By Rich Bailin, contributor of ProWrestling.net (@RichBailin)
On Saturday night my son and I attended the final Ring of Honor battle at the UMBC arena (yes, I’ll always call it that at Chesapeake Employers Insurance Arena) for what might just be the last time.
I have mentioned in the past that I have attended quite a few ROH shows in Baltimore, but after looking back I can safely say that I have attended most, if not all, of the ROH shows. which have been held in Baltimore since late 2011 or early 2012. Several times I would buy my tickets for the next show during the intermission of the current show I was in (usually front row or as close as possible). Needless to say, it was bittersweet to buy tickets for this show knowing it might very well be for the last time.
I chose to arrive at the arena a little later this time as we were expecting rain and high winds in the area and I didn’t want to queue up early with my son and get caught up in what whether it be. We arrived shortly after 6pm and the line was already moving to let people in. The first thing we did this time around was line up at the merchant table. There was a lot more merchandise this time around than there was for Best in the World, but much of it was older, discounted merchandise for a quick sale. I managed to buy a Final Battle t-shirt and poster and a Danhausen brawler mic for my son.
There was no seating for this show and there were definitely more fans in attendance than for Best in the World. They might have been able to open up the arena more if they wanted to too, as one side of the arena was completely taped up. Just before the show started, I first met another Dot Net staffer, Colin McGuire. I know he has a lot to say about Final Battle in his Monday blog post which will be out later today, so I’ll try to keep my match comments brief.
Overall it was a great show with a lot more surprises than I expected. I want to make a general statement about the videos sent by alumni of ROH. First off, a big thumbs up to Tony Khan, Scott D’Amore and Billy Corgan for allowing their talent to appear live or on tape. It really added to the scale of this show. The only problem we had with the videos was hearing them because everything that happened after the game was still happening while they were being broadcast.
Moses, Kaun and O’Shay Edwards (with Ron Hunt) against “The Righteous” Vincent, Bateman and Dutch (with Vita VonStarr) for the ROH Six-Man titles. It was a good game to start us off and set the tone for what we were about to witness throughout the night. It was no surprise to see The Righteous win the belts. I couldn’t help but wonder why this wasn’t the focus of the main show, but by the end of the night it made sense.
Chelsea Green, Allysin Kay and Marti Belle vs. Miranda Alize, Angelina Love and Mandy Leon. A little surprising with The Allure and Alize winning, but with that being the result, Leon making the pin made sense. The result might have been different if it wasn’t for the “last” show.
Beer City Bruiser, Brian Milonas, Famous CB, Flip Gordon and PJ Black vs. LSG, Demonic Flamita, Will Ferrara, Sledge and Max the Impaler (with Amy Rose). Before this game my son told me he was hungry so we went to make concessions and missed this game.
Dragon Lee vs. Rey Horus. Rey Horus was also in the opening game of Best in the World. It was the right match to start the PPV portion of the show.
Dalton Castle (with Dak Draper, Boys) vs. Joe Hendry vs. Rhett Titus vs. Silas Young in a Four Corner Survival Match for the ROH TV Title. Castle received the biggest reaction of the four. Hendry was just second, and I think he surprised a lot of the fans in attendance by how inflated he was. Rhett Titus’ victory was a bit of a surprise, but it made sense if it really was the end.
Josh Woods vs. Brian Johnson for the ROH Pure Championship. The result of this match was a surprise. With Josh Woods recently appearing on AEW Dark, it looked like Johnson could win this one. I saw a lot of people who were impressed with Johnson’s promotion before the game. Personally, I have seen his promotional work improve through his work with Maryland Championship Wrestling, which is also a partner of ROH’s Dojo. Johnson is the current MCW Heavyweight Champion and recently had a fight with Moses of Shane Taylor Promotions. His work deserves to be followed there. The game itself was fun with Johnson trying to cheat whenever he got the chance. I bit off a few falls close.
