Manhattan Center – New York City, NY – Saturday, December 23, 2006
MATCH #1: Four Corner Survival – Christopher Daniels vs. Davey Richards vs. El Generico vs. Jimmy Rave
Daniels has Allison Danger in his corner, and he is one half of the ROH World Tag Team Champions. Generico and Richards start it off. They chain wrestle back and forth, with neither getting a strong advantage. Generico uses a series of armdrags and a dropkick to send Richards to the floor. Back in the ring Richards tags Daniels, who for some reason came to the ring without his Tag Team Title belt. Daniels and Generico chain wrestle a bit and then Rave tags in to take his shot at the Fallen Angel. The pace is quick and aggressive between these two, and when Daniels makes the tag to Richards, Rave immediately bails. Rave and Richards had a series of matches earlier in 2006 that did not go well for Rave, by the way. Richards and Daniels seem to form a bit of a unit, tagging in and out and working on Generico. Eventually Richards gets to Rave and dominates. Rave quickly tags out but Richards has no problem fighting Generico either. Richards dominates but can’t quite put Generico away yet. Daniels tags himself in and hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and the uranage slam. He hits the Best Moonsault Ever and Generico breaks up the cover. The offense is coming from all over the place now. Rave has been hiding for quite some time, which is a smart strategy. Richards goes up for the Shooting Star Press but a momentary distraction by Daniels allows Generico to pop up and hit the Top-Rope Brainbuster. Rave blind tagged himself in and he snags Generico in the Heel Hook to get the tap out win at 17:49. That was a great opener, with fast-paced action and enough from everyone to look good. I loved the finish, as it makes Rave look both smart and tough, and it made the crowd pissed at him. Rave was underrated.
After the match Rave gets on the mic and talks some trash so Nigel McGuinness comes out to fight him. Rave gets cracked in the jaw and he bails.
MATCH #2: Adam Pearce vs. Ricky Reyes
Pearce is accompanied by Shane Hagadorn, who is accompanied by his Top of the Class Trophy. “Scrap Iron” talks some trash about Homicide before being interrupted by Ricky Reyes and Julius Smokes. Of course, Smokes has a retort. I don’t really care what he says and then Reyes attacks Pearce to start this apparently impromptu match. Reyes controls the opening minute and then Pearce catches him with a spinebuster to take the advantage. Momentum shifts back and forth between two of the duller in-ring competitors ROH had at this time. Reyes locks on the Dragon Sleeper but the referee is distracted by Hagadorn and Smokes brawling on the floor. Pearce then levels Reyes with brass knuckles and the referee turns around to count the pin at 3:22. After the match Pearce and Hagadorn beat up Reyes and Smokes some more. Not much to see here match-wise, but it did put some heat on the main event so at least it served a purpose.
MATCH #3: BJ Whitmer & Colt Cabana vs. Jimmy Jacobs & Brent Albright
Jacobs and Albright have Lacey with them, while Whitmer and Cabana counter with Daizee Haze. Cabana and Whitmer attack Albright and Jacobs from behind to start the brawl. Albright gets pitched to the floor, so Jacobs gets double-teamed by his hated rivals. Tide quickly turnas when Albright gets back in the ring to join Jacobs in the fight. The referee has had no control of this match whatsoever yet. All four men spill to the floor. Whitmer sets up a table between the apron and the guardrail, but Albright stops Cabana and Whitmer from using it. Mortal enemies Jacobs and Whitmer end up in the ring together but they quickly take it back to the floor. The action in this one has been non-stop. Jacobs and Albright slow it down and isolate Whitmer, keeping him in their half of the ring. Eventually Whitmer makes the hot tag and here comes Boom-Boom. Cabana dominates both Albright and Jacobs briefly, but Albright comes back with a 61Knee and Jacobs follows with a Spear for a near-fall. Whitmer comes in and catches Albright with a spinebuster, and then hits Jacobs with the Exploder. Cabana covers for two. Whitmer tags in and hits Jacobs with a brainbuster for two. Cabana and Whitmer try a Doomsday Device but Jacobs avoids it and hits Cabana with the Contra Code and Whitmer with the headscissors. Albright then powerbombs Whitmer from the ring through the table on the floor! That looked nasty. Albright then hits a series of rolling German Suplexes on Cabana, and Jacobs follows with a hard senton bomb to get the pin at 13:49. I had almost no memory of that match and it surprised me. The action was non-stop and he crowd was rocking with them for the duration. They worked the formula but threw in some good big spots too just for icing on the cake.
