ROH Final Battle 2019
December 13th, 2019
7:00 PM EST (Free Hour) / 8:00 PM EST (PPV)
UMBC Event Center
We’re now in the middle of December, which means that it’s time for Final Battle, the show that’s traditionally been ROH’s biggest event of the year. At the conclusion of last year’s Final Battle weekend, a plethora of top talents in ROH (Cody, The Young Bucks, Adam Page, and SCU) all left the promotion to become key players in All Elite Wrestling. Losing all of those wrestlers at once was a big blow for ROH, without question. There were a lot of questions surrounding the promotion going into 2019, and many wondered how ROH would recover after losing those crucial talents. Well, they signed a number of independent talents in late 2018/early 2019 (RUSH, PCO, Brody King, Bandido, Mark Haskins, Tracy Williams, and others), and at first, the attendance drop-off in the first quarter of the year wasn’t nearly as dire as some were forecasting initially.
However, the G1 Supercard event in Madison Square Garden during WrestleMania Weekend proved to be a major turning point for the company, and not in a good way. While the New Japan portion of the show (and the ROH/New Japan interpromotional title bouts) received almost universal praise across the board, the ROH specific portions of the card were universally panned by many, with the debut of The Allure, the rap performance midway through the show (which led into the Six-Man Tag Team Street Fight), the Big Cass/Enzo Amore worked shoot angle, and the decision to put Matt Taven over in the ROH World Title Ladder Match were all moments that were major black marks on that show.
From there, ROH has been on a massive decline in almost every conceivable way. Attendance across the board seemed to plummet in the aftermath of the MSG show, to the point where ROH has been struggling to draw even respectable numbers to some events. The creative hasn’t been a strong point in the company for a number of years, but it’s seemed particularly pronounced this year. Buzz for the promotion is at an all-time low, and the recent information and revelations put out by Joey Mercury certain hasn’t helped the perception of ROH. On top of all that, it seems as though ROH has decided to stop putting any real effort into their TV show, as it’s pretty much become a clip show. All of this has occurred while Matt Taven was on top as the ROH World Champion. Even though he had his fans (remember Madison Square Taven?), it’s clear that those people were an extreme minority. John Carroll has written a couple of articles on the decline of ROH this year, and I would highly recommend checking out their articles.
2019 is about to come to a close, and there are more questions surrounding ROH now than there were at the end of 2018. More key talents are potentially on their way out, and many people have questioned whether this promotion will even exist come this time next year. Final Battle 2019 will certainly set the stage for the start of 2020, but it could also hold the key to what this promotion might look like going forward. From that perspective, it’s going to be a very fascinating show.
A quick note on the PPV. The first hour of the show, starting at 7:00 PM EST, will be airing for free on Facebook and FITE TV. The PPV portion of the show will begin at 8:00 PM EST.
