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ROH – Survival of the Fittest '05 – Dorchester, Massachusetts – 9.24.05
Review by Brad Garoon and Jacob Ziegler
JZ says: I've been using the top 5 as voted on by the ROH message board. Board member Lonewolf runs the top 5, and he does a fabulous job. After each show (or double shot weekend), go to The ROH Message Board and vote for the top 5.
ROH WORLD CHAMPION: Bryan Danielson (since 9.17.05)
ROH PURE CHAMPION: Nigel McGuinness (since 8.27.05)
1) Samoa Joe
2) Austin Aries
3) James Gibson
4) Colt Cabana
BG says: Austin Aries and Roderick Strong talk about how they worked as a team to get Aries into the finals of last year's tournament, and by doing so elevated him to the main event. This year is his chance to actually win the match, but Strong wants to prove that his win against Matt Hardy wasn't a fluke and he too wants to win the tournament.
JZ says: Austin Aries and Roderick Strong open the show by talking about last year's Survival of the Fittest, which was Aries's coming out party of sorts. Roderick looks so painfully awkward when he is standing next to someone cutting a promo. Both Aries and Strong want to win the big one tonight.
Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Matches
MATCH #1: Jay Lethal vs. Sal Rinauro
BG says: Lethal grabs a wristlock but Sal reverses to his own. Lethal reverses back and Sal does the same. Lethal gets a headlock but Sal fights out and takes Lethal to the mat. Lethal powers up but Sal gets a headlock. He gets Lethal back on the mat with an armbar but Lethal rolls back for 1. He hits a backbreaker for 2. Sal comes back with a dropkick and a back suplex for 2. He hits a Manhattan drop but Lethal catches him with a backbreaker for 2. He hits a back suplex for 2. He puts on a reverse cloverleaf but Sal rolls him up for 2. Lethal hits a back elbow and rams the back of Sal's head into the turnbuckle. Sal hits a kick to the face and goes to the top rope but Lethal catches him with a dropkick. Lethal tries to bring him off the top but Sal hits a top rope bulldog. He hits a clothesline and a back elbow. He hits a leg lariat and a tornado DDT for 2. He hits a neckbreaker and a German suplex for 2. He chops Lethal in the corner but Lethal comes back with the running suplex. He climbs to the top and hits the diving headbutt for 2. Sal gets a roll up for 2. Sal blocks a dragon suplex attempt and hits a chin breaker for 2. He goes for a springboard move but Lethal dodges it and hits the dragon suplex for the win. Disjointed but solid opener that got the crowd fired up.
JZ says: Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard welcome us to the show with this interesting opener. Sal Rinauro won the Future Bookings Tournament at "Do or Die V." Lethal finally beat Low Ki at last week's "Glory by Honor IV," so both men are on the upswing right now. Lethal also has a Pure Title shot against either BJ Whitmer or Nigel McGuinness next week in New York, depending on who wins tonight's match. Lethal uses the spinebuster now, by the way. I think I overcooked this Hot Pocket. Last time I made one it was hot outside but cold in the middle, so perhaps I overcompensated. Anyway, Lethal hits the Dragon Suplex to get the win at 11:34. That was a fine opener, but the winner was never really in doubt and that robs the match of any potential drama.
BG says: Lacey found some good talent at the last show, and she's going to rebuild Lacey's Angels around that talent. Tonight she's going to look for even more talent. Some guy I don't recognize walks up and hits on her and she flips out.
JZ says: Lacey, looking extremely hot, talks about how she's going to rebuild Lacey's Angels. Then all of her hotness goes away when some guy asks her out and she gets all shrill and yells at him. You know, if she's going with this business woman thing, she should really have a demeanor more befitting of it. I mean, the way she's doing it now makes her look like a petulant child who just whines to get what she wants. If that's what she's going for it's great, but since I don't think that's what they're going for I find it extremely obnoxious.
MATCH #2: Colt Cabana vs. Ricky Reyes
BG says: This match works as a tournament match as well as a way for Homicide to get to Cabana without wrestling him. Cabana beats on Reyes to start and hits a bionic elbow. He hits a pair of armdrags and a dropkick. Reyes bails but Cabana slingshots him back into the ring. Reyes kicks back at Cabana as Lacey watches on from the ramp. Reyes slams Cabana's arm against the mat and puts on an armbar. Cabana catches him with a legvice but Reyes gets out and kicks away. Cabana shrugs off some chops and hits a pair of forearms. He hits a butt-butt in the corner and a flying forearm. Reyes comes back with an armbar but Cabana gets to the ropes. Reyes misses a kick and Cabana gets an Asai moonsault for 2. Reyes gets a roll up for 2. Cabana hits a clothesline for the win. That was really short and not very good.
