My second favorite match of the night featured Kevin Steen murdering Michael Bennett and Maria Kanellis in a "stretcher match" (again with the air-quotes). The story going in was that Bennett had developed this new mean streak after ending BJ Whitmer's career – AND LOOK HOW THAT TURNED OUT! – so he incorporated the piledriver into his repertoire. He ends up in the path of Kevin Steen, they don't like each other, and the rest is history. So here we are in a stretcher match where the loser can't ever use the piledriver again, and Steen decides he's going to rip apart and destroy the stretcher? Stupid, right? WRONG. Don't be an idiot. There would have been nothing more lame than watching two random dudes literally carry these two up a ramp over and over again. I don't know if somebody told him to do it, or if it was on-the-fly, but I wanted to kiss Kevin Steen the minute he tossed that stretcher to the back, and out of our lives for good. When was the last time you saw a wrestler decide he was going to change the gimmick for a match, while in the middle of working the match? Never? EXACTLY! So all of a sudden there's no stretcher, the referee has no idea what to do, which means these two guys who hate each other have no choice but to beat the hell out of each other for 15 minutes, until the ref decides he can't take any more violence. Queue Kevin Steen's annual Final Battle chair contraption of death. Brilliant. If I were allowed to drop F-Bombs in these articles – you know what? I don't care. It was fucking brilliant.
Calming down for a second…
The Young Bucks were featured at Final Battle in their triannual "special attraction" match, getting their win back over Adrenaline Rush from earlier in 2013. As expected, the match was quite good – inconsequential, but quite good. Fans want to see the Young Bucks wrestle, so companies like ROH shill out the money, bring them in two or three times a year, and they always put on a good show. It seems like PWG is the only brand that has any interest in booking the Jacksons in real feuds, but I won't look down my nose at quality wrestling on any card. I wish companies like TNA and ROH knew how to properly take advantage of one of, if not the best tag team in the world right now, but I'm not going to spend any more time beating that horse here.
Final Battle's under-card was fine, but few things really stood out to me. Matt Hardy's in-ring return for Ring of Honor was just O.K. They went out there and did their thing, and I wasn't bored – the match was clearly meant to distract us from things to come later on anyways. Mark Briscoe's strap match with Silas Young was fun, and kept to an appropriate length. I don't religiously follow ROH television, so I don't have a clue as to what bees are in their bonnets, but even going in blind I got a kick out of a few of their spots.Tommaso Ciampa ended Matt Taven's longest ROH World TV Championship reign ever in relatively short fashion. The match was essentially a squash, stretched out somewhat by Ciampa stomping a mudhole in the entire House of Truth. They needed at least one babyface champion on the roster, and Ciampa is putting his best foot forward right now.
As I mentioned earlier, one thing really confused me at Final Battle. I didn't enjoy the tag title match, but I certainly didn't hate it nearly as much as the live crowd seemed to. I'm not accustomed to hearing "end this match" and "please just leave" chants from a Ring of Honor crowd. I'm no fan of Homicide, but Hammerstein loathed him and Eddie Kingston. It certainly didn't help matters that there wasn't a clear babyface and heel dichotomy, and either reDRagon didn't realize that, or they intentionally did nothing to turn the crowd in order to remain consistent with their characters. That's a tough call. While not everything post-match was shown, I read live reports of fans throwing things at Outlaw, Inc., and things apparently got very close to breaking down when they foolishly went into the crowd and tried to pick fights. Stupid. If it wasn't a work, they should be fined or worse, as the incident just screams of reckless endangerment of themselves, and of the fans in attendance. Not having been there, I'm definitely not in a position to make that call, nor would I want to be.
So that's Final Battle, and thus ends another really quality year of wrestling (and sports entertaining!!) for Ring of Honor. Thanks to all the guys and gals that put their heart and soul into the ROH product, and all the bookers, trainers, promoters and announcers that work their asses off to make every show special. You guys rock! Happy holidays!
(Check out the next page for Final Battle match results and ratings)