Final Battle preview: Cole vs. O'Reilly headlines ROH's biggest show of the year

Ring of Honor presents its biggest show of the year tonight in New York City with Final Battle. The show will be ROH’s long awaited return to the Manhattan Center’s Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC.

Headlining the Final Battle card, Kyle O’Reilly challenges Adam Cole for the ROH World Championship in a main event over a year in the making. Cole defeated O’Reilly last year at Final Battle in a grudge match. The feud continued throughout this year with the stakes becoming greater when Cole won the ROH title and O’Reilly became the top contender.

The storyline intrigue over whether O’Reilly will finally attain not only vengeance on Cole, but also win his first ROH World title, is now married to speculation about the actual future of both in the company. Their contractual status with ROH has somewhat unfairly overshadowed the culmination of a multi-year story arc.

Supposedly being groomed to move up into the heavyweight division in NJPW, O’Reilly winning the top singles title in ROH could be a step in that direction since ROH does business with New Japan. But will O’Reilly actually re-sign with ROH? With nothing officially announced, only time will tell. Likewise, time will tell about whether or not Cole will leave ROH sometime next year.  

Along with questions about the future, the outcome of the main event title match is seemingly the possible end of a feud that spanned several years. Some recent promotional material even includes a tagline teasing “the end is near” with a picture of Cole superimposed over an image of a great flood overtaking the city. When there is an end, also likely is a new beginning.

While previous ROH pay-per-views this year emphasized the involvement of stars from New Japan Pro Wrestling, the final PPV of the year from ROH is much more focused on their own roster with them also now boasting their own contracted foreign stars. Most of the wrestlers from other promotions and countries set to appear on the card are also intertwined in ROH storylines more so than on other PPVs this year.

Newly signed to ROH from the United Kingdom, Marty Scurll and Will Ospreay already found themselves in the World TV title picture after each of them won the title on the recent ROH UK tour. Ospreay won the TV championship from Bobby Fish, before soon thereafter dropping the title to current champion Scurll.

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Playing off the title changes in the UK and “The Villain” now being the TV champion, a four corner survival match developed where Scurll is set to defend his title against three challengers. They each have a claim to a title shot by either deserving a rematch, or earning the opportunity to challenge for the title like with Dragon Lee from Mexico. The luchador from CMLL debuted in ROH months ago and became a contender when he won a non-title match over then-champion Fish, earning an opportunity to challenge for the TV title at Final Battle.

In another championship match on the card, The Young Bucks defend their tag team titles against the most decorated team in the history of ROH, Mark and Jay Briscoe. That brother team is competing for a ninth reign as tag champions in the promotion. Current champions and also brothers as well, Nick and Matt Jackson, won the titles in a wild ladder match on the last ROH PPV.

The Young Bucks are also arguably the most over act in ROH, and they end the year facing the most tenured team in company history. Basically, the two top teams meet in a title match on the final major show of the year.

While the tag title match features two well established teams, the six-man tag championship tournament final has a fresh team with a familiar face vying against a band of high flyers. The winners become the first ever ROH six-man tag champions. Matt Taven leads his new version of The Kingdom against Lio Rush, Jay White and KUSHIDA in what should be a fast-paced conclusion to the tournament.

The crowning of the six-man tag championship is not the only newsworthy first on the show as Cody Rhodes debuts in ROH on the Final Battle card. Billed as just “Cody” and now set to face Jay Lethal in his debut match, he announced on social media months ago, shortly after leaving WWE, that he planned to debut in ROH at Final Battle. With a more recent announcement that his opponent at Final Battle is Lethal, it almost guarantees his first match will be good.

Elsewhere on the card is a grudge match between two former tag partners as Dalton Castle faces Colt Cabana. The two teamed for a few months until Cabana turned heel on Castle during a TV taping in Baltimore. Castle is super over with the ROH fanbase so he is likely to be a heavy favorite. Expect some comedy with Cabana, but possibly in a more heelish manner. Nevertheless, this is still a grudge match with an issue to settle. The Boys are likely to get involved at some point.

Helping to round out the card and provide an added attraction, Jushin Liger is booked for the show facing “The Last Real Man” Silas Young. In addition, a six-man tag team match was recently added to the card where the Motor City Machine Guns team with Donovan Dijak meeting the faction formerly known as The Cabinet. Look for them to showcase a different look with retooled personas as Caprice Coleman, Kenny King and Rhett Titus thankfully transition out of their Cabinet gimmick.

The full card for Final Battle:

World Championship: Adam Cole vs. Kyle O’Reilly
World TV Championship (Four Corner Survival): Marty Scurll vs. Will Ospreay vs. Bobby Fish vs. Dragon Lee
World Tag Team Championship: The Young Bucks vs. The Briscoes
Six-Man Tag Team Championship Tournament Finals: The Kingdom vs. Lio Rush, Jay White & KUSHIDA
Cody Rhodes vs. Jay Lethal
Dalton Castle vs. Colt Cabana
Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Silas Young
Motor City Machine Guns & Donovan Dijak vs. Caprice Coleman, Rhett Titus & Kenny King

Final Battle is available on traditional pay-per-view and streaming at 9 p.m. ET this Friday. Visit the official ROH website for more details.