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  • Connor Ewens

Let's Review: ROH Final Battle 2023

My penultimate review for 2023 is for the most underhyped ROH show of the year. The first ROH PPV in 15 years to not featured a ROH World championship match, Eddie Kingston is not on the card at all which is a questionabel choice. However, we have plenty of other great talent plus I am hyped for the well built Athena vs Billie Starkz match. Let's battle for the final time, let's review.


ROH Final Battle- December 15th 2023 @ Curtis Culwell Center, Garland Texas


-Ian Riccaboni & Caprice Coleman on commentary


Zero-Hour


Jazmin Allure vs Taya Valkyrie w/Johnny TV

Jazmin's ROH debut. A simple veteran vs rookie match, Taya dominates mostly but Allure is able to get some licks in. Valkyrie stomps her into the mat to win. Nothing much here, Valkyrie looks dominant.


Valkyrie wins by pinfall (4:30)

*1/2


Von Erichs (Ross & Marshall) vs The Outrunners (Truce Magnum & Turbo Floyd)

Hometown heroes riding the wave of the pending release of the Iron Claw movie, I was looking forward to seeing what the Von Erich's could do. Another basic match, early control by the faces, heels cheat to take control then the Von Erichs fight back to win. A double Iron Claw seals the win, Kevin Von Erich comes out to raise their hands. It was fine, a nice moment for the family.


Von Erich's win by submission (6:10)

**


Bryan Keith vs Jack Cartwheel

Keith is another local to Texas. The winner of this match will enter the ROH Television title match later on tonight. Jack is the Cartwheel version of Flip Gordon. Another decent match, Carthwheel showcased his impressive athleticism by adding flips to moves. He did so many of them though it lost it's effectiveness really quickly. Keith puts Jack away with a double underhook powerbomb to enter to TV title match later. I doubt his chances of winning.


Keith wins by pinfall (7:14)

**1/4


Daniel Garcia vs Blake Christian

A seemingly random last minute addition. Blake Christian isn't working with any of the personality he has developed during his time with GCW. This was a good, well worked match. Both men seemed equal throughout but I had no doubt Garcia was winning this one. He reversed Christian into a Sharpshooter to pick up the win.


Garcia wins by submission (12:16)

***


-Anthony Henry vs Eddie Kingston is booked, non-title though, at the last second. Brilliant booking that. Sarcasm.


Main Card


El Hijo Del Vikingo vs Black Taurus, AAA Mega Championship

Vikingo is the third longest Mega champion in history, 30 days awat from breaking Kenny Omega's 2nd longest reign. I find lucha libre mostly fun to watch but the lack of selling always prevents me from enjoying this as much as others do. I can appreciate the athleticism though. Taurus is great though, such an agile powerhouse. I think my issue is that all of the flashy showmanship looks cool but how does that translate into being a devastating move? Sure a 630 senton looks explosive, but when you had more rotations to your headscissors takedown, it's still just a headscissor takedown. Some impressive spots as you'd expect, though some sloppiness by them both too. I'm taken out of it every time they just stand and wait for the spots to happen. Vikingo puts Taurus away with the 630 senton to retain. It was impressive, but not all that.


Vikingo retains by pinfall (16:29)

***


TMDK (Bad Dude Tito, Shane Haste & Kosei Fujita) vs Mogul Embassy (Brian Cage, Bishop Kaun & Toa Liona w/Prince Nana), 6-Man Championships

I totally forget that Swerve Strickland is a part of this group, I never see them together outside of Prince Nana representing them. Fun fact, the Mogul Embassy would have held the longest reign of these titles if they weren't dropped to the Elite for no reason. I'm a big fan of TMDK who have had a great year since becoming a faction. Another good match with a predictable result. All members of the match got time to demonstrate their ability. Tito was surprisingly in great form here. Brian Cage was great as always. Fujita is isolated and triple teamed as the Mogul's retain.


