Arena Reports 12/19 ROH "Final Battle" in New York City: Live report on Saturday's Internet PPV - Aries vs. Black, Briscoes vs. Wolves
Dec 21, 2009 - 2:46:57 PM
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Ring of Honor "Final Battle 2009" Arena Report
December 19, 2009
New York City
Report by Nick Bonnano, Torch reader
For those of you that didn't hear, the New York area was hit by a major blizzard Dec. 19, bringing about nearly two feet of snow in most areas. This made for an elegant snowflake backdrop for Ring of Honor's final show of 2009.
Outside the Manhattan Center (which also houses the Hammerstein Ballroom), a crew for HDNet recorded fans talking about what brought them to ROH in the middle of a snowstorm. They solicited me and I spoke briefly to the camera about the Fight Without Honor and the ROH World Title match.
At about 7:15 p.m., ROH ring announcer Bobby Cruise came to the ring with Senior Referee Todd Sinclair. He introduced Sinclair and the other referees that would officiate the evening. I have never seen a referee get nearly as much heat as Sinclair did during this intro. I'm not sure of the exact story, but I believe that a few months/years back, Todd Sinclair messed up a number of important counts in NYC and the New York fans have never forgiven him. Seriously, hate chants, heckling of any counts he does, you name it and the crowd was on his plump rear for it.
Cruise announced to the crowd that due to the weather, Necro Butcher's flight from Florida was canceled and he would not be at the show, drawing boos. He then announced that due to a flight delay, the returning Teddy Hart and Jack Evans were not at the show. I could feel numerous hearts dropping around me as an overwhelming booing filled the ballroom. Cruise then stated that the two may arrive during the show and ROH would do everything in its power to put them on as advertised. Interesting note: Of all of the match line-ups I've looked at over time, this show did not have the usual "Card is subject to change" disclaimer.
DARK MATCH: Andy Ridge beat Alex Payne. Do you call it a dark match if the main show is broadcast on the Internet? A quick match, probably about three minutes. The timing was off for these two. Disbelief was thrown into question.
Bobby Cruise stepped back into the ring to count the show onto the air. He did so far too early, eliciting an amusing "You f**ked up!" chant from the crowd. It was good to see the crowd full of energy and anticipation for the night.
1 -- RHETT TITUS vs. COLT CABANA vs. CLAUDIO CASTAGNOLI vs. (6) KENNY OMEGA -- Pick 6 Four Corner Survival
The Four Corner Survival works similar to WWE's Fatal Four-Way, with one fall to a finish. Cabana and Omega fight off Castagnoli and Titus and then do-si-do a bit in the ring. I've never seen Omega wrestle before and I am very impressed by him. This match had a nice amount of fun spots and the crowd was hot for it.
WINNER: Castagnoli pins Titus. Solid opener.
2 -- BISON SMITH & ERICK STEVENS (w/Prince Nana and Shane Hagadorn) vs. DELIRIOUS (w/Daizee Haze) & BOBBY DEMPSEY
I'm not sure what Nana's typical attire is, but last time I saw him live (about two years ago) he was dressed in military apparel, reflecting the militaristic atmosphere of the part of Africa he's billed from. Perhaps his character moved up in the ranks over this time to wear a casual, loose-fitting button down. Anyway, he ran down Necro Butcher on the mic for a bit and a few fans put their hands overhead to form the last letter of YMCA. This is the sign of Nana's faction, the Embassy.
Delirious came out with Daizee Haze and no tag team partner due to Butcher's flight problems. Smith and Stevens worked Delirious over until Pelle Primeau ran out for the save. Oh, scratch that, Pelle got destroyed. Now Bobby Dempsey enters to a strong pop and a chant. Back and forth action for a bit leading up to the finish. No, wait. Bobby Dempsey kicks out of a few hard hitting moves in the second match of the show. Getting him over before taking the fall, I guess? Smith was having a difficult time maneuvering Dempsey on the turnbuckle and looked to have settled on a powerbomb.
WINNERS: Smith and Stevens.
