I would go so far as to say Final Battle was almost shockingly successful. For a four hour show in an empty arena to keep me interested throughout, even with multiple changes to the card at the last minute, it is pretty impressive. Being that it was essentially the beginning of my holiday break and I was spending time isolated with immediate family, I did not get a chance to compile my complete thoughts on the show. In a nutshell, every match on the main card was at least three stars, standouts being the Pure Tag Team match with Williams and Titus facing off against Wheeler Yuta and Fred Yehi; the Pure Championship match between Flip Gordon and Jon Gresham; the ROH Television Title match with Deppen vs. Dragon Lee and the main event that saw Brody King attempt to dethrone Rush for the ROH World Championship.
The presentation of Danhausen was also something of note. There are many that happen to be irked by the shtick of Danhausen, but I happen to adore it and I felt the presentation was mastered in his Final Battle debut. Brody and Rush looked like killers and Faccion de Ingobernables seems to be stronger than ever, even with The Foundation making their presence known as the show went off the air. I thought the show was just about as good as it possibly could have been. The real challenge is where Ring of Honor goes from here.
From the Pure Championship Tournament to Final Battle, Ring of Honor was damn near perfect in the latter part of 2020. There was very little that I was able to criticize in a Meta sense; there had been such an obvious direction for the previous three months and the company paid off that direction in a big way. That being said, I don’t feel like I will be able to “judge direction” based on what is essentially a Christmas episode of television. Nonetheless, I’m back… (and better than eveeeeer… [wrestling reference])
Ken Dixon & Eric Martin vs. Dante Caballero and Joe Keys
The personification of a holiday episode: a ROH Dojo tag team match. I think it is fair to assume that there won’t be very many storyline implications coming out of this match, but it will serve the purpose of giving us a glimpse into the potential future. My initial reactions based off of the pre-match video package is that of OVW in 2004. Perhaps that comparison isn’t exactly fair because there is no reason for any of these guys to have a “personality” as of yet; however, these fellas aren’t rookies. The perception of Young Lions in New japan or rookies in Dragon Gate is a bit different because there is an understanding that most of these guys don’t have extensive experience outside of the promotion they are training in. The ROH Dojo may be on the road to creating a system similar to New Japan or Dragon Gate, but as of now, these aren’t eighteen-year-old young boys. My initial perceptions are more reminiscent of nameless indie guys than Dojo trainees. There is an excitement to seeing Young Lions wrestle and I do not have that feeling here. In fairness, though, that system has existed for a very long time, so I really shouldn’t feel the same as I would for Young Lions.
The match was fine; everybody looked like they knew what they were doing. Going back to my initial perception, I didn’t see a whole lot of personality. Even in Young Lion matches, you tend to see a bit of their personality seep out through the course of a match and there wasn’t much of that here. Beyond the match itself, ROH should get credit for attempting to build a legitimate system of their own, and with Gresham at the helm, it can only lead to a positive future.
Annual Christmas 10-Man Tag—Captains: Jay and Mark Briscoe
Once again, put Mark Briscoe saying “Christmas” on my television for the remainder of my life. Please and thank you. Even if I have to listen to Brian Johnson being a jerk on commentary, it is worth it. Also, Jay’s Christmas list being comprised of “weed eater string” and “new socks and drawers”…Briscoe banter has been strong as of late. Flip Gordon’s saying “no more masks” leads me to believe that being an idiot is genuinely part of his gimmick. Still poor taste, but that would be preferable. I won’t regurgitate all of the silly Christmas lists for each wrestler, but it got a chuckle out of me nonetheless. (One more: Bruiser and Mark both asked for a monkey)
Jay’s team is comprised of Flip Gordon, PCO, John Walters and Brian Milonas; Mark’s team is the Beer City Bruiser, Dak Draper, Tracy Williams, and Dalton Castle. With the diversity of talent involved and the fact that there are multiple occurrences of teammates on the separate side, at the very least, I imagine there will be some mid-card storylines to come out of this holiday hullabaloo. This is obviously all in good fun, so I don’t feel the need to break this down as I have in the previous week’s main events.
To go off on a bit of a tangent, I have been going through ROH and New Japan from 2016. It is very possible that Dalton Castle was the most over singles competitor in the entire company. On the topic of personality, good god, that man has it. I am sure it is the type of personality that many find “insulting” in a “simulated combat sport”, but I adore Castle’s particular brand of silliness. Castle is wonderfully on-brand by wearing his best black turtleneck out to the ring, chastising the others for not dressing to the nines for such a special holiday occasion. I cannot wait for fans to return so I can see the adoration Castle so sorely deserves for being a true entertainer.
Speaking of “on brand”, PCO literally almost dies when he attempts a moonsault to the outside… so… that was a thing that happened.
As expected, this was simply a barrel of monkeys. It is no surprise that PCO got the pin, considering he is a former ROH World Champion, and I would have to say the only really interesting development throughout the match as it concerns programs outside of this melee would be Tracy Williams and John Walters. They were essentially the primary matchup throughout, which makes sense considering they are both important stand-outs in the newly reformed Pure Division. That division is something ROH will continue to highlight well into 2021.
By no means was this a “Fallout of Final Battle” type of episode; I am sure that will come with the New Year. This was, however, a fun little episode to close out what was an abbreviated year for a company that was looking to find itself once again. The struggle is not yet over, but ROH definitely found SOMETHING by the end of the hell-scape that was 2020.