Wrestling Night in America Reunion: PWTorch columnist Greg Parks is joined by former PWTorch columnist Pat McNeill for a full match-by-match preview of WrestleMania 36
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Ring of Honor’s final PPV of the year features Jay Lethal vs. A.J. Styles for the ROH World Title, plus other big matches from the former ECW Arena in Philadelphia.
ROH Final Battle 2015 PPV Results
December 18, 2015
Philadelphia, Pa. at the former ECW Arena
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor (@JCTorch)
Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino are on the call. And, the biggest ROH event of the year was set to kick off with a Superkick Party.
The Young Bucks hit the ring first for a #1 contender tag match. The All Night Express of Rhett Titus and Kenny King was out second, followed by the measuring stick of the tag division, the Briscoes. Lots of star power in this opening match.
1 — THE YOUNG BUCKS (NICK & MATT JACKSON) vs. THE BRISCOES (JAY & MARK BRISCOE) vs. ALL NIGHT EXPRESS (RHETT TITUS & KENNY KING) — three-way #1 contender match to the ROH Tag Titles
The crowd was hot for the Young Bucks and for the Briscoes, but booed All Night Express whenever they entered the ring. 2:40 for the first round of the Superkick Party from the Bucks on the Briscoes and ANX, much to the crowd’s delight. The Bucks did too much posing, though, and ANX dumped them out of the ring from behind. Bodies started flying out of the ring, then Matt Jackson surprised Titus with a superkick on the floor.
Back in the ring, Nick nailed a big 450 splash on Rhett, Matt hit a 450 splash on Rhett, but Kenny broke up a pin just before three. Superkicks started flying again. And everyone was down on the mat catching their breath. The Briscoes gained control with a double neckbreaker on King, but Titus broke up a pin attempt. The Briscoes tried a Doomsday Device on King, but the Bucks nailed superkicks to everyone involved to take control. The Bucks followed with a super spike Tombstone Piledriver on Jay Briscoe, but Mark broke up a pin.
Mark was set up for More Bang for Your Buck, but Titus blind-tagged into the match. ANX cleared the Bucks from the ring, setting up a Briscoes-ANX battle. ANX won the exchange, nailing a super One Night Stand on Mark from the top turnbuckle. Rhett covered Mark for the pin and the win. Of course, the crowd was not pleased by this outcome.
WINNERS: ANX at 9:14 to become #1 contenders to the Tag Titles. A wild opening match, as expected, with the players in the mix. The crowd was hot and hopefully not burnt out after the rapid-fire sequences without any tag team organization. The Bucks were of course the highlight and got plenty of spotlight time before not factoring into the final outcome to protect them. (***)
Video Package: Silas Young vs. Dalton Castle feud.
In-ring: Silas Young was out first flanked by the twin “boys.” Silas jawed with the ringside fans before Dalton Castle was introduced to cheers.
2 — SILAS YOUNG (w/the Boys) vs. DALTON CASTLE
No Code of Honor, as Dalton charged across the ring to lock up with Silas and drive him into the corner. Silas quickly bailed from the ring and hid behind The Boys, who stood up tough to Dalton. Silas then popped a distracted Dalton. “Free the Boys” chant from the crowd, tying in with ROH’s Twitter hashtag for this match.
Silas continued to punish Castle on the outside before rolling him back into the ring. Silas followed with a slingshot double foot stomp to the gut for a two count. Dalton came back with an overhead flip slam to get a breather, but Silas responded with a dive through the ropes to spear Dalton to the floor. The Boys hyped up Silas, who dragged Castle back into the ring.
In the ring, Silas nailed a kick to the chest into a running clothesline for a two count. Clothesline followed, then Silas displayed some spectacular athleticism flipping over the top turnbuckle into a splash attempt, but Dalton avoided. Dalton then hit a deadlift German Suplex with a bridge for a close two count.
