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ROH Final Battle
by Samoa Rowe
December 18, 2020
Taped from Baltimore, Maryland. There are no fans in attendance (just like last year, huck yuck). The venue looks great, with multiple jumbo video walls and top notch lighting. More effort than usual went into the opening video package, which does have a "TNA circa 2005" feel to it. Our hosts are Ian Riccoboni and Caprice Coleman.
ROH Tag Team Championship:
Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham © vs. PCO and Mark Briscoe
I think I'm finally succumbing to 2020, because I seem to have finally adjusted to wrestling shows with no fans. Would I enjoy this match more if there were 800 bored smart marks scattered around the arena? PCO hasn't forgotten that he once broke Jay Lethal's arm and would love to do it again. He gives Lethal a free shot, but counters into an armbreaker. PCO overpowers Gresham and slams him to ringside. Cannonball senton by PCO and somersault cutter by Briscoe. Mark leaps off a chair onto the champs. PCO misses another senton and hits the ring frame. The champs catch Mark with a dropkick/German combo and take control. Quick hot tag to PCO, who plows through the champions, punching Gresham square in the junk and then hitting a power slam. Mark helps with a Brainbuster on Lethal. Mark and PCO look for stereo flying attacks, but Lethal countered Mark's Froggy Elbow. The champs swarm PCO and hit a wheelbarrow cutter, then a powerbomb PCO onto Mark. The champs hit the Doomsday Device on PCO, and Lethal dives onto Mark. Gresham hits a SSP on PCO for only 2! PCO inadvertently knocks Mark off the apron, and Gresham rolls him up for the anticlimactic pinfall at 12;50. This was a good opener and was overdelivering until the lame finish, ***¼.
Winners and still ROH Tag Team Champions: Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham
Rey Horus vs. Dalton Castle (with The Boys)
They start with some aggressive grappling and Horus kicks Castle away for a stalemate. Horus sucker kicks the head, and seems to have an answer for all of Castle's tricks. Springboard arm drag by Horus, but Castle finally connects with a back suplex. Castle goes to work on the ribcage. Horus outsmarts Castle to hit a plancha. Castle mises a running knee and collides with the barricade. Horus heel kicks the face for 2. Springboard tornado DDT by Horus, but Castle gets the ropes. Castle answers with a running knee into the buckles and nails a power slam for 2. Dead lift German suplex by Castle, but Horus blocks a slam. Horus sprints to the top rope for a sunset flip bomb and the win at 9:10! Enjoyable midcard match that did a bunch of little things right, **¾.
Winner: Rey Horus
Video package highlighting the long road to VINCENT vs. Matt Taven is so much better than this feud seemingly deserves. Mike Bennett made a dramatic return to save his buddy, Taven, and is furious that the Kingdom dissolved while he was gone.
The Righteous (VINCENT and Bateman, with Vita) vs. The Kingdom (Matt Taven and Mike Bennett)
Hot start for Taven and Bennett, who take control of the opening brawl. Taven gets carried away pummeling the face of VINCENT, and the ref's interference allows VINCENT to cheap shot Taven's bad knee. Taven survives with an enziguri on Bateman. Bennett tags and runs roughshot through the Righteous. Vita splits under the ropes to distract Bennett long enough for the Righteous to take control. I'm impressed by how well Bennett plays the sympathetic babyface role during the heat sequence. He desperately counters VINCENT into a Brainbuster. Hot tag to to Taven, who slides through Bateman's legs to hit a dropkick and heel kick. Side Russian legsweep by Taven, and a dropkick to VINCENT on the apron. Taven ducks Bateman's clothesline to dive onto VINCENT. Springboard knee to the head by Taven, and then a penalty kick to Bateman. VINCENT helps with a Dragon Sleeper on Taven. Taven survives and hits a backbreaker, but Bateman hits a drive-by kick for 2. Swanton Bomb by VINCENT but Taven kicks out! Taven answers with a DDT, and everyone is down. Taven and VINCENT knock each other down with stereo thrust kicks. Bennett and Bateman tag and slug it out. The Kingdom put Bateman down with a spike piledriver, but Taven sells a knee injury. Bennett puts Bateman down with a Spicoli driver onto the apron. VINCENT blocks Taven's frog splash! Taven answers with his Koji Clutch sequence until a rope break. The Kingdom murder VINCENT with a draping top rope crossbody to ringside. They finish Bateman with a Shining Wizard/Backpack Chinbreaker at 16:21. This was cooking in the early going but got kind of fuzzy and chaotic at times, but still a good effort by four guys who look renewed by time off, ***½.
