On December 27, 2008, Ring of Honor held their final show of the year, Final Battle 2008. Not only was it Adam Pearce's biggest show into his tenure as Ring of Honor booker, but many consider it to be the last show (or one of the last) that would have anything to do with Gabe Sapolsky's booking. And we get a match that was over a year in the making, Bryan Danielson vs. Takeshi Morishima. It's been very highly regarded since it came out, and it follows the excellent All Star Extravaganza.
The DVD opens with Age of the Fall cutting a promo about cycles outside. They plan on winning back the World Tag Team titles tonight. Tyler Black plans on being the next World Champion.
Kenny Omega vs. Claudio Castagnoli
Claudio comes out wearing a custom Red Sox jersey, with two dollar signs on the back. He attacks Omega early and pounds him in the corner. Omega avoids a charge and hits some arm drags. Claudio blocks a dropkick and hits an elbow drop. Castagnoli avoids one enziguri, but not a second. Rana by Kenny. He avoids getting thrown out, but he runs into a Hot Shot for two.
Europeans by Claudio. Suplex to Omega gets two. Omega punches back. Castagnoli with a shoulderblock to knock him down. He rakes Omega's face across the top rope. Claudio slingshots Omega into the bottom rope for two. Monkey flip by Omega. Polish Hammers to Claudio. European from Castagnoli. Omega blocks a charging Claudio, then drives him face first into the mat. Stop-sign Enziguri by Omega. He dives onto Claudio on the floor.
Omega climbs to the top and hits a missile dropkick to Claudio's back for two. Claudio with some shots in the corner. Claudio avoids a crossbody, then nails Omega with a Bicycle Kick. Omega counters a Ricola Bomb with a small package for the win.
Your winner, Kenny Omega!
Four Corner Survival: Chris Hero vs. Necro Butcher vs. Jerry Lynn vs. Rhett Titus
Necro Butcher goes after Rhett Titus. Titus cowers in the corner. Necro thrusts his hips. Titus attacks when Necro turns his back. Back body drop out of the corner by Necro. Titus punches Necro. Necro blocks a suplex and punches Titus in the face. Necro tags Hero in to dueling chants.
Necro tags Jerry Lynn in. Hero and Lynn trade forearms. Headscissors takedown and dropkicks to Hero. Hero gets out of the ring and tags Necro in. The two trade wristlocks. Necro backs Lynn into the corner. Sunset flip by Lynn for two. More two counts. Titus breaks the pin up only to get punched by Necro and Lynn. Hero with a blind tag and he elbows Necro in the back of the head for two.
Kick to Necro's head. He tags Titus in. Titus works over Necro with some punches and a thumb to the eyes. Leaping splash in the corner, followed by a knee strike by Titus. Hero tags in and covers for two. Cravate is applied to Necro by Hero. Necro punches out. Elbows from Hero. Necro blocks a rolling elbow with punches.
Lynn tags in. Titus distracts him and Hero attacks, but Lynn is close to the ropes and avoids the pinfall. Scoop slam and back senton by Hero. Titus with the blind tag and he covers for two. Chinlock by Titus. Lynn escapes, but he falls to a dropkick. Small package by Lynn for two. Hero tags Titus out.
Lynn with a sunset flip out of the corner for two. Rolling Elbow to Lynn gets two when Necro breaks the pin up. Titus pulls Necro off the apron. Lynn blocks a charge and hits a rana, followed by a crossbody for two. Lou Thesz Press by Lynn. A reverse DDT gets two. Titus accidentally elbows Hero. Titus ends up being rana'd on the floor by Necro. Hero trips Lynn, but he is back dropped. Sweeney distracts Lynn. Hero puts the loaded elbow pad on his boot, but Lynn avoids the kick and hits a Cradle Piledriver for the win.
Your winner, Jerry Lynn!
After the match, Jimmy Jacobs gets on the mic and verbally assaults Necro. Delirious sneaks up on Necro and physically assaults Necro. The tag champs make the save.
ROH World Tag Team Title Match: Kevin Steen & El Generico (c) vs. Age of the Fall (Jimmy Jacobs & Delirious)
The brawling starts immediately. Generico kicks Delirious in the corner. Delirious gets out of the ring to avoid the cannonball. Steen dives over the top rope onto AOTF. Steen hits Jacobs on the floor. In the ring, Generico gets one with a backbreaker. Generico punches Delirious and tags Steen in.