After a reset, Dalton big-booted Silas across the ring, but Silas responded by jamming Castle face-first into the bottom turnbuckle for a two count. Silas tried a flying attack, but Castle caught him in mid-air and delivered a release suplex. The Boys then got involved, with Dalton accidentally smacking one of the Boys. Dalton sold concern, allowing Silas to grab him for Misery to get the pin and the win.
WINNER: Silas Young at 10:40. Impressive from Silas in the athleticism department and impressive from Dalton in the power/strength department. An improvement over their previous PPV match. (**1/2)
Post-match, Silas Young took the mic and told Dalton Castle to admit that he is the real man after he took Dalton’s boys and beat him twice on PPV. The crowd picked up a b.s. chant, then Silas again told Dalton to do the right thing. Dalton shook his head no, so Young stomped away on him. “Do it, call me a man!” Silas told him. “You’re not,” Dalton told him. Silas then grabbed chairs from under the ring. He told Dalton to call him a man, or he’ll sic the boys on Dalton.
The Boys went after Dalton, but Dalton took the mic to stop them. “Yes, you’re a man,” Dalton said. “Silas Young, you’re a man. But, a foolish man. Those are my boys!” The Boys popped Silas with chairs, then Dalton hit his Bang-a-Rang finisher on Silas. Streamers flew down on Dalton, who posed in the middle of the ring with The Boys. Kevin Kelly wanted to know when the change happened or if this was the plan all along.
Video Package: Michael Elgin vs. Moose feud.
In-ring: Moose was introduced to the ring sporting his dark football helmet and shoulder pads PPV get-up. Moose handed over his helmet and pads to Stokely Hathaway before hitting the ring. Michael Elgin, sporting a Dallas Keuchel beard, was out next to mainly boos. This is definitely not Japan.
3 — MICHAEL ELGIN vs. MOOSE (w/Stokely Hathaway)
Elgin took it to Moose early on, rocking him with forearms. Moose didn’t budge, so Michael lifted Moose into the air for a big delayed vertical suplex. But, Moose popped right up to his feet and landed rhythmic “Moose, yay, Moose, yay, Moose, yay” right hand jabs. Moose then knocked Elgin out of the ring and dapped like he scored a TD.
On the outside, Moose charged Elgin, but Elgin side-stepped and Moose crashed into the guardrail. Elgin followed with a running cannonball splash before sending Moose back into the ring. Elgin rocked Moose with standing forearms, then tried a suplex, but Moose blocked. Meanwhile, Kelly and Corino talked about Elgin challenging Jay Lethal for the ROH World Title at New Japan’s Tokyo Dome Show if Lethal retains the ROH Title tonight.
Moose responded to Elgin with a big dropkick sending Elgin spilling to the floor. Moose smashed Elgin on the outside, then rolled him back into the ring. Moose wanted a big spear, but Elgin blocked with a boot to the face. Moose then grabbed Elgin out of the corner for a big sit-out powerbomb for a two count.
Moose tried to follow with a powerbomb on the ring apron, but Elgin blocked and kicked Moose before hoisting him in the air for a Death Valley Driver across the ring apron. Elgin quickly followed up with a diving corkscrew splash for a two count. He then nailed a pop-up powerbomb into a deadlift powerbomb into a full Elgin Bomb, but Moose kicked out. “Are you kidding me?!” Corino shouted. “You don’t kick out of the Elgin Bomb.”
Reset at 10:00 with Elgin trying to figure out what to do now. Elgin nailed a Bucklebomb, but Moose exploded out of the corner with a big spear for a close two count. Both men sold on the mat for a while before Moose came up strong. Moose wanted a top-rope move, but Elgin shoved him onto the top turnbuckle. Elgin then lifted Moose into the air to deliver a reverse Torture Rack slam, the Burning Hammer, for the pin and the win.
Post-match, Moose got up and spun Elgin around. Moose extended his hand and Elgin brushed by him before lifting Moose’s hand in the air. They shook hands before Elgin got his hand raised. Respect, then both men left the ring.
