After 20 years, it all comes down to this. Two decades of triumphs and hardships, amazing highs and concerning lows and an overall unforgettable impact on the professional wrestling landscape will culminate at Ring of Honor Final Battle: End of an Era The tagline says it all. Upon the conclusion of the pay-per-view on Saturday night, ROH as we know it will cease to exist, so every wrestler on the roster will aim to prove that the promotion truly has the best wrestling on the planet one last time with this climactic show.
In the weeks leading up to Final Battle, “bittersweet” was the best word one could use to describe it when looking ahead to the final pay-per-view ROH will present in its current form. Fans and the ROH roster alike have tried to frame the narrative in as positive a light as possible, given the circumstances. With the announcement that the promotion will go on hiatus in the first quarter of 2022 to “reimagine” itself, there’s nothing left to do but prepare for what promises to be an emotional show that’s packed with top-notch wrestling.
Unfortunately, ROH encountered yet another obstacle just two days before the pay-per-view, as its world champion, Bandido tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, he’ll have to sit on the sidelines on a night when he and his challenger, Jonathan Gresham were expected to steal the show and prove what ROH is all about. This outcome is disappointing to say the least; Bandido vs. Gresham is a dream match between two remarkable competitors who have proudly waved the promotion’s flag, and it would have been the perfect way to conclude the pay-per-view. Instead, upon the announcement that the champion wouldn’t be able to compete, fans were left to wonder how the company would respond.
Would it book a replacement match by giving a respected star like Shane Taylor a shot at the gold, or would it deliver a phenomenal finale by bringing in an icon from the franchise’s past? Admittedly, fans’ speculation might have generated too much buzz; some predicted (or at least hoped) at the company would somehow bring in Bryan Danielson or even CM Punk, two ROH legends who are currently thriving in All Elite Wrestling. ROH hasn’t really been involved with the “Forbidden Door” era of collaboration between AEW, IMPACT Wrestling and New Japan-Pro-Wrestling, so perhaps these hopes were a little too far out there. But ROH ultimately managed to bring in another face of the franchise’s past.
With ROH World Champion Bandido unable to appear at the #FinalBattle PPV, ROH officials have signed a new match as part of a double main event that truly encapsulates what ROH has represented for two decades: https://t.co/lGYZqRK6A4@TheJonGresham ? @TheLethalJay pic.twitter.com/OqKd6lw2oO
— ROH – Ring of Honor Wrestling (@ringofhonor) December 10, 2021
One month after former ROH World Champion Jay Lethal made his AEW debut and stated that he wouldn’t appear at Final Battle, Jay Lethal will indeed compete on Saturday night when he faces Gresham. The two men have plenty of history together, and they helmed The Foundation and its quest to bring ROH back to its roots of pure wrestling. In the announcement, the promotion stated that it will address the situation regarding its world championship on ROH Final Battle: Hour One. Time will tell what outcome that update will produce, but the match between Lethal and Gresham is admittedly the best adjustment ROH could have made, among the realistic options that were seemingly on the table. There’s no doubt that “The Franchise” and “The Octopus” will deliver a fantastic match that honors the style of wrestling ROH is known for.
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