Steen with some chops in the corner. He knocks Delirious to the mat for one. Delirious is thrown into Generico's boot. Generico in and he hits a dropkick, then avoids Jimmy Jacobs. Generico and Steen work on Jacobs in the corner. Gutbuster by Steen for two. Steen drives Jacobs into the corner and bites him. Generico back in and they double team Jacobs with a drop toe hold/front flip leg drop combo for two. Standing Moonsault by Generico for one.
Scoop slam to Jacobs and Steen is back in. Double team Backpack Senton for two. Delirious comes in and goes after Steen's legs. He officially tags in and bites Steen's leg. Leg lock by Delirious. Jacobs tags back in. Jacobs drives Steen's knee into the mat. AOTF take turns attacking Steen's knee and keep him from making the tag.
Steen fights off the double team and tags Generico in. Delirious avoids a slam. Generico with a flying boot to Delirious. He goes to the top rope and hits a crossbody for two. Generico goes for an armdrag, but instead dives onto Jacobs. Steen with a cannonball in the corner. Generico off the top with a body splash for two.
Delirious blocks a charge, but runs into a Michinoku Driver for two. Delirious bites Generico's hand and Steen tags in. Steen is tripped by Delirious. Delirious hits Jacobs by mistake. Steen's knee can't handle the Package Piledriver, so he applies a Sharpshooter instead. Jacobs breaks it up by going at Steen's eyes.
Delirious hits Panic Attack and Shadows Over Hell. Senton off the top by Jacobs. Delirious covers for two. Delirious goes for the Cobra Clutch, but Steen hits a Pumphandle Neckbreaker (on his bad knee). Steen tries to climb to the top, but he falls when his knee buckles. Haze tries to interfere, but Jacobs stops her. Delirious tries to make sure Jacobs doesn't hurt her. Jacobs is caught with a superkick. Package Piledriver to Delirious, followed by a Brainbuster from Generico for the win.
Your winners, Kevin Steen & El Generico!
Jacobs yells at Delirious for costing them the match.
The Briscoes are in the back talking about their Japanese opponents. They're in America now!
Street Fight: Sweet & Sour, Inc. (Davey Richards, Eddie Edwards & Go Shiozaki) vs. Brent Albright, Roderick Strong & Erick Stevens
It all breaks down early and the brawling starts on the floor. The jeans by some wrestlers are a nice throwback. Albright punches Go. Big boot to Go's head. Richards and Strong go at it. Richards chokes Strong. Stevens makes the save. Go throws Albright into the ring post. Strong is choked. Strong back with a chair to Edwards. Richards and Go double team Albright. Strong and Edwards chop each other in the ring.
Stevens throws Go into the guardrail on the floor, then hits a choo choo on the floor. Edwards hits Albright with a chair. Go turns the table on Stevens. Edwards hits Strong in the back with a chair. Albright and Richards trade shots on the floor. In the ring, Albright gives Davey a back body drop out of the corner. Powerslam by Albright for two. Edwards comes back with a shot to Albright and he sets a table up in the corner.
Stevens gets back in the ring and hits Edwards. He wants Edwards best shots. They trade forearms. On the floor, Albright with a forearm to Davey, then Go. Stevens pounds Edwards to the mat. Go prevents a Doctor Bomb and Stevens gets suplexed into the table. Go covers, but Strong breaks the pin up.
Richards clubs Albright on the floor. Go with a big chop to Strong. Roddy fires back. Go and Roddy exchange chops. Edwards kicks Strong in the head. In the ring, Strong kicks Edwards. Roderick is double teamed and he takes a lungblower followed by a powerbomb for two.
Albright is cornered by SnS in the ring. SnS attack him. He tries to fight them off. He blocks and avoids their charges, dropkicks Go, and clotheslines Edwards. Davey and Albright trade shots. Stevens slams Richards and hammers Edwards and Go. Go is whipped into Edwards. Edwards blocks a gutbuster, but takes a lariat for two.
Davey and Roderick go toe to toe. Davey clotheslines Strong out of the ring. Go chokes Stevens on the floor. Strong and Davey fight on the apron. Davey wit a big kick and they both slump. Albright and Go trade forearms on the floor. Strong suplexes Davey off the apron and through a table. Go and Albright fight in the ring. Go with a low blow and German Suplex. Stevens with a release German to go. Strong kicks Go in the face. Albright slams Go to the mat and applies a crowbar for the win.
Your winners, Roderick Strong, Brent Albright, & Erick Stevens!
The American Wolves walk to the back without Go.
