Ring of Honor, the pro wrestling promotion owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group and based in Baltimore, is enjoying its most successful year ever, which will be capped by its biggest annual show -- the "Final Battle" pay-per-view -- Dec. 15 at a sold-out Manhattan Center's Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City.
Here's a match-by-match look at the card:
ROH World Champion Cody vs. Dalton Castle: Cody, who made his ROH debut with a victory against Jay Lethal at last year's "Final Battle," continues to show why WWE made a mistake in not giving him a significant push. His challenger is one of ROH's biggest success stories. The flamboyant Castle has gradually worked his way up the card since debuting with the company in 2015, and now he is in the main event of ROH's marquee show. Castle may indeed be ROH World Champion someday, but Dec. 15 probably won't be that day. It's way too soon for Cody, who won the ROH World Title in June, to lose it.
Bully Ray and Tommy Dreamer vs. Jay and Mark Briscoe in a New York Street Fight: The build to this showdown has been really good, and the match will probably steal the show. It all started this past spring when Bully made his surprising debut in ROH. The former WWE, ECW and TNA star joined forces with the Briscoes to capture the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Title, but the brothers from Sandy Fork, Del., eventually turned on him. Bully suffered head trauma as a result of being struck with a table by Jay, which led to Bully announcing his retirement. The angle was so well done that a lot of fans believed the injury and retirement were legitimate. Now Bully and fellow ECW icon Dreamer are out for revenge. The Briscoes have done an excellent job of generating heat as ruthless, ultra-violent heels. This match could go either way depending on how long ROH wants to continue the feud.
Jay Lethal vs. Marty Scurll: This is being billed as a dream match between Lethal -- the "Franchise" of ROH -- and Bullet club member Scurll. The story heading into the match is that "The Villain" Scurll wants Lethal to embrace his own former villainous ways. This is another one that could go either way, but my guess is that Scurll wins by disqualification after Lethal either loses his cool or gets caught cheating when in actuality he was just retaliating against Scurll.
ROH World Television Champion Kenny King vs. Punishment Martinez vs. Shane Taylor vs. Silas Young in a Four Corner Survival Match: ROH has turned the negative of former stars such as Adam Cole, Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish leaving for WWE/NXT this year into a positive by elevating guys such as these four. I wouldn't be surprised if King retained or if Martinez or Young won the title. Taylor's character is that of a gun for hire, so I don't see him as a champion at this point. I suppose Young could pay Taylor to help him win, but my hunch is that Martinez walks out of Final Battle as champion.
ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Champions The Hung Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson and Adam Page) vs. Flip Gordon, Dragon Lee and Titan: If the Bully Ray and Tommy Dreamer vs. Briscoes match doesn't steal the show, this one probably will. All six of these guys can do amazing things in the ring, so there's no doubt they will put on an amazing spotfest. Even though Gordon has been the butt of Bullet Club's "harmless ribs," he's getting a significant rub by working a program opposite the popular faction. Since Lee and Titan don't work for ROH and are part of Mexico's CMLL promotion, I don't see the title changing hands.
ROH World Tag Team Champions Motor City Machine Guns (Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley) vs. Best Friends (Beretta and Chuckie T.): Beretta and Chuckie T. are highly entertaining, but it just doesn't feel like the right time to switch the tag title. There really hasn't been any sort of chase leading up to this match.
War Machine (Hanson and Rowe) vs. The Addiction (Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian): War Machine is one of the most underrated tag teams in the business. If you only watch WWE, think Bludgeon Brothers -- only more skilled. The Addiction have been one of the best acts in ROH since turning heel several months ago. As good as Daniels and Kazarian are, however, they do lose their share of matches. I suspect they will come out on the losing end of this one as well.
Will Ospreay vs. Matt Taven: Taven has really been hitting his stride as of late and is just entering his prime, while the 24-year-old Ospreay is one of the most exciting rising stars in the industry. Since Ospreay works primarily for New Japan Pro-Wrestling, it makes sense for Taven, an ROH stalwart, to go over.