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ROH Final Battle 2009 12/19/2009

ROH 247 – Final Battle 2009 – 19th December 2009

I think everyone associated with independent wrestling is pretty excited about the potential of internet pay-per-view technology. Whenever the threads came up on the ROH message boards posing the question ‘how can ROH make more money’, it’s always been one of the first answers. Indeed, the Gabe promotions (Dragon Gate USA, Evolve) have been so taken with the concept that, after they ran their first iPPV in 2010, they decided to make EVERY one of their shows that wasn’t already taped for national pay-per-view available for streaming over the internet. ROH’s reported recent financial problems will tell you the DVD market is dying. It’s not dead, and to an extent will always be there, but the days when ROH can run 40 shows a year, sell them on DVD and hope to fund the company on it are gone and unlikely to come back. But watching ROH shows live…that’s a whole different matter. This is the first ROH show streamed over the internet via GoFightLive. Supposedly the overheads on this are pretty small, meaning ROH can reach the ‘break even point’ on these shows quickly and start to make crucial cash. At just $14.95, a fraction of the price WWE and TNA charge for their ppv’s, it is outstanding value for what will doubtlessly be a good show. And of course, you can still release the DVD at $20 a pop down the line…so all of a sudden that’s a LOT of additional revenue you’re adding. Is the concept perfect? As yet probably not – I don’t think technology is quite able to support it yet. Every show an indy company has put on iPPV thus far has had some kind of feed issue, from sound problems to cuts to poor VQ. And of course, there’s still a large percentage of the potential viewing audience who don’t have the internet connection/computer equipment necessary to watch as yet. But it’s an exciting market and ROH is right to look at expanding into it. So for the first time ever, this Ring Of Honor show is live. Of course, we’re in Manhattan, NY, and it’s a stacked line-up. A year after Tyler Black was so overwhelmingly cheered by the New York fans that Austin Aries snapped and became the ‘A-Double’ character we’ve seen over the last 12 months those two men meet again, this time with the ROH World Title on the line. The American Wolves, ROH’s success story of 2009, meet the Briscoes in a much-hyped ROH Tag Title Match. Chris Hero and Eddie Kingston settle their personal feud in a Fight Without Honor, the Young Bucks get a third shot at beating Kevin Steen and El Generico in what could be Steen’s last night with ROH, plus the crew in from Mexico (Koslov, Romero and maybe even Teddy Hart and Jack Evans) are all scheduled to be in action too. Commentary comes from Dave Prazak and Eric Santamaria. I think it’s re-recorded post-production commentary though as the live show had Larry Sweeney with them, but had a lot of sound problems I believe. It’s a shame because calling this show was Sweeney’s last appearance in ROH.

Show opens with a decent hype video for Aries vs Tyler in the main event. Even HDNet have let ROH use footage for this so it’s a great retrospective piece on the career paths of Aries and Black over the course of the last year.

Claudio Castagnoli (1) vs Kenny Omega (6) vs Colt Cabana vs Rhett Titus – Pick 6 Series Match
Sure it’s just an excuse to get these guys on the show, but there are lots of issues everyone brings into this. Claudio actually defeated Cabana to get into the inaugural Pick 6 rankings, and Cabana is desperate to get back into the Pick 6 so he can petition for another title shot to bring the belt home to Chicago. Rhett Titus doesn’t like Colt at all after he split his eyebrow wide open during their tag match at Final Countdown Tour Dayton, and will have no love lost for Kenny Omega either after their keenly fought battle at Eye Of The Storm 2 last night. And it was a year ago at Final Battle 2008 that Omega defeated Castagnoli in what Claudio calls one of his career lows in ROH.

As you’d expect, it breaks down to heels vs faces in the early going. Titus and Cabana fight on the floor whilst Claudio seeks out his revenge on Omega. Except he elevates Kenny over the ropes INTO THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE MOONSAULT! Colt and Omega tease going at it themselves, then run across the ring into a double baseball slide on Rhett. Claudio then grabs Omega and shunts him into the railings, before joining Titus in the ring for a double Sexy Suplex on Cabana. DOUBLE Frog Crossbody by the returning Omega. STOP SIGN ENZI into an urinage suplex on Colt gets 2. UFO ON RHETT! Omega then springboards into a DRAGON SUPLEX on Castagnoli for 2. Kenny blocks Cabana’s turnbuckle gutbuster but eats ROPE RUN SUPER SEX FACTOR INSTEAD! BILLY GOAT’S CURSE…Claudio breaks with the Bicycle Kick then puts Titus down with a bridging German suplex at 06:14

Rating – *** – Short and meaningless, but it was action packed, rocked the live crowd and did it’s job as an opening match. All four of these guys are decent in this environment and it showed.

In the back Tyler Black says it’s his dream to add his name to the list of ROH Champions, but since ‘in the last year since things changed in ROH’ (is he talking about Gabe’s sacking or Aries’ heel turn I wonder) he’s lost some of his passion. But he still launches in into a vitriolic pro-ROH promo and badly wants to become the champion to lead the promotion into the next decade.

Erick Stevens/Bison Smith vs Delirious/Necro Butcher
We all know the problems Necro has had with The Embassy over the last year, and that he particularly dislikes Stevens after Erick attacked him to announce his union with Prince Nana. Necro and Bison also had a memorable pull-apart brawl on HDNet so they will welcome another chance to fight each other as well. This one could get messy.

