I nearly missed the show because I thought it started an hour later than it did, but I’m here, and it’s time to watch Ring Of Honor’s Final Battle on pay-per-view. Let’s get to the Pros and the Cons of a very important show in the history of the promotion.
Blake Christian & AR Fox vs Rush & Dralistico
Pros: – Good choice for an opening match. It is often said that a show opener is the second-most important match on a card, behind only the main event. It helps to set the tone for a show, and it gets the crowd going right off the bat. There’s some very exciting in-ring performers involved in this one.
– The pace. As expected, all four men are going crazy here. Lots of high-flying action so far.
Cons: – Empty seats. Yes, it’s just the show opener, but on the hard camera shot, you can see at least a dozen or so empty seats, which really stands out. As of about two hours before showtime, there were about 2,500 tickets sold in an arena that was set up for a capacity of about 3,500. Good numbers, but it definitely allows for those chunks of empty seats that we’re bound to see.
– Rush’s bacne. It gets worse and worse.
– A horribly botched ending by the referee (or someone). Fox hits a 450, and it clearly appears to be kicked out of before the three count. He even sells the shock that wrestlers always sell when someone kicks out of their big moves. As he sells that shock, the bell rings and the match is over. Fox looks confused, and the fans certainly look confused. That was really ugly.
Match Rating: 3.25 Stars. It was just getting started, and getting good, but all that people are going to remember was that terrible ending. That’s really unfortunate for the four men involved in the match.
Mercedes Martinez vs Athena – RoH Women’s Title Match
Pros: – Hard hitting action. Mercedes Martinez has always been known as one of the hardest-hitting women in the wrestling business. Athena recently caused some controversy on social media because of her strikes being “too stiff” in a couple of her AEW matches. Add that together here, and you have two women that are throwing bombs right away.
– Empty seats being filled. Maybe it was a late-arriving crowd, or maybe RoH moved people down to fill the spots, but either way, most of the empty seats in the hard camera shot from the opening match are now filled.
Cons: – The pace. This isn’t a huge problem, as I wasn’t expecting them fly around like Rey Mysterio in his prime, but the match has been paced even slower than I expected. Stiff strike, walk around, walk around, stiff strike, walk around, big move, walk around.
Match Rating: 2.75 Stars. As I said, it was a little slower than I would’ve liked it to be. Throw in a couple awkward spots, and you have a match that wasn’t bad, but also wasn’t what it could’ve been. Good move making Athena the new champion, though. She has the momentum, and she can be a good representative for Ring Of Honor moving forward.
Swerve In Our Glory vs Shane Taylor Promotions
Pros: – Keith Lee’s strength. In a pure “holy shit” moment, Shane Taylor jumps off the middle rope and is caught in mid-air by Keith Lee. Taylor is listed at 338 pounds, but there’s no way in hell he weighs less than 350, and Lee caught him as if he was no more than 250. I say that as if 250 pounds wouldn’t be an impressive catch, but man, that was beautiful.
– More building of the storyline between Lee and Strickland. Lee accidentally decks Strickland during the match, and that leads to Swerve walking out on his tag partner. There’s more fuel to the fire that was already beginning to burn out of control.
Cons: – The crowd. To be fair, there wasn’t a ton of action in the early moments of the match, as it was more about building to a showdown between Keith Lee and Shane Taylor, but the crowd has been pretty quiet for a lot of this. They’re picking up a bit as the match picks up, though, so that’s nice.
Match Rating: 3.25 Stars. Hard to complain about too much here. Good, hard-hitting action, and it helped accelerate the story between Swerve and Keith Lee.
Dalton Castle & The Boys vs The Embassy – RoH Six-Man Tag Team Title Match
Pros: – The look of The Embassy. If you just look at Brian Cage, Toa Liona, and Kaun, you see three of the most intimidating looking men around.
– A good clash of styles. One of my favorite types of matches is when you have speed vs power, and that’s what we’re getting here. Castle and The Boys are moving all around, using their speed and athleticism, but all three members of The Embassy have had chances to shine with their power game.
– The right team won. I like Dalton Castle, but putting the titles on The Embassy was the right move. There’s a lot of intrigue in trying to figure out who can stop those three monsters.
Cons: – The effectiveness of The Embassy. A lot of it really stops at their look, unfortunately. That’s a shame. Too often, their matches just don’t “click” like they should.
Match Rating: 3 Stars. Not bad at all, but another match that never really went into high gear, if you ask me. Four matches on the show so far, and all four have been good, with nothing quite reaching the very good level. If this was an episode of television, it would be a ton of fun. A pay-per-view needs to be judged by a higher standard, though.
Daniel Garcia vs Wheeler Yuta – RoH Pure Title Match
Pros: – Strategy. Daniel Garcia is doing a good job of using the Pure Rules to his advantage here, and he’s doing it quickly. Within the first couple minutes, Yuta had already used two of his three rope breaks for the match. One could argue that they’re going through things too quickly, but so far, I like it. It’s a different strategy for these types of matches, and it looks good so far.
– Technical wrestling. That isn’t surprising anyone. The Pure Rules allow for these types of matches to really shine, and the two people involved are two of the best technical wizards going today.
