411’s Instant Access 12.19.09: ROH Final Battle 2009
Hey kids, I’m Scott, and this is 411′s Instant Access: ROH Final Battle 2009. 411′s Instant Access is the companion piece to 411 Live Pay-Per-View Coverage and features immediate reaction to wrestling pay-per-views. The focus in Instant Access is on first thoughts and initial reactions instead of play-by-play with the goal of providing you with instant access to
one two three FOUR writers’ thoughts on the show. Here’s the team for ROH Final Battle 2009:
• Scott Slimmer, author of Don’t Think Twice.
• Chris Lansdell, author of A Brace for Impact and If I Could Be Serious For A Moment.
• Michael Bauer, editor of 411′s Wrestling Top 5 and 411′s Buy or Sell, and author of 411′s ECW on SyFy Report. Bauer will be texting in his comments LIVE from the front row of the show.
• Aaron Hubbard, author of the The Wrestling Bard.
Okay kids, enough with the explanations. Let’s get to the wrestling.
Pick 6 Series Four Corner Survival Match
(6) Kenny Omega vs. Rhett Titus vs. Colt Cabana vs. (1) Claudio Castagnoli w/ Prince Nana
Match Result: Claudio Castagnoli defeats Rhett Titus with a bridging German Suplex.
Match Length: 6:10
Slimmer: This was a good, fast-paced match to open the show, and the certainly managed to fit a ton of action into only six minutes. All four guys looked good, but Kenny Omega was definitely the star here. There was an amazing spot where Castagnoli tried to backdrop Omega into the corner, but Omega floated over into a moonsault off the second turnbuckle onto Titus on the outside. The only downside is that it would have been nice if the match had gone a bit longer, especially given that it was the opener and there were four guys involved.
Lansdell: I wasn’t particularly surprised to see this match open the show, as it was always going to be fast and exciting. I was hoping Omega would go over, especially in light of what happened later in the evening, but you can’t complain about a Dragon suplex. Ever. Everyone looked good here, and it was a good initiation for any new ROH viewers. Plus Omega’s sick moonsault to the floor was my mark-out of the night.
Bauer: Nice, fast opener, but too short of a match. Crowd was definitely into it though for the big spots. And let me say it now… LARRY SWEENEY! HOLY SHIT!
Hubbard: his was a good little sprint, with tons of comedy at the beginning, as expected given the participants. We also got some nice spots like the no-hands airplane spin from Claudio, the top rope Sex Factor from Titus, and Omega’s moonsault to the floor. But it was a tad too short and I’m 90% sure the ending was botched and Omega was supposed to break up the pin. That mars it a bit but it was still a fine opener.
Average Match Rating: **¾
Tag Team Grudge Match
Nerco Butcher & Delirious w/ Daizee Haze & Pelle Primeau & Bobby Dempsey vs. Bison Smith & Erick Stevens w/ Prince Nana
Match Result: Bison Smith defeats Bobby Dempsey with a powerbomb out of the corner.
Match Length: 10:12
Slimmer: Necro Butcher was unable to make it to the show, so this match began as a handicap match with Delirious taking on Bison Smith & Erick Stevens by himself. Pelle Primo ran in to join Delirious, but Smith quickly removed him from the equation with a military press to the outside. That led Bobby Dempsey to join the fray, and then things finally settled down into a more stable tag team match. These four guys worked well in most combinations, but the action did slow down considerably when Dempsey and Smith were alone in the ring. Smith tried to set up Dempsey in the corner for the finish, but it took him at least two attempts to get the big man up into position. Not a bad match, but you could tell that they were scrambling to make up for the absence of Necro Butcher.
Lansdell: I marked a lot in this match. I mean, who knew Pelle Primeau still existed? Where the heck has he been and why didn’t he stay there? Also nice to see Dempsey get a prominent spot on a big card and look good in the process. Truth be told, the match was probably better with him in it that it would have been with Necro. One minor thing: if Pelle was the legal partner, why wasn’t Dempsey considered interference? And if Pelle wasn’t the partner, why didn’t the match end there? I hate holes in logic. Still, Bison and Stevens looked like monsters, Dempsey got a rub and Delirious suffered no harm. I hope Stevens didn’t really injure himself on the backbreaker, but dropping a load like Dempsey across one knee could be risky. Fun match in my mind.
