ROH Final Battle 2020
December 18, 2020
8:00 PM EST (Free Hour) / 9:00 PM EST (PPV)
UMBC Event Center
Before I dive into the Final Battle 2020 PPV preview, I want to make some quick notes on where you can watch the show. Final Battle Hour 1 (essentially the Kickoff Show) can be seen mainly on Facebook and YouTube. The actual PPV itself will be available on traditional PPV, Honor Club, and FITE.
ROH World Title
RUSH (c) vs. Brody King
While RUSH did wrestle on a pair of AAA shows in March prior to the shutdowns, his last ROH appearance was on the February 29th show in St. Charles, Missouri…..where he won the ROH World Title for the second time in a Three-Way Match that involved himself, then-ROH World Champion PCO, and Mark Haskins. Yes, RUSH winning back the ROH World Title from PCO is something that did indeed happen this year. This will RUSH’s first title defense, as he faces off with Brody King. After the allegations against Marty Scurll surfaced during the Speaking Out Movement, the Villain Enterprises was quietly disbanded, and Brody King (in a promo video that came out while ROH was still on hiatus) declared that was now on his own.
Following the conclusion of the ROH Pure Title Tournament, Brody King officially made his return to ROH TV, and picked up a pair of wins against Dalton Castle and Shane Taylor (the match against Taylor was particularly good) to earn a shot at the ROH World Title. Now while there has been more speculation regarding Dragon Lee’s future with ROH (more on that later), I feel like his brother is the one who has the highest chance of losing their title. Even though this will be RUSH’s first ROH match since winning the title, I feel like Brody King has a VERY strong change to win here. They’ve done a very good job of building him up on TV, both through his matches as well as personality pieces/video packages. Part of me feels like I’m going to be proven wrong, but I don’t know….the build has really convinced me that it’s Brody’s time. We don’t know how often ROH will have access to RUSH going forward (due to the pandemic), so putting the title on someone who lives in the states is the better move for the time being. Again, I have a sneaking feeling that I’m going to be proven wrong here, but I believe we’re going to see a new ROH World Champion on Friday. Prediction: Brody King
ROH World Tag Team Titles
The Foundation (Jay Lethal & Jonathan Gresham) (c) vs. Mark Briscoe & PCO
Since Jonathan Gresham is coming into this show as a double champion, he’ll be wrestling twice on this PPV, as he will be defending the ROH Pure Title (more on that later), as well as the ROH World Tag Team Titles with his partner Jay Lethal. They will be facing off against the makeshift team of Mark Briscoe and PCO. Why are Mark Briscoe and PCO teaming, you ask? Well, The Briscoes were still owed a rematch from when they lost the ROH World Tag Team Titles to Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham at last year’s Final Battle. However, with Jay Briscoe preoccupied with his burgeoning feud with EC3, the brothers mutually agreed that Mark could pursue this rematch with a different partner. He selected PCO (in a funny promo where PCO was revealed via a Christmas Gift), and everything seemed set for Final Battle.
Since that announcement, there was a big shakeup with the Final Battle card, as four different wrestlers (EC3, Bandido, Flamita, and Kenny King) were pulled from the show after they all failed the pre-travel COVID testing protocols (EC3 recently discussed his bout with COVID in an interview with Chris Van Vliet). With ROH noting that they won’t be announcing the card changes until Final Battle Hour One (their free Kickoff Show), it’s entirely possible that Jay Briscoe gets added back to the match, and we get The Foundation vs. The Briscoes for the ROH World Tag Team Titles. My prediction could change if Jay gets back added, because I don’t think the Mark Briscoe/PCO pairing is winning this match. If it does happen as originally announced, I’m sure it’ll be a good match, and I’m actually intrigued to see how Lethal and Gresham will handle PCO. It could all change an hour before the show, but as it stands, I think The Foundation will retain. Prediction: The Foundation
ROH World TV Title
Dragon Lee (c) vs. Dak Draper/Josh Woods/LSG/Tony Deppen
Unless he’s wrestled in some obscure promotion in Mexico that doesn’t show up on Cagematch, this will be Dragon Lee’s first match since the ROH’s last pre-shutdown event on February 29th in St. Charles, Missouri (a slightly longer layoff than his brother RUSH). To determine who will face Dragon Lee for the ROH World TV Title, a #1 Contender’s Four-Way Match will take place on Final Battle Hour One (the free kickoff show), with the winner moving on to the PPV. The competitors in that match include Dak Draper, Josh Woods, LSG, and Tony Deppen.
