ROH Final Battle 2021: End of an Era

Baltimore, MD – 12.11.2021

Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni & Caprice Coleman.

Hour One

ROH World Six Man Tag Team Championship
Shane Taylor Promotions (S.O.S. (Kaun & Moses) & O’Shay Edwards) vs. The Righteous (Vincent, Bateman & Dutch)

Shane Taylor Promotions have been champions since 2.19.2021 and this is their tenth defense. Edwards is taking Taylor’s place, as Taylor has a match on the PPV. Reverend Ron Hunt is in the champion’s corner and Vita VonStarr is in the Righteous’ corner. Dutch sends Moses to the corner with a headscissors, but Moses cracks Dutch with a haymaker that sends him to the floor. A brawl ensues between all six participants, and when the dust settles, Kaun and Vincent are the legal participants. Vincent drops Kaun with a Complete Shot. Kaun comes back with a back elbow and Gut Check for two. S.O.S. then double team Vincent until he drops Moses with a Side Effect. Bateman gets in shots on Moses and then Taylor who becomes legal for the first time. Edwards German suplexes Bateman and then gives him a sit-out powerbomb for two. Edwards blocks Orange Sunshine from Vincent, but Vincent sends Edwards to the floor and takes him out with a suicide dive. A series of dives from the other competitors ends with a tope con hilo from Dutch onto everyone, and Von Starr wiping out Hunt with a lionsault to the floor. Dutch gutwrench powerbombs Kaun into Red Rum from Vincent for a two count. Edwards lands a moonsault onto Bateman after a tandem elevated DDT from S.O.S., but he only gets a two count. Bateman gives Moses a swinging neckbreaker and Dutch follows that with a Black Hole Slam. Edwards gives Dutch a spinebuster. Vincent hits Orange Sunshine on Edwards for the pin and the titles at 10:41. This had really good action but not the best flow. The Righteous seem like the best choice to end STP’s excellent reign as champions, with Vincent being the first and last title holder of the era. It is cool to see Bateman and Dutch hold ROH gold as well. **¾

The news broke two days earlier that ROH World Champion Bandido would not be on Final Battle due to testing positive for COVID-19. That evening, it was announced Jay Lethal would be returning to replace Bandido in the main event, facing Jonathan Gresham. It is announced during Hour One that the original Ring of Honor championship will be on the line in that match. No word on Bandido being stripped of the title is mentioned, so we may have multiple versions of the World title swirling around after tonight. Backstage, Lethal mentions to Quinn McKay that the winner of the match could potentially be the last champion of a company with its fingerprint deep in the soul of pro wrestling. He thinks being the last champion is a gift and honor that belongs to him, and tells Gresham that the title is his.

Quinn then talks to Rocky Romero who says he is going to be on commentary tonight. VLNCE UNLTD approaches Romero. Brody King tells Romero that he is too good and too important to ROH’s history to just be on commentary, and invites him to join their multi-man match tonight to show he still has some “Rottweiler” in him. Romero gives Homicide a look and agrees.

Chelsea Green & The Hex (Allysin Kay & Marti Belle) vs. Miranda Alize & The Allure (Angelina Love & Mandy Leon)

Maria Kanellis-Bennett joins commentary for this match. Alize strikes first on Belle, but the Hex ends up taking her down with combination offense in their corner. Kay pulls Leon into a neckbreaker and Green uses several pinning combinations on her. Love trips Green as she hits the rope and Leon dives her a dropkick to her side. Green is beaten down by the Allure and Alize until she wipes out both Love and Leon with a top rope dropkick. She rolls under a double clothesline and tags Kay who wipes out all of the opposing team. Kay and Belle hit Hex Marks The Spot on Leon, but Alize breaks the pin. Kay takes her out with a spinebuster, but Love his Kay with the Botox Injection and Alize wipes her out with a suicide dive. Green then dives off the top onto Love, Kay, and Alize. Love forearms Belle to stop her suicide dive attempt, and Leon stuffs Belle with the Astral Projection for the pin at 6:52. Leon getting the pin was a nice thank you for her contributions over the years, and nice to see several of the women’s division standouts be featured on this show. The loss of this division is maybe the biggest shame of ROH’s hiatus. The match was totally solid if not unspectacular. **¼