MATCH #4: Jay & Mark Briscoe vs. The Kings of Wrestling
Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli are accompanied by Larry Sweeney. The Briscoes start off hot, eager to avenge last night’s loss. Mark hits a dive off the top rope into the aisle to wipe out both Kings before the bell can even ring. Speaking of the bell, it seems to ring rather arbitrarily. I question Bryce Remsburg’s judgment here. The Briscoes fly all over the place and keep the Kings reeling. After a few minutes the Kings come back on Jay and cut the ring in half. Jay fights back and catches Hero in a Fisherman’s Buster, but the Kings use chicanery to prevent the tag. Hero and Claudio continue working Jay over, putting him in a bad way. Eventually Jay makes the hot tag and Mark is a house afire. I have no idea who this is on commentary with Prazak, by the way. Mark goes for a springboard splash, but Hero gets the knees up. Claudio tags in and hits the Riccola Bomb but Mark kicks out at two. Jay tags back in and hits Claudio with a gourdbuster for two. Claudio tags out and Hero hits a cravat suplex out of the corner for two. The momentum shifts back and forth multiple times as neither team can stay in control for very long. The Kings hit Power & Glory’s old finisher, but it only gets two. The Briscoes isolate on Castagnoli but can’t quite put him away. Then in an amazing spot, Claudio carries both Briscoes for a variation of the Giant Swing. I love Claudio. The referee has totally lost control of this one, with all four guys fighting in the ring. Jay hits Hero with the Jay Driller, Claudio hits Jay with the Alpamare Water Slide, Mark hits Claudio with the Cutthroat Driver, and all four men are down. Hero and Jay are up first, and they strike back and forth. Sweeney distracts the referee and Claudio brings in the Halliburton briefcase, but he accidentally hits Hero! The Briscoes then hit a simultaneous shooting star press (Mark) / guillotine legdrop (Jay) for the pin at 16:02. That was great tag team action that almost never stopped, and the crowd was moist for it the entire time.
After the match Castagnoli reveals that he is staying in ROH (he had signed with WWE but was let go after something like a week I think). Castagnoli says the Kings of Wrestling will be dominant in 2007. Larry Sweeney disagrees. Sweeney says that Castagnoli killed the Kings of Wrestling when he decided to leave, and he can’t un-decide. Castagnoli thinks Hero will choose him over Sweeney. Unfortunately for Castagnoli, he is wrong, and Hero goes with Sweeney without a physical altercation. That’s weird.
Before Castagnoli can leave the ring, Samoa Joe makes his way out. Joe is angry and tells Castagnoli to beat it. He wants to face the best NOAH has to offer on February 16 when ROH returns to New York City. Nigel McGuinness objects, and offers to kick Joe’s ass himself. Jimmy Rave comes out and attacks McGuinness from behind. Joe slaps Rave in the face for fun, and then suggests McGuinness versus Rave.
MATCH #5: Nigel McGuinness vs. Jimmy Rave
Rave aggressively attacks to start and McGuinness is ready for him. McGuinness starts to attack the arm, no doubt looking to use the London Dungeon. The fight spills to the floor and Rave is using his surroundings to his advantage. Back in the ring Rave keeps McGuinness off his feet and continues to wear him down. McGuinness fights back and goes to the arm again. Rave ducks a lariat and hits a Spear. McGuinness rolls to the floor and Rave levels him with a running knee strike from the apron. Rave tries to keep McGuinness reeling, but the feisty Brit comes back with his first Lariat. McGuinness goes on offense, even hitting the Tower of London for a two-count. Rave hits a nice tornado DDT for two. He hits Ghanarrhea for a near-fall. Rave gets the Greetings from Ghana and McGuinness kicks out at one! McGuinness is fired up, but Rave puts that fire out with From Dusk till Dawn. Luckily for McGuinness he’s able to reach the ropes. Rave hits a back suplex but McGuinness pops back with the Rebound Lariat for two. McGuinness connects with a Tower of London on the ring apron! He covers but Rave kicks out! McGuinness sets Rave on the top rope and hits a huge lariat but it only gets two! He tries the Rebound Lariat again but Rave ducks it and locks on the Heel Hook and McGuinness taps out at 16:58! This is an unfairly forgotten feud, as the hatred between these two seemed very real. They went back and forth and gave each other their best shots. Rave going over clean via submission gives McGuinness reason to seek a rematch and makes Rave a huge threat.