Except Necro hasn’t made it to the building in all the travel and weather problems, so Delirious comes out to fight both massive guys by himself. Choo Choo flattens him in the corner before Smith launches him into a such a large biel Delirious nearly tumbles out of the ring. GUARDRAIL HURDLE FOOTBALL TACKLE BY SMITH! But the lights go down…PELLE PRIMEAU IS BACK! He comes out to be Delirious’ partner, and immediately bewilders Stevens with all his plucky little guy counters. No such luck with Bison Smith though…he destroys Pelle with a lariat then throws him out of the ring with a press slam. Lights go out again…and Bobby Dempsey is here to help Delirious. Man I wish we could hear Sweeney’s commentary for this! Warrior Splash on Stevens gets 2. On the floor Nana and Ernesto are putting the boots to Delirious, and when tag format is finally established, it’s a wounded Delirious in the ring with Smith. Choo Choo misses second time around though, and Delirious gets a hot tag to Bobby. CAPTURE SUPLEX on Stevens, then the Panic Attack/cannonball combo! Delirious upstairs, Dempsey to the apron…CANNONBALL/SUICIDE FLIP COMBO! Back in the ring Smith and Stevens double team Dempsey, hitting a Claw Slam/backbreaker combo for 2. AWESOMEBOMB from Smith to Dempsey gives The Embassy a win at 09:39

Rating – ** – Enjoyable, slightly ECW-ish chaos out there. Truthfully I think the Primeau/Dempsey stuff made this far better than it would have been had Necro made it to the building anyway.

Chris Hero vs Eddie Kingston – Fight Without Honor
Eddie has utilised ROH on HDNet to bring his personal crusade to end Hero’s career to ROH. These guys have been rivals everywhere they’ve gone, but Eddie has always wanted to be in Ring Of Honor, and blames Hero’s political games and stunts for him not getting opportunities here. It was Hero, in his hour of need during the CZW invasion, that turned to Kingston for help with the Cage Of Death CZW team for Death Before Dishonor 4, but when CZW lost that match, he ditched Eddie and hatched a new plan to get the Kings Of Wrestling on the ROH roster without him. They’ve had some ugly exchanges on HDNet, we’ve seen King steal Hero’s precious ‘Emerald Elbow Pad’ (apparently given to him by the late Mitsuharu Misawa)…and last time in this building at Glory By Honor 8 we saw Hero break out his new Golden Elbow Pad (still loaded of course) to defeat Eddie in a physical match. Their feud ends here tonight, with Eddie getting one last chance to score a big win over Hero in his hometown.

Kingston starts the fight in the entrance, but Hero gets the advantage by hitting the Flash Kick through the ropes, then pulls out a chain to start flogging God’s Middle Child with. Then he wraps it around King’s throat, choking him and using it to drag him around. Roaring Elbow drops Eddie again, but incredibly he kicks out of the ensuing pin at 1. CHAIN-WRAPPED ELBOW! He then goes for a Ligerbomb, but finds it countered with a rana. URINAGE SUPLEX ON THE CHAIN! I feel a bit sorry for Kingston, this is his big chance to earn a full-time ROH spot in what is home town, yet most of the crowd is chanting for Hero. Still, he gets 2 with a northern lights bomb. In response Hero peppers him with elbow smashes to get his own nearfall. Those elbows have left Eddie dazed, and give Hero time to head outside and bring in a segment of guardrail. Back inside, he positions it in the corner then drops Eddie again with a BACK DROP DRIVER. That barrier segment is positioned like a platform on the middle ropes, with Hero and Eddie fighting on the top rope above it. F*CKING HELL…GANSO BOMB ON THE GUARDAIL! KINGSTON IS DEAD! That looked frightening as anything, but incredibly, Kingston still kicks out. Chain-wrapped Death Blow ducked. STRAIGHT JACKET GERMAN! LARIAT WITH THE CHAIN FOR 2! Sara Del Rey gets in the ring and starts kicking Eddie…CAPTURE SUPLEX ON HER! Hero has the Golden Elbow Pad, but it’s ducked and Eddie hits the SAITO SUPLEX! Low blow by Hero…then THE LOADED ELBOW SMASH! Eddie kicks out at 2! Now the fans are right behind Kingston…SPINNING BACK FIST! FOR 2! King steals the Golden Elbow. ROARING LOADED ELBOW! King finally beats Hero at 15:09 and is in tears.

Rating – **** – Brutal, nasty, violent, stiff…everything you’d expect from a Fight Without Honor. That guardrail Ganso Bomb spot is one of is one of the sickest things I’ve seen in ROH, and I genuinely don’t know how Eddie Kingston isn’t crippled – should have been the finish in my book. I don’t think the fans would’ve minded Hero going over again at all. Eddie does deserve this win on iPPV though,as he’s undoubtedly been one of the guys who has really capitalised most on ROH going to TV where he can use his gritty character and top notch promos to cover his limited in-ring skills.

Young Bucks vs Kevin Steen/El Generico
This is the third time the Young Bucks have attempted to defeat the former ROH Tag Champions of Kevin Steen and El Generico. They’ve made two valiant efforts, in GREAT matches at Contention and Aries vs Richards, but came up on the losing end both times. Now they get their third shot, in the same building where they scored their biggest win in ROH to date – their Glory By Honor 8 victory over the Briscoes. And perhaps they’ll never have a better chance, given that Kevin Steen’s knee is reportedly so bad he’s contemplating retiring after this match. As we saw in Manassas yesterday, Mr Wrestling can’t even walk to the ring without limping heavily.