While I don’t expect this Four-Way to be outstanding, it should be a fun match to lead into the PPV itself. Draper is someone who I don’t think has any chance of winning, since he lost in a title bout against Dragon Lee on that aforementioned February 29 show. As for the end result, and which of the other three will earn the title shot, I feel it very much depends on the future of Dragon Lee. There was some speculation that he could be looking to go to WWE, but that rumor was several weeks ago, and we really haven’t heard anything since (as far as I know). If LSG or Deppen win the Four-Way, I could see those being easy defenses for Dragon Lee. However, if Josh Woods wins the Four-Way, I think there’s a decent shot that Woods could win the title, since he’s gotten a bit of a renewed push since the restart (he recently beat Jay Lethal in a Pure Rules Match on ROH TV). That being said, I feel that Dragon Lee is sticking around (until proven otherwise), and I’ll say that he’ll retain against Tony Deppen, since Dragon Lee vs. Tony Deppen sounds like a cool match. Predictions: Tony Deppen (Four-Way); Dragon Lee (Title Match)
ROH Pure Title
Jonathan Gresham (c) vs. Flip Gordon
Flip Gordon getting a shot at the Pure Title was an announcement that seemed to come out of left field, especially after Josh Woods (who went pretty far in the Pure Title Tournament) scored a huge win over Jay Lethal in a Pure Rules Match. They did rectify that somewhat, as Gordon would go on to defeat Woods in a Pure Rules Match a few weeks later. It was also explained that Gordon believed he should’ve been in the Pure Title Tournament in the first place, so I’ll give ROH credit for adding some reasoning behind what was a seemingly random match. This could end up being one of the better bouts on the entire show. It’s a clash of styles for sure, but I’m also intrigued to see the dynamic, since neither guy is a fully-fledged babyface (The Foundation seem to be true tweeners while Gordon’s mercenary gimmick always came off as a bit heelish even though Villain Enterprises was never a fully heel stable). Gresham retaining here over Gordon is a pretty safe pick, in my view. I can’t see them taking the Pure Title off Gresham so soon after he won the tournament. Prediction: Jonathan Gresham
Matt Taven & Michael Bennett vs. The Righteous (Vincent & Bateman)
It’s crazy to think that this Matt Taven/Vincent feud has been going on for over a year now, but when you get the combination of a global pandemic and one guy (Taven) taking time off due to injuries, I suppose it’s not that surprising. Well, after facing off in a singles match at last year’s Final Battle, Taven and Vincent are going to face off once again. This time, it’s in a tag team setting, with Vincent having his stablemate Bateman on his side, while Taven has the returning Michael Bennett on his side. I don’t know if Bennett has officially signed a deal with ROH, but it’s the perfect landing spot for him post-WWE release. He was with the company for many years, and he had a perfect scenario for his return, as his longtime tag team partner needed some backup to fight off The Righteous.
Now that everything has come full circle, it’s very interesting to look back at the lifecycle of Bennett’s career, as it pertains to ROH. A sizable chunk of the fanbase didn’t like him during those first few years (from what I can remember, they were very much trying to go with the idea that Bennett was the sports entertainer in a pro-wrestling company), but he did eventually find his groove with The Kingdom, who became a very solid unit during that 2014-2015 era when ROH was really picking up steam again. Then he left for TNA, had his year or so run there, before ending up in WWE, where he pretty much did nothing for three years. Now he’s back in ROH, and although there are no crowds, I feel like his return would’ve gotten a very big positive response. With this being Bennett and Taven’s official reunion, I can’t see any scenario where they lose this match. It wouldn’t shock me if we continue with this feud for a little bit into next year, but I have no doubts about the result on this night. Prediction: Matt Taven & Michael Bennett
Pure Rules Tag Team Match
The Foundation (Tracy Williams & Rhett Titus) vs. Fred Yehi & Wheeler Yuta
If you haven’t been following ROH since the end of the Pure Title Tournament, The Foundation (who already added a third member in Tracy Williams during the tournament) added a fourth member in Rhett Titus. Yes, this feels like the twelve different iterations of Rhett Titus we’ve seen in ROH (it’s probably not that many, but I’ve lost count of his various gimmick changes at this point), but it does feel like a step up for him, as he’s now part of a very serious, no-nonsense stable. Titus is likely picking up a win over Delirious in a Pure Rules Match on the upcoming edition of ROH TV (I should mention that ROH released a great video package highlighting the history between Delirious and Titus), and that will lead to a first-of-its-kind match at the Final Battle PPV. He will team with fellow Foundation member Tracy Williams to take on Fred Yehi and Wheeler Yuta in a Pure Rules Tag Team Match. What does a Pure Rules Tag Team Match entail? Well, I’m glad you asked!
- Tags only count by one wrestler reaching over the top rope and tagging his partner hand-to-hand while holding the tag rope (in other words, no blind tags or tagging a body part other than the hand).
- Each wrestler has five seconds to exit the ring after a tag is made.
- The team as a whole has three rope breaks at their disposal, and once the rope breaks are used up, the usual Pure Rules apply, where someone can be pinned/submitted in the ropes.
- Breaking up a pinfall or submission attempt will cost your team a rope break, and if you break up a pinfall or submission attempt after you use up your rope breaks, your team will be disqualified.
You also have some of the same Pure Rules that are used in the one-on-one variations (no closed fists and the respective penalties for using a closed fist, no outside interference, Code Of Honor is required). My guess is that these rules will eventually be applied to Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham’s ROH World Tag Team Title defenses, with this match being the test run of those rules. I have full confidence that the four guys involved will make it work. It’s great to see Fred Yehi and Wheeler Yuta getting brought back for a PPV after their outings in the Pure Title Tournament. I can’t see them winning this match, but I hope that this is the start of the two of them being ROH regulars. Prediction: The Foundation
Brian Johnson vs. Danhausen
Throughout the shutdown, Danhausen had been campaigning on social media to get a contract with ROH. Eventually, his wish was granted….but with a twist. In order to maintain that ROH contract, he has to win one match before the end of 2020, and that match is happening at Final Battle against Brian Johnson. This seems like a slam dunk win for Danhausen. I can’t see them doing this whole storyline with Danhausen that they’ve been doing for months, only for him to lose to Brian Johnson, who’s pretty much at the very bottom of the pile in terms of the ROH roster hierarchy. I’m sure the match will probably be ok (I don’t think I’ve ever seen Danhausen wrestle, so I don’t know what to expect from him), and while I know a lot of people aren’t fans of Danhausen, I have confidence that ROH will use him properly. He’s a prelim act, and he really shouldn’t advance any further than that. Prediction: Danhausen