Mogul Embassy retain by pinfall (12:03)

***


Ethan Page vs Tony Nese w/Mark Sterling, I Quit

This is important match, hopefully these two can use their time to prove how good they are and deserve more screen time. Page was scouted by Sterling as a potential client but he turned him down leading to a rivalry between the two. Page and Nese have fought twice before, each winning one. Here Sterling was allowed to be at ringside as long as he's handcuffed and there is a ringside enforcer. Mark Henry comes out! A nice moment for another Texan. Page takes control early but Mark Sterling even cuffs is causing distractions. Ethan is bleeding early on. The action ticks on with them both asking each other the question. We see a Killshot by Page through two tables on the outside which was cool. A top rope hurricanrana by Nese on Page soars over two set up chairs which is unfortunate. Nese steals the cuff keys to free Sterling. Where has Mark Henry gone? We see the return of Scorpio Sky who is Page's ally to help fight the odds. Ego's Edge to Sterling and Sky takes him away. Page is cuffed and instead of quitting says FUCK YOU and manages to fight back. A cuff assisted STF makes Tony Nese say I Quit.


This was a very good grudge match, the story was well told and commentary were great building the story. Scorpio Sky's return was cool, I always liked him. Hopefully Page can go into some sort of title picture.


Page makes Nese say 'I Quit' (20:05)

***1/2


Nyla Rose vs Vert Vixen

I was looking forward to seeing more from Vixen who is quite well rated. However, this was a squash, she got next to no offence on the dominant Nyla Rose. I don't really see the point of this TV segment here. Waste of time.


Rose wins by pinfall (2:41)

1/2*


Dalton Castle w/The Boys vs Lee Moriarty vs Lee Johnson vs Bryan Keith vs Kyle Fletcher vs Komander w/Alex Abrahantes, Survival of the Fittest, vacant TV Championship

Samoa Joe vacated the title because he was chasing the AEW title, because why would we build a new star by having them score a huge win? This is an elimination style match. We get a series of 1v1 matches then some big dives, ridiculous levels of stalling from Fletcher and Komander. Johnson is eliminated first by Moriarty which I completely missed, who also gets the second decision eliminating Dalton Castle. The fans did not like that, neither did I, he should have made it to the final 2 at least and shows how tone deaf TK's ROH has been. Local favourite Bryan Keith eliminates the no selling Moriarty next, a few minutes later Fletcher puts out Keith which the fans also didn't like. We get a mini singles match between Fletcher and Komander, the Aussie Open star winning his first major singles title. He is very good but I found it a peculiar choice to be TV champion. Another good match but one I was a bit disappointed with. The stipulation is interesting but it felt like lots of small mini singles matches rather than a big multi-man eliminator. There were a lot of excessively big spots with less in-ring work or psychology. Like the AAA match, impressive work but not all that.


Fletcher wins by pinfall (25:54)

***1/4


Wheeler Yuta (c) vs Tom Lawlor, Pure Championship

I'm gonna assume you know what Pure rules are, if not google it. Yuta is first to use a rope break to free himself from a submission. Lawlor uses a closed fist strike and is issued a warning. Lawlor next uses a rope break to escape a kneebar. Yuta loses his last two rope breaks escaping submissions but a hold is instantly reapplied, Lawlor dragging him into the centre which is redundant. Wheeler gets a flash crucifix pin and the shoulders were definitely not down correctly. The match was well worked but the finish was botched because AEW/ROH referees suck. A post match attack by the champion sees Hook come out, who is dropped a Yuta in a failed attempt to make the save.


Yuta retains by pinfall (13:11)

**3/4


Keith Lee vs Shane Taylor

Yikes this missed the mark. Remember the awesome meat fest between Hobbs and Miro? This was that but without any of that fun. Lot's of stalling, lots of standing and taunting, less power and more grappling. What a downfall Keith Lee has been on, he looked like a future world champion in 2019. Not anymore. It wasn't awful and that Canadian Destroyer spot was cool considering how big they are, but this dragged on. Lee hits the Big Bang Catastrophe to win.