Winners: The Kingdom
Vita sneaks in to low blow Taven and Bennett. The Righteous tie Taven to the ropes and Vita chokes him out in a head scissors while he's forced to watch an attack on Bennett. They hold Bennett's legs against a wooden beam and break his ankles with a chair shot! Taven stares a hole through VINCENT to really put this over.
Brian Johnson vs. Danhausen
Danhousen is a kook and will earn a contract with a win over Johnson, who I've been informed is not allowed to dress in the locker room due to attitude problems. Danhausen shakes Johnson's hand and hits an instant pump kick for a believable nearfall. Second rope hurricanrana by Danhausen and a flying knee off the apron. Johnson hits the ropes to trip Danhausen on the ropes and hit a spike DDT for .2 Johnson cuts a promo against Danhausen's cult following while dishing out a beadown. Danhausen comes back with a Northern Lights Suplex and snap German suplex. Danhausen leaps over the ropes for another German for 2. Johnson pulls him into his knee, but Danhausen responds with a GTS for a ropebreak. Johnson kicks the ropes into the groin and pours something into Danhausen's mouth. The contents are accidentally spit into the ref's face, who misses Johnson's visual pinfall after a DDT. Danhausen pretends that Johnson hit him the the mic and the ref falls for it and calls for the DQ at 8:44. Danhausen has an ROH contract! This felt more like an anglehausen than a matchhausen, **.
Winner via DQ: Danhausen
ROH Television Championship:
Dragon Lee © (with Amy Rose) vs. Tony Deppen
Deppen is selling a neck injury during his entrance, so you know that's going to be a target. Lee has been TV Champion for an entire year, thanks largely to COVID shutting ROH down for half the year. They trade quick counters and reach a stalemate. Match restarts with Deppen looking for a nearfall, but Lee enziguri's him to ringside for a wild tope suicida! Lee hits a double stomp to the THROAT! Deppen answers with a dropkick to ringside and then a running dive. Springboard missile dropkick by Deppen gets 2. Lee comes back with a running dropkick, and Deppen is selling his neck again. Deppen hulks up and throws rapid stiff slaps ot the head. Lee slaps the ear and hits a Snap dragon. Deppen leaps up for a flipping Northern Lights suplex!! They summon their fighting spirits for a slugfest. Deppen trips and then splashes LEe in the corner for a cool nearfall. Lee comes back with a tree of woe double stomp to the face! Deppen blocks a Northern Lights attack and hits a somersault neckbreaker off the top rope! KO knee shot by Deppen, but Lee kicks out! Both men look loopy but Lee hits a poison rana but Deppen kicks out! Lee's Blue Thunder Bomb also gets 2. Incineration by Lee ends it at 11:50. Fantastic showing by Deppen, who looked hungry and dished out some innovative offense, only for Lee to outclass him in the end, ***¾.
Winner and still ROH TV Champion: Dragon Lee
Shane Taylor and Jay Briscoe are without opponents, thanks to COVID-19, so they're going to hurt each other.
Shane Taylor (with S.O.S.) vs. Jay Briscoe
Jay was supposed to wrestle EC3 tonight, but COVID had other plans. A tense handshake sets the tone. Taylor quickly loses interest in grappling and unleashes a series of body shots. Jay loses his temper while returning fire. Taylor blasts Jay's face with a closed fist. They take turns controlling a brawl.Taylor hits consecutive stiff forearms to the face. Jay answers with jabs and a Spicolli Driver. Mark Briscoe arrives to cheer his brother on. Jay relentlessly works a sleeper hold. Soldiers of Savagery arrive to support Taylor, who barely survives the sleeper with a rope break. Jay's swinging neckbreaker gets 2. Taylor answers with a spinebuster and package piledriver for the win at 13:49. This started and ended on hot notes, but they couldn't maintain the intensity throughout, **½.
