Final Battle 2022
Date: December 10, 2022
Location: College Park Center, Arlington, Texas
Commentators: Ian Riccaboni, Caprice Coleman
It’s the third or so Ring Of Honor event of the year, assuming you don’t count a good chunk of the Rampages from earlier this year. The main event of the show is (probably) Chris Jericho defending the Ring Of Honor World Title against Claudio Castagnoli, with a bonus feature of FTR vs. the Briscoes in a dog collar match for FTR’s Tag Team Titles. Let’s get to it.
Zero Hour: Mascara Dorada vs. Jeff Cobb
Dorada (better known as Gran Metalik) gets nowhere off a shoulder so a springboard flip is enough to put Cobb on the floor. The dive is pulled out of the air though and Cobb posts him hard to take over. Back in and Cobb stands on his back for a surfing pose, followed by a heck of a shot to the face for two. Cobb misses a charge into the corner though and Dorada sends him outside again, this time for the big flip dive.
Back in again and a rope walk senton gives Dorada two but Cobb knocks him out of the air. A standing moonsault gives Cobb two but Tour of the Islands is countered into a rollup for two on Cobb. Dorada puts him on top for a rope walk bulldog and a near fall of his own, only to get blasted in the back of the head. Tour of the Islands finishes Dorada at 7:04.
Rating: C+. Cobb is a total wrecking ball and he did wrecking ball style things here. They went with the power vs. speed formula and that is something that will work every single time. It’s a fine choice for an opener to get the fans going, though it doesn’t exactly mean much if Cobb isn’t going to be around more than once every few months.
Shinobi Shadow Squad vs. Jericho Appreciation Society
This would be Cheeseburger/Eli Isom vs. Matt Menard/Angelo Parker. Isom and Parker shake hands for a good while to start, trade armdrags, and then shake hands again. Cheeseburger comes in and gets to do the TOO SLOW thing when Parker offers the handshake. Parker insists but then gets his kick to the ribs cut off. It’s off to Menard for a backbreaker with Parker adding a running knee to the head for two as the villains take over.
Parker gets in a Garvin Stomp as the fans want Burger to go. A step up elbow to the back rocks Cheeseburger again but he avoids a charge and brings Isom in to clean house. Everything breaks down and Cheeseburger’s Shotei palm strike doesn’t get the chance to launch. With Cheeseburger outside, a double inverted DDT finishes Isom at 5:54.
Rating: C. Another perfectly watchable match which could have been on any given Rampage. Isom was starting to put something together before Ring Of Honor went on hiatus and it’s a bit sad to see him losing to a pair of comedy goofs. Still though, the Society is far bigger right now and it makes sense for them to get a win like this.
Zero Hour: Willow Nightingale vs. Trish Adora
The fans like Nightingale as she takes Adora down, only to get reversed into a headscissors. That’s reversed into a headscissors from Nightingale, apparently the favorite of both commentators’ wives. Back up and Nightingale sends her into the corner for some running hip attacks, only to have Adora come back with a northern lights suplex.
Adora scores with an enziguri and they both slowly pull themselves up. Nightingale hits some hard chops and a middle rope dropkick gets two on Adora. A powerbomb is loaded up but Adora lifts her up and bends it into a failed submission attempt (that was cool). Back up and Nightingale hits a heck of a Pounce, setting up a Doctor Bomb to finish Adora at 6:15.
Rating: C. I know it’s said a lot but Nightingale is so bubbly and fun to watch every time that it is hard to ignore her anytime she is in the ring. That was the case here, against someone as talented as Adora. Nice enough, hard hitting match here and the fans are always going to be into someone with Nightingale’s charisma.
Zero Hour: The Kingdom vs. Top Flight
Maria Kanellis is here with the Kingdom. Dante sends Bennett into the corner to start and it’s off to Taven rather quickly. That doesn’t exactly go well as Dante gets sent outside, with Bennett hitting a bouncing clothesline to take over again. Back in and Dante drives Bennett into the corner, allowing Darius to hit a kick to the head.