Steen tears up as the fans chant ‘Mr Wrestling’ at him. Understandably Generico starts with Nick Jackson, but it’s the Buck who gets the advantage with some lucha-inspired stuff. Steen tags in, takes a dropkick from Matt, then comes down feeling the knee. Matt tries to help him up, so he SLAPS him in the face. Drop toehold/somersault leg drop combo nailed, then he starts firing snot rockets at Nick. He and Generico isolate Matt until Jackson hits a standing Shiranui on the masked man and gets a vital tag to Nick. That moment changes the direction of the match as now it’s the Young Bucks in charge, trapping El Generico in the ring and keeping him away from his partner. Backflip dropkick combo scores, and that’s 8 whole minutes into the match before the Jacksons do one of their signature double team spots. Generico tags Mr Wrestling who no sells the backflip dropkicks to clobber both of them with clotheslines. LIMPING CANNONBALL ON MATT…ELEVATED DDT ON NICK for 2. From the floor Matt pulls out Steen’s bad leg, then gets taken out himself with a SOMERSAULT PLANCHA from Generico. Pumphandle cradlebreaker gets Steen a 2, but of course, it’s all impact on his knee and he’s limping heavily now. Nick takes advantage with a corkscrew enziguri, then is joined by Matt for the double stomp/inverted DDT. Codebreaker on Matt, but such is the impact on the knee that both men are down. Generico in with a HIGH crossbody, but he eats the slingshot facebuster from Nick. He goes for the rolling moonsault to the floor…COUNTERED BY STEEN INTO AN APRON POWERBOMB! GENERICO SENDS MATT TO THE TURNBUCKLES WITH AN EXPLODER! INVERTED CODE RED ON GENERICO! Corkscrew plancha from Nick to Steen as Matt dives into the ring with the corkscrew cutter on Generico. Standing moonsault/springboard splash combo gets 2. Steen goes for the Sharpshooter on Nick, but settles for throwing Matt OVER THE TOP! YAKUZA KICK ON NICK! HALF NELSON SUPLEX! STEEN WITH A KNEE-DESTROYING FROG SPLASH FOR 2! Nick blocks the Package Piledriver but accidentally superkicks his brother coming to help him then gets put in the SHARPSHOOTER! Matt tries to save but Steen WON’T LET GO! Generico removes Matt with a Cactus clothesline but Kevin can’t maintain the Sharpshooter and crumbles holding his knee. Matt saves Nick from the Package Piledriver. MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK NAILED! STEEN KICKS OUT AT 2! The Young Bucks look like they might cry. SUPERKICKS…STEEN WON’T GO DOWN! DOUBLE SUPERKICK! Finally Steen has nothing left to give, and finally the Jacksons score a victory at 17:09

Rating – **** – I so nearly gave this an extra half star. This was an INCREDIBLE match, with so much drama and emotion that it’s something you really need to see for yourself. In the end I think the opening 5-7 minutes were a little copy and paste, but after that this was just unreal. The drama of Steen’s knee injury has led to some awesome matches over the last few shows, culminating in this where he almost couldn’t move but still wouldn’t stop fighting. Just like with the Claudio match at Reverse The Curse, he knows his knee is so bad that he starts taking bigger and bigger chances, hitting bigger and more self-harming moves in order to score the win. The Bucks meanwhile, desperate to score the win for themselves, were bang on their game too. They weren’t out here doing exhibition-style tag spots…besides, they knew that they’ve fought Steen and Generico so much this year that they’d most likely be countered anyway. The pay-off to everything they did was that moment where Steen kicked out of More Bang For Your Buck. That was NOT a silly, pop the crowd false finish. That was the magical culmination of what they’d built the whole match too. Steen would not die, and even in the face of the Young Bucks’ ultimate tag team move, and despite all the damage done to his knee, he just refused to stay down. And I loved how the Jacksons didn’t then go for another contrived doublke team spot. They were PISSED, and just kicked the living sh*t out of him to finally put him down. Awesome, awesome…AWESOME stuff. Every Steen-erico/Young Bucks match has been better than the last, and this was just a rollercoaster ride that may well have stolen the show.

The Bucks leave quickly, and Steen is crying his eyes out as the fans chant his name now. He grabs a microphone, although sound quality isn’t great. He admits that his physical condition has deteriorated to the point where both weight gain and knee injuries have meant he can’t perform to the level he wants to anymore. He starts thanking fans, PWG, ROH, and singles out the Briscoes and Nigel McGuinness for special mentions for giving him some of his favourite matches ever. Then he turns to El Generico, and before he can even say anything they hug in the middle of the ring. (Knowing what’s coming makes this even better by the way). The hug ends…AND HE KICKS HIM IN THE BALLS! STEEL CHAIR SHOT TO THE SKULL! GENERICO IS OUT COLD! Colt Cabana runs in to try to talk sense into Steen, but Mr Wrestling has clearly snapped…planting a kiss on Cabana before walking out with a demented grin on his face. Even with the microphone problems, this segment was incredible.

Roderick Strong (4) vs Kenny King – Pick 6 Series Match
Both Kenny and Rhett Titus have failed to claim a Pick 6 spot in recent shows, looking to lock down one of the contendership slots meaning Aries has one less potential challenger to worry about. Tonight King has another chance, but he has to do at the expense of Aries’ former tag partner Roderick Strong. Roddy himself comes into this having defeated Tyler Black last night in Manassas, and must know that if he can beat Austin’s protégé here tonight, he has to be right at the front of the queue to challenge whomever leaves New York tonight with the World Title.