VLNCE UNLTD’s opponents Eli Isom, Tracy Williams, and Taylor Rust approach EC3. Isom says EC3 questioned if Honor was real when he first came into the company, and then later proclaimed Honor is real. He tells EC3 to fight for honor with them tonight. EC3 accepts. Rust says they’ll fight for honor. EC3 says to himself out loud “you’ve been warned” once they leave.

Ten Man Wildcard Match
The Bouncers (The Beer City Bruiser & Brawler Milonas), Flip Gordon, PJ Black & The World Famous CB vs. Demonic Flamita, LSG, Max The Impaler, Sledge & Will Ferrara

The injured Danhausen is on commentary for this contest. Amy Rose is in Max’s corner. The highlight of the exchanges was Max and Milonas standing off, but an attack from behind from the Bruiser ended that before it even started. They end up face-to-face again and come to blows, with Max mauling Milonas in the corner and giving him two spears. Milonas drags Max outside and throws them into the barricades. A series of dives leads to Max suplexing CB onto Milonas, LSG, Gerrara, and Sledge. Flamita dropkicks Black to halt his dive and then gives the crowd double middle fingers after teasing a potential dive. He then does land a twisting splash from the top turnbuckle and onto the pile of humanity outside. In the ring, Black and Gordon deliver a doomsday South African Destroyer to LSG for the pin at 10:22. This was a fun way to incorporate many of the COVID-era ROH mainstays and let them enjoy a moment in the Sun on the last big show of the year. ** ¾

Main Show

Rey Horus vs. Dragon Lee

This is a rematch from their awesome television match in January, which Lee won. The quick opening exchange sees Lee catch Horus off guard with a suicide dives that sends Horus crashing into the barricades. In the ring, Lee continues to attack Horus’ lower back. Horus pump kicks Lee to avoid a corner attack and sends Lee back to the floor with a bodyscissors. Horus lands a tope con hilo after initially faking out Lee. Horus belly-to-belly suplexes Lee into the corner and then gets two after a single-leg dropkick. Lee cuts off Horus with a pair of backbreakers and applies a half crab while stepping on the side of Horus’ face. He uses the ropes to escape. Horus ends up taking down Lee with a Spanish Fly. Horus hits the Roll of the King for a close nearfall. Lee gets his knees up to block a crossbody, but Horus recovers with a pop-up tornado DDT for two. Lee rolls Horus up into a Falcon Arrow for two. Lee is shocked when the Incinerator Knee only gets him a two count. Another knee strike and a second Incinerator Knee to the back of the head gets Lee the pin at 11:21. Lee has been one of the top performers in ROH in 2021 and it’s because of exciting matches like this. A fun, hot way to open the show proper. ***½

ROH World Television Championship
Dalton Castle vs. Joe Hendry vs. Rhett Titus vs. Silas Young

