ROH Final Battle 2016
December 2, 2016
Hammerstein Ballroom – New York City, New York

Before the PPV began, we got a cool opening featuring “Story Time With Adam Cole Bay Bay”. These opening packages are an aspect of ROH PPVs that are sorely underrated. I’m not saying they’re necessarily on WWE-esque levels, but they’re usually very good, and I thought this one was no different.

The Rebellion (The All-Night Express & Caprice Coleman) def. The Motor City Machine Guns & Donovan Dijak

After spending months parading around as The Cabinet, which was a gimmick that I would say was on the comedic side, The All-Night Express & Caprice Coleman reshaped themselves as a more serious group, now calling themselves The Rebellion.

Here, they took on The Motor City Machine Guns & Donovan Dijak, who did an awesome job coordinating the color of their gear (they looked great in yellow & black!).This was a pretty solid opener. The Rebellion were fine, but I came away from this match a lot more impressed with Sabin, Shelley & Dijak.

Even though this was their first time teaming together as a trio, they already had a number of awesome double-team and triple-team maneuvers. They worked so well together as a trio, but Dijak was the clear standout, as he always seems to be. This guy is such an incredible talent. I hope ROH realizes what they have with Dijak, and give him a proper push, before it’s too late, because I believe Dijak will be in WWE sooner rather than later. As for the match, the last bit of the match was a little deflating, as Sabin, Shelley, & Dijak hit this incredible sequence of moves on one of the members of The Rebellion and went for the pin, but the other members broke up the pin. At that point, I knew The Rebellion were winning, and they did so soon after, as they pinned (I believe) Chris Sabin for the win. The very end took away from the match, in my opinion, but other than that, I enjoyed this. It had a lot of fun action, and I hope The Motor City Machine Guns & Donovan Dijak remain a more permanent trio. ***¼

Donovan Dijak had an interesting interaction with his (apparently) former manager, Prince Nana, after the match. It seemed to tease that Nana might be bringing in a group of people to take on Dijak, and potentially The Motor City Machine Guns (I guess by proxy).

Silas Young (with The Beer City Bruiser) def. Jushin “Thunder” Liger

As you probably would have guessed, Liger got a pretty big reaction when he came out.

Silas Young has had an interesting 2016. He came out on the losing end of his feud with Dalton Castle, then spend the summer feuding with ACH, but then seemed to come on strong towards the end of the year, even getting a shot at Adam Cole’s ROH World Title. While he did manage to close out 2016 with a victory here over the legendary Jushin “Thunder” Liger, I came away from this match disappointed. I wasn’t expecting this match to be spectacular, but for the most part, I just never got into the match. Most of it just felt slow and plodding, plus we got occasional interference from The Beer City Bruiser. Granted, I didn’t think it was bad. The match had its moments (and it was better than some of the A Block matches I’ve seen from New Japan’s World Tag League, which is still ongoing), but as a whole, I would say this was the worst match on the show. This has to be one the most disappointing matches Liger has had in ROH in quite some time, but honestly, I’d put that more on Silas Young. The fact the match turned out this way wasn’t a shock to me. As part of the preview for the PPV, I mentioned how Silas Young had a disappointing match with KUSHIDA back in May. Now I’m not hating on Young at all (a lot of people, including myself, really like him), but for some reason, when he’s been matched up against a major star from New Japan’s Junior Division, he’s dropped the ball. **¾

Dalton Castle def. Colt Cabana

Cabana came out to a heel remix of his Kidd Russell entrance music, where he sings the lyrics to the song. While I’m not totally sold on the song itself, I do like the change.

Meanwhile, Dalton Castle came out on a freaking chariot, which looked absolutely awesome!! As for the match itself, pretty good, on-par with the opener. These two seemed to work well together including a few nice exchanges, and a number of fun spots throughout. The match went about ten or eleven minutes, which I thought was the perfect length for this particular spot on the card.

Dalton Castle got the win, which was definitely the right move. It’ll be curious to see if this was it for the feud between these two, or it continues into 2017. If it does, hopefully it won’t be for much longer, because I think Castle is definitely capable of doing more things higher up the card. ***¼

After Cody & Jay Lethal had made their entrances (the former with his wife—Brandi Rhodes—as his personal ring announcer), The Addiction came out to interrupt the proceeding. Despite the heckling from the New York City crowd, The Addiction appeared to have good intentions, as Christopher Daniels praised Cody’s father, Dusty Rhodes. They put over Lethal as well, before heading over to the commentary booth. I don’t think that promo was totally necessary, but The Addiction being out there did play into what would occur after this next match.

Cody def. Jay Lethal

One of the big questions coming into this show was how Cody was going to look in his ROH debut. He did get a positive reception from the crowd when he came out. Lethal, interesting enough, came out with a vest that had his own “list” on the back of it. I thought the match was, for the most part, good. In hindsight, it was pretty much exactly the kind of match I expected. There was some decent back & forth action, and both guys looked solid. Cody went after one of Lethal’s arms (which was slightly taped up) during the match, and as whole, I thought he was fine in this match. Lethal, meanwhile, has been busting out some new moves as of late, and we saw of those here. Honestly, I preferred Cody’s debut match for EVOLVE against Zack Sabre Jr. more than this match, but still, I thought this was a perfectly fine midcard match.