Roderick has had a total renaissance in popularity in the tail-end of 2009, and gets showered in streamers during his entrance tonight. Wristlocks and headlocks get us going, but Kenny makes the first mistake by cockily celebrating his own agility out of a leapfrog, then turning into a jumping heel kick from Strong. Slingshot suplex countered but when King leaves the ring Roddy is in position to dive off the apron into a flying clothesline to the floor. Back comes Kenny with a CORKSCREW SENTON off the guardrails. Is Ernesto Osiris on live commentary now? King rattles Strong’s brains by ramming his head into the guardrails, and continues that when he comes back inside by hitting the snap suplex/mounted forearms combo. There’s a big smile on his face as he drops Strong with a backbreaker, but Strong still has enough about him to evade Kenny’s springboard leg drop…then deliver the urinage backbreaker for 2. Death By Roderick blocked and they trade elbows until Kenny puts Strong down again with a spinebuster. Capo Kick connects, then he drops him on the back of his head again with a big clothesline. Strong recovers quickly…BACK SUPLEX ON THE APRON! Kenny is favouring the back now, but manages to kick Strong in the head again, this time with a corkscrew enzi. Vertical leap enzi catches Strong in the corner, and enables him to drop him on his head with the Royal Flush for 2. Shotgun Knees miss and allow Strong to deliver the torture wrack backbreaker. Death By Roderick…countered with the tights. Cheap pin gives King the win at 10:27

Rating – *** – Disappointingly brief, and I’m a little sad Roderick ends 2009 with a loss after all he’s done to rebuild himself in the latter part of this year, but this was a fun little match. Kenny did a great job focusing his offence on the head, and of course that played into the finish as a dazed Strong was too woozy to react quickly enough to Kenny’s cheating and in the end suffered a defeat. It’s a big moment for Kenny King, and after the 2009 he’s had, it’s not undeserved. I just think ROH’s main event talent pool is pretty thin right now, and out of nowhere fans have started buying into Roderick Strong again. It seems like a shame to waste that putting King over…

Alex Koslov vs Rocky Romero
These guys have feuded extensively in Mexico, so when ROH signed them up to make their returns to the company at Final Battle weekend they were immediately booked to oppose each other on American soil. Romero should be familiar to ROH fans, having held the ROH Tag Titles with both Ricky Reyes and Davey Richards in the past, before fading out of ROH and looking for work elsewhere when the No Remorse Corps fell apart. Koslov made his ROH debut this year during Wrestlemania weekend, but is yet to experience victory thus far in Ring Of Honor having lost to Danielson, Strong and Rocky himself yesterday during the big 6-man main event.

Apparently this was originally scheduled to be a tag match including Teddy Hart and Jack Evans, but neither of those guys are here yet, so instead these two compete in a singles match. Romero has the unfortunate job of breaking the news to the live crowd, and is greeted with boos and chants of ‘We Want Teddy’ and ‘Jack’. Even the Russian Alex Koslov is now more popular than him…you can’t help but feel bad for the guy! They begin with some nifty little chain-wrestling exchanges, not actually breaking contact with each other for minutes at a time. Koslov picks it up with a springboard crossbody and gets more ‘Russia’ chants as a result. Romero hits a headscissors, draws some ‘Cuba’ chants and has Prazak calling it the ‘Battle of the Communists’. Tope suicida from Romero drives Alex all the way into the crowd. Back inside they trade strikes, ending when Rocky hits a tilta-whirl backbreaker. Superkick to the back of the head puts the former Tag champion on the deck though. Russian Legsweep nailed, and here comes the Cossack hat. COSSACK STOMPS! Then they both send each other into the ropes in quick succession to leave them both stunned. Mexican surfboard in the ropes by Koslov, but when he relinquishes the hold Romero sprints into a jumping knee strike. Springboard DDT gets the Havana Pitbull a nearfall. Fans are sh*tting on this by the way. Alex chops Romero into the crowd then goes to the top for a SUICIDE DIVE INTO THE FRONT ROW! I guess now Dragon is gone it opens up a spot on the roster for someone else to use that gimmick. Frog Splash blocked though, allowing Romero to hit the reverse enzi kick for 2. Koslov thinks about the Frog Splash again, but is chased up the ropes by Rocky for the DIABLO ARMBAR! Koslov taps at 11:19

Rating – *** – The live crowd wasn’t into this at all, but I thought it was pretty good. Romero’s style has never been that appealing to be, but I really like Koslov’s mix of old school nationalistic heel stuff with cutting edge junior heavyweight wrestling…and with a wealth of experience wrestling each other this was very fluid stuff. I can’t believe the amount of negativity this got, and I really can’t believe people are that upset about Hart and Evans missing out, given that these guys are comfortably twice as good as Jack or Teddy have ever been. I did find it slightly amusing that Romero is such an awful babyface that even a guy dancing around, waving a Russian flag and shouting ‘RUSSIA’ every few seconds gets the support of a New York crowd before he does.