WINNER: Elgin at 11:48. The crowd was a bit subdued early on with 6/10 backing for Moose and 4/10 backing for Elgin, but both men worked hard to build to a strong conclusion. The triple powerbomb/nearfall/spear/nearfall sequence was particularly strong. (***)
Video Package: Kyle O’Reilly vs. Adam Cole, who looks more and more like a big-time TV wrestling star. O’Reilly looked like an every-day kind of a guy in a polo shirt with his hair parted to the side. Future Shock is set to explode at the top of the second hour.
In-ring: Adam Cole was out first to a superstar reaction. Still, the crowd recognized him as the heel opposite Kyle O’Reilly, who came out to a strong reaction. O’Reilly, holding one of the IWGP Jr. Hvt. Tag Title belts, stomped down to ringside. O’Reilly hit the ring, posed for the crowd, and immediately tackled Cole.
4 — KYLE O’REILLY vs. ADAM COLE
The bell sounded to begin the scrap, which started in a sea of streamers still in the ring. O’Reilly eventually kicked Cole in the face to send Adam out of the ring to the floor. Cole picked up a chair, but O’Reilly kicked it away. Kyle then placed Cole in the chair and ran off the ring apron to deliver a flying dropkick to a seated Cole.
Back in the ring, O’Reilly nailed a missile dropkick, but sold injuring one of his legs on the landing. O’Reilly followed with a swift kick to the chest, then more rapid-fire kicks. O’Reilly wanted a top-ope move, but Cole shoved O’Reilly clear off the top rope to the floor. On the outside, Cole clipped O’Reilly’s left leg to target the knee he was favoring a minute ago.
Cole continued to target the knee, but O’Reilly suddenly applied a wristlock submission and yanked on the arm targeting Cole’s previous shoulder injury, but Cole stomped on O’Reilly’s head to break free. O’Reilly then snapped off a Regalplex for a close two count. O’Reilly followed with another wrist-grip submission, but Cole ducked under and nailed an inverted neckbreaker to break free.
Reset at 10:00. They fought near the ropes, then O’Reilly grabbed Cole’s left arm and yanked down across the top rope, taking advantage of a five count to apply maximum pressure before releasing. O’Reilly remained on the ring apron, so Cole used his unaffected feet to kick O’Reilly hard to the floor.
On the floor, Kyle snatched Cole for a guillotine choke, but Cole countered into a brainbuster suplex on the padded floor. Back in the ring, Cole fell on top of O’Reilly for a cover and nearfall. He quickly went to a figure-four leglock in the middle of the ring. But, O’Reilly reached the bottom rope for a break.
Cole and O’Reilly then came to their feet for a big standing forearm/punch exchange. O’Reilly suddenly nailed repeated Japanese-style kicks underneath the chin, then slapped on another mat-based submission targeting Cole’s shoulder. But, Cole reached the bottom rope to get a break.
They reset and came back to their feet. Cole drove O’Reilly to the corner, then Cole spun over O’Reilly, trapped his shoulders to the mat, put his feet on the ropes, and referee Todd Sinclair counted a three without seeing Cole’s feet on the ropes. O’Reilly acted like the match wasn’t over, as he re-applied a shoulder-wrench submission. Cole furiously tapped out since the match was over, but O’Reilly kept the hold on. Five more refs spilled out, O’Reilly relaxed, and then he re-applied the submission yanking on Cole’s shoulder. Refs eventually pulled Cole away and dragged him out of the ring.
WINNER: Adam Cole at 16:07. The finish was pretty much a wash giving Cole a quick win, but making it seem like O’Reilly won the battle. Really good singles battle, overall. Hopefully they have an even higher-stakes battle down the road to take this to the next level with a proper finish. (***3/4)
Back in the ring, The Addiction and Chris Sabin were introduced to the ring. Down at ringside, Prince Nana joined Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino on commentary. A.C.H. was out first for the babyface trio, then he was joined by Matt Sydal and Alex Shelley. After Future Shock exploded in the previous match, the Motor City Machineguns explode here.
