ROH Final Battle 2020

Baltimore, MD – 12.18.2020

Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni, Caprice Coleman, and Dalton Castle.

Pre-Show Match
Dante Caballero & Joe Keys vs. S.O.S. (Kaun & Moses)

This match was featued on the December 29th episode of ROH Week By Week. S.O.S. attack Keys and Caballero before the bell. Kaun shoulder tackles Caballero, but Caballero is able to swoop him up into a side slam. Moses Snake Eyes Caballero and knocks him down with a running shoulder block. S.O.S. smother Caballero in the corner after knocking Keys off the apron. Caballero escapes a Vader Bomb attempt from Moses. He rolls to escape a tackle in the corner and tags in Keys. Keys headbutts and clotheslines Moses to get him off of his feet, and then follows up with a satellite DDT. Keys German suplexes Kaun twice. Kaun escapes a third, but Keys sweeps out of his legs and goes for a Boston Crab. Kaun kicks him away. Keys sunset bombs Moses to the floor. Caballero gets two on Kaun with an O’Connor Roll, then again with a sliding boot to the face. He Angle Slams Kaun and follows up with his own Vader Bomb. Keys follows up with a diving headbutt, but Kaun is able to kick out of Caballero’s pin attempt anyhow. Moses halts Keys’ top rope attack with an electric chair drop. Kaun frog splashes onto Keys and Moses wipes out Caballero on the floor with a somersault senton off the apron. S.O.S. drop Caballero with a tandem elevated DDT for the pin at 5:04. Based on recent television, this felt like a match where both teams shouldn’t have lost, but it seems more likely S.O.S. is going to be in the bigger matches sooner, so they were the right call to get the duke. They probably should have defeated Keys and Caballero even more soundly. That said, Keys and Caballero did look good while they were in there, so that’s good at least. *½

#1 Contendership for the ROH World Television Championship
Dak Draper vs. Josh Woods vs. LSG vs. Tony Deppen

The winner of this match will face Dragon Lee for the World Television Championship later tonight. Only two men are legal at one time, and Lucha tags are in effect. Draper and Woods toss Deppen and LSG outside and grapple with one another. Woods hits the ropes and LSG blind tags himself in, which frustrates Woods as he’s goten Draper into a sunset pin position. LSG dropkicks Draper to the corner and Deppen tags himself in. He and LSG pick up the pace with a Lucha exchange. Deppen stops LSG with a dropkick, but LSG mi paso’s Deppen to the floor and follows with a dropkick through the middle and bottom rope. Woods and Draper then exchange pin attempts. Draper sends Woods outside and stomps down Deppen in the corner once Deppen re-enters the ring. Deppen tries a springboard and Draper boots him out of mid-air. LSG saves Deppen from the Magnum Drop, but ends up being tossed out of the ring, and Draper drags Deppen back into the ring. Draper impresses with a deadlift superplex on Deppen, but Woods breaks the pin Draper boots Woods to the floor. Deppen slips off of Draper’s shoulders and to the floor, which brings in LSG as a legal competitor. LSG is able to swing out Draper into a face slam and land a springboard forearm smash for two. Deppen takes out Woods, then looks for a corner attack on LSG, but Draper catches him mid-ring and gives him a swing out slam. Woods German suplexes Draper as he is superplexing LSG! Woods and Draper end up exchanging blows. Draper Doctor Bombs Woods for a very close nearfall. Woods then looks to pull Draper into a triangle choke. When that doesn’t work, he kicks Draper to the floor. LSG frog splashes Woods. Woods rolls to the floor, and Deppen sneaks in with a schoolboy on LSG to pick up the win at 11:42! As a Deppen fan, I am thrilled to see him get this win, and hope this means an official roster spot is forthcoming. I liked the story of Draper holding court and more or less having the match in his hands from the jump, only to have the Lucha tag ruling work against him. This was a fun, energetic bop to kick off the show. **¾

Quinn McKay interviews Tony Deppen backstage. She asks if she feels like he is at a disadvantage going into this match having already wrestled. Deppen says he may have the disadvantage, but Dragon Lee is going to have to kill him if he wants to leave the building with the Television title, as he has something to prove to his wife and newborn child.