Lee has been champion since 11.19.2021 and this is his first defense. The baby chicks are in his corner and Dak Draper joins commentary for this match. This is Hendry’s first match in ROH since February 2020. Neither he or Titus are in the Top 3 of the TV title contenders, but I guess that’s out the window when you’re about to be on hiatus. Former partners Hendry and Castle are poised to square off when Young drags Hendry outside and sends him into the barricades. Castle lowers his hips to toss Young across the ring. Titus tries to steal a pin while Castle is celebrating on the floor. Castle clotheslines Titus to the floor and wipes him out with a cannonball senton off the apron. Young clotheslines Hendry off the apron and hits FYB/FYF on Castle for two. Titus takes down Hendry with his belly-to-belly suplex and Northern Lights suplexes Titus, catching Titus as he attempts a slingshot. Castle looks for Bang-A-Rang which Titus thwarts with a victory roll. Castle does damage to everyone. Young sends Castle out, then Titus sends Young out. Hendry catches Titus’ crossbody and muscles him up into a release press slam. Hendry fallaway slams Titus and Young at the same time, and Castle sneaks in a pin on Titus for two. Hendry powerbombs Titus and Castle breaks the pin, offended Hendry would try to take his title. After Castle takes down Young with Bang-A-Rang, Hendry clobbers Castle with the TV title! Draper runs down from commentary and big boots Hendry. Titus gets rid of him with a dropkick. Young Finlay rolls Titus into the Pee Gee Waja Plunge. Titus moves and hits the Hydraulic Dropkick on Young for the pin and the title at 8:30. If Castle wasn’t going to retain, Titus absolutely deserved to win this for the fourteen plus years he’s given ROH. A perfect “gold watch” moment for a dedicated homegrown talent. That said, Castle stole the show, but it was also great to see Hendry one more (final?) time. ***

ROH Pure Championship
Josh Woods vs. Brian Johnson

Woods has been champion since 9.12.2021 and this is his third defense. Brian Zane is on commentary. 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 past the time limit, three judges will determine the outcome.
*Any wrestler who interferes will be automatically terminated from the roster.

Within the first two minutes, two of Johnson’s rope breaks are gone. He uses the ropes to snap Woods to the floor and suicide dives after him. Johnson takes down Woods with a flying shoulder block and the Mecca Locomotive for two. Johnson also gets two with a standing splash. He also gives Woods the Spike Eskin off the apron and to the floor. In the ring, Woods is able to throw Johnson off the top turnbuckle with one arm and nail him with a spear. Johnson claps Woods’ ears and open hand strikes him hard in the left ear. Both men tumble over the top rope and to the floor when fighting for a suplex. Back in the ring, Woods puts Johnson in a head vice. Johnson gets to the ropes to use his third and final rope break. He then pokes Woods in the eyes as Sinclair is delivering that news to Bobby Cruise. Johnson drops Woods with the Process after that for two. Johnson gets desperate and grabs the Pure title. As Sinclair disposes of it, Johnson takes off a turnbuckle pad. Woods gives Johnson the Chaos Theory for two. As Sinclair fixes the post, Johnson pulls out a foreign object and blasts Woods with it, but it does not keep Woods down for the count. Johnson places Woods on the top turnbuckle. As he looks for a superplex, Woods pulls him back into a front choke. Johnson passes out in Woods’ arms and Sinclair awards the match to Woods at 12:59. They told the story of “guy exposing the Pure rules” versus “actual Pure wrestler” very well, incorporating all of Johnson’s idiosyncrasies in a clever manner. The finish was a nice nod to the “first” Pure Championship match between Doug Williams and Alex Shelley. I wish Woods got to have more defenses in ROH proper, but maybe he’ll get to have some in Terminus or elsewhere. ***

