The SmarK Rant for ROH Final Battle 2022 – 12.10.22
Well that name is increasingly becoming a misnomer, what with this being the sequel to the “final” show a year ago, filled with rematches from other ROH shows. But hey, I literally ordered this thing for one match, and if that one match delivers, then it’s a thumbs up from me, so my standards are easy to meet.
And yeah I watched the preshow. It was OK, with the Top Flight tag match being the highlight. However, I was too busy mourning the lack of college sports this afternoon and thus didn’t feel like reviewing it. You know how important it is for me to have college sports to watch on Saturdays.
Live from Arlington, TX
Your hosts are Ian Riccaboni & Caprice Coleman
Rush & Dralistico v. AR Fox & Blake Christian
Christian and Dralistico take takedowns and fight to a stalemate to start, but Dralistico still won’t accept a handshake. It’s Ring of HONOR! That’s supposed to be the whole deal! BOO THIS MAN! Fox comes in and trades chops with Rush, but the rudos quickly take them to the floor and beat on them out there with the help of Jose the Assistant and a power cable. Interesting to note that Preston Vance is at ringside with Team Rush or whatever they’re called now, after turning heel weeks ago and then not being seen on AEW TV since. Back in the ring, Dralistico (who might have the most annoying name in wrestling to type) hits Christian with a corner clothesline and they double-team him with corner splashes. Fox gets a tag and hits them with kicks to clean house and then hits a pair of crazy dives on Rush and back in with a swanton on Dralistico for two. Rush hauls him to the floor to break that up and then Dralistico dives onto everyone and back in for two on Fox. Christian saves with a 450, actually getting a piece of his own partner in the process. Fox with a springboard flatliner, into a Christian DDT, and then Fox finishes with a 450 at 10:21, as Dralistico looks like he forgot to kick out. Man, his brother would NEVER accidentally do a job. This was a pretty great opener that I loved for what it was, an unapologetic bunch of spotty bullshit, with a finish that fell really flat thanks to the botch. ***1/2 And the heels do the beatdown afterwards anyway. Also big kudos to the announcers here, who explained exactly who Dralistico was and his relation to Rush in a way that was easy to understand.
ROH Women’s title: Mercedes Martinez v. Athena
I think we all know how this one needs to go and frankly I’ll be shocked if it doesn’t. They slug it out to start and the crowd isn’t even hiding who they want to win. So Athena beats the brakes off Mercedes, all while having a googly eye on her forehead, and follows with a corner clothesline. She teases a handspring elbow and then just backhands Mercedes instead, but Mercedes gets a spinebuster for two. Mercedes with some forearms that look about as painful as a Hogan chairshot and she goes to an STF, but Athena escapes that and they fight to the top. Mercedes tries a superplex up there and Athena reverses out to a powerbomb and follows with a superkick for two. Mercedes comes back with a half and half suplex and an exploder as the crowd is just not buying anything she’s selling tonight, and a brainbuster gets two. Mercedes with a leglock, but Athena powers out of that and they head to the apron, where Athena gets a suplex out there. Athena misses a charge and hits the railing, and Mercedes suplexes her on the floor. This match has a really weird vibe, with the crowd desperately wanting to see Athena run through Mercedes and instead they’re having Athena out there working from underneath. Back in, Athena with a rollup for two, but Mercedes cuts her off with a series of clotheslines. Mercedes tries the surfboard sleeper, but Athena bites the arm to escape and hits the double knees for two. So Athena rips off a turnbuckle in frustration and throws it into the crowd, and apparently security takes it from whoever got it, which distracts the crowd. So Athena dropkicks Mercedes into the exposed turnbuckle and hits the O-Face to win the title at 13:09. This had a really messed up dynamic and the match never recovered from it, but at least they did the right thing at the end. But man was it a struggle getting there. **1/4
Shane Taylor & JD Griffey v. Keith Lee & Swerve Strickland
Griffey quickly tries to choke out Swerve using his jiu jitsu, so he tags out to Keith. Griffey tries some kickboxing and gets politely slapped down by Keith, and the crowd wants Shane Taylor. So he obliges, but Swerve tags himself in for HUGE heel heat. So Griffey comes in again and takes Swerve down with more martial arts, setting up Taylor for a legdrop on the apron, THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING, which gets two. So Swerve goes back to Keith again and we finally get the showdown that the crowd wants. So it’s a HOSS FIGHT and they slug it out, but Taylor tries a bodypress and Lee CATCHES him. Taylor escapes that situation and slugs Lee down, but Taylor gets dumped and SWOG tries to finish Griffey. Swerve Stomp misses, however, and Griffey sends Lee to the floor with a headscissors, and then nails Swerve with a knee strike. He tries to dive onto Lee, but he gets caught and the camera gets this look of abject terror on his face, but Swerve prevents any further violence before getting caught by a Taylor cutter for two. Swerve comes back on Griffey, but gets caught with another knee strike for two. Griffey with a triangle on Swerve, but Lee has had enough of these shenanigans and takes out Taylor, before saving his partner with a moonsault on Griffey. Back to Lee and Taylor again and now everyone slugs it out and it’s AWESOME. But then Lee accidentally knocks Swerve out with a forearm and he feels ready bad about it. But Taylor gets him with a sitout piledriver for two, and then Griffey adds a knee strike and Taylor gets two off that. Swerve decides to walk out on his partner again at this point, but really you can’t blame him, and Keith gets double-teamed as a result, but he comes back and hits the Ground Zero slam on Griffey for the pin at 13:45. That match FUCKING RULED. Everything with Lee and Taylor throwing each other around was awesomely wild shit and you should watch this immediately. ****
ROH Six Man title: Dalton Castle & the Boys v. Brian Cage & The Gates of Agony
