Ring of Honor has been a launching pad for all your favorite wrestlers at some point or another for the past twenty-one years. Men and women across the United States and the world at large have made claim in Ring of Honor as their home promotion at one time or another, and some had some notable moments being a part of the roster. The independent wrestling boom in the early 2000s saw promotions like Ring of Honor take top talent and raise their stock even more.
One of the feature events of ROH, Final Battle, culminated all the heated rivalries throughout the year, and gave them the final chance to settle the score. On December 11, Ring of Honor ends one era, as they go in a state of flux. A lot of unknowns at this moment, but as we wait and see what happens after then, let’s talk about some of the better Final Battle moments.
Bryan Danielson vs. Takeshi Morishima – Fight without Honor: Final Battle 2008
This was a year and a half long battle, that saw a lot of blood, a broken eye socket, and a lot of hard hits back and forth. Danielson, coming into this already the underdog, dealt with a lot as he tried to take down the former Ring of Honor champion.
The only way these two could manage to get some sort of final blowoff would be to beat one another up, in what is just a no-rules match. Blood poured instantly from Danielson, but his resilience, one of his strongest traits during his time in Ring of Honor stood tall, and with the use of a steel chain, beat the life out of Morishima.
When remembering this match, I just remember Bryan running out here guns blazing. Bryan did whatever he could to beat Morishima in a speedy contest and to try and tire out Morishima early, but in the end, we would see a style more fitting of Morishima. Bryan doing those MMA elbows at the end with a chain wrapped around his arm is something I still think about as well when looking back at this match.
Bryan Danielson vs. Homicide – ROH World Title Match: Final Battle 2006
Bryan Danielson, who was the current Ring of Honor World Champion, was heading into this match, hurting. He separated his shoulder during one of his many sixty-minute classics against Colt Cabana in a best 2 out of 3 falls match at Gut Check.
Homicide, on the other hand, was the MVP of 2003. Should’ve been ROH World Champion by now, but we’ll get to that at another time. After a year-long feud with then-ROH Commissioner Jim Cornette, he finally was able to get his guaranteed title shot, after helping Team ROH take down the evil Team CZW. Bryan still put up a classic match despite the shoulder injury, but it was time for his reign to end as Homicide took the victory to the delight of the Manhattan Center crowd.
Bryan’s tenacity is something I truly remember, as he worked since September of that year with a separated shoulder, something that not many wrestlers could do, or want to do. He’d miss the first five months of 2007 recovering from the shoulder injury, but in this moment, it was all about Homicide. Friends and family were there for Homicide as he won the belt in his hometown. They chanted and got excited over Homicide in this match, cheering for their loved one. He may have had the whole Ring of Honor office against him, but that night, it didn’t matter. The Power of the City proved to be all that was needed to push Homicide over the edge to victory.
SCU vs. The Young Bucks vs. The Briscoes – Ladder War for the ROH World Tag Titles: Final Battle 2018
This was the last hurrah for both SCU and The Young Bucks as both teams would head off to some T-Shirt company, known as All-Elite Wrestling. The Briscoes, Ring of Honor originals, would be the constant, still with the company today, including getting a final opportunity at the Ring of Honor World Tag titles on December 11.
This match was nothing short of a spectacle, as all three teams brought their different elements that make all three great. Putting all of them together gave us something magical. The Briscoes would go on and win this match, but this was such a great send-off for Scorpio Sky, Frankie Kazarian, Matt, and Nick Jackson.
There are a lot of crazy, memorable spots in this match that were left me astounded and mesmerized. Nick Jackson was the star of this match for me, nearly killing himself in a spot where he went from a ladder to the ropes, and finally through a table. Later, he talked about that match and how he thought he separated his shoulder from that spot, but it was surely an amazing moment for him and this match.
Also, you can’t forget how good The Briscoes were at this style. Even though they are known to be more of a brawling team, they stepped up and showed another side of them when a ladder got in play.
Cody vs. Dalton Castle – ROH World Title Match: Final Battle 2017
This match was everything you wanted out of a main event. The heel (Cody) playing his part right. The face (Dalton Castle) playing his part right. The story behind it, while a bit clunky, still gave us a very special moment when Castle finally became champion.
The atmosphere at the Hammerstein Ballroom was electric too. I was there with some friends who weren’t familiar with the Ring of Honor product and they were excited and hooked to their seats throughout this match.
The reign of Dalton Castle on the other hand, can be considered slightly upsetting knowing what we know about Dalton and his back, but nevertheless, this was an outstanding modern ROH moment.
Dalton was easily the fan favorite in this match, with the crowd 100% behind him, including me un attendance. He was the person that needed to dethrone Cody. Cody was the evil villain that, as we’d learned, even the Bullet Club was getting tired of being around, causing dissension in the ranks. The Hammerstein Ballroom crowd was not going to allow Cody to leave with the ROH World Title.
Kevin Steen vs. El Generico – Fight Without Honor: Mask vs. ROH Career: Final Battle 2010
This started at Final Battle 2009, where Kevin Steen turned on his friend, El Generico after losing to a very young upstart team, known as the Young Bucks. The story of this feud was over bitterness and hatred over one being more liked. Generico couldn’t touch his friend, as he still felt love. Until Generico snapped, and there really couldn’t be anything else that could be done after that.
The friendship between Generico and Steen was something that people questioned very early in their teaming in Ring of Honor. Steen was always a bit aggressive towards Generico, with fans always doubting the team would last. A ROH World Tag Team Championship win in early 2008 changed a lot of people’s minds, and then they became a cohesive team. Of course, that history was thrown to the side.
This match had a lot of callbacks to previous matches of theirs. There were a lot of points where you felt Generico was going to lose his mask, but Generico took that anger and channeled it towards Steen. You wouldn’t see Steen again until Death Before Dishonor IX at the Hammerstein in 2011, but it wouldn’t be until his victory against Steve Corino at Final Battle 2011, where he’d get his Ring of Honor career back.
Steen and Generico weren’t finished of course, ultimately rekindling their feud in 2012, with them facing one final time at Final Battle 2012 in a now famous Ladder War.
The break-up during Final Battle 2009 hurt. I didn’t expect the viciousness of Steen to come out there, and he really took it to Generico. All the years of pent up anger and frustration came out after their loss to the Young Bucks, and from there a blood feud started between the two that went not only in Ring of Honor, but also in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, among others on the independents, to NXT and WWE.
There are so many good times and great memories not only from the Final Battle events but Ring of Honor as well. In my upcoming podcast, PURE, we look at the storied history of Ring of Honor, past, present, and well, we will see about the future. You can catch that podcast and many more only on the Count Out Network.