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*** Official ROH DVD Reviews by Brad Dykens ***
December 23, 2006 - FINAL BATTLE '06 - Manhatten, New York

The show started with Santa Clause (Bobby Dempsey) and a couple of elves (Mitch Franklin & Pelle Primeau) throwing t-Shirts into the crowd until the Briscoe Brothers hit the ring and destroyed all three of them! The Briscoes said last night (losing to the King's of Wrestling) was bullsh*t and demanded a rematch with the King's tonight! It's time for the King's to MAN UP!

Nothing pumps up a crowd of wrestlings fans like the sound of "Ole! Ole Ole Oleeeeee!" (or is it Jole?) and it is for this reason that El Generico may be doomed to a life of curtain jerking. Seriously that song is electric. Jimmy Rave's "House of the Rising Sun" entrance music, however, has the opposite effect - although it is a great song! Davey Richards came out to Van Halen's hit "Running With the Devil." Christopher Daniels rounded out this Four Corner Suvival match to kick off the biggest damn show of the year. Allison Danger was out there with Daniels, and she is looking thinner and more beautiful every time I see her. She was wearing a Girl Scout outfit and the ROH fans chanted "We Want Cookies!" I want cookies too. The conclusion of the match featured El Generico hitting Davey Richards with a spectacular brain-buster on the corner pad, but Jimmy Rave tagged himself in and made Generico tap out with the heel hook to win the match ( 7.5 / 10 ). The crowd chanted "Bullsh*t" after the match and Jimmy Rave talked smack to them until Nigel McGuinness came down and slapped Rave across the face! Rave quickly retreated backstage.

Adam Pearce won a somewhat short match with Ricky Reyes of the Rottweilers after Shane Hagadorn tossed a set of brass knux into the ring ( 5 / 10 ). After the match, Adam Pearce took out Julius Smokes with a pile-driver. This was designed to eliminate the Rottweilers and stack the deck against Homicide for tonight's main event ROH World title match.

Emotions were high as Jimmy Jacobs (with "hired gun" Brent Albright) defended the honor of the lovely Lacey against Colt Cabana and B.J. Whitmer, accompanied by Daizee Haze. Albright put the nail in the perverbial coffin when he power-bombed Whitmer over the top rope though a table on the floor. Whitmer and Jacobs easily finished off Colt Cabana to get redemption for Lacey ( 7 / 10 ).

The Kings of Wrestling came out with their new spokesperson (Chris Hero's agent), "Sweet and Sour" Larry Sweeney, who is perhaps the greatest character in wrestling today - he reminds me of the Jack Black character in "High Fidelity," who by the way is AWESOME! The heat-magnet King's had a tough time turning the New York crowd against them especially since the fans love Sweet and Sour. Hero and Castagnoli sarcastically proclaimed that it was time for the King's of Wrestling to "MAN UP."

The Briscoes ran out and started street fighting with Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli until the bell rang and the match started. It was a heated rematch from the previous night in Connecticut when Larry Sweeney debuted and helped the King's secure a tainted victory. The fans were really enjoying themselves for the last portion of this hard-hitting innovative contest. The Briscoes got their win back after Castagnoli accidentally knocked out Chris Hero with the briefcase ( 8 / 10 ). After the match, the WWE-bound Claudio Castagnoli said he was probably going to stick around Ring of Honor for a little while longer. Larry Sweeney said he and Chris Hero have already made plans those plans don't involve Claudio Castagnoli. Double C said Chris Hero would never choose Larry Sweeney over him and asked Hero to pick sides. Chris Hero shook hands with Castagnoli, but turned and left the ring with Larry Sweeney.

With Claudio Castagnoli still in the ring, Samoa Joe showed up and told Claudio to "get out of my ring!" Samoa Joe challenged anyone from Pro Wrestling NOAH in Japan to face him at the February 16 show in New York City. Samoa Joe threw out a few names, such as Takeshi Morishima, Naomichi Marufuji, even the legendary Mitsuharu Misawa. Nigel McGuinness (who works for NOAH) appeared and said that if nobody from NOAH accepted the challenge then he would do it himself and kick Joe's ass in New York City. Jimmy Rave suddenly attacked Nigel McGuinness from behind as Samoa Joe stood there watching for a few seconds before he slapped the crap out of Rave! Joe set up a match between McGuinness and Rave after the intermission.

The intense grudge match between Nigel McGuinness and Jimmy Rave (pulling double-duty tonight) ended with McGuinness tapping out to the dreaded heel-hook submission ( 8 / 10 ). They are building up the heel-hook as a dominant submission move that nobody can survive. Jimmy Rave challenged the winner of tonight's World title match to defend against him on February 16th.

There was some exciting six-man tag team action featuring Matt Sydal teaming up with Dragon Gate's Shingo and CIMA taking on Roderick Strong, Austin Aries and their unlikely tag team partner Delirious. It was fought under Dragon Gate Rules and that almost always translates to something special in an ROH ring. It was one of those crazy "has to be seen to be appreciated" classics which started out in high gear and didn't let up for about twenty-five minutes. I'm not even going to tell you who won because it wasn't about who won it was about what happened from bell-to-bell ( 8.5 / 10 ).

Then it was time for the main event of the night, the main event of the year, and the main event of Homicide's life. Six months of successful booking led to the culmination of "American Dragon" Bryan Danielson defending his ROH World championship against the "Notorious 187" Homicide. It was literally a do-or-die scenario for New York City's own Homicide, who said he would QUIT Ring of Honor if he failed to win ROH Gold before the end of 2006. The match started out very methodical, but then turned nasty when Adam Pearce and Shane Hagadorn made good on your promise to do everything they could prevent Homicide from winning the World title. The referee wisely refused to rule it a DQ finish and sent the invaders packing. A little while later the intensity came to a plateau when Danielson applied a submission move on Homicide, who dragged himself to the ropes but Danielson wouldn't release the hold and begged for a DQ but the referee again wisely refused to end the match in that manner. Homicide recovered and miraculously nailed Danielson with a Cop-killa but the champion somehow reached the ropes to make sure the match continued. Homicide retrieved the ring bell from ringside and threatened to use it but the referee confiscated it immediately (for Homicide's own good). However, Danielson low-blowed Homicide behind the referee's back and went for a small package roll-up on the challenger. Just then you could feel a sudden depletion of oxygen in the building as the crowd collectively gasped, believing Bryan Danielson was going to steal yet another sneaky victory and probably cause a massive riot. Homicide kicked out used a stiff Lariat to finally pin the champion as the fans blew the roof off the building ( 9.5 / 10 ). Homicide had an extended celebration with the fans, his friends, and some wrestlers from the back - most notably Samoa Joe. Bryan Danielson surrendered the ROH World belt, as is the custom, and showed respect to the NEW Ring of Honor World Champion.

Final Thoughts: I have a confession to make; I had a very hard time paying attention to the first seven matches because I couldn't stop thinking about the main event. I found myself skipping ahead several minutes just to get closer to the finale. I will likely watch this DVD again, several times in fact over the next few weeks. The main event was such an awesome match, and what a great exclamation point to end 2006!!!

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