ROH Matches: December 2022

The “Final Battle 2022” event was quite significant. Every championship except for the TV title changed hands, and the Briscoes and FTR ended their feud, which was ignited on year earlier “Final Battle 2021” with a memorable, highly regarded, double dog collar match.

There was little activity in the month prior to the PPV – just some light set-up for the PPV matches, and no set-up for other matches. But we did have some PPV fall-out on the Dark shows.

New Women’s World Champion Athena made her first defense of the title on the first Dark taping after Final Battle:

1 - Athena vs Vertvixen

ROH Women’s World Championship
Athena vs. Vertvixen

AEW Dark Elevation #94 – Garland, TX – 12.19.2022

Athena has been the champion since 12.10.2022 and this is her first defense. This is Vertvixen’s second attempt at the title, challenging Deonna Purrazzo in February. Athena sends her out to the floor the second the bell rings with a shotgun dropkick. Even though Vertvixen is sent into a barricade, in the ring she rolls through a snapmare and clotheslines Athena. She even trips Athena into a low Complete Shot. Athena avoids a low boot and blasts Vertvixen with a forearm smash. After a German suplex, pop-up powerbomb and superkick, Athena locks on a crossface and leans back until Vertvixen submits at 2:45. I’m all for a quick win to establish the new champion, especially against someone who isn’t signed. Would’ve been nice if it happened on actual television, though. *½

The new ROH World and Pure champions teamed up on the main event of the same episode of Dark. That sends a pretty clear message about where Ring of Honor stands.

2 - BCC vs. WorkHorsemen

Blackpool Combat Club (Claudio Castagnoli & Wheeler Yuta) vs. The WorkHorsemen (Anthony Henry & JD Drake)
AEW Dark Elevation #94 – Garland, TX – 12.19.2022

I was really hoping Henry and Drake would’ve been part of Final Battle, but I suppose this is a solid consolation prize. Yuta scoop slams Henry into a senton for a one count. Drake lands a hard chop on Claudio, but Claudio picks up the pace and assists Yuta with a high elevation DDT onto Drake. Drake rakes Yuta’s eyes after sending him to the apron, and Henry gives Yuta an STO on the apron while Drake distracts referee Bryce Remsburg. Henry and Drake double team Yuta, scoring a nearfall after a big boot/side Russian leg sweep combo. Henry pummels Yuta’s back to try and get a suplex, but Yuta counters with a slam of his own. Yuta German suplexes Henry after using the bottom rope to roll himself back into the ring, utilizing the momentum from a forearm smash from Henry. Drake forearms Claudio off of the apron before Yuta can tag him. Henry German suplexes Yuta into a Shining Wizard from Drake for two. Yuta shoves Henry into Drake after escaping a belly-to-back suplex and finally tags in Claudio. Claudio uppercuts Drake and takes him down with a dropkick. After a Giant Swing he looks for the Neutralizer. Henry saves his partner but succumbs to Swiss Death for his troubles. Yuta wipes out Henry on the floor with a suicide dive. Claudio Giant Swings Dake until he taps out at 7:55. I like that the WorkHorsemen gave the two champions a run for their money, because I like them, and because they are the far more experienced tandem. I also like that the Giant Swing is an established finisher now, but I would’ve liked it if they put in the effort to establish it as such before Claudio used it to win the World Title. This way seems a little backwards. That nitpick aside, this was a compact banger to end Dark Elevation. ***

3 - Athena vs Hogan

ROH Women’s World Championship
Athena vs. Kiera Hogan

AEW Dark Elevation #95 – San Antonio, TX – 12.26.2022

Athena has been the champion since 12.10.2022 and this is her second defense. Athena has a laugh when she feigns throwing a forearm smash at Hogan during the Code of Honor. A fired up Hogan dropkicks Athena to the corner before sending her to the ropes with a headscissors. After a hip attack against the ropes, Hogan sends Athena outside and delivers a baseball slide dropkick. Athena reverses an Irish whip, sending Hogan chest and throat first into the barricades. Athena places Hogan laying on the top of the barricade and dropkicks her into the crowd. Athena wears down Hogan back in the ring, including damage to her neck. She misses a senton splash, and Hogan takes her down with a tornado DDT. Hogan overhead wristmares Athena into the corner and follows with a baseball slide dropkick. A high kick and superkick earn Hogan a nearfall. Athena hair mares Hogan off of the top turnbuckle and ascends up the ropes as Hogan slowly gets to her feet. Hogan catches Athena on the top turnbuckle, but Athena brings her down with a super sit-out powerbomb. Athena then pins her with the Wrath of the Goddess (lungblower off of her shoulders) at 5:59. This was intense and fun. Hogan is really good, and now that she’s broken off from Jade Cargill, I hope she gets chances to have these kinds of matches on television. It’d also be nice if Athena had some title defenses on TV too, but that seems to be off the table for now. ***

Despite running only three shows, this was one of the most important and memorable years for Ring of Honor in quite some time for many reasons. So many different title defenses happened across multiple promotions, that I think many people have forgotten just how much Ring of Honor there was this year, and how many great matches there were beyond the FTR and Briscoes trilogy. I present to you my Top 10 ROH matches in 2022. Any match in which a ROH title was defended or was branded a Ring of Honor match was in contention:

  1. The Briscoes vs. FTR (ROH Supercard of Honor 2022, 4.1.2022)
  2. FTR vs. The Young Bucks (AEW Dynamite #131, 4.6.2022)
  3. FTR vs. The Briscoes (ROH Final Battle 2022, 12.10.2022)
  4. FTR vs. The Briscoes (ROH Death Before Dishonor 2022, 7.23.2022)
  5. Chris Jericho vs. Bryan Danielson vs. Claudio Castagnoli vs. Sammy Guevara (AEW Full Gear, 11.19.2022)
  6. Jonathan Gresham vs. Chris Sabin (Impact Wrestling Hard To Kill 2022; 1.8.2022)
  7. Claudio Castagnoli vs. Konosuke Takeshita (AEW Battle of the Belts III; 8.6.2022)
  8. Wheeler Yuta vs. Daniel Garcia (ROH Death Before Dishonor 2022, 7.23.2022)
  9. Rok-C vs. Deonna Purrazzo (Impact Wrestling #910, 1.13.2022)
  10. Chris Jericho vs. Bandido (AEW Dynamite #156, 9.28.2022)

Honorable Mentions include Jonathan Gresham vs. Josh Alexander from the first TERMINUS event, Jonathan Gresham vs. Fabio from Fight Factory, Jonathan Gresham vs. Cara Noir from PROGRESS Wrestling, and Jonathan Gresham vs. Bandido from Supercard of Honor 2022. Gresham is pretty good, huh?

The day after Ring of Honor’s Final Battle event, a press release came out announcing the relaunch of HonorClub. The good news is that the interface for HonorClub is significantly better and easy to navigate. The bad news is, the new weekly television show that has been rumored was announced to be on the platform. Having ROH TV paywalled is going to make it very challenging for them to sustain general interest. With all of ROH’s matches after Final Battle confined to Dark, perhaps Tony means it when he wants to keep the brands separate. I think that’s a good thing for both companies in terms of storytelling and coherence, but bad for Ring of Honor’s long-term sustainability. 2023 should be another interesting year for the company.

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