Baltimore, MD – 12.14.2020
Commentary is provided by Ian Riccaboni and Caprice Coleman.
Before we get into the show, it was announced Friday afternoon that Bandido, EC3, Flamita, and Kenny King were pulled from Final Battle due to COVID pretravel testing protocols. This will of course result in some shake-ups to the announced card. Due to the nature of how these shows were filmed and how late the announcement was made, these changes are not reflected in the event.
PCO & Mark Briscoe vs. The Bouncers (Beer City Bruiser & Brian Milonas)
Bruiser not only absorbed Mark’s forearm strikes in the corner, but enjoyed taking them. He and Mark trade open hand shots and chops mid-ring, ending with a running crossbody from Bruiser. Mark hits Bruiser with a rope-assisted forearm strike out of the corner before tagging in PCO. Milonas also gets tagged in. PCO chops Milonas in the neck several times before nailing a rolling punch. PCO kicks out Milonas’ knee and drops him with a DDT. Milonas throws PCO face first into the middle turnbuckle and then takes him down with his own running crossbody. PCO avoids a second turnbuckle splash. He sends Milonas outside with a rolling forearm and follows up with a suicide dive. Bruiser however catches PCO with a cannonball senton off the apron. Mark then takes out Bruiser with a blockbuster off the apron as we head into the commercial break. During the break, the Bouncers did some damage to PCO, but PCO was able to tag in Mark and they took control over Bruiser. Bruiser however moves out of PCO’s apron legdrop. He plants Mark with a spinebuster and tags in Milonas. Milonas throws around Mark, and then Bruiser gives him a uranage slam. Mark however avoids a Vader Bomb style splash and tags in the recovered PCO. PCO uses his body weight to clobber Bruiser several times against the ropes before giving him a front Russian leg sweep for two. PCO and The Bouncers fight to the floor. Mark wipes out PCO and Milonas with a chair-assisted dive. He goes for the Froggy Bow on Bruiser back in the ring but Bruiser moves and Mark rolls through. Mark escapes a chokeslam and takes over Milonas with a Judo throw. As Mark wipes out Milonas with a pescado, PCO hits the PCOsault on Bruiser to pick up the win at 11:04. This was a solid match in which PCO and Mark were able to pick up momentum heading into Final Battle, as they showed team continuity while taking down two of the biggest and toughest roster members. I enjoy the Bouncers and hope they get something more substantial to do in 2021. **½
Quinn McKay interviews Mark Briscoe and PCO backstage. Mark says the two most insane people on the roster (them) will reign victorious at Final Battle. PCO promises Lethal and Gersham will rest in hell.
We get a rundown of the Final Battle card, which is sadly outdated because of the changes mentioned at the top of this review. However, they did add Danhausen vs. Brian Johnson to the card, which is exciting given that a condition of Danhausen’s ROH contract is that he must win a match before 2020 is over for it to be valid. There are also some fresh promos from The Foundation and others which add some depth to their Final Battle bouts.
Flip Gordon vs. Josh Woods
The booking here is a bit backwards, as Flip Gordon was given a Pure Title match at Final Battle prior to competing in any Pure Rules matches. The pre match video package explains it well enough for me to give it a pass, as Flip has an ROH World title match in his back pocket from winning the battle royal at “Free Enterprise”, and with RUSH in Mexico, he didn’t want to wait for a title match against him. Watching the Pure Title tournament made him want to join the division, and so he pulled some strings and now he faces Jonathan Gresham for the title at Final Battle. I wonder if he will still keep his World title opportunity. Woods is still on a high from defeating Jay Lethal two weeks ago, and he is also set on becoming Pure Champion.
The Pure Rules are as follows:
*The competitors are to obey the “Code of Honor”, shaking one another’s hand before and after the match.
*Each wrestler has 3 rope breaks to stop submission holds and pinfalls. After a wrestler has used all 3 of their rope breaks, submission and pin attempts on or under the ropes by the opponent are considered legal.
*Closed-fist punches to the face are not permitted. Punches to other parts of the body are permitted, excluding low blows. The first use of a closed fist results in a warning, a second will be a disqualification.
*This match has a 15 minute time limit. If the match goes the time limit, three judges will determine the outcome.
*Any wrestler who interferes will be automatically terminated from the roster.
Woods catches Gordon by his ankle in mid-air, and Gordon immediately uses his first rope break to stop an ankle lock from being applied. Gordon controls Woods in a side headlock before sending him outside and landing a suicide dive. Gordon snapmares Woods into a back kick for a two count once inside the ring. He drops a knee across Woods’ head as Woods is dangled on the top rope for two. Woods drives Gordon to the ropes as Gordon elbows Woods in the side of the head, and the referee counts that as Gordon’s second rope break. Gordon is unhappy. Woods drives him to the ropes where he hits him with a knee strike to the stomach. After a Judo throw, Woods hits a step-up knee strike in the corner. Gordon weaves out of a double underhook. He gives Woods a moonsault Samoan Drop. Woods smacks Gordon in the ear as Gordon ascends to the top turnbuckle and brings him down with a superplex. Woods gutwrenches Gordon up into a powerbomb for two. He looks for a reverse cloverleaf, or possibly a Kondo Clutch. Either way, Gordon escapes. He maneuvers Woods into a rolling back kick to the side of the head. Gordon follows up with a moonsault for two. Gordon then pins Woods with a curb stomp at 9:34. Gordon showed how his high-flying offense could be incorporated into Pure Rules matches, and that his agility made him capable of getting a win out of nowhere, but something about him defeating Woods was still unconvincing. The match ended abruptly, and with how Woods manhandled Gordon for a good portion of the match, I don’t feel Gordon comes out of the match the strongest challenger. I suppose he does fine in a pinch; I just hope Woods is able to get momentum back behind him on the other side of the PPV. **½
Overall: While they did what they could in building up two of the less established title matches for Final Battle at the last minute, the matches in and of themselves were nothing remarkable. The PPV hype in the middle was strong enough for what they can do given the circumstances, and the card itself is promising enough that I am very much looking forward to the show. Strictly going off of what is presented on TV, however, it was not the strongest “go home” show in convincing someone the show was something they couldn’t miss. Naturally nothing was announced for next week’s show as it will be fallout from Final Battle, and I am really curious as to what the company looks like on the other side of the PPV.