Final Battle 2011 Preview‏

Ring of Honor presents its biggest show of the year Friday Dec. 23 in the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City with “Final Battle 2011.” “Final Battle” has been home to some of the most memorable matches and moment in the company’s history, and this year’s show looks like it will be no different. The show is scheduled to feature matches that have been building for months, and in some cases years, and it all comes to a head at “Final Battle 2011.” Let’s take a closer look at each match.

Tommaso Ciampa with the Embassy vs Jimmy Rave

This match pits the current “Crown Jewel of the Embassy” in Ciampa against the former “Crown Jewel” in Rave. Rave was a member of Prince Nana’s Embassy in the mid-2000s and was one of the most hated wrestlers on the roster by the fans. He is making his return to Ring of Honor at “Final Battle 2011” to face the impressive Ciampa, who has been undefeated since making his debut for the company. Ciampa has the power and speed to be a successful wrestler, but his ruthlessness is what usually sets him apart from his peers. Rave knows what it’s like being Nana’s “Crown Jewel” and he can use that experience to give himself an advantage in this match. Rave will be Ciampa’s toughest opponent to date, but Ciampa will be focused like never before and his aggressiveness will be what ultimately makes the difference in this match.

Michael Elgin with Truth Martini vs TJ Perkins

Elgin has been on a roll of a lifetime in the second half of 2011. He won the “Survival of the Fittest” tournament in November to guarantee himself a future ROH World Title match and has proved time and time again that he is among the strongest wrestlers on the roster. The powerhouse of the House of Truth looks to continue his roll and continue to build momentum toward a future title match at “Final Battle 2011” in his match with Perkins. Perkins is among the best wrestlers in the world and if he is able to ground Elgin he will eliminate Elgin’s power advantage. Perkins is going to have to use his speed and agility to try to get Elgin to the ground and then use his wrestling to keep him there. A win would be huge for Perkins’ status in Ring of Honor and could put him in the thick of title contention. Elgin’s power may prove to be too much for Perkins to overcome, especially with Martini in Elgin’s corner. This match has the potential to be the sleeper match of the night and could possibly surprise a lot of people.

Tag Team Gauntlet Match
The All Night Express vs Future Shock vs The Bravados vs The Young Bucks vs Caprice Coleman and Cedric Alexander

The winners of the tag team gauntlet match will receive a future shot at the ROH World Tag Team Titles, so it’s safe to assume that all five teams are going to pull out all the stops to secure a victory. The key to this match is timing. The earlier a team in entered into the gauntlet, the more difficult it’s going to be for that to team to win. Even during the match, teams are going to have to pick their sports carefully because they do not want to risk tiring themselves out and making it harder for themselves down the stretch. This match is going to be everything Ring of Honor fans have come to expect out of these five teams: fast-paced, hard-hitting and high-flying action that is a lot of fun to watch. Fans should expect nonstop action from bell to bell from these teams and it’s going to be a fun match. The team that picks its spots the best will be the team that wins the match and a future title shot. The favorites in the match have to be the Young Bucks, who have defeated each of the other four teams at least once this year.

Roderick Strong Invitational Challenge
Roderick Strong with Truth Martini vs ???

When Strong found out he wasn’t going to receive a ROH World Title match at “Final Battle 2011,” it didn’t sit too well with him. He decided he was going to create the “Roderick Strong Invitational Challenge” to try to one-up Davey Richards and steal the show. Ever since ROH started airing on television in September, Strong has been obsessed with outdoing Richards, so setting up the invitational will give him the opportunity to steal the spotlight from Richards at the biggest show of the year. While Richards has been off training with Team Richards, Strong has been in Tampa, Fla. at Camp Strong preparing for his match at “Final Battle 2011” in some unique ways, to say the least. Strong has said he has looked at the wrestlers who entered the “Roderick Strong Invitational Challenge,” and none of them have been good enough for him to wrestle. Fans are not going to know who Strong is wrestling until he (or she) steps through the curtain of the Hammerstein Ballroom Friday. No matter who he ends up facing, Strong is a great wrestler and has to be considered the favorite to win in almost any match he participates in. Depending on the opponent, Strong could get his wish and steal the show at “Final Battle 2011” and continue to let his ego grow. This match has the most potential to either be a big hit or a massive flop, and it all depends on who Strong’s mystery opponent is going to be.

Grudge Match – No Disqualification
Steve Corino vs Kevin Steen

It all started two years ago at “Final Battle 2009” when Steen turned on his long-time tag partner El Generico. Steve Corino was revealed as the mastermind behind Steen’s madness as Steen and Corino wrecked havoc on El Generico throughout 2010. The bitter feud built up to “Final Battle 2010” when Generico defeated Steen, which banished Steen from the company. Corino realized what he had done and throughout 2011 he was on the road to recovery while trying to make up for his past evil doings. He eventually brought in Jimmy Jacobs, who also has a dark past, as his sponsor to help him recover. Steen continued to appear sporadically throughout the year while causing chaos at Ring of Honor events. This comes to a head at “Final Battle 2011” when Steen wrestles Corino in a no disqualification match. If Steen wins, he can return to Ring of Honor. If Corino wins, Steen must leave Ring of Honor forever. The odds appear to be stacked against Steen as Jacobs is the special referee and Jim Cornette will be in attendance at ringside.

