The ROHbot Report: "Worth Your Money?" Featuring "Survival Of The Fittest 2011", Cincinnati Debut Results, A Hero By Any Other Name, And More
By James Bullock Feb 18, 2012 - 8:08 AM
Salutations, everyone, and thank you for coming to read another edition of The ROHbot Report. I have a treat for you with a special edition of Worth Your Money featuring Ring of Honor’s latest “Survival of the Fittest” tournament. But before we get to that, ROH made its debut in Cincinnati last night. Lets see what kind of action ROH gave to their Midwest fans.
1. Michael Elgin def. Adam Cole with his spinning power bomb
2. "Rise & Prove" Tourney: Shiloh Jones & Rudy Switchblade def. Chris Sylvio & Sean Casey
4. "No Holds Barred" Match: Roderick Strong def. Eddie Edwards after shot from the Book of Truth. Saw interference from Elgin & Cole
5. Samson Walker def. Mike Mondo. Mondo won originally with his feet on the ropes, then a re-start occurred and Walker won
6. "Rise & Prove" Tourney Finals: Mikey Nichols & Shane Haste def. Shiloh Jones & Rudy Switchblade to win the tournament
7. "Proving Ground" Match: ROH World TV Champion Jay Lethal def. BJ Whitmer following his "Lethal Injection" in 14 minutes, 1 minute before the time limit was set to expire
8. Main Event - ROH World Tag Team Title Match: Jay & Mark Briscoe (C) def. Team Ambition of Davey Richards & Kyle O'Reilly to retain their titles
I’ll be the first one to admit, this does not look like an impressive card for a market debut event. It’s completely understandable that someone would say that you shouldn’t judge a show sorely by its results, especially when it comes to ROH. But for those who don’t know, or don’t follow ROH on a full-time basis, this show (once again, a debut event in a new market/area) featured five matches that included non-ROH talent. Seriously, five matches! That’s insane. Looking at the current, contracted roster, you notice such names as Kevin Steen, Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team, The Young Bucks, Kenny King, Mike Bennett, Tommaso Ciampa, and even Grizzly Redwood missing from the card. In its place, the fans of Cincinnati got Alabama Attitude featuring former referee Mike Posey. Yep, that Mike Posey.
But who’s to say that this isn’t a good thing? While this show was definitely lacking star power, or any results that would make you do a double take, there’s a chance that the young guys who had the spotlight shown on them took it to a new level and destroyed the misconception that they were just here to fill out the card and set up a future Tag title shot for the winner at another house show (possibly the one announced earlier this week that I write about later). Mikey Nichols and Shane Haste and Alabama Attitude could be the guys who, in a few years, be in the same spot The Briscoes and Team Ambition are right now. And while the live reports haven’t gone that far to assume that previous statement true, the fans who were in attendance have said the event was pleasantly surprising as everyone stepped their game up and provided a very enjoyable show. The main event stole the show according to the fans in attendance, with the pre-intermission main event of Strong and Edwards providing another great clash to continue their near year long rivalry. It also marked the first time Strong has defeated Edwards since that night in March when Eddie dethroned Roderick for the ROH World title. BJ Whitmer and Jay Lethal also provided a solid contest that might be the beginning of Whitmer’s return to ROH full-time, and maybe a new saga between himself and Jimmy Jacobs as a team or rivals.
Though the results aren’t too shocking, it’s nice to see ROH try something and someone new, even if they had no other choice. The question is if Ring of Honor will test themselves and put the show out as a separate DVD, or do probably the smart thing and package it with another event - preferably alongside the upcoming “10th Anniversary Event”. No matter what, this will be worth seeing for the pure fact this is something different from ROH.
Seems like The Briscoes’ style of “focus” paid off
There’s just too much “awesome” in this promo. Seriously, someone contact Cartoon Network, and get The Briscoes a show on Adult Swim. Just think about it – The Brothers Briscoe Show alongside The Venture Brothers season five premiere and a Moral Orel special.
Signed for the “10th Anniversary Event”, it will be ROH World TV Champion Jay Lethal defending his title against the unbeaten “Dominant Male” Tommaso Ciampa!
This was the match bound to happen. Not only because of the build starting between the two back at “Death Before Dishonor IX”, but also due to the fact Ciampa has been running through opponents like a hot knife through butter. In Norfolk this past month, Ciampa finally earned his shot at an ROH title by besting Lethal in a “Proving Ground” match. As seen after their encounter, there’s been a slow evolution in Ciampa from being just a silent “Sicilian Psychopath” to the “Dominant Male” to future ROH TV champion.