The Briscoes vs. Kensuke Office
Mark and Nakajima begin and feel each other out. Neither man gets and advantage. They trade shots, then Nakajima kicks Mark down. Jay tags in. Nakajima with an enziguri. Nakajima with a slingshot double stomp on the apron, then he flips onto Jay. Jay ducks a kick and forearms back. Jay takes Nakajima down with an elbow, then hits a Samoan Drop.
Sasaki tags in. Sasaki and Jay lock up. Sasaki with a shoulderblock. Chop exchange. Jay with a dropkick. Clothesline by Sasaki. Sasaki with a suplex for two. Nakajima tags back in. He kicks Jay in the chest several times. Jay lifts him up and drives him into the corner. Mark tags in and peppers Nakajima. Elbow drop to Nakajima's head for two. Jay back in and he double teams Nakajima for two.
The two trade shots, but Jay gets the better of it and keeps Nakajima in his corner. Mark in with a suplex to Nakajima for two. Nakajima sweeps Mark and tags Kensuke in. Sasaki sandwiches Mark with clubbing blows for two. He charges Mark in the corner for two. Sasaki wrenches back on his opponents leg, then kicks at it. Mark tries to fight back, but Sasaki keeps pressure on the leg. Kensuke Office trade tags and work on the leg. Sasaki with a back suplex for two. Nakajima puts Mark in the Tree of Woe, then hits a dropkick to the face for two. Mark back with a suplex.
He makes the tag to Jay. Jay off the top with a crossbody to Nakajima. Jay charges in the corner. Nakajima follows with a corner big boot, but he is driven into the turnbuckle. Jay with his own big boot for two. Nakajima kicks the back of Jay's head, but walks into a spinebuster for two. Nakajima kicks Jay in the back of the head out of the corner.
Jay and Sasaki trade chops. Sasaki with a bulldog. Powerslam to Jay for two. Sasaki with a knee to the gut and takedown for two. Kensuke goes after the arm of Jay. Mark attacks to break it up. Sasaki runs through a double team and clotheslines the Briscoes. Nakajima in. Office double team Jay. Sasaki suplexes Nakajima onto Jay for two when Mark breaks the pin up.
Sasaki uses Nakajima to kick Mark out of the ring. Nakajima with repeated superkicks to Jay. Nakajima with a charging knee strike in the corner. He kicks Jay for two. Big superkick to Jay gets two. Jay gets Nakajima on his shoulders, but Mark slips on the springboard. Victory roll by Nakajima for two. Jay with a clothesline for two when Sasaki breaks the pin up. Mark throws Sasaki out. On the floor, Mark whips Sasaki into the guardrail. Back suplex by Jay to Nakajima. Doomsday Device, but Sasaki breaks the pin up at two. Jay hits the Jay Driller on Nakajima and the Briscoes win.
Your winners, the Briscoes!
After the match, the American Wolves attack the Briscoes. They focus on Mark's injured leg with a chair after handcuffing Jay to the ropes. Steen and Generico run them off to make the save. The Wolves attack Steen and Generico, so Strong, Albright, and Stevens make the save. Albright wants Steel Cage Warfare. Silkin obliges.
Marufuji is in the back giving his thoughts on the ROH World Title match later on tonight.
Morishima gives his thoughts (in Japanese) for his match. His translator explains that Morishima will roll over Dragon.
#1 Contender's Match: Tyler Black vs. Austin Aries
They come out even after a couple of collar and elbows. Reversals on the mat. Side headlock by Aries. He knocks Black down, then applies a headlock on the mat. Wristlock by Black. Aries counters by taking Black to the mat and reapplying a headlock. Hip toss by Black, but Aries kicks him off and hits a couple of arm drags.
Black counters with headscissors, but Aries gets out. Another side headlock by Aries. Black with his own side headlock takedown, followed by a dropkick to Aries' face. They shove each other and trade shots. Aries with a facebuster, followed by an STO. He misses the Swinging Elbow drop. Black stomps Aries in the gut for two, then steps on Aries chest. Scoop slam and knee drop by Black for one.
Black reverses an irish whip into the corner, then drops Aries on the top turnbuckle for two. Aries stops Black before he can even charge him. Black gets the boot up on an Aries charge. Black is shoved to the floor, then hit with a suicide dive for two. Swinging elbow drop by Aries for two. Aries dumps Black from the ring and whips him into the guardrail. Aries with a running dropkick on the floor. He covers in the ring for two.
Aries with another two count, followed by some knees to the head and Last Chancery. Black makes the ropes. Aries again dumps Black out of the ring. Aries puts Black on his shoulders on the apron. Black gets out, then does the same to Aries and drops Aries on the apron.