Fight Without Honor
Shane Taylor vs. Kenny King

Some weapons have been placed around ringside. After Taylor sends KIng crashing into the barricades he places two tables next to each other right below a ring post. Taylor attempts a superplex, but King ends up putting Taylor through both tables with a Blockbuster. In the ring, King chokes Taylor with a kendo stick and stuns him with trash can shots to the head. Taylor blocks a corner attack and drops King onto the trash can with an STJoe. Taylor batters King with kendo stick shots and places him with a table ringside. Taylor comes off the apron with a splash through the table! Taylor places a table in the corner in the ring. King Eddy Gordo kicks Taylor and places him through the table with a Death Valley Driver for a two count. Taylor sets up an intricate ladder contraption in the ring, which King ends up using against him, putting him through one of the ladders with a splash off of another. Taylor is placed in the corner. He is able to stop another corner attack from King with a boot. A knee strike to the face leads to Welcome To The Land for a two count. A ladder is set up between the barricades and the ring apron. Taylor and King walk across the ladder to one another. Their strike exchange ends with Taylor giving King the Marcus Garvey Driver onto the ladder! A significant enough time passes for Taylor to go for a pin inside the ring that King is able to get his shoulder up, barely. Taylor beams King with a chair shot to the head, then gives him a second Marcus Garvey Driver onto a chair for the pin at 17:47. That was a hell of a fight, and a great way to end a rivalry that’s been technically ongoing the entire calendar year. It was nice to get a Fight Without Honor on possibly ROH’s final show, and no rivalry in the company deserved the distinction more than this one did. Although both men have held gold in ROH, this is most likely their magnum opus in terms of singles competition. ****¼

ROH Women’s World Championship
Rok-C vs. Willow

Rok-C has been the Women’s World champion since 9.12.2021 and this is her eighth defense. Quinn McKay is on commentary for this match. Willow’s power overwhelms the champion to start. She even catches Rok-C’s Rok Knees and launches her into the corner with a seesaw. Willow also counters Rok-C’s super armdrag and splashes her in the corner. After a cannonball senton, Willow gives Rok-C two suplexes and an arm-clutch Angle Slam for two. Rok-C is able to pull off a Frankensteiner and Thesz Press before giving Willow a corner uppercut. She successfully lands the Rok Knees for a two count, then rolls into the Rok Lock. Willow rolls Rok-C onto her shoulders to get a nearfall and break the submission. She blasts Rok-C with a Pounce. Moments later, Willow counters a Code Rok attempt with a Jig N’ Tonic for two. Rok-C pummels Willow as Willow ascends the ropes. Rok-C brings her down with a sit-out powerbomb for two. Willow stops Rok-C as she climbs the ropes, bringing her down with a superplex, and then lands a moonsault for two. Willow looks for the Bae Bomb right after. Rok-C escapes, blasts Willow with a knee strike to the face and a savate kick to the mid-section, and then takes her down with the Code Rok for the pin at 10:18. The crowd boos the heck out of Rok-C, which as a live attendee I can say was more about their love for Willow than their dislike of Rok-C. The match structure also made Willow seem like the powerful superstar and like Rok-C more or less got lucky. Kind of a weird defense for Rok-C, but I am glad Willow got a high profile title match on this show. ***

After the match, Willow and Rok-C embrace. Deonna Purrazzo makes her way out with the AAA Reina de Reinas championship. She challenges Rok-C to a double title match at Impact Wrestling’s “Hard to Kill” event on January 8th. Rok-C immediately accepts the challenge. We’ll see if this ends up coming to pass, but it feels like Purrazzo is getting that title if it does.

EC3, Eli Isom, Taylor Rust & Tracy Williams vs. VLNCE UNLTD (Brody King, Homicide & Tony Deppen) & Rocky Romero

The injured Chris Dickinson is in the corner of VLNCE UNLTD and Romero. Homicide is wearing his Natural Born Sinners jumpsuit. The VLNCE UNLTD foursome run roughshod on the “Pure” team until EC3 drops King with an SDT. King is able to land a back senton onto Isom’s back, turning things back in the favor for his team. Isom escapes Deppen’s grasp and tags in EC3. He takes down Deppen with a Thesz Press and belly-to-belly suplexes him onto the floor. Homicide wipes out EC3 with a tope suicida. Isom sends Romero out and Bermuda Triangle moonsaults onto him and Homicide. Rust and Taylor use a modified Total Elimination on King, but King clotheslines them both outside and lands a suicide dive onto everyone. Rust powerbombs Romero onto four chairs someone set up at some point. Homicide maims EC3 with a fork. As wrestlers move in and out we get some nice tributes: Romero taking down Rust with a Sliced Bread #2, Williams using the rebound lariat and Cattle Mutilation on Romero, and Isom using the helluva kick and top rope brainbuster on Deppen. Homicide ends up dropping Isom with the Cop Killa for two. King goes for a lariat, but Isom is so out of it he collapses and King misses. Isom gets in a few shots before King drops him with the Ganso Bomb for the pin at 13:32. Like the ten person match in Hour One, this was a solid way to get people on the PPV and pay homage to ROH’s luminaries. I hope guys like Isom, Rust, and Hot Sauce land on their feet. If Brody continues to team with Malakai Black in AEW like has been in PWG, I’m all about it. ***¼