Quinn McKay informs Shane Taylor Promotions, who were going to face the MexSquad for the Six Man Tag Team Titles, that ROH has decided that since the MexiSquad cannot defend those titles due to Bandido and Flamita not being able to travel, ROH is going to consider the match a forfeit and bequeath the titles to Shane Taylor, Kaun, and Moses. They decline, saying they are going to earn the titles the right way. Dalton Castle then leaves commentary, saying he wants to challenge the only member of the Six Man Tag Team champions who was able to make it, Rey Horus, in a singles match. Brian Johnson then yells about Danhausen.

Later, Quinn McKay finds Jay Briscoe who was scheduled to face EC3 tonight but he also was a victim of travel protocols. He tries to reunite with Mark Briscoe to challenge for the tag team titles, but Mark says he missed the boat and he got PCO as a partner. Shane Taylor then confronts Jay and they will now face each other in singles competition.

Pure Rules Tag Team Match
Fred Yehi & Wheeler YUTA vs. The Foundation (Tracy Williams & Rhett Titus)

This is the first ever Pure Rules tag team match in ROH. The rules for this match are as follows:
*The competitors are to obey the “Code of Honor”, shaking one another’s hand before and after the match.
*Tags only count by one wrestler reaching over the top rope and tagging his partner hand-to-hand while holding the tag rope.
*Each wrestler has 5 seconds to exit the ring after a tag is made.
*Each team has 3 rope breaks to stop submission holds and pinfalls. After a team has used all 3 of their rope breaks, submission and pin attempts on or under the ropes by the opponent are considered legal.
*Each time a team breaks up a pinfall or submission, that team will lose a rope break. A pinfall or submission breakup when a team is out of rope breaks will result in a disqualification.
*Closed-fist punches to the face are not permitted. Punches to other parts of the body are permitted, excluding low blows. The first use of a closed fist results in a warning, a second will be a disqualification.
*This match has a 20 minute time limit. If the match goes the time limit, three judges will determine the outcome.
*Any wrestler who interferes will be automatically terminated from the roster.

The Foundation attacks Yehi’s left arm in the opening moments of the match. Yehi goes for the Koji Clutch when Titus drops down, and Titus immediately spends his team’s first rope break. YUTA toys with Titus before dropkicking him for two. Titus tags in Williams, and after some tandem offense, Williams locks on a cloverleaf. YUTA uses his team’s first rope break to escape. Williams and Titus both slam one another. They forget the tag rule and have to re-do it, which gives YUTA time to tag in Yehi. Yehi waistlocks Williams who goes to the ropes, which counts as the second rope break for the Foundation. Yehi German suplexes Williams, then Complete Shots Titus into the Koji Clutch. Williams drops a knee across Yehi’s head to break the submission, and that save costs The Foundation their third and final rope break. YUTA saves Yehi after Titus belly-to-belly suplexes Yehi, which docks them their second rope break. When YUTA becomes legal, Titus dropkicks him off the top turnbuckle and to the floor outside. Yehi brings YUTA back in the ring and tags in. After trading blows, Williams for a crossface. Yehi rolls up and drives Williams back into the corner in an Alabama Slam position! Yehi Complete Shots Williams into a Koji Clutch. Titus almost breaks it, but realizes that would be a disqualification. YUTA drags Titus to the floor and puts him in a Dragon Sleeper so he can’t make the save. Williams is almost passed out when Titus drops YUTA onto Wiliams and Yehi. Because it was YUTA who made contact, it does not count as a demerit for the Foundation. Yehi gives Williams a brainbuster. Williams blasts Yehi with a forearm and tags out. YUTA also tags in. He and Titus trade crucifix pins. Titus airplane spins YUTA in a modified backbreaker for two. YUTA enzuigiri’s Titus and German suplexes him for two. Yehi tags in. YUTA rolling forearms Titus in the back of the head. Yehi low dropkicks titus. YUTA comes off the top with a splash for two. Titus manages to big boot YUTA in the Foundation’s corner. Williams lariats YUTA after tagging in for a two count, and also gets two with a Death Valley Driver. A piledriver has the pin, but Yehi spends the team’s last rope break by making the save. Williams then puts YUTA in a crossface. Williams adds extra leverage with the ropes, resulting in YUTA tapping out at 13:52. These four competitors showcased the rules off the match perfectly, exploiting them where they could as part of their larger strategy, and being careful when they knew breaking those rules would result in a loss. YUTA and Yehi did an awesome job, bringing an intensity and earnest want to win to the proceedings, and Titus and Williams looked formidable their first night as a duo. This was a strong way to end Hour One. ***½

