Jose Marrero sent this review in.
Final Battle 2011 Review
December 23, 2011
By: Jose Marrero
After a long much needed break from live events and columns I am back here on Wrestleview with a live event review for Ring of Honor’s Final Battle IPPV. I haven’t seen a Ring of Honor show live since Best in the World which I believe was this past June so I was really psyched up for this show. I didn’t have my usual sidekick David Miranda with me for this show so I decided to take another friend unfamiliar with the Ring of Honor product Justin Ruiz with me to this show and pop his Ring of Honor cherry. One thing I did notice from fans who did speak to me was there were some first timers there which sort of befuddled me considering that the Ring of Honor TV show is unavailable in New York. Maybe the late day sales of tickets (there were tickets that were slashed down from $25 to $10 in previous days) were the reason but regardless it was nice to see the ROH product exposed to some new people and I was curious to see how Justin would take to it being a lifelong WWE fan himself.
Before the actual show started we got an introduction to all the big ROH people and were told that this was the biggest ROH gate in history. I hate to sound so skeptical but I’ve been to almost every Hammerstein Ballroom show that ROH has ever held and have seen the place much more full than it was for this show and it just seems like every time I am in that venue I always hear about it being a record gate for Ring of Honor. I know wrestling tends to exaggerate things (case in point the Wrestlemania attendance figures every year) but at the same time Wrestlemania every year isn’t held in the same building.
First match of the IPPV was TJ Perkins vs. Michael Elgin with Truth Martini. I thought this was a very good opener as TJP is just the perfect size of opponent for Elgin and made Elgin look like a million bucks. Elgin wasn’t as smooth with his power spots as I have seen him in the past but TJ was great with all his high flying spots and it was a good blend of styles. It was a very excellent choice of opener and a good way for Justin to sort of see just what separate Ring of Honor from WWE and TNA in terms of style as I saw him pop his eyes a few times for things that he will never see in either of those companies such as a really cool spot in which TJ went for a splash and Elgin caught him in vertical suplex position and suplexed him or TJ turning a powerbomb into a reverse hurracarrana. Finish came in about 10 minutes with Michael Elgin hitting a powerbomb into the corner that missed and then a spinning powerbomb for the win. It’s funny because at one point I wanted to see Michael Elgin in a program with the world champion in which he would actually be a credible threat but I feel at this point that when he does finally get his shot it will be a one and done deal and then ROH is going to have to sort of go back and work on the guy again to keep him from becoming just another guy on the roster. I hope that isn’t the case because he is different from most of the guys on the roster in being a power guy in a promotion of technicians or high flyers and as such he should be better promoted.
Next up was Tomasso Ciampa accompanied by the Embassy of Prince Nana, Princess Mia, Ernesto Osiris and Robert Evans vs. the returning Jimmy Rave. I’ve seen Rave live a few times in different incarnations in different promotions and always come away unimpressed this time was no different and this was probably the match I least looked forward to on the show. I really caught myself missing the original Embassy that Rave was a part of while watching this back. Partly because my cousin Diablo Santiago was a member of that stable and also because it was more than a one man show. Sure Jimmy would have the entourage that Ciampa has but you would still see other guys in the Embassy perform such as the Outcast Killaz, John Walters, Xavier and others. The Embassy is definitely not what it used to be and I have no hope for Ciampa who the company seems to be pushing but I just don’t see as anything special that is going to be anywhere in this current incarnation but where he is right now. The crowd felt flat for this match and really most of the stuff on this show. I couldn’t help but watch Jimmy Rave and also feel that I enjoyed him ten times more as a heel than I ever will as a babyface. Anyway these two guys just had a match nothing special and the finish came with Nana trying to offer Rave his old robe in the Embassy and basically his position back and Rave attacking Nana and then having to run off the rest of the Embassy long enough for Ciampa to get him with his powerbomb into a backcracker finish.