Bennett is fine enough to suplex Darius for two as we slow right back down. A Kimura has Darius in even more trouble but he flips his way out for the escape. Darius slugs away to fire up the crowd, which is cut off with a poke to the eye. A quick Spanish Fly gets Darius out of trouble though and the hot tag brings in Dante to clean house.
Everything breaks down and Bennett Death Valley Drivers Dante, setting up Just The Tip for two. Darius hits a big dive onto Bennett but Taven Flight of the Conquerors both of them down. Dante…slips on his attempt at a dive so Maria yells a lot, earning herself an ejection. Back in and the Hail Mary is broken up, allowing Top Flight to hit a powerbomb/Nose Dive combination for the pin at 11:13.
Rating: B-. Best match of Zero Hour, with Taven’s dives continuing to look good, but not being quite as smooth as Top Flight. Yeah Dante slipped once in there but that’s a bit understandable when you are flying around like a crazy person like that. Good stuff here, and it’s nice to see Top Flight A, winning and B, healthy for once.
On to the show proper.
AR Fox/Blake Christian vs. La Faccion Ingobernable
That would be Rush/Dralistico (his debuting brother). Christian and Dralistico start things off with an exchange of flips before Dralistico punches him down for offering a handshake. Rush comes in to forearm Fox and everything breaks down fast. La Faccion takes it outside and sends them into the barricade over and over for some pain. Back in and La Faccion beats on Christian, even taking turns on him for a change.
Christian finally gets away from a charge and brings Fox in to pick up the pace. That means some running flip dives to take out La Faccion on the floor. Rush is fine enough to send Christian into the barricade, setting up Dralistico’s dive to take them both out. Back in and Lo Mein Pain sets up the middle rope flip DDT to Dralistico. Fox adds a 450 for the pin at 10:32, though everyone seems surprised at the ending.
Rating: C+. That ending didn’t do the match any favors but there is only so much that can be done here. La Faccion losing didn’t feel like the original plan and it doesn’t make the most sense, so maybe we can write some of this one off. It’s cool to see Fox on a show like this though, as he has certainly earned the spot.
Post match La Faccion wrecks Fox and Christian to blow off some steam.
Video on Mercedes Martinez defending the Women’s Title against Athena. Martinez returned from an injury to deal with the bully Athena, meaning it’s time for a title match.
Women’s Title: Mercedes Martinez vs. Athena
Martinez is defending and takes her into the corner for some early forearms to the head. Athena gets fired up and hammers Martinez down, including a backhand to the jaw. Back up and Martinez hits a spinebuster (the fans do not approve) to start the rather early comeback. That doesn’t last long as Athena shoves her off, setting up a basement superkick for two.
Martinez is right back up with some suplexes into a brainbuster for two more. A Prism Trap is broken up though and Athena plants her hard on the apron. They head outside with Athena missing some running knees into the barricade so Martinez can grab a hanging neckbreaker off the barricade. Back in and the Brass City Sleeper is broken up so Athena gets to pull the turnbuckle pad off. A shotgun dropkick sends Martinez into the exposed buckle and the O Face gives Athena the pin and the title at 12:55.
Rating: C. That was the only way to go, as Martinez has been away for a long time but while Athena is in the middle of a rather nice heel turn. Also, Athena had to win something outside of NXT at some point to make her feel more important and this is as good as anything else. Decent match, but the right call is much more important.
Shane Taylor isn’t happy with Keith Lee forgetting him so let’s have a tag team grudge match.
Shane Taylor Promotions vs. Swerve In Our Glory
That would be Shane Taylor/JD Griffey vs. Swerve Strickland/Keith Lee. Swerve and Griffey grapple into the corner to start with Griffey taking him down for a choke. With that broken up, Lee comes in, earning a serenade from the crowd. Lee shoves Griffey around and the fans want Shane. That is what they get, but Swerve tags himself right back in to cut the fans off again. The villains (I think?) take over on Swerve and Taylor hits a huge apron legdrop to crush him hard.