And like his opponent, Jay Lethal has knocked back challenger after challenger. Even when many thought he would lose the title to Mike Bennett at “Final Battle”, Lethal found a way to walk out of New York still a champion. Will history repeat itself on one of the biggest stages of Ciampa’s career in favor of Lethal? Or will The Embassy’s “Crow Jewel” finally take that next step toward main event status? No matter the outcome, expect these two to outdo their Norfolk encounter (which had a slow start, but picked up nicely during the final minutes, and displayed great chemistry between them).
El Generico has not signed a new deal with ROH, but is expected to be brought back down the line. Credit: Pwinsider.com
I hope “down the line” means “in the next six months or less” because ROH is better off with a man like Generico on their roster. Not only was he one of the best things about ROH over the past two years, he’s a great babyface that’s popular. If Generico isn’t picked up by TNA or for WWE’s supposed upcoming cruiserweight show, ROH should attempt to figure out something and make a deal to get “The Generic Luchador” back as soon as possible.
Former ROH star Chris Hero will wrestle under the name of Kassius Ohno in WWE developmental. FCW released photos from his initial photo shoot and revealed the name on the roster page.
Everyone has an opinion on the name, so I have to have one, too. I like it for the simple fact it sounds like a funny story for the man formerly known as “Chris Hero” in that this man’s surname is “Ohno”. Of course WWE doesn’t like double names on the roster (anyone remember the crazy/funny story about Lance Cade having to change his name because Lance Storm was on the roster, and they thought he’d confuse people?). His first name is obviously a play off of Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali). So, Daddy Ohno (who is Japanese, mind you) looks at his newborn son on that December day, and being a fan of Ali, and thinking his kid has all the makings of being a knockout artist, names him after his favorite boxer. Little did Daddy Ohno know that his “young knockout kid” would live up to his namesake in the wrestling ring. Okay, maybe that’s not why whoever came up with that name created Hero’s new moniker. But tell me that’s not a great life story for his character. Or maybe WWE is hoping to get Winter Olympic bronze medal winner Apolo Ohno to appear on a future show as Hero’s brother. Please don’t like Hero become a wannabe figure skater.
Dayton has always done well by Ring of Honor and you can rest assured we will do well by you when we come back on Sunday April 29th!
For those who don’t know, this will be one night removed from ROH’s joint production with CHIKARA in Chicago. The question of whether or not Chicago will end the “rivalry” between the two Philadelphia based promotions is definitely there; and we should find out come the 29th of April. But there’s something noted above by ROH in this little bit of news that segues perfectly into the next segment of The Report. The last time ROH was in Dayton was for its “Survival of the Fittest” event. Fourteen men battled for the right to gain an ROH World title opportunity whenever they felt like, but only one attained that shot. Did ROH do Dayton right here? Who became the 2011 “Survival of the Fittest” champion? And most importantly, is Ring of Honor “Survival of the Fittest 2011” Worth Your Money?
Survival of the Fittest 2011
SOTF Finals Qualifier: The Briscoes vs. The Bravados
Both members of the winning team will have spots in the finals of the tournament. The crowd was very pro-Briscoes even though Jay and Mark refused to accept The Bravados’ honorable handshake. Harlem Bravado didn’t do a good job helping his team gain some momentum as Mark and Jay beat him in and out of the ring. Mark followed his brother’s lead, slamming and whipping Lancelot into the barricades before going for that double Briscoe shoulder tackle on Harlem. Thankfully for Harlem, Lancelot was there to trip Jay so Harlem could clip Mark’s left knee from behind. Harlem and Lancelot had the youngest Briscoe grounded and stuck on their side of the ring while wrenching on Mark’s injured limb. Mark sacrificed his hurt leg by enzuguri kicking Lancelot to gain a chance to tag out.
Jay was on fire, clotheslining and kicking any wrestler in his way. Spine buster by Jay on Harlem and a falcon arrow against Lancelot almost won him the match. Mark had to save his brother when he confidence got the better of him and Jay ran into the Bravado Swing. Mark’s double knees in the corner set up the Doomsday Device and a victory for The Briscoes.
