Ring of Honor closed the year with their flagship PPV in Final Battle. The event featured four title fights and set the table for a showdown between Los Ingobernables and the Foundation.
Let’s run it down from top to bottom.
ROH World Championship: Rush retained against Brody King. It was a battle of raw aggression versus raw power. Rush was in charge early with battering blows, then King turned the tide with a suicide dive. King made the fight ugly by slamming Rush on top of a pile of chairs then following with a running senton. Commentary put it over as King taking a page from Rush’s playbook to beat him at his own game.
Rush gained momentum on a German suplex, running knee strike, then tope con hilo. He paid King back with violence on the floor. Rush slammed King’s head with the door of the ringside barrier and choked King with camera cables.
Back in the ring, King rebounded with a hefty slam. The two men chopped the heck out of each other. Rush came out on top of the exchange to pound King down in the corner. Rush charged for the Bull’s Horns shotgun dropkick, but King answered with a spear. King had the champ down after a big lariat. King aimed to finish it on a Gonzo Bomb. Before King could smash, Dragon Lee ran out to distract the referee. Bestia del Ring snuck in to knock King loopy with a chair to the head. Rush ended the fight with Bull’s Horns to retain his title.
After the match, the Foundation stood on the entrance ramp shaking their heads in disgust at the treachery involved. They were not happy that Rush won without honor.
Rush made a statement in that match. King was coming in hot on big wins, and Rush decimated King for much of the bout. Rush reminded everyone why he is on another level as top champ. Unfortunately, Rush resorted to cheating, but that is standard method of operation for Los Ingobernables.
It appears that Rush’s father is the newest member of Los Ingobernables in ROH. Bestia del Ring was part of the crew in CMLL as well, so his appearance at Final Battle wasn’t shocking.
ROH Pure Championship: Jonathan Gresham retained against Flip Gordon. Gresham outwrestled his opponent early as Gordon used all three rope breaks. Gordon came back to make it competitive forcing Gresham to use two rope breaks. The first was on a superkick pin, and the second was on an STF submission.
We almost had a new champ on Gresham’s third break. Gordon superkicked Gresham off the turnbuckles, hit a Falcon Arrow slam, then locked in an STF. Gresham elbowed Gordon to create space and inch toward the ropes for his final break.
Later, Gresham was in trouble again on an STF. He managed to use the ropes as leverage to send both fighters crashing outside to the floor. Back in the ring, Gresham shifted into high gear with a hammerlock suplex and two running forearm smashes. Gordon kicked out of the pin on each maneuver. Gresham wound up for a third elbow strike, but the referee intervened to call for the bell. He ruled that Gordon was knocked out and awarded the victory to Gresham. Gordon left Gresham hanging on the post-match handshake of honor.
Interesting finish. The idea was that Gordon was barely conscious and operating on cruise control, so the referee protected him from further harm. I could see why Gordon would have an issue with that and not think he was truly defeated. For Gresham’s side, the finish made him look like one bad mofo. Uninformed viewers may discount Gresham due to his short stature, but he proved that he has the skills to break elite wrestlers down and aggressively pummel them into oblivion.
Shane Taylor defeated Jay Briscoe. This impromptu bout was made earlier in the evening after both their bouts had been canceled due to COVID precautions. If EC3 was indeed licking door handles as Briscoe claimed, then it would make sense that he tested positive.
MATCH MADE OFFICIAL!!— ROH Wrestling (@ringofhonor) December 19, 2020
JAY BRISCOE VS SHANE TAYLOR TONIGHT ON #FINALBATTLE STREAMING ON PPV / HONORCLUB / FITE @ 9 PM ET!
➡️ All PPVs are included in HonorClub memberships at no additional charge!
➡️ https://t.co/KrfEyQdUEo@jaybriscoe84 @shane216taylor pic.twitter.com/gAfDUyW8Ir
Briscoe tried to stand toe-to-toe with Taylor, but the big man knocked Briscoe flat with a heavy elbow shot. Whenever Briscoe gained momentum, Taylor cracked him in the jaw and tenderized him with body shots. Briscoe’s fighting spirit would not be extinguished. He was on the cusp of victory after a Spicolli driver and a sleeper hold. Taylor barely made it to the ropes to prevent passing out. Taylor turned the tide with a headbutt, package piledriver, and a spinning piledriver to win.
This bout was a tantalizing slugfest. Taylor has been angling for a shot at the world championship. With this win, he showed his championship mettle. Taylor gutted it out to rally with an explosive chain of moves. If he can do the same to Rush, there will be a new champ in the near future.
ROH Television Championship: Dragon Lee retained against Tony Deppen. Lee went full rudo by flipping the bird during the handshake of honor and doing situps on the floor after a suicide dive. Deppen had heart, but he wasn’t of the skill level of Lee. Deppen almost snatched victory after a somersault neckbreaker off the turnbuckles and a big knee strike, but Lee dug deep to kick out. Lee then exploded for a jumping knee, poison rana, and running knee to keep his gold. Afterward, Lee flashed the middle finger in Deppen’s face to insult his effort.
Dragon Lee is always a treat in the ring, and Deppen improved his stock with a competitive outing.
Danhausen defeated Brian Johnson. Danhausen’s ROH contract was contingent on getting a win in 2020. The match was a mix of comedy and legit moves. When Johnson was in control, he grabbed a mic to talk trash. Danhausen’s comeback included clotheslines and suplexes. In the end, Danhausen outsmarted Johnson when the referee was down. Danhausen rubbed the mic on his painted face for fake evidence to frame Johnson. Danhausen flopped, the referee saw the paint on the mic, and a disqualification was issued.