ROH World Title – RUSH (c) vs. PCO
When ROH announced that they were holding a #1 Contender’s Tournament to determine who would challenge for the ROH World Title at Final Battle, I don’t think anyone expected PCO to come out on top. RUSH vs. PCO seems like such a bizarre match to headline a PPV with, but here we are! I fully expect this to be a crazy, out-of-control brawl. Realistically, that’s the only kind of match these two could possibly do together. RUSH will do his usual stuff, and I’m sure PCO will do a number of his wild stunts. RUSH seems like a lock to retain the title here, so I guess the only real question surrounds the match quality. This will either be really entertaining, or really bad. Either way, it’ll certainly be a wild spectacle that’s going to have people talking, for better or for worse. Prediction: RUSH
ROH World Tag Team Titles – The Briscoes (c) vs. Jay Lethal & Jonathan Gresham
During the summer, the relationship between Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham seemed to be falling apart after Gresham starting using more heelish/dishonorable tactics in his matches. It seemed like they smoothed things over after Gresham beat Lethal at Death Before Dishonor back in September, but then in a big surprise, both men turned heel during the ROH UK Tour when they brutally attacked The Briscoes. We probably would’ve seen more follow up to this, but unfortunately, Lethal broke his arm during that same UK Tour, and we haven’t seen him at all since then. On the surface, this has the potential to be a great tag team match. The Briscoes can still deliver in big spots (especially in situations like this where they’re looking for revenge after a brutal attack), and the Lethal/Gresham pairing has been very good ever since they started teaming together. It seems like the right call here is put the titles on Lethal and Gresham, as they’re fresh off a heel turn. Plus, the ROH World Tag Team Titles could use a fresh direction with a new team on top of the division. Not much else to say beyond that. This should be a very strong tag team affair. Prediction: Jay Lethal & Jonathan Gresham
ROH World TV Title – Shane Taylor (c) vs. Dragon Lee
Several months back, ROH ran an angle where Shane Taylor bought out his contract, and ever since, he’s been “forcing” the company to pay him and his promotional company, Shane Taylor Promotions, top dollar to defend the ROH World TV Title. He’s held the title for just over seven months, but at Final Battle, he faces his biggest test to date in the form of Dragon Lee. This bout was announced before Dragon Lee changed his name in New Japan to Ryu Lee, so I have no idea if that’s going to carry over to other promotions that he’s working for, or if he’s only using Rye Lee in New Japan. Regardless, this should be a very interesting clash of styles, as you have the powerhouse going up against an incredible high-flyer. 2019 has been a breakout year for Taylor, and Dragon Lee can have a great match with almost anyone, so in theory, this should be a very good title bout. At first glance, one might pick Shane Taylor to retain his title. However, as part of the laundry list of information that’s been dropped by Joey Mercury over the last several weeks, it sounds like ROH might not be re-signing Taylor for 2020. If that’s still the case, then I think there’s a strong chance of a title change here. Dragon Lee did sign a one-year contract with New Japan for 2020, and while the ROH relationship with New Japan is on shaky ground at best, Dragon Lee’s brother RUSH is (of course) the current ROH World Champion. I could easily see Lee working ROH dates alongside his brother when he’s not needed on a New Japan Tour (it’s not like ROH is running a lot of shows as it is). Then again, ROH might just end up signing Shane Taylor to a new deal, so who knows what’ll happen. Until we hear anything different, with regards to Taylor, I’m going with Dragon Lee to win the ROH World TV Title. I have RUSH retaining in the main event, so I can definitely see a scenario where these two brothers are both holding singles gold by the end of this show. Prediction: Dragon Lee
Street Fight – Bully Ray vs. Mark Haskins