EC3 cuts one of his bad, rambly promos about Honor not being real, corporate wrestling, etc. As he rambles, Dak Draper and Brian Johnson come in the ring and get in EC3’s face. He offers everyone the choice of “Controlling Your Narrative.” This leads to the Westin Blake (the former Wesley Blake) and Fodder showing up in the entrance area with “Control Your Narrative” shirts. EC3 makes a comment about “Freeing the titan” and Adam Scherr, the former Braun Strowman, leads Blake and Fodder to the ring with a camera man. They lay out Isom, Johnson, and Draper. EC3 tells everyone “you’ve been warned” before they leave carrying Isom, Draper, and Johnson. I’ve disliked everything Free The Narrative I’ve seen and am incredibly disinterested in any crossover they have with ROH.

ROH World Tag Team Championship
The OGK (Matt Taven & Mike Bennett) vs. The Briscoes (Jay Briscoe & Mark Briscoe)

The OGK have been champions since 11.14.2021 and this is their second defense. Maria Kanellis-Bennett is in the OGK’s corner, reprising her role from their initial run in 2014-2015. Cary Silkin is on commentary for the bout. The Briscoes double team Taven to start. They boot Bennett to the floor, which enables Taven to wipe out the Briscoes on the outside with kicks and a suicide dive. He accidentally collides with Bennett with the Flight of the Conqueror, and Mark uses a chair to propel himself onto the OGK with a tope con hilo. In the ring, Bennett blind tags himself in. He superkicks Jay into a Purple Thunder Bomb from Taven for two. Mark gives both of the OGK uranage suplexes, then with Jay hits Redneck Boogie on Taven. Taven escapes a Jay Driller with a small package and tags Bennett. He takes out Jay with a brainbuster and rolling forearm smash. Taven splashes a draping Jay off the ring apron and to the floor. Taven is able to take out Jay with the Climax in the ring to end a strike exchange with all four competitors. Mark takes out Bennett with a pescado. Jay snaps off a Frankensteiner on Taven. Mark boots him to the floor, and the Briscoes wipe out the OGK on the floor. Mark hits the Froggy Bow on Taven in the ring, but Maria pulls referee Todd Sinclair’s leg to stop the count! Bennett looks to take out Mark when Mark confronts Maria, but he ends up taking out Maria with a spear! The OGK recover and Bennett gives Jay a piledriver on the floor. Taven then destroys Mark with a Doomsday Flight of the Conqueror! They then hit the Proton Pack on Mark inside of the ring for two. The Hail Mary gets them two as Jay breaks the pin at the last second. Taven lays out Mark with Just The Tip. Mark gets his knees up to block a frog splash. Jay nails a Jay Driller, and Mark pins Taven for two. The Briscoes lay him out with the Doomsday Device for another two. The Jay Driller and Froggy Bow get Mark the pin on Taven at 15:56. These two had great chemistry during their inaugural feud, and with more years of experience behind them, they produced their best match together yet, at least since February 2015. This felt like both a celebration of ROH’s two top teams, but wrestled in a way that made you believe each team needed to be THE team to end this era as the champs. The decision to switch the titles was the right call – this is the Briscoes tag team division and company. An absolutely awesome match, and I think my favorite of the entire year. ****¼

The Briscoes say it may be the end of an era, but it sure isn’t the end of an era. Jay says any team that wants a piece of #DemBoys can get it. The lights go out, and when they come back on, Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler are standing on the ring apron facing Jay and Mark. FTR and the Briscoes get in a brawl that has to be separated by multiple officials and personnel repeatedly. That match should be awesome whenever and wherever it happens.