Jay decided to tell the people of Dayton that they wanted to kick off the show to prove that they’re still the baddest team in the world. Jay warned Mark that even though they will be the last two in the ring come the finals, they have no problems beating the crap out of each other. To emphasize that, the brothers started head-butting each other as the crowd got all riled up.
SOTF Finals Qualifier: Kyle O’Reilly vs. Andy Ridge
O’Reilly’s grappling set up the cross arm bar early, but Ridge’s flexibility and freshness avoided the hold. Both men started throwing kicks, with Kyle running into one of those right kicks from “Right Leg”. Ridge almost played spoiler to Kyle by using a backslide to set up several kicks that almost gained him the three count. Kyle recovered, using several strikes of his own that ended with a leg sweep. The action was going back and forth until Kyle hit that series of butterfly suplexes to set up another cross arm bar attempt. Ridge saved himself via the ropes, leading to a spinning back kick battle that ended with both men keeled over. Kyle recovered first, but ended up taking a running boot to the side of his head before feeling that slingshot ace crusher … for a near fall!
Kyle countered Ridge’s kicks by Regalplexing him. When Ridge kicked out, Kyle unleashed a flying knee strike and several kicks. With Ridge staggered, Kyle grabbed him, locking in the guillotine choke. As the pressure increased, Ridge had no choice but to tap out.
SOTF Finals Qualifier: Eddie Edwards vs. Mike Bennett
Bennett trying to outwrestle the former ROH World champion and last year’s SOTF winner didn’t work too well, so Bennett attempted to turn this wrestling match into a brawl. This too didn’t work in Bennett’s favor as Edwards downed him with a series of chops. Eddie got a little too flashy for his own good, running into a stiff right hand after doing a backflip to avoid the incoming Bennett. Eddie recovered, putting Bennett in the tree of woe for the basement dropkick and that sliding dropkick across the apron. Bennett kicked out of Edwards’ follow up pin attempt, waiting for his moment to turn this thing around. That moment happened when a running Edwards got caught and slammed on his head.
Bennett slowed the pace down tremendously, and even when Eddie tried to change that, Bennett stopped him by catching Edwards with something like a dropkick or a right hand. Eddie used Bennett’s halting strategy to his advantage by tricking Bennett into chasing him to the floor. Before Bennett could reenter, Eddie kicked him off the apron so Edwards could hit the tope. Unlike last year, Edwards didn’t injure himself on the fall, wearing Bennett’s chest out with knife-edge chops. Bennett avoided the double stomp off the top rope when the action returned inside, but not the northern lights driver. Bennett kicked out right before the three count. Lung blower failed to gain the three count for Eddie, as did the STF in submitting “The Prodigy” Edwards converted his failed cradle into.
Thankfully for Eddie, he had enough strength to kick out of Bennett’s pin after Mike tripped Eddie and threw his legs across the middle rope for leverage. Spine buster by Bennett could not end this one. Elbowing and rolling his way out of the Box Office Smash, Eddie sprung to the top rope, only to be caught and slammed. “The Prodigy” spent too much time mouthing off before going for the superplex, allowing Eddie to fight back and hit that double stomp off the ropes. Power bomb converted into the Achilles Lock had Bennett scurrying to the ropes. Only three minutes was left in the fifteen-minute time limit when Eddie tried to superplex Bennett. Mike Bennett stopped the maneuver, looking to super Box Office Smash Eddie. In mid air, Eddie flipped out of the hold, landing on his feet as both men fell to the canvas. A stunned Bennett was wide open for the sweep into the Dragon Sleeper. Bennett hastily tapped out.
In the back, Kyle O’Reilly got some congrats from Davey Richards over his win. In a poorly placed segment, Davey tells Kyle that he has to take on Eddie Edwards and Michael Elgin in the finals. Way to spoil the next match, Editing Guy! Davey warns Kyle to protect his ankles against Eddie. Maybe he should’ve him some Wu Tang style advice by telling him to protect his neck because of Edwards’ dragon sleeper. Davey says that tonight is the beginning of Team Ambition’s rise to the top. When Davey walked off, O’Reilly proclaimed in a low tone, “I’m coming for your title.”
In the back, The Embassy was in full force as Barrister RD Evans declared that Tommaso Ciampa is the next evolution of ROH wrestlers. Tonight, he’ll prove that through survival of the fittest. Ciampa spoke on his open challenges from recent events, and how they were only answered by low card guys like Andy Ridge. Ciampa explained that the challenge was really for “boys” like Davey Richards, Jay Lethal, and Eddie Edwards. Tonight, Ciampa plans on going through everyone to earn his shot at the men who ducked him when that open challenge was issued.
