Lemme just say, Dave, that Final Battle 2011 was amazing. I screamed myself hoarse from my seat in the lower balcony. Easily one of the best PPV's of the year, and for my second live event, almost as good as the NJPW Attack On the East Coast show in Basketball City I went to in May. It did help that the Hammerstein Ballroom is ECW territory, which brings me to the "Fruity Pebbles" chants...
What had happened was, there was a guy who decided to come trolling everyone else by wearing a Cena t-shirt and hat. Absolutely everyone hated him, and he solidified his position as the pariah of the night by rubbing everyone's noses in his Cena merch and referring to who I guess was his girlfriend, who of course was pelted with "Show Your Tits!" chants. Like I said, ECW territory.
Anyway, the best match of the night had to be the Kevin Steen/Steve Corino No-DQ match. These two absolutely destroyed each other, it was a hell of a lot of fun to watch, and the crowd was with it the entire match. Steen reminds me of a young Cactus Jack, honestly, 'cept with a much bigger ego.
The worst match of the night? Honestly, the card was so good that I really can't pick a bad match out of it, though I did question the necessity of the 8-minute brawl before the Tag Title match, and Richards/Edwards, while awesome, did have moments where both men failed at ring psychology. For example, when you take a suplex, what you do not do is immediately get back up and suplex the guy who did it. I will admit at some points it felt like they were no-selling to keep the match going. But other than that, the card was great, and I can't wait for them to return to the Ballroom for the Ring of Honor 10th anniversary show in March.
Overall, big thumbs up.
Best Match: Richards vs. Edwards
Worst Match: Parts of the Gauntlet
Overall, great show. At $15, you can't really go wrong. The stream worked great and never cut off. Really, why would anyone pay $50 for WWE? Weaker than Best in the World, but stronger than Death Before Dishonor. ROH is progressing storywise. Now they have a real heel to challenge Richards. The Briscoes/WGTT dynamic of babyface/heel, insider/outsider is intriguing. My only complaints were the unprotected shots and some of the camera work. I took it as a positive trend that Benjamin had been injured on TV from a chairshot to the back. However, what we got tonight were repeated unprotected shots to the head. From the perspective of realism, independent of the well-known medical consequences, it makes no sense for wrestlers not to try to block chairshots. The cameras missed some key shots (In particular I would have wanted a clearer shot of Corino using the old-school roll of quarters). I was more bothered by the constant shots of people in the crowd. Nothing, I repeat nothing, happening in the crowd is every more interesting that what is happening in the ring.
Best Match: Steen Corino
Worst: Edwards Richards
Opening match: very good, both guys played their parts very well and
convincingly, crowd was very into it.
Ciampa v Rave: Crowd seemed into Rave and appreciative of him being
there, I didn't know who he was though. First RoH show. Match was
Three Way: Good match, a bit underwhelming considering it was Generico
and Lethal. Crowd loved to hate Bennet and Maria. Decent dynamic
between the faces and heel.
Steen Corino: Amazing match. Only vaguely familiar with the Steen
storyline but that didn't even matter since Steen is so damn good in
every promo snippet I've seen him in. I'd give this ***** on a
personal scale as this is about as much as I've ever enjoyed a match.
Probably helped that it was live with a super hot crowd.
Incidentally, I ran into Steen in the stairwell as I went to piss and
get beer - I blurted out "holy shit", which he no sold so I kept
going. Guy absolutely exudes toughness, badassery, superstardome,
whatever you want to call it. There's alot of guys indie and
otherwise who I can't imagine giving off such a vibe. Piledriving
Corino and then Generico was great. I don't like chairs to the head
and I see one of the reports saying they make the wrestling look
seedy, but either I didn't notice them or they didn't bother me. If
it was a tv match I'm sure they would have. I'm just saying. This
was easily the peak of the night, and you can tell the crowd was spent
Tag Match: Standard fare, all the indie combo finishing moves really
annoyed me; I'm fine with them in Chikara or any promotion to a
degree, but when overdone like that in a promotion like RoH it doesn't
Hero Strong: Ok match, honestly I don't remember anything that stood
out. Crowd seemed into Hero though, which was good. Tough to believe
he got busted for steroids.
Briscoes: Good tag match, only problem was that the Briscoes worked
like heels the majority of the match but of course the crowd loved
them, so it didn't really work in that sense. Maybe it came off less
jarring on ippv.