Swerve is fine enough to get over for the tag to Lee and NOW we get the showdown. They forearm it out with Taylor getting the better of things, only to have Lee pull him out of the air. Taylor is sent outside and Lee hits Griffey in the face, only to have him counter the powerbomb/Swerve Stomp combination. Griffey sends Lee outside but Lee pulls the dive out of the air. Swerve yells at Lee for not crushing him, leaving Taylor to catch Swerve in a hanging Stunner for two.
Back in and Griffey hits a brainbuster onto the knee, setting up a triangle choke. Lee looks at them but goes over to just Taylor instead of making the save. With that taken care of, Lee moonsaults onto Griffey for the save and it’s back to Lee vs. Taylor. Actually make that a double slugout, with Lee accidentally forearming the heck out of Swerve. Taylor muscles Lee up for Welcome To The Land. Lee glares up at Taylor…who Griffey accidentally kicks in the head. A quick Big Bang Catastrophe gives Lee the pin on Griffey at 13:35.
Rating: B-. This had a bigger match feel and the Lee vs. Taylor section came off like a showdown. It also had me wondering why we needed Griffey and Swerve in there, but that is more about this being an AEW story than an ROH story. We can get to that showdown later, but for now it was a good match with kind of a weird ending.
We recap the Six Man Tag Team Titles. Dalton Castle and Boys have the titles and the Embassy want them.
Six Man Tag Team Titles: The Embassy vs. Dalton Castle/The Boys
The Embassy (Brian Cage/Gates of Agony, with Prince Nana) is challenging. Castle and Kaun start things off but hold on as Castle needs to run around ringside for a bit. Back in and the Boys trip Cage up to take over. Toa comes in so Castle sends him outside, where the stereo dives are pulled out of the air.
We settle down to Brandon getting caught in the wrong corner so the villains can start taking turns on him. A big toss sends Brandon flying but he’s able to DDT his way to freedom. Castle comes in and starts cleaning house, including a variety of suplexes. It’s back to Brent, who gets pulled out of the air, allowing Toa to Samoan drop both Boys at once, because that’s a thing.
Brent slugs his way out of trouble though and Cage/Kaun clothesline each other by mistake. Everything breaks down and Cage Drill Claws Brent, only to have Castle make a save. Nana offers a distraction though and Toa drives Brent into Castle. Brent gets tossed into a sitout powerbomb from Cage for the pin and the titles at 10:06.
Rating: C+. This is exactly what it should have been as there is no need for Castle and the Boys to have the titles (which don’t exactly need to exist in the first place). Castle is ready to be a breakout singles star (as he has been for a long time now) and the Embassy needed to win something so they wouldn’t come off as even bigger losers. Good enough match with the absolute right result.
Video on Daniel Garcia defending the Pure Title against Wheeler Yuta. Garcia took the title from Yuta recently and it’s time for the rematch.
Top Flight is ready to go but the Jericho Appreciation Society interrupts, setting up a brawl. The four of them come into the arena with Dante hitting a big flip dive. With Top Flight cleared out, Angelo Parker asks why Ring Of Honor died if it was so great. There were too many flippy guys like Top Flight, so it’s going to take Chris Jericho to save it. Menard asks if we know what makes his nipples hard before pulling out Jake Hager’s hat. They promise a clean sweep but Wheeler Yuta cuts them off.
Pure Title: Wheeler Yuta vs. Daniel Garcia
Garcia is defending under Pure Rules. Feeling out process to start before they slug it out with forearms. They’re on the floor fast with Garcia grabbing a suplex. Garcia sends him hard into the post, with commentary making comparisons to Randy Savage crushing Ricky Steamboat’s throat. With Trent Seven watching from the crowd, Yuta is thrown back inside, where he has to use his first (of three) rope break.
A surfboard in the ropes forces Yuta to use another break so Garcia grabs a cravate. Garcia ties up the legs for a curb stomp but Yuta is back up with an enziguri. That’s fine with Garcia, who pulls him into a dragon sleeper, sending Yuta to the ropes for the third time. This time Yuta is up with a top rope forearm to the head but Garcia is right back with the Dragonslayer.