JZ says: Cabana's feud with Homicide lives on vicariously though this match with Ricky Reyes. Cabana has his Dusty Rhodes-themed singlet on tonight. Lacey is out taking notes once again. Reyes works on the arm and kicks Cabana and stuff. Cabana hits a lariat out of nowhere to get the win and advance to the main event at 4:26. That wasn't really enough time to get anything substantial going.
MATCH #3: Roderick Strong vs. Jerrelle Clark
BG says: Strong puts on a wristlock but Clark reverses to his own. Strong gets a fireman's carry into an armbar. He gets a drop toehold and stays on the foot. They knuckle up and Strong takes Clark to the mat for 2. Clark jumps over Strong, hits a back heel kick and hurricanranas him out of the ring. Clark meets him on the floor with another hurricanrana. He rolls him back in the ring where Strong hits him with a leg lariat for 2. He hits a butterfly suplex for 2. Clark comes back with a double jump moonsault for 2 but Strong hits him with a clothesline. It gets 2. He hits a backbreaker for 2. He hits a bodyslam and a kneedrop to the back. He hits another and puts on a Steiner Recliner. He hits a forearm to the chest for 2. He hits a pair of vertical suplexes and delays before hitting a third. It gets 2. Clark hits a pumphandle suplex and a handspring splash for 2. He hits a dropkick and a standing shooting star press for 2. He gets a sunset flip for 2. Strong press slams Clark into the turnbuckle for 2. Clark hits a DDT and a leg lariat. He hits a dropkick for 2. Strong slingshots him into the turnbuckle but Clark reverses a powerbomb to a hurricanrana for 2. Strong hits the powerbomb for 2. He tosses Clark to the apron but gets hung up on the top rope. Clark comes back in with a springboard moonsault for 2. Strong comes back with the half nelson backbreaker and the Stronghold for the win. Clark looked good here even though he wasn't on offense for too long.
JZ says: Clark has been a force in FIP, and he's just getting a shot in ROH. In fact, these two have wrestled each other many times in Florida. Strong is just the first member of Generation Next to be in a qualifying match, as Austin Aries will take on Jimmy Rave later on. Clark does some of his highflying stuff, including a nice headscissors on the floor. Roderick counters by being awesome. It's a good counter. Clark, who can be hit and miss, is really hitting tonight. They do some more cool stuff and Roderick gets the Stronghold on to get the victory at 11:11. That was a really fun match and may have changed my mind about Clark from what I said about him in my last review. The crowd agrees with and chants "please come back."
BG says: A clip of Kenta Kobashi leaning against a wall is shown under a graphic telling us that he's coming to ROH. That's not a very dramatic way to make the announcement.
JZ says: Kenta Kobashi will be at the next two Ring of Honor shows!
MATCH #4: Jimmy Rave vs. Austin Aries
BG says: Aries attacks before the bell. Rave bails so Aries follows him out with an insane suicide dive. He beats Rave on the floor and rolls him back into the ring. Nana distracts Aries and Rave knocks him off the apron. He runs him into the barricade and rolls him back into the ring. He chokes Aries against the ropes and then whips him hard against the turnbuckle. He hits a vertical suplex for 2. He puts on a chinlock and then hits a knee to the gut for 2. He goes back to the chinlock but Aries powers up and hits an electric chair drop. Nothing of note happens for a while and then Aries comes back with a roaring elbow. He hits a dropkick in the corner and then hits the mounted punches. He hits a back elbow from the second rope for 2. He ducks an enziguiri and hits the shinbreaker/back suplex combo for 2. Rave hits a Manhattan drop for 2. Aries hits a fireman's carry slam but misses a frog splash. Rave hits a spear and the running knee for 2. He hits Ghanarea and goes for another one but Aries lands on his feet. He hits the stiff kick to the face but Nana gets in the ring with a chair. Aries stops him from using it but Rave catches him from behind with the chair and gets disqualified. Rave's control segment was painfully boring, and made up a large portion of the match. The lousy finish makes me upset that I sat through the whole mess.