Bauer: Pelle really got no reaction, but Bobby was definitely over. Nana told my friend to talk about it on Facebook. The corner spot was a real screw-up, but I can’t believe they got it. A little lackluster without Necro here.
Hubbard: We had problems here as Necro Butcher didn’t show up, and so Bison Smith and Erick Stevens just destroyed Delirious for a while. However, I marked out for Pelle Primeau and Bobby Dempsey showing up. Glad to know they are still alive. They both looked really good here. I was kind of surprised and disappointed at the lack of Delirious, but fine whatever. I’m pretty sure Erick really hurt his knee when he and Bison did the backbreaker to Dempsey, which isn’t good and I hope he’s okay. Really, they deserve credit for making an entertaining segment out of what could have been a mess.
Average Match Rating: **¼
Fight Without Honor
Eddie Kingston vs. Chris Hero w/ Shane Hagadorn and Sara Del Rey
Match Result: Eddie Kingston defeats Chris Hero with a Rolling Elbow while wearing Hero’s golden elbow pad.
Match Length: 15:00
Slimmer: I really enjoyed this match. It started a bit slow when only the chain was involved but seriously picked up when the guard rail cam into play. Positioning the guard rail in the corner did taker longer than it should have, but the payoff was definitely worth it. Hero hit Kingston with a piledriver / Ganso Bomb onto the guard rail from the top rope, and it was amazing that Kingston was able to kick out after that. All throughout the match, I was impressed by how well Kingston and Hero mixed technical moves with hardcore sports. Hagadorn and Del Rey both did their best to get the win for Hero, but in the end Eddie Kingston simply refused to be defeated. Definitely the best match of the show thus far.
Lansdell: I’m torn here, not the last time you will hear that in this column. I love head drops, and this match head them. It had brutality. It had weaponry. It had “fighting spirit”. It also had moves that should finish any match being kicked out of. It might seem harsh but no way should a Ganso Bomb from the top into a metal barrier be kicked out of. And It WAS a Ganso. It was supposed to be a piledriver, but it wasn’t. However, the backfist to a running Hero was gorgeous and the match really put over the brutality of the feud and the hatred they have for each other. Shame they had to nearly kill each other to do that.
Bauer: I swore Eddie was drunk for half the match. Bringing in the guardrail made my jaw drop. And how the fuck could anyone kick out of that? That last 5 – 7 minutes saved the match, interference or not. Nice touch on the Kiss of Death. Ending was slightly predictable.
Hubbard: Well, one sentence. Ganso Bomb from the top rope onto a barricade. I have not had a mark-out moment like that in a LONG time. My only real issue with it is that Kingston should not have kicked out of that. Aside from that, they hit each other hard and it felt like they hated each other. Good match, GREAT spot. But that’s really all it is.
Average Match Rating: ***
Tag Team Rematch
Kevin Steen & El Generico vs. The Young Bucks
Match Result: Nick Jackson defeats Kevin Steen after a double super kick.
Match Length: 17:11
Slimmer: And this show just keeps getting better, as this is now the best match of the show thus far. The action started fast, and it seriously didn’t slow down for the next seventeen minutes. The story of this match was all about Kevin Steen’s injured knee. Steen sacrificed the knee to hit devastating moves on multiple occasions, but ultimately the knee buckled while he had Nick Jackson in the Sharpshooter. The Young Bucks then went to work on Steen, but Steen seemed determined to go out on top. However, the Bucks ultimately proved too much for Steen, and an absolutely brutal series of super kicks finally earned them the win. Steen’s post-match pseudo-farewell speech was extremely well executed, and you could tell that Steen meant every bit of it. Of course, that only made his heel turn that much more devastating.