Somewhere else in the building was The All Night Express. King reminded everyone that last year, The ANX was in the finals, and King was one of the final two. Tonight, Kenny King goes through Ciampa, Elgin, and Adam Cole before doing himself one better than last year.
Titus informed us that this was a homecoming of sorts for Titus as he returned to the place where he had his first match to take on Roderick Strong. According to Titus, tonight is where all the hardships he’s faced since that first match pays off when he goes through Roderick before going all the way.
SOTF Finals Qualifier: Kenny King vs. Michael Elgin w/Truth Martini vs. Tommaso Ciampa w/The Embassy vs. Adam Cole
King and Ciampa found themselves in the ring against each other. Ciampa muscled King around the ring, trying to punk Kenny out. King responded with a few arm drags before barring that same arm he threw him with. Both men were looking for kicks and pinning combinations, and both were successful, but didn’t win. The referee declared Ciampa pie-facing Cole was a tag, bringing in one half of Future Shock. Adam Cole and Kenny King were in the middle of a feeling out process when Elgin tagged himself via slapping King’s back. Cole used a hit and run approach quite well until Elgin was tagged out by Ciampa. Elgin and Ciampa got into it after a distracted Cole got German suplexed by “Unbreakable”.
King decided he wanted to get in on the action again, capoeira kicking Elgin before spine busting Ciampa. King was on a roll until he slipped on the top rope, landing on his head. Eglin took advantage of King’s slip, putting him in position for a Samoan drop. Cole rushed Elgin, only to get caught in his clutches as well in a great show of strength, Elgin fall away slammed Cole as he dropped King with a Samoan drop. Ciampa took Elgin’s enzuguri, belly-to-belly suplexing him in position for that running knee in the corner. Ciampa was looking to knee all three men, but ended up getting tossed to the floor and downed by Cole’s tope. An enzuguri to King’s head rocked him long enough for Cole to reenter the ring and attack Ciampa. Ciampa blocked Cole’s hurricarana attempt, looking for Project Ciampa instead. King jumped off the top rope before Ciampa could drop Cole, assisting him in a messed up version of the One Night Stand into Project Ciampa.
Ciampa and King got up, throwing clotheslines until King kicked him in the back of his head for those Shotgun Knees. When King turned around, he found a legal Elgin coming after him. Elgin stopped King’s tornado DDT, swinging Kenny into a sidewalk slam. Placing King on the top rope proved detrimental for Elgin as King back dropped him to the floor. Ciampa took Elgin’s spot on the ropes, but didn’t do much better when King elbowed him into the tree of woe.
In an impressive show of leg strength and coordination, Ciampa used his legs to sit up, grabbing an unaware King before falling back to German superplex the ANX member. Unfortunately for Ciampa, he was still in the tree of woe after the attack. Cole buzzsaw kicked Elgin, but made a mistake by hoisting Elgin up for something. Elgin slipped off of Cole’s shoulders, using the spinning back first to set up a turnbuckle power bomb that saw Cole’s body be slung into a prone Ciampa. One Spiral Bomb on Cole later, and Elgin earned his spot in the SOTF finals.
In the back, Eddie Edwards commented on his chance to be the first back-to-back SOTF winner. Tonight is history in the making as this whole year has been for Eddie.
El Generico vs. Steve Corino w/Jimmy Jacobs
This match was originally scheduled for “Death Before Dishonor IX”, but Corino’s touring of Japan prevented that. There’s a ton of history between these two stemming back to “Final Battle 2009”, and pretty surrounds Kevin Steen. The initial minutes of action were nothing short of a feeling out process. Generico picked up the pace, but Corino kept up with the quicker masked man, leading to a standoff after both missed a dropkick. Generico refused to adhere to the Code of Honor; actually slapping Corino because he believed Corino is still evil. Corino kept his composure, dropkicking Generico after a couple of arm drags. Generico fired back with chops and forearms, only to run into an abdominal stretch. Rather than follow up with the Thumb in the Bum, Corino released Generico, only to be Michinoku driven for his honorable conduct.