ROH World Tag Team Championship
The Foundation (Jay Lethal & Jonathan Gresham) vs. Mark Briscoe & PCO

The Foundation have been champions since 12.13.2019 and this is their second defense. Lethal is thrown off by Mark’s aggression. He’s able to take Mark over with a hip toss cartwheel dropkick. PCO enters and gives Lethal a free shot at his back. PCO maneuvers Lethal out of Lethal’s waistlock into a cross armbreaker, which is scary for Lethal as PCO broke his arm previously. Lethal escapes to the floor and Gresham tags in. PCO ends their exchange by slamming Gresham over the top rope and to the floor! Mark and PCO wipe out the champions on the floor. After Mark lands a chair assisted dive, he and PCO fire one another up with chops. PCO misses a cannonball senton onto Lethal on the apron. In the ring, Mark suplexes Gresham for two. Lethal and Gresham take down Mark with a dropkick/German suplex combo. Mark dives off the top turnbuckle to give himself a clear path to tagging in the now recovered PCO. He pop-up powerbombs Gresham after chopping up Gresham’s neck. PCO punches Gresham low and gives him a powerslam for two, with Lethal breaking up the pin. PCO DDT’s Gresham and Mark gives Lethal a fisherman’s buster. Lethal gets his knees up to block Mark’s Froggy Bow. PCO lands the PCOsault on Gresham, but again Lethal breaks up the pin attempt. PCO eats a barrage of kicks and the Combination Cutter. Mark stops the pin. Lethal and Gresham tandem powerbomb Mark onto PCO. Impressively, they drop PCO with the Doomsday Device. Lethal suicide dives onto Mark. Gresham hits a shooting star press on PCO but PCO kicks out. PCO shoulder tackles Lethal to the floor. He accidentally shoulder tackles Mark, and Gresham school boys PCO for the pin at 12:40. I don’t understand why Gresham’s shooting star press couldn’t have just won the match, but that’s a minor gripe. These teams worked together better than I expected, and I liked the story of Lethal and Gresham feeling like Mark and PCO’s style was an affront to what wrestling is “supposed” to be. They ultimately won by working as the more well-oiled team, and based on the previous match, I’d be all about some defenses under Pure tag rules. I’d also be in favor of PCO remaining associated with the Briscoes going forward. ***

Dalton Castle vs. Rey Horus

After Castle looks to keep Horus grounded, Horus kicks him away and into the barricades. He hits a pop-up dropkick and springboard tricep to tricep armdrag back inside the ring. Castle shuts him down with a side suplex. Horus is able to get Castle back outside and follow with a tope con hilo. Horus slides to stop from being thrown into the barricades. Castle charges, and his knee collides with the barricade and sends him over into where a crowd would be. Back in the ring, Horus moonsaults into a tornado DDT, but Castle grabs the bottom rope to stop the pin. Castle knee strikes Horus as Horus lay on the top turnbuckle. He plants Horus with a Gotch style slam. Horus escapes a second attempt. He follows Castle to the top rope and drills him with a super tornado driver for the upset win at 9:10! This was a solid last-minute replacement match and a very big win for Horus, but this was a match that felt handicapped by the lack of audience. With no real stakes or backstory it was tough to truly sink your teeth into the action, but it was totally serviceable and had a great ending. **¼

Grudge Match
The OGK (Matt Taven & Mike Bennett) vs. The Righteous (Vincent & Bateman)

