It’s time once again for another Jose Marrero show review. I was fortunate enough thanks to the fine folks at Ring of Honor to be in attendance live at the Manhattan Center for Ring of Honor’s final show of the year appropriately entitled Final Battle 2010. Of course this show was streamed live for Internet PPV and after attending Glory by Honor IX which was the last IPPV live I was wondering if this show could top that one. I don’t know if it did but it sure was an excellent show and by far and large the best show that is going to take place this weekend. Before I get into the review let me just clarify this is just that a review. I don’t do recaps and don’t wish to. God bless the folks that do and if you want a solid recap of everything except the first match which due to streaming issues I understand was unable to be recapped please check out the one done by our very own Tom Van Stone at this link. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way let’s review Final Battle.
First match up was a tag team matchup between the All Night Express consisting of Kenny King and Rhett Titus vs. Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly. One of the things I really like about these shows as opposed to mainstream WWE and probably even TNA shows is that you see things that you just wouldn’t see normally. Again much thanks to Ring of Honor because I pretty much had the best seats in the house and being the observant person that I am I noticed many people lurking about like Grizzly Redwood who came up during intermission to talk to some of the camera people on the balcony, Delerious who even though he is not on camera was still skulking about with his mask talking to people near what I guess could be considered the Gorilla Position for ROH, I’m pretty sure I saw Necro Butcher hanging around but I was far and could be wrong and well the coolest thing I saw that you don’t get to see happened in this match and that was Jim Cornette pop. One thing I like about Ring of Honor is you get to see competitors grow I remember when Rhett Titus was sort of a joke in Ring of Honor and well look at how far he has come. The All Night Express looks more and more like stars everytime I see them and well the same was said here. I thought O’Reilly and Cole looked good my only real criticism is I just don’t see them as a tag team climbing the ranks in Ring of Honor. Don’t get me wrong they do some solid things it’s just cosmetically I don’t see it with those guys. They are the guys that I would keep in the “gatekeeper” type roles. You know the one you beat to face the champions, not the guys who face the champions themselves.
Crowd was definitely hot for wrestling and this match was the match to set the tone for the evening and it didn’t disappoint. It was nothing spectacular but solid and as I said I got to see Jim Cornette literally come out of his seat for a Kenny King dive on all the participants at one point. Finish came when Rhett Titus went for a powerbomb and Kenny King slingshotted off of the ropes with a blockbuster at the same time to get the pin on Cole at around the 10 minute mark. Again, I can’t say enough about the All Night Express as they are starting to hit their stride as a tag team to me. There tandem offense is good, they look more and more confident each time I see them and well it doesn’t hurt that they have two extremely attractive women accompanying them to ringside either. Nice opener.
Next up on the card was Colt Cabana vs. TJ Perkins. This was billed as a “scientific match” and I had reservations about it going in. Colt is a “ha ha” guy and I don’t mean that to slam him but he doesn’t get credit for his technical skill in matches because oftentimes he is joking around in a ring and well TJ Perkins is talented but he is not exactly a guy that has been built up much by Ring of Honor so I was wondering how the crowd was going to take to this match. Early on I noticed TJP didn’t even get much of a crowd reaction and I wasn’t sure if that was because fans in attendance really didn’t know him or because Colt was more over and I started worrying right out of the gate. I’m glad to say that the worries were for naught as they had a very solid and funny match. Colt did all his “ha ha” but under the guise of wrestling a “scientific match” which if you think about it takes a lot of skill. Not everyone can chain wrestle and tell jokes at the same time but Colt pulled it off nicely. This was the kind of match that if I saw it in other promotions under different circumstances I’d probably crap all over it since I don’t believe in making guys look foolish but again TJP is not really a regular and I don’t think I’m going to see much of him in ROH so it wasn’t a big deal to me for him and Colt to have this kind of a match and I thought it was a nice way to keep the crowd “up” without burning them out considering the excitement that was generated by the prior match. Colt wound up winning the match around 8 minutes after reversing a roll up. For those who will dismiss this match I will say this much in one of the things you’re going to have see live because you won’t see it on IPPV or DVD I did see Davey Richards come out from the back and basically watch almost this entire match and well when you have the interest of a guy the quality of Davey Richards who should have been preparing for his main event match that’s saying something.