I can’t believe that we’re closing in on THREE YEARS of Bully Ray in ROH. While he was perfectly fine in his role early on in his run as a partner of The Briscoes in the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Title picture, he’s really become a cancer in the company since he turned heel last year and took on a bigger role behind the scenes. After the feud with Flip Gordon appeared to come to a conclusion last year, we all thought Bully Ray was pretty much done, but then he conveniently popped up again just in time for MSG. He then quietly disappeared from ROH again following the infamous incident with a fan at a show in Portland, Oregon. However, he reappeared once again, and now we’re getting a Bully Ray match on Final Battle for the third consecutive year. While they’ve done a decent job building up this bout with Mark Haskins, the fact that Bully Ray is involved makes it impossible to care. I don’t even think this will be that bad of a match. I’m sure it’ll be a perfectly decent hardcore brawl, but again….Bully Ray’s involvement makes it really difficult to get invested in this in any meanful way. Hopefully Haskins wins and we can finally move on from Bully Ray, but based on history, he’ll probably just come back and get involved in some other pointless feud that just makes people roll their eyes and laugh at ROH. Prediction: Mark Haskins
Bandido & Flamita vs. Villain Enterprises (“The Villain” Marty Scurll & Flip Gordon)
Flamita was brought in to fill in for an injured Bandido on ROH’s UK Tour back in October, and clearly he did a very good job on those shows, because he ended up signing with ROH several weeks later. That’s a fairly decent pickup by ROH, who continue to show that they are more than willing to dig into the Sinclair coffers to sign wrestlers to contracts despite the rapidly declining state of the company. Flamita will be teaming with his regular tag team partner Bandido on this show to take on the Villain Enterprises team of Marty Scurll and Flip Gordon. The only real story here is that it does serve as another chapter in the ongoing feud between Lifeblood and Villain Enterprises, even though it’s seemingly been a one-sided feud in favor of the latter. When you look at who’s involved, this really has a chance to steal the show. From what I can recall, the only time I’ve seen the Bandido/Flamita team in action was on the 2018 TripleMania card where they won a wild four-team Ladder Match. I’ve heard very good things about their tag team work beyond that particular bout, and I’m fully expecting them to have a strong match here with Scurll and Gordon. Honestly, this has the potential to steal the show, if everything goes well. The result of this one will be very telling with regards to the futures of both Marty Scurll and Bandido in ROH. Right now, I feel like Bandido will probably stick around. With Flamita signing a deal with ROH, and both men apparently jumping to CMLL (the promotional partner of both ROH and New Japan), all signs seem to be pointing to Bandido sticking around. If that’s the case, then Mexablood getting the win would be the right result. As for Scurll, if he’s on his way out, then it wouldn’t shock me to see him take the fall here. He’s still part of the team that holds the ROH World-Six Man Tag Team Titles, though I imagine they’ll just use the Freebird Rule to put Flip Gordon in that spot if he leaves. Again, this should be really good, but it could be the start of Marty Scurll’s final weekend in ROH. Time will tell. Prediction: Bandido and Flamita
Matt Taven vs. Vincent
The Kingdom explodes!! Yes, the stable that was loathed by many fell apart during the most recent ROH events in early November, where it was revealed that Vinny Marseglia (who is now working as “Vincent”) was the one who had orchestrated mysterious backstage attacks on his fellow stablemates since Death Before Dishonor (TK O’Ryan hasn’t been seen in ROH since those attacks). After Vincent was revealed as the attacker, he went after Matt Taven in the ring, and used his axe to bust him open. So after that vicious attack, these two are having….a normal wrestling match? To be fair, I fully expect this to break down into a brawl, and it wouldn’t shock me if we get some screwy non-finish that leads to a gimmick match early next year. I just hope they don’t start this one off with chain wrestling. If we don’t get a DQ or a weird non-finish, I would say that Vincent wins just to keep the feud going. It would be pretty odd if Taven just beat Vincent in their first match and got his revenge straight away. Then again, we’re talking about 2019 ROH here! Right now, they’re not exactly known for making logical and smart booking decisions. On a side note, I don’t think enough people are talking about how Vinny Marseglia changed his name to Vincent. Not Vincent Marseglia….just Vincent! That’s so weird! It just makes me think of Soul Train Jones when he went under the name Vincent in WCW. It’s so strange. Prediction: Vincent
Dan Maff vs. Jeff Cobb
