A Pay-Per-View Event by Ring of Honor
One year ago was a dark, yet hopeful, time for Ring of Honor. The 2021 version of Final Battle seemed very fitting in terms of the real peril facing the company at the time. Sinclair Broadcasting had decided they wanted out of the wrestling business, and it was still months before Tony Khan announced he would be purchasing the brand. Supposedly they were being “restructured” in lieu of an April re-launch, but that likely would have never happened considering the company went up for sale. All of the contracted talent was unceremoniously fired, and the only reason fans got a “goodbye show” was because Khan apparently funded it in some manner. Here we are, a full year later, and a lot has changed – some thigs for the better and others are still up in the air. At the very least, we have a Ring of Honor that feels more like it did when the product was at its absolute zenith, but rather than be some homage show (like what NWA is), this new version comes with a splash of some of the new things that made the company in the later years. Some old faces are now back, and an attempt to bring the prestige back and once again make this be a show that people buzz about has definitely been succeeding. This is the third big show of 2022, and on paper, it looks like Ring of Honor – Final Battle 2022 could be something special!
For anyone wanting to watch this in the US, It is sadly on B/R Live which I am not a huge fan of, but you do what you do sometimes. For anyone internationally, I would recommend Fite.TV. you can get some FITE credits (10 dollars I believe) with the following code: “6m6lyyn”. I’m sure there are other ways to watch it, but FITE has a solid interface and has been worth it so far.
As with many shows nowadays, there is a pretty solid Pre-show for free on YouTube.
- 1P Jeff Cobb defeated Máscara Dorada by pinfall Singles match 7:00
- 2P Jericho Appreciation Society (Angelo Parker & Matt Menard) defeated Shinobi Shadow Squad (Cheeseburger & Eli Isom) by pinfall Tag team match 5:55
- 3P Willow Nightingale defeated Trish Adora by pinfall Singles match 6:00
- 4P Top Flight (Dante Martin & Darius Martin) defeated The Kingdom (Matt Taven & Mike Bennett) (with Maria Kanellis-Bennett) by pinfall Tag team match 11:20
- 5 Blake Christian & A. R. Fox defeated La Facción Ingobernable (Rush & Dralístico) (with José the Assistant & Preston Vance) by pinfall Tag team match 10:35
- 6 Athena defeated Mercedes Martinez (c) by pinfall Singles match for the ROH Women’s World Championship 13:10
- 7 Swerve In Our Glory (Swerve Strickland & Keith Lee) defeated Shane Taylor Promotions (Shane Taylor & JD Griffey) by pinfall Tag team match 13:50
- 8 The Embassy (Brian Cage & Gates of Agony (Kaun & Toa Liona)) (with Prince Nana) defeated Dalton Castle & The Boys (Brandon Tate & Brent Tate) (c) by pinfall Six-man tag team match for the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Championship 10:05
- 9 Wheeler Yuta defeated Daniel Garcia (c) by referee stoppage Pure Wrestling Rules match for the ROH Pure Championship 14:50
- 10 The Briscoes (Jay Briscoe & Mark Briscoe) defeated FTR (Cash Wheeler & Dax Harwood) (c) by referee stoppage Double Dog Collar match for the ROH World Tag Team Championship 22:20
- 11 Samoa Joe (c) defeated Juice Robinson by pinfall Singles match for the ROH World Television Championship 13:40
- 12 Claudio Castagnoli defeated Chris Jericho (c) by submission Singles match for the ROH World Championship – Had Castagnoli lost, he would have had to join the Jericho Appreciation Society. 17:15
As I’ve stated before, my methodology for this is to avoid giving arbitrary star ratings or anything resembling the typical ratings people give in wrestling reviews. I usually go through the show and pull a half-dozen or so things that I thought were significant or that I liked. You might think some of my choices are dumb and that’s okay – we all like different things!
Athena is at the Best I’ve Ever Seen Her:
When Athena came into AEW this year, she initially had quite a bit of fanfare when she stepped in to challenge Jade Cargill’s undefeated streak. however, it didn’t take too long for her to get lost in the shuffle of numerous cross-branding events and other happenings. This was sadly something that has plagued AEW quite a bit this year, and I am honestly glad they have been re-focusing a bit. This all changed on October 17th, on an episode of AEW Dark, when Athena seemed to flip her switch and go completely out-of-control on veteran “local wrestler” Jody Threat, sparking internet outcry for her “taking liberties” with a “jobber”. Not only was this attitude demeaning to a veteran like Threat, it also ignored the fact that this was an obvious heel turn in the making. After this, local talent endured two long months of Athena’s merciless onslaught, which eventually led her to her new target – The ROH Women’s Championship.
With Mercedes Martinez fresh from an injury, this was bound to be a hard-fought match and both women brought their A games. It was interesting to see the crowd so firmly behind Athena, but I can totally understand due to her being always one-step off in many ways, which was finally being righted. The original WWE NXT saddled her with a vague babyface character with little direction in Ember Moon, something that I guess was supposed to be a werewolf at first, but mutated into a generic babyface character on the main roster – then she was unceremoniously let go after a injury. It was a waste and led many to write her off entirely. Now, Athena is out for blood, and the character is really resonating with fans. After pulling off what many would see as an upset on this show, she has cemented her place in ROH history, and the sky’s the limit moving forward.