Yuta grabs the head to slam it into the mat for the escape and counters another attempt into a small package for two. They slap it out from their knees until Yuta grabs a German suplex. Garcia is back with a piledriver and Yuta is in more trouble. The Dragonslayer goes on again so Yuta pulls himself into the ropes, which brings Garcia down enough for Yuta to pull him outside for a break. Garcia’s piledriver on the apron is blocked, leaving Yuta to hit his own piledriver for two. Yuta knocks him silly with elbows and the referee stops it to give Yuta the title back at 14:51.
Rating: B. These guys know how to do this stuff very well and that was the case again here. They have figured out the style and know how to work it, even with some slightly odd ref decisions on rope breaks. The title is pretty much just between these two, but if they can keep doing this, I think I can live with it. At the same time, it’s amazing how much more tolerable Garcia is without having him be focused on so often.
Post match Garcia hands the title to Yuta before leaving.
We recap FTR vs. the Briscoes. They’ve fought twice before with FTR winning, so let’s do it again in a dog collar match.
Tag Team Titles: FTR vs. Briscoes
FTR is defending in a double dog collar match. They collar up and we’re ready to go with Harwood and Jay fighting to the floor, leaving the other two to fight on the apron. We go split screen with Cash and Mark fighting on the stage as Harwood and Jay break things in the crowd. We’ve already got blood as Harwood and Jay get back inside, with Harwood snapping off some suplexes.
Mark gets choked on the post but is fine enough to go back inside to slug at Harwood (who might be missing a tooth). Jay wraps the chain around his fist to hammer on Harwood as Cash is down on the floor. The fans are split (like Harwood’s forehead) but Wheeler uses the chair to cut Mark off. Jay gets knocked outside so FTR gets to whip Mark for a bit. Back in and Jay gets caught in a Gory Stretch with the chain until Mark makes the save.
A Froggy Bow with the chain gets two on Wheeler, leaving Mark to set up a table and a pile of chairs on the floor. That takes too long though, allowing Harwood to make a save. Back in and Harwood wraps a chain around his head for the middle rope headbutt to knock Jay silly. Harwood accidentally punches the referee though and even he is busted open this time.
With the new referee in, Mark fights off the table at ringside but the Doomsday Device takes too long. That leaves Wheeler to pull Mark off the top and onto the pile of chairs at ringside (GEEZ). Jay is back up with a Jay Driller onto the chain for a VERY close two to Harwood and we keep going. A hard chair shot to the back rocks Harwood again but he’s back up with a piledriver onto the chair for two of his own.
Harwood chops Jay on top but a super piledriver onto the chairs is broken up (thankfully preventing a nasty case of death). Jay superplexes Harwood down onto the chairs for a rather delayed two. With that not working, Jay wraps the chain around Harwood’s face and chokes him out for the titles at 22:20.
Rating: A. If that isn’t the Match of the Year, it’s pretty close. These teams have some of the best chemistry I’ve ever seen and it feels like they can do no wrong no matter what they’re doing. This was an absolute war and I was cringing at the violent spots, which is entirely the point of something like this one. Outstanding match and a different kind of fight from them, with the Briscoes finally leaving with the titles. Watch this if you’re a fan of violence.
Post match the Briscoes leave, allowing the Gunn Club to run in and beat down FTR. The Gunns promise to kill FTR’s legacies but the Briscoes run in for the save. With Harwood on the mat, he promises vengeance on the Gunns, who aren’t scared. Respect is shown, as it should be.
We recap Samoa Joe defending the TV Title against Juice Robinson. Joe has the title, Robinson popped up to say he wanted it, match made.
TV Title: Samoa Joe vs. Juice Robinson
Joe is defending. Feeling out process to start with Joe working on the wrist but getting caught with the snap jabs to the face. They head outside for a chop off, with Joe peeling back the floor mat. Robinson gets caught in the Koquina Clutch, which is broken up with a hard ram into the barricade. Joe is back up with a ram into the barricade of his own and they head back inside, with Joe looking moderately annoyed.