This match would have been fine for TV. It stunk as a PPV contest. The fight was entertaining when they wrestled, but Johnson talking so much slowed the pace to a bore. I enjoy Danhausen’s personality, so I’m happy to see him secure bags of money from ROH.
Matt Taven & Mike Bennett defeated Vincent & Bateman. Taven was the star of the match. He was fueled by his hatred for Vincent. The biggest spot occurred when Bennett held Vincent hanging off the apron so Taven could crash down to the floor with a flying splash. It knocked the wind out of me just watching. The OG Kingdom finished Bateman with a Shining Wizard and backpack stunner combo to win.
After the match, Vita Von Starr hit a double low blow to the victors. The Righteous zip tied Taven to the ropes and forced him to watch as they broke Bennett’s ankle with a chair. It was an anniversary gift for when Vincent did the same to Taven last year.
Solid bout. The match’s intensity fit the level of the feud. OGK winning was the likely outcome, so it could set the stage for the Righteous to be even more wicked. However, I wasn’t expecting them to dispose of Bennett so soon into his return. The Righteous now has two broken ankles on the scoreboard. It will be interesting what the blow-off stipulation becomes given the level of violence that has already occurred.
Rey Horus defeated Dalton Castle. This was a bonus match to make up for cancelled bouts. Castle brought back his boys for his PPV entrance. Horus was close to victory on a springboard tornado DDT, but Castle grabbed the ropes on the pin. Castle rebounded with a powerslam and a German suplex. Climbing the corner was Castle’s mistake. Horus popped up for a tornado driver rolling pin to win.
ROH World Tag Team Championship: Jay Lethal & Jonathan Gresham retained against Mark Briscoe & PCO. The story was the champs wanting pure wrestling, while the challengers were content with wild fighting. The champs had a difficult time channeling the flow into their style, but they eventually picked up pure momentum on a combo cutter to PCO. The champs double powerbombed Briscoe onto PCO. That wasn’t enough to put the monster down, so the champs went high-risk with a Doomsday flying clothesline.
ROH World Tag Team Action Between @TheLethalJay @TheJonGresham & @PCOisNotHuman @SussexCoChicken Now On The #FINALBATTLE PPV!— ROH Wrestling (@ringofhonor) December 19, 2020
Tune In Now On PPV / HONORCLUB / FITE!https://t.co/7BMhhTSQoN pic.twitter.com/CYLEE5WLix
Gresham followed with a shooting star press, while Lethal took out Briscoe with a suicide dive. PCO still had fighting spirit and kicked out on the pinfall. He powered up to knock bodies around, but Gresham swooped in for a roll-up victory.
This match was a blast and my favorite of the evening. The mix of wacky personalities and technical prowess kept a smile on my face. I’d put this on the watch list.
Tracy Williams & Rhett Titus defeated Fred Yehi & Wheeler Yuta. This was the first tag match in ROH history to utilize Pure rules. After all three breaks per team were exhausted, Williams trapped Yuta in a crossface. Yuta couldn’t escape and didn’t have any breaks remaining, so he was forced to tap.
The layout of the match displayed interesting strategy. At one point, Titus bent the rules in his favor when his teammate was locked into a dragon sleeper on the ropes. The Foundation were out of breaks, so Titus threw Yuta onto the pile to cause a natural separation to free Williams. Pure rules in tag action was a success in entertainment, and I look forward to more of its kind.
Tony Deppen defeated Dak Draper, LSG, and Josh Woods. The winner of this four-way earned a TV title shot against Dragon Lee later at Final Battle. The contest was non-stop action. In the end, Draper hit a Dr. Bomb to Woods. Woods shot back with a triangle choke then transitioned to an armbar. As soon as Draper escaped and exited the ring, LSG came flying in for a frog splash to Woods. Woods smartly rolled out of the ring to avoid being pinned. Deppen leaped over LSG for a surprise roll-up victory.
. @tony_deppen is your winner!— ROH Wrestling (@ringofhonor) December 19, 2020
Tony Deppen will face ROH World Television Champion @dragonlee95 tonight on the Final Battle PPV!
Will Deppen leave #FINALBATTLE as the new TV Champ?
All PPVs are included in HonorClub memberships at no additional charge! https://t.co/KrfEyQdUEo pic.twitter.com/11dlyTuvO1
The Pure tag and the four-way matches are available for free on YouTube.
ROH management is bush league. Shane Taylor & SOS were scheduled to compete against the MexiSquad for the World Six-Man Championship. Due to COVID safety, Bandido and Flamita were pulled from the event and ROH cancelled the match. In story, Taylor & SOS were informed that ROH would strip the MexiSquad and crown them new champs.
I disagree with ROH trying to take the belts away due to inactivity, but I understand it. Trying to reward Taylor & SOS without having to win is pure garbage. Thankfully, Taylor & SOS aren’t punks. They declined the offer and prefer to earn the championship by actually beating the champs. That decision made me respect Taylor & SOS.
Overall, Final Battle was a pretty good show. All of the championship bouts were exciting. There were no title changes, and that’s okay. ROH needed to re-establish Rush, Dragon Lee, and Jay Lethal & Jonathan Gresham as a tag team, so the moment will be more important when the belts do change hands in the future.
ROH also did a solid job recovering on the fly to schedule a few matches after COVID cancellations. Jay Briscoe versus Shane Taylor made sense in story and produced an enjoyable slugfest. Taylor’s impressive victory set himself up to be strongly considered as Rush’s next challenger.
The showdown between Los Ingobernables and the Foundation should be interesting. Gresham’s crew wants Pure wrestling to be honored, while Rush’s crew laughs at the notion of honor. I could see this feud building for an entire year to blow off at Final Battle in 2021.
Share your thoughts on Final Battle. Which match stole the show? Are you rooting for Los Ingobernables or the Foundation?