and calling off the match. The last two matches have really helped the show bounce back from that point where it felt like it was starting to drag.
A video package set up the ROH World Championship match…
8. Rush vs. Brody King for the ROH World Championship. Bobby Cruise delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Rush had his left shoulder taped. King offered a handshake, but Rush kicked his hand away. Rush jumped out to a fast start and sent King to ringside, then talked smack into the camera. King returned to the ring and knocked Rush to ringside with a running forearm. King followed up with a suicide dive, then looked into the camera and said, “Just violence.” King whipped Rush into the barricade.
King tossed a few chairs onto the ringside mat and then stacked them up. King chopped Rush, then bodyslammed him onto the chairs. King performed a running senton. Rush came back and ended up choking King with a production cable at ringside. Rush used the same cable to whip King and then choked him again while referee Todd Sinclair barked at Rush to listen to him. Rush finally rolled King back inside the ring at 9:20 while the broadcast team spoke about the champion’s advantage.
Rush looked into the camera and spoke about ROH being his house and asked whether the fans missed him. Rush returned to the apron and applied a cross arm breaker over the ropes, then released it and posed while lying on his side on the apron. Rush and King took turns firing shots at one another in the corner. Rush got the better of it and threw repeated kicks to a seated King. Rush ran the ropes and struck his pose in the middle of the ring while Coleman questioned the logic of wasting time.
King charged Rush, who suplexed him into the corner and then covered him for a two count. Rush performed a superplex and then performed a cocky cover that resulted in a two count. Rush ran the ropes and King caught him with a Sidewalk Slam for a two count. Rush came back and had King down in the corner. Rush set up for his finisher, but King got up and put him down with a clothesline. King set up for his Gonzo Bomb finisher, but he released Rush when Dragon Lee ran out. La Bestia del Ring (Rush and Lee’s father) entered the ring and hit King with a chairshot while Lee distracted the referee. Rush performed his running kick in the corner and then covered King for the win.
Rush defeated Brody King in 16:35 to retain the ROH World Championship.
After the match, Rush stood in the ring and spoke in Spanish while looking into the camera. The Foundation” members Jonathan Gresham, Jay Lethal, Tracy Williams, and Rhett Titus walked onto the stage and showed disgust for the La Faccion Ingobernable stable. Gresham held up his Pure Championship on the stage. Rush jawed at them from the ring to close the show…
Powell’s POV: A good main event with a crap finish. It’s bad enough to close out the biggest show of the company’s year with a cheap finish, but it’s especially bad when the person interfering is someone that a good portion of the ROH audience probably isn’t even familiar with. It might be different if they had huge plans for the new arrival, but he’s likely going to be an occasional henchman for Rush and Lee at best. On the bright side, the fact that Rush and Lee retained their titles could be a sign that they are staying with the company. I must add that the presentation of the main event felt weak in that we didn’t see or hear from either man until the video package that preceded the match. I’m all about creating that big fight feel throughout the course of the show and ROH failed in that regard.
Overall, this was a quality show despite my complaints. The main event was well worked until the bad finish, and the two matches that preceded it were strong. I stand my my earlier criticism that less is more when it comes to the length of pro wrestling pay-per-views. There’s nothing wrong with a 30-minute pre-show or even no pre-show at all. I understand the idea of trying to sell viewers on ordering an event on a free pre-show. But most companies are guilty of overstaying their welcome on pay-per-view these days when they should be aiming to leave the audience wanting more, especially in this empty venue or nearly empty venue era. Still, it was an enjoyable show despite feeling needlessly long at times. I will have a lot more to say in my Final Battle audio review for Dot Net Members later tonight.
Join me for my live review of WWE TLC on Sunday night. Dot Net Members will hear a same night audio review co-hosted by Jason Powell and Jake Barnett.