American Wolves vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe – ROH Tag Title Match
Much like the main event, this is a match that’s been a year in the making. At Final Battle 2008 the Wolves carried out a vicious assault on Mark’s knee, handcuffing Jay to the ring and making him watch as they brutalised his brother with a chair – inflicting injuries that caused Mark to miss the first half of 2009 altogether. Such is the extent to which that the Briscoes dislike the Wolves, Jay even formed a temporary makeshift team with arch rival Kevin Steen (who’s own partner El Generico had also been put out by the Wolves) in an attempt to gain revenge and take the belts from Richards and Edwards. That team inevitably failed, and when Mark returned, the Briscoes have been keen to get back in the hunt for the Tag Team gold. Having won the Tag Team Honor Rumble on HDNet, they took their first shot at the champions at Final Countdown Tour Chicago – and looked to have had the match won before Davey attacked the referee to intentionally disqualify his team. Two weeks ago on HDNet the Briscoes defeated Steen and Generico to earn this rematch, and ironically have the tables turned in their favour given that this will be the first time the Wolves have defended the belts since Eddie returned from fracturing his elbow in September.

The New York fans haven’t forgotten Eddie’s heroics at Glory By Honor 8 and give him a hero’s welcome when he makes his way to the ring. Mark starts with Richards and actually gets the better of a mat-wrestling exchange, so in comes Edwards to punt him in the back. Briscoe promptly takes him down and kicks him right back. In comes Davey, and HE takes a turn at kicking Mark in the spine. Mark wisely doesn’t try to out-kick Richards, instead opting to take it back to the mat where he had success with Davey last time he was in the ring. Jay and Eddie tagged in…except Edwards sprints across the ring to kick Mark off the apron before locking up with his older brother. Davey tagged…and Jay does the same thing by kicking Edwards off the apron. Double tackle floors Richards and the Wolves decide to leave the ring to re-think their strategy. They return, and Richards and Jay  to kick the sh*t out of each other. Urinage from Mark to Edwards…Mafia kick from Jay as well gets 2. The Briscoes start to isolate Eddie, knowing he’s the weak link in the opposing team right now. That is until Richards grabs Mark’s leg and, just as he did in Manassas yesterday, dragon screws the bad knee in the ropes. Ace crusher from Mark to Edwards before the Wolves can do too much damage to the leg though. Jay seems to hurt Eddie with a spinebuster, but on the outside, Richards is doing more damage to his brother by kicking him into the crowd. The match sort of stalls whilst people check on Eddie, but it turns out he was playing possum as Edwards pops up for the DOUBLE ALARM CLOCK! SUPERKICK GERMAN SUPLEX GETS 2!

Edwards starts doing push-ups in the ring to kill his babyface heat and further insult the Briscoes. The Wolves are on top now and cut the ring in half working Jay over for several minutes. Jay eventually drops Eddie with a DVD and gets the tag, but of course, question marks remain over his brother’s knee. The Wolves retreat…SOMERSAULT PLANCHA BY MARK! He tries another Ace crusher out of the corner, and when Davey blocks that he hits an ICONOCLASM instead for 2. Turnbuckle flatliner from the apron by Jay on Eddie, and he scales the ropes for the sidewalk slam/leg drop combo for 2. Richards fights the Jay Driller and baits him into a knee strike from Eddie. Jay goes for the DVD again, but this time eats an enzi kick. Backpack Stunner gets 2. The Wolves take it in turns kicking Jay on the top rope…TOP ROPE FRANKENSTEINER BY EDDIE! DR DRIVER! JAY KICKS OUT! ACHILLES TENDON LOCK ON JAY! TEXAS CLOVERLEAF ON MARK! COUNTERED WITH DUELLING SMALL PACKAGES FOR 2! DOUBLE ALARM CLOCK! POWERBOMB LUNGBLOWER! Jay kicks out again, so Eddie puts him in the Achilles Lock again. Jay makes the ropes and the Wolves are visibly desperate now. Doomsday Ace Crusher blocked…and Mark saves with a ROPE RUN URINAGE SUPERPLEX! Jay flattens Edwards with a lariat to leave all four down. It’s Eddie and Jay that are up first to trade kicks…JAY DRILLER! EDWARDS KICKS OUT! DOOMSDAY DEVICE SCORES! BRISCOES WIN! They become 6-time Tag Champions at 22:51

Rating – **** – I’ve seen some pretty low ratings for this match but, whilst it definitely wasn’t as good as Bucks/Steen-erico, I really liked this. What I particularly enjoyed was how they teased several predictable themes – like Briscoes dominating with double teams, then the Wolves found a way to overcome it. Then they teased working the match around Mark’s bad knee…but the Briscoes found a way to overcome that. In the end it took some questionable tactics from the Wolves and a FAKE injury to finally give them the advantage and heat period, before the inevitable comeback from the Briscoes and big exchange of spots at the end. Maybe they went overkill on false finishes in front of a tired crowd, but personally I thought there was enough in this match to justify this rating. It FELT like a big, main event level tag team match, and that’s something you don’t get with either of the other two major promotions out there right now.

SIDENOTE – It’s great to see the Briscoes, loyal servants to ROH over the years, crowned Tag Team Champions again, but you can’t help but wonder whether the powers that be might have kept the belts on the Wolves were it not for Davey’s commitments to Gabe’s promotions. At this stage a real issue was developing between DGUSA/Evolve and ROH, particularly with the promotions set to go head to head at Wrestlemania weekend in Phoenix in a few months. Richards is a main event level singles star in Dragon Gate USA too. As you’ll soon see, there’s definitely a new creative direction and feud about to develop over the Tag Titles – with the Briscoes holding the belts and the Wolves sidelined from the Tag Title picture. With no clear creative plans in place for Davey and Eddie, I think it may be apparent that Ring Of Honor are preparing for the worst with Davey Richards. If  the time came for a line to be drawn in the sand, they don’t want to find themselves having a vacant Tag Title situation (again) with Richards picking Gabe Sapolsky, DGUSA and Evolve (the company he helped create) rather than remain in ROH. Good as the match was, it did feel like a quite a low key conclusion to their run

Claudio Castagnoli comes to interrupt the Briscoes victory celebration…and neither one of them spot Hero appearing behind them to hit a Roaring Elbow on Jay. KRS-1 ON MARK! The Kings Of Wrestling are back, and they pose with the Tag Titles to a thunderous response from the NYC fans.

