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*** Official ROH DVD Reviews by Brad Dykens ***
December 17, 2005 - FINAL BATTLE 2005 - Edison, New Jersey

ROH's "Final Battle" is traditionally the company's biggest show -- aptly presented as the last event of the year. The custom has been to invite some of the well known foreign wrestlers to let them perform in front of the thirsty American wrestling fans. The atmosphere is like nothing else and this year was no exception with two of Japan's finest -- KENTA and Naomichi Marufugi -- stepping foot into a Ring of Honor environment.

The under-card was filled with quality mid-card matches starting with the Embassy's Jimmy Rave taking on the Italian Super-model Milano Collection A.T. (** 3/4). Milano is still growing on me but there is something I just can't put my figure on that I don't get about him. The match was a good opener and featured Jimmy Rave's symbolic re-beginning after losing Steel Cage Warfare; Similar circumstances had Rave's stable-mate Alex Shelley battling Steve Corino in a unique match-up to say the list (*** 1/4). This match was slightly better than Rave's outing and was capped off with Homicide attacking Corino and Colt Cabana making the save. Homicide then callously poured Drano down the throat of Cabana causing him to throw up!

Other mid-card contests pitted Colt Cabana (before the Drano incident) facing Azrieal (**). I think Azrieal is great but he is being portrayed as ROH's answer to Scotty Too Hotty. He has the skills but he's a total jobber. Claudio Castagnoli finally got his chance at Nigel McGuiness's Pure title and scored the pinfall to win the championship but had the decision reversed when a second referee reported Castagnoli's cheating (*** 1/2). Oh my Gosh, a Dusty-finish in ROH! These two wrestlers work well together and this night was no exception. Claudio Castagnoli, who is deceptively large, is a future star in either WWE or TNA -- and McGuinness should be right there next to him.

This week's Four Corner Survival featured Jay Lethal stealing a victory over his former mentor Samoa Joe, Christopher Daniels, and BJ Whitmer (accompanied by the beautiful Lacey - I haven't said enough about her in my previous DVD reviews but I need to tell you that she is a tremendous asset to ROH). This 4-WAY had great action and even better drama with several different rivalries involved (*** 3/4). Joe vs Lethal, Joe vs Daniels, Daniels vs Whitmer. Lethal is working his way up the top 5 rankings. Next was a throw-away match with Ricky Reyes squashing the top ROH Student Davey Andrews (* 1/2). After the match, ROH Trainer Austin Aries had seen enough and ran down to attack Reyes in defense of his students. A Reyes/Aries match might be good but where does Reyes go from there?

Austin Aries & Roderick Strong captured Tag Team Gold when they defeated Tony Mamaluke & Sal Rinauro in an excellent tag team match featuring four babyface wrestlers (****). Aries & Strong have become a phenomenal team and should hold the titles for a long time. Aries, in particular scored a moral victory by winning a Championship at Final Battle for the second year in a row.

The two main events were equally exciting. American Dragon successfully defended the ROH World title against Japan's Naomichi Marufuji in a classic wrestling match (**** 1/4). In the main event, Low Ki was defeated by GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion KENTA -- one of Japan's top wrestlers -- in a hard-fought match featuring many stiff kicks and knee strikes (**** 1/2). The crowd went crazy with chants of "Match of the Year" when it over over, but I would hate to be one of these guys dragging himself out of bed the following day. These two matches were, quite frankly, amazing, and extremely special. I loved every minute of it - Thank you KENTA and thank you Marufuji.

Final Thoughts: The highly appreciative fans praised both men for their performances and showered them with chants of "Please Come Back!". This is what makes ROH so special and it gives me a great feeling to be a part of it in some small way. ROH proved why its fans have all the reason in the world to be proud to be an ROH fan. It is great to watch professional wrestling and not be ashamed for once. If you would like to purchase this or any other ROH DVD, please check out - Thank you!

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