Lansdell: Let me start by saying that if I had to include the post-match, this rating would be miles higher. I thought when Steen came out with an overgrown and unkempt beard that he would be turning, and then when he went all emotional and stuff I figured he was done. He may still BE done, but in the process he killed El Generico. The match itself was incredible: for a Young Buck match is was decidedly unspotty and made a lot of sense. The moves flowed well and there was a story being told around Steen’s knee. As faces the Bucks should not have and did not attack the knee, but they did take advantage when it buckled. The finish itself was very good and pretty brutal if you think about it. I’ve reviewed a lot of shows for this site, and this match was the only one where I had top throw my hands up and omit a chunk of the action because I just couldn’t follow it. Of course I didn’t have a pause button to help me out either.
Bauer: Steen looked pained before the bell. Just look as at his face. It was like he knew what tonight meant. Kinda like Flair lost to Michaels. Overall, great tag match, no idea how they topped past matches. FYI – That Generico into the guardrail spot at the end literally was right me. That was definitely the greatest heel turn ever. I have never seen that sharp of a turn that fast with that emotion.
Hubbard: First of all, Steen’s heel turn was great, because I really felt like he was going to announce his retirement here. There was emotion, the fans felt it, I was feeling it, it worked. And then, BAM! Kick to the nuts. Glorious. Anyway, the match was really good, much more grounded than I expected considering the participants. It could have been a spotfest, and there were great spots, but the story was Steen’s knee and his toughness. I also LOVED the finish as Steen kicked out of More Bang for Your Buck and the Bucks, frustrated, responded by hitting him with FOUR superkicks and a double superkick. The superkicks meant something because it is to my knowledge the first time anyone has kicked out MBFYB. Really good match.
Average Match Rating: ****¼
Pick 6 Series – Special Challenge Match
(4) Roderick Strong vs. Kenny King
Match Result: Kenny King defeats Roderick Strong with a tight-assisted roll-up.
Match Length: 10:33
Slimmer: This was certainly a fine match, and there was nothing wrong with it, but the crowd seemed a bit dead. Maybe it was because of the preceding intermission, or maybe it was because the crowd was just emotionally drained after the Kevin Steen drama. But Strong and King still put on a good outing, and the use of the backbreaker by both guys really helped to build the story of the match.
Lansdell: This disappointed me. I love King and Strong is normally good quality, but neither man was at his best here and it showed. Not that it was a BAD match; far from it. It just didn’t do what I expected it to do and felt a few steps off. I wasn’t feeling the finish either, seemed like they cut 5 minutes off the match and I think we know now the reason for that. Fair match, would like to see more. King is now in position to challenge for the title, which is interesting.
Bauer: Pretty decent match, just a little bland at times. The blown backbreaker hurt overall. Still, this was a very good match choice to start after the intermission.
Hubbard: I loved this match up until the botched torture rack backbreaker. Both guys looked good and were building the match well. Kenny was making his spots count and there was a nice flow. It felt like they were building to a good fifteen-twenty minute match that could have stolen the show, and then…it was over. I’m glad King got the ring and it was a good finish, it just came about five minutes too early. Give these guys twenty minutes and they can create some magic.
Average Match Rating: **¾
Tag Team Grudge Match
Jack Evans & Rocky Romero vs. Teddy Hart & Alex Koslov
Match Result: Rocky Romero defeats Alex Koslov with the Diablo Armbar into a juji-gatame.
Match Length: 11:24
Slimmer: Romero and Koslov did the best they could here, but I get the feeling that the crowd never really got over the fact that Evans and Hart didn’t make it to the show. This match was certainly good (bizarre finish aside), and actually a bit better than Strong / King, but the crowd still feels a bit dead. But I’m guessing that situation will be resolved quickly when it comes time for the title matches.
Lansdell: Another disappointment here as I have NO IDEA what happened with that finish. Were they playing into an AAA angle? Did Cary want to end the match for some reason and called an audible from ringside? Bryce Remsburg looked pretty cheesed off with it, and the announcers tried hard to cover for it. I love Kozlov and he was in good form here, and Romero is usually quality. They had a decent match and I LOVE the finisher…but I can’t get past the screwiness at the end.
Bauer: The Russian step kick was awesome, but I marked more for the Azuca dance. That ending was cool, but Koslov never tapped.
