Thursday, December 18, 2014

ROH Final Battle '14

1. Caprice Coleman vs. Mark Briscoe vs. Jimmy Jacobs vs. Hanson - 4
2. Adam Page vs. Roderick Strong - 4
3. Tommaso Ciampa vs. Michael Elgin - 5

Event was held at Terminal 5 which both looks and sounds like a stage from Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. Ordering a live 3 hr. HD pay-per-view from Ring of Honor from the comfort of my luxurious living room is something I could certainly get accustomed to. Fairly fun opener. Besides one sequence where Caprice and Hanson couldn't get on the same page this went off well. Coleman was a bit all over the place but also the most engaging performer. I didn't care for Hanson's "spinkick" finish it looked like he barely got his leg up and felt like a weak throwaway strike not a bout ender. Page hit what might possibly be my favorite clothesline of the year (and that covers a ton of ground) when he flipped over the guardrail from out in the crowd springing forward into a devastating clothesline that crushed Strong. Sick finish as the Strong Hold looked like it was going to break Page in half. I loved Elgin's way of breaking out of a Testicular Claw was rearing back and punching Ciampa right in the teeth. This was worked like a big heavyweight boxing bout from yesteryear and had enough big impactful spots without dipping into overkill territory. A hotter stretch run would have warranted a higher score but I did like Elgin's new DDT variation finish.

4. The Addiction and Cedric Alexander vs. The Young Bucks and ACH - 6
5. Moose vs. R.D. Evans - 1
6. Jay Lethal vs. Matt Sydal - 6

Funny seeing Kaz and Daniels wearing '90's era X-Men attire when Daniels looks more like Professor X than any of its fighting heroes. First match of the show that really felt vibrant and alive and got the crowd rollicking. Bucks looked as fluid and smooth as ever and turned in quite fine performances. Proud of them for recently turning down WWE's offer. Wanted to take this grade a little higher and would have had Addiction offered a little more to the proceedings. Next match stunk like coming across a malodorous noisome pile of moose excrement in the forest while taking a hike. Couldn't tell if Evans was purposefully blowing spots or just that inept but three consecutive botches of a springboard is troublesome either way. I've been saying Lethal has quietly been an MVP of 2014. Not enough high profile matches to be considered a real WotY candidate but he's sunken deep into his role and has been a reliable ace. Sydal's hair looked composed like a Roy Andersson set. This was competently put together but would have fallen a point short of real recommendation status had it not been for the cool unique finishing stretch that saw Lethal catch Sydal in mid-air while he was hitting a Shooting Star Press on Jay's manager Truth Martini with a Lethal Cutter -- really cool spot.

7. reDRagon vs. Time Splitters - 5
8. Jay Briscoe vs. Adam Cole - Fight Without Honor - 6

I rate Kyle's work in PWG & NJPW a touch higher than a lot of his ROH stuff but in general think rDRagon have likely surpassed The American Wolves' reign. They haven't had enigmatic rivals like the Wolves did with Steen & Generico but turn in pretty consistently solid work as champs. Fish was flat in EVOLVE as faux-fighter but has developed some personality as the mustachioed muscle of the team. Shelley isn't getting any younger but is still a clever and capable hand. KUSHIDA's Swanton onto the dogpile out of the ring was on the right side of crazy. Saito suplex shouldn't be a transition move. Finish was fine for a random NJPW show undercard bout but for a PPV semi-main felt a bit anticlimactic with reDRagon narrowing their focus on Kushida and hitting a series of things on him until they put this to bed. They teased an early ending with Briscoe nailing a Jay Driller very quickly and soon after putting Cole through a ringside table. Also saw first signs of blood early with Jay getting his forehead stapled by Cole. Just like a Briscoe's family reunion soon everyone is bleeding. Cole would be great in NXT. I had to laugh when Jay poured out the thumbtacks. Having regrettably done some backyard wrestling in my past we'd buy huge bags of standard silver tacks but here Briscoe looked like he raided a second grade teacher's desk as only about 400 multi-colored (green, yellow, red, blue, etc.) tacks poured out. A backdrop is about as lame a bump to waste that garbage spot on too. They should have sent them to the principal's office for ruining perfectly good school supplies. Cole survived a second Jay Driller but a third one finally finished the job. I really anticipated giving this a "7" and briefly felt like it might get to that level but they never really let loose with the violence and allowed this to feel unhinged.

This was a decent PPV offering, I'd say slight Thumbs Up, but not a pulse-pounding, run out tell your friends, type of affair. Better than last week's WWE TLC (and Stairs?) pay-per-view by any means. 2014 has been a good year for Ring of Honor but they need to mix things up a bit in the year ahead and the recent signing of Alberto Del Rio is a good step. I'd like to see them do these quarterly or three times per year and perhaps go with Cole and Briscoe on top again on the next one but in a big blowoff gimmick match (Iron Man, anyone?).

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