Vita VonStarr is in the Righteous’ corner. The OGK used tandem offense to get the better of the Righteous. Bateman attacks Taven’s previously injured knee from behind. Taven enzuigiri’s Bateman and tags Bennett. Bennett lights up the Righteous with chops in the corner. Bennett has Bateman in his crosshairs for a spear. A distraction from VonStarr allows the Righteous to turn things around, with Vincent dropping Bennett with a Side Effect. Bennett manages to fight out of the Grim Sleeper (Guillotine choke) and suplexes Vincent. Taven fights off both of the Righteous upon tagging in. After a rolling neckbreaker to Bateman, he knocks a mouthy Vincent off the apron with the kick of the king. He suicide dives onto Vincent and pummels him on the floor. Bateman brings Taven back inside, where Taven hits him with the Kick of the King and Just the Tip. He goes for the Climax, but Vincent intercepts with the Grim Sleeper. Taven is able to escape and give Vincent a backbreaker. Bateman counters a neckbreaker from Taven with his own neckbreaker (The Kemper Special) for two. Vincent hits Red Rum for two, then Bennett spears Vincent. After all four men are knocked out, Taven and Bennett recover first and knock one another down with stereo pump kicks. Bennett spears bateman again. The OGK hit the spike piledriver. Taven’s knee buckles upon landing ,which is unfortunate as the move only got them a two count. Bennett gives Bateman a Death Valley Driver on the apron. Vincent gives Bennett a Backdrop Driver on the floor. Taven chases Vincent with a bit of a hobble. In the ring, Taven is able to hit Just the Tip. Vincent gets his knees up to block a frogsplash. Vincent wants the Acid Drop. Taven cuts him off with a Complete Shot and locks on a modified crossface. Vincent makes it to the ropes, but when there, Bennett drapes him off the apron. Taven lands a frogsplash which causes him and Vincent to crash on the floor! In the ring, Bennett gives Bateman a piledriver. Taven pump kicks Bateman as Bennett gives him a backpack stunner for the pin at 16:19. This match needed a crowd, and some more heated action. After a while it all became background noise and lost my interest, which is a shame because the feud was actually pretty well built on TV. There was lots of good action hovering around some semblance of a story but it all just didn’t come together as well as it should have. **½

VonStarr gives Taven and Bennett double low blows after the bell. They tie Taven to the ropes with twist ties. They pull a Misery on Bennett with a wood block and a steel chair. This feud is continuing, I suppose, and I’m not sure I want it to.

Danhausen vs. Brian Johnson

Danhausen signed a contract with ROH around Halloween. However, the fine print of that contract was that he must win a match before the end of 2020 for the contract to go into effect. This is one and only opportunity to make good on that condition of employment. Johnson wearing baby blue means he hasn’t listened to the Honky Tonk Man shoots. Danhausen almost pins him right away with a pump kick. The Brodie Knee and swinging Frankensteiner from Danhausen send Johnson outside. He hits a running knee off the apron as his theme music hits. Johnson catches Danhausen with a Tower of London in the ring for two, thanks to the referee accidentally sending Johnson into the ropes. Johnson takes the microphone and does a lot of trash talking. Danhausen gets mad with him swearing and fires up with shoulder tackles in the corner. Johnson takes him down with a number of clotheslines. Danhausen avoids a corner attack and nails a German suplex. He slingshots in from the ring apron into another German suplex for two. Johnson avoids the jar of teeth, but succumbs to the GTS. Danhausen is unhappy Johnson got his hand on the ropes to stop the pin. Johnson illegally kicks the bottom rope into Danhausen’s groin behind the referees back and pours Danhausen’s jar of teeth into his mouth. The referee gets swiped by Danhausen by accident. Johnson spikes Danhausen with a neckbreaker into a facebuster. Danhausen Eddie Guerrero’s Johnson with a microphone. It actually works, and Johnson is disqualified at 8:44. This officially earns Danhausen his ROH contract! This started off perfectly, but then it dragged on and got WAY too convoluted. The end result is great, as I love Danhausen, but this got to the point of being too dense. I’m not Rick McCallum, so that’s not my thing. *

