Thursday, 20 December 2012
Looking back at Ring of Honor's Final Battle 2012 iPPV By @SuplexMatt
At Final Battle 2010 Ring of Honor hosted a match one year in the making. At Final Battle 2011 ROH hosted a match two years in the making. At Final Battle 2012 ROH hosted a match three years in the making. Remarkably the each of these notions relate to the what is now the Kevin Steen, El Generico saga. These two professional wrestling superstars headlined what ROH likes to declare their largest show of the year for the second time in three years and it can hardly be argued the focus and perhaps the entire focal point of the event pointed to the Ladder War 4 between Generico and Steen. Despite that fact, the event served as a breeding ground for new tag-team champions, the return of an ROH legend in Jerry Lynn and a return to an ROH ring by Matt Hardy...version...not sure anymore. Toss in some entertaining bouts and Final Battle 2012 goes into the record books as something that will be remembered and deservedly so.
Grudge Match: Roderick Strong vs. Michael Elgin -
In a preview typed up on this event I stated the potential for the American wolves reunion match scheduled for this show could be the bout that comes to the closest to earning some type of "show stealing" label; and if there would be one match to contest for that label it would be the match that did in fact feature the second version of the full-on implosion of the House of Truth. Martini does not appear with any man prior to the opening bell hinting at some type of run-in, and truth me told it only took him about two minutes to make an appearance. As the match got going Martini made it apparent that his appearance is his attempt to support Elgin. This match really needs very little description to understand what was made available to the viewers by these two. The action went back and forth and each man showcased the best of their arsenal. Elgin hit all of the power moves necessary to remain as the most dominant superstar ROH has to offer while Strong used the level of psychology needed to tell a story each fan could relate to and furthermore understand and believe. Truth's post-match hinted at the culmination of this long, drawn-out feud by slapping Elgin in the face post-match, only to be driven hard to the mat by Elgin seconds later. For an opening contest on one of the largest independent pro wrestling shows of the year, one can not find much more to ask for from two of the very best available.
Special Challenge Match: Jay Lethal vs. Rhino -
Perhaps this bout served as one of the more predictable contests, in relation to match-quality, featured on this year's Final Battle. Perhaps that idea is based on how it came together and the on-going development of Lethal's killer instinct and ultimately his obvious issues with Kevin Steen. Nevertheless, a reason for the match came together and better yet the match took place, and what took place served as a respectable contest by two well-respected ROH Talents. It may have been an average bout but it seems fair enough to say that it filled-up any type of void in the card some fans felt could take place here. Not knowing what to expect past what these two are able to do in the ring, based on Lethal's pledge stating the match meant nothing to him, win, or lose, made this well worth it's time on the show. Corino makes an appearance on commentary for the match adding to the intensity based on his well-known dislike for Lethal.. Post match Lethal is attacked from behind by Jimmy Jacobs. Corino and Jacobs present themselves in full-fledged heel mode and constrain Lethal in a position that allows Rhino to take advantage of a gore...gore...gore! From bell to bell the antics kept the pace of the show alive and well and the post-match antics provided the back-drop that had been missing prior to these two locking up on iPPV. Should I dare mention later on in the show Lethal spits on Nigel McGuinness as revenge for Steen spitting on his mother? Should I dare mention he does this as McGuinness refuses to give him an opportunity at the world title on this night, or any type of future world title shot for the time being?
R.D Evans vs. Prince Nana -
It is safe to say the majority of the ROH faithful put a premature label on-top of the two names above. Long-before the opening bell a popular choice to consider this contest as a comedic spectacle for the ages was the word on the street; a spectacle of such comedic proportions, it may have never before seen in ROH prior to this. To say they were no laughs would be inaccurate, but to say this was a lackluster wrestling contest out-done by brilliant in-ring comedic work is also inaccurate. These two gave the fans in New York City and the fans watching on iPPV a wrestling match and a well-respected on on top of it. I feel workers like Nana and Evans are important pieces to a wrestling promotion and it seems reasonable to request for further viewings of what may not be the most intense of battles, but will always be worth the time you spend viewing it. Tommaso Ciampa would make an appearance post-match in an attempt to get at Evans, furthermore painting the picture of further events to come.
New York City Street Fight: Wrestling's Greatest Tag-Team (Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin) vs. Rhett Titus and BJ Whitmer -
For the majority of those following the ROH product leading into Final Battle 2012, the excitement level heading into this bout may not have matched-up against the excitement levels brewing for everything else this card had to offer. Despite that acknowledgement, to say the very opposite took place instantaneously upon the ringing of the opening bell, may be a slight exaggeration; but to say the crowd shocked themselves by the level of excitement these four brewed up during the match is dead-on accurate. What also may be dead-on accurate is the idea that if this would have been dubbed the "christmas decoration's are legal street-fight," it would have made a lot of sense. Take from that statement in whatever way you like; and in the favor of non-spoiling match material, expect a christmas tree and candy canes as the material used to create the worthy content this street-fight ended up dishing out. A nasty table-spot for a finish that a fan can safely recommend via confirmation that suggests Whitmer walked away as fine as any talent possibly can be, after surviving a street fight gimmick in pro wrestling.
