Athena and Billie Starkz earned main event status for a ROH Women’s World Championship bout at Final Battle (Dec. 15, 2023) through their mentor and minion storyline. The end result was a great match with Athena remaining forever champ and Starkz becoming a star.
The tension was thick entering the contest. There were genuine questions if this would be the end of Athena’s reign. On top of the story elements, Athena’s health was comprised with a broken nose. The seeds were planted for a huge upset from the young prodigy.
Athena wrestled wearing a protective facemask. Starkz viewed that as a bullseye to sock punches on the snoot right from the opening bell. Starkz unleashed an aggressive attack. Athena weathered the storm to catch Starkz on a suicide dive and ram her from pillar to post on the outside. Athena repeatedly smashed Starkz’ face into the barricades as payback. Starkz was busted open bleeding from the forehead.
Athena dominated for a stretch of time, then Starkz found her second wind to rally with a suplex into the corner. Athena was taken aback, so she reacted by sacrificing herself to headbutt Starkz. The champ was in pain from the broken nose, and the challenger was dazed.
Part of the minion training storyline was teaching Starkz to embrace ruthlessness. Starkz showed that lesson by tearing off Athena’s mask. The minion mounted her mentor to rain down a barrage of vicious punches. At the referee’s warning, Starkz shot up to intimidate the official. The challenger landed a swan dive, but the champ kicked out on the cover. Starkz continued the onslaught with a suicide dive and also rammed Athena into the barricade. Starkz then licked her own blood. Athena created a monster.
The match progressed with Athena gaining control for an electric chair transition to a German superplex. Awesome move.
When Athena grabbed Starkz’ legs, the minion kicked away with force. Athena launched backward colliding into the referee. Ref down! Athena shot back to blast a stiff forearm blow. That move could have definitely finished the match, however, the referee was unable to make the count.
Athena decided to bend the rules without supervision. MIT (Minion In Training) valedictorian Lexy Nair was ringside as special announcer. Athena demanded that bestie Lexy hand over the title belt as a foreign object. Lexy protested in a tug of war. Starkz was revived enough to dropkick Athena from behind. The force caused Athena’s head to collide into the belt. Starkz pounced for the Star 10 double hammerlock belly-to-back inverted slam. The crowd was rowdy to find out if a new champion would be crowned on that move. 1, 2, Athena kicked out!
Athena and Starkz duked on the apron battling for leverage. Starkz gained the upper hand to execute a ferocious electric chair driver. Holy shit!
DEVASTATING offense by the Challenger Billie Starkz!— ROH - Ring of Honor Wrestling (@ringofhonor) December 16, 2023
Watch #ROHFinalBattle exclusively on #HonorClub
▶️ https://t.co/c45XmmDylN#ROH Women’s World Championship@AthenaPalmer_FG | @BillieStarkz pic.twitter.com/u076fIJga1
Starkz loaded the dead weight into the ring and launched for a swan dive. Athena rolled away. The champ found to the strength to deliver a brutal forearm strike knocking Starkz silly, but she was unable to capitalize to make the cover.
Reset on their knees for furious fisticuffs. Athena hit the Despicable Knee. Starkz kicked out at 1. The action went back and forth jockeying for position through counters and defensive tactics. Athena grabbed a hammerlock to roll through for a submission. Starkz was trapped as Athena cranked her arm. Starkz could not escape and verbally submit.
What an exchange in this main event title match between Athena and Billie Starkz!— ROH - Ring of Honor Wrestling (@ringofhonor) December 16, 2023
Watch #ROHFinalBattle exclusively on #HonorClub
▶️ https://t.co/c45XmmDylN#ROH Women’s World Championship@AthenaPalmer_FG | @BillieStarkz pic.twitter.com/RaSZoZZPkm
The story continued after the match. Starkz was frustrated about losing and also about still not earning Athena’s respect. Starkz bumped Athena on her way out of the ring. Athena grabbed Starkz by the hair tor drag her back. After a bit of arguing, Starkz held out her hand for the Code of Honor. Athena didn’t want her hand. She wanted her minion. Athena raised her arm, and Starkz gave a high five with a hug. Friendship restored.
That was a hell of a match with thrills, chills, and spills. Athena cemented her superstar status as forever champ capable of carrying PPV main events, and Starkz shined bright earning star status herself. Starkz is not a finished product yet, but this performance on the biggest stage of her career made it clear that she has the tools. Even though Athena was the fan favorite wrestling in front of her hometown crowd in Garland, TX, Starkz still had the crowd firmly in her corner rooting for success.
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