Then the lights go out…and when they come on again Jack Evans, Teddy Hart and Julius Smokes are in the ring. Jack looks a lot smaller, but more defined than he did last time he was in ROH. They’re late because of the snow, and lost their bags at the airport, but Jack still says he wants a match with Teddy here tonight. Teddy says he wants to show the US what they’ve been missing whilst they’ve been away

Jack Evans vs Teddy Hart
Everyone knows the infamous story of Teddy Hart in ROH. The Scramble Cage controversy, the 30 foot moonsaults, getting thrown out of the locker room by CM Punk etc. But for all the negatives, he did bring Jack Evans to ROH, and Jack went on to become part of the legendary Generation Next faction and permanently etched his spot in ROH history. Honestly Jack’s gimmick got old, and when he started favouring Japan over ROH and making it impossible to nail him down for an extended period of shows, he became increasingly marginalised. The final straw came when his Vulture Squad stable bombed, and he hasn’t been seen in ROH since mid-2008. Both Teddy and Jack have spent time in Mexico and claim to be reformed characters now. They claim they’re ready for another shot in ROH, and despite their travel problems, it is at least commendable that they want to come out and entertain the live crowd here tonight.

No bell, no referee and two guys fighting in baggy pants make this look a little amateurish. Hart hits a suplex, so Jack kicks him out of the ring and hits the Space Flying Tiger Drop. He comes back in with a springboard 450…and since there’s no ref there’s nobody to pin. Smokes comes in to officiate as Hart drops Jack with a powerbomb lungblower, then a horrifying hanging piledriver in the ropes. THEN he drops Jack right on his head with a cradle DDT. Cut-throat lungblower scores, then he goes upstairs for a shooting star press…only for Jack to get the knees up. Dropsault then a standing corkscrew moonsault. 630 senton…but now Hart gets the knees up. Back suplex flipped to a sit-out powerbomb by Teddy now. Double hammerlock piledriver…and Evans kicks out again. This is beyond silly now. Evans isn’t dead, and has recovered sufficiently to hit a handspring elbow then springboard knee drop. 630 Senton, possibly the least lethal looking move of the whole match, wins it for Evans at an embarrassing 06:30 of unofficial time.

Rating – DUD – Fair play to these guys for showing up in adverse circumstances, but this was inexcusably bad. I get it, it was an exhibition of MOVEZ, but it was ghastly. I bet Austin Aries and Tyler Black (knowing they were booked for a 60-minute broadway of course) were in the back going absolutely mental at these guys being allowed to go out there and kill the crowd with 30 kinds of piledrivers and backflips in quick succession. Yes some of the spots were cool, yes I admire their desire to go out there and perform, but the bottom line is there is no way they should have been allowed to go and do this before the main event – particularly considering the ambitious main event Adam Pearce had planned. Being fair, I wouldn’t mind seeing these guys brought back to work some form of tag/multi-man match as originally advertised…but I wouldn’t count on it happening. I imagine Austin Aries and Tyler Black are waiting by the curtain with their coats and bags ready to sling them out the back door.

Austin Aries vs Tyler Black – ROH World Title Match
These two have had this match on their agenda since Final Battle 2008 when, in the aftermath of the break-up of the Age Of The Fall, Austin opted to drive a metaphorical stake through Tyler’s heart when he obliterated him with a steel chair shot to the head. It was a chair shot motivated by anger, bitterness and jealousy. Aries has been sacrificing his mental and physical well-being for ROH and it’s fans for years, but in New York that night, nobody cared about him. The whole place was awash with pro-Tyler sentiment. Their battle that night was for #1 Contendership to the World Title and as fans loudly chanted of ‘Next World Champ’ in Tyler’s direction, it was clear that Austin’s years of dedication to the promotion meant nothing. He morphed into the A-Double character we’ve seen throughout 2009 as a direct result of that match. At Manhattan Mayhem 3, the night Aries won the belt, it was actually Tyler that defeated the World Champion Jerry Lynn, with Austin once again going on to defeat Black and ensure another World Title opportunity slipped through Black’s fingers. The tag of ‘can’t keep his eye on the ball’ or ‘choker’ has followed Black around all year. Since Take No Prisoners in early 2008 Black has had a number of World Title shots, and never won the big one. But after missing some time through facial injuries suffered when Aries lit a piece of paper right in front of him, he returned more focused and more determined than ever to grab that brass ring. On his first weekend back he won Survival Of The Fittest and set up this huge main event. Will Black finally win the big one, or will Aries survive with his belt again just as he did against Davey Richards, Kenny Omega and Colt Cabana in recent months?