On his knees, Corino demanded Generico to punch him in the face. Generico obliged, topping off his strikes with a belly to back suplex. Taking a few chops and kicks, Corino fired himself up, but Generico’s continued assault stopped whatever Corino had in mind. Corino recovered, catching a running Generico with a leg lariat. STO by Corino got the fans on his side. Generico avoided the lariat, but not the Colby Shot, gaining Corino a two count. Generico rallied to his feet, hitting that tornado DDT, but couldn’t put Corino down. Blue thunder driver also didn’t end Corino’s night. After slapping Corino again, Generico yelled, “Hit me!”
Corino didn’t strike Generico in the face with an illegal right hand, but did hit not one but two lariats. When Corino went for the Eternal Dream, Generico crucified him for a two count. Before Corino could get to his feet, Generico knocked him onto the apron. Yakuza kick by Generico sent Corino sailing shoulder first against the barricades. Generico wanted to follow up, but Jimmy Jacobs felt Corino should go to the back. Corino manned up, sliding into the ring before being yakuza kicked and dragon suplexed. Brain Buster drilled Corino … for a two count!
With a minute remaining in the time limit, Corino survived another Brain Buster. After Corino took another yakuza kick, Jimmy thought about throwing the towel in to save his friend. As Generico’s attention moved from Corino to Jacobs, Corino grabbed Generico, using his own Brain Buster. When Generico’s body hit the mat, the time limit expired.
After the match, Corino demanded five more minutes. Jimmy Jacobs gave Corino a pep talk about how Corino survived two Brain Busters. Jim Cornette came out to agree with Jacobs, and express how Corino proved he has changed. Believing this, Generico finally shook Corino’s hand. The crowd wasn’t too pleased with the show of sportsmanship and redemption. Corino suddenly grabbed the microphone, stating that at “Final Battle”, he’ll be evil once again.
In the back, Jimmy Jacobs expressed his joy that Steve Corino proved himself as a changed man tonight. Corino felt a great burden lift from him after Generico shook his hand. Jacobs explained that Corino’s final step to recovery is at hand come “Final Battle”.
SOTF Finals Qualifier: Roderick Strong w/Truth Martini vs. Rhett Titus
Strong seemed a little perturbed by the kids heckling him at ringside after Titus muscled the former World champion into the corner during the initial collar & elbow, trying to chase the fast children. After Roderick reentered the ring, he found himself being outwrestled by a man with a lot less experience than him, frustrating Roderick. When the action started quickening, Titus caught Strong with a knee strike that sent Strong to the floor. Roderick tricked Titus into following him. As Titus stepped onto the apron, Roderick yanked him back first across the ring’s edge. Strong was wearing the ANX member out on the floor.
Martini cheered his boy on as the fans tried to get behind Titus. The simplistic attacks of right punches and chops had Titus reeling. Titus attempted to fight back, but ended up taking a dropkick for his trouble. Once again, it was the fans that fired Titus up, only for Rhett to miss a cross body block. Suddenly, Titus threw a forearm that rocked Strong. Dropkick from Titus had both men struggling to get off the canvas. Titus was the first up, using a slew of right hands to set up that Addicting combination. Strong kicked out of Titus’ follow up pin, but almost got pinned off a modified backbreaker out of the corner.
Roderick was in a bad way until Titus’ failed roll up allowed Strong to hit an enzuguri. Double knee gut-buster-kneeling super kick combination by Strong somehow didn’t put Titus down after the three-minute warning.
Roderick placed Titus on the top rope, looking for a superplex. Titus reversed the maneuver, getting underneath Strong before leaping off the top for that super snake eyes. Roderick unfortunately hit the mat face first rather than the top turnbuckle. In a show of great fortitude, Strong kicked out of Titus’ follow up pin. A big boot-clothesline series from Titus set up the frog splash. Unfortunately for Titus, Martini got on the apron, distracting the referee long enough for Titus to give up on his pin attempt. When Titus turned around, thirty seconds were left in the time limit, and Strong was coming after him. Titus couldn’t move in time, getting caught with three kicks, including the Sick Kick. Strong made the cover, attaining the last spot in the SOTF finals.