We got some women’s action up on the show next which was the first time ROH featured the women on IPPV. We had Awesome Kong and Daizee Haze vs. Sara Del Ray and Serena Deeb. Before I get into this match I want to hit on something. One of the first indy shows I ever went to I got to see Daizee Haze, I don’t even think she worked to be honest I think she was just there with Delirious and had a table where she along with Delirious did the whole merchandise and picture gimmick. I thought she was a very lovely woman at that first meeting; very girl next door and she had the personality to match as she was kindhearted to all that approached her that day. Fast forward to this show where she looked so skinny I felt sorry for her. I know in today’s age of women’s wrestling the mainstream promoters like there women to basically be stick figures but I say screw that. Put some weight on you Daizee you looked great the way I first saw you and to be honest it’s not cool when I can see your rib cage all the way up in the balcony seats clearer than an X-Ray. Getting past this I didn’t think much of this match and neither did the crowd. It seemed like the crowd didn’t like Daizee much at all which hurt the match initially than when Kong got in it seemed like everything sort of picked up until Daizee was tagged back in at which point the crowd booed the tag and these were the babyfaces. Serena was over but I felt like it wasn’t so much because of her but her WWE stint as she got loud CM Punk chants at one point which is not what I think she wants to hear. I know I wouldn’t want to hear another guy’s name who doesn’t even work for the company if I was in the ring working. This match was better than a WWE or TNA women’s match but not by much the big spot in this match was Serena spearing Awesome Kong if that could be believed and Sara piledriving Daizee at around 9 minutes for the win.
We had Eddie Edwards against Sonjay Dutt on the card next. Sonjay was a replacement for Kenny Omega who came down with an ankle injury I believe but I don’t think anyone minded much. Both Sonjay and Eddie looked to be dinged up a bit from matches the night before as they were both bandaged.I found it very hard to get into this match as it just didn’t have the ebb and flow that I like from my matches and it just felt like guys were trading moves. Don’t get me wrong the crowd popped for a lot of stuff they were seeing but to me it’s just not the kind of match you will want to really get into on DVD because I just felt like it was a lot of back and forth with no rhyme or reason. Match went about 11 minutes and Eddie won with the 2K1 which is basically a cradle brainbuster. Nice win for Eddie as he rebounds from losing the TV title.
We go to intermission here while those watching at home got an interview with Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin. Here is where I have to sort of take my usual jabs at the Ring of Honor crowd. I really have no idea when it became cool to have warring sections at a wrestling show but that was the deal throughout much of the show. We had a drunk for lack of a better word dressed as Santa Claus and his friends dressed as helpers and they seemed to be igniting there section to chant towards other sections. One guy at one point in the show even gestured towards me with a crotch chop which I thought was sort of hilarious just because well if we were in some dark alley somewhere I doubt that gesture would’ve been repeated. Needless to say I thought it was all unnecessary Santa wound up later being ejected for being too much of a Reindeers rear and well I think it sucks that this guy spent his money on not just tickets to the show but the Santa gimmick to come and get sauced and thrown out just cause he couldn’t handle his own. Ring of Honor doesn’t generally get a lot of children at these shows but I have noticed many mentally challenged people who attend the shows who I believe are taken care of by the company. I would hate for something serious to happen there one day because someone couldn’t control there liquor intake. Anyway let’s get back to the show.
We come back from intermission with Christopher Daniels vs. Homicide. I was very confused with this match as I initially believed it to be for the ROH TV title needless to say it wasn’t which I thought sort of devalued the title as that title should be defended at every moment possible to further establish it. The crowd was really into Homicide who came out with Julius Smokes who it feels like I haven’t seen forever. Now Julius Smokes is one cool cat but live and in person he is distracting as hell and his running around and yelling as if he is about to have a seizure is very distracting and took away from this match live. I don’t know how this came across on the live stream but I thought this match was shorter than I would’ve expected it to be and just lacked something. The finish came when Homicide counter an Angels Wings attempt to push Daniels into the referee and then threw his shirt into Daniels face and hit the Gringo Killer for the win at around 10 minutes. I expected to see Homicide challenge for a title match or something but it was business as usual as he just left and I was confused. Is he a face? Is he a heel? Or is he the dreaded tweener? This match made me ask questions that I shouldn’t have had to ask and that bothered me as I expected more from two of my favorite guys to watch. I’m mentioning this late but I want to point out that Mike Bennet did come out and sit down and watch the match before hand with Bob Evans and when the match was over he mocked Daniels on the microphone and threw him the TV title. So I guess that’s the direction they are going in, wouldn’t it have just been better to do something with Bennet and Daniels than rather than have Homicide have to beat him at all? I’m just saying.
We had the Bricoes along with Poppa Briscoe vs. The Kings of Wrestling and Shane Hagadorn. This match wasn’t bad but it just seemed like the crowd wouldn’t cheer and boo the guys they were supposed to as I literally saw the Briscoes booed immediately in the Manhattan Center which is a building they usually own. I don’t know if that means the Kings of Wrestling are that over or that fans in general are a little tired of the Briscoes. Poppa Briscoe couldn’t even catch a break throughout most of it (although the crowd would get with him at times) and that’s that he was really the star of the match. He pulled off (with a lot of help from Claudio) a hurricarana, shared a kiss with Sara Del Ray and even got his hands at times on Shane Hagadorn. Sure all of his stuff looked horrible but what did you expect with an old guy up in there having his very first match? I think the best part for me was watching his sons pop for everything he did (especially Mark who I thought had the time of his life). The finish was Mike being the one to deliver the clothesline on the Briscoe Doomsday Device at about the 15 minute mark only for Jay to pin Hagadorn to get the win which again sort of surprised me since I thought this whole thing was between Shane Hagadorn and Poppa Briscoe anyway. Maybe we will get the Hadorn vs. Poppa match at some point…than again I hope not.
