Final Battle 2017: Dalton Gets It Now

Final Battle 2017
Date: December 15, 2017
Location: Hammerstein Ballroom, New York City, New York
Commentators: Colt Cabana, Ian Riccaboni

It’s the biggest show of the year for Ring of Honor and the card is actually not too bad. The main event is Dalton Castle challenging Cody for the World Title with another big match in the form of Bully Ray/Tommy Dreamer vs. the Briscoe Brothers in a street fight. You know, to check off the ECW box on the card. Let’s get to it.

The opening video talks about how this was the greatest year in ROH history. I’m thinking no on that one. It’s your standard hype video with the narrator saying things like “great debuts” and “major changes” with clips of such things being shown. Not bad, but nothing that hasn’t been done far better before.

The production gets a major upgrade tonight with fire shooting up on the stage and a square lighting fixture above the ring with some LED signs. It looks very good, albeit a little out of place around here. Still good though.

The announcers hype up some of the big matches. We just did this in the opening video.

Will Ospreay vs. Matt Taven

This is your required “here’s a New Japan guy” match that has no storyline behind it. Ospreay kicks him in the face to start and hits a big flip dive over the top onto the other members of the Kingdom. Taven is right back up with a big dive of his own though as they’re starting very fast.

Back in and Taven flips out of a hurricanrana but gets armdragged into a dropkick to send him outside. Ospreay teases a dive but instead backflips into his signature pose to pop the crowd even more. The Kingdom offers a distraction so Taven can take over. Cabana: “Ospreay is great but notably kind of dumb.” Vinny Marseglia SWINGS AN AX at Ospreay’s leg, allowing Taven to dropkick him down.

The beatdown is on and Taven adds a hard knee to the face for two. Ospreay kicks him in the head again and gets two off a running shooting star. Taven reverses a hurricanrana into a Liontamer of all things, drawing a Y2J chant. A rope is grabbed and Taven shouts to the camera that he better be on Jericho’s cruise. Ospreay speeds things up a bit and gets behind Taven but still manages to superkick him in the jaw.

One heck of a superkick puts Taven on the floor and Ospreay runs the corner for a springboard shooting star onto the rest of the Kingdom. Taven is right back in with a kick to the face but his frog splash hits knees. The Oscutter is countered straight into the Climax to give Taven the sudden pin at 10:50.

Rating: C+. While little more than a flipping and kicking match, this was a great choice for an opener. Ospreay is one of the best high fliers in the company and he got to show off in front of the fans, who ate up everything he was doing out there. I’m still not getting the point of Taven but it makes sense to have him win here as he’s around a lot more often than Ospreay.

We recap the Addiction vs. War Machine. War Machine had the Tag Team Titles won when Addiction interfered and cost them the match. The monsters wanted revenge but accidentally took out a fan, earning Ray Rowe a suspension. While he was gone, Addiction cut off part of Hanson’s beard. You know what kind of revenge that warrants.

War Machine vs. Addiction

It’s a brawl to start with War Machine winning the brawl on the floor but Hanson’s clothesline train is cut off in short order. Rowe comes in for a save as this isn’t exactly going to have a lot of tagging. Some fans try to start a JOHN CENA SUCKS chant but seem to be promptly shouted down. Good. Rowe t-bone suplexes the heck out of Kazarian but Daniels trips him up to take over.

We actually get to the tag stuff with Daniels choking Rowe in the corner, followed by Kazarian’s springboard legdrop. Addiction fires off a string of springboard dives to keep Rowe in trouble. The double teaming doesn’t quite work though as Rowe Rock Bottoms Daniels onto Kazarian. Hanson comes back in off the hot tag to clean house and Addiction is stacked up in the corner for a quick pounding.

A double Bronco Buster (that’s a new one) sets up a German suplex/middle rope clothesline combo. Kazarian gets in a Backstabber on Rowe and an Unprettier is good for two. Celebrity Rehab gets the same and a Downward Spiral takes Hanson down as well. He’s right back up with a double Tajiri handspring elbow though and it’s Fallout to end Daniels at 9:35.

Rating: C. This was a well built match and War Machine winning was the right call. Addiction isn’t a team that really ever needs to win anything else and putting teams like War Machine over is a great use for them. War Machine should get back to the title hunt soon, though I could see WWE coming after them one day in the near future.

