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ROH Final Battle - December 18, 2015
by Samoa Rowe
Originally written on December 7th 2018.
AJ Styles is on the verge of breaking out in WWE. But first, can he fulfill his boyhood dream of finally becoming ROH World Champion?
From the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Our hosts are Kevin Kelly and Mr. Wrestling #3 (Steve Corino).
Super-Kick Party!!!!, ahem, Triple Threat Tag Match:
The Young Bucks (Nick and Matt Jackson) vs. The All Night Express (Rhett Titus and Kenny King) vs. The Briscoes (Jay and Mark)
I wonder if we’ll see any dives in this one? Perhaps a super-kick or two. Matt and Mark politely exchange holds, at least until mocks with a high pitched DX-style “suck it.” Crowd boos as Titus tags himself in and brings down the workrate. The Young Bucks break up the ANX dominance with SUPER-KICKS! The ring gets cleared out and it’s time for DIVES! Even Rhett’s dive gets a pop from the mutant crowd. The Young Bucks drag Titus back for a pair of 450 splashes but King breaks the cover. King hits a hurricanrana on both Bucks but then flips into a SUPER-KICK! Jay tries to spoil the party with a big boot and the Briscoes nearly finish King with a neckbreaker/powerbomb combo. Briscoes miss the Doomsday Device and the Young Bucks go wild with SUPER-KICKS!!!! The Meltzer Driver on Jay is good but Mark breaks the cover. Cue the obligatory “This is awesome” chant. Mark blocks More Bang for Your Buck, but ANX catch him with the One Night Stand off the top rope for the win at 9:14. Crowd HATES this result. This was fun, nonstop action, ***.
Winners: The All Night Express
Silas Young has stolen The Boys from Dalton Castle and turned them into Real Men. Castle wants his servants back.
Winner gets The Boys:
Silas Young (with The Boys) vs. Dalton Castle
The crowd is behind Castle as he gets a hot start. The Boys step in as a shield, allowing Young to cheapshot. Crowd chants "Free the boys" as Young tosses Castle into the turnbuckles and takes over the match. Desperation German suplex by Castle signals a comeback. Castle drapes Young on the top rope for a running knee. Castle exposes some hard floor but Young back drops him on the apron and hits a spear through the turnbuckles to the floor! Silas continues with a leaping lariat for 2. Young misses a springboard elbow drop and Castle dead lifts him over the ropes for a good nearfall. Young answers with a DDT into the turnbuckles. Castle catches Young with an exploder suplex. The Boys interfere again, and Castle is horrified when he hits one. Young capitalizes with Misery and retains The Boys at 10:38. This might have been a forgettable outing without the wacky story, **¾.
Winner: Silas Young
Silas Young is not finished and demands that Castle call him a real man or else suffer chair shots from The Boys. Castle takes the mic and reluctantly calls Young a man, but actually a foolish man. The Boys turn on Young with chair shots and the Boomerang. The crowd pops big for this, but I have to ask why they helped Young win the match first.
Montage of Michael Elgin and Moose winning recent matches in seconds. Now they must battle!
#1 Contender for ROH World Championship:
Moose (with Stokely Hathaway) vs. Michael Elgin
They trade shoulder blocks and both defiantly bolt up after being knocked down. Elgin scores a long delayed vertical suplex, but Moose no-sells it. The crowd plays along with Moose as he jabs and hits a great standing drop-kick. Elgin sidesteps to send Moose into the barricade, followed by a somersault senton. Flying shoulder block by Elgin only gets a 1 count. Elgin absorbs a fallaway slam and unleashes rolling Germans! Moose places Elgin on the top rope for another high drop-kick. Moose sort of hits an axe handle off the top to the floor, but Elgin sells it anyway. Moose pulls Elgin off the top again for a powerbomb. Elgin answers with DVD on the ring frame. Elgin’s top rope senton gets 2. Moose brings back the jabs but runs into a pop-up powerbomb. Moose tries to block, but Elgin hits another pair of powerbombs for a good false finish! Moose pops out of a buckle bomb for a spear for 2. Moose gets tripped on the top turnbuckle and Elgin calls out Jay Lethal while hitting the Burning Hammer for the win at 11:45! This was a couple of big guys exchanging MOVES and it was athletic and surprising at times, ***¼.