ROH World Television Championship
Dragon Lee vs. Tony Deppen

Dragon Lee has been champion since 12.13.2019 and this is his third defense. Amy Rose accompanies him, and then joins the commentary team for this match. They sweep each other’s legs to start, with Deppen catching Lee in multiple pin attempts. Lee stops Deppen with a dropkick to the floor and a suicide dive. Lee delivers a top rope double stomp to Deppen back in the ring for two. Deppen sends Lee back out with a dropkick off the apron and lands a tope con hilo after the fact. Deppen hits a springboard dropkick back inside for two. Lee takes down Deppen in the corner with repeated forearm strikes and stomps. A running dropkick gets him a two count. Deppen peppers Lee with open hand strikes. They each nail knee strikes to the face. Lee sends Deppen to the ropes and lands a German suplex. Deppen hits a flipping DDT, and on the rebound Lee knees him in the face before they both take time to recover. Upon recovering they trade forearm strikes mid-ring. Deppen trips Lee face first into the middle turnbuckle. He kicks the buckle into his face before delivering a springboard Code Breaker for two. Lee stops a superplex, trapping Deppen in a tree of woe and hitting a double stomp for two. He goes for a super Frankensteiner. Deppen elbows Lee and brings him down with a rolling neckbreaker! A Knee Trembler gets Deppen an incredibly close two count. Lee blocks a second knee, but Deppen catches him under the jaw with a leaping knee strike. Lee hits his own knee strike and a reverse Frankensteiner. The Incinerator Knee only gets Lee a two count. Dragon Lee also gets two with a modified powerbomb. The Incinerator Knee connects again, and Dragon Lee retains at 11:50. This was an incredible performance for Deppen, who at several points convinced me he had Lee bested. I actually think that would have been some real good buzz for ROH had he won. Lee is of course also fantastic and aided Deppen by having to work very hard to retain. This seems like a beginning for a long-term run for Deppen in ROH, and I hope that is the case, because this match was excellent. ***½

Jay Briscoe vs. Shane Taylor

After some posturing in the opening exchange, Taylor knocks Jay off his feet with a shoulder tackle. Jay rattles Taylor with a back elbow and throws a series of body blows to him in the corner. Taylor blocks a boot and drops Jay hard with a forearm strike. On the floor he sends Jay into the barricades. Jay however is able to big boot Taylor as Taylor begins to charge. He chokes Taylor with his boot back in the ring. Taylor avoids a neckbreaker, cracking Jay with a right cross in doing so. He tags Jay with another forearm shot, leaving Jay laying. Jay avoids a rolling knee. He manages to hoist up Taylor and drop him with a Death Valley Driver. Mark Briscoe makes his way ringside. Jay puts Taylor in a Cobra Clutch. He drives Jay into the corner to escape momentarily, but Jay reapplies the hold. Taylor gets the ropes. Jay looks to finish Taylor off with the Jay Driller. Taylor resists, so Jay settles for a lariat and gets two. Jay hits the neckbreaker he couldn’t get before for two. Taylor rocks Jay and gives Jay the Marcus Garvey Driver for two. Welcome to the Land does the trick, giving Taylor the pin at 13:49. This was a great way to maintain Taylor’s momentum he’s gained from defeating the Briscoes and EC3 in trios competition, and then finally defeating Kenny King. It would not surprise me to see him emerge as the next World Title challenger (he even says so on his way to the back!) and I would be a-OK with that. ***

ROH Pure Championship
Jonathan Gresham vs. Flip Gordon

The Pure Rules are as follows:
*The competitors are to obey the “Code of Honor”, shaking one another’s hand before and after the match.
*Each wrestler has 3 rope breaks to stop submission holds and pinfalls. After a wrestler has used all 3 of their rope breaks, submission and pin attempts on or under the ropes by the opponent are considered legal.
*Closed-fist punches to the face are not permitted. Punches to other parts of the body are permitted, excluding low blows. The first use of a closed fist results in a warning, a second will be a disqualification.
*This match has a 60 minute time limit. If the match goes the time limit, three judges will determine the outcome.
*Any wrestler who interferes will be automatically terminated from the roster.

