As Ring of Honor’s premier annual show of the year, Final Battle not only raises the bar as far as in-ring action and marquee matchups, but also from a production standpoint.
From the more elaborate entrances to the enhanced LED boards, lighting and pyrotechnics, there was ample sizzle to accompany the steak that is The Best Wrestling on the Planet at the Final Battle pay-per-view at Manhattan Center’s Hammerstein Ballroom Dec. 15, thanks to the magnificent ROH production team.
“The ROH production department pushed some boundaries in an ongoing effort to increase the quality of the live and TV experience and absolutely delivered on this event,” ROH director of production Mark Davis said. “The addition of extra LED walls on the main stage and surrounding the entire lighting truss, the additional perimeter and stage lighting and the new flame pyrotechnics made a huge impact visually on the screen and added an unfettered electricity to the always hot live crowd in New York City.”
Some of the memorable entrances at Final Battle saw Punishment Martinez emerging from a coffin surrounded by a legion of undead followers; “The Villain” Marty Scurll dressed in white mesmerizing the crowd while eerie images flashed on the LED boards; Dalton Castle striking a rock star pose atop a platform that was pulled across the stage by some of his Boys, and Cody heading to the ring while flames shot up from the stage like something out of a KISS concert.
The entrances were a collaborative effort between the production team, others in the ROH organization and the wrestlers themselves.
“We start by developing an entrance video for each wrestler,” Davis said. “Each video is designed and edited together based on the specific venue’s LED screen layout. Final Battle had more LED screens than our standard set, so we had to develop more intricate videos to fill in and utilize every pixel of LED video that we had.”
“Each wrestler has input on what goes into their entrance video. Once the video theme and design are finalized, we work with talent on lighting, camera angles, set pieces, et cetera. We want to make sure that the entrance videos and lighting schemes are an extension of what and who they represent.”
Davis said the main event competitors at Final Battle -- then-ROH World Champion Cody and Dalton Castle -- were especially hands-on in the creation of their entrances.
“Dalton Castle and Cody worked closely with production, and after many concepts and adjustments, helped develop the entrances that you saw during the event,” Davis said. “We wanted no doubt that these are two elite athletes competing for the most prized belt in professional wrestling. I feel that we were absolutely able to capture that sentiment and showcase both Castle and Cody’s flair in different but equal enhancements.”
Referring to 2017 as a “benchmark year for ROH” in terms of production, Davis said 2018 will be even better.
“2017 was a significant growth year for the ROH production department -- as with every year since 2011 when Sinclair Broadcast Group bought ROH -- adding to what I lovingly refer to as our six-year overnight success,” he said. “We added new production equipment and have developed and built systems that will allow us to stream our live product out to fans more effectively in 2018. As we look ahead to 2018, I am looking forward to huge potential growth for the ROH brand, including further production enhancements.”