Zero Hour: Jeff Cobb def. Mascara Dorada
This was a totally random match, but I'm not complaining. Dorada has been doing some fun work in IMPACT and MLW since being released by WWE late last year, and I have fond memories of Cobb's Ring of Honor for the brief time he was there from late 2018 to early 2020. I really hope both guys are used frequently when ROH TV gets going next year. This was the perfect opener for the pre-show.
Zero Hour: Jericho Appreciation Society ("Daddy Magic" Matt Menard and "Cool Hand" Angelo Parker) def. Shinobi Shadow Squad (Cheeseburger and Eli Isom)
Menard and Parker are a blast together and I continue to be disappointed that they're a part of this stupid Jericho Appreciation Society stable. Have they gotten a ton of television time out of it? Absolutely, and I'm sure they've learned a lot from working with Chris Jericho, but I feel like with the proper push, they'd be better off on their own. This was a pretty straightforward showcase for them with Cheeseburger and Isom playing their enhancement roles well.
Zero Hour: Willow Nightingale def. Trish Adora
Nightingale's potential is limitless. She's already so skilled and connects with the audience so easily. It's imagine to think that at Final Battle a year ago, she fought Rok-C for the ROH Women's World Championship, and now Nightingale is in AEW/ROH and Rok-C is in WWE/NXT as Roxanne Perez. Adora is talented in her own right and should be under consideration for a contract for ROH's women's division. This was a well-worked match with both women having impressive showings.
Zero Hour: Top Flight def. Top Flight
The Kingdom's AEW run has been weird so far. AEW didn't pick them up after ROH closed its doors last year, so they signed with IMPACT instead while also making appearances in the NWA. AEW finally signed them in October once their IMPACT deals expired, they showed up on Rampage and teased challenging FTR for the ROH World Tag Team Championship, Matt Taven unsuccessfully challenged Wardlow for the AEW TNT Championship a week or two later, and I don't think we've seen them on TV since. Plans must have changed because them against FTR felt like a lock for this show. Nonetheless, this was a fun match and Top Flight picking up the win was a pleasant surprise. They'd be a nice fit for ROH's tag team division if Tony Khan has no plans for them currently in AEW.
AR Fox and Blake Christian def. Rush and Dralistico
I know Fox was recently announced as being "All Elite," but I feel it's more likely he'll end up being exclusive to ROH eventually. The same goes for Christian, who has appeared on all of ROH's pay-per-views this year. Meanwhile, I legitimately had no idea Rush had another brother in Dralistico. Where isn't Dragon Lee a part of what Rush is doing right now? This was a chaotic, very enjoyable opener up until what looked like a botched finish. That didn't come off well at all. It's unfortunate because it's probably what people will remember most about this.
Athena def. Mercedes Martinez to Win the ROH Women's World Championship
This is easily the most compelling Athena has been as a character since I was first introduced to her work in WWE NXT six years ago. It's really cool she was able to win the title in/near her hometown, but I felt bad for Martinez because she was supposed to be the babyface and the crowd heavily sided with Athena. That said, these two worked hard and had a damn good match. Athena taking the title was absolutely the right call.
Swerve In Our Glory def. Shane Taylor Promotions
Right when you think Keith Lee and Swerve Strickland are about to go their separate ways, they continue teaming. Don't get me wrong, they work wonderfully together, but Swerve In Our Glory ran its course a while ago and both men should be singles stars already. Shane Taylor Promotions consisted of Shane Taylor and JD Griffey, who I'm only familiar with from AEW's Dark shows. Taylor, on the other hand, is awesome and I was happy he had a chance to showcase his skills here. This was great stuff from all involved and they told a solid story to boot with Lee and Strickland. Taylor should absolutely be a part of the new ROH in 2023.
The Embassy (Brian Cage and The Gates of Agony) def. Dalton Castle and The Boys to Win the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Championship
Castle and The Boys won the six-man titles back at Death Before Dishonor in July, and although they've defended them a few times since then, all of the defenses have taken place on the Dark shows. The Embassy have eaten a lot of losses lately, but they've been on AEW TV much more than Castle and The Boys, so this win at least gives them something. Castle and The Boys can easily bounce back and hopefully Castle is utilized in the singles ranks when ROH TV relaunches weekly. This was a quality contest.
Wheeler Yuta def. Daniel Garcia in a Pure Rules Match to Win the ROH Pure Championship
Menard and Parker brawled with Top Flight before this, so look for that match to go down one of these days on AEW TV (presumably Rampage). As for Yuta vs. Garcia, it was as well-wrestled as you'd expect from them and on par with their previous encounters. They again made the most of the pure rules and kept the crowd engaged throughout. I would have been content with either outcome, but hopefully this means Garcia can finally start breaking away from Jericho Appreciation Society (which should have happened months ago since he's cooled off considerably since then).
The Briscoes def. IWGP/AAA World Tag Team Champions FTR in a Double Dog Collar Match to Win the ROH World Tag Team Championship (IWGP and AAA World Tag Team Championships Were Not Defended)
FTR vs. The Briscoes will go down as one of the greatest trilogies in modern wrestling history, tag team or otherwise. What's amazing is that you can say any one of their encounters was the best and you wouldn't be wrong. What I loved about this is that, not only was it an absolute war, it was so different from their previous two matches. I'm typically not a fan of the hardcore stuff, but it worked in this case and felt so old school. The feud has lasted exactly one year, so the blood was justified as well. We've seen a lot of Strap and Dog Collar matches in AEW in the last two years, but this was definitely deserving of the stipulation. Props to both teams for such stellar work, and if the end is indeed near for FTR, they're going out on a high note.
ROH World Television Champion and AEW TNT Champion Samoa Joe def. Juice Robinson (AEW TNT Championship Was Not Defended)
Robinson is a fine addition to the ROH roster (assuming that's primarily where he'll be assigned), but this crowd wasn't all that into him here and I don't blame them. Joe is firing on all cylinders and I have no problem with him being a double champ for the foreseeable future. They had a perfectly acceptable match, but there was nothing about this that stood out as special whatsoever. They also had the tough task of having to follow the hot Double Dog Collar match. Robinson losing what was basically his debut (after already losing to Jon Moxley a few months) was unexpected, but again, I was happier to see Joe retain.
Claudio Castagnoli def. Chris Jericho to Win the ROH World Championship
I'd have to re-watch their first match from Grand Slam to see which was stronger, but this was along those same lines in that they delivered a thumbs-up main event. I appreciated that the outside interference from Jericho Appreciation Society was kept to a minimum, but I was shocked Daniel Garcia didn't factor into the finish. Castagnoli winning with his patented swing on a submission was tremendous, though. Jericho's ROH World Championship run was better than it had any right to be, and now Castagnoli can get the extended reign he should have had the first time.
Much like Supercard of Honor and Death Before Dishonor, Final Battle was another entertaining event from the AEW-owned ROH, but was it enough to convince fans to pay for the returning television product on HonorClub? Yes, Khan announced during the post-show media conference that ROH TV will be back in 2023, but it will be airing exclusively on HonorClub for 10 bucks a month. These pay-per-views constantly serve as a reminder of how much I love ROH and what it stands for, but that price tag seems a bit much considering fans (myself included) have complained about the overabundance of ROH content on AEW TV this year. Was YouTube not a feasible option? Maybe there will be more to it than that, so time will tell. As for Final Battle, it was an excellent effort.