Winner: Michael Elgin
Kyle O'Reilly and Adam Cole used to be the best of friends but now they hate each other. Cole was sidelined with injuries and resents O'Reilly for stealing his thunder. We're treated to a montage of them cutting promos on each other, and for a couple of guys who supposedly can't talk, they do an awesome job here.
Adam Cole BAY-BAY vs. IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Champion Kyle O'Reilly
The brawl begins before the opening bell. O’Reilly sits Cole in a chair for a running double stomp off the apron! Cole frantically avoids the rear naked choke and pushes O’Reilly off the top rope! O’Reilly is selling a leg injury, creating a bullseye for Cole. O’Reilly is scrappy and unleashes a flurry of strikes, but get this, SELLS THE LEG along the way. Cole spits and flips the bird, triggering O’Reilly to apply an armbar, but Cole stomps the face and nails a super-kick to the head. O’Reilly answers with the Regal-plex for 2! O’Reilly applies a reverse hammerlock but Cole escapes with a neckbreaker. O’Reilly applies a draping armbar but Cole knocks him down with an enziguri. Cole leaps into a dragon sleeper and escapes with a vicious neckbreaker! Cole applies a Figure Four but Kyle gets the ropes. They summon their FIGHTING SPIRIT with a slugfest and O’Reilly wins the exchange with a LARIAT! Brainbuster by O’Reilly gets 2 so he administers the cross armbreaker! Cole gets the ropes and fans reward them with “This is awesome.” Cole traps the leg and hits a sick German suplex. O’Reilly loses his mouthpiece in a super-kick but manages a triangle choke, but Cole uses the ropes to counter into a cover for the win at 16:05! This was a wonderful grudge match, with vicious, calculated sequences that has me convinced they really hate each other. That finish makes me want to see more of this too, ****½.
Winner: Adam Cole
The match is over but Kyle O'Reilly refuses to let go of his submission hold! The ring fills with referees to break it up.
Video replay of Alex Shelley revealing himself to be the red masked man who cost former partner Chris Sabin a match. I get the impression that the reveal was meant to be a big deal, but the fans weren't buying it. Also, this clip would suggest that Chris Sabin is a babyface and Alex Shelley is a heel, but...
The Addiction (Frankie Kazarian and Christopher Daniels) and Chris Sabin vs. ACH, Matt Sydal, and Alex Shelley
Prince Nana joins commentary for these festivities. The heel/face dynamics in this match are all screwed up, but it might not matter as the fans like everyone. Shelley and Daniels engage in some chain wrestling for old time’s sake. Sydal enters and hits a hurricanrana before getting double teamed by the Addiction. Sydal counters with a leg drop on Kazarian. Sabin dispatches ACH and demands Shelley, but then ducks out. Sabin is ducking the guy who betrayed him? I am so confused. The match kind of lumbers on with a lot of stuff happening but none of it really seeming to matter, and Sydal gets stuck in Addiction territory. Shelley gets a hot tag and runs wild through the Addiction. ACH gets a hot tag as well and runs around the ring and totally botches a 619 around the ring post, which Sabin sells anyway. How embarrassing! The Addiction hit a slingshot DDT on ACH, followed by a tandem neckbreaker for a cold nearfall. Sydal has recovered enough for a hot tag of his own and hits a leaping headscissors off the top rope on Daniels. Sydal and Shelly hoist Daniels for a double stop by ACH. Daniels counters a SSP and the match breaks down. Sabin takes the Midnight Star and SSP and gets pinned by Shelley at 15:29. This had an uphill battle following the previous hot grudge match, but this was also confusing and botchy, **.
Winners: ACH, Matt Sydal, and Alex Shelley
ROH Television Championship: Bobby Fish © vs. Roderick Strong
Future Undisputed Era stablemates collide! I’m actually not expecting much from this as Strong hadn't been exactly setting the world on fire leading up to his WWE signing (and he's stepped up his game significantly in NXT). A friendly mat-based start quickly gets serious when Strong starts throwing chops. The mood continues to intensify as they exchange power moves and Strong throws Fish over the barricade. Strong bats Fish around, hitting a wild Olympic Slam for 2. The crowd is pretty dead as Strong works Fish over. Fish makes a comeback to a lukewarm reaction. They slug it out to a dueling chant and Fish applies a rear naked choke. Strong escapes and ties Fish in the ropes for rapid running chops and a back suplex for a cold 2 count. Fish answers with a dragon screw leg sweep in the ropes and they slug it out on the apron. Strong pulls him Fish into a backbreaker position and Fish is able to counter it briefly until it’s reversed back into a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Strong follows with a backbreaker onto the turnbuckles and the match finally has some momentum. Desperation Samoan drop by Fish leads to another slugfest, which Fish wins via roundhouse kick. Top rope Falcon Arrow by Fish gets a good nearfall. Fish aggressively goes for an ankle lock and the referee misses Strong’s tapout. Fish prematurely celebrates and Strong blindsides him with a knee to the face for the win and title at 15:20. The first 10 minutes of this dragged and I kept staring at my stopwatch to will it to speed up, but the last 5 minutes were highly entertaining. That finish though, woof, **¾.
