In the final few days before Ring of Honor’s Final Battle which is last pay-per-view of the year and what feels like their only pay-per-view this year. The card has almost completely taken shape. On the upcoming episode of television, I don’t expect too many revelations. I do expect to see Mark Briscoe and as you may know, that is all I really care about right now. I have officially purchased my annual VIP Honor Club membership. It is actually a pretty significant dent in the wallet. However, I had no apprehensions about doing so.
Over the course of the last year, I had already been debating purchasing the service. I made my decision due to the fact I could align my Ring of Honor viewing with my 2016 New Japan retrospective. For the last few months, I have been watching this. Falling in love (and in some cases falling back in love) with acts such as The Foundation, The Briscoes, Joe Hendry, Dalton Castle, Brody King, OGK and Quinn McKay made the decision even easier…not to mention, gotta love that Danhausen.
My Wrestling Intake
I have been covering Ring of Honor for nearly six months at this point and am connected to this show as much as I possibly could. With New Japan having a bit of a funky year and cutting WWE television out has given me an additional five hours, but I still inarguably watch far too much professional wrestling. How? You ask. I find myself absolutely adoring the main event scene in NOAH even if a broken Mutoh recently found his way back into the GHC title scene. Dragon Gate is on its way to being genuinely special in the next number of years.
For the love of god, I am still only on season one of Lucha Underground. Point being, it is difficult to attach yourself to a show in 2020 with so much great stuff out there. Impact Wrestling is definitely not my favorite television show. Right now, the main event scene is seeing a Bullet Club reunion between the Good Brothers and Kenny Omega. It is just a lot.
Long story short, I have no qualms about being emotionally attached to Ring of Honor. I don’t feel as though I could be “doing something better with my time.” That seems like a backhanded compliment. The reason I have stated it in this particular manner is because so many people that STOPPED watching ROH in the last eighteen months feel that way. I understand why because I was one of those people. No longer, am I one of those people. I am hoping Ring of Honor: Final Battle serves as a culmination of the promotion’s vindication.
Mark Briscoe and PCO vs The Bouncers
Damn it. To be brutally honest, The Bouncers were an act that I felt illustrated some of the faults in Ring of Honor throughout 2019. It didn’t necessarily have anything to do with their work. I found no heart in the presentation. Ok, they drink beer. They win some and they lose some. That team was in the mid-card tier of ROH. They were just…there. These pre-match video packages, man… these DAMN VIDEO PACKAGES! Very basically, the time for fun and games is over. The Bouncers are taking their return to the ring very seriously. I IMMEDIATELY want to get behind these guys as old school, stiff, southern wrasslin’ bastards. Restore that honor, fellas.
Unfortunately for The Bouncers, their return to Ring of Honor sees them going up against two of the most insane people in the history of the company. PCO and Mark Briscoe are the team I had no idea I needed. I dearly hope this team is not going to simply fall away after Final Battle. Mark and PCO need to make it to the point when crowds are able to come back. I have to imagine the simple idea of that team is over with most fans.
This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, but this match is highly entertaining. Leave it to PCO to almost break his spine on the edge of the ring in an empty arena. Being as imposing as they are, one might expect The Bouncers to be a bit more “methodical” in their work. Both guys throw their bodies around just as much…well, almost as much…as PCO and Mark Briscoe.
The best attribute of any empty arena show in any promotion continues to be Mark Briscoe and his…I don’t know what to call it…“yips?” Mark Briscoe is perpetually in the middle of a bad Bruce Lee impression. I literally cannot get enough of it. Being that Mark is the smallest guy in the match and he is an expert at bumping his ass off. It isn’t surprising that he takes most of the offence from the Beer City Bruiser and Brian Milonas. PCO is the former ROH World Champion. He didn’t spend nearly as much time in the ring as his partner, but he was the central figure in the match’s big moments, including the pin. PCO and Mark chopping each other in celebration is literally the best thing that happened to me today.
