At ROH Final Battle 2015, we saw Michael Bennett and Maria Kanellis’s final curtain call, as by all indications they are TNA-bound. We witnessed War Machine winning the World Tag Team Championships. Roderick Strong retained his World Television Championship against Bobby Fish, Jay Lethal retained his World Championship against AJ Styles, and lots more!  If you missed Final Battle, you can check out our full review and analysis here.

With Final Battle in the history books, this is ROH’s first opportunity to build upon stories that will follow us into the New Year.

Kevin Kelly and Prince Nana are on commentary.

Will Ferrara vs. Caprice Coleman

This is a rematch of their previous encounter, where Coleman made Ferrara tap out.

Coleman gets on the microphone and cuts a brief but flat promo that references envelopes that Prince Nana gave him and Will Ferrera, which apparently entail what he believes they should implement.

On commentary, Prince Nana alluded to the envelopes that he gave both of them and tied that in to the wrestler’s offense, which was helpful to telling the story. The match was ruled a no contest after both men grabbed a steel chair and attacked each other, as Prince Nana repeatedly yelled “I love it.”

Analysis: The promo from Caprice Coleman should have included more information on the meaning of the envelopes. It’s not surprising that this promo garnered virtually no reaction. To get the audience invested you have to start out by providing the basis of the story. The match itself was very brief (about four minutes long), and was used a means to advance the story.

House of Truth (Jay Lethal, Truth Martini & Taeler Hendrix) Backstage Promo

The House of Truth (minus Donovan Dijak) is backstage next to a Christmas tree and presents. Truth Martini is wearing a Santa Clause beard and hat. They explain the stipulation for the show’s main event. It’s a 10-man tag team match with Jay Lethal and Roderick Strong as team captains, and the captains open presents to reveal who will be on their respective teams. Lethal believes he’ll pick Moose, and instead it’s revealed that his first tag team partner will be Cheeseburger. Lethal is furious and storms off.

Analysis: The presents contain an envelope, which when opened reveal the names of their tag team partners. What is it with the envelopes in this show? This was a bit too wacky for me. I understand they wanted a backstage segment to reveal names, and the match concept did need to be explained, but that should have been done by the commentary team. It also lacked continuity to play out one present being opened to determine a tag team partner, but completely abandoning the idea for the rest of the partners selected.

Donovan Dijak w/Truth Martini & “The Outlaw” Ken Phoenix vs. The All Night Xpress (Kenny King & Rhett Titus)

Truth Martini gets on the microphone and says he’s in the Christmas spirit. He refers to women as “ho’s” and then says he is just kidding. Martini says he saw Phoenix, and was in a giving mood because of the holidays and decided to give him a chance. Martini says if Phoenix impresses him, he’ll have a permanent spot in the House of Truth.

This was a back and forth match, that teased tension between Dijak and Phoenix. Phoenix refused to tag Dijak, and it led to a Titus and King double team for the pinfall victory.

After the match, Martini gets in the ring and tells Phoenix he’ll let the crowd decide with a thumbs up for thumbs down as to whether he’ll make it into the House of Truth. Martini gave the thumbs down and Dijak attacked Phoenix from behind.

As Dijak leaves, Prince Nana leaves the commentary booth, says something to Dijak, and hands him an envelope. Kevin Kelly asked Nana about it and he told Kelly he’s just a businessman.

Analysis: I’m a fan of Dijak, and he was able to showcase his impressive physical skills in this match. He’s very tall, has a good look, and is a good worker or his size. I see big things in Dijak’s future in ROH.

Rhett Titus and Kenny King are an exciting tag team, with a lot of momentum, that scored a big win at Final Battle over The Young Bucks and The Briscoes. I’ve long been a fan of Rhett Titus in ROH, and I’ve enjoyed his return to date.

Kevin Kelly Ringside Interview w/Steve Corino

Steve Corino comes out sporting a neck brace, as the fans chant “Steve Corino.”    Kevin Kelly asks Steve Corino how neck surgery has changed him. Steve thanked everyone again, and mentioned how much pain he was in. Corino said one day his neck brace will come off and BJ Whitmer will have to pay for his sins. He says he’s an evil man and BJ Whitmer is going to find that out soon enough.

Analysis: It looks like Corino is pushing to return to the ring to face BJ Whitmer. It would certainly pay off the angle, and it would be a nice way to go out, but I’m concerned about his long term health. Is the risk worth the reward?  Only the man himself can answer that.

10 Man Christmas Surprise Tag Team Match
Team Lethal (Jay Lethal, Cheeseburger, Adam Page w/BJ Whitmer and Colby Corino, Cliff Compton & Jay Briscoe) vs. Team Strong (Roderick Strong, Cedric Alexander w/Veda Scott, Mark Briscoe, Moose & Matt Jackson)

BJ Whitmer joins Kevin Kelly and Prince Nana on commentary, and immediately questioned the validity of Steve Corino’s injury.

I’m usually not a fan of 10-man tag team matches, but this was a fun match with some intriguing interactions.

Matt Jackson’s selling at the beginning of the match was a noticeable improvement over his last ROH TV (non-PPV) show appearance. At one point Moose threw Cheeseburger like a lawn dart halfway across the ring. Jay and Mark Briscoe briefly squared off with neither getting the upper hand. While surrounded, Cheeseburger used his shotei palm strike to take out Strong’s entire team. Mark Briscoe landed froggy bow on Adam Page for the pinfall victory for Team Strong.

Kevin Kelly mentioned on commentary that next week’s ROH TV show will be a look back at the best matches of the year.

Analysis: The Christmas stipulation was relevant but nonsensical. This was a very good main event, especially considering there were no actual storyline implications. The end of the match was fast-paced, and very good. It made it worth checking this match out if you missed it. When you book a card, it should be with the intent that the main event is the best match so that you have a build and a climax. The first match should never be booked as the best match of the show (I’m looking at you WWE at TLC), and if it is, someone screwed up.

Final Thoughts: This show was just alright for me. It didn’t quite measure up to some of the shows they’ve had lately. The envelope theme was strange, but the main event delivered. Prince Nana on commentary didn’t do much for me, but I understand the need for it due to the angle.

As we move into the New Year, I’ve listed the items below that I would like to see ROH focus on the most:

  1. Storyline continuity – ROH can add to the fans emotional investment in the product by creating compelling, episodic TV with storyline continuity.
  2. Production quality – Production quality makes a huge difference in the perception and marketing of a wrestling product.
  3. Select 2-3 full-time ROH wrestlers with long term deals that you’re going to put at the very top of the singles card, promote them, build them, and protect them.

Agree or disagree?  Give me your thoughts; what do you think ROH should focus on in 2016?  Let me know on Twitter at @TheBradShepard.

Until next time, I wish you all a very happy holiday!