5 — A.C.H. & MATT SYDAL & ALEX SHELLEY vs. CHRIS SABIN & THE ADDICTION (CHRISTOPHER DANIELS & KAZARIAN) — six-man tag match
The match built to Shelley and Sabin tagging in. “Motor City” chant from the crowd, but Sabin bailed from the ring, avoiding a battle with his old MCMG tag partner. Chaos broke out, then Sabin kicked two field goals on A.C.H. and Sydal in the chest to get six points for the Lions. Back in the ring, Sabin and The Addiction posed over Sydal.
Sydal broke free of the heels, but could not get to his corner to make a tag. The heels then knocked A.C.H. and Shelley off the ring apron and hit a triple kick on Sydal, but Sydal kicked out. Sydal finally got to his corner and tagged in Shelley, who leg-whipped Daniels.Shelley then tagged in A.C.H., who landed kick strikes on the heels. A.C.H. suddenly ran all the way around the ring and tried to jump onto Sabin for apparently a flying head scissors, but he missed and both men crumpled to the floor.
Back in the ring, Kazarian slingshot A.C.H. across the ring into a neckbreaker. Addiction then double-teamed A.C.H., but only got a two count. Daniels was unsuccessful on a Double Moonsault Ever, then Sydal tagged back into the match. The crowd was just reacting to sequences and sitting quietly in-between moves at this point. Sydal and Daniels found themselves alone in the ring, then Sydal kicked Daniels in the head before trying a top-rope Shooting Star Press, but Daniels got his knees up to block. A bunch of moves followed until A.C.H. clotheslined Daniels to the floor, then hit a flip dive onto Daniels and Sabin on the outside.
Back in the ring, A.C.H. hit a 450 splash onto Sabin, then Sydal came off the top with a Shooting Star Press on Sabin. Sydal covered Sabin for the pin and the win. Kevin Kelly said that no questions were answered tonight, especially since Shelley and Sabin did not have a one-on-one battle.
WINNERS: Sydal & A.C.H. & Shelley at 15:32. Basically a fun exhibition match of former WWE and TNA guys, plus A.C.H., that was tucked in the middle of the show. To the untrained viewer unaware of the KRD storyline details, it’s unclear what they were fighting over or what aligned them. It seemed like ROH just wanted to get a bunch of names in one match without having anyone take a real loss.
ROH quickly moved along to the ROH TV Title match of the night. Bobby Fish was out first, followed by a major league-looking Roderick Strong. The crowd was firmly behind Strong and about 6/10 for Fish.
6 — ROH TV champion RODERICK STRONG vs. BOBBY FISH — ROH TV Title match
Champ and Challenger felt each other out early on before the action spilled to the outside. Strong lit up Fish with chops, then rolled him back into the ring to continue wearing down Fish. Strong continued the assault, but walked into a leg-whip across the middle rope. This set up Fish to begin working on Strong’s left knee.
After a brief exchange on the floor, Fish and Strong battled to the top turnbuckle. Strong suddenly lifted Fish into the air and slammed him back-first across the top turnbuckle for a two count. They got up and traded forearms and strikes as the PPV crossed into the third hour. Fish then took Strong to the top turnbuckle and delivered a super Falcon Arrow suplex for a close two count.
Fish went for the Fishhook submission, then they did the Undertaker-Lesnar finish where Strong quietly tapped on Fish’s knee, but it was hidden from ref Todd Sinclair’s sight. At least it was better-executed than WWE’s version. So, Fish released the hold thinking he won the match. He started celebrating, but ref Sinclair was like what are you talking about? So, Strong got up and smashed Fish in the face, knocking him out, and scored a three count. Strong got up smirking at what he did, then left with the TV Title. Refs eventually spilled out to check on Fish, revive him, and get him out of the ring.