Keith Lee wins by pinfall (14:40)

*3/4


Dem Top Guys (Mark Briscoe, Dax Harwood & Cash Wheeler) vs Blackpool Combat Club (Bryan Danielson, Claudio Castagnoli & Jon Moxley), Fight to Honor

This was originally advertised as a Fight Without Honor but now it's Fight to Honor, in memoriam of the late Jay Briscoe. Dax stares down a lady staring at her phone which was funny. A match featuring some of the greatest wrestlers in the world was destined to be enjoyable to watch. This is now just a traditional 6-man tag which I'm not too miffed with because it'll still be great. Early on its the BCC who are using tag tactics to their advantage the most until Briscoe is tagged in for some Redneck Kung-Fu. Harwood has a cut above his eye. Moxley sees this and is jealous so he ends up bleeding too. We get finisher galore and eventually it all breaks down into a brawl at ringside and in the crowd until it's ruled a double count out. Boos rain down as referees try to stop it. Briscoe ain't done though, he demands a rematch in a Fight Without Honor. Kinda silly but I like that we have about 20 mins of good wrestling and now we get 10 minutes of pure fighting. A table is sprinkled with tacks and barbed wire. Moxley does his usual deathmatch shtick that is rinsed and repeated in every match. FTR didn't look too happy about taking the fork. Eventually Claudio is speared through a table, Mox piledrivered through the tacky table, Danielson piledrivered on top of a pile of chairs. This was a lot of fun. I honestly enjoyed the 20 minute wrestlng more than the 10 minutes of violence at the end, but I understand it's purpose.


Dem Top Guys win by pinfall (31:15)

***3/4


Eddie Kingston vs Anthony Henry, Proving Grounds

Like I mentioned earlier the World champion not having a match until the end of the Zero Hour sums up how poor TK's ROH has been built and booked. Henry has 10 minutes to beat Kingston, if he does he will face the winner of the Continental Classic, a 2 block tournament that is also currently being weirdly booked. A short back and forth, the ROH champion winning with a stretch plum in a forgettable match.


Kingston wins by submission (5:45)

**


Athena (c) vs Billie Starkz, Women's Championship

The only thing on this card with actually good build. After months of 'mentoring' Lexy Nair and Billie Starkz, they did a graduation ceremony but only Lexy recieved a Valedictorian. Starkz was upset and attacked Athena wanting to prove herself here. It's long term story telling that his been entertaining on TV and should be a great match here. And great it was, an awesome near half an hour battle in one of the better women's matches in AEW/ROH this year. Starkz is busted open early and is the underdog on the back foot for the first portion of this match, using quick pinfall attempts to try get some space. As the match went on Starkz got more offence in, they fought in and around the outside with the referee definitely not doing a reliable 10 count. The electric chair driver onto the apron was insane. Starkz kicked out of a despicable knee to a shock. After many of reversals, Athena catches Starkz in the submission for the win. People are questioning the decision to not make the title change but I fully support it. Athena has been dominant and I think this is only the beginning of the Athena vs Billie Starkz arc. They reconciled post match as Starkz becomes a minion once again, though I think this alliance is shaky at best. Who can Athena possibly face next? I dunno, throw anyone at her and she'll beat them and look great doing it.


This was by a mile the match of the night. Athena has been the MVP of the women's division in both AEW and ROH, no one is on her level currently. Starkz is so young yet so talented already, she will be the champion in the near future. A great match that didn't drag with equally great storytelling.


Athena retains by submission (28:30)

****1/4


Overall- 55.5%

Definitely one of the weaker shows from major promotions this year. A lot of meaningless matches with no build, it felt like such a throwaway show. A couple matches were weak on quality but most were good, it just lacked any story or fan investment. The 6-man tribute match to Jay Briscoe was a lot of fun and the main event was another classic women's match featuring Athena.


MOTN - Athena vs Billie Starkz











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