By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
ROH Final Battle Hits
“FTR” Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler vs. Jay Briscoe and Mark Briscoe in a Double Dog Collar match for the ROH Tag Team Titles: An outstanding match and a great conclusion to the spectacular trilogy these teams put together. This was the true main event of the night regardless of the fact that it didn’t actually close the show. FTR also put over The Acclaimed clean on Dynamite, meaning they took two high profile losses in four days and yet they still feel as over as ever. Do we know if the executives who stood in the way of The Briscoes appearing on TNT and TBS are actually still with the company following the mass layoffs that have taken place at Warner Bros. Discovery? Either way, this match was somehow even better than it looked on paper and is totally worth going out of your way to see if you didn’t order the pay-per-view.
Keith Lee and Swerve Strickland vs. Shane Taylor and JD Griffey: My second favorite match of the night. Count me among the masses who are unfamiliar with the history between Lee and Griffey, but I still enjoyed the story of Lee’s past and present colliding. It’s crazy that Taylor is/was a free agent considering how much he improved and how strong his work was during the last couple years of the previous incarnation of ROH. There was some good storytelling in this match, including Strickland walking out after Lee accidentally hit him. I’m not sure what comes next for Lee and Strickland, which is part of the fun.
Chris Jericho vs. Claudio Castagnoli for the ROH Championship: A good match that felt out of place in the main event slot due to the greatness of the Double Dog Collar match. I’m typically an advocate for putting the top singles championship match on last, but this was an exception. I came away with mixed feelings to Jericho tapping out to The Swing. While I get the fan complaints that Jericho should have been pinned, Castagnoli’s Swing spot also gets the best reactions of any moves during his matches. Perhaps it wouldn’t have felt so awkward had they led up to this match by having more wrestlers tap out to The Swing so that the fans would have been conditioned to recognize it as a potential finisher.
“The Kingdom” Matt Taven and Mike Bennett vs. “Top Flight” Dante Martin and Darius Martin: They saved the best of the pre-show matches for last. This was a strong tag team match that I actually enjoyed much more than the tag team match that opened the pay-per-view. As much as I’ve enjoyed their singles work, Taven and Bennett are a very good heel tag team, and I wonder if we’ll see more of them in AEW if and when Adam Cole returns from injury and reclaims the top spot in The Kingdom. It was great to see Darius healthy again, and I would hope that he and Dante will receive a strong push in either the AEW or ROH tag team division. You had to feel for Dante slipping on the ropes when he was going for the grand finale of the big dives, but the teams recovered quickly and it wasn’t enough to hurt the match.
Mascara Dorada vs. Jeff Cobb: A nice pre-show opening match. I have no doubt that these two could have produced an even better match had they been given more time, but I like that the pre-show matches were kept fairly brief and weren’t meant to be show stealers.
Daniel Garcia vs. Wheeler Yuta for the ROH Pure Rules Championship: The Tony Khan version of ROH still hasn’t made the Pure Rules matches stand out in the same way that they did when the style was reintroduced during the empty venue shows that ROH held during the pandemic. They made a good effort here with Garcia forcing Yuta to burn through all of his rope breaks early. As much as I enjoy the work of Ian Riccaboni and Caprice Coleman, they didn’t create the feeling of desperation that there should have been for Yuta needing to win in regulation because there was no chance of him winning via judge’s decision. Nevertheless, Garcia and Yuta delivered a good match. Now if only Garcia could escape being an underling in the Jericho Appreciation Society.
Willow Nightingale vs. Trish Adora: A fine pre-show match with Nightingale continuing to get good reactions from a variety of live crowds. There was zero build to the match and Adora’s only AEW appearances were losses in YouTube matches, so it was no surprise that the live crowd wasn’t very responsive to her. That said, Adora has shown in-ring improvement since she worked the ROH Women’s Championship tournament and I’m curious to see whether she will be regular in the new ROH.
Dalton Castle and The Boys vs. Brian Cage, Kaun, and Toa Liona for the ROH Six-Man Tag Titles: A good Castle and Boys style match that concluded with a needed win for The Embassy trio. I’ve never felt there was a need for six-man tag team titles in ROH, but the belts do give a little boost to Cage, Kaun, and Liona.
Angelo Parker and Matt Menard vs. Cheeseburger and Eli Isom: This was fine for a pre-show tag match that was meant to put some heat on the Jericho Appreciation Society duo. Cheeseburger remains a popular undercard figure with ROH fans. Unfortunately, the big push that Isom seemed to be on the verge of getting last year has yet to materialize since the company was sold.
ROH Final Battle Misses
Blake Christian and AR Fox vs. Dralistico and Rush: I don’t know what happened with the match finish that saw the referee count despite Dralistico doing a light kick out. The post match attack by Dralistico and Rush was really over the top and erased any positivity that came from the babyface duo scoring the upset. The production crew also missed Rush hitting Christian with a chair at ringside, which was the first of many moments they missed throughout the main card.
Mercedes Martinez vs. Athena for the ROH Women’s Championship: The ring work was Hit worthy from the two veterans. But I have no idea why the company recently booked a heel turn for Athena when the creative forces knew that she would be the big fan favorite because this match was held in her hometown. The fans loved Athena, her family was shown rooting her on in the crowd, and she even got emotional after the title win. It was quite the feel good night for the heel character?
Samoa Joe vs. Juice Robinson for the ROH TV Title: A well worked match that was put in the death spot of being asked to follow the Double Dog Collar match. It also didn’t help that Joe recently turned heel and yet the fans seemed more familiar with him and therefore cheered for him over Robinson, who was a strange choice for the challenger spot given how little he’s appeared on AEW television. As good as Robinson is, it’s hard not to be concerned that he’ll be yet another wrestler lost in the AEW shuffle.
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