WINNER: Strong at 15:17 to retain the ROH TV Title. The start of a pretty good singles match until the finish. Strong went heel on Fish, but Fish isn’t a strong-enough babyface to get sympathy or to work up the crowd seeing him get screwed. Instead, it was more like a yawn finish to set up something else. Too much “setting up something else” on this show and not enough finality. (**1/2)
As Fish was helped out of the ring, Veda Scott showed up ringside. Veda was joined by Cedric Alexander dressed in street clothes. Veda took the mic to address the crowd. She said they were not invited to Final Battle, but they were not going to miss this show. Veda droned on about litigation and working conditions. The crowd had enough, chanting, “Shut the f— up.” Veda talked over the crowd about her negotiating skills. She said a settlement has been reached with ROH for a whole lot of Cedric & Veda in 2016.
In-ring: War Machine was introduced next for the semi-main event ROH Tag Title match. Ray Rowe and Hanson were dressed like Warlord and The Barbarian with matching battle gear. Maria then led out the ROH tag champions representing The Kingdom.
7 — ROH tag champions THE KINGDOM (MATT TAVEN & MIKE BENNETT w/Maria Kanellis) vs. WAR MACHINE (HANSON & RAY ROWE) — ROH Tag Title match
Bobby Cruise handled formal ring introductions. The crowd was lukewarm for War Machine, hot for Maria, and indifferent toward the tag champs. A dueling chant broke out before the bell sounded, though, to create some energy in the building. The Kingdom then blasted War Machine with the tag belts before the opening bell sounded. Kingdom followed with a spike piledriver to Rowe on the outside. Bennett then rolled Rowe back into the ring and the opening bell sounded. Taven covered Rowe, but only scored a two count. Kelly said he thinks he knows why The Kingdom tried to jumpstart the match, relaying that Bennett is wrestling with a cracked rib.
The Kingdom continued to work over Rowe, who fired himself up, but missed with a clothesline. Kelly said Rowe is “powering through the pain,” a sly reference to War Machine dressed like the Powers of Pain. The match then spilled to the outside, where Rowe suddenly got a burst to knock down Taven, then powerbomb Bennett into the barricade.
Rowe then rolled Bennett back into the ring. Bennett was all alone in the ring and War Machine hit Fallout. Both men stacked up Bennett and scored a three count, surprising the crowd at how quickly the match ended. The crowd came-to and stood up to celebrate the new ROH tag champs while The Kingdom recovered on the floor. ROH ambassador Cary Silkin congratulated War Machine, then Taven and Bennett were shown hobbling away from ringside.
WINNERS: War Machine at 3:10 to capture the ROH Tag Titles. That was a surprising series of events. There’s definitely something beneath the surface with how quickly ROH ended The Kingdom’s title run. So, War Machine vs. ANX is up next for the Tag Titles.
At ringside, Kevin Kelly thanked Steve Corino for joining him on commentary, then left for special guests to join them for the PPV main event. B.J. Whitmer suddenly showed up at ringside. Whitmer said he’s here to save the show and call the main event. Security and refs showed up to escort Whitmer away from ringside, though, as Kelly threw to a video package on the main event.
Video Package: ROH highlighted the ROH World Title feud between Jay Lethal and A.J. Styles.
Back at ringside, Nigel McGuinness was introduced for commentary on the main event. Kelly asked Nigel for an update on Taven, only, from the semi-main event. No update, though. Jerry Lynn was then introduced as the third man on commentary.
In-ring: A.J. Styles was introduced first to a big reaction as the ROH Title challenger. Styles soaked up the cheers, then posed in the ring as streamers filled the ring. Kelly brought up Styles’s nagging injury, setting up Styles’s hip to be incorporated into the match. Although, Kelly framed it as a lower back injury. Jay Lethal, joined by the House of Truth’s Truth Martini and Taeler Hendrix, was then introduced to the ring. All three HOT reps were dressed in white to create a signature look for their slow walk to the ring.
8 — ROH World champion JAY LETHAL (w/Truth Martini and Taeler Hendrix) vs. A.J. STYLES — ROH World Title match
Bobby Cruise handled formal introductions, then the crowd picked up a 65 percent pro-Styles and 35 percent pre-Lethal dueling chant. After a pre-match staredown, the bell sounded, and Styles intimidated Lethal into a neutral corner. Lethal took a deep breath and circled around the ring. Styles then cleared Lethal to the outside. Lethal regrouped and chatted with Truth while Taeler listened to the conversation.
