A Monster Rises – Ring of Honor “Final Battle 2019” Review

Welcome to the last PPV for Ring of Honor in 2019, Final Battle. It’s been a roller coaster of a year for the company so they were hoping to end the year with a bang. The card was stacked, scores would be settled and I finally got to see PCO in a main-event. There was a variety of matches on display tonight seeing titles defended, grudges getting taken to new levels and more. Who would come away from this PPV a big winner and who would have to eat defeat? Let’s get into it, shall we?

Hour One: 2 Guys 1 Tag (Silas Young & Josh Woods) defeated Dalton Castle & Joe Hendry via Deez Knees

It turns out that 2 Guys 1 tag are on a hell of a roll right now. They are on a big win streak and that continues unimpeded after this match. Joe Hendry gave them a challenge as the monster of his team but Silas and Woods were able to withstand him and focus on beating down Dalton Castle. This was a standard tag match with a sprinkling of nice spots throughout. You could see the former grudges between Castle and Young come through when they traded and it added to the overall vibe of the match. Hendry probably got the standout moments of the show though with some pretty cool feats of strength. Nice opening match but nothing too outstanding.

Post-match, Alex Shelley challenged Colt Cabana to a match for later in the night, citing him as one of the best technical wrestlers on the planet. The pair have never had a singles match together so they want to fix that on this show.

Hour One: Kenny King w/Amy Rose defeated Rhett Titus via Royal Flush 

What happens when tag teams break up? Matches like this happen. The All-Night Express imploded with Kenny King pushing too many of Titus’ buttons and earning a beating for it. That’s the only excuse I can think of for some of the sloppiness in this match. Moves didn’t connect properly and the felt stilted at times because of it. They tried to make King look like an arse by having him mock Titus and Titus’ family on multiple occasions but it mainly just got him more of a beating. It would take Amy Rose interfering to save King from Titus. He’d kicked out of his own finisher and then hit a low blow on Titus when the ref was distracted. It wasn’t a good match but it was a serviceable continuation of the feud they are looking to build.

Hour One: Jeff Cobb defeated Dan Maff via Tour of the Islands

I couldn’t believe this was on the pre-show. I was prepared for an athletic hoss fight and that is just what I got. These two put on the first high-calibre match of the night. It was a hard-hitting affair of big boy strikes and outpowering one another. It’s rare to see someone manhandle Jeff Cobb as easily as Maff was able to. He was throwing Cobb around as if he were made of paper. It was nice to see him back in ROH and treated with respect. Both him and Cobb looked like monsters with some real respect show between the pair. Both men beat the hell out of each other, both men flew and both men were thrown around. It was a joy to watch and it made the pre-show worth watching. The fact that both men respected one another after it was the icing on the cake. Both men deserve credit for their showing in that match. Maff is a valuable signing with the company if this is what he’ll put out on a pre-show.

Flamita & Bandido defeated Villain Enterprises (Marty Scurll & Flip Gordon) via 21-619 Plex

It was a smart move to start the main card with Marty Scurll and Villain Enterprises. They are still one of the hottest properties in ROH, with Scurll being one of their top stars (it may have been Scurll’s last match with ROH). Knowing he was with Flip Gordon against two of Mexico’s best just meant that the show was going to open strong. This was Bandido and Flamita’s tag team debut in ROH so the company had certainly thrown them in at the deep end. My god was it an amazing match. Talk about a feast of flippy shit, destructive double team moves and excessively fast combos. Flip was able to mix it up with Flamita and Bandido with ease whilst Scurll picked him moments to mess with his faster opponents. Everyone shone and I lost count of the amount of time commentary dropped the word “Jesus” in response to what they were seeing. Mexiblood got the win following an insane combo ending in a 21-619 Plex that took out both members of Villain Enterprises. Go watch this match, it deserves to be seen.

Grudge Match: Vincent defeated Matt Taven via Sliced Bread Cutter

The Kingdom has fallen. Rotten from the inside when Vincent turned on his former friend and vowed to end him. Tonight, he got to live up to that vow. Taven started strong, wasting no time in going for the attack early on and fighting around ringside. It took a knee tweak to take Taven out of the match and give Vincent his chance to strike. He picked on the target and used some exposed concrete to accentuate this point. The pair tried to murder each other with Taven putting his body on the line in a series of dives and a splash on the ring apron that really looked like it hurt. He fought through the pain and injury but unfortunately, Vincent isn’t human. The Rob Zombie of wrestling survived two Climaxes and took advantage of Taven’s fury. When Taven went for the axe that had cut him open, Vincent was ready and the King of Horror won. After the match, Tyler Bateman came out to attack Taven leading to Vincent hobbling Taven with a ring block and a chair. It was like a scene straight from Misery. I feel Vincent may be starting a cult and I want to see that happen.

Street Fight: Mark Haskins (w/Vicky Haskins) defeated Bully Ray via Stomp Boy

Why is it every time I review a Bully Ray ROH match, it’s half good and half shite? I loved parts of this match especially the opening where Haskins made his entrance and Bully Ray comes out of nowhere with a barbed wire board. From there though it was a very slow, methodical beatdown with Bully Ray just taunting. It was a match of peaks and troughs but it certainly showcased Haskins as a tough bastard. He withstood the abuse and bled like mad as Bully Bubba Bombed him onto a railing and put him through a barbed wire table. It would be Vicky Haskins, who’d been attacked at the start by Ray, who would make the save. She hit a Nutgrater? Nutcheeser? (you’re welcome, Steph…) on Bully Ray as she attacked him in the balls with a cheese grater. This gave Haskins time to recover then the pair put Ray through a table and ended the match with the Stomp Boy. It was way too long but it echoed ECW of old and offered homage to the famous Dreamer/Sandman cane moment.