Finally, the Return of Shane Taylor Promotions:
One of the best matches of ROH Final Battle 2021 was an awesome brawl-heavy “Fight Without Honor” against Kenny King. Time passed and it seemed that Taylor was somewhat left out in the cold when it came to Tony Khan’s checkbook, and many feared the worst. With his old stable no longer a thing (Bishop Kaun is now in The Embassy, and Moses is apparently in CZW), he has taken in a new protégé in JD Griffey, who has had a busy year with promotions like Impact Wrestling and AEW. While their first outing was unsuccessful, it was great to see someone that can match Keith Lee’s immense size, and I’m all ready for a “hoss fight” between the two. Griffey will be interesting to keep an eye out for, he reminds me of a young Ernest “the Cat” Miller, which I loved back in the WCW days!
The Machine Gets His Due:
Brian Cage was one of those guys that seemed to be either 1) injured 2) forgotten about or 3) being punished for the majority of last year, so to see him so prominent now is awesome. I’ve always been a fan of his, going all the way back to a random failed ECW successor that Shane Douglas started, and especially in Lucha Underground and Impact Wrestling. He has the unheard of mix of possessing a big muscular frame and immense athleticism that one normally sees in a lighter wrestler; he is literally one of a kind in modern wrestling. I was worried that the absolute random disappearance of Tully Blanchard would have sunk this team last year, but look at them now – your new ROH Six Man Tag Champions!
And an Amazing Final Battle it Was:
I would be a broken record if I once again stated how amazing this year has been for FTR, how Vince screwed the proverbial pooch with them, and tag team wrestling definitely is NOT dead. Their feud with The Briscoes has been nothing short of amazing, and this match allegedly finishes up the series. Stipulation matches like a double dog collar match have the potential to be real stinkers, but leave it up to four of the most talented guys working today to once again have a classic. If anyone takes prominent wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer and his long-running star-ratings into account, both previous encounters between these teams earned the coveted five star rating, and I’m sure this will be no different as this was easily the best of the three. The match was an absolute bloodbath and felt “right” despite this being a semi-regular feud based entirely on a need to raise clout and “be the best” rather than a prolonged storyline told through weekly television. All four men had huge hair-raising spots in the match, including Wheeler yanking Mark into a sea of chairs on the floor via his chain, Dax doing a chain-wrapped headbutt, and Jay taking a back full of chairs from the top rope. The Briscoes have finally regained their standing, but for how long? Will FTR come back for more, or will new contenders enter the fray?
The Juice is Loose!
Yeah, I couldn’t think of a better headline LOL. As a somewhat random exhibition match, this was pretty awesome and proves there is still value in the concept of “The Forbidden Door” and cross-over matches. Hailing from New Japan Pro Wrestling, Juice Robinson has an impressive resume behind him, but only recently dropped his tag-team status to go for some singles gold. This was a solid match, and probably Joe’s best outing since coming to AEW/ROH to date. He’s still got that ferocious attitude and no-nonsense delivery that warrants the chant “JOEEEE’S GONNA KILLLLLLLLLL YOUUUUUU!” for sure. While Juice was unable to close the deal, I’m hoping that we get to see more of him either company soon. He has come a LONG way since he was the “gatekeeper” of NXT, and has some solid star power.
Sadly “The Hat Trick” is Dead in the Water 😦
When I was promised a hot new tag team of Claudio and Jake Hagar, BOTH donning purple bucket hats and named “The Hat Trick”, I never knew how sad I would feel having that idea unceremoniously ripped away. All kidding aside, this was a solid match and cements Claudio as the face of what Tony Khan sees as his version of ROH moving forward. The match was full of run-ins and other shenanigans, but turned out to be a pretty good competitive match. I will give them credit for having an interesting ending to the match as Claudio expertly converted one of his signature moves into a submission finish. Castagnoli fans undoubtedly love his Big Swing, you know, the move where he holds his opponent’s feet and swings them around over and over. This time, however, he kept swinging …. and swinging…..and swinging… until he won the match by submission. It was a crazy end to a pretty solid main event!
This was easily the strongest pay-per-view of this new era of Ring of Honor so far. We missed out on an early fall show due to Forbidden Door this year, but with all the craziness that was happening in the company at that time, I’d imagine any ROH show would have just been random matches somewhat like what Death Before Dishonor was. This show very thankfully did not have any sort of dark cloud hanging over it like that pay-per-view, and I am very happy for that fact. This was a show full of exciting matches and numerous title changes, and the only thing missing would be some kind of dedicated weekly TV show to actually build real storylines. It sounds like my hopes will be answered soon, as a press release dropped earlier today:
“December 11, 2022 – On the heels of a momentous Ring of Honor Final Battle pay-per-view from College Park Center in Arlington, Texas, Tony Khan announced that the company’s HonorClub streaming platform has officially relaunched, featuring more than 2,500 hours of premium professional wrestling content dating back to 2002, with new weekly television episodes coming soon to the platform. The announcement was made during an afternoon filled with title changes, as Claudio Castagnoli regained the ROH World Championship from Chris Jericho, Athena taking the ROH Women’s World Championship from Mercedes Martinez, The Briscoes winning the ROH World Tag Team Championships back from FTR in their third matchup this year, Wheeler Yuta winning the ROH Pure Championship back from Daniel Garcia and the Gates of Agony defeating Dalton Castle & The Boys for the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Championships. Fans can sign up immediately for HonorClub for just $9.99 per month by visiting WatchROH.com. HonorClub is accessible via the ROH app on iOS, Android, Roku and Amazon FireTV.”
While I’d prefer an actual TV series or something that wasn’t behind a paywall, I suppose this will be good and possibly show WB Discovery how viable adding wrestling to HBO Max would be. Match of the night was easily FTR vs The Briscoes, and while there wasn’t a bad match on the card, it wasn’t even close. I can’t wait for the next show, and hopefully we don’t wait nearly six months this time!