Black punches Aries back into the ring, then dropkicks Aries out. Black backflips over toe top rope onto Aries for two. Aries shoves Black into the corner and fires away. Black with Paroxysm for two. Aries gets out of a powerbomb attempt with a roll up and he applies Last Chancery again. Black hangs in there, so Aries with more knees to the head.
Black with a roll up for two, then a kick to Aries' head. Powerbomb into the corner and Black covers for two. Black goes to the top. Jacobs comes out and momentarily distracts Black. The Phoenix Splash misses. Aries with a kick to the head and Brainbuster. Aries nails the 450 for the win.
Your winner, and new Number One contender, Austin Aries!
Jacobs isn't happy with Black after the match. He gives Black a low blow and applies the End Time. Jimmy gets a chair and puts Black's head inside it. Jacobs goes to the top, but Aries comes out to make the save. When Black gets up, Aries clocks him in the head and invites Jacobs to join in on the beatdown.
ROH World Championship Match: Nigel McGuinness (c) vs. Naomichi Marufuji
Nigel gets the best of a collar and elbow and applies a cravate. Body slam by Marufuji, but Nigel rolls through and maintains the hold. Marufuji avoids a Jawbreaker, then the two trade two counts. Marufuji floats over a suplex, then suplexes McGuinness and twists his neck on the mat. Chinlock to Nigel. Nigel counters with headscissors. Marufuji escapes and kicks Nigel in the jaw.
Marufuji ties up Nigel in the middle of the ring. Snapmare and another shot at Nigel's face. Ten punches in the corner by Marufuji. He drives Nigel's face to the mat for two, then locks in some headscissors. He drives Nigel's face to the mat several times. Nigel makes the ropes. Nigel back up and he uses a Divorce Court to take Marufuji down. Headstand mule kick and Marufuji bails.
On the floor, Nigel shoves Marufuji into the barricade. He charges, but eats a superkick and shiranui on the floor. Marufuji rolls Nigel back in the ring and covers for two. Nigel hits a hammerlock powerslam out of the corner for two. Nigel throws Marufuji out of the ring. While he is bragging, Marufuji dropkicks him. Clothesline by Marufuji for two.
Marufuji takes Nigel down with a Cobra Clutch, then cinches in a triangle. Backbreaker by Marufuji for two. Tower of London is blocked, and Nigel is driven into the corner. The champion avoids a shiranui by clubbing his opponent to the mat. Nigel goes for a top rope lariat, but he is dropkicked to the floor. They fight for position on the apron. Marufuji avoids the Tower of London and hits a shiranui on the apron. Sick!
Marufuji rolls Nigel back in the ring, but only gets two. Nigel is sat on the top turnbuckle. Marufuji's Coast to Coast misses. Nigel to the top, but Marufuji back up with a dropkick. He tosses Nigel off and climbs up. Nigel hits Marufuji, then goes for the eyes. Tower of London right onto the apron.
Nigel rolls Marufuji back in the ring for two. Jawbreaker by Marufuji. He avoids a Jawbreaker Lariat, but turns into another Lariat for two. Nigel sits Marufuji on the top rope, then knocks him off with a lariat for two. Nigel's right arm is hurting. Marufuji is sat on the top, but he shoves Nigel off. Nigel goes for another headstand mule kick, but he is kicked in the face. Nigel is put back in the Tree of Woe. This time, he hits the Coast to Coast for two. Superkicks to Nigel. Nigel avoids a third and covers for two, then hits a Jawbreaker for the win.
Your winner, Nigel McGuinness!
Jerry Lynn comes out and says that was an incredible match. Nigel takes the mic and agrees with Lynn. He calls Lynn a dinosaur and tells him that he is The Wrestler. Lynn wants to go at it right now. Nigel starts to walk out. Lynn doesn't want ROH to be disrespected. Nigel walks off through the crowd. Nice segment.
Fight Without Honor: Bryan Danielson vs. Takeshi Morishima
Here we go...the match people have been salivating for. Danielson is waiting to give Morishima a dropkick when the lights go on. Morishima to the floor. Danielson gives him a baseball slide as streamers are flying in the ring. Danielson with an early springboard dive to the floor. Dragon goes after Morishima with the ring bell. He attacks Morishima in the corner of the guardrails, then chokes him with a chair.
Europeans from Danielson in the ring. He knocks Morishima down with a headbutt. He can't get the surfboard, so he drives Morishima's knees to the mat for an early one count. Morishima knocks Dragon off the apron. He avoids a powerbomb to the floor by sitting on Danielson on the apron. Ouch.