JZ says: I really don't like Aries's new music. He's pissed off though, and attacks Rave right away. They brawl on the outside. Let me rephrase that – they brawl on the outside for a long time. Back in the ring and it's more brawling. I'm not typing much because holy crap is there nothing going on in this match. It's unbelievably boring given how talented both guys are and how fun their first singles match was. Man Aries panders to the crowd a lot. He does have a nice frog splash though, but Rave moves out of the way and hits a spear and the running knee for two. This is picking up a bit. And just like that Rave hits Aries with a chair in plain view of the referee to get disqualified at 12:54. That was pretty lame, especially given that both of these guys are crazy over and pretty good. Nana and Rave beat on Aries until Roderick makes the save and runs them off.
MATCH #5: Samoa Joe vs. Milano Collection AT
BG says: Milano brings an invisible dog to the ring with him. This is the first match of his I've ever seen. He goes for a leglock and switches to a toehold. Joe comes back with a shoulder block. Jimmy Bower busts in on commentary to confirm the Kobashi news and tells us that he'll wrestle Samoa Joe at the next show. Milano gets a legvice and an armbar but Joe spins out. They knuckle up and Joe gets a hammerlock. Milano reverses to a wristlock and ties Joe's arm in the ropes. Neat. He gets a hurricanrana and ties Joe's limbs in the ropes. Joe is stuck and Milano hits a dropkick. Joe bails and Milano follows him out with a plancha. Back in the ring Milano stays on the arm and hits a forearm in the corner. Joe comes back with the STJoe and hits the Big Joe Combo for 2. He hits a knee strike in the corner and washes Milano's face. It gets 2. He hits him with a hard knee strike and the referee starts to count him down. Milano gets back up at 9. Joe tosses him to the apron where Milano hangs his arm up on the top rope. He stays on the arm in the ring but Joe gets to the ropes. Joe sweeps the legs and hits a senton for 2. He hits a powerbomb for 2 and goes right into the STF. He turns it into a crossface but Milano gets to the ropes. Joe kicks away but Milano blocks a snap mare. He comes back with a clothesline and an enziguiri. He hits a senton for 2. Joe hits a powerslam for 2 and goes right into a cross armbreaker. He can't hold it well due to his bad arm and Milano makes it to the ropes. Milano hits an enziguiri and a springboard senton for 2. Joe blocks the AT Lock and hits a DVD for 2. He sets Milano on the top rope and hits the muscle buster for the win. A few awkward spots aside this was full of fun stuff from Milano Collection AT and hard work from Joe.
JZ says: Milano's music is some kind of awesome. This is his ROH debut, and also my first time seeing him work. Jimmy Bower interrupts to announce that Samoa Joe will be facing Kenta Kobashi in a one-on-one match on October 1, and Joe will team with Low Ki to take on Kobashi & Homicide the next day. Joe works on the arm for a bit until Milano reverses it by cleverly using the ropes to tie Joe up. I like Milano already. Joe kicks him very hard and generally dominates on offense. Joe made the final match last year by defeating Matt Stryker. Milano goes for the AT lock, but Joe reverses into a Death Valley driver for two. Joe's all, "oh yeah, kick out of my DVD will you" and then nails the Muscle Buster for three at 14:20. That dragged a bit in the middle but was a good showing for Milano. The crowd wants Milano to come back as well.
MATCH #6: James Gibson vs. Christopher Daniels
BG says: This was originally scheduled to be for the ROH title in addition to being a Survival of the Fittest qualifying match, but Gibson lost the title at the last show. Daniels complains to Gibson about messing up his title shot. Daniels attacks at the bell and hits a big boot. He hits a bodyslam and a kneedrop for 1. He hits a back elbow and Gibson bails. Gibson dodges a baseball slide and takes control on the floor. He rams Daniels against the barricade but Daniels returns the favor. Gibson comes back with a running knee and rolls Daniels back into the ring. He rams his shoulder into the turnbuckle and hits a dropkick. He stays on the arm with an armbar and then puts on a hammerlock. Daniels reverses to a roll up for 2. He fires back but his arm is hurting. He hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and a knee to the back. He hits another backbreaker for 2. He puts on a surfboard stretch and hits a Samoan drop for 2. He puts on a chinlock in the ropes but the referee calls for the break. He hits a delayed vertical suplex and a slingshot elbow drop. He puts on a crossface but Gibson reverses to an ankle lock. Daniels makes it to the ropes and kicks Gibson away. Gibson goes for a bodyslam but Daniels falls on top for 2. He puts the surfboard stretch back on but Gibson powers out and hits a side suplex. He hits a