Main event: Very disappointing. Never bought into all the RoH hate,
but man this match really was the RoH stereotype. Boring,
slap/chopfest, no selling, kickouts after piledrivers followed by
finishers yet the finish is a kick to head... Puro with nothing of
what makes it awesome. A lot of marks in the crowd spent alot of the
time chanting at a guy in a cena shirt with spinner belt, by far the
most over heel there needless to say. If you like RoH why would you
chant for another promotion? These are the people buying the "Cena
Best Match: Kevin Steen vs. Steve Corino
Worst Match: Tommaso Ciampa vs. Jimmy Rave (which was still OK)
The main event went far too long. Plain and simple. Apart from the House of Truth run-in, it was more or less the same match as in June, and went twice as long as it should have, given the rest of the show. ROH have to learn that less is more. Although Kevin Steen's presence after the match was very welcome, and I can't wait to see his feud with Richards next year, gives the main event something fresh.
The tag team title match had a very weird dynamic to it, and it shows that the New York fans don't watch the TV, as they went against everything the TV tried to build for the match. The long beatdown by Haas and Benjamin was taking me out of it, but both teams did well to get me back with the actual match, and putting the belts on the Briscoes was the right move at this point.
Nice to see Hero back, and he had a fine match with Strong, but this seemed like a quick hello before he finally goes to the WWE. One of the few matches on this show that did its job well and didn't overstay its welcome.
Tag gauntlet was fine, but suffered a bit after what came before. Some nice spots, Coleman and Alexander impressed in particular, the Young Bucks got great heat in putting Rhett Titus out.
Steen/Corino was the best match on the show, however it was full of unprotected shots to the head and spots that seriously shouldn't be happening in wrestling heading into 2012. But still, it had unbelievable heat that the rest of the show afterwards struggled to get, and it established Steen as the star the fans are getting behind, and the difference maker to what is otherwise a bland and too similar main event card in Ring of Honor.
Elsewhere, the three way was entertaining, Generico was outstanding, and Maria looked outstanding, Finish was a bit sudden, though. Jimmy Rave looked good against Ciampa, and hopefully he'll get more ROH bookings down the line. And Elgin/TJ Perkins was a really good opener, which established Elgin as a potential main event player down the line.
My main gripe, other than chair shots to the head and the pacing of the show was the production. Replays were messed up, and video packages couldn't be played, and more importantly, far too many spots were missed. It was up there with TNA's worst. You could definitely tell that David Lagana wasn't there keeping it tight.
Overall, a thumbs in the middle show, but Ring of Honor seriously have to sort out their pacing. Filling the show with lots of hardcore spots and blood, and then giving us a super long main event that shows up the negative perceptions of their top stars took me out of it. At least they're giving me the carrot of a Richards/Steen feud that should liven the company up somewhat. Their recent PWG match was really good, so hopefully ROH should tap into that and give us some compelling matches.
ROH Final Battle 2011 Feedback
Best match: Kevin Steen vs Steve Corino
Worst match: Tomasso Ciampa vs Jimmy Rave
I really enjoyed the show tonight. Every match felt like it meant something and delivered. I list Ciampa vs Rave as the worst match but honestly I thought it was fine.
Elgin vs Perkins was a really strong opener and they matched up well. Elgin worked well as a base for Perkins, especially in catching him in a suplex position from the top rope.
The TV title match was good and was the best I've seen Bennett. In watching it, I actually thought he might become champion but was fine with the result. His having Maria with him really added.
The tag team gauntlet was fun, although I don't tend to like gauntlet matches. But Future Shock and the Young Bucks got to shine and the Bucks seem like the best challengers right now so I like the result.
Corino vs Steen was a great grudge match and Steen was on fire. As much as some of the use of weapons may have been over the top, I was into this match from beginning to end and felt like Steen was possibly the biggest star in the company when it was done.
It was good to see Hero return to face Roderick. Although I would prefer to see him in WWE, if he isn't going to be there this is the place for him. The two had a pretty good match. Truth Martini has really improved as a performer.
The Briscoes vs Haas and Benjamin was solid and although the "bell hasn't rung yet" gimmick might have gone on too long, the Briscoes came across as strong babyfaces again and the right guys to be champs. It's interesting since it was a year ago in New York that they started to get boos.
Edwards vs Richards was really good as well and although I wanted Edward to win I am happy with the result based on the Steen angle. The sportsmanship stuff can be fun but was starting to get to the "Get a room, guys" point and Steen was great in his taunting as was Richards in his response with his facial expressions.
The show may have felt long but was definitely worth watching. The booking toward this show was strong and the show itself was well-booked with really good wrestling. Let's hope ROH can ride this into a successful 2012.