3 -- CHRIS HERO (w/Sara Del Rey and Shane Hagadorn) vs. EDDIE KINGSTON -- Fight Without Honor
My expectations were high for this match. Each wrestler had fans on his side, but Kingston definitely had the majority, with a few Puerto Rican flags scattered about. I imagined a decent array of weaponry being used in this match type, and was surprised to only see the two or three in play. It seemed like Hero hit Kingston 1,000 times with the elbow. He sold grogginess. The guard rail spot was creative and sucked in the interest of the crowd. Kingston kicks out after a rough powerbomb on the guard rail delivered by Hero. More chain use, interference, and Kingston makes a comeback. Hero slips on the loaded elbow pad for the roaring elbow, but is unsuccessful in keeping his opponent down. Kingston uses Hero's pad against him for a three count.
WINNER: Eddie Kingston. A decent conclusion for the feud, but I was expecting more given the match type.
4- KEVIN STEEN & EL GENERICO vs. THE YOUNG BUCKS
It was announced that Steen would be making an announcement following this match. Rumors spread about his possible departure or retirement given a persistent knee injury. He and Generico were wayyy over with the crowd, who interchanged between chants of "Olé!," "Mr. Wrestling!," and heckling the Young Bucks about going to TNA. Much spit, snot, and chewing gum was flying throughout the match-up. Nice build up to the finish. I was surprised/impressed that Steen kicked out of More Bang for Your Buck before taking the fall with a double super kick.
WINNERS: The Young Bucks. A very good match between two very good tag teams. Well told.
When Steen asked for the mic, the crowd got to its feet to applaud and give respect, minus two people who Steen insulted for a few seconds. He went on an emotional tirade about his career and time in ROH that hinted at retirement, but did not outright say it. He spoke about Nigel (McGuiness) and Bryan (Danielson), who had their final mach in ROH at the last event held in NYC (September's Glory by Honor). He talked about his injuries and his family. He thanked the fans. By this point many of the NYC fans were getting emotional as well, which then heightened as El Generico and Steen hugged mid-ring. Generico appeared to be giving Steen some words from his heart as he held him. Steen got back on the mic and addressed El Generico. "And to you, I just want to say...that I hate your f----- guts!" A kick to the generic luchador's huevos later, and Steen grabbed a steel chair. Oh no. Generico stood up and was met with a cringing unprotected CRACK across the skull. Colt Cabana came out to reason with Steen. I flashed back to a match between C.M. Punk and Terry Funk from a few years ago where Cabana emerged from the back to stop Punk's beat down on Funk before joining in. Unlike this memory, Cabana did not beat on Generico, but helped him up as a smirking Steen returned to the back.
A lot of action in the first half of the show tired the crowd out. I was legitimately pissed at the Steen/Generico spectacle that had just transpired. Not only for the sickening taboo chair shot, but the whole tease farewell.
5 - KENNY KING vs. (4) RODERICK STRONG -- Pick 6 Challenge
This match was okay. It took time for the crowd to get back into it rather than continue its "F--- John Cena" chants.
WINNER: Kenny King to take the #4 spot in the pick 6 series.
6 - ALEX KOSLOV vs. ROCKY ROMERO
This was supposed to be the tag match involving Jack Evans and Teddy Hart. Rocky got on the mic, said it was great to be back in NYC and although Hart and Evans couldn't make it, Romero and Koslov were going to give us a taste of lucha libre. Back and forth for a bit. I laughed out loud at Koslov's Kosachok kicks to the head. It is a very amusing spot. The men fought into the first row in a corner where all of the crowd action was happening that evening. I believe Romero hit a plancha from the top rope to the first row onto Koslov. Back in the ring, Romero bounced around with an armbar on Koslov. The timekeeper rang the bell despite Koslov not tapping out or the referee calling for it. The fans were pissed at the situation and let the officials know so. The ref stepped out of the ring to have a word with the timekeeper, and I could see from my seat that the ref was yelling at him. Regardless, Romero was awarded the match.
WINNER: Rocky Romero via ineptitude of officials.
7 - ROH tag champions THE AMERICAN WOLVES (w/Shane Hagadorn) vs. THE BRISCOES -- ROH tag title match
Chants of "Man up" rang in the ballroom in the presence of the Briscoe brothers. It always surprises me how many people in the crowd have Confederate flags to support the Briscoes despite the event taking place in New York (a northern state by a long shot) and the Briscoes being from Delaware (not really that southern). I recall the Briscoes's stars and bars ring outfits, but there was a guy in the crowd wearing the flag as a poncho with a matching bandana. Come on.
