Ring Of Honor DVD Review: Final Battle 2007 – 12/30/07

Hey everyone. This will be my first Ring of Honor DVD review for Pulse Wrestling and it starts off with the last Ring of Honor show of the year: Final Battle 2007. I was live at this event and it’s been hard to keep my personal experience of the show separate from the Final Battle 2007 DVD. However, I think I’ve done a good job of keep my perspective focused clearly on the DVD. In addition, none of my forthcoming reviews will have any spoilers. There are ROH fans out there who like to keep up with only the DVDs and ignore any sort of spoilers and I would hate to ruin the show for them.

Final Battle 2007 – 12/30/07, Manhattan, NY

Final Battle 2007 takes place the night after the Ring of Honor’s “Rising Above” PPV and this DVD picks up right where that show ended. Austin Aries sits on a bench, winded from the contest that just took place. As the camera looks to him for a comment, Aries responds that he hasn’t got anything and walks away. It’s clear that we’ve caught Aries in an emotional state and he needs time to gather himself.

Becky Bayless then interviews the Briscoes, who seem ready to go. Ring of Honor has passed on word to both teams that they must follow all the rules. Well the Briscoes seem more than ready to follow the rules and tell each other and the Age of the Fall of to “Man Up!”

Match 1: Bobby Fish and Matt Cross vs. Ruckus and Jigsaw

This was a completely meh contest that could have been completely cut from the DVD. In fact, the Bobby Dempsey vs. Mitch Franklin match from the pre-show (which is NOT on the DVD) could have replaced this match and the DVD would have been better for it.

The first thing that needs to be stated is that no one watches an opener with Jigsaw, Ruckus, and Matt Cross in it for the headlocks (Bobby Fish gets a pass because he looks like he can make a headlock count). This is same kind of idea that killed the PAC/Davey Richards match from Manhattan Mayhem 2 for a lot of people because the majority of the match was spent on floor when everyone expected PAC to fly. When he finally did, it was too little, too late. Luckily, the crowd wasn’t in the mood for blood during Final Battle 2007.

The second thing that needs to be stated is that if you’re going to get the audience to start clapping for you, make sure you’re going to make it worth their energy. As the match starts, Jigsaw stomps his foot in order to get the audience clapping for them to get it on. All this ends up with is a goddamn headlock. It makes no sense. Why would you try to get the audience into your match if all you’re going to reward them with a rest hold? It only makes them hesitant to get into the match the next time you try to get them going.

Overall, the match had very little worth watching. There were a couple of pretty cool spots involving cartwheels by Ruckus and Cross and some neat dives to the outside, but other than that, this was completely forgettable. However Bobby Fish looked awesome and I hope that gets brought back sometime in the future.

And in a final quick note, Lenny Leonard claimed during the match that Matt Cross had lost a “Loser Leaves ROH For 60 Days” Match on October 5th. Cross actually lost that match on October 6th during the Undeniable PPV.

Match 2: Larry Sweeney vs. Claudio Castagnoli

Larry Sweeney comes out with his posse of Daniel Puder, Tank Toland, Sarah Del Ray, and Bobby Dempsey. After welcoming Puder into S&S, Sweeney announces that Claudio would be unable to compete due to a leg injury sustained during the “Rising Above” PPV. However, Claudio comes out and pulls out a contract saying that if Sweeney didn’t wrestle him, Sweeney could never do business in ROH again. With this, Claudio grabs Sweeney by the throat only to be attacked by Toland while the referee is getting the rest of Sweet and Sour out of the ring.

This was another meh match that didn’t live up to its potential. The thing I think that went wrong with Sweeney/Claudio was the entire lack of fun. Usually seeing Larry Sweeney do anything is a hoot. However he just seemed to be panicked and out to end the match as quickly as possible. Although it is understandable why he would have that reaction to facing Claudio, the lack of fun really brought down the match. A number of times S&S got involved in the match, but there was no sense of fun in their involvement. It was just utterly dry.

And then before you know it, the match is over. Er…

If anything hurt this match, it was the lack of time given to it. Just when they get going, there is a winner announced and it’s over. You know for a match that was built up for over a year, this certainly wasn’t the way I expected it to be put into play and I’m sure I’m not the only one that thinks that. For shame…

After the match Larry Sweeney cuts a promo telling Puder to show Chris Hero a thing or two to get Hero ready for his match later in the night.

Match 3: No DQ: Jack Evans vs. The Necro Butcher

Had Final Battle 2007 started off here, with the first two matches on the card left off the DVD, it would have been a much better show for it because this was the first good match of the night and Evans and Necro told a great story. It was a tale of power vs. speed and resilience and of how no matter how hard Necro Butcher hurt Evans, Jack would still find the strength to kick out.

I enjoyed this match a lot and was captivated by who would win in the end. However a host of interference towards the end detracted from enjoyment of it. However, a new member of The Vulture Squad was introduced in Mercedes Martinez who was referred to as “Booty Vulture”. Still, if her introduction hadn’t affected the match as much as it did, I wouldn’t have minded. On top of that, the commentators completely no sold the arrival of Mercedes. When you watch the DVD, Mercedes is on the screen for nearly ten seconds, if not more, to pure silence from the commentators. It was asinine.

Anyway, even with my issues, I still enjoyed the match and thought that if this had been the opener for the show, Final Battle 2007 would have been better for it.

Match 4: Davey Richards vs. Naomichi Marufuji

This was a great match and my personal match of the night. These guys pulled out all kinds of unique moves and crazy spots, much to the enjoyment of the crowd and myself at home. There was the dive from hell where Davey Richards ended up in the fifth row. There was the crazy tombstone reversals. There was all sorts of great stuff that I just can’t bring myself to ruin for everyone who will take the plunge on this DVD, but again I have to say this is the match of the night.