What a difference a year makes. Last year people were desperate to see Tyler as champion, just as Gabe predicted they would. A year later, a year of Pearce’s inconsistent, changeable creative direction with Tyler, and most of the building is vocally in Austin’s favour. Aries predictably gets on the stick to run down Jack Evans and Teddy Hart. Tyler starts hot and aggressive, so Aries immediately jumps out of the ring to kill his momentum. That happens repeatedly in the opening minutes…and any time he does get physically involved it’s to slow Black to a standstill by working headlocks. Black does manage to tag him with a headscissors escape dropkick so A-Double leaves the ring again. He tries to skin the cat only to take a dropkick to the stomach, handing the advantage to Tyler for the first time. He throws Aries into the guardrail, then suplexes him on the hard floor…sadly we’ve got another dickhead crowd by this point in a long show with New York fans ruining things with the ‘Twinky’ thing again. After taking some damage there, Aries goes back to the stalling game and stays well away from his opponent. Black finally catches him with a GUARDRAIL MOONSAULT! He goes for the Springboard Lariat, but once again Aries takes evasive action and leaves the ring. Thankfully the sane people in the crowd have shouted down the Twinky pricks. Aries sails off the top rope with the Savage Axehandle. Having stalled and avoided the fight for over 10 minutes, Austin finally gets serious, attacking the neck for the first time. Then he goes after the leg – a wise move since it nullifies most of Black’s key moves. The next several minutes are spent with Austin focusing on that body part, keeping the match at the methodically slow pace which obviously favours him. But finally he makes a mistake, taking way too long to deliver the Power Drive Elbow and allowing Black to come back at him with a neckbreaker.

A second mistake doesn’t take long to arrive either, with Aries trying to climb to the top rope only to be dropkicked to the floor. RUNNING MOONSAULT TO THE OUTSIDE! Damage done to his own leg there, but he no sells that (and Aries throwing a streamer at him) to hit the Springboard Lariat. Shinbreak back suplex is countered with a mid-air crossbody as well. Quebrada misses, but even with the bad wheel Tyler manages to land the Black Star Press for 2. Peroxism countered, and this time A-Double is able to nail the shinbreak back suplex. He climbs the ropes again, right handing Tyler’s leg at all times, allowing him to connect with a SUPER DDT, then goes straight into the Last Chancery. But of course, he’s focused more on the leg than the neck tonight and Tyler just isn’t softened up enough to submit there. He tries to mock Black’s signature pose in the corner…IED BY TYLER! PEROXISM GETS 2! LAST CHANCERY ON THE CHAMP! But of course, that’s a move which uses both his bad neck and bad leg so he relinquishes it pretty quickly. He thinks about the Phoenix Splash, but that’s a horrible error at this stage, and he gets shoved all the way to the guardrails. HEAT SEEKING MISSILE! Ask Nigel McGuinness how badly that move can f you up. Aries goes for a super Brainbuster, but in the end needs a rana to counter the Buckle Bomb. JAPANESE ARMDRAG TO THE BUCKLES BY BLACK! But he misses the Phoenix Splash then Austin SHUTS HIM DOWN by dropkicking the leg out from under him. Figure 4 Leglock applied as we near the 30-minute mark. Tyler escapes and beats on Aries in the corner, but the restless crowd are starting to boo him now. Aries goes to the top…PELE KICK SENDS HIM THROUGH THE TIMEKEEPING TABLE!

That’s a game changing moment right there as we cross the half way point in the time limit. That seems to injure the champion’s shoulder, so once again he goes back to the stalling game and tries to put as much distance between him and Tyler as he possibly can. He tries a Brainbuster, but can’t even lift Tyler, and when Black looks to nail him with the Superkick, he goes straight out of the ring again. He’s desperate…DVD ON THE APRON! It was all a rouse, one that would probably have had more effect had Eddie Edwards not done the same thing two matches ago. The champion starts trying to get count-out wins, like he did with Petey Williams at Glory By Honor. He spends several minutes constantly knocking Tyler to the floor, then waiting for Black to fight his way back in before clobbering him out again. Basic stategy but it’s eating up the time and giving him the maximum opportunity to recover. ‘We Want Wrestling’ and ‘This is Bullsh*t’ chants from NYC, who are getting really pissed now. Ironically, when Black starts a fightback, they boo him too. Austin tries to leave, but this time Black follows with a SOMERSAULT PLANCHA! Austin literally tries to leave through the crowd, or up the aisle to the locker room…anything to get himself counted. He actually does leave and gets ‘Don’t Come Back’ chants, and there are audible jeers when Black retrieves him…FOR AN F-5 ON THE ENTRANCE RAMP!

The champ is bleeding…and Black tries to squeeze more blood out with the END TIME! 45 minutes gone, and the crowd now goes into a ‘This Match Sucks’ chant. It doesn’t. Aries wants to leave…BLACK CATCHES HIM WITH A BARRICADE BOMB! SUPERKICK! But the time it takes him to get Aries back in the ring is costly and he only manages a 2-count. Phoenix Splash misses…and both men are down and out, completely exhausted after this battle. Aries leaves again, but this time it’s a ploy…BRAINBUSTER ON THE RAMP! He leaves Tyler a bloody mess and once again wants to win by count-out. Last Chancery…then Aries takes Tyler into the corner and starts choking him, WITHOUT breaking at 5 and trying to get himself intentionally disqualified. Low blow…but Black grabs the ref’s arm as he’s about to call for the bell and tells him not to do it. SHOT TO THE EXPOSED TURNBUCKLE! Then he rattles Black’s neck into the exposed bolt with a Russian Legsweep. 450 SPLASH! Tyler kicks out! Now the champ tries to get DQ’d again by using his belt as a weapon, only for Black to block it and deliver a kick to the head at 55 minutes. The crowd are booing Tyler with every move he makes, which is just ridiculous considering they’re booing the match being a stall-fest. PELE KICK! KICK OF DEATH! BRAINBUSTER BLOCKED…CATTLE MUTILATION BY TYLER! Oh you’d better believe the fans HATE that. MMA ELBOWS! CATTLE MUTILATION AGAIN! COUNTERED TO THE BRAINBUSTER…FOR 2! Bobby Cruise gets a big pop for announcing that we only have a minute to go. They slug it out…GOD’S LAST GIFT! ARIES KICKS OUT! TIME LIMIT EXPIRES!

