Final Battle 2014 really comes down to one match. The Main Event. Briscoe versus Cole in a fight without honor. If you liked this match, then you probably enjoyed most of the show. If you didn’t like this match, then you were left with a bitter taste in your mouth at the end of what was a mostly enjoyable event. I fall in the first category. I thought the main event was probably one of the best matches of the year for Ring of Honor and while I don’t exactly agree with the end result of Briscoe retaining, it still told a great story and was as close to a ‘PWG’ style match as we’re likely to see in ROH (yes, that’s a compliment).
Before the show even began, it was reported that Cary Silkin, the long time owner of ROH before it was sold to SBG was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award presented by Nigel McGuinness to which all the wrestlers in the back came out to applaud a man who deserves no end to an amount of respect for keeping a beloved promotion around through some very hard times. Even Jimmy Jacobs got a chance to be the first one in the ring to get a hug from his long time ‘boss’. It’s little things like this that keep me a fan of Ring of Honor because of the history, struggle, and dedication (though sometimes it lost its way) to presenting excellence in the ring.
What we saw at Final Battle was mostly good when it came to what we should expect in 2015 coupled with great in ring wrestling which at this point is par for the course. The opening four corner survival match did what it was supposed to do, Hanson got over and looked to be a driving force for 2015 and possibly World or TV Title contention. Roderick Strong defeated Adam Page but it’s clear the feud with The Decade isn’t over yet, this was just another battle that will lead to an eventual war between Strong and Whitmer. A solid match that many said opened their eyes to Adam Page. I’m sort of in between, it was a good showing in ROH but I’ve seen him in some good matches in the Carolina’s so I know the guy has more to offer in the future.
The Elgin/Ciampa match was deliberate, hard hitting, and not received well by the fans in attendance. I personally enjoyed it because of the story Elgin and Ciampa wanted to tell about beating each other up in order to ‘prove’ to everyone that they are more than just victims at the hands of Ring of Honor (at least they see themselves as victims, how the fans see it is entirely different). I don’t know if the fans at the arena just weren’t ready for a match like this or if the confusion of who to cheer for was felt along with us watching live, but this match wasn’t what the crowd was looking for. At this point I might as well say this also, several matches down Moose and RD Evans had a real stinker. There’s no way around it. It sucked, went very long, and you can skip it.
The rest of the matches on the card were all excellent from the Young Bucks and honorary Bullet Club member ACH who defeated the Addiction and Cedric Alexander in a match that was exactly what the crowd wanted. No storylines, no real progression, just in your face action from top to bottom. The ROH World Television match between Jay Lethal and Matt Sydal was good all up until the end. Both men are clearly top wrestlers, but the interference was nauseating and a bit clunky. Still a great match between the two as Lethal continues to be one of the better wrestlers on the roster and Sydal gets back into the groove of ROH.
The final two matches are the meat as to why this gets a big recommendation from me. The ROH World Tag Title match between reDRagon (Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly) and Time Splitters was excellent. It wasn’t that different from the other matches they have had, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t really good. These four men put on a clinic that deserves to be seen and really added to the end of the event.
As I said above, the main event is where it was at. From the use of thumbtacks (even in the mouth, a shout out to the similar spot in PWG), a lot of brawling, but some good wrestling too between Cole and Briscoe, this was a great match. One of the best Title defenses of 2014 and it ended the year with a bang. This earns Final Battle a fairly high recommendation.