Alex Shelley defeated Colt Cabana via Arm Trap Roll-Up

This was a nice little bout to cleanse the palate. It was a purely technical, mildly comedic bout that was just a nice mix of two pros showing off. Either man could have won here and I wouldn’t have complained. Considering it was made very last minute, the crowd were hot for it and so was I. There’s not too much to say here. It was short, sweet and really damn good. It also added a nice last touch to Colt Cabana’s latest tenure with the company.

WOH: Maria Manic defeated Angelina Love (w/Mandy Leon) via Torture Rack

Calling this a match would be a lie. This was a slaughter. Maria Manic tortured both Angelina Love and Mandy Leon with ease. She picked both up and threw them around like they were nothing. No amount of distraction or attempted double teams could stop her. Like the Terminator, she just kept coming until she had slammed Leon out of existence and made Love tap out with the Torture Rack. No matter how much showboating Manic did, how many times she stopped to interact with the audience, Love just wasn’t able to get anything going. Manic also managed to punt a can of hairspray into the crowd so that wasn’t going to be used. I feel ROH have big things planned for Manic if this is the debut they are giving her. It was a complete mugging.

ROH World Television Championship: Dragon Lee defeated Shane Taylor via Running Knee Strike

The first title match of the night saw Dragon Lee claim his first ROH title. What started as him getting beaten into submission turned into an incredibly competitive match between Taylor and Lee. Taylor had the obvious size and strength advantage but Lee had speed and an inexhaustible amount of knee strikes. It was an up and down bout of power moves, stiff strikes and surprise kick-outs. Taylor hit Lee with everything he could but it was never quite enough to keep him down. When a chain was introduced into the match, it looked like Taylor was going for a DQ finish but instead, Lee used a distraction to wrap the chain around his knee and use it on his opponent instead. It didn’t win the match but it certainly rocked Taylor. In the end, after a series of near falls, Lee exposed his knee for one final shot and finished the match. He has become the new World Television Champion and has won a title in NJPW, CMLL and ROH now. Taylor certainly gave it all he could but ultimately what did we learn here, cheaters never win.

ROH World Tag Team Championship: Lethal & Gresham defeated The Briscoes via Tights Grab Roll-Up

I swear about half of this match was Jay Lethal getting beaten up. That being said the second half was exceptional. The new Lethal and Gresham team was one forged of a mutual pissed off feeling towards most of the top guys in the company being rule breakers. Lethal and Gresham figured they could out-cheat the cheaters and here it succeeded for them. The Briscoes ain’t a team to mess with though and they had Lethal and Gresham on the ropes on more than one occasion. They punished Lethal and Gresham for every transgression. When Gresham and Lethal threatened to use the Doomsday Device they kicked that beating up another notch. Originally, I didn’t have much faith in this match but once things got going and it became competitive, I started to warm to it. The Briscoes are tag team specialists and whether you love them or hate them, they are great at what they do. Lethal and Gresham have a special kind of chemistry and I loved seeing them embrace the evil they seemed so disgusted by. In the end, they won with a roll-up. A dirty roll-up managed to walk out the villainous champions. I wonder if retribution will be coming as that does not seem like a loss the Briscoes would be happy with.

ROH World Championship: PCO defeated RUSH via PCOSault through Table

Friday the 13th Massacre Match… I was already sold on this match, then they added this stipulation. PCO is wrestling’s sweetheart. He is 51 years old, a former star who was blackballed from the biz only to come back to be one of its most sought after and craziest stars. He was facing one of the most vicious champs to date though in RUSH. It didn’t take long for the stipulation to take effect as RUSH started using chairs and a wire to bludgeon PCO. Since the crowd were so behind the undead villain, he went full-on bad guy, insulting the crowd and taunting PCO at every turn. The match itself was a total train wreck in the funniest way. Most of the match was fought outside with RUSH tearing up scenery and rails to throw at PCO. Halfway through the match, D-Destro appeared to spark PCO back to life and the undead wrestler finally started to bring the fight. We got a bunch of deathmatch show doors broken before the ultimate moment of surprise… PCO won the ROH World Championship. He was able to hit a Moonsault through a table and won. I feel like this shouldn’t be something I’m writing. I love PCO. I think it’s amazing he’s still going despite all the abuse he’s taken since he came back to wrestling and to see a big company give him their top title is quite something. It will not be for everyone… or most people but bold move ROH. Very bold move.

So, there you have it, Final Battle put under a microscope. It was an alright show, showing the best and the worst of what ROH can offer. It certainly had its drag moments with certain matches going too long and I don’t feel all the matches meshed as well as the company wanted, but it was fun overall. I can’t believe that PCO is the ROH World Champion but it’s a very new direction for the company. I’m intrigued to see what the company will do following this event as they have introduced some new players into their game. It’s certainly not going to be for everyone and some of their decisions reeked of desperation but I cannot begrudge a company for trying to move in a radical new direction. I just hope they capitalise on their decisions. Only time will tell.

All images courtesy of ROH Twitter, Botch205 Twitter, AllanJG9 Twitter, Javier DraVen Twitter, FITE, Colt Cabana Twitter

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