Special Challenge Match: Mike Bennett vs. Jerry Lynn -
It was suggested in a preview of this event, on this very site, that "Boston's Bennett gets easy heat in New York City and potentially a legend puts him over." This pretty much happened here. What ensued here may not equal what another wrestling legend, in Lance Storm, and Bennett did together earlier in 2012. Nevertheless, unlike some of the more complicated aspects to Bennett's matches against Storm, the basics inside of this match is what made it deliver and getting to see Jerry Lynn go out in a tremendously well-respected fashion, earns this matches recommendation single handedly. Bennett and his two sheep, in Maria and Brutal Bob, would decide to go after Lynn post match despite a Bennett victory. However Lynn would get the better of all three in the long-run in an assault that includes a DDT on Maria and the return of one of the more devastating finishers in all of pro wrestling, the cradle pile-driver. Eventually all three heels would make their way to the locker-room as Lynn stood solo and triumphant in the ring. Lynn obviously needs to say nothing to earn the respect of the ROH fans but being the professional that he is, a few words capped off what he promised to be his final appearance in ROH. Members of the locker-room and Nigel McGuinness followed this up by presenting him a plaque for his contributions to Ring of Honor and ultimately his contributions to professional wrestling as a whole, as a superstar, and soon to be retired legend.
Tag-Team Grudge Match: The American Wolves (Eddie Edwards & Davey Richards) vs. Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish -
Sit back and enjoy the ride. What more can be said? If you are aware of The American Wolves as a tag-team despite their lack of fellowship in Ring of Honor over the past few years; Richards and Edwards together have always screamed the pinnacle of tag-team wrestling out-loud. The scream was just as loud as years past throughout the entire encounter. The match started after Fish and O'Reilly attacked Mike Mondo during a promo regarding how the rehab on his ankle is going. A dirty move, to get as much cheap heat as possible on Fish and O'Reilly before this match goes down leads into as many quick pops as possible when Richards makes the save. The drum roll begins, and Edwards joins in on the action, allowing for this roller-coaster to launch itself at a pace you can only describe as a thrill, a must see, or a must ride. A refreshing piece of tag-team action. The ROH tag-team division defined. Rapidly wide open back and forth action. A great ending seen on other occasions featuring Edwards and O'Reilly, but still worth seeing over and over again. If you have not booked your ticket to watching this contest, perhaps the need to buy one is there now. From a live perspective, I can only assume there was no way the crowd could not have been into every single minute of the 15'ish that made this contest up.
Special Challenge Match: Matt Hardy vs. Adam Cole -
Allow me to sum this match up as the introduction of this particular paragraph. An interesting contest with a very uninteresting finish. An above average match with a very below average finish. Many of us may have been spelling out rematch before the opening bell to this bout sounded...for better or for worse. The utilization of a "Hardy like figure" in a promotion visibly turned independent to corporate, did not seem far-fetched prior to the knowledge that this match would take place. Nor does it seem far-fetched to acknowledge the idea he could be returning for another chorus of boo's and be lit on fire by the heat. Despite the utter dislike displayed for Hardy , it worked in the sense these two went out and gave the fans a fair enough chunk of what they wanted to see, a full fledged heel in Hardy and a big-time face in Cole. The only significant piece missing to what was a high-end contest, is once again the low-end finish. Feel free to read into that as much as you like. Now for the second summary. Something was missing and more could have been there, but sometimes you can still have fun with missing pieces.
Three-Way ROH World Tag-Team Championship Match with Sudden Death Rules: SCUM (Jimmy Jacobs and Steve Corino) defend against The Briscoe Brothers (Jay & Mark Briscoe) and Caprice Coleman & Cedric Alexander -
The wide spread consensus on this match seems to be that it did itself a lot more justice with the live crowd than it did with those watching on iPPV. This did feel incredibly underwhelming considering it's position on the card and the significance of it being a title match. The outcome only makes the prior idea seem worse. A significant outcome that took place on one of the more significant events ROH has to offer each year, featuring the three most significant tag-teams in ROH, during a match with a set of significant rules...by pin-fall felt nothing other than insignificant. The bright side of this contest for many seems to be that The American Wolves are more than hinting at comeback to the tag-division and Fish and O'Reilly pair nicely together. If that suggestion does not draw some type of picture for this match, perhaps the fact it only took around five minutes to find itself a finish may do the job. A quick pace with the quick finish left much to be desired. Nevertheless history finds itself a place here and an era we have seen in ROH seven times prior starts over again.
THE LADDER WAR: Kevin Steen defends against El Generico
The Ladder War is a spectacle that cannot be defined by simply calling it a professional wrestling match. If you know anything about the storied past these two have there is no reason for you NOT to go out of your way, and if need be a far-far way, to experience what these two did at the highest level professional wrestling promotions can make available in present day. As far as professional wrestling goes, a war describes exactly what El Generico and Kevin Steen are all about. This match was about three years in the making. Does that simple fact not speak to anyone who can appreciate what it takes to keep a fans interest, a wrestling fan in particular...for that period of time. These two make magic inside of the squared circle. There is always an hour-glass, sometimes large, sometimes small, placed on what takes place in the wacky world of professional wrestling. However, what seems even wackier is the fact these two have tried to destroy that theory. Steen suggested in some promo work leading into the event, he and Generico are destined to do this forever. That may not be the case, but what has become forever, is some of the most entertaining, mind blowing matches that feature these two since December 2009. There is a truck-load of spots that will leave any fan dumb-founded by the action, and it is nearly impossible to suggest there was room for anything else to be piled on. One of, if not the most must-see finish in Ring of Honor this year, to any match, caps this ROH match of the year candidate completely off.