Pre-Show: Silas Young and Josh "The Goods" Woods def. Dalton Castle and Joe Hendry
For the record, this wasn't billed as being a pre-show but rather the "first free hour" of the pay-per-view, which I appreciated because it made it feel more important. Castle went from winning the ROH World Championship in the main event of Final Battle two years ago to getting pinned on the pre-show two years later. His pairing with Hendry has slowly grown on me and it's probably the best use of him at this point, but it makes you wonder whether he would have been better off leaving for WWE when he had the chance. This was a nice little match with Young and Woods continuing their winning ways.
Pre-Show: Alex Shelley Challenged Colt Cabana
Prior to his appearance here, I don't believe Shelley had been seen on ROH TV since beating Jonathan Gresham at the Glory by Honor event in early October. That victory was never followed up on, by the way. He came out to show respect to the those who helped make Ring of Honor what it is today, including Cabana. He noted how they have never faced off one-on-one before and challenged him to a match later on in the show, an invitation Cabana accepted.
Pre-Show: Kenny King def. Rhett Titus
I completely forgot this match was happening until the video package for it aired. I also forgot they were feuding. I know King targeted Titus a few months ago, but they've done next to nothing to heat it up the bad blood between them since then. Yes, they used to be in The All Night Express together and King even entered to their old tag team music here, but the history they have together wasn't enough to sell me on it. They put together a decent match, but the crowd mostly sat on their hands for it. King winning with a low blow indicates the rivalry isn't over yet, but why?
Pre-Show: Jeff Cobb def. Dan Maff
I'm well aware of how awesome Cobb is, but I didn't know what to expect from this match for this due to not being overly familiar with Maff. He was with ROH in its early years and apparently can still go as seen in this exciting affair. It was an absolute hoss battle with the two beating the holy hell out of each other and keeping the crowd invested in the action throughout. It's a shame Cobb couldn't make the main card this year, but this was a blast and at least he won.
Villain Enterprises def. Bandido and Flamita
Marty Scull and Flip Gordon represented Villain Enterprises here. On paper, this was a random match with no real backstory but wound up being a memorable sendoff for Scurll (assuming he is indeed on his way out). He lends legitimacy to Bandido and Flamita by getting beaten by them and the matchup itself was incredible. The fast pace was consistent throughout and the audience ate it up. Bandido and Flamita were a fun team, but I assume Lifeblood is officially dead based off how Bandido didn't team with Tracy Williams here instead.
Vincent def. Matt Taven
ROH tried to make this feud the biggest thing in wrestling and I'm honestly not feeling it. Props to Taven and Vincent for playing their roles well (Taven was actually way better as a babyface here than I originally anticipated), but I don't think people cared as much about The Kingdom as the company did for the three years they were around for. That said, this was a pretty good match. Vincent's new character needs some work, but he was the correct choice to win. He and Bateman (who was seen on the most recent episode of ROH TV) brutalized Taven afterward, so it appears they'll be allies going forward.
Mark Haskins def. Bully Ray in a Street Fight
As a match, I can't say this was terribly thrilling. They told a solid story with Haskins getting beat up by Bully for a majority of it only to battle back and score the win, but it came across like any other brawl that Bully has had in ROH. In fact, it felt like a watered down version of his matchup with Gordon from last year's Final Battle. On the bright side, Bully always puts people over whenever it matters most. We'll see how Haskins intends to capitalize on this victory.
Alex Shelley def. Colt Cabana
There wasn't anything on the line here and both guys are babyfaces, but as a first-time-ever encounter, I thought this was a treat. There was a strong focus on technical wrestling and it didn't overstay its welcome. It was also wisely placed after the Street Fight to allow the fans to come down from that. It was reported after the event that this was Cabana's last night in ROH. He'll be dearly missed on commentary.
Maria Manic def. Angelina Love
For those wondering, yes, ROH still has a WOH Women's Champion (for now) and her name is Kelly Klein. It came out in November that her contract was not being renewed when it expires at the beginning of 2020 and there's been no word on what the status of the title is. ROH wasted no time inserting Manic in her place by having her decimate Love with ease here. This was basically an extended squash, and while it would have benefited from having a few minutes shaved off, this was still exactly what it needed to be.
Dragon Lee def. Shane Taylor to Win the ROH World Television Championship
Taylor doesn't get the credit he deserves for being one of the MVPs of ROH in 2019. His reign as TV champ for the past seven months has been terrific and has featured some stellar matches. He's really come into his own in that time, so I wish his run had a better ending. He and Lee had excellent chemistry and put forth an outstanding effort, but the finish came out of nowhere in my opinion. I would have waited to have Taylor drop the title after it could have been built up some more, but he's reportedly on his way out and that may have factored into it. If so, he went out on a high note. Any wrestling promotion would be lucky to have him.
Jay Lethal and Jonathan Gresham def. The Briscoes to Win the ROH World Tag Team Championship
Lethal and Gresham have been a breath of fresh air in the tag team division as of late, specifically as heels. Lethal and Gresham were babyfaces for so long that their heel turns were a welcome change for their characters. Plus, The Briscoes ran out of teams to defend against, so this helps them out, too. This was a great match with plenty of suspenseful nearfalls and a hot closing stretch. With Lethal cheating to win, The Briscoes are in the perfect position to chase the titles.
ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Champion PCO def. Rush to Win the ROH World Championship
I've grown to like PCO and commend him for putting his body through total hell since he started in ROH, but the decision to put the top title on him at this point in time is highly questionable. It's not even his age that's the issue (considering AEW World Champion Chris Jericho is only three years younger than him). It's that most of his matches are the same, including this one. It dragged on and on and on. I didn't think this main event needed all the weapons and whatnot considering this wasn't a blood feud by any means. It was also odd for ROH to build up Rush as being undefeated for one year, only to lose to PCO (who already failed to win the ROH World Championship earlier this year). Maybe he'll drop it a the upcoming TV tapings. I realize he's one of ROH's more popular stars and this made for a cool moment, but his gimmick is fairly one-dimensional and I have no idea where you go from here with him.
While not a horrible show by any means, this was without a doubt the weakest installment of Final Battle I've seen in several years with the worst main event as well. The three title changes made it a newsworthy night and freshened things up a bit, but it doesn't change how ROH has problems that must be addressed. It doesn't help that more names in addition to Taylor, Scurll and Cabana are rumored to be leaving the promotion soon. Final Battle certainly had its fair share of highlights (Briscoes vs. Lethal and Gresham, Taylor vs. Lee, Villain Enterprises vs. Bandido and Flamita, Cobb vs. Maff), but it's going to take much more than that to get the promotion back on track with the new year right around the corner.
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