We had a three way elimination match for the Ring of Honor TV title between defending champion Jay Lethal, El Generico and “Prodigy” Mike Bennett who was accompanied by “Brutal” Bob Evans and Maria Kanellis of WWE fame. Maria looked spectacular and it was interesting watching her be a heel for the first time ever and made me wonder why WWE never took her that direction as I saw potential with her and Bennett in that role. Initially fans seemed more focused on her than the match itself as she got a lot of “CM Punk” and “Sloppy Seconds” chants her way. A little bit of an update on Justin before the match started he was obviously happy to see Jay Lethal and Maria two people that he was somewhat familiar with and when I told him how I fully expected to have El Generico be the star of this match and he saw Generio he looked at me and said “seriously”. Well lo and behold Generico was the star of this match and really the guy that saved it as he was the one who got the crowd up towards the end of the match and when he was pinned after a roll up in which Bennett held his tights Justin was pissed. Bennett himself was pinned about 10 seconds later by Lethal after a Lethal Injection. This was a good match in which in my opinion the wrong guy went over. I would really like to see Bennett get a run as TV Champion and I have already seen him lose two attempts now which would take steam out of a title reign if it did come his way. Plus I think while Lethal has helped give the TV title some credibility he would be much better served taking on the Eddie Edwards and Davey Richards in the main event scene as he probably has more of a Q rating than either of those guys.
Next up was the match I was most looking forward to and that was the no disqualification matchup between Steve Corino and Kevin Steen with Jimmy Jacobs as the referee. Stipulation for this was Steen would be reinstated if he won the match and Jim Cornette was ringside to observe it. To say Steen was over is an understatement as even though he was the heel the crowd made him the babyface to the point where towards the end he just played it up and went with it. Jim Cornette was awesome at ringside as I couldn’t help but feel like I was seeing the indy version of Steve Austin and Vince McMahon play out between him and Steen. These two guys basically killed each other with Steen taking insane bumps on guardrails, chairs and tables that should shorten his career. I really enjoyed this match partly because of all the storytelling that I think went into this. It can be argued this angle is still a continuing one from 2 years ago Final Battle 2009 where Steen first turned on Generico and aligned himself with Corino. I was a little nervous with this match as Steen who looked great when I saw him at Best in the World put some weight back on and whenever you have a match with a guest referee you are always leary of a screwjob finish but Steen went over clean here with a package piledriver onto some chairs onto Corino with Jimmy Jacobs reluctantly counting to three at the insistence of Cornette. After the match Steen cut a promo about how he was there for 3 things the first of which was to destroy Corino and get his job back and then he said the second was and immediately hit the package piledriver on Jacobs and held up his hands indicating the third thing which was to get his hands on Cornette. Before he could El Generico hit the ring and the two had a staredown that got a bigger pop than anything else that night and immediately brawled which culminated with Steen hitting a package piledriver on Generico through a table which resulted in him doing a stretcher job. This was a very good angle and I hope that Ring of Honor keeps Generico off shows for a few months as I think the resumption of his feud with Steen could be the storyline of the next year.
We had an intermission that was shorter than usual and I think it somewhat killed my interest as well as the crowds in the next match up which was a tag team gauntlet match for a future tag team title shot that opened with the Bravado Brothers taking on Cedric Alexander and Caprice Coleman. I’ve yet to see Alexander and Coleman live and was looking forward to it but really came away unimpressed as this was just not a good match for them and now that I think about it I didn’t enjoy most of this match. Anyway they got the pin on Harlem Bravado which brought out Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly and again it just wasn’t very good which is saying something because I always enjoy Cole and O’Reilly’s matches. Maybe I was still sort of on a high from the previous match but this whole match really just felt forgettable to me. Cole and O’Reilly got a high/low type of move on Alexander and this bought out the Young Bucks for the next stage of the match. It basically became a spot fest at this point in which a lot of cool moves were done but that was pretty much it. Young Bucks got the win with the more bang for your buck on O’Reilly and we got the final stage of this match with the All Night Express team of Kenny King and Rhett Titus. Crowd was more into this one but I wasn’t Titus was selling a knee injury and the heels worked over it until finally the ref stopped the match after Nick hit a 450 splash on him and Titus was deemed unable to continue. The finish felt a bit anticlimactic but that’s it the Young Bucks are the new number one contenders.