MATCH #6: Dragon Gate Rules Match – Austin Aries, Roderick Strong & Delirious vs. Matt Sydal, CIMA & SHINGO
I don’t expect to do much play-by-play for this one. Delirious and Sydal start the match with some fast-paced back-and-forth chain wrestling. They quickly tumble to the floor so Strong and SHINGO take their place. They try to out-power each other and Strong wins that battle with a chop. SHINGO rolls to the floor so CIMA comes in. CIMA knocks Strong out with a dropkick so Aries takes his place. The two team captains go back and forth, and Aries proves why you should never put him in a headscissors. CIMA rolls to the floor and Aries wipes everyone out with a twisting body press. Back in the ring Team Aries isolates CIMA from his partners. CIMA takes out Strong and Delirious and makes the hot tag to SHINGO. Strong and Delirious try to double-team and the referee loses control. SHINGO and Sydal offer a lot of awesome together as a team. Aries gets isolated now as Team CIMA keeps him in their half of the ring. Finally, Aries connects with a quebrada on SHINGO and CIMA and make the tag. Strong is a house afire and Delirious joins him in kind. CIMA gets trapped in a corner, and Strong hits a running forearm, Aries follows with the IED, and then Delirious hits the Panic Attack for a two-count. Delirious traps SHINGO in the corner and hits the Roots Clotheslines. SHINGO comes back with a TKO for two. Bodies are flying all over the place and Sydal takes everyone out with a beautiful moonsault to the floor. Aries and CIMA are first back in the ring, and CIMA takes control. Team CIMA runs like a well-oiled machine with some impressive triple-teams. Strong comes back with a superplex on SHINGO and the Sick Kick. CIMA hits Strong with Venus, but then runs into the Bizarro Driver from Delirious for two. Sydal hits Strong with an amazing neckbreaker for a two-count. Aries kicks Sydal in the head and Delirious hits Chemical Imbalance II for a near-fall. The action is coming way too fast for me to keep up with. Strong hits Sydal with a gutbuster, Delirious hits Shadows over Hell, and Aries lands the 450 but CIMA breaks up the cover. SHINGO hits Strong with the Pumping Bomber. CIMA and SHINGO hit Aries with a Doomsday Cross Body, and then SHINGO hits a gut-wrench suplex for two. Delirious traps SHINGO in the Cobra Stretch and CIMA breaks that up. CIMA hits Delirious with a superkick and Schwein but only gets two. He follows up with the Crossfire to finally get the pin at 24:02. What a ton of fun. All six guys went 100 MPH through the whole match and everyone was spot-on with their moves. It didn’t feel long at all.
MATCH #7: ROH World Title Match – Bryan Danielson vs. Homicide
Danielson has been the Champion since 9.17.05, and this is his thirty-ninth defense. Homicide has promised to leave Ring of Honor if he does not win the World Title tonight. They start off cautiously, taking it to the mat and trading holds. Danielson goes after the shoulder. He uses the surfboard, and then stomps Homicide’s knees into the canvas. Homicide fights back with strikes to take the advantage briefly but Danielson cuts him right off. They take it to the floor and that’s Homicide’s element. Homicide throws Danielson into the barricade and then back in the ring for a chinlock. Danielson breaks it with a chin-breaker. Homicide responds with the Three Amigos and then goes for the Frog Splash, but Adam Pearce and Shane Hagadorn come out and throw him down for the DQ at 10:50. The crowd is furious. Julius Smokes comes out to make the save, as does another random dude. Referee Todd Sinclair decides that there is no way the match can end like that and we’re underway again!
Homicide is rejuvenated, and he takes it right to the World Champion. He hits an overhead belly-to-belly suplex for two. Danielson cuts him off and goes right back to the shoulder. He this a roaring elbow for a near-fall. Danielson goes up for a diving headbutt, but Homicide catches him with an Ace Crusher! Homicide fires up and suplexes Danielson to the floor and follows him out with the Tope Con Hilo. Back in the ring now Homicide targets Danielson’s also injured shoulder. Danielson fights back with a European Uppercut off the second rope. He goes up top and hits the diving headbutt for two. Danielson follows with a bridging German Suplex for two and Homicide kicks out and then turns it into an armbar! The Champ gets to the ropes and then they start trading strikes with each other. Homicide spears Danielson through the ropes and then goes for a baseball slide, but Danielson catches him and dumps him over the guardrail. Danielson follows with the springboard dive, appearing to take a pretty nasty fall. Back in the ring Danielson hits a missile dropkick. Danielson tries the belly-to-back superplex, but Homicide turns the momentum in mid-air and gets a two-count, and Danielson rolls that over for his own near-fall. Back on their feet Danielson tries a lariat but Homicide catches him with an exploder. Homicide goes up top, but this time Danielson hits the belly-to-back superplex and Homicide kicks out at two. Danielson hits the series of elbows and then turns it into the Crossface Chicken Wing with a body scissors. Homicide reaches the ropes but Danielson refuses to let go. Sinclair won’t disqualify the champ, so Homicide powers out of the move. Homicide hits a butterfly suplex and a dragon screw leg whip. He then locks on the STF and Danielson rakes the face to break it. Danielson comes back with Cattle Mutilation and turns it into a Tiger Suplex for two, and then turns it right back into Cattle Mutilation. Homicide won’t quit and is able to get a Bret Hart rollup for two. Back on their feet Homicide ducks a roaring forearm and hits Da Cop Killa! Danielson reaches the ropes to break. Homicide goes for the ring bell, but Sinclair stops him. Danielson delivers a low blow and gets a small package, but it only gets two. Homicide then lands a huge lariat to get the pin and win the title at 18:34! That was a bit on the long side, but the emotion and the crowd heat helped sustain it, and the pop for the win was enormous. I’m not a big Homicide fan but he’s an important figure in ROH and they built up to this moment very well and it felt huge. The locker room empties to see Danielson hand the belt over and to celebrate with the new Champ. Homicide revels in the moment for sure.
The end of Bryan Danielson’s title reign was as historic moment and a huge deal that had been built up for most of the year, so it was a satisfying way to end 2006. I threw a ton of other snowflakes at these matches, except a three-minute angle-enhancement match for the main event. Final Battle usually did a good job capping off the ROH year, and this is still one of the best Final Battle events.
Tags: Bryan Danielson, Final Battle, Homicide, ROH, shingo