Gresham has been champion since 10.30.2020 and this is his first defense. Gordon spends his first rope break early to escape a hammerlock. Gresham makes Gordon his second rope break not long after when he begins to go after his legs. Gresham then goes after Gordon’s left arm, which according to commentary, Gordon had a previous elbow injury on his left arm. Gordon pushes Gresham to the ropes to escape an arm hold, which to Gordon’s chagrin counts as his third and final rope break. Gordon stomps on Gresham after avoiding an armdrag and knocks him down with an enzuigiri. Gordon scores with an O’Connor Roll for two. Gresham uses the ropes for a Frankesnteiner, but Gordon lands on his feet and superkicks Gresham. Gresham spends his first rope break to stop the count. Gresham fights off the Kinder Surprise, but lands on his knee when he tries a crossbody and fails. Gordon attacks Gresham’s left knee after witnessing Gresham in pain. Gresham avoids a dropkick to the knee and kicks Gordon in his left arm. Gordon ducks an enzuigiri and dragon screws Gresham knee into the canvas. He puts on an STF and Gresham crawls to the ropes to escape, leaving Gresham with just one more rope break. Gresham fights off a sunset bomb. Gordon dropkicks his legs out. He gives Gresham a Falcon Arrow for two, re-applying the STF right after Gresham kicks out. Gresham spends his third and final rope break to escape, leaving both men with no rope breaks. Gresham does more damage to Gordon’s arm hoping he will not be able to get up from a ten count. Gordon is issued a warning for nailing Gresham with a closed fist after getting back to his feet. Gresham German suplexes Gordon, bridging with just one foot for two. Gordon superkicks Gresham and rolls him down into a kneebar. Gordon converts that into a seated half-crab, then back into an STF for the third time. Gresham uses the ropes to pull himself and Gordon crashing to the floor. Gresham takes Gordon to the top turnbuckle, where he takes him down with a hammerlock superplex. Two running forearm strikes follow, knocking out Gordon and giving Gresham the win at 24:37. This definitely went too long for a challenger like Gordon who was so new to the Pure Title. It wasn’t bad at all, but there was a point where I was waiting for this to wrap up rather than finding myself invested in the action or story, which is never what you want. Gresham continues to show he is a great Pure champion, especially in a makeshift match with someone who had competed in only one Pure match previously. ***

ROH World Championship
RUSH vs. Brody King

RUSH has been champion since 2.29.2020 and this is his first defense. RUSH kicks and punches King down to one knee and spits on him. RUSH ducks a clothesline, but the rebound to the back of the head knocks RUSH to the floor. RUSH comes right back in and sends King outside with a forearm. King comes back in and responds with his own. He then sucide dives onto RUSH. King sends RUSH into the barricades and a ring post before bodyslamming him onto a couple of steel chairs. After a running senton, King brings RUSH back into the ring. He drops RUSH with an STO for two. King also gets two after a cannonball senton as RUSH is able to easily grab the bottom rope. RUSH is able to connect with a rebound German suplex and a knee strike which sends King to the floor. RUSH tope con hilo’s after the big man. Not only does RUSH throw King into the barricades, but uses the barricades as a weapon, driving them into King’s head. He also chokes and whips King with some production cords. He then puts King in a triangle choke in the ring ropes, striking the Tranquilo pose upon breaking the hold. He gets King in position for the Bull’s Horns. Instead of hitting it, he stops and kicks King in the face before once again striking the Tranquilo pose. King gets up and charges, only to be caught with a belly-to-belly suplex into the buckles. In the process of fighting back, King gets RUSH on the top turnbuckle. Unfortunately, RUSH gets the better of the situation with a superplex. King comes back with a Boss Man Slam. He overhand chops RUSH in the corner, mocking RUSH with the LIJ fist. This wakes RUSH up and the two combatants get in an overhand chop battle. RUSH knocks down King in the corner, stomping on his shoulders before setting up for the Bull’s Horns. King intercepts with a spear! He picks RUSH up for a Ganso Bomb when Dragon Lee appears. He distracts referee Todd Sinclair while La Bestia del Ring, RUSH’s father, comes in and hits King with a chair. RUSH then hits the Bull’s Horns for the pin at 16:35. This match was intense and fun, and then Bestia interfered and it ended with a huge thud. I suppose this buys King a reason for a future rematch, in front of a crowd hopefully, but THIS is how you end your first PPV in a year? Wack. **½

The Foundation stares down LIJ to end the show, not happy with their actions.

Overall: On this show, there are some very good matches and much needed fresh faces to the roster who really impressed. In general, however, I was disappointed. The show felt really long and a couple of the bigger matches didn’t live up to my expectations. It also exposed that while ROH’s production is superb, four hours with no crowd (or even a faux crowd and noise) hurts the atmosphere. It’s fine for 50 minutes once a week, but this prolonged, extended period made the show feel hollow at parts. This gets a thumbs in the middle, and is definitely a show to cherry pick with an Honor Club subscription.

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