Champions Challenge: ROH World champion Davey Richards & ROH TV champion vs. ROH World Tag Team champion Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team
Shelton Benjamin wanted to start off with Jay Lethal, but the fans wanted to see Davey take on the man with the taped up ribs. Richards obliged, bringing a dueling chant in support of both men as Davey used his technique to nullify Shelton’s size and strength advantage. Richards lured Shelton into a shoulder block exchange, allowing Davey to slip underneath Shelton and lock him in a modified surfboard. Both men start fighting over the submission until Davey and Shelton were on their feet, looking for kicks. The champions caught each other’s incoming leg, agreeing to separate after a tense few seconds. Charlie and Jay tagged in, with Jay being a little perturbed by Haas’ wanting to grapple. After a few moments of hesitation, Jay entered the inevitable grasp of Haas, being slammed and arm dragged before getting his body insultingly ridden and his arms key locked. Jay worked his way off the mat, arm dragging Haas to set up the Lethal Combination II for a two count. Benjamin gained a blind tag seconds later, allowing Shelton to legally plow through Jay with a clothesline.
Haas reentered so Benjamin could body slam Lethal across Charlie’s knee. Haas and Benjamin had Lethal on his back after being slammed and whipped into the turnbuckles. The Tag champions were looking for the Leap of Faith on Jay. Davey tried to stop the attack, but ended up on top of Jay, and taken down by a double Leap of Faith … for a two count on Lethal!
The TV champion had to fight his way off the mat again, leaping to the middle rope off an Irish whip, hitting a leg lariat on the rebound. Jay rolled to Davey, tagging in the ROH World champ. Running forearm and knee strike for Benjamin was topped off by a superplex from the American Wolf. Shelton valiantly kicked out, only to be Ankle Locked immediately after. Shelton rolled through the submission, getting back dropped to the floor seconds later so Davey could go for that running kick off the apron. Shelton moved in time to avoid the strike, but Haas was right behind his partner, taking Davey’s kick instead. Richards was fired up, looking for a tope on Shelton before he could recover. Shelton leapt onto the apron as Davey neared the ropes, kneeing Richards’ head as it poked through the middle and top ropes. WGTT were looking to turn this thing around when Lethal somersaulted over the top, downing both men.
Davey recovered, scaling the ropes after Jay threw Shelton back in. Benjamin tried to stop Davey’s double stomp from the top, but ended up getting shoved into Lethal’s dropkick. Davey’s double stomp set up the Ankle Lock. Before Haas could save his partner, Lethal yanked him into the crossface. Benjamin saved himself in the Texas cloverleaf by making it to the ropes. What Shelton couldn’t stop was Davey’s kicks aimed at his taped abdomen. The singles champions were in complete control, wearing out Shelton by focusing on Benjamin’s torso. Showing great strength, Shelton freed himself from the body scissors and survived the abdominal stretch before exploding with a clothesline. Jay made it to his corner, tagging out. Davey lured Shelton into a striking contest, only for Shelton to hit the dragon whip. Both men tagged out, bringing in a fired up Haas.
Haas was kicking and suplexing his opponents. A power slam on Lethal by Haas almost gained his team the victory. Jay avoided whatever WGTT had in mind, DDT’ing Benjamin before hitting Lethal Injection on Haas … for a near fall thanks to Shelton!
Davey and Benjamin were trading blows in the ring’s middle, with Shelton super kicking Davey. All four men ended up on their backs after an exchange of big maneuvers ended by Haas’ clothesline on Richards after being German suplexed. Davey and Benjamin squared off as Haas and Lethal did the same. WGTT was winning the slugfest until Benjamin was clotheslined to the floor. Alarm Clock by Richards and Lethal set up a buzzsaw kick-dropkick double team on Haas. Rather than go for the pin, Davey and Lethal decided to hit a diving head-butt-Hail to the King combination. Thanks to Benjamin, Haas wasn’t pinned.
Davey went to the floor with Benjamin, choking him out as Haas turned Lethal’s hurricarana attempt into the Haas of pain. Shades of “Honor Takes Center Stage: Chapter One” played out as Shelton leapt to the top rope, arm dragging Davey from his perch before Richards could use another head-butt to save Jay. With no one to help him, Lethal had no choice but to tap out.