Both teams matched up strong against one another. One of the Briscoes stomped on Edward's chest and appeared to injure his arm. He seemed fine after a few minutes. Many big boots back and forth between the two teams. The crowd was into the match, although getting more tired. Much applause for the Briscoes' win. Both teams are strong in the ring, but the unstoppable Biscoe brothers picked up the victory and the ROH tag team titles.
WINNERS: Jay and Mark Briscoe to capture the ROH Tag Team Championships.
As the Briscoes held up their belts, they were jumped by Claudio Castagnoli and Chris Hero. A "Kings of Wrestling" chant broke out. All wresters left ringside.
Black out. Someone's in the ring. Screams of "Sabu!" come from the more inebriated fans. Lights up on Teddy Hart, Jack Evans, and Julius Smokes to a huge pop and possibly a "Welcome Back" chant. Evans talks about how their match already happened, but he and Hart are going to wrestle anyway. Smokes serves as the referee.
8 - JACK EVANS vs. TEDDY HART -- unsanctioned
WINNER: Jack Evans with a 630 splash. Crazy highspots, but it served its purpose to satisfy the crowd.
After the "match," Hart got on the mic for what felt like a long time. His music played to cue him off, but he kept going. This seemed pretty rude and selfish of them to continue to eat up time after they've been told that their time is up. A ref came down to get them out.
9 - ROH champion AUSTIN ARIES vs. TYLER BLACK -- ROH World Title match
Crepe paper streamers hit the air for the competitors' introductions. Todd Sinclair is officiating this match. He is going to get the heckling of a lifetime. Aries cut a quick promo about being live on the Internet and took the time to say hello to people who may be watching, including Tyler Black's mother.
Back and forth early on led to a chase on the outside. The counts got to nearly twenty a number of times, with the fans shouting something I couldn't quite make out, but no doubt derogatory, at Sinclair's every number. The crowd booed when Black begged the ref not to count Aries out. We were very tired and bloodthirsty. This thirst was quenched later as Aries was split open.
At one point, Tyler Black sprang off the top rope to splash a standing Aries in the ring. At the same time, a fan tossed crepe paper into the diving Black that tangled around both men and stayed on Aries for probably about a minute. Comical. At any low point in the match, the fans took the opportunity to heckle Sinclair ruthlessly. I wonder how he feels about this.
Aries scaled the turnbuckle and Black met him with an enziguiri, sending Aries through the timekeeper's table. I stood on my chair to see the damage, but I could not. Shortly after this spot, it was announced that 30 minutes had transpired. At this, the very exhausted fans vocally speculated the match going to a one-hour time limit. Screams of "End this s---!" and "I'm probably going to die on the way home because of this s---" echoed.
As the match slowed down with multiple fake count outs and other pacing issues, the fans continued their attack on the length of the match. "We want wrestling" and "This is bulls---" chants started up.
The fans perked up a bit as Austin Aries tried to get himself disqualified with chokes, low blows, and an attempt to use the ROH belt against Black. The crowd was livid that Todd Sinclair would not disqualify Aries.
At the announcement of 55 minutes, the fans chanted "five less minutes!" in joy. Some near falls and last chanceries filled the final moments before the 60-minute time limit expired to the praise of the ROH fans.
WINNER: 60-minute time limit draw. Black and Aries kept fighting, refs were knocked around, and The Briscoes fought Hero and Castagnoli through the crowd and into the ring. Are we supposed to think that they've been fighting since the tag title match? If so, how did they change their clothes? The Briscoes and Black cleared the ring and looked down at Aries, Hero, and Castagnoli. Set up for a six-man tag at the next show?
Post-show: On my way out of the building, the fans were still pretty pissed that they were there for five hours. That is a long show, especially given the weather. I heard one man say that he'll never go to another ROH show again and another say that he was going to "go watch Flair-Steamboat to remember what 60 minutes of WRESTLING looks like." I enjoyed the show tremendously and am glad that I witnessed a title match go to its time limit.
MOST OVER: El Generico, Kevin Steen, and Teddy Hart.
MOST HEAT: Todd Sinclair by far. After Sinclair, probably the kid with the audacity to show up wearing a John Cena shirt and carrying the WWE spinner belt.
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