FINAL BATTLE 2014
December 7, 2014
Adam Page . . . works way above his head, to steal the show on the undercard.
Matt Sydal . . . once again finds himself hit with an RKO in the midst of his SSP.
Jay Briscoe . . . turns Adam Cole into the world’s most charismatic pincushion.
MARK BRISCOE vs. CAPRICE COLEMAN vs. JIMMY JACOBS vs. HANSON
Realistically, this is about as good as one of these matches can get. The only overall stupid thing was Hanson’s delayed selling for Coleman’s punch, and, that was intended for comedy. Hanson, Briscoe, and Coleman all show off their agility, with Jacobs getting in a couple of nice things of his own. The final stretch is a decent sprint, without a ton of overkill for the finish. If Hanson had to go over, I’d rather see him pin Mark, to avenge the loss in September. But, PPV or not, it’s like not these four-way matches really count for anything anyway.
RODERICK STRONG vs. ADAM PAGE
If one only knew the finish of the match, Strong winning by ref stoppage with Page in the Stronghold, then they would have the idea that this is pretty much a massacre. However, this is actually a lot more even than expected. Strong does control the bulk of this, but, Page gets in several good shots of his own, the lariat on the floor being the best, and does an admirable job taking the fight to Strong. The only real negative to the match is the backbreaker on the apron being pretty much wasted. Strong doesn’t do much of anything to follow it up, and, Page doesn’t put it over to any great extent, so, what should be an instant match-breaker is rendered moot. It would have been nice to see a few more things from Page, as great as the lariat on the floor was, it wasn’t so great that we needed it see two more lariats from him. But, Strong does as much as he can to put Page over as much as possible, and show that Page has indeed risen beyond the ranks of a young boy. Strong might have made him pass out in the Strong hold, but, Page *made* Strong make him pass out by refusing to quit. ***
MICHAEL ELGIN vs. TOMMASO CIAMPA
If you like stiff strikes and lots of bombs being thrown, then this is something you’ll love. If you like stiff strikes and bombs being used wisely, then just skip over this. Every strike they throw looks, and sounds, like it could be a knockout shot, but they aren’t given that sort of credence. Both Elgin and Ciampa throw out tons of potential finishers, and render them worthless. Ciampa hits an air raid crash on the apron for a near fall, and then tries to follow up with another one off the top. Elgin escapes and takes advantage of Ciampa being tied up on the ropes, and hits a back fist to the back and drops him with a crucifix bomb into a facebuster. But, that’s as smart as the match gets. The spinning powerbomb and Project Ciampa are both wasted for near falls, when they could have easily used something else and gotten the same reaction. Ciampa blows off the buckle bomb to do the ref bump and stall the action before Elgin finally ends it with the DDT. Adam Page has no business outperforming two former title holders in ROH, but, he did just that.
CHRISTOPHER DANIELS/FRANKIE KAZARIAN/CEDRIC ALEXANDER vs. NICK JACKSON/MATT JACKSON/ACH
The Bucks have shown the ability to use smart work and storytelling into the flashy style that they like to work, although they don’t do that here. At first this looks sort of like an All Japan trios match, with the Bucks working over Cedric and the Addiction working over ACH, but that only goes for so long until the superkicks, double teams, and flying spots take over, although they’re better in this setting than the previous match since they don’t need to be no-sold or kicked out of. The end result seems to imply something that isn’t here, with ACH pinning Cedric, giving the idea that the match was settled by the two lower ranked men but, ACH gets a Meltzer Driver assist before putting Cedric away with the 450.
MOOSE vs. RD EVANS
Why is this happening on a PPV? There isn’t anything that Evans can do to believably work over Moose for any length of time to look like he can pull off the upset. They apparently needed to do the swerve with Veda Scott turning on Evans before Moose spears him, so, Moose has to hold back as much as possible instead of just quickly dispatching Evans, like he has everyone else. Oh, and if it takes three tries to pull off a spot, and even then, the spot barely connects, then, it’s a spot that you should probably refrain from doing.
JAY LETHAL © vs. MATT SYDAL (ROH Television Title)
This isn’t actively bad, or stupid, like Elgin and Moose’s matches, but, it’s woefully uninteresting. Sydal’s selling is great, and they have some good ideas sprinkled throughout the match, but Lethal just isn’t interesting at all when he’s in control. Sydal gives him a great opening when he gets hung up in the ropes and hurts his knee, but, Lethal doesn’t do a single thing to work it over, even though Sydal manages to keep the idea in mind throughout the match. Again, they do have their good moments, like some of Sydal’s counters, and the sequence where Sydal got the foot up to block the flying elbow, but Lethal saw it coming and put the breaks on. Aping Sydal’s most famous WWE moment (the SSP into the RKO) is a fine way to set up the Lethal Injection for Lethal to retain, seeing as Lethal had already tried to hit it and failed, but, it seems like Lethal always needs something to use as a lead-in before he can hit it.
KYLE O’REILLY/BOBBY FISH © vs. KUSHIDA/ALEX SHELLEY (ROH Tag Team Titles)
While it’s easy to see that this isn’t a bad match, it still comes off lacking to me. It starts off looking like a traditional tag team match, and then, they change their minds and go with a Dragon Gate-style spotfest, with precious little in the way of structure or story. The second half of the match features all four in the ring at once, without the ref even trying to maintain order. The only real attempt to tell a story was Kyle and Bobby busting up Shelley’s arm for a short spell, complete with Shelley putting it over as much as he could, but, it subsided long before the match ended, and the finish was KUSHIDA tapping to an armbar, so it was ultimately little more than filler. Both teams have tons of big spots and double teams to add to the match, and, if one hasn’t already seen the match, or read the spoilers, then you’ll likely be on the edge of your seat thinking that any number of things is going to be the finish, so it’s impossible to deny that this is exciting (at least on a first viewing), but it would be nice to see them go the extra mile and try to tell a story, and make all the talk about Fish and O’Reilly being one of the best teams in the world seem like more than a tagline to go with their two sets of title belts.
JAY BRISCOE © vs. ADAM COLE (ROH World Heavyweight Title - Fight Without Honor)
If you want to see an example of ROH as a true alternative to WWE, with a strong emphasis on wrestling, then you’ll want to look elsewhere. A main event title match, on PPV, with the match being mostly predicated on prop shots. Is this 2014 ROH or 2003 WWE? There are a few nice moments, like Cole putting the thumbtacks in Jay’s mouth and then hitting the superkick, which was a great visual and probably didn’t hurt any more than it normally would have. They also have a nice finish, with Cole kicking out of the Jay driller and looking up at Jay, knowing that it’s over and his goal of becoming the third man to become a two-time champion isn’t being fulfilled on this night. But, the bulk of this match isn’t that far off from what you’d have seen HHH and Michaels do ten years before, and those are the exactly the sorts of matches that ROH used to pride itself on not producing.
Conclusion: The June and September PPVs didn’t do a whole lot for me, but, they both absolutely leave this in the dust.