Shane Taylor v Kenny King in a fight without honor. The game of the night up to this point. Hitting very hard with lots of weapon spots. There was a scary moment they were standing on the ladder as it looked like one of the people holding the ladder had accidentally moved it during the Marcus Garvey Driver spot and they might have missed a part of the scale.
Rok-C against Willow for the ROH Women’s World Championship. I felt bad for Rok-C during this match, as the crowd turned on her. I have read reviews where it appeared as 50/50, but live it looked like 80/20 for Willow. Personally, I felt that some spots hadn’t worked in this game, but they worked hard and the audience was really into it. Deonna Purrazzo’s exit afterward was definitely a surprise, with fans cheering her on because of the ROK-C as well.
Brody King, Homicide, Tony Deppen and Rocky Romero (with Chris Dickinson) vs. EC3, Tracy Williams, Eli Isom and Tyler Rust. Coming into this show, this is the game I would have picked up for the pre-show rather than the ROH Six Man Tag title game. When finished, it made sense for this match to make the main card. The ROH finisher streak of the past was fun, as was the overall game. The post-game with EC3 was confusing until he freed the Titan. It was a surprise that I didn’t expect or necessarily wanted. Honestly, nothing on this show felt more like the end of an era than the old Braun Strowman showing up. If ROH continues past April, I just can’t see anyone on ROH’s roster or any top indie talent that I want to see him compete against.
“The OGK” Matt Taven and Mike Bennett (with Maria Kanellis) vs. Jay Briscoe and Mark Briscoe for the ROH Tag titles. It was a great game with the right team. No team has embodied the ROH in Baltimore or the ROH as a whole than the Briscoes. I remember many shows where everyone in the front row banged on the ring barriers shouting “Man Up” every time the Briscoes were in the ring. I missed it. Fans around me would get angry every time Taven or Bennett ended a pin attempt. The postgame with the Briscoes calling out each team, which led to FTR fighting with them was amazing to watch live. The crowd went crazy to the point that we couldn’t even hear FTR’s music when they came out.
Jay Lethal vs. Jonathan Gresham for the original ROH World Championship belt. ROH has been put in a very difficult situation here with Bandido missing the show because of Covid. I warned my son that he wouldn’t be there once it was announced and even though he understood why he was still disappointed that he didn’t get to see one of his ROH favorites. The game itself was good but a bit short. Gresham’s victory was expected, and it was fitting that it was against Lethal, so I was glad he was able to appear. I don’t know what ROH might have found if they hadn’t had Lethal. All the wrestlers who came out during the match were no surprise and signaled me that the end was drawing near. It wasn’t the first time I saw this at a ROH concert.
After the match, Gresham cut a promo which got really confusing towards the end. He said that to be the best in the world he would have to face two important men in ROH history (CM Punk and Bryan Danielson) and that those matches would eventually take place, but that he would continue to defend the belt according to the pure rules. He added that as of tonight, the ROH Championship has been purified.
This is where it got complicated. Gresham said for many years that he thought this company cared about them, but it took him a global pandemic to realize the company didn’t care and only used them, pure technical wrestlers. He realized that they didn’t care about honor. So as long as he’s ROH Champion, he won’t allow ROH to get back on his feet and abandon them again. He will take the heart and soul of this business and take it to Terminus (his startup promotion). He said they will not be treated after the fact and that he is the Foundation.
Personally I’m glad none of this got on the pay-per-view because it was confusing and I don’t understand why they would end the series with Gresham saying ROH didn’t care. wrestlers and used them. I’m curious if there will be a sequel to this or if it was a shoot. I don’t think it was a shoot, but maybe I’m wrong. Either way, it was just an odd promo to end a show that was billed as the end of an era.
And for me, it was the end of an era. I expected more returns than debuts and we got both. The match of the night for me was Fight Without Honor and the moment of the night was FTR appearing and fighting with the Briscoes.
Hope this is not the last time I will see ROH in Baltimore. I’m glad I got to share the experience with my son and get him to three ROH pay-per-views, and I know he doesn’t want this to be the last one either. I am grateful for the almost ten years of programming that I have personally seen live.