Rating – **** – Sorry New York…but I loved this match. As far as story-telling goes, this was amazing, and the culmination of a year spent developing the A-Double character. The whole point of his new style was that he WANTED to piss the fans off. He felt betrayed by them when, after killing himself in ROH for years, they cheered for Tyler last year. He’s spent the whole year toning his style down and saying he wrestles for himself now…and now, a year later, he gets the ultimate revenge on the New York crowd by giving them this. I could go on about how I thought the crowd were being juvenile, how I couldn’t help but think how ridiculously ungrateful the NYC audience can be…but in a way that actually contributed to the match. I doubt Tyler and Aries particularly enjoyed the response they were getting as it was completely the wrong sort of heat, but if the fans took the whole match as a big A-Double ‘f*ck you’ in their direction, then so be it. The negative to all of this is that whilst the fans hated the match, they WEREN’T cheering Black to end it. They hated him as much, if not moreso, than the champion, and that is where my concern lies. A year ago this same crowd LOVED Tyler. A whole YEAR ago Gabe was going to put the belt on Black at Final Battle. After a year spent building him up, knocking him down, giving him the stupid ‘dropping the ball’ thing, then the ‘I need to be trained by that champion you didn’t like – Jerry Lynn’ thing on HDNet, it’s obvious that the wonderful, organic connection Black once had with the fans has gone. Now, as and when he does win the ROH Title, sure people will be excited. But it will be another Nigel McGuinness situation, where fans will argue that ROH stalled and delayed it so much that it lost the historical significance it should have had. Looking at this match objectively, it was probably the wrong decision to let them go out there and do a broadway in this environment. It was a long show. The fans were super-pumped for the first ppv, but after Hero and Kingston f*cked each other up, the super-emotional Steen-erico/Bucks match and subsequent heel turn, the near-25 minute Tag Title match, the return of the Kings Of Wrestling and the Jack/Teddy abomination, this crowd was burnt out. Great match, and I stand by that opinion. But I will say it was very probably the wrong place, wrong time and wrong circumstances in which to run it.

The fight continues, with the wrestlers laying out referees in their eagerness to get at each other. Black connects with the Superkick, but it’s too late. He then drops the champion with his own belt. The Briscoes and the Kings Of Wrestling brawl through the crowd as the show ends in very unhappy chaos.

Tape Rating – **** – I actually feel really sorry for Adam Pearce after this show. I could write for pages about how I think he’s ruined Tyler Black’s ROH run, but I’m actually going to defend him here. He started the year restricting the ROH style, using frankly ridiculous amounts of non-finishes, booking short, lousy, paint by numbers shows with no character, appeal, unique features and with an apparent total unawareness that ROH fans were NOT liking his booking style, and were not enjoying forking out $20 for the privilege of watching the same mundane show time and time again. This show couldn’t be more different to some of those terrible events earlier in the year. It FELT like a supershow for one thing. It’s packed with great matches, it’s got memorable moments like the Steen heel turn, the reformation of the KOW, it’s got a title change, international guests…what more could you want. He clearly threw the shackles off the roster here, with everyone (including Teddy Hart and Jack Evans) allowed to go out there and get their chance to steal the show. So after reversing his crappy formula from early in the year, he books a show much closer to the ROH style we all love and still gets crucified. Maybe the main event wasn’t the best idea, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that it was a creative, entertaining and highly watchable main event, completely unlike anything you’ll have seen from anything in the major promotions all year…even if the live crowd didn’t want to see it. Maybe the show was a little long. But THIS is much closer to the Ring Of Honor product I want to see. I don’t want to see Ric Flair showing up, pocketing the cash and f*cking off. I don’t want to see countless run-ins and non-finishes. I want shows to feel like MAJOR, can’t miss events. Final Battle 2009 fit that criteria to a tee so it’s a strong recommendation from me. I’m definitely not going to empathise with a live crowd who crap on a main event because it’s too long, or the show was too long, or because they couldn’t get into it after all the good stuff that had gone before. Sorry NYC, I’m not buying that excuse at all. The only thing I sympathise with the live crowd for having to sit through was Evans/Hart, and they went nuts for that so what can I do. I’ll concede the main event is an acquired taste, but it’ll grow on you if you can keep an open mind…and the rest of the show is so so good. Was it the best way for ROH to debut on iPPV? Possibly not, but try to ignore the live reviews, or things you may have read…get this DVD. It’s must-see in my opinion.

Top 3 Matches
3) American Wolves vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe (****)
2) Austin Aries vs Tyler Black (****)
1) Young Bucks vs Kevin Steen/El Generico (****)

Top 5 Eye Of The Storm 2/Final Battle 2009 Weekend Matches
5) Roderick Strong vs Tyler Black (**** – Eye Of The Storm 2)
4) Briscoe Brothers/Rocky Romero vs American Wolves/Alex Koslov (**** – Eye Of The Storm 2)
3) American Wolves vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe (**** – Final Battle 2009)
2) Austin Aries vs Tyler Black (**** – Final Battle 2009)
1) Young Bucks vs Kevin Steen/El Generico (**** – Final Battle 2009)

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