Dalton walks away from Kaun in the corner and gets himself pumped up with the Boys outside instead, then back in for some double-teaming on Cage from the Boys. They try the same on Liona, but he puts them down with a double shoulderblock and then they get destroyed on the floor by the Embassy. Back in the ring, Cage throws Brent the Boy around and then hits Brandon the Boy with a clothesline. I feel like if anyone chants “Let’s Go Brandon” I’m shutting this show down. Brandon gets worked over by the heels, but he comes back with a DDT on Kaun and Castle comes in and runs wild. Suplexes for everyone and he throws Boys onto everyone, but Cage hits Castle with a knee, leaving Brandon to fight off Toa by himself. Toa hits both Boys with a double samoan drop after some struggles, and that gets two. Brandon gets triple-teamed but Brent manages to tag himself in and then he gets murdered as well. Cage with the discus lariat and Drillclaw on Brandon, but Dalton saves and then makes the mistake of going after Prince Nana. This leaves Brent by himself and he’s dead meat at 10:03 as the Embassy wins the titles. This was all over the place and never really built to anything. **
Meanwhile, Top Flight celebrates their win on the pre-show, but 2.0 interrupt (“I’m surprised you made it through a match without tearing a quad!”) and they get into a brawl that ends up at ringside with Dante taking a crazy dive off the ramp. But then we’re graced with Daddy Magic and Cool Hand doing a promo afterwards, where Daddy Magic and his hard nipples break the PPV feed on Fite for a bit.
ROH Pure title: Daniel Garcia v. Wheeler Yuta
They trade forearms to start and then Yuta burns his two warnings for closed fists before taking Garcia to the floor and sending him into the stairs. Garcia responds with his own shot to the stairs and does some choking on the apron, but Yuta comes back with his own. Garcia dropkicks him off the apron as this is very much stretching the definition of “pure” wrestling. Back in the ring, Garcia chokes him out on the ropes, so Yuta has to burn a rope break. Garcia whips him into the corner and ties up Yuta with a surfboard in the ropes, burning another rope break. Cutter gets two. Garcia with more choking and he goes to a cravat, but Yuta fights back until Garcia slaps him down again. Garcia with a surfboard and he drops an elbow for two, but Yuta comes back with a corner clothesline. Garcia chops him down again and hooks him into a dragon sleeper on the mat, so Yuta has to burn up his last rope break to escape. Yuta cradles him for two and goes up with a flying forearm, but Garcia takes him down with a Sharpshooter in the middle. So Yuta manages to reverse to a crossface and then cradles for two. They trade slaps and Yuta gets a missile dropkick and brainbuster and both guys are out. Yuta comes back with a german suplex and an Angle slam for two. Flying splash hits knees and Garcia gets a piledriver for two. He goes to another Sharpshooter, but Yuta is out of rope breaks, so he chokes out Garcia and rakes his eyes on the apron and they both land on the floor. They slug it out on the apron and Yuta backdrops out of a piledriver. Back in, Yuta with a piledriver for two and a rollup for two, and he puts Garcia in a crucifix and beats on him with elbows until the ref stops the match at 15:00, as Yuta regains the title. Man Garcia has lost ALL of his momentum since the babyface tease months ago. This was just two fellas having a decent TV match, as the weirdly specific Pure title rules are completely not over with the crowd, despite some clever stuff with the rope break rules. ***
ROH tag team title, Double Dog Collar: FTR v. The Briscoes
Unsurprisingly it’s a huge brawl to start and they all head to the floor as Dax throws a chair at Jay’s face and Mark is already bleeding. Dax with SODA TO THE FACE of Jay, while Mark tosses Cash off the ramp and follows with a dive. Back in the ring, Dax with a backdrop suplex on Jay and he follows with a german, while Cash wraps the chain around Mark’s neck on the floor and throttles him. Mark escapes that and the Briscoes double on Dax with some redneck kung fu before Jay smashes the chain into his face a few times for good measure. Jay puts a chair in the corner and then beats Dax down in the corner, but Dax runs him into the chair. But then Mark forgets about being chained to Cash, and FTR double-teams him and gets some NASTY shots on him with the chain as Jay taps an artery on the floor. FTR with a Doomsday Device on Mark for two. Cash chokes Mark out with the chain while doing a Gory special and then hangs him over the top rope, but Jay whips Dax into the chain to break it up and make the save. Dem Boys double-team Cash and Mark drops the froggy elbow for two. They fight on the floor again and Mark sets up a table and a pile of chairs, but can’t suplex Cash onto them. Meanwhile in the ring, Jay beats on Dax on the top rope, but Dax fights him off and wraps the chain around his own head before delivering a diving headbutt. And then the tag belts get involved and even the REF gets busted open. Well that’s unique. Jay slugs away on Dax and hits a back suplex, while Cash suplexes Mark on the apron and puts him on the table. Mark escapes that and the Briscoes set up Dax for the Doomsday, but Cash pulls Mark OFF THE TOP ROPE and onto the pile of chairs with one of the craziest damn bumps ever. In the ring, Jay with the J Driller on Dax for two. Another try, but Dax reverses to a piledriver on the chair, for two. Next up, Cash tosses all the chairs in ring, instructing Dax to murder Jay, so he puts Jay on top and tries a piledriver up there. Jay thankfully escapes that and crotches Dax to bring him down, then follows with a superplex onto the pile of chairs, for two. Jay chokes him out with the chain while Mark pulls Cash onto the floor, and Dax is forced to tap at 22:24, giving the Briscoes the titles back. This was one of the damnedest things I’ve ever seen and I can’t say much more about it than that. ******* Yes this was so crazy that I had to bust out my second ever seven star rating. In fact, even while watching it at home I started bleeding from my forehead for reasons I’m not entirely clear on. Science is weird, you know? If it still qualifies this is without a doubt the Match of the Year for 2022 and completely justifies the cost of the show. And then the Gunns attack FTR after the loss, with the Briscoes making the save and making amends with FTR to close that chapter out.
