Review: Ring of Honor “Final Battle” 2013

Mike Killam

Chris HeroOne of the other major surprises from Final Battle was the return of Chris Hero. If you follow the indie scene, Hero's return was an even bigger surprise last Saturday, as he had literally just finished wrestling a match for CZW in New Jersey, and had to rush over to the Hammerstein Ballroom to crash the end of the show. I hear that's the reason Cole-Briscoe-Elgin went as long as it did; Hero was probably in the building for a handful of minutes before running out to the ring, laying out Cole and Hardy, and declaring his return to Ring of Honor. I'll be honest, I wasn't an ROH fan (or a fan of any other indie company) during the peak years of Hero's dominance. I know in retrospect that he's considered a pretty big deal in PWG. I was a fan of Kassius Ohno in NXT, and I'm excited for this chance to see him return "home", as I'm sure the quality of match he'll allowed to give on the independent scene will be head-and-shoulders above the usual NXT one-segment filler. And of course, because nobody on the indie scene is going to bench him for taking a day off from the weight room. 

Main Event Mayhem

The best match of the night, for my money, was the world title main event. I love a classic half-hour brawl, but very few guys have the chemistry or the opportunity to go that distance and keep the match fresh, entertaining and engaging all the way through. Cole, Elgin and Briscoe all got huge chunks of time to show off, with each character coming off unique. Each guy had a completely different motivation and style throughout the match. There were times towards the end when I felt like they were burying their own finishers, but part of Elgin's gimmick is that he's "unbreakable" and therefore, it's near impossible to put him away. Still, how may times does Jay Briscoe really need to drop Elgin on his head to pick up a win? If the answer is more than twice, you might want to rethink your set. This is a very small complaint, and it rarely happened, so don't read too much into it. I especially liked that after Matt Hardy's reveal and interference, Elgin kicked out to give the crowd that last sliver of hope. Of course he wouldn't win, and I think the vast majority of us knew that, but there was just a little bit of hope and therefor a reason to stay invested. Great work for three stellar individuals that now mean so much to Ring of Honor and its future. 

The last really big happening at Final Battle was a culmination of a bunch of different things going on over the past month. First, Davey Richards is pulled from the card. Second, Jimmy Jacobs wants to be put on the card, but Nigel McGuinness tells him all the sports are full and he has to wait his turn. BJ Whitmer, who "retired" (I've done a lot of actual air-quotes writing this review already) after being dropped on his neck by Mike Bennett earlier this year, was announced as Eddie Edwards' mystery partner. The two had a great match against Jay Lethal and Roderick Strong, won the contest, hugs all around, fans on their feet, "we will miss you chants"; not a dry eye in the house. Then, all of a sudden, Roderick Strong drops Eddie Edwards, BJ Whitmer beats the hell out of him, and Jimmy Jacobs comes down to form a brand new group that I am tentatively referring to as "The Decades". The premise is that these guys, who have all been around for the last ten years (get it?), are sick of stars like Eddie Edwards leaving ROH high an dry, moving on to greener pastures. So not only do we get this killer match – in my top three of the night, easily – but it caps off with an awesome bit of story-driven content that has BEEN IN THE WORKS FOR A MONTH. Man, Ring of Honor, look at you all grown up, telling stories and shit. I couldn't be more proud. It was one of those moments were you're left wanting more. Can it be January yet, so I can see who these guys attack next? If AJ Styles hadn't already signed a new contract with TNA Wrestling, they could have made some serious money together in 2014. Add Chris Hero to that equation? Golden. 

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