*** ROH DVD Reviews by Brad Dykens *** December 30, 2007 – New York City, New York [ FINAL BATTLE 2007 ]
KICKOFF: For those of you who have been living under a rock, the annual “Final Battle” event is traditionally known as Ring of Honor’s version of WRESTLEMANIA, but this year it seems like just another in a long series of stellar ROH events. The card is noticeably missing an important ROH World title match scheduled, but contains more than enough fuel to keep the fire going as the best wrestling company on planet earth sprints into 2008. This DVD started with the ROH crew trying to get a promo out of Austin Aries immediately following his disappointing loss to ROH World champion Nigel McGuinness the previous night. Aries was visibly distraught and pushed the camera away, saying “I’ve got nothing.” Next up, the beautiful Becky Bayless interviewed the Briscoe brothers about their match with the Age of the Fall tonight. I seem to have misplaced my Briscoe-to-English dictionary so I’m not exactly sure what they said except that it was time to MAN UP!
TAG TEAM MATCH The Vulture Squad (Ruckus & Jigsaw w/Julius Smokes) vs. Matt Cross & Bobby Fish: Matt Cross is now a man without an island, after the Resilience was disbanded by Austin Aries. He has also grown a beard that makes him look twenty years older than he actually is. Bobby Fish is top star on the New England circuit and has spent some time in Japan wrestling for Pro Wrestling NOAH. The Vulture Squad is quickly gaining some intense momentum as the faction warfare gimmick gets set to explode all over the ROH scene. Actually the explosions have already begun. The Vulture Squad pulled out a nice victory to keep their momentum going strong.
GRUDGE MATCH Claudio Castagnoli vs. “Sweet & Sour” Larry Sweeney (w/Sweet & Sour Inc.): Before the match, Larry Sweeney brought out Tank Toland, Bobby Dempsey, and the devilishly sexy Sara Del Rey to help introduce the newest member of Sweet & Sour Inc. – Daniel Puder! Puder was greeted by chants of “you can’t wrestle!” Sweeney announced to the crowd that Puder injured Castagnoli’s leg last night and he was not medically cleared to wrestle tonight. Double C limped out to the ring and presented Sweeney with a contract that forced him to compete against him tonight or he would never do business in ROH again. Tank Toland clipped Claudio’s knee and the match got started with Sweeney focusing on the bad leg. Castagnoli fought back and went for a Ricola-bomb, only to get whacked Tanya Harding style on the knee by Daniel Puder. Sweeney made the cover and scored the 1-2-3 to the make the miscarriage of justice official! Sweet & Sour reigns supreme in New York City!! An attempted post match beat down by Tank Toland was quickly stopped by a powerful Ricola-bomb by Claudio Castagnoli!
NO-DISQUALIFICATION MATCH Necro Butcher w/Lacey (of the Age of the Fall) vs. Jack Evans w/Julius Smokes (of the Vulture Squad): I didn’t think it was possible, but Lacey looks hotter than ever doing the mistress of darkness gimmick with the Age of the Fall. If a No-DQ match between Jack and Necro scares you then I’m here to tell you that you have every right to be afraid. You really just don’t know what to expect from two of the most unpredictable wrestlers in the World. Necro set up two chairs back to back, and back-dropped Jack onto them – but Superman Jack Evans kicked out after two! Necro tried to do the same thing again, but this time from the second rope. Evans pushed Necro down so that he was slouched over the chairs. Evans back-flipped off the top rope driving Necro’s chest into the chairs with a leg-drop! The fans erupt with chants of “this is awesome!” Evans went in for the kill, but Lacey crawled in and got between he and Necro. Julius Smokes confronted Lacey, but refused to “hit a woman.” Suddenly “The Latina Sensation” Mercedes Martinez hit the ring and took out Lacey for a huge pop from the fans! Necro Butcher rose to his feet, but got rolled up for the 1-2-3 giving Jack Evans the victory! After the match, Jack Evans dubbed Mercedes Martinez as the “Booty Vulture” and Julius Smokes welcomed her into the Vulture Squad!
NOAH VS. ROH MATCH Naomichi Marufuji vs. Davey Richards (of the No Remorse Corps): Every ROH event has at least one match like this – a hard-hitting contest with no pre-existing issue that somehow develops just enough heat to get the fans out of their seats. Naomichi Marufuji seems to be back on the right track, after scoring an impressive victory over one of ROH’s toughest competitors.
TABLES ARE LEGAL SIX-MAN TAG TEAM WAR The Hangmen 3 (Adam Pearce & B.J. Whitmer & Brent Albright w/Shane Hagadorn) vs. Delirious & Kevin Steen & El Generico: Got wood? Dusty Rhodes would be very proud of all the plunder set out around the ring for this match – err war! Delirious is back wearing the black and red ring gear due to the Hangmen 3 stealing his trademark green and black lizard mask. A few minutes into the match, Bushwhacker Luke hit the ring to get some revenge on the Hangmen 3 for the beating they gave him the previous night at “Rising Above.” Luke did his cartoonish Bushwhacker battering ram move using Delirious’ head as a weapon. Luke was joined by Delirious and Generico doing the famous Bushwhacker march, but Kevin Steen resisted. Luke then licked Steen’s head, and Steen got inspired and all four of them did the Bushwhacker march. I’m surprised the crowd cheered for this; could the ROH marks be going soft? Luke disappeared and they got back to business in the ring. Two tables were set up in the ring, proped against the corners. Whitmer was the first to go through a table at the hands of Steen. Albright broke a table on his own and smashed a piece of it over Generico’s head! Shane Hagadorn was constantly interfering in the match until Pelle Primeau hit the scene and sent Hagadorn crashing through a table at ringside! After a few more tables were smashed to pieces, the match ended with a spectacular stunt performed by Delirious and Adam Pearce. They set up a table as a platform in the corner, and Pearce Pile-drove Delirious off of it through a second table in the ring. The Hangmen 3 scored another huge victory in their war against Delirious. Now they are hyping a Dog Collar match between Adam Pearce and Delirious.