After a strong showing on the set of shows back in early November (which included a crazy hardcore brawl with PCO), ROH decided to sign Dan Maff. Everyone knows that Maff had a significant run in ROH back in 2004-2005, where he held the ROH Tag Team Titles twice alongside BJ Whitmer. A controversy involving Maff and Homicide ultimately led to Maff’s exit from the company, and I don’t anyone would’ve ever thought we’d see him again in ROH. Well, it’s December 2019, and he’s now a contracted ROH performer. Believe it or not, this is the first pro-wrestling contract that Maff has ever signed, which is cool for him. On this show, he’s taking on Jeff Cobb in what should be an entertaining hoss fight. There’s not much of a story beyond that. It’s just going to be two big dudes beating each other up. As for the result, I guess it all depends on what Jeff Cobb’s future with the promotion is. If he’s staying around, I would think he gets the win here. However, if he’s leaving, then I could definitely see Maff getting a big win here. I’ll go with Cobb, as I feel like he might be sticking around, but the end result could be a big hint at Cobb’s future plans. Prediction: Jeff Cobb
Angelina Love vs. “Maneater” Maria Manic
I’m sure everyone knows the story regarding Maria Manic’s run with ROH at this point. She came in during the summer, beat up The Allure and male security guards over and over, and then ROH let her short-term contract expire before she even had a match. ROH was ultimately able to re-sign her, but that was such an embarrassing, WCW-esque story. I’ve never seen Maria Manic wrestle before, so I have no idea what to expect here. I presume that Manic will win (as she should), but I don’t know what to expect as far as the match goes. On top of that, this could end up being for the Women Of Honor Title by the time the PPV gets underway! With everything that’s transpired between ROH and the (as of this writing) current Women Of Honor Champion Kelly Klein, I would be shocked if Klein comes back to ROH to drop the title. They’re probably going to vacate it, and they might end up using it to crown a new champion. In that instance, I would still have Manic win, and I would just have her do a bunch quick squashes until you’re ready to build up an actual challenger. Then again, ROH barely has enough women’s wrestlers to even have a functioning women’s division, so who knows at this point! Nicole Savoy is working the TV Tapings in Philly, so if they end up using her more, maybe she’s the person they build up to eventually challenge for the title? Regardless of what may or may not happen with the Women Of Honor Title, any layout for this match that doesn’t involve Manic killing Angelina Love is just objectively wrong. Prediction: “Maneater” Maria Manic
Dalton Castle & Joe Hendry vs. Silas Young & Josh Woods
The setup for this tag team was hilarious, though I’m not sure if it’s the good kind of hilarious or the bad kind of hilarious. Dalton Castle and Joe Hendry were hanging out backstage. Silas Young and Josh Woods (who’s tag team name is apparently 2G1T, or Two Guys, One Tag) then came out of a nearby men’s bathroom at the same time. Castle and Hendry make fun of them for using the men’s bathroom together, before having some brief banter about how well they know each other. Woods then awkwardly challenges them to a match at Final Battle. A strange setup to say the least, but I’m sure this will be perfectly fine. I guess the story here is that these are two fresh tag teams (both of which were formed by existing singles wrestlers) who are trying to gain more momentum in the tag team division. Castle and Hendry started out as rivals not that long ago (when Hendry sort of forced the idea of the team onto Castle), but the two are seemingly on the same page now. Young and Woods also had a brief rivalry before joining forces, though they’ve been a team for a little bit longer and Castle and Hendry. It’s anyone’s guess as to who comes out with the victory in this one. I suppose that the better choice would be Castle and Hendry, since they’re the newest team of the two. Prediction: Dalton Castle & Joe Hendry
How does Joe Hendry always know what Dalton is thinking?! 😳 pic.twitter.com/rd5fwO7cVx
— ROH Wrestling (@ringofhonor) November 29, 2019
Kenny King vs. Rhett Titus
The All-Night Express explodes!! Apparently this is the first-ever singles match between these two, which is crazy considering how long these two have been with ROH. The story is that King started berating his former partner after a series of losses, and he eventually crossed the line when he talked about Rhett’s family being embarrassed by his lack of success. They were going to have this match at the TV Tapings in Philly, but Titus demanded that the bout be moved up to Final Battle, and it was. I appreciate the effort to add a story between these former partners, but it’s the textbook definition of a preliminary match. While I’m sure they’ll put in a fair amount of effort, I can’t see the crowd in Baltimore being very hot for this one. Based on the story, it seems like Titus is set up to get revenge on King for what he said about his family, but King is much higher in the pecking order, so I fully anticipate Titus eating a Royal Flush here. Prediction: Kenny King