Hubbard: First off, I hate Romero. So I’m biased. I couldn’t get into this match at all. Both guys were playing heel and I give them credit for trying under the circumstances, but they seemed unaccustomed to wrestling each other and the match was just, well, not engaging. I did mark hard for Kozlov’s RUSSIAN Legsweep and the Dancing Kicks, and the Diablo Armbar is always cool to see. However, the finish was horrible as there was no-tap out, the ref didn’t call for the bell, it just happened. Botched finishes seem to be a pattern tonight.
Average Match Rating: **¾
ROH World Tag Team Title Match
The American Wolves (Champions) vs. The Briscoes
Match Result: Jay Brisco defeats Eddie Edwards after a Doomsday Device.
Match Length: 22:50
Slimmer: You just can’t argue with twenty-two minutes of non-stop action. The match didn’t have as much storyline as we saw in both Kingston / Hero and Steenerico / Young Bucks, but the in-ring action was nonetheless top notch. I literally lost count of how many incredible near falls there were in this match, and that only made the actual finish all the more impressive and unpredictable.
Lansdell: And a third disappointment in a row, although this one falls under the “not as awesome as I hoped” category. I figured this would be MOTN and turn a lot of heads, but it wasn’t It was just more or less there. They did some good things, they worked a decent pace and everything seemed to work as a whole, but the match felt…disjointed. The tags didn’t really flow together, some of the double teams were off, too much happening at once…just didn’t settle on the eyes for me, you know? At least not to the 4-star plus level I was expecting. Still, a title change is fun and KINGS OF WRESTLING BABY! That in itself made the show for me. There are too many good heel teams in ROH now to have the belts on heels, and Davey needs to be elevated.
Bauer: A few things were too obvious, like the “elbow delay”. Great match overall, but live it felt like the ending was out of nowhere slightly.
Hubbard: Sorry guys, I could just NOT get into this. I tried, I really tried, I watched the whole thing. I love both teams, and they could deliver a classic on a different night, but they didn’t do it here. It wasn’t a bad match, it just didn’t pull me in. Maybe it was the pacing, the structure, whatever, I just couldn’t get into it, and I don’t think the crowd was into it either. However, I’m glad the Briscoes won as it’s the right decision based on the story (something another match on this card could have used). Also…HALLELUJAH, THE KINGS OF WRESTLING ARE BACK! Hero and Claudio are AWESOME! Put the belts on these guys, put them in there with the Briscoes, the Bucks, the Wolves, and watch the magic. I was SO happy about that.
Average Match Rating: ***½
Jack Evans w/ Julius Smokes vs. Teddy Hart
Match Result: Jack Evans defeats Teddy Hart with the 630° senton.
Match Length: 5:31
Slimmer: Remember what I said about the crowd never really getting over the fact that Evans and Hart didn’t make it to the show? Well that disappointment made them become that much more invested in this impromptu match. It’s a little unclear if ROH even knew that Evans and Hart were going to put on a match, but either way it really helped to show as a whole. Screw the travel delays, screw the complications, screw the fact that these guys missed their match – they can to entertain the ROH fans, and that’s exactly what they did. I give Evans and Hart a ton of credit for making the best of a bad situation, and I give ROH a ton of credit for giving them the chance to give the fans exactly what they wanted. The match itself was definitely a spotfest, but damn did these guys pack a lot into five minutes. Much love all around.
Lansdell: When the lights went out I didn’t quite know what to expect, possibly Jimmy Jacobs. When I saw Jack Evans I hoped we’d get a match, and we did. Let me explain something: I know all about Teddy Hart’s past and his issues. However I had never seen him wrestle and I figured that if companies kept giving him chances, he had to be pretty special. DING! I had been warned that his offense was totally unrealistic, but I don’t agree. It’s unique, it’s impactful and he could never do half of it in WWE, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t spend the whole time marking. Even when Evans was on offence, though that’s because he didn’t have to do any striking. I need more Teddy Hart. that piledriver out of the ropes…I can’t figure out how he came up with that, but if I ever do it’s going in my moveset. Was it a good match? Meh, it was a spotfest. But it was a GOOD spotfest.
Bauer: For an impromptu match, that was pretty good and everyone loved it. If you didn’t see it, a ref was begging them to get out of the ring.
