FINAL BATTLE 2016
December 2, 2016
Jyushin “Thunder” Lyger . . . isn’t on any sort of career resurgence, it’s always been Lyger’s world that we all just live in!
The Young Bucks . . . superkick the brain cells right out of the Briscoe Brothers, who don’t have many to spare!
Kyle O’Reilly . . . shows that he’s willing to put himself through hell, if it means he can beat his former partner and take his title!
RHETT TITUS/KENNY KING/CAPRICE COLEMAN vs. ALEX SHELLEY/CHRIS SABIN/DONOVAN DIJAK
Overall, this is more about flashy spots and crowd playing than it is anything else, which is fine for its position on the card. The heels do a fine job of getting the crowd riled up and it’s fun to watch them get their comeuppance. But, the actual work doesn’t have much substance to it. Other than Titus getting worked over for a short spell (with his selling being the best thing in the whole match), there’s nothing as far as any theme or story being told with what they do. As nice as it is to see Dijak taking to the air just as effortlessly as Sabin and Shelley, it doesn’t wind up meaning anything. Hell, the finish sees Sabin getting pinned after a barrage of finishers, with the catalyst being Dijak being taken out on the floor. Seeing as the whole idea of putting the Guns with Dijak was so that the veterans could help the kid along, it would seem to make more sense to have him drop the fall, or at least make some sort of mistake to lead to the finish.
JYUSHIN LYGER vs. SILAS YOUNG
This isn’t anything amazing, but it’s perfectly watchable. Lyger does his stuff, and Silas does a perfectly fine job of putting it over. When Silas is in control, he targets Lyger’s back, and comes up with some good ideas to further things along, without doing anything goofy. They have a couple of nice extended wrestling sequences, and a nice, and logical, finish with Lyger’s splash hitting knees and Silas finally hitting Misery for the pin. Even the interference with Bruiser is tolerable because it leads to a worthwhile payoff. When Silas spits Bruiser’s beer in Lyger’s face, it leads to a comeback and a near fall from Lyger’s brainbuster, and when Bruiser tries to stop Lyger from coming off the top, Lyger hits a big chop that knocks him off the apron, and that small delay lets Silas recovery enough to get his knees up. It’d be easy to give all the credit to Lyger, but, Silas also puts on a perfectly fine performance that warrants his being in there with the legend. ***
COLT CABANA vs. DALTON CASTLE
They had some nice spots and sequences, especially in the second half, but, overall, this comes off as lacking. Considering the angle that led to the match, one would expect that Dalton would be out for blood, and that Cabana would be showing his disdain and disgust for Castle, but, we don’t see that from either of them. In fact, the beginning is almost comedic, with Cabana mocking Castle’s pose, and Cabana throwing the boys into the ring, only for it to backfire and lead to Dalton and the boys playing to the crowd. From the point where Cabana does the Chicago crab up until the finish, the work is surprisingly solid. The execution is good, and the reversals and counters look smooth. But, being technically fine is the last thing that a match that was made when one partner turned on the other ought to be shooting for.
JAY LETHAL vs. CODY RHODES
The work here is fine, for the most part, both of them use some nice spots, and they have some good ideas, but, the work itself isn’t very meaningful. The only blown spot of the match is Cody overshooting Lethal on his plancha, but, Cody still manages to graze him on the way down, and he sells his arm from bumping on the guardrail when he landed. Lethal avoids the first disaster kick, and then takes a big bump when Cody finally does hit it, but, instead of staying down and selling it for a near fall, he’s back on his feet and trading shots with Cody fifteen seconds later. Some may not care for the spot where Cody cradles Lethal after Hail to the King, but, if you look closely, you’ll see Cody adjusting himself into position for the cradle before Lethal lands. Cody working over Lethal’s arm went nowhere, and Cody’s hesitation before skinning the cat telegraphed that Lethal was going to do something. The ref bump and Cody fouling Lethal to hit the Cross Rhodes seem more suited to WWE TV than a ROH PPV, but, Lethal had already countered it once, and, it accomplishes what it sets out to do, and gives Cody serious heel heat with the crowd, so, it’s impossible to fault them for doing it. I just wish that they’d made more of an effort to tell a story and make the work before the finish count for something.
MATT TAVEN/TK O’RYAN/VINNY MARSEGILA vs. KUSHIDA/JAY WHITE/LIO RUSH (Finals of the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Title Tournament)
The work is a lot more fast-paced, but, there really isn’t a whole lot that separates this from Rhodes/Lethal. The spots are impressive, but, there isn’t anything from any of them to suggest that they’re trying to tell a story. KUSHIDA surprises O’Ryan with an early Hoverboard lock, but they don’t take advantage and keep working over his arm. The Kingdom gets a short control segment on Rush, and a longer one on KUSHIDA, but neither of them goes anywhere either. KUSHIDA makes a tag and it causes the match to break down, leading to an extended dive sequence, and the same ref bump and cheating finish as the previous match, although, that had the purpose of establishing what to expect from Cody in ROH. It’s nice that the announcers bring up that Final Battle hasn’t historically been very kind to Taven, and to see Taven close the book on that by getting the winning pin, I just wish they’d found a better way to do it.