Cons: – Running this matchup into the ground. It feels like we’ve seen them face each other a million times now. Strangely enough, it only feels that way. They had a match at RoH’s Death Before Dishonor pay-per-view in July, then another match on AEW Dynamite six weeks later, and they’ve been on opposing sides in tag team matches twice on Dynamite since then. I’m just ready for anything involving the Blackpool Combat Club and the Jericho Appreciation Society to be over and done with already.
Match Rating: 3.75 Stars. Really good stuff there. A nice mix of technical wrestling and hard-hitting action. Both men have welts on their body. I would’ve liked to see a longer title reign for Garcia, letting him be more of a cornerstone for RoH, but I can’t complain with Yuta winning the title again.
FTR vs The Briscoes – Double Dog Collar Match for the RoH Tag Team Titles
Pros: – Expectations. That might end up being a Con, but for now, the hype is off the charts here. A “holy shit” chant breaks out at the sound of the opening bell, and the teams haven’t even touched each other yet. That’s what happens when you have two Match Of The Year classics in one calendar year, and folks are expecting a third one here.
– The pace. Right away, this is a brawl that is going a million miles per hour. It’s a pace that they won’t be able to keep up for the entire match, but it’s a helluva way to start.
– Blood. Mark Briscoe was bleeding within a minute or so of the match getting underway, and now, Dax Harwood has been busted open. Jay Briscoe has some blood on his face, but it’s hard to tell if it’s his own blood or if it’s some of Harwood’s blood.
– More blood. No more than two minutes after I typed that, Jay Briscoe has been busted wide open. Now it’s Cash Wheeler who has blood on his face that may or may not be his own. This is violent.
– Even more blood. Now, even the ref is bleeding, after an accidental chain shot by Dax Harwood after Jay Briscoe pulled him in the way. Oh, and by the way, Wheeler is bleeding, too.
– The crowd. These fans have been amped up for this from the introductions. They’ve been loud for everything.
– The expected, but proper, result. With The Briscoes being the RoH mainstays, it only makes sense to put the Tag Team Titles back on them.
Cons: – Production missing spots. It’s very difficult to keep track of matches like this, but we’ve seen a bunch of times where the camera is focused on two men fighting, only to hear the crowd go “OHHHHH” because of something that happened with the other two men. It’s probably a necessary evil here, though.
Match Rating: 4.5 Stars. I’m not even sure I’ll keep the rating there. This is the type of match that needs a second viewing to take it all in. I have a sneaking suspicion that the rating for this match will go higher on another viewing. It is the third Match Of The Year contender between these two teams in 2022, making it one of the greatest match trilogies in pro wrestling history. My goodness. Poor FTR, though, as they get attacked by The Gunns after the match. Imagine going from the Briscoes trilogy to feuding with the Ass Boys? Yikes.
Samoa Joe vs Juice Robinson – RoH Television Title Match
Pros: – A funny sign. Someone in the crowd has a “The WiFi & Nachos Suck” sign. We’ve all been there when it comes to certain amenities at wrestling shows.
Cons: – Having to follow the previous match. This is an impossible spot for both Joe and Juice. Unless this turns out to be an all-time classic match, it will be a downgrade from what we just saw with FTR and The Briscoes.
– The crowd. As expected, the crowd is a lot quieter for this one after spending a ton of energy chanting and yelling during the last match.
– The pace. Joe is sweating as if he was wrestling a 60-minute match inside of a sauna, and we’re not even ten minutes in here. He seems exhausted, and we’re slowly moving from spot to spot because of it.
Match Rating: 2.75 Stars. As I said, they were in an impossible spot, but the match also had no heat with no story coming in. That didn’t help matters much. As expected, Joe retains the title. I’m still not quite sure why Juice Robinson was signed. Tony Khan already has no idea what to do with the roster he has. Continuing to add people to it only makes things worse, especially when the additions aren’t game-changing talents.
Chris Jericho vs Claudio Castagnoli – RoH World Title Match
Pros: – Commentary. Ian Riccaboni and Caprice Coleman are generally so nice, giving out praise to everybody, so it’s a nice change to hear them openly ripping Chris Jericho time and time again. They’re standing up for Ring Of Honor, and they hate that Jericho is so openly trying to destroy everything the company stands for.
– Swing counter. Claudio puts Jericho in the Swing, but Jericho counters it beautifully and rolls into a Walls attempt. That looked super smooth.
– The finish. Actually, I’m not even sure if the finish is a Pro or a Con. Wow. Claudio has the Swing, and he is over 30 rotations in when Jericho taps out. NOBODY saw that coming. The fans didn’t even respond right away, because they had no idea what was going on. That was as unexpected an ending as you’re ever going to see in a wrestling match.
Cons: – The Jericho Appreciation Society. I’ve made it very clear that I am not a fan of the group at all. That automatically makes it more difficult to enjoy anything they’re involved in. Don’t get me wrong… Jericho is still really good in the ring. I just can’t find myself caring about this stuff like I can with other people, other feuds, and other storylines.
Match Rating: 3.25 Stars. Another good match on a show filled with them. Again, we only got one match that went above that level, but there’s not a ton to complain about overall.
It will be really nice to see Tony Khan truly separate AEW and RoH, allowing RoH to have its own feel and not just come across as another version of Rampage. TK made it seem like that was the plan once Final Battle was done, so we’ll see how that goes.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to take a short break before I return with the NXT Deadline Pros & Cons Review column.