Danielson is the first to bleed. Morishima shoves Danielson off the apron, then gets a chair. He hits Dragon in the back with it. Dragon is sandwiched against the barricade and tossed into the ringpost. In the ring, Morishima chokes Danielson in the ropes. Big clubbing blow to Dragon's head, followed by a kick to the back. Danielson is knocked off the apron again.
On the floor, Morishima gets a chain and chokes Danielson in the ring with it. Morishima with a charging clothesline in the corner. He goes to the top, but Danielson avoids the dropkick. Dragon back with some forearms. Flying elbow knocks Morishima down. Danielson with a suicide dive that partially connects, but also sends Danielson into the seats.
Morishima is rolled back in the ring. Danielson to the top. He hits a low dropkick to Morishima's knee. Kicks to Morishima's chest for two. Dragon is backed into the corner, kicked in the face, and hit with a charge. Suplex by Morishima gets two. A lariat to Dragon gets another two count. Small package by Dragon for two. Dragon somehow hits a German Suplex for another two. Cattle Mutilation is locked in. Elbows to Morishima's head. Morishima stands up and shoves Dragon off. Dragon with some elbows, but Morishima hits another big lariat.
Morishima goes back to choking Dragon with the chain. He wrenches back on the mat, then covers for two. Dragon is sat on the top rope. Dragon slips under and hits a back suplex off the top rope for two. Danielson gets the chain and chokes Morishima, then kicks his head in. Triangle Choke with the aid of the chain applied by Danielson. Morishima's arm goes down twice. Morishima picks Danielson up and powerbombs himself free.
Dragon blocks a charge, but leaps into a suplex. Another lariat by Morishima, followed by a Back Drop Driver. Dragon gets his foot on the ropes. Morishima wraps the chain around his arm. Danielson avoids a punch and applies an armbar. Dragon handcuffs Morishima with the chain. Morishima kicks Dragon down. Low blows by Dragon. Danielson with repeated stomps to the groin. Dragon wraps the chain around his elbow and attacks Morishima. Cattle Mutilation is locked in. Morishima submits.
Your winner, Bryan Danielson!
Dragon and the faces of ROH thank the fans for coming out and making this the largest crowd in ROH history.
Right off the bat, you can tell the production and lighting is a lot better than last time they ran the Hammerstein. Well done.
Omega-Castagnoli was a fun opener. Omega has the makings of a star (though I can't stand the stupid Stop-sign Enziguri), and Claudio's heel turn really freshened him up. Didn't go too long, and both wrestlers had time to shine.
Four Corner Survival was probably the weakest match on the show. It's not bad, but everything else is so much better. Necro was acting a little too loose for my tastes, too.
The tag title match was a nice change of pace as Steen did the bulk of the selling. Delirious is another wrestler who looks better since a heel turn. It's early in the card, so it isn't a blowaway match, but for where it is on the show, it's very good.
The street fight was hard hitting, and they sold well and told a good story, but it probably came off better live. It was enjoyable, but a bit of a cluster at times.
Briscoes vs. Kensuke Office was a dream match for many (it's billed as such on the DVD), and it lived up to that billing. It wasn't as long as some of the major tag matches, but this could have headlined it's own show.
Black-Aries have excellent chemistry in the ring. They did a good job of making all the near falls believable, and this definitely could have gone either way. The fans want to love Tyler Black, so splitting him from Jacobs was a great idea. The concept of Aries and Jacobs uniting after all they went through is intriguing, too.
Nigel and Marufuji are probably my two favorite ROH wrestlers, so it was a lot of fun to see them go at it. I almost wished it had happened on another show where it would have been the main event, but it's tough to complain about this card. Nigel is just a beast to deal with all that punishment.
Dragon's revenge on Morishima was worth the wait. It was brutal, just like you'd expect it to be, and they did a good job of protecting it by limiting what people could do earlier in the night. It's clear they didn't want anything to outshine this, not that anything could, and that was the right call. Dragon diving into the crowd early was more special because it wasn't done in several undercard matches.
Overall, this is a must buy show, along with All Star Extravaganza. What an amazing double shot weekend. Tons of great wrestling to be had over six hours. If you don't have it already, go out and get these shows. Both stand alone as must buys, but they should really be seen together. Pretty much everything just gets progressively better as the show goes on. It's tempting for some to give all the credit to Gabe for what he set in motion, and obviously the wrestlers, but the touches that the new regime had already set in place helped make this a better show. Of course, multiple dream matches will always make a show worth seeing, too.
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