This match is arguably the most anticipated match on the show. Steen has been the talk of the wrestling world since his feud against Generico and has been the star of Ring of Honor despite only making several appearances in 2011. This match is going to be as bloody and brutal as these two wrestlers can go, and they have both shown in the past they have no limits to their insanity. Although Corino has been trying to remake his image this year, he said the evil Corino will return one more time at “Final Battle 2011.” This match is going to be insane and will be a great installment in the Kevin Steen story. Despite his crazy ways, Steen is going to be the fan favorite in the Hammerstein Ballroom and he has shown the ability to not only withstand a lot of punishment, but also dish it out as well. Steen’s desire to return to Ring of Honor may be enough for him to put his life on the line to guarantee himself a victory at “Final Battle 2011.”

ROH World TV Title
ROH World TV Champion Jay Lethal defends
vs El Generico vs “The Prodigy” Mike Bennett with Brutal Bob

When Jay Lethal captured the title from El Generico on the second episode of ROH Wrestling it took going into overtime after an initial time limit draw. Lethal could not have known then that time limit draws would plague his title reign. He wrestled Mike Bennett to a time limit draw in his first defense. Bennett thought he had the match won, but referee Todd Sinclair never called for the bell. Bennett has since been referring to himself as the champion, while his request for a different referee for the “Final Battle” match has been approved. Lethal once again wrestled to a time limit draw in his second defense, this time against Generico. During the match, Bennett went to ringside and distracted Lethal, which caused the time limit draw. Generico defeated Bennett at “Gateway of Honor” to keep him in the thick of title contention.

The World TV Title match should be a fun match, even if it’s not a great one. Lethal and Generico are great wrestlers, while Bennett can more than hold his own in the ring. Lethal and Bennett are going to be focused mostly on each other, but they better not forget about Generico. The champion is at a disadvantage in a match like this, but Lethal is good enough to rise above this. Bennett already has the confidence needed to become a champion, and at “Final Battle 2011” he gets one more chance to prove he has the ability to become a champion. He has been one of the stars of the new television show, so it only makes sense that Bennett is the next ROH World TV Champion.

ROH World Tag Team Title Match
Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team defends vs Jay and Mark Briscoe

There is no other way to put it other than these two teams absolutely hate each other. The hatred stems from the Briscoes’ brutal attack on Haas and Benjamin after the tag title match at “Best in the World” in June. Haas and Benjamin have wanted to get their hands on the Briscoes ever since, while the Briscoes have wanted to get their hands on the titles. Cornette and Ring of Honor officials did not want to award the Briscoes with a title match no matter how badly the champions wanted to wrestle them. The Briscoes earned a title match by defeating the All Night Express on an episode of ROH Wrestling to earn a title match at “Final Battle 2011.” The feud recently got even more heated when the Briscoes attacked Benjamin with a chair that left him with a cracked rib.

This is going to be a great match. Although some fans seem to be growing tired of Haas and Benjamin, they are still two great wrestlers who can go with the best of them. They are going to have to keep their emotions in check during the match if they want to retain the titles against the Briscoes. If they go in looking for a fight and to get revenge, they are playing right into the Dem Boys hands. If Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team go in and wrestle smart and use their superior grappling to defeat the Briscoes, then they will get the ultimate revenge of retaining the titles. The Briscoes will need to turn this wrestling match into a fight if they are going to win the match and become seven-time Ring of Honor World Tag Team Champions. Either way, this is going to be a fantastic match.

ROH World Title Match
ROH World Champion Davey Richards with Team Richards defends
vs Eddie Edwards with Dan “The Beast” Severn

At “Final Battle 2011” both Richards and Edwards will finally get the answer to the question everyone wants to know: Who truly is the better wrestler between the two? With both man holding a victory over the over, with Richards most recently defeating Edwards at “Best in the World” in June, their third match is going to determine who the better wrestler is. Although their first two matches were fiercely competitive, they were able to remain friends throughout the lead up to the match and after the match. That is not the case for the “Final Battle” match, however. Richards and Edwards had a falling out after Edwards decided to turn to UFC Hall of Famer and former NWA World Champion Dan “The Beast” Severn to help him in his training. Richards had expressed interest in the past in training with Severn has proven himself to be valuable to Edwards’ training for the match as Edwards’ has added the Dragon Sleeper to his arsenal of moves. He has used the Dragon Sleeper numerous times since he began training with Severn to pick up victories and it may be exactly what he needed to defeat Richards. Richards has continued his training with Team Richards and appears to be at the top of his game. Both Team Richards and Severn will accompany the competitors in the title match to the ring, and Severn’s experience could make all the difference.

It is going to be almost impossible for Richards and Edwards to top their match from “Best in the World,” and many people are not expecting them to. Fans should expect another hard-hitting match between two of the best strikers in the business today, but the Dragon Sleeper could play a major factor in the match. Edwards is going to have to use everything he has learned from Severn if he is going to beat Richards, while Richards has to prepare himself for an entirely different wrestler than the one he prepared for in June. No matter who wins, it’s guaranteed the better man will come out on top.

“Final Battle 2011” takes place Dec. 23 at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. The even airs live on gfl.tv for $14.99. The event has a bell time of 7:30 p.m. “Final Battle 2011” will be available for streaming after it airs if you are unable to watch it live. “Final Battle” has been home to some of the best moments in Ring of Honor history, and “Final Battle 2011” promises to add to that list.

Jon Shumake

Jon has been with ROHWorld since March 2011. The American Bearded Nightmare is one half of 'Team America' on ROHCast, which is available every week on ROHWorld, iTunes and Stitcher.