Hubbard: I’ve seen Teddy Hart before, and if you’ve seen one Teddy Hart match, you’ve seen them all. I love Jack Evans even though he’s spotty. I hate Teddy Hart, and I never want to see him wrestle again. Keep Evans, get Hart off my TV screen. As for the match, it worked fine as an exhibition of moves. If you’ve never seen Hart before, some of his ricockulous moveset will make you mark. Evans didn’t botch anything, which was a plus. But as a match? Blech. Did nothing for me.
Average Match Rating: **½
ROH World Title Match
Austin Aries (Champion) vs. Tyler Black
Match Result: Austin Aries retains via 60 minute time limit draw.
Match Length: 60:00
Slimmer: Okay, I get what they were going for here. They wanted to go Broadway, and they wanted the match to be absolutely EPIC. And I applaud them for wanting to put on a match that felt special and felt like a fitting way to close out the year in ROH. But unfortunately their efforts backfired. Big time. It seems as though Aries and Black couldn’t find a way to go Broadway without wasting significant time stalling, and that absolutely turned the crowd against them. “This is bullshit!” the crowd screamed. “Don’t come back!” they begged when Aries and Black disappeared behind the curtain. And when Aries was trying to get disqualified near the end of the match, the crowd was just praying that the match would end in any way possible. I understand the story that they were trying to tell, and it could have been a good story. Aries was trying to retain his belt no matter what, and Black was the valiant hero finally trying to win the big won. That’s a classic story, but it would have worked better as a sleek thirty minute match instead of a bloated sixty minute debacle. I just can’t remember the last time I saw two guys try so hard and accomplish so little.
Lansdell: How the hell do you rate this one? Pro: two men went an hour for my entertainment. Con: Most of it was Aries running away. Pro: They told a story of Aries knowing he couldn’t win, so he had to try and run away and use his smarts. Con: Most of the match involved Sinclair counting. Look, when an ROH crowd is begging for a match to end, no matter what the result, you are doing something wrong. I appreciate what they were trying to do, but they took it too far and it didn’t work The last 5 or 10 minutes got better, but Black at least should have been trying everything he could to win the match and not swinging away wildly like a drunk in a bar fight. Don’t even get me started on the Briscoes and the Kings or Wrestling brawling down into the ring to close the show, that totally robbed any heat from the end of the main event. I really hate to be critical of a matcb that went an hour, but it just…wasn’t good. Because it WAS an hour, I can’t give it a low rating.
Bauer: Seriously, the Twinkie chant again? But I will admit the first 15 minutes were a little off. The one thing I noticed was a lot of spots looked to be repeated from Final Battle last year. The going outside all the time killed this match. I’m glad it didn’t end in a disqualification, but come on. That was ridiculous, as was a quick “hours” chant. A draw for this match is crap. Nothing could save this.
Hubbard: I am absolutely torn here. First, I’ll call a spade a spade. A one-hour draw was the WORST decision they could have made bar interference. Black winning is what should have happened. But I would have been okay with Aries winning. That leaves a bad taste in my mouth. However, the match was awesome. It’s not going to appeal to all taste, but it was indeed awesome. Both guys played their roles to perfection. Aries was a desperate, DESPERATE champion doing anything to retain his title. Cheating, running out of the ring, stalling, trying to get disqualified. And Sinclair had none of it. Tyler Black played the aggressive babyface that was not going to let his dream die. The wrestling was great, but the story was perfect. They were building up everything in these guys history together. It was a summation of everything thing that is great about Austin Aries last run, and Tyler Black’s attempt to get the title. The match built and built to what I thought was going to be a Black win. Did the match fall a little short in the second half? Yeah. But if the God’s Last Gift had been the finish, I would have gone ****¾ because that’s what the match was building to, and it built to it excellently. As it is, what they were building too, never happened. And that killed the match. I love sixty-minute draws more than anyone I know. This was the wrong time to have it. And I have never been more disappointed in a match result. ROH had a chance to do everything right, and they let it slip through their fingers.