I am all in with The Foundation, but I would not be mad at ALL if PCO and Mark were to take the Tag Titles from Gresham and Lethal. That match is going to be so weird and I can’t wait. Gresham and Lethal are going to have to really dig deep into their repertoire in order to deal with a team as unhinged as PCO and Mark Briscoe. Especially considering Gresham and Lethal haven’t been doing much outside of the Pure Division. If the titles are defended under Pure Rules, PCO and Mark might be the guys that need to dig deep. This was a perfect method with which to introduce the new odd couple.
Winner: PCO and Mark Briscoe
Flip Gordon vs Josh Woods
I don’t know if Flip Gordon is actually a deluded moron or if being a Covid-19 denier is part of his gimmick. In six months, this is the first thing in ROH that I actively dislike. Flip is a fine wrestler, but he isn’t worth it if he wants to bring that level of negative attention. This promotion needs to separate itself from as much past negativity as humanly possible. If it is a heel gimmick then it is in poor taste. Flip had earned a World Championship shot months ago. Therefore he has a shot at the Pure Championship by proxy. The good news is Jonathan Gresham is definitely winning that match at ROH Final Battle.
Being purely objective in terms of booking, having a Pure match between Woods and Flip makes all the sense in the world. Flip was not involved in the Pure Championship Tournament. This is his first actual Pure Rules match. Woods had a strong showing in the tournament and later defeated Jay Lethal under Pure Rules in an exhibition. He is in and around the Pure Championship scene, as well he should be. Woods’ counter work has been absolutely stunning since his return. Specifically, the match against Lethal was probably Woods’ quintessential performance in the ROH bubble up to this point.
Flip has made a concerted effort to be more grounded in his work after some major injuries almost ended his career. Being purely objective, I don’t know if he has necessarily found his style since making that particular career choice. For instance, in the first five minutes of this match, most of his “submission work” exists more in the realm of “rest holds” than it does the Pure Division. I can appreciate that he is finding his way and is adapting to a new style. I will just say he is obviously still adapting. Now, when he does something like a moonsault Samoan Drop…I am here for it. Flip just seems to be moving at 75% speed since his return from injury. I was literally about to make a comparison to the work of Seth Rollins throughout most of 2019. Hilariously, Flip wins the match with a stomp. I don’t remember if he has been using that as a finish well before now. Nevertheless, it made me laugh out loud.
For a ten minute match, this one took a while to get going. It wasn’t until the closing stretch that some of the work was genuinely to the level of what I have now come to expect under the Pure Rules from these ROH television main events. I am now expecting bangers based on previous episodes, by the way. Josh Woods has been absolutely wonderful as of late, so I had slightly higher expectations. I don’t know if I currently have an inherent bias against Flip Gordon. He may have lost a step or maybe he just wasn’t giving full effort for a 10 minutes television match. This was a classic “Gentleman’s Three Stars.”
Another reason Final Battle is going to rule: Yes, Flip Gordon will be going against Jonathan Gresham for the Pure Championship. Just in case Flip isn’t very good that night, my favorite wrestler in ROH is also defending his Tag Title alongside Jay Lethal against PCO and Mark Briscoe. Now, that is what I call balance.
Not only do the matches look great this weekend, but there is a certain degree of mystery regarding certain divisions. Brody King is facing RUSH for the ROH World Title. We haven’t even seen RUSH. Plus BRODY KING IS GOING FOR THE WORLD TITLE! I can’t envision a world where that isn’t wildly entertaining. I honestly keep forgetting about Bandido because I haven’t seen him in so long, but the ROH Six-Man titles are on the line as well! If nothing else, I genuinely believe ROH Final Battle could FINALLY be the thing that brings some more eyes back to Ring of Honor.
The Pure Tournament was the first outstretched hand of good faith. While people may have noticed the gesture, they still couldn’t quite buy-in. This show has every chance to re-ignite people’s passion, and I hope that is exactly what happens. What are you thinking about ROH Final Battle? Do you enjoy the new options they have presented like the Pure Rules? What are your predictions for each match? Let Sports Obsessive know in the comments below.