SOTF Finals: Eddie Edwards vs. Roderick Strong vs. Jay Briscoe vs. Mark Briscoe vs. Michael Elgin vs. Kyle O’Reilly
Not a single honorable handshake before Jay and Eddie kicked this one off. Jay did a good job hanging with Eddie in the grappling department, but ended up tagging out to his brother when Eddie pushed him close to Mark. Mark didn’t do as well as his brother before being forced into The HOT’s corner. Elgin tagged in, powering Mark around the ring with forearms and slams. Roderick followed his fellow HOT member’s offense with chops. When Mark fell into the corner behind him, Kyle O’Reilly tagged himself at the request of Mark. Becoming the legal man didn’t do much to help Kyle after being chopped, kicked, and delayed vertical suplexed by Elgin. Kyle kicked out before the three count, fighting his way off the mat thanks to the support of the crowd and, shockingly, Eddie Edwards. Elgin stumbled into Eddie’s tag to the joy of one little fan. Once again, O’Reilly and Edwards put their differences aside to wrestle honorably. Edwards made his young, yet loud fan proud by going kick for kick with Kyle. Suddenly, both opponents tagged out to the Briscoes.
Jay and Mark circled each other before attacking everyone. Dey’s a clubberin’ on da flo’, Tony! When the action returned to the ring, The Briscoes leveled Kyle as The HOT beat Eddie down at ringside. Double Briscoe shoulder tackle saw Dem Boy run through Kyle to set up Jay’s pin attempt. The Briscoes isolated Kyle on their side of the ring, almost defeating him after a series of suplexes and simple Delaware stomps. O’Reilly kept his wits about him, ducking a double team clothesline before using that double dragon screw leg whip to give himself some breathing room. Kyle rolled to Eddie, tagging out.
Edwards downed both Briscoes, but not Roderick and Elgin after Roderick tagged himself in, and kicked Eddie in the back to set up Elgin’s running shoulder ram. The Briscoes entered the ring after Eddie rolled to the floor to hit that double team neck breaker on O’Reilly. The Briscoes and The HOT met in the ring’s middle, throwing right hands. Eddie and Kyle stopped the dueling slugfest with double missile dropkicks.
Eddie and Kyle confronted each other again, going forearm for forearm. Kyle turned his attacks into kicks and knee strikes. The camera went from Eddie and Kyle’s war of attrition to The Briscoes and The HOT battling on the floor. Suddenly, Eddie kicked Kyle to the floor with Roderick and Mark. Eddie wanted to dive on all three men, but Kyle and Mark moved so only Roderick took the blow. Mark slid into the ring, getting a running start so he could somersault on top of Elgin and his big brother. Kyle reentered the ring, pulling a Mark Briscoe on Roderick and Edwards when they got up. Roderick recovered, dropping Kyle back first across the hard ring’s edge. The Briscoes came over to the side with Roderick and Kyle, beating the life out of both men. As all five men fought on the floor, Elgin scaled the ropes. When everyone looked up, Elgin moonsaulted off the top, downing his opponents!
Elgin tossed Kyle back in, looking to splash him in the corner. Instead, Elgin had to counter a tornado DDT with the backbreaker. Everyone was throwing big boots soon after. Eddie and Kyle teamed to super kick Jay into Eddie’s Die Hard. Edwards made the cover on Jay, giving us our first elimination.
Recklessly, Mark charged Eddie, only for Edwards to sidestep Mark’s attack before yanking him into the Dragon Sleeper. Mark had no choice but to tap out, ending The Briscoes’ night.
Before Eddie could get off the mat, Roderick started stomping him. The HOT had Eddie reeling until Eddie stopped an Irish whip by grabbing the top rope. Edwards ducked the incoming Elgin, back dropping him to the floor. Eddie grabbed a stunned Roderick, hitting a fisherman buster. Truth Martini jumped on the apron as O’Reilly climbed the ropes. Eddie shut the argumentative Martini up by yakuza kicking him. Unfortunately, Eddie’s kick shook the ropes, making Kyle lose his balance. O’Reilly went sailing off the top, going through the timekeeper’s table!
Eddie found himself caught off guard by The HOT, but did a great job avoiding their attempted attacks, rolling up Roderick to pin and eliminate him.
Before Eddie could get to his feet, Elgin caught him with two spinning back fists. Elgin followed up with a huge lariat. Making the cover immediately, Elgin pinned Edwards to gain his first elimination of the evening.