That being said, we’ve still got two title matches left and NO ONE is following this. This should have closed the show and they’re nuts for even trying to have anything else close.
ROH TV Title: Samoa Joe v. Juice Robinson
So yeah good luck to these guys, especially poor Juice. They trade some forearms to start, but Joe slugs him into the corner and goes for the choke early. They fight on the floor and Joe tries a suplex, but Juice reverses out to a choke attempt and then runs Joe into the railing, resulting in a scary moment where Joe seems like he’s legit knocked out and Juice has to check out on him before smashing into him. Also Tony Deppen is watching at ringside as TK continues signing literally everyone available. Joe fights back with a diving elbow, and back in for two. Joe with a neck vice and he puts Juice down with an elbow for two. Joe with a chinlock as they need to wrap this up and get to the main event so they don’t completely lose the crowd. Joe slugs away in the corner, but Juice fights back with his own shots until Joe boots him down and hits the senton. Juice comes back with a bodypress for two, but Joe powerbombs him into the STF, but Juice makes the ropes. Juice reverses the Muscle Buster into a sunset flip for two and puts him down with a sidekick, but he goes up and Joe crotches him to bring him down. Joe with another Muscle Buster to finish at 13:38. Well this was a match. Nothing really bad about it but they’re nuts for putting this after the tag title and I was in no mood to watch it. **1/2
ROH World title: Chris Jericho v. Claudio Castagnoli
Unless they’ve got something really big for this one, this show is going to die. Jericho chases after the announcers right away, but runs into Claudio’s elbow as a result, and Claudio beats on him outside and runs him into the stairs. Back in the ring, Claudio with a bodypress and hammer elbows, but Jericho rolls him up and tries the Judas Effect early. Claudio catches him with the Neutralizer for two and then deadlifts him in from the apron with a gut wrench suplex and follows with a press slam. They head to the floor and Jericho runs him into the post, and back into the ring as Jericho takes over and the crowd is pretty dead. Jericho with a back suplex for two, but Claudio hits the uppercut for two. Jericho comes back with corner clotheslines and tries a top rope rana, but Claudio blocks him and teases a powerbomb, before Jericho turns it back into a rana for two. Yeah the tag title placement was a HUGE mistake. They’ve completely lost the crowd. Claudio blocks the codebreaker and tries a Sharpshooter, but Jericho clotheslines him to the floor. Claudio fights back with a forearm from the apron and suplexes Jericho to the floor, and they beat the count back in the ring at 9, even though they have a 20 count. Back in, Claudio with the big boot and they’re both fired up, leading to a double clothesline for the double down. The crowd has been doing this thing where they count along with whatever and yell “OCHO!” at eight and it’s pretty annoying. They trade chops and Jericho pokes him in the eye, but Claudio tries the Giant Swing and Jericho reverses him to the Walls. Claudio teases the tap and then makes the ropes, before hitting Jericho with an uppercut to put him down again. So this brings out the JAS with the baseball bat, and Jericho uses that for two. So Menard and Parker get tossed by the ref and Claudio cradles for two, but Jericho puts him down with a codebreaker. Jericho charges and walks into the Giant Swing…and after 33 rotations, Jericho taps at 17:00 to make Claudio the new champion! Well that’s a unique finish, I will say that. Match was really good by the end, but still in no way justified the placement. Hopefully this is the end of the JAS feud with the Combat Club and everyone can now move onto other things. ***1/2
Really, the tag title match is worth your $40 right there, and I’d also check out the Keith Lee match, but there’s not much else on here that you need to go out of your way to see. Definitely some stuff happened, though, with 5 title changes over a breezy three hours, as TK resets everything again. So it’s a big thumbs up from here.