ROH World Championship
Jay Lethal vs. Jonathan Gresham

The winner of this match is presented with the original ROH World Championship title. Gresham and Lethal wrestle a very even match until Gresham sends Lethal to the apron and dropkicks him to the floor. Lethal’s shoulder collides with the floor, and Gresham takes notice. Gresham controls Lethal by his arm, but Lethal hip tosses Gresham into a cartwheel dropkick and takes some time to recover. Gresham reverses an Irish whip by throwing Lethal arm first into the mat. Lethal uses a spinning enzuigiri to send Gresham to the outside and follows with a suicide dive. Back inside, Lethal body slams Gresham to stop his crossbody, but it definitely hurt Lethal’s arm to do so. Gresham small packages Lethal to escape a reverse brainbuster, and Lethal smacks Gresham across the neck after kicking out. He then flips Gresham into a front flapjack. It takes Gresham a lot of effort for a clutch pin, and when Lethal kicks out, Gresham is finally able to punt his bad arm. Lethal comes back with a ripcord powerslam. The volley for position on the mat. Lethal pulls Gresham off the ropes when he tries his lionasualt press. He stretches out Gresham in a torture rack before giving him an inverted Finlay Roll. Lethal lands Hail to the King. Lethal’s arm gives out when he tries Hail to the King. Gresham lands the lionsault press and kicks Lethal’s arm before trying a chicken wing. Lethal impressively turns that into an Ace Crusher. The Ring of Honor roster surrounds the ring to watch this match, as does Gresham’s friend Baron Black and his wife Jordynne Grace. Gresham German suplexes Lethal to end a strike exchange for two. He also gets two twice after two successive running forearm smash to the back of Lethal’s head. Lethal superkicks Gresham to stop a third. Gresham backdrops out of a powerbomb attempt and hits a third forearm smash for two. Gresham blocks a Lethal Injection and applies an Octopus Stretch. He elbows Lethal in the side of the head until he taps out at 15:11. Cary Silkin presents Gresham the World title to end the PPV broadcast. It’s a bummer Bandido couldn’t be on this show, but I feel some closure, as this match can serve as a wrap up to the issue Lethal was starting with the Foundation before he left. Gresham had defeated Lethal in regular singles action, then again for the Pure Title, but Lethal held a World Title victory over him. Now, Gresham can claim a title victory over Lethal. ROH going out with a competitive, engaging wrestling match for the title also seems very appropriate, and nobody deserves to be the final champion of this era more than Gresham. ****

I was at the show live and Gresham gave a post match speech, which was not on the PPV. Fortunately, Ian Riccaboni filmed it and put it on his YouTube channel. After some positive comments to Bandido and Jay Lethal, he says the World Title used to mean you were the best wrestler in the world. He says there are two people important to the company’s history he needs to defeat in order for that to be true, but until then, in preparation, he will defend the title against all who come for it, but only under Pure Rules. Gresham says for so many years he blindly believed in ROH, but a global pandemic made him realize the company did not care about Pure professional wrestling. They exploited the Pure professional wrestler in order to keep themselves alive, and he will not allow ROH to abandon Pure wrestlers again when they get back on their feet. He will take the essence of ROH to his new company Terminus. In Terminus, Pure wrestlers will be valued, not treated like a last resort. He says he is the Foundation, and the rest of the Foundation join him in the ring to celebrate.

ROH has stated they plan to return in Dallas during Wrestlemania weekend in April 2022 for a Supercard of Honor event. I choose to be optimistic and believe that to be true. But, if this was the last show, or even the last show of this era of ROH, it was a heck of a show to go out on.

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