We had Roderick Strong with Truth Martini come out for the Roderick Strong Invitational. Strong did a promo in which he proclaimed himself to be the best wrestler in the world and made fun of Zack Ryder. They had Martini do a very entertaining ten count awaiting a forfeit when out came the returning for only a couple of shots Chris Hero. Crowd was very happy to see him but he is another guy that I just don’t see as a babyface which he obviously was in this instance and this match just wasn’t very good. Both guys tried very hard but it just wasn’t a good combination of wrestlers in this one. Finish was very confusing as Hero hit a roaring elbow on Strong and looked to have him beat only for Martini to run into the ring and break it up with the ref not calling for a disqualification. Hero went after Martini to nail him and then got nailed himself by Strong for the win. I will say that even though I didn’t like this match I am somewhat of a Roderick Strong fan and am curious to see if the Roderick Strong Invitational is going to be a onetime deal or the beginning of something for Roderick as I’d hate to see him get lost in the shuffle.
We got the tag team match for the World Tag Team titles between champions Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas and Jay and Mark Briscoe. Very weird match in that I am pretty sure Benjamin and Haas are the babyfaces and the Briscoes are the heels and the crowd just went reverse on it much like the Steen/Corino match up. Benjamin and Haas jumped the Briscoes before the bell rang and beat on them with pretty much everything forever where I was wondering if the match was even going to take place. Charlie Haas was awesome and came off as a horror killer with his intensity and played to the crowd maybe more times than I would’ve liked to see him do with middle fingers. They did a angle in the match in which they had the Briscoes work over Benjamins ribs which were already injured from a TV angle and had him carried to the back however they didn’t keep it up long enough where the Briscoes could get any heat on Haas (not that they were going to be able to get any heat in this crowd anyway) and Shelton was back with a board after the ref was downed to hit both Briscoes with the crowd breaking out into “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan “Hoooos” and “USA” chants. Finish came with the Briscoes turning the tables on WGTT and hitting them with the board and hitting Charlie Haas with their version of the Doomsday Device to become a record setting 7 time ROH Tag Team Champions. At one point I probably would have had a problem with the Briscoes winning the titles as they seemingly had them or were competing for them more often than not but it’s been 2 years since the last time the Briscoes held the titles and they were due for another run and I am looking forward to series between them and the Young Bucks and the All Night Express.
Next up was the main event match Davey Richards defending the ROH World Title against his tag team partner and former champion Eddie Edwards who was accompanied by UFC Hall of Famer and former NWA Champion Dan “The Beast” Severn. As I mentioned earlier I was at Best in the World which was the IPPV in which Davey defeated Eddie for the title and most fans felt was a match of the year candidate and was a match that I greatly enjoyed myself. I didn’t enjoy this match in the same way and most of it was because I felt like it was the exact same match again and also because it just became overkill. I have always said I am not a fan of too many near falls in a match because well if I shoot you 7 times and don’t faze you how I can punch you in the face and knock you out. There were just too many Davey hitting Eddie and Eddie hitting Davey back spots in the match where at one point it seeming just went on for about 15 minutes. I had some excitement as Roderick Strong went to interject himself and beat up Davey’s guys and got run off by Severn only for Michael Elgin to come out and a big brawl to erupt which led to everyone clearing the ringside area only for it to go back to Davey hitting Eddie and Eddie hitting Davey. The end was very good as they tried to tell the story of Davey giving Eddie everything and Eddie not quitting until finally he knocked him out with a roundhouse kick for the win. Match was over 40 minutes but in my opinion if you cut out about 12 minutes it would’ve been match of the year. Davey cut a promo afterwards saying how tough Eddie was and how whenever he got over what was bothering him his brother (meaning himself) would be waiting only to have it interrupted by Kevin Steen who basically told him to shut up, announced that the biggest thing on the show was that he was back and that in 2012 he was going to capture the ROH title and take the company hostage because he was the antichrist of pro wrestling (wasn’t that Jeff Hardy?). All Daveys guys were holding him back and the crowd was disappointed as this was the match they now wanted to see. Davey went back into the ring and did the obligatory handshake spot with his partner and the show was over.