The crowd was solidly behind O’Reilly as he pulled himself off the floor. Elgin motioned for the Future Shock member to face his biggest challenge in ROH to date. O’Reilly could barely stand when he confronted Elgin. A single forearm dropped Kyle easily, but didn’t break his spirit. This was perfectly seen when Kyle elbowed his way out of a Samoan drop and survived the spinning back fist. Turning the power bomb against Elgin, O’Reilly slipped in the guillotine choke. Elgin shoulder rammed and suplexed his way out of the maneuver. O’Reilly made it to his feet, shockingly catching Elgin with a tornado DDT that he turned into the guillotine choke again. No matter how many times Elgin rammed him back first into the turnbuckles, Kyle refused to give up the hold. The ROH World champion Davey Richards came to ringside to support O’Reilly in this incredible effort. That support paid off when Elgin changed his game plan, turning the choke against Kyle by using the suplex sidewalk slam, but “Unbreakable” couldn’t pin him. With Kyle barely able to stand, Elgin hoisted him up, hitting the turnbuckle bomb. Elgin wanted to use this attack to set up his Spiral Bomb, but Kyle turned the maneuver into a reverse hurricarana! Regalplex by O’Reilly … only gained him a near fall!
Elgin used his powerful grip to stop Kyle’s cross arm bar. When Elgin tried to turn the arm bar into a pinning combination, Kyle put him in a triangle choke. Elgin powered himself and Kyle off the mat, but Kyle used the momentum to sunset flip Elgin … for another two count!
The crowd was going crazy for O’Reilly as he got up. Elgin took several kicks to the chest, but refused to go down. Elgin confronted O’Reilly in the ring’s middle, leading to another slugfest. Elgin couldn’t keep up with Kyle’s speed, getting rocked by palm strikes and kicks. Kyle hit the ropes, only to run into the same clothesline that put Eddie down. Somehow, some way, Kyle kicked out of Elgin’s follow up pin. O’Reilly also survived the sit-out piledriver, rolling onto the apron. Kyle slipped by Elgin as he met him on the apron, sunset flipping him. Elgin held his base to stop being power bombed on the floor, but not a belly to back suplex that saw Elgin bounce off the padded hardwood. Kyle climbed onto the apron, hitting that running dropkick from the ring’s edge on a rising Elgin to a huge ovation.
As “This is wrestling” chants rang out, Kyle scaled the ropes for a dropkick. Showing his impressive strength, Elgin caught Kyle, power bombing him. With his hands still clasped around Kyle’s waist, Elgin picked a rocked O’Reilly off the mat for a turnbuckle bomb-Spiral Bomb combination. Elgin hastily made the cover, becoming the 2011 “Survival of the Fittest” champion.
When Davey tried to console his fallen teammate, Elgin confronted him with the promise of taking Richards’ title from him in the near future thanks to this win.
Overall: As per any tournament show, it’s all about the series of matches leading up to the finals and the finals itself that makes the event worth watching. The finale here was absolutely incredible. After a nice start and middle portion, Elgin and O’Reilly turned it up and produced, quite possibly, the best conclusion to a SOTF tournament final since the original in 2004. There’s no doubt that both looked like bona fide stars after the last bell sounded. The crowd even treated them as such as they went from hot to molten during the last ten minutes of action. If there was a moment where I felt like I had stepped back in time to witness a live event from the “golden age” of ROH, it was here.
But that wasn’t the only great match from this show that had the crowd bumping. The Champions Challenge encounter definitely gave the main event a run for its money as Match of the Night. They avoided the pitfalls that some of the other hyped tag encounters have suffered (going too long; multiple false finishes; dead crowd) to produce a high octane, crisp battle that told a marvelous story of one team’s ability to survive through injury thanks to their experience and fortitude.
Sadly, this is where everything hit that plateau every show wants to avoid. While the rest of the action was solid, nothing outside of the aforementioned matches were memorable. There were flashes of greatness seen in several matches (Eddie’s impressive counter to the Box Office Smash; Elgin’s power display in the four way; The Briscoes doing what they do best in the ring and on the microphone), but nothing sustained or exceeded expectations. One match that shouldn’t be in this category, but is was Generico vs. Corino. The match had a marvelous story built off of their long-standing rivalry. Unfortunately, the crowd didn’t care. In reality, the audience absolutely murdered this match with their apathy. And when they did show some emotion, it was for all the wrong reasons. As hot as they were for the final match, they cared less about Generico and Corino finally facing off in ROH one on one even more.
This is definitely a show purchase dependent on your want. If you want to see the final and most hyped matches on the card, and don’t really care about the rest, then this is the show for you. If you were expecting a blow away event featuring a top to bottom memorable tournament, then you’re out of luck here. Even with that, this is a good show featuring two really incredible matches that deserves a spot in your collection, but not until a sale is going on.
ROH “Survival of the Fittest 2011” Is A Bargain Bin Purchase.