MARTY SCURLL © vs. WILL OSPREAY vs. DRAGON LEE (ROH World Television Title)
There are a couple of fun moments here, but, they’re hard to appreciate in this sort of setting. It’s a total spotfest and combined with being the same old three-way match, as far as structure goes. The best moment would have been Scurll countering an airborne Osprey into his chickenwing, if Scurll hadn’t just taken both a shooting star press and a twisting splash, and blew them off to do the spot. But, other than Ospreay’s cutter and Scurll’s chickenwing, nothing is really put over to any great degree, Lee counters Scurll’s chickenwing into a cradle for a near fall right after Scurll did the finger break. If the only thing that you’re looking to see is ultramodern aerial spots, then this isn’t something you’d want to miss, but, the total lack of story, drama, and selling makes it a disappointment to me.
MATT JACKSON/NICK JACKSON © vs. JAY BRISCOE/MARK BRISCOE (ROH World Tag Team Titles)
There are a few smart touches to this, but, this is yet another match that seems more concerned with spots instead of telling a story. It was nice to see the Briscoes make sure to take out Nick before they tried to finish off Matt, first with the Jay Driller/Froggy Bow combo, and then with the Doomsday, but, they also shoot themselves in the foot because it means that Matt has to kick out, rather than get saved. There’s also a nice moment early on with Nick using his speed to avoid taking several shots and to escape from Jay and tag in Matt, and some of their counters are clever, like Jay’s flying Ace crusher to prevent the Meltzer driver, and Nick’s rana to escape Mark’s crucifix powerbomb.
It may not be as egregious as the three-way match for the TV Title, but, it’s not all that different from it. Neither team has any real control segment that might lay the groundwork to tell a story. There are several occasions where a big spot, which should lead to something like that, is ignored. The worst of these is Mark taking the Superkick Doomsday on the floor and getting up on the apron to break up the Meltzer driver, but there’s also Jay sucking up three superkicks and doing a double lariat, and Jay also takes a tornado DDT on the floor and gets up quickly. And don’t forget one of the most preposterous finishes in recent memory, with Mark and Jay both on their knees taking superkick after superkick until they finally go down. There’s actually a thread of logic (however foolish) to it, with the idea that Jay and Mark have already taken several of them and wouldn’t go down, so Matt and Nick just paste them continuously. But, rather than use the energy to rattle off at least a dozen of them, put that same amount of energy into one superkick and make it seems like a kill shot, or just go with a different finish, Lord knows that Matt and Nick have enough offense at their disposal for any number of better finishes.
ADAM COLE © vs. KYLE O’REILLY (ROH World Heavyweight Title)
Although it doesn’t come off as well as their PWG Title change, this is another good match from this pair. It’s the first match of the night to have some real intensity to it, and, they make the effort of making the bigger spots and moments meaningful. The biggest one is Kyle’s gusher after he gets clocked with the title belt. Cole is as much of a jerk as you’d expect him to be when taking advantage of the cut, and his trash can superkick also plays off the fact that Cole had tried it earlier and had it blocked. Kyle adds his own nice touch when he tries to make a fired-up comeback after Cole’s German suplex, but winds up collapsing outside the ring either due to the blood loss or from having his bell rung. Cole also tries to take advantage of Kyle’s previously hurt shoulder after Kyle has a bad landing off the turnbuckle, including several whips into the corner and an overhead suplex on the floor.
The only real misstep they make is Kyle’s super backdrop through the table, but, even that doesn’t come off too badly. It’s never really made clear who got the worst end of it, so, it makes sense to think that it was Kyle, which explains Cole’s quick recovery, and Kyle’s determination explains his quick recovery. They more than make up for it a minute later with Kyle’s hanging guillotine turned DDT off the apron that busts open Cole, and it’s another case where the circumstances aren’t clear, did Cole pass out from the choke and fall off the apron, or did he try dropping off the apron to get Kyle to break the hold?
The other theme throughout the match is Kyle’s tenacity in getting Cole locked in the armbar. Kyle tries for it almost immediately when the match starts, and tries for it every chance he gets. Even when chairs and tables start getting involved, if Kyle sees an opening, he tries to take it, like when Cole defiantly spits at him. This causes the first thumbtack bump to get exposed, since Kyle had been trying for the juji-gatame the whole match, but he switches gears and goes for the triangle, which allows Cole to do the powerbomb counter. But, again, they make up for it when Kyle follows up with the brainbuster onto the tacks, which lets him get the armbar, and also stomping Cole’s face (more than a bit dangerous in a bed of tacks) and finally forces him to tap out. The armbar in the thumbtacks seems like a bit of a lame finish, but, it works in the vein of Kyle’s determination to get the hold, and it looks like Cole cost himself the title by bringing in the tacks in the first place. ***1/2
Conclusion: The main event and Lyger’s match are the big reasons to seek this out. The rest of the show isn’t offensive, but rather unspectacular.