We recap Marty Scurll vs. Jay Lethal. Scurll got to pick his opponent and wanted to face someone he saw as one of the best villains in Ring of Honor history. Lethal doesn’t want to go back to the dark side but Scurll has him getting closer to being villainous all over again.

Marty Scurll vs. Jay Lethal

Scurll, in all white here, isn’t defending his IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title. Marty wins a technical sequence to start and grabs a wristlock. A clean break against the ropes keeps the mind games high. Lethal armdrags him down but Marty rolls straight into a bird pose. The cartwheel into a basement dropkick rocks Scurll but he’s still able to stomp on Jay’s fingers.

Jay’s elbow gets stomped as well, only to come back with a hard whip to send Marty into the barricade. Someone throws a streamer into the ring and the fans are all over him. Again, good. A springboard dropkick has Marty in trouble again, followed by a single suicide dive. Back in and Marty suplexes him into the corner before going right back to the arm. They slug it out until a Lethal Combination gives Lethal a delayed two.

It’s off to a torture rack of all things (Cabana: “Can we call that the Lethal Express?”) with Lethal rolling forward for two more. Marty is up first and catches Jay with a tornado DDT on the floor. That’s fine with Lethal, who hits a cutter off the apron to take Scurll right back down. It doesn’t seem to have much effect as Marty grabs the chickenwing, only to have Lethal reverse into a rollup for an escape. The ref is bumped (makes sense this time around) so Marty grabs a chair for the Eddie Guerrero treatment.

Jay is one step ahead of him though, wrapping the chair around his own head and dropping down to the mat. The referee says keep it going so Scurll grabs a brainbuster onto the knee for a near fall. A Figure Four is quickly broken up so Marty grabs the umbrella. The referee takes it away so Marty pulls out a second one to knock Jay silly. That and a piledriver are only good for two so Jay kicks him low, setting up the Lethal Injection for the pin at 15:53.

Rating: B+. I really like both of these guys and it was cool to see them play up a story like this. That being said, this feels like a start to the story and I wouldn’t be complaining about seeing them do some more of this. I don’t think Lethal needs to turn heel, but an edge to his character would be nice. Scurll pinning Lethal in the future would be nice too.

The Motor City Machine Guns say no one is on their level, which is why they’re here.

The Best Friends disagree, albeit in multiple takes.

Tag Team Titles: Best Friends vs. Motor City Machine Guns

The Guns are defending. Sabin and Chuckie start things off and the fans still don’t seem to care about the Guns. An armdrag into an armbar sets up the Friends’ Two Dog Night but Shelley blocks the big hug. Shelley does a Rick Rude hip swivel and sends the Friends outside, where we get that hug. Eh Bryan and Kane did it better.

The Guns hit back to back kicks and knees to the head to take over. Back in and Sabin stands on Barretta’s crotch in the corner, followed by the face to the crotch spots. The Guns even hug to hammer home the joke. At least they seem to be embracing (no pun intended) the heel roles here. Barretta ducks a kick that goes onto Shelley’s head instead, followed by a tornado DDT to Sabin.

The hot tag brings in Chuckie to clean house and that means another hug. Yes it’s funny, we get it. Back in and the Dude Buster is broken up, but so is the rollup from the Guns. Skull and Bones gets two on Barretta, followed by Strong Zero for the same on Shelley. The Friends try another double team but Sabin rolls Chuckie up for the pin at 10:26.

Rating: C. I know this isn’t the most popular opinion in the world but I really can’t stand the Guns anymore. Their matches are basically signs that say these things were all rehearsed and planned out beforehand and I never buy the idea that they’re having a spontaneous match. The Best Friends aren’t much better with the constant hugging (I know it gets a reaction but maybe they should have something else), making this one of those matches I had to get through rather than enjoy.

We recap the TV Title match. Kenny King is a fighting champion and is ready to defend against anyone. So how about defending against three people at once?

TV Title: Kenny King vs. Punishment Martinez vs. Silas Young vs. Shane Taylor

King is defending and it’s elimination rules. Martinez comes out of a coffin and has what appears to be his legion behind him. Young and King start things off with the champ stopping for a quick dance after a shoulder. It’s off to Martinez, who grabs a headlock of all things. That’s not exactly what a monster should be doing. King can’t do much with Martinez so Taylor tags himself in for the big showdown.