Back in the ring, Lethal and Styles exchanged holds before Lethal nailed a textbook dropkick, drawing applause for the exchange. Lethal landed a chop, but Styles fired back with two chops of his own. Styles suddenly went for the Calfkiller, freaking out HOT at ringside. But, Lethal got the bottom rope for a break. Styles then smacked Lethal out of the ring to the floor. He tried to follow up on the outside, but the presence of Martini allowed Lethal to drop Styles back-first onto the ring apron. Lethal then slammed Styles back-first into the guardrail, working on the storyline pre-match injury.
Back in the ring, Lethal pounded on Styles’s lower back with forearms. Styles stood up and tried what he knows – a back flip reverse DDT, but Lethal countered with an exploder suplex into the corner turnbuckles targeting the back. Lethal covered for a two count. Lethal followed with the Lethal Combination, but Styles kicked out again.
Lethal caught his breath and thought about his next move as Styles continued to sell the back. They came to a stalemate trying vertical suplexes. Styles finally just flipped Lethal over into a neckbreaker for a two count. He punted Lethal in the chest, then teased the Clash, but Lethal easily blocked. Lethal suddenly tossed Styles into the air and caught him on the way down for a neckbreaker resulting in a nearfall.
Lethal knocked Styles to the floor, then nailed a suicide dive to the outside. Lethal went for a second one, and he connected, this time sending Styles falling into the front row at the feet of the fans. Lethal then returned to the ring looking for a third suicide dive, this time into the front row, but Styles intercepted with a leaping forearm smash off the guardrail that sent Lethal crashing to the floor.
Both men made it back into the ring just before a 20-count, so the match continued. Lethal suddenly sprung on Styles with a Koji Clutch, but Styles reversed into the Calfkiller. Lethal made it to the bottom rope, though. Styles suddenly came to life and nailed Bloody Sunday. He wanted the Clash, but Lethal blocked and chucked Styles clear over the top rope through the timekeeper table down below.
Styles barely made it back into the ring before getting counted out, then walked right into the Lethal Injection. But, Styles had an 11th hour reprieve and kicked out just before three. Lethal, stunned, yelled at Styles that this is his time. He picked up Styles and blocked a Clash attempt, then nailed Jerry Lynn’s cradle piledriver. Lethal followed with a second Lethal Injection, this time getting the pin and the win.
WINNER: Lethal at 22:08 to retain the ROH World Title. Definitely PPV main event-worthy and kudos to Styles for working through an injury. The match just didn’t quite have that “Final Battle” feel since it came across like more of a special attraction title match and followed a series of questionable finishes on this show leading up to the main event. It was more about solidifying Lethal having one of the best calendar years of any ROH champion. In 2016, ROH is either going to have to turn Lethal face since he’s winning too clean in the heel champion role or find a really strong babyface challenger with the audience’s respect to put a dent in Lethal’s armor, unless Elgin captures the ROH Title from Lethal at the Tokyo Dome on January 4. (****)
Post-match, Lethal crawled toward the ring ropes to stare down Lynn, who stared back at Lethal. Nigel said that Lethal wanted to prove a point to Styles and Lynn, who picked Styles to win the match. As Lethal celebrated in the ring with Truth and Taeler, refs checked on Styles, applying an ice pack to his neck and shoulders.
After a replay of the highlights of the main event, ROH cut back to Lethal celebrating and shouting about being the best wrestler in the world. The crowd chanted “Lethal, Lethal,” since fans want to cheer a winner, especially one who wins clean, doesn’t cheat to win like a heel, and has cool moves. Lethal grabbed Styles’s hand and raised it in the air, apparently checking for signs of life, then celebrated one more time to close the PPV.
Final Battle signed off with a plug for the 14th Anniversary PPV from Las Vegas in February, where New Japan will be involved. The event officially ended three minutes before the top of the hour.
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