We hit the neck crank for a bit until Robinson fights up, setting off the slugout. Joe kicks him in the chest but Robinson is back up with chops and punches in the corner. That doesn’t last long as Joe powerbombs him into the STF into the Crossface, sending Robinson into the rope. Robinson knocks him back down but gets crotched on top. The MuscleBuster retains the title at 13:01.
Rating: C+. This match was in a rough spot and they made it work anyway. What mattered here was giving the fans a breather after an epic battle and a lot of that was due to Joe’s popularity. Fans know they are getting something special with him and that kept the energy up. Robinson was pretty much a challenger of the week and even then he was quite fine in his spot. Good match here, but making it work after the previous match is more impressive.
We recap Claudio Castagnoli vs. Chris Jericho for the latter’s World Title. Jericho wants to destroy Ring Of Honor and Castagnoli is fighting for it. I think you can get the rest from here.
Ring Of Honor World Title: Chris Jericho vs. Claudio Castagnoli
Jericho is defending and if he wins, Castagnoli has to join the Jericho Appreciation Society. Castagnoli starts fast and they head to the floor, where commentary is wiped out. Back in and the hammer and anvil elbows have Jericho in trouble but he’s right back up. The Judas Effect misses and the Neutralizer gives Castagnoli two as we’re not even two minutes in. They’re back on the floor with Jericho sending him into some hard objects to take over.
Back in and Jericho makes some rude gestures before suplexing Castagnoli down. Castagnoli goes for some elbows but his back is rather banged up. A whip into the corner and a clothesline have Castagnoli in more trouble before Jericho rains down some right hands. The super hurricanrana is blocked for some forearms to Jericho’s chest (Ocho of them in fact!”) but Jericho pulls him down anyway.
Castagnoli’s back is too banged up for the Swing so they head outside again with Castagnoli being whipped into the steps. Back in and the slug it out until a double clothesline puts both of them down. They slug it out again until another Swing is countered into the Walls. Castagnoli slips out and hits an uppercut but here is the Society for a distraction. Jericho gets in a bat shot for two and the Codebreaker cuts Castagnoli off again. Back up and Castagnoli grabs the Swing, with the fans chanting to OCHO again. The Swing keeps going….and Jericho taps while swinging at 16:53. Well that was clever.
Rating: B. There was only so much drama here as it was a little hard to imagine Jericho winning to end the show built around saving the company. Castagnoli winning kind of gets us right back where we were when the Jericho stuff started, but it was a good main event to wrap things up. Jericho can move on to whatever else and Castagnoli can face challengers in awesome matches, which is better for everyone involved.
Commentary praises Tony Khan for saving the company as Castagnoli gets the big celebration to end the show.
Overall Rating: B. This was a show carried by a few matches but one of them carried it a VERY long way. The Ring of Honor TV material is hardly the most thrilling but as usual, it works a lot better when they are able to get in the ring and do everything else. Granted a lot of that is due to the Briscoes and FTR tearing the house down every time, though the rest of the show was certainly good enough. Not a masterpiece and there were some slow spots, but the top stuff was VERY good and that’s all you needed to make this work
Jeff Cobb b. Mascara Dorada – Tour of the Islands
Jericho Appreciation Society b. Shinobi Shadow Squad – Double inverted DDT to Isom
Willow Nightingale b. Trish Adora – Doctor Bomb
Top Flight b. Kingdom – Powerbomb/Nose Dive combination to Bennett
AR Fox/Blake Christian b. La Faccion Ingobernable – 450 to Dralistico
Athena b. Mercedes Martinez – O Face
Swerve In Our Glory b. Swerve In Our Glory – Big Bang Catastrophe to Griffey
The Embassy b. Dalton Castle/The Boys – Powerbomb to Brent
Wheeler Yuta b. Daniel Garcia via referee stoppage
Briscoes b. FTR – Chain choke to Harwood
Samoa Joe b. Juice Robinson – MuscleBuster
Claudio Castagnoli b. Chris Jericho – Giant Swing
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