Everything breaks down with Silas diving over the top onto Taylor. King dives onto both of them so of course it’s Martinez hitting his own springboard flip dive onto the pile. Back in and Martinez takes King down with a top rope spinwheel kick, putting all four down on the mat. King and Martinez kick each other in the face but Taylor catches the champ in a spinning sitout piledriver.

For some reason no one covers King with Taylor instead hitting a running Death Valley Driver to send Martinez into the corner. Taylor gets crotched on top and King manages a Royal Flush, followed by Martinez’s springboard twisting swanton to get rid of Shane at 9:07. Martinez elbows the other two in the corner but gets knocked outside in short order.

King and Young beat on the monster outside and it’s a powerbomb/Blockbuster combo for good measure. Back in and the Royal Flush plants Martinez but Young hits King with a beer bottle for the elimination at 12:58. The chokeslam gives Martinez two but Beer City Bruiser makes a save. They fight to the floor again with Young winning the brawl and kicking away back inside. Back in and some knees to the ribs set up Misery to give Young the title at 17:24 in a rather sudden finish.

Rating: D. I’m not sure why this match is getting the really harsh reactions it’s been receiving. Yeah it was bad but you would think it was one of the worst matches ever or something. The match was a bit of a mess, but what else were you expecting? Matches involving tags that break down into wild brawls are kind of ROH’s thing and that’s what you had here. Young winning is the right call and I have no idea what else you would have expected here.

We recap Bully Ray/Tommy Dreamer vs. the Briscoe Brothers. Bully and the Briscoes were partners but they turned on and injured him at Death Before Dishonor. Ray has teased retiring but was suddenly fine enough for this fight. Fellow ECW alum Tommy Dreamer is with him for the sake of nostalgia, though it does fit for what they’re doing.

Briscoe Brothers vs. Bully Ray/Tommy Dreamer

Street fight with the ECW guys coming in through the crowd. It’s a brawl to start (as it should be) with the Brothers in early trouble. Dreamer hits a flip dive off the apron onto Jay and Mark is already bleeding a bit. Bully crossbodies both of them off the apron but Jay posts him to get a breather. Jay’s good looking suicide dive takes Bully down again and it’s time for some chairs. All four wind up with one though and it’s time for the dueling.

They switch to kendo sticks instead with Bully and Dreamer pulling out plastic lightsabers. You know, for part of the match where taking place out of such EXTREME hatred. A kitchen sink is brought in and Dreamer is told to get the tables. The Briscoes fight up and clean house again, this time busting Ray open. We’ve got a ladder now too and you know this isn’t going to end well. It’s cheese grater time and Bully’s cut is a lot worse in a hurry. Maybe they shouldn’t have spent as much time with the lightsabers.

Ray knocks Mark down and blocks the Jay Driller, only to get chaired in the head. Jay takes too long getting a table though and Bully kicks it away, followed by a reverse 3D. The Death Valley Driver off the apron and through a table takes care of Mark. Bully’s middle rope splash drives Jay through a table…and let’s have some fire. The fluid is poured on the table but the Briscoes are back up with a 3D onto the table (didn’t break). Mark adds a Froggy Bow for the pin at 16:17.

Rating: C. I really could go the rest of my life without another ECW tribute. It’s annoying enough to have this be a New Japan holding pen half the time but do we really need the ECW stuff too? I know it’s asking a lot to have ROH find its own identity again but it would be nice if they would try. The match itself was the brawl you would expect and really that’s all it needed to be. Again, the right guy won too and that’s always a perk. The ECW stuff was a little heavy handed but at least the build to this was good. It still should have been Bully vs. Jay though.

Video on the Top Five moments in Final Battle history. There’s no need for this but it only takes about two minutes. Austin Aries FINALLY ending Samoa Joe’s World Title reign is #1.

Ian brings out the Women of Honor because we’ll be having a Women’s Title tournament starting in late January. It’s a nice idea but the division has been filler at best so far. A title might help them though.

The Young Bucks and Hangman Page are ready to defend the Six Man Titles.