Winner and new ROH Television Champion: Roderick Strong
Veda Scott and Cedric Alexander crash the show. Veda is in the midst of a useless “legal battle against ROH” angle and talks some trash about Nigel McGuinness. Moving on.
ROH Tag Team Championship:
The Kingdom (Matt Taven and Mike Bennett, with Maria Kanellis) © vs. War Machine (Hanson and Rowe)
The Kingdom clock War Machine with the tag titles before the opening bell and wipe them out with dives. They deliver a spike piledriver combo on Rowe with Taven diving off the top rope. They look for a quick pinfall, but Hanson makes the save, but gets tripped back-first onto the ring frame. Rowe tries to hulk up but The Kingdom catapult him into a head kick. Bennett drapes Rowe on his knees for a Taven elbow drop. Rowe suplexes Taven on the floor and catches Bennett for a powerbomb into the barricade. War Machine hit Fallout on Bennett and win the titles at 3:04. A little research reveals that Taven legitimately injured his knee on the spike piledriver spot so they had to go home early. Good enough for a short match where it felt like anything could happen, *½.
Winners and new ROH Tag Team Champions: War Machine
Cary Silken presents War Machine with their ROH Tag Team title belts. The fans chant for Taven as Bennett helps him to the back.
BJ Whitmer invites himself to commentary much to the chagrin of Kevin Kelly, who pleads for someone to remove him. Security deals with Whitmer and Nigel McGuinness and Jerry Lynn end up replacing Mr. Wrestling #3 for the main event.
ROH World Championship:
Jay Lethal © (with Truth Martini and Taeler Hendrix) vs. AJ Styles
Early match formalities leads to a stalemate, which frustrates Lethal into taking a timeout. AJ applies a side headlock and holds on despite a Lethal back suplex. They sprint through a series of reversals until Lethal scores a drop-kick to the chin. Lethal uses the ropes to escape the Calf Cutter and Truth’s interference allows him to trip AJ on the ring frame. Lethal works AJ over, targeting the back. AJ sells a buckle bomb reversal like death itself. AJ desperately escape a bear hug and hits an Atomic Drop. AJ looks to be in pain as he delivers a suplex into the turnbuckles. Styles springboards into a Lethal Combination for a 2 count. AJ’s neckbreaker counter gets a good nearfall. Lethal answers with an elevated neckbreaker for another good 2 count. Suicide dive by Lethal is good, and a second dive sends AJ into the crowd. AJ stumbles to his feet in time to counter a third dive with a Phenomenal Forearm off the barricade!!! The fans correctly chant "That was awesome." Back to the ring, Lethal applies the Koji Clutch, but AJ counters with the Calf Cutter. Lethal answers with the Lethal Injection, but AJ respond with the Pele Kick and Bloody Sunday suplex. Lethal blocks the Styles Clash and tosses AJ over the ropes through a table (which the camera missed). A video replay reveals a hell of a bump for AJ. AJ is easy prey for a second Lethal Injection but he kicks out! Lethal blocks the Styles Clash and hits a Cradle Piledriver and third Lethal Injection for the win at 22:05! All around satisfying main event that went a long way towards legitimizing Lethal as ROH Champion. Simply tremendous professional wrestling here, ****½.
Winner and still ROH World Champion: Jay Lethal
Final Thoughts: This felt like a killer two hour show that was unfortunately padded to fill three hours. The show came to a screeching halt after the excellent Cole/O'Reilly match but rebounded with a top notch main event. Let's call Final Battle 2015 a Thumbs Up show, but skip the Xmas Xcrement in the middle.
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