Average Match Rating: **½
Match of the Night:
Slimmer: Kevin Steen & El Generico vs. The Young Bucks (****¼)
The Tag Team Title match may have been slightly superior in terms of in-ring action alone, but the addition of the storyline focusing on Kevin Steen’s knee really put this one over the top. Fantastic in-ring action and a terrific story, both of which came together perfectly at the finish. And the emotional promo / shocking heel turn after the match was just icing on the cake. But the greatness of the Steenerico / Young Bucks match doesn’t take anything away from the American Wolves / Briscoe Brothers match, and I give a ton of credit to ROH for doing all that they can to keep tag team wrestling alive.
Lansdell: Kevin Steen & El Generico vs. The Young Bucks (****)
I had no inkling this would be the best match on the card tonight. None. It did everything it should have done and was the one match on the card that delivered to my expectations. That’s not a good sign.
Bauer: Kevin Steen & El Generico vs. The Young Bucks (****¾)
Excellent match throughout that showcased why ROH has the best tag division around.
Hubbard: Kevin Steen & El Generico vs. The Young Bucks (****¼)
his shouldn’t have been match of the night. Not because these guys can’t deliver, but because the matches that should have been MOTN, didn’t live up to their potential. Still, great match.
Trash of the Night:
Slimmer:Austin Aries vs. Tyler Black (**)
It’s hard for me to give this dubious distinction to Aries and Black, because I know how hard they both worked tonight. But this was the only match on the card that didn’t meet my expectations – in fact, it fell well short of my expectations. But honestly, trying and failing is always better than not trying at all, so I still respect the hell out of both guys for trying to give us something absolutely epic.
Lansdell: Austin Aries vs. Tyler Black (***)
I didn’t want to do this, but I have to. This could have been huge for ROH. HUGE. They could have put over the internet darling, they could have done so in spectacular fashion, but instead they killed the crowd, killed Tyler’s heat and put on a 60-minute draw that was, well…boring.
Bauer: Austin Aries vs. Tyler Black (*¼)
A 60 minute draw would normally be better, but not when 20 minutes are on the floor. For all the hype, this really fell flat.
Hubbard: Jack Evans vs. Teddy Hart (*½)
I hate doing this to Evans, because I love him. But this was everything I can’t stand about Indy wrestling. Ridiculous spots, no story. Indy spotmonkeys. I hated this.
Slimmer: This really was a tale of two shows. The first three hours of the show had eight good-to-great matches, including two fantastic tag team bouts. But the last hour of the show was an absolutely dumbfounding and really a waste of tremendous potential. The end result is thus a bit of a mixed bag, but it’s a mixed bag that I can definitely recommend. The two big tag matches need to be seen, and the other six preliminary matches are all fun. The main event is going to be controversial and derisive, so it’s probably best that you see if for yourself and make up your own mind.
Lansdell: ROH had a chance here to crack a new market and show what they could do. The price was right, the card was right, the weather was even right as the East coast of the US were almost all trapped inside. Instead we get a card of good matches that should have been great with shitty audio, horrible production and a real bush league feel that will only lend weight to the argument that ROH is the big fish in the small indy pond. It felt like a test run. Sure we had quality wrestling, probably better than we’ll see this month (although tomorrow night may trump it). I’m sure that some of the issues were on the part of GFL as well. Doesn’t matter. ROH presented their product in a substandard way and that hurt the overall quality of the card.
Bauer: This is a weird show to rate. The first half started okay and had a killer ending. The second half was totally hot and then fell hard. Still this was a pretty good show if you avoid the main event.
Hubbard: I am so polar opposite of everyone else on this show, because I absolutely believe that Aries-Black was a perfect story…without an ending. It kept my attention the whole time and I enjoyed every minute of it…except the last one. This is like taking the Dark Knight, and stopping before Batman can go save the kids from Harvey. I’m not punishing Aries and Black for their hard work. But ROH, you failed. BIG TIME. This could have been huge. You had a chance to correct every wrong done to every fan for the last year by giving Black the win. You didn’t. And you wouldn’t even let Aries win and please the other half of the fans. You pissed me off. There was quality wrestling on this card, and something for everyone. Unfortunately, I felt like I was getting a variety menu from McDonalds instead of a fine restaurant. Yeah, there’s variety, but it’s subpar. Oh, and don’t ever let me see Teddy Hart again.
Average Verdict: ***