The big takeaway from this one was the finish. When the referee got knocked off to the side after colliding with Jay Lethal, Cody gave Lethal a low blow, which led to him hitting Cross Rhodes on the former ROH World Champion for the victory. It was certainly an odd finish in the moment, but after thinking about it, I think going heel is a good move for Cody. In all of the other major independents/TV promotions that Cody has wrestled for thus far since leaving WWE (Evolve, PWG, TNA), he’s been booked as a babyface. I believe ROH might be the first major promotion to book Cody as a heel. In this regard, ROH deserves some credit for doing something different with Cody. He’ll be better off in ROH as a heel, in my opinion, and I’m more intrigued to see what he does from here, and I don’t think I’d be saying that if he was still a babyface. ***¼

After the match, Cody mocked Jay Lethal and attacked him some more. The Addiction, who were on commentary, came down to make the save. I thought this was going to lead to The Addiction teaming up with Cody to form a new heel group, but thankfully, this didn’t happen, as they just chased Cody off. However, Cody wasn’t done, as he went after Steve Corino at the commentary booth. I’m not sure what to make of that particular move, especially with all of the rumors regarding Corino potentially taking a job at the WWE Performance Center. Cody getting physical with Steve Corino would make you believe something is going to happen down the line, but time will tell.

ROH Six-Man Tag Team Tournament Finals
The Kingdom (Matt Taven, Vinny Marseglia, & TK O’Ryan) def. KUSHIDA, Lio Rush, & Jay White

To the shock of absolutely nobody, The Kingdom became the first-ever ROH Six-Man Tag Team Champions. This was an interesting match that had a lot of ups and downs.

They started off with the babyface team getting an immediate flurry of offense in on The Kingdom, and Taven almost got pinned in the first minute of the match, which was a nice callback to Taven’s other two appearances at Final Battle, where he lost the ROH World TV Title and the ROH World Tag Team Titles in relatively quick matches (for different reasons). From there, match seemed to slow down a bit, and it started to lose my attention. While it did manage to pick up a good deal in the second half, the finish also ended up hurting the match, as a referee bump allowed The Kingdom to use Taven’s staff, which eventually led to The Kingdom’s victory. There was a ton of very solid action in this match, but a variety of factors kept this match from being better. I mentioned in the preview of this show that this was The Kingdom’s chance to put on their first standout match since the group was reformed in Matt Taven’s image. This match ended up being on-par with their matches against The Bullet Club & Team CMLL from earlier in the tournament, but they weren’t able to produce a match that was better than those two prior matches. I give The Kingdom credit for being consistent, but they need to step up their game. I’ll be curious to see what they do in 2017. ***1/4

ROH World TV Title – Triple Threat
Marty Scurll def. Dragon Lee & Will Ospreay

This was originally scheduled to be a Four-Corner Survival Match involving Bobby Fish, but Kevin Kelly & Steve Corino announced on commentary that Fish was unable to make the show due to a recent death in his family.

With Fish’s absence, we instead got a Triple Threat Match, with Marty Scurll (who’s ROH theme music kind of sucks, to be honest) defending against his archrival Will Ospreay and CMLL standout Dragon Lee.

This match was fantastic!! While the two matches that followed were certainly great in their own unique ways, this Triple Threat wins my vote for Match of the Night. It was an absolute blast to watch from start to finish. There was so much awesome action, and all three guys looked great. Will Ospreay & Marty Scurll obviously worked very well together, but the exchanges between Dragon Lee & Ospreay were definitely highlights of the match as well. It seemed like it took the crowd a little time to get into the action, but once they did, they were pretty loud, particularly for Ospreay. They were really into him after seeing some of the crazy things he did, but they also reacted well to Scurll, especially when his did his finger snap spot on Dragon Lee. Scurll was able to retain his title when he made Dragon Lee (who had just gotten hit by the OsCutter from Ospreay, who was then immediately tossed outside the ring by Scurll) tap out the Crossface Chicken Wing. Again, this was an awesome match that’s well worth checking out. ****1/4

Before I move on to the next match, I just want to make not that Kevin Kelly & Steve Corino did confirm that they would be doing commentary for Wrestle Kingdom 11 in The Tokyo Dome on January 4th, 2017. Even though Steve Corino’s future in ROH is very much in question, it’s nice to hear that he will be calling that show. Those two have done a really good job with their english commentary in New Japan, and I’m sure they’ll do a great job on such an important show.

ROH World Tag Team Title
The Young Bucks def. The Briscoes

Of course, The Young Bucks had been making some headlines in the last few days with news that they’ve apparently been offered a new multi-year deal with ROH. These two teams have always delivered great matches in the past, and this one was no different.