Winner: Shane Taylor
ROH Pure Championship:
Jonathan Gresham © vs. Flip Gordon
Flip Gordon has revealed himself to be a massive fool on social media and I believe he's currently enjoying a Twitter suspension. Time for me to dig deep to separate the artist from the art. They engage in some chain wrestling and Flip is forced to use his first rope break to escape a hammerlock. Gresham goes after the legs and forces Flip to quickly use his second break. Gresham sweeps the leg and then the arm, and so far hes totally outclassed Gordon and softened up his arm. Gresham digs his knuckle into Flip's ribs and stretches all his limbs behind him. Flip blocks a hammerlock by shoving Gresham into the ropes, but is then agitated when he realizes it counted as his third and final rope break. Flip goes for broke and hits an enziguri. They run the ropes, Gresham hits a rana, but Flip pops up for a sloppy roundhouse heel kick. Gresham begins selling a knee injury, giving Flip a clear target. Gresham is hobbled, but still can throw hard slaps, but Flip easily blocks a suplex. Fisherman suplex by Flip gets 2. Flip hits a vicious dragon screw and applies a tight STF that forces Gresham to use his second rope break. Gresham uppercuts Flip's bad arm but then has to block a sunset bomb, but Flip dropkicks him off the buckles, hits a Falcon Arrow, and reapplies the STF. Gresham uses his last rope break, and now they're even. Gresham continues assaulting the arm, and they summon their fighting spirit for a forearm contest. Flip throws a closed fist, which is totally against the rules. Gresham kips up for an enziguri and quick snap Dragon, but Flip counters into a half crab! Flip transitions into the STF and Gresham is forced to roll off the apron. Gresham hits a hammerlock superplex, but Flip kicks out. Gresham keeps attacking the head until the ref stops the match. Gresham then collapses under his bad knee and basks in victory at 24:39. Good story-driven match that used the rules well to create compelling nearfall scenarios outside of the normal "Finisher, kickout" formula, ***½.
Winner and still ROH Pure Champion: Jonathan Gresham
Gordon doesn't want to shake hands and sulks away to complain on Parler.
Video package for Rush vs. King is excellent and feels major league.
ROH World Championship:
Rush © vs. Brody King
COVID hit right after Rush won the title about 9 months ago and he just tears King apart at the opening bell. King answers with a hard forearm and big time tope suicida. King bounces Rush into the barricade and ring post. King drops Rush onto a pile of chairs for a senton. King hauls Rush back to the ring for an uranage. Running cannonball by King gets another 2. Rush answers with a somersault plancha. Rush directs King through a tour of ringside and repeatedly slams a barricade door into his face. Rush takes his time whipping and choking King with a production cable. Rush talks some trash to the camera and showboats with an illegal draping armbreaker. King shows some life and trades open hand slaps, but Rush drops him for a Bull Horn tease, only to kick his face instead. King teases a Pepsi Plunge, but only suffers a superplex. King's desperation sidewalk slam gets a 2 count. They stumble through a slapfest. King blocks the Bull Horns with a spear! Lariat by King, but Dragon Lee runs in to prevent a Gonzo Bomb. El Bestia runs in to drop King with a chair shot. Rush finishes with the Bull Horns at 16:35. Frustratingly average match, it was very one sided in Rush's favor, and King did not exactly play the sympathetic babyface well enough for this to work. It was all leading to blatant interference and a flat ending, **½.
Winner and still ROH World Champion: Rush
Final Thoughts: It's good to have ROH back, with enhanced production values and a renewed sense of purpose. Circumstances make this Final Battle more of an average maintenance show rather than the biggest, blow-off show of the year. Nothing amazing, but worth checking out if you're curious to see what ROH in 2020 looks like.
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