Six Man Tag Team Titles: Young Bucks/Adam Page vs. Flip Gordon/Titan/Dragon Lee

The Bucks and Page are defending, Titan and Lee are basically guest stars and Scorpio Sky is on commentary. Lee and Nick start things off and immediately go to the mat for a technical sequence. Nick is up first and walks the corner for a wristdrag before a double dropkick goes nowhere. Titan and Page come in with the masked man grabbing a headscissors before it’s off to Matt vs. Flip.

Gordon still won’t shake hands though and Matt isn’t happy. Flip…uh, flips around a lot and it’s six straight stereo dropkicks before all six come in for a dropkick at the same time for a not terrible spot. Things settle down with the challengers working on Matt’s arm until Page comes in for a dropsault. Page moonsaults down onto all three of them and Matt hits a running flip dive from the ramp onto all five.

Back in and Page stomps on Titan until a legwhip takes him down. Flip comes back in and nips away from a series of superkicks. A springboard double Blockbuster cuts the Bucks down and a springboard flip dive takes them down again. Flip’s running shooting star gets two on Page but Nick has to scratch the superkick itch. A springboard DDT plants Lee onto the apron, leaving Flip to escape the Rite of Passage.

Matt superkicks Nick by mistake and Titan’s suplex into a sitout powerbomb gets two. That’s about it for the Bucks being in trouble though (might be a record for them around here) as more flip dives and a shooting star Indytaker plants Lee onto the floor. Gordon chops at everyone but gets triple superkicked. The Indytaker Rite of Passage to Titan and Gordon retains the titles at 15:14.

Rating: B-. As usual, the Bucks are a lot more entertaining when they’re not just throwing a bunch of superkicks. Unfortunately and also as usual, there was no question about who was winning here. The Six Man Titles are still completely worthless and odds are we’ll have to have another team thrown together to get another title match set up. Entertaining match, assuming you can handle the Bucks being around even longer.

Post match Sky and the Addiction come in to beat on Gordon and hold up the titles.

We recap the main event. Dalton Castle has been a wrestler for a long time, even if Cody doesn’t respect him. That’s the story of the whole thing: Castle has been fighting for as long as he’s been here while Cody thinks he deserves everything being handed to him. It’s a good story, even if they’re recycling the same videos we saw on TV in recent weeks.

ROH World Title: Cody vs. Dalton Castle

Cody, now with bleach blond hair, is defending and has Brandi in his corner. Castle comes out with a fleet of Boys, which is really what he should do here. It’s a cool entrance, which fits him quite well. Castle shoves a kick away to start and an armbar sends Cody bailing to the ropes. A chase around the ring allows Brandi to grab Castle’s foot and a DDT gives Cody his first offense.

The Alabama Slam gets two and it’s time for a shoving match with the referee. Cody takes him outside and throws him into the ramp steps, followed by a powerbomb through the timekeeper’s table. Brandi isn’t done as she goes up, despite being in a long, tight dress, and dives onto the Boys. That means a triple ejection and we’re down to one on one. Cody stops for some pushups but the delay allows Castle to slug him down into the corner. A suplex drops the champ as well and Castle pulls him face first into the post for a bonus. Blood is draw, which is probably why the hair has been bleached.

Cody comes back with a Disaster Kick but the ref gets bumped. Naturally it’s right before Castle gets that arm hold of his on to make Cody tap. Back up and Cross Rhodes gets two, followed by the Disaster Kick. Cody tries one too many charges though and gets caught in the Bang A Rang for the pin and the title at 12;55.

Rating: C. So….that’s it? After spending nearly half a year as champion, Cody just loses the title in less than fifteen minutes? As stunned as I am that they actually put the title on Castle, it’s cool to see them go with someone new. Castle is one of the only homegrown stars they have around here and giving him the title, even if it’s for a short reign, is a smart move. Just do it in a better match next time.

Castle celebrates to end the show.

Overall Rating: C+. The show wasn’t bad but aside from Lethal vs. Scurll, nothing stands out on it. I like that they’re going with less outside talent for a change and focused more on storytelling, but this was missing the big blowaway moment. Castle winning is the closest thing they had to one but Castle is more of a feel good deal than a game changer. It all depends on where they go from here and it’s a fine show, though I wasn’t as impressed as I was hoping to be.

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