I should mention that Marufuji has been guilty of exercising exhibition style matches in Ring of Honor for the longest of times now. However, I can say no such thing about Marufuji for this match. Him and Davey really put themselves out there for the NYC crowd and I can’t say how much I appreciate it. Most likely, in retrospect, he put the effort he did because he would be leaving the company for the next five months (he still isn’t back yet). Either way, great stuff.

After the match, Becky Bayless interview the Age of the Fall in the basement. Unfortunately, you can’t see anything since the group is hidden in the darkness and the group doesn’t say anything new. Meh.

Match 5: Tables Are Legal Match: Adam Pearce, Brent Albright, and BJ Whitmer vs. Delirious, Kevin Steen, and El Generico

This was a good match hurt by a middle portion where next to nothing happened. The Hangmen basically kept Steen and Delirious at bay while they beat down Generico. Had this portion been shortened in editing, the match would have been a lot better for it. As it is, I enjoyed this match but found my eye wandering to the fast forward button during the middle.

There were also a couple of pretty cool cameos towards the start and end of the match by Bushwacker Luke and Pelle Primeau that helped me get back into it. The piledriver spot was crazy as well and Delirious is lucky to not have ended up paralyzed. Otherwise, when the match worked, it was really some craziness. They must have destroyed nearly ten tables if not more, and times even putting tables that were already broken into play. Good stuff.

Afterwards Pearce cuts a promo while Albright smokes a cigar

Match 6: Ernie Osiris vs. Rocky Romero

This was a short, enjoyable squash match. It was fast paced and over before you know it. Osiris looked good and sold like a champ and Romero looked great.

After the match Nigel McGuinness comes out and teases forfeiting the Ring of Honor World title. The crowd is heavily split between “Drop the belt” and “Nigel” chants. The mood is pure emotion and is a highlight of the DVD. Eventually Nigel decides to keep the belt in spite of everyone who tells him to give it up because he deserves the belt for the injuries its gotten him.

Match 7: FIP Heavyweight Title Match: Erick Stevens vs. Roderick Strong

Now when this DVD came out, people asked about the sound levels of the audience and wondered if the NYC crowds were burned out. Now I have proof that Ring of Honor mixed the audience down so that their commentators could be more audible to those at home. If you fast forward your Final Battle 2007 disc to 1:54:19 as Prazack announces, “He nails it!”, you can hear the overall noise levels of the ambient/treble sound increase. This proves that Ring of Honor mixed the NYC crowd lower and to that I say, “Boo!” This practice hurt the full enjoyability of the show for many, including myself, and in the future a new audio mix for Final Battle 2007 should be done so that NYC doesn’t sound as if it’s falling asleep.

Anyway, this was a good match between two hard hitters. Roderick hadn’t been relevant to NYC since he turned on Aries at FYF: NYC and Stevens just isn’t all that appreciated. However their workrate in this match only set to make NYC more appreciative of both guys (as seen in 6th Anniversary Show) and finally made the FIP title worth something in Ring of Honor. A slow middle hurt the match, and a lack of empathy from the audience for the starting half didn’t help matters much. However as the hard hitting, cringe inducing match went on, the audience got more and more into their match until the ending. Definitely worth watching but their FIP matches and newer stuff is more moving.

Match 8: Number One Contender Match: Chris Hero vs. Austin Aries vs. Bryan Danielson vs. Takeshi Morishima

This was a great match and was my favorite match of the night live except that on the home video translation, poor editing, poor camera positioning, and poor sound mixing all hurt the match. To be truthful, this was Chris Hero’s match. The guy had NYC up on his feet. However that barely comes across on the DVD since Hero is almost always out of frame as he does his thing. In one pinning combination where Hero attempts to throw his knee up on a pile of wrestlers to get a pinfall, over half his body is cut out of the picture. This happens a number of times and to someone who was there live, it bothers me that the live experience wasn’t represented on the DVD as fully as it could have been.

Nevertheless, this is a great match. Every time someone gets eliminated, the match dynamic clearly changes and the remaining wrestlers all change their game plan to suit their opponents. I’ve normally never been a big fan of the Aries/Dragon matches since they’ve always felt exhibition-y to me, but here the two guys really go at it and make the match that much more awesome. Morishima meanwhile looked like the big scary guy no one really wanted to mess with (thanks Chris Hero!), unless you had a huge chip on your shoulder and wanted to prove something (Dragon/Aries). It’s funny that Morishima left the company back for 5 months after this match only to come back as the GHC Champion. Boy does that say something or what?

Match 9: Jimmy Jacobs and Tyler Black vs. The Briscoes

This was one great hard hitting match that the audience seemed apathetic towards until halfway in. A lot of people have said that the Briscoes have gotten stale but they really gave it their all at Final Battle 2007. There were a bunch of great spots including a Springboard Doomsday Device to the outside, a giant hip toss on the metal ramp, and a Doomsday Hurricanrana. While I do think that the Briscoes have been getting stale, they (and the Age of the Fall), put on a hell of a main event for Final Battle 2007. From the second the match starts to the second the match ends, there are slow no moments. With Nigel out, it was up to these guys to make the final 2007 Ring of Honor match count and boy did they make it count.

Final Thoughts

Overall this was a fun show slowed down by poor production. Still it’s more than good enough that it’s worth putting in your collection. Between Evans/Necro, Marufuji/Richards, Stevens/Strong, Hero/Dragon/Aries/Morishima, and Briscoes/AotF, this show has so much good wrestling that it deserves a see through at least once. Live, I would have said that Hero/Dragon/Aries/Morishima was the match of the night, but on the DVD, it’s clearly Marufuji/Richards. Either way, buy the DVD.

8.5 out of 10

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