Eck's Files: Thoughts On Jay Lethal Returning For Final Battle; Predicting Which Titles Will Change Hands; Holidead Guests On ROHStrong Podcast

By Kevin Eck

We’re now just one day away from the Final Battle: End of an Era pay-per-view, and I’m preparing myself for what undoubtedly will be a memorable but emotional night at Baltimore’s Chesapeake Employers Insurance Arena.

Final Battle is always ROH’s biggest show of the year, but obviously this one is extra special because, well, it’s the end of an era for ROH as we know it.

The past 24 hours have been crazy to say the least. ROH officials learned yesterday that ROH World Champion Bandido tested positive for COVID-19 and will not be able to defend his title against Jonathan Gresham at the show.

ROH officials needed to find a suitable opponent for Gresham and had very little time to do so. Thanks to ROH reaching an agreement with AEW, two-time former ROH World Champion Jay Lethal – who signed with AEW last month – is returning to face his longtime friend Gresham.

As much as I was looking forward to seeing Bandido versus Gresham and am saddened that Bandido has contracted COVID, I’m thrilled that Lethal is wrestling on the show.

It would’ve been a shame not to have “The Franchise of ROH” wrestling at Final Battle: End of an Era. A huge thanks to AEW for making it happen.

As far as the ROH World Title situation, ROH announced that it will be addressed during Final Battle Hour One, which airs free on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on multiple platforms, including HonorClub, YouTube and Facebook.

 

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There are five big title matches signed for Final Battle. Here are my predictions for each:

ROH World Tag Team Champions The OGK (Matt Taven and Mike Bennett) vs. The Briscoes: Taven and Bennett finally regaining the title they held in 2015 is one of the biggest feel-good stories of the year in ROH. The OGK has never been better, and I don’t think there’s a tag team out there that can take the belts from them … except the 11-time former ROH World Tag Team Champions, the Briscoes. I can’t bet against Dem Boys, especially on such a historic show. One thing I’m certain of is that both teams are going to pull out all the stops.

ROH Women’s World Champion Rok-C vs. Willow: The fun-loving challenger is a serious threat to win the title. Willow defeated both members of The Allure – seven-time former world champion Angelina Love and Mandy Leon – to become the No. 1 contender. That’s impressive. But perhaps even more impressive is that Rok-C is 6-0 in singles competition in ROH. Rok-C scores a hard-fought victory.

ROH World Television Champion Dalton Castle vs. Joe Hendry vs. Rhett Titus vs. Silas Young in a Four Corner Survival Match: It’s great to see Hendry back in an ROH ring in the U.S., but I’m not sure the other three men in this match would agree. Hendry, who now has blond hair and calls himself “The Answer,” packed on a lot of muscle during his time away, and he’s well-rested and highly motivated. He’s my pick to walk out with the title. On a side note, it will be interesting to see if former tag partners Castle and Hendry work together at all in the match.

ROH Pure Champion Josh Woods vs. Brian Johnson: Despite Johnson’s lousy attitude, I truly believe “The Mecca” is capable of defeating anyone on a given night. But I don’t think this Saturday will be that night. Woods worked too long and hard for the Pure Title to lose it in just his second defense.

ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Champions Shane Taylor Promotions (O’Shay Edwards and Soldiers of Savagery’s Moses and Kaun) vs. The Righteous (Vincent, Bateman and Dutch): Edwards is taking Taylor’s place in the match because Taylor is facing Kenny King in a Fight Without Honor on the show. It’s not the first time Edwards and SOS have defended the title together, as they defeated La Faccion Ingobernable at Death Before Dishonor in September. That victory proved STP is difficult to beat no matter which three members are in the match. That said, 2021 has been the best year of Vincent’s career, and I think he’ll cap it off by winning the six-man title for a record fourth time (he was a three-time co-holder as a member of The Kingdom).

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The bizarre Holidead was my guest on the latest episode of The ROHStrong Podcast, which drops Monday morning on ROHWrestling.com and most podcast platforms.

She talked about her ROH Women’s World Title shot on ROH TV during Christmas weekend; her history with Twisted Sisterz tag team partner Thunder Rosa; working for Thunder Rosa’s all-women’s promotion, Mission Pro Wrestling; wrestling for Stardom in Japan not long after she started wrestling; being trained by Gangrel, and much more.

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This weekend’s episode of Ring of Honor Wrestling is headlined by a match between EC3 and Eli Isom. Also on the show, rivals PCO and Sledge collide in a Falls Count Anywhere Match; and Chelsea Green meets Miranda Alize.

 

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Leon posted an entertaining video that takes viewers behind the scenes at the last (for now) ROH TV tapings.

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Until next time, keep safe and stay #ROHStrong!

Kevin Eck is a veteran pro wrestling journalist who has worked for The Baltimore Sun, WWE and WCW before joining ROHWrestling.com. Eck’s Files appears every Friday.