Next match was the ROH Championship matchup between Davey Richards and defending Ring of Honor Champion Roderick Strong. I really enjoyed this match but I am not sure if others will feel the same way and use it to criticize Strong. I have to say that early on I thought Strong was really working a slow methodical heel style which most ROH fans would probably criticize but his offense isn’t necessarily supposed to be crowd pleasing at all times because he is a heel. It’s his job to bring the crowd down and every so often it’s Davey’s job as the babyface to get them back up. I don’t think fans got that aspect of it initially as it seemed like it took a good 15 minutes for the crowd to really get into the match and that was when it seemed like they did a million things. I was with David Miranda for this show (as I am most shows) and mentioned to him how it seemed the story of this match was Davey gets kicked in the face as it seemed he got kicked in the face and head and awful lot and even remarked how I was scared they would do a concussion finish and well I wound up being right. The selling point of this match for the future should be that Davey Richards did in fact make Roderick Strong tap out only the referee was distracted by Truth Martini so he missed it. It went back and forth with many submissions and near falls two of my absolute favorites was a spectacular near fall that had me leaping out of my seat which I don’t generally do as Davey Richards hit a shooting star press for a very close near fall and Roderick Strong hitting a combination of moves on the outside of the ring that consisted of a belly to belly through a table followed by a tiger driver and then actually hurling Richards into the crowd. These two went back and forth so much that even though I predicted Roddy to win I started to wonder myself when the end would come. It wound up being very anticlimactic as Davey had an ankle lock on Roddy and sort of just let it go to sell the fact that he was a bit out of it, they wrestled some more and Roderick locked in the stronghold which is basically that old Chris Benoit kiss the mat Boston Crab for the win as Davey passed out around the 30 minute mark of the match. ROH went out of their way to sell the concussion and even announced on the house mic that they were taking precautions because they thought Davey had a concussion. I’m not sure where they go from here but I am intrigued to see what paths both men take as I am still convinced that Davey will be the successor to Strong as champion.
Next up was the match that every Ring of Honor fan of the past year had to see and that was the final matchup between Kevin Steen and El Generico which was a Fight without Honor (street fight) with Generico unmasking if he loses and Steen leaving ROH if he loses. I’m not a fan of these kinds of matches unless they are booked extremely well and well this exemplifies what it is I am referring to. These two competitors basically had what was in my opinion and the opinions of many the feud of the year in wrestling. Such a great feud that fans chanted “One more year” when they entered the ring as I don’t think anyone wanted it to end but it had to end. They say the mark of a great storyteller is to leave them wanting more and well these were two great storytellers as over the year that’s all fans wanted was more and this time they were going to have to take this and be happy because this would be it. It was a bloodbath and I am not going to detail moves I’ll just say they beat the holy hell out of each other and we did have cameos from Steve Corino and Colt Cabana who at one point I think majority of the crowd was sure was going to turn on Generico. Of course he didn’t and I thought it was nice to have those two involved as they were a big part of this feud all year long. I don’t know if it was really explained on the telecast but this match sort of bought things full circle as this feud began at Final Battle 2009 last year in this same building with a chair shot and ended here as Steen pleaded for sympathy from his ex partner and offered him his original mask back only to have Generico spurn the offer and return the same chair shot a year later and get the pin at about the 32 minute mark. I’m not a big advocate of unprotected chair shots but at least if you are going to do one have it mean something this meant something because of what I just explained. I hope that was explained to the viewing audience at home.
So that brings Final Battle 2010 to a close. I really enjoyed this show. I’m not someone who likes to say “match of the year” to matches when I see them, especially this year where I’ve been fortunate enough to see some really great matches live but I think the Kevin Steen vs. El Generico match was my favorite live match I have seen all year. Ring of Honor continues to surge forward as I am very interested to see where certain guys go direction wise. What is next for Roderick Strong as he continues to build up his reputation as Ring of Honor Champion? What is next for Davey Richards as he obviously has to build himself back up to another shot at the title? What about the Kings of Wrestling? They have the Briscoes, WGTT and even the All Night Express to contend with. Plus with Kevin Steen out what is next for El Generico and even Steve Corino? These are all questions I hope to see answered in 2011 but for now I’ll just remain happy with what I got in 2010. I should state that Final Battle happened to be held on my birthday this year. What a nice gift I got from Ring of Honor, looking forward to Final Battle 2011 already. Look forward to reviewing many more shows before then though in the meantime and well that’s it for now, until next time, I am out.