By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Tonight, live at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, Ring of Honor will present its Final Battle event, their premier pay-per-view each year. That should be apparent based off what's on tap including a ROH World Championship match between Adam Cole and Kyle O'Reilly and a first-time-ever encounter between Jay Lethal and Cody.
This might be the most excited I've been for an ROH pay-per-view all year, and that's saying something considering I was in attendance for their All Star Extravaganza show back in late September and that was a wild night. If you have yet to watch a ROH show, this would be a good place to start as I can virtually guarnatee that you won't be disappointed with what you'll see.
Also, be sure to check out my exclusive interviews with Cole and Lethal ahead of tonight's event talking about their respective matches, the company's influence on other organizations, and so much more. With that out of the way, let's start making predictions for the card!
The Motor City Machine Guns and Donovan Dijak vs. The Cabinet
This is the only match on the Final Battle card that doesn't have any real storyline significance, but I can't complain because usually with Ring of Honor pay-per-views, there are a handful of matches that have very little build-up. This could a fun filler bout/opener for the show, and it should be a blast from an in-ring standpoint.
I'm not exactly sure when Donoavon Dijak turned babyface, or if this is a wild card pairing with The Motor City Machine Guns, but either way, I like it. There's been plenty of focus on Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin since All Star Extravaganza, so I think their trio will take the victory here. The Cabinet, if they're even going by that name anymore, simply don't do anything for me. Regardless, expect the winning team to enter the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Championship picture in the near future.
The Motor City Machine Guns and Donovan Dijak win
Dalton Castle vs. Colt Cabana
I was slightly disappointed Dalton Castle and Colt Cabana broke up as soon as they did given the split felt premature. I don't know if they were teaming much prior to All Star Extravaganza, but when I saw them live at that show, they were one of the most over acts of the night. They fell short in capturing the ROH World Tag Team Championship at a live event, and Cabana turned on him shortly thereafter on ROH TV.
That isn't to say this feud will be a flop because it could be beneficial for both guys in giving them something meaningful to do, I just thought their tag team could have had lasted longer before they broke up. At any rate, Cabana as a heel is a refreshing chance of pace for him considering he's been a babyface for some time now. Obviously, the program is only getting started, so I assume Cabana will lead the feud with the first win.
Colt Cabana wins
Silas Young vs. Jushin "Thunder" Liger
I wish I could say that Silas Young being in a high profile match with Jushin "Thunder" Liger would mean that a prominent push is on the horizon for him, but I remember he feuded with Kevin Steen a few years back as Steen was leaving for NXT and not even that elevated him, nor did his subsequent feuds with Dalton Castle or ACH. I know he recently challenged for the ROH World Championship, but I doubt ROH sees him as a main event caliber competitor in the long-term, which is a shame considering how great his character is.
If ROH had any intentions of positioning him higher on the card, they would have done it already. He can always be counted on for a quality contest, though, and I'm sure this match with Liger will be good. But I'm nearly certain that it's the same thing we saw with Tyler Breeze back at TakeOver: Brooklyn last year: Young/Breeze is a midcarder at best, he has an enjoyable outing with Liger, and he ultimately loses.
Jushin "Thunder" Liger wins
Kushida, Jay White and Lio Rush vs. The Kingdom (ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Championship Tournament Finals)
I might be in the minority here, but I'm really digging The New Kingdom led by Matt Taven. I'm actually already familiar with TK O'Ryan and Vinny Marseglia as they are both Northeast Wrestling regulars. Together, they have a great chemistry and I've loved the presentation of them thus far. They beat The Bullet Club in the first round, so they almost need to become the inaugural ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Champions.
As for the babyface trio, they will definitely deliver better six-man matches than The Kingdom, but it's such a random assortment of wrestlers. They're all amazing high-flyers, but they have little character development. Hell, ACH had been teaming with Kushida and Jay White up until his departure! The feel-good moment would be them winning, but I believe it was at Final Battle last year that Taven got injured and lost the ROH World Tag Team Championship, so it would be fitting for him to reclaim gold in this matchup one year later.
The Kingdom become the first-ever ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Champions
Marty Scrull vs. Will Ospreay vs. Bobby Fish vs. Dragon Lee (ROH World Television Championship Four Corner Survival Match)
I understand why ROH had the ROH World Television Championship chang hands twice during their recent tour of the United Kingdom, and Will Ospreay and Marty Scrull are tremendous talents, but I don't know, I thought Fish losing the title after holding it for so many months should have been a bigger deal (i.e. televised). There have been several points over the course of his reign where I felt he should have dropped the belt, so I had mixed emotions when I heard he lost it at a house show.
I haven't seen too much of Ospreay's and Scrull's work, but from what I know, they're major signings for ROH. Dragon Lee comes across like the odd man out of the equation, being the only competitor of the four to have never held the title. He's an exceptional athlete himself, so I'd have no problem with him picking up the belt here, but it's time for Scrull to hang on to it and establish an identity for himself in ROH with a lengthy title reign.
Marty Scurll retains the ROH World Television Championship
The Young Bucks vs. The Briscoes (ROH World Tag Team Championship)
So, what did The Briscoes do to earn a shot at the ROH World Tag Team Championship again? Based off name value alone, this is a marquee match, but The Briscoes have been floudering almost all year round. Jay went from competing for the ROH World Championship to losing in the first round of the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Championship Tourmanet to now going after the ROH World Tag Team Championship. He needs to find a solid direction for himself and fast.
There is little question that The Young Bucks are one of the hottest things going in wrestling today, and ROH putting their tag belts on them at All Star Extravaganza was long overdue. It would be a waste to have them lose the belts so soon, unless they don't plan on re-signing later this month. I expect they will stay with ROH, and thus they're my pick here.
The Young Bucks retain the ROH World Tag Team Championship
Jay Lethal vs. Cody
Jay mentioned when I spoke with him earlier this week that he thought this match was at a distinct disadvantage in not having any real build or storyline reason behind it, but in all honesty, it doesn't need a multi-month build-up. Lethal is undoubtedly one of the best wrestlers in the world today and this will be Cody's debut match/appearance in ROH. What more needs to be said?
I'm not sure what the future holds for Cody in ROH, and they don't seem like the type of company to put a free agent such as him over an established star like Lethal. But I saw advertising for a tour ROH will be doing next year and saw Cody's face featured, so I assume he'll be sticking around at least for a few more months. If that's the case, he should win here because it will send the message right out of the gate that he has his sights set on the world title and is worthy of challenging for it. Could you imagine how epic an Adam Cole vs. Cody match would be down the road?
Adam Cole vs. Kyle O'Reilly (ROH World Championship)
We go from a match that has zero build to a bout that has been brewing for literally years. Adam Cole and Kyle O'Reilly were signed by ROH right around the same time, started out as a tag team and became arch-enemies years later. I absolutely loved their Final Battle match last year and I expect their encounter at this year's installment to be equally excellent if not better. The world title being on the line this year is just the perfect long-term booking in my opinion. Whether that was the plan all along or not I have no clue, but ROH really lucked into a money match for their biggest show of the year.
O'Reilly is more of a main event player now than he was at this time one year ago, but it still is not the time for him to be champion. Cole, a lot like The Young Bucks, is on fire at the moment, and taking the title off him would be asinine unless he plans on going to WWE a lot sooner than expected. Furthermore, I see Cody challenging Cole for the strap sometime soon, so with that in mind, I predict Cole will successfully retain his title.
Adam Cole retains the ROH World Championship