The crowd was into both teams and, as you would have expected, the match was filled with a ton of great action from start to finish. Even though this wasn’t quite the spectacular match I was expecting, which would’ve stood out from the rest as the defining match of their rivalry, it was still an awesome match to watch. Each team hit the other with some of their signature tag team moves, but both found a way to survive and kept the match going. The action was just so cool, and I enjoyed every second of it. The finish itself was one of the more unique finishes I’ve seen, as The Young Bucks delivered nearly twenty (I’m guessing it was in that range) rapid fire superkicks to The Briscoes, and that was enough to put ‘Dem Boys away. They basically superkicks The Briscoes into oblivion.

It’s like when you play a WWE video game and you keep spamming a button to hit the same move or strike over and over and over again. I’m actually a little conflicted with that finish. In the moment, it didn’t feel like that was the finish (and it seemed like some of the fans in the building didn’t totally expect that to be the finish, either), but at the same time, I don’t believe it would have been realistic if The Briscoes came back from all of those superkicks. Regardless, it was a unique finish that we haven’t seen before, so I give them a ton of credit for coming up with it. ****

While the result of the match itself was certainly newsworthy, given the aforementioned contract offer The Young Bucks recently received, the biggest news item to come out of the PPV (that didn’t involve a title chance) was the appearance of “Broken” Matt Hardy!! As The Young Bucks were celebrating their victory, the lights when out, and when they came back on, “Broken” Matt Hardy appeared on the CaryTron, which got the loudest reaction of the night by far. Hardy then announced that he was bringing Brother Nero (Jeff Hardy) with him to ROH so they could “delete” The Young Bucks and their title reign. Obviously this immediately raised a lot of questions, as The Hardys work for TNA. One of the theories that has been floating around is that this might be a deal where, if The Young Bucks are allowed to appear on The Hardy’s “Total Nonstop Deletion” special in a few weeks, then TNA would, in return, allow The Hardy’s to appear in ROH. That could be possible, but we’ll have to wait and see on that.

As far as Matt Hardy showing up again in ROH is concerned, I get and understand why some people won’t be excited about it, but personally, I don’t mind it at all. While his in-ring work in ROH has never been stellar, his most recent run in 2013 & 2014 as part of S.C.U.M., and then as a founding member of The Kingdom (in its original form of Adam Cole, Matt Hardy, Michael Bennett, & Maria Kanellis) involved some great heel character work. If it’s just one match, that’s fine. Besides, “Broken” Matt Hardy is incredibly popular, and the fact that he got arguably the biggest reaction on this entire show is proof of that.

ROH World Title – No DQ Match
Kyle O’Reilly def. Adam Cole

At the request of Kyle O’Reilly a few days before the PPV, this match was changed into a No DQ Match. While this stipulation did drum up fears of potential interference from The Young Bucks, I think it really played into the heated rivalry between these two. Not only that, but they were in the main event of ROH’s biggest show of the year, fighting over the ROH World Title in the same building when their famous Hybrid Fighting Rules Match took place over four and a half years ago. This just added even more to the story between these two, so it was no surprise that the match turned into a violent brawl.

Both guys got busted open, and various weapons got involved, including a trash can, chairs, multiple tables, and even thumbtacks. Again, this was a violent and bloody match, but given the serious nature of their feud, there really wasn’t any other way for this feud between these two to come to an end. I have to admit, I’m a sucker for ROH hardcore matches (I really can’t explain why), and when they involve a rivalry like this, it just works so well. Thankfully, there was no interference in this match, which was a big relief. The crowd did seem to be as responsive as they had been at various points earlier in the night (and that did detract from the match for me a little bit), but they still reacted when it mattered, and it made for an awesome main event! The other big story surrounding this match was the result, as Kyle O’Reilly was someone whose future with ROH was in doubt coming into the show.

However, those rumors were seemingly put to rest, as O’Reilly made Cole tap out to win the ROH World Title. It’ll definitely be interesting to see what O’Reilly does in 2017 as ROH World Champion, but one thing we do know is that his partner in reDRagon, Bobby Fish, has a title shot after winning Survival of the Fittest, which means we might be getting O’Reilly vs Fish for the ROH World Title sometime down the line. ****

Final Thoughts:

After coming off All-Star Extravaganza VIII, which was arguably one of the best PPV’s in the company’s history, Final Battle 2016 was a return to what we’ve come to expect from ROH PPV’s in the SBG Era, which is a show that was very good from top to bottom (with some standout matches), but didn’t quite reach the levels of being a great show.

The top three matches were all great, with the Triple Threat Match for the ROH World TV Title being the clear standout of the three, easily winning MOTN honors from me. Even though they weren’t quite MOTN for me, The Briscoes vs. The Young Bucks and Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly were both equally great, and are definitely worth checking out. Those three matches were also very different, which helped them stand out from each other. The rest of the undercard was relatively solid, though it did have some ups & downs in terms of in-ring quality.

Aside from the matches themselves, some of the bigger moments on the show saw Cody make an unexpected (but welcomed) heel turn, The Kingdom capturing the ROH Six-Man Tag Team Titles, and the shocking appearance of “Broken” Matt Hardy. Overall, I would say that this was a very good outing from ROH, and I would definitely recommend seeking out those last three matches.