This was not a bad show but not a great one overall. I have several theories as to why the first of which is the choice of venue. I recognize that the New York crowd gives ROH its biggest gates but it is slowly turning into a paid version of the Impact Zone in that they have seen everything and at this point almost have nothing left to react to. Am I the only one who realizes that 6 of the 11 IPPV’s that ROH has held were in the Hammerstein Ballroom/Manhattan Center? The next show I expect to make IPPV will probably be the 10th anniversary show which will be March 4th and that will also be in this same venue and in my opinion it hurts things. I also feel they have to get the length of these shows down as 4 hours is just too long all the time for a show and the crowd winds up very burned out and usually drunk by the time the main event hits. I want to also take this time to nominate my two moron fans of the night. One of which was a guy who showed up wearing a John Cena hat, shirt and spinner belt. I am not picking on this guy for his choice of wrestler but just because I felt he did it so he could engage in a war of the words with other fans. It’s sad what some fans will do for attention and when you go to the lengths of dressing up a certain way just to get into arguments it’s stupid and also somewhat dangerous. My other moron of the night is the idiot who threw a streamer not once but twice in the middle of the main event and could have injured one of the wrestlers. This guy was literally in the section to the right of me and should have been thrown out except I think Security realized with all the chants and stuff that maybe it was better to give him a hard warning. I’ve said it before and I will say it again you watch wrestling, wrestling does not watch you and these idiots were trying to make themselves part of the show.
So what do we now have to look forward to? Well if I was ROH I would not make Kevin Steen a babyface right away. I heard many people comparing his latest push to that of CM Punk and Kevin Steen should not be the next CM Punk but the first Kevin Steen I would much rather see a heel Kevin Steen defeat Davey Richards at the 10th Anniversary show and reign as champion as a heel throughout the year with the babyface turn coming at next year’s Final Battle show which I think should be a rematch with El Generico who I would hold out of action for a few months and start another angle between the two where Generico is trying to get the title shot and when he does maybe have Generico turn heel on Steen with them feuding in 2013 with Steen as the babyface and Generico as the heel. As great of a technician as Davey Richards is this MMA thing that he has going just isn’t for the long haul as if I wanted MMA I wouldn’t watch wrestling. At least with Kevin Steen I go back to good old fashioned wrestling angles and who doesn’t love a good old fashioned wrestling angle?
So that’s it for this show, I hope everyone has a happy and healthy holiday and here is to some more reviews in the coming year. I am out.
Kirby Pate sent this review in.
Elgin vs. T.J.
Awesome opening match. Back and forth with the crowd. One of the best of the night.
Apathetic crowd until embassy run-in.
Tv title 3 way
Amazing match with three great wrestlers. Everyone expecting a heel turn after. Wish we could have seen more Lethal vs Bennet action.
Hardcore: Corino vs Steen
Thought both were dead more than once. Hardcore match Mick Foley would have been proud of. Violent, but not gratuitous. Everything they did had a reason.
Little to no fan interest. Everyone was buying food or merch. Fans finally got into the match when ANX came out. The YB vs ANX match gave WGTT and the Briscoes a run for their money.
Roderick Strong vs Chris Hero
Big pop for the returning Chris Hero. Average match. Not up to ROH norms. Way too long. Same moves repeated over and over.
Briscoe bros vs WGTT
Kind of annoyed at the pre-match fight. Took way too long. Once the match started it also took way too long. Briscoe bros EXTREMELY over with the crowd.
EDWARDS VS RICHARDS III
Great technical wrestling. Both men insanely over with the crowd. Found it humorous when they were matching kicks and chops. Loved the new submissions. Submissions aren’t used enough as finishers anymore so it was good to see them relying on them.
BIGGEST LISTS(in no particular order)
Generico’s double springboard front flip senton
Corino’s guard rail superplex
Any enziguri that was thrown by either richards or edwards
Elgin’s 360 powerbomb
Steen’s piledriver on Generico (i’m praying that Generico is safe right now)
Best Match (in order)
5. Briscoe bros vs WGTT/ YB vs ANX from Gauntlet.
4. Elgin vs T.J.
3. TV Title 3 way
2. Edwards vs Richards
1. Steen vs. Corino