back elbow and a bodyslam. He climbs to the second rope and hits an elbow drop for 2. Daniels blocks the tiger driver but Gibson hits a neckbreaker for 2. He drops a series of knees on the neck and hits a legdrop for 2. He hits a short arm clothesline for 2 and puts on a chinlock. Daniels fights out but walks into a spinebuster. It gets 2. Gibson hangs him up in the Tree of Woe and pulls back on his head from the floor. He chokes him in the ropes and puts on a rope assisted legvice. They trade chops and Daniels comes out on top. Gibson blocks a blind charge but Daniels comes back with a palm strike. He hits the Iconoclasm and a clothesline. He hits a forearm and a springboard elbow. He hiptosses Gibson to the floor but tumbles out with him. Daniels bleeds as Gibson hits him with a running knee in the ring for 2. Gibson hits a brainbuster for 2. He goes for the triple jump moonsault but Daniels moves out of the way and hits an STO for 2. Evil Gibson!!! Daniels hits a blue thunder bomb for 2. He goes for a cloverleaf but Gibson gets to the ropes. He puts on the guillotine choke but Daniels turns it into a pin for 2. Gibson rushes back with a back elbow. Daniels blocks a tornado DDT and hits a flatliner. Gibson hits a high knee but Daniels comes back with an enziguiri. He hits a leg lariat but Gibson catches him with a powerslam for 2. Gibson gets a crucifix pin for 2. He gets a roll up for 2 but Daniels catches him with the Last Rights for the win. A bit slower paced than I'd prefer, but the action was consistent, evil Gibson was fun and Daniels having to dust off the Last Rights to win was also a neat touch.
JZ says: This is a dream match, if you will. It's almost like a TNA guy facing a WWE guy in a ROH ring. This was going to be a title shot for Daniels, but Gibson lost the title last week to Bryan Danielson. Well, sucks to be Daniels. Wait, no it doesn't, Daniels is pretty cool. Gibson's countdown to WWE is on, as he has only three more shows to appear on (including this one). He even gets to choose his opponents for his last two matches. Next week in New York it'll be Jimmy Yang, making his ROH debut. Gibson spends time working on Daniels's arm early on. This is just the second qualifying match without an obvious winner. Daniels goes on offense for a while, but then Gibson regains control and goes to work on the neck. Daniels gets busted open hard way, but it's not a gusher or anything. Gibson tries the Best Moonsault Ever, but he fails miserably at it. I give points for effort though. Wow Daniels hits a fantastic Blue Thunder Driver. Daniels then goes for the Texas Cloverleaf, a move Gibson often used in ROH. They do an awesome finishing sequence that ends with Daniels hitting the Last Rites to qualify for the finals at 26:01. That was an excellent match and very smartly wrestled by both guys.
BG says: A clip of Bryan Danielson vs. Spanky from Best of American Super Juniors Tournament plays while Jimmy Bower gives an update on both participants. Spanky is out of ROH and back with WWE and ROH champion Danielson will return after the Kenta Kobashi shows. Good thing they had Kobashi around to cover for the lack of a champion.
Prince Nana goes off on Jade Chung backstage, blaming her for Rave getting disqualified. He tells her that from now on she must walk on her hands and knees like a dog.
JZ says: We see clips of Spanky versus Bryan Danielson from Best of American Super Juniors Tournament as Jimmy Bower announces that Spanky is done with Ring of Honor as of Dragon Gate Invasion. He also announces that ROH World Champion Bryan Danielson will miss the Kobashi weekend shows, but that he will appear on every show thereafter.
Nana and Rave abuse Jade Chung some more due to Rave's loss, which was entirely his fault. Damn that Jade Chung.
Kenta Kobashi is almost here!
MATCH #7: ROH Pure Title Match – Nigel McGuinness vs. BJ Whitmer
BG says: It's strange that Whitmer would get this title shot, being a tag team wrestler who hasn't won a singles match in quite some time. Nigel does his now customary pre-match speech. I wonder where he's going with the Bret Hart rip-off. They lock up and Nigel grabs a wristlock. Whitmer thinks about going to the ropes but headbutts to escape. Nigel gets it back on and switches to a cravat. Whitmer uses his first rope break to escape. He protests that Nigel pushed him into the ropes, but precedent shows that is an acceptable way to lose a rope break. Nigel puts on a front facelock and Whitmer uses his second rope break to escape. He complains again that he was pushed into the ropes. Whitmer gets mad and goes for a punch but thinks better of it so as not to earn a warning. They knuckle up and Nigel gets a roll up for 2. He gets a toehold but Whitmer rolls away. Nigel gets a snap mare and a stiff kick to the back. He puts on a chinlock and hits a back elbow when Whitmer escapes. He goes for one of his British tricks but Whitmer cuts