SQUASH MATCH Rocky Romero (of the No Remorse Corps) vs. Ernie Osirus: It’s very rare for ROH to put on a match like this, but it seems like whenever they do it involves the “Latin Lover” Rocky Romero. He didn’t have to work very hard to defeat Top of Class Trophy holder Ernie Osirus, but at least he got a free lunch out of it.
IN THE RING ROH World champion Nigel McGuinness: A beaten and battered Nigel McGuinness limped to the ring, suffering from the effects of his brutal match with Austin Aries at “Rising Above” the night before. The crowd seemed to be split (by design), with one half showing their respect to the World champion, and the other half being extremely disrespectful. Nigel said he doesn’t remember anything about the match except leaving the hospital at 4:30 in the morning with thirty-five stitches and a probable concussion. Nigel said because of those injuries he can’t defend the belt in New York City tonight. Nigel suggested maybe he doesn’t deserve to hold the ROH belt. Nigel put down the microphone and was about to hand over the ROH belt but then turned around and said that these injuries are the reason he DOES deserve to be Ring of Honor champion. Nigel said for those who don’t understand (the fans who boo him), he is going to keep the belt in spite of them! Nigel said for the rest of the people who love the business, he is going to keep the belt because of them. Nigel finished by saying, “Thank you, and screw you!”
FIP WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH Roderick Strong (Champion) vs. Erick Stevens (Challenger): Roderick Strong has spent thirteen months as the FIP champion after defeating “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson for the belt on November 10 (2006). Considering the hatred that has built up between these two grapplers, I was surprised at how relatively disciplined they were for the first half of the contest. When they did let loose, they REALLY let loose, as Roderick Strong power-bombed Erick Stevens on the metal stage with very little remorse! Stevens just barely beat the 20-count (an FIP rule) back to the ring to keep his dream alive! Stevens suddenly got fired up and fought Strong with all the determination in the World! Stevens knocked Strong senseless with a pair of Lariats and flattened him with a Doctor-bomb just before scoring the pinfall to finally capture the FIP World Heavyweight championship! They are calling this the beginning of Chapter 2 of Erick Stevens’ ROH career.
FOUR-WAY ELIMINATION MATCH “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson vs. Takeshi Morishima vs. Austin Aries vs. Chris Hero (w/Sweet & Sour Inc.): Chris (Is Awesome) Hero was accompanied to the ring by Larry Sweeney (who was on cloud nine after “defeating” Claudio Castagnoli earlier), Tank Toland, Bobby Dempsey, and Sara Del Rey. Austin Aries wasn’t his usual spunky self, feeling a little bit depressed about failing to win the ROH World title the night before. American Dragon was fired up as usual and ready to take one more bite out of Takeshi Morishima before he retreated back to Japan. Dragon and Aries worked together to wear down big Takeshi Morishima while Chris Hero bounced around the ring trying to steal the spotlight! Dragon and Aries double-pinned Morishima and Hero ran over to get on top of the pile to steal at least some of the glory! Hero’s cocky attitude later came back to bite him in the butt, because while he was gloating to the fans, he was rolled up by Aries for the 1-2-3 to eliminate him! It came down to Bryan Danielson vs. Austin Aries, who are fresh off of an epic best of three series – which was won by Aries. The last few minutes of this match were quite a sight to see; very intense, and filled with lots of drama. It ended with Danielson winning the match by referee stoppage after his trademark flurry of elbows to the head of Aries. Dragon gets his win back, and earns a shot at the ROH World title at the sixth anniversary show. After the match, Dragon offered to shake hands with the man he has grown to respect very much, but a distraught Aries looked Dragon in the eyes and dropped out of the ring. It looks like Aries is in line for some major character modifications.
ROH WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH The Briscoe Brothers w/Daizee Haze (Champions) vs. The Age of the Fall (Jimmy Jacobs & Tyler Black w/Lacey): Here’s a tip. If you seriously want to freak out your neighbors, download a track of the Age of the Fall’s entrance music. It’s not really music, it’s just one layer of Lacey screaming at the top of her lungs. Daizee Haze has sort-of latched onto the Briscoes so that she could counter any interference by Lacey at ringside. The Briscoes dished out as much punishment as they could, but nothing seemed like it was enough to put the Age of the Fall down for the count. Finally Jacobs and Black mounted a come-back and managed to perform quite a spectacular finish to get the victory over the Briscoes and finally capture the ROH World Tag Team titles. The crowd popped big time for the title change, but quickly realized that they should play along with the storyline and started too boo loudly. The Age of the Fall now have the belts, and with the belts comes all the power.
If you would like to purchase this or any other ROH DVD, please check out ROHwrestling.com —- if you need some convincing, you can check out streaming video of various ROH matches for free at www.ROHVideos.com