Along with Glory by Honor, Death Before Dishonor and their annual anniversary show, Final Battle is a staple of Ring of Honor's (ROH) event schedule. In fact, only it and Glory by Honor can trace their lineage to the company's humble but promising beginnings when they were running nearly every show out of the Murphy Rec Center in Philly.
As a result both are looked at - and even debated over amongst fans - as the promotion's biggest shows of the year; their WrestleMania, Bound by Glory, or Starrcade.
Appropriately, as the year begins to draw to a close, so do most of the storylines going into Final Battle. It's seen more than its share of feud-ending matches like the 2004 match between Austin Aries and Samoa Joe or Aries match five years later against Tyler Black.
Final Battle has seen nine main events in its day with the 10th set to go down tonight when Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards collide for the third - and presumably last - time. We will be, of course, providing match-by-match coverage and you can also order the event here for less than $15 and watch along with us.
To celebrate, I took a look back at each headliner and picked the best three of the bunch. Before you take in tonight's event, take a trek down memory lane with me.
Honorable Mention: The Briscoe Brothers vs. The Age of the Fall (ROH World Tag Team Championships match) - Final Battle 2007
I thought The Age of the Fall (AOTF) was the most exciting thing to come out of wrestling in years. They debuted -- after a ton of viral marketing -- by hanging a bloody Jay Briscoe upside down above the ring and Jimmy Jacobs cut a promo while his blood dripped down on him. Check it out.
Their entrance music was a woman screaming over and over. That's it. No music -- although some was added later -- or anything, just screaming.
The two teams collided several times between and the end of 2007 but it was that year's Final Battle that where Jacobs and Tyler Black would achieve their greatest success. Jacobs and fellow AOTF member Necro Butcher took on The Briscoes a month prior at Glory by Honor VI in a No DQ match and I kind of feel they shot their load with that one. I think the stipulation should have been saved for the Final Battle main event.
It was still a great match, though. At one point, The Briscoes nailed Black with a springboard Doomsday Device on the apron to the floor. Another great moment was Jay getting powerbombed into the guard rail by Black. The ending came soon after when Black hit Mark with a Phoenix splash.
The fans in New York were NOT happy about that.
3. KENTA vs. Low Ki (GHC Junior Heavyweight Championship match) - Final Battle 2005
I love me a good strong style match. And I'm a huge KENTA mark so this entry is batting two for two.
The wrestlers -- as the commentators pointed out -- had very similar offensive styles. See, Vince McMahon? That's what commentary is supposed to do; enhance the product, not be so distracting that it draws away from it. Anyway, the two started off with strikes -- kicks, mostly -- before working towards the bigger moves.
This is also a good example of how great ROH audiences can be sometimes. Hardcore ROH fans often get a bad rap for being super smarks and obnoxious but like any large group of people, there's always going to be a few rotten apples. The majority of ROH fans are cool and are always super hot during events. Watching an ROH show and a TNA show at the Impact Zone is like night and day.
This match really benefitted from that. Moving beyond strikes to bigger moves and finally the near falls, the crowd was counting along and cheering every time either wrestler kicked out. Highlights in the match are a particularly nasty looking top rope double stomp for Low Ki and the awesome move where a wrestler hops over the top rope from the apron and lands right next to his opponent's head and then gives him a little, sassy back heel kick. You know the one? KENTA did that, it's so money.
The match ended after KENTA nailed the former Kaval with a GTS and then finished him off with a double flying knee.
2. El Generico vs. Kevin Steen (Mask vs. ROH Career match) - Final Battle 2010
The highlights in ROH last year were The Kings of Wrestling dominating the tag team scene and the bloodfeud between former tag champs El Generico and Kevin Steen.
"Mr. Wrestling" had turned on his masked partner the year prior at Final Battle 2009 and their rivalry was a major storyline throughout all of last year.
At Glory by Honor IX, Steen was able to yank Generico's mask off and while the luchador was able to keep his face hidden, the insult -- and the damage -- had been done. Steen then challenged his former partner to one final match, appropriately at Final Battle 2010, where he would put his ROH career on the line against Generico's mask.
The luchador -- who had adopted an all-black mask -- accepted.
It was everything a blowoff match should be: brutal and emotionally exhausting. The two men nearly destroyed each other -- Steen ended the match a bloody mess and Generico's mask was torn and tattered -- over the course of the match which saw both Steve Corino and Colt Cabana get involved, several referees getting knocked out and only ended after Generico -- momentarily paused after Steen held out the luchador's old red and black mask -- absolutely leveled his opponent with a chair shot.
This match is utterly fantastic.
1. Bryan Danielson vs. Takeshi Morishima (Fight Without Honor) - Final Battle 2008
As good a blowoff match asSteen/Generico was, it has nothing on Danielson/Morishima.
They first collided at Manhattan Mayhem II in an absolutely brutal and sick war that actually caused one of Danielson's retinas to become detached. They continued fueding throughout 2007 going from Driven to Man Up to Respect is Earned and before both ending up in a four way elimination match at the end of the year to decide the number one contender
At Rising Above, "The American Dragon" seemingly sent his giant foe back to Japan after a beatdown that, while caused Danielson to be DQed, sent the message he was no longer anyone's whipping boy. Despite that, he went through 2008 knowing in his heart he never beat Morishima in the middle of the ring.
One year later, the two met again at Final Battle 2008 and had an all-out war. I lived Danielson before, ever since I saw his match on the first ROH show but it was his feud with the NOAH star that really made him one of my favorites. Stiff, unforgiving, and wonderful, this match brings a fantastic rivalry to a very satisfying close. The end came after Danielson WRAPS A CHAIN around his elbow and murders Morishima with forearm shots before slapping on the Cattle Mutilation for good measure.
One of the best matches I've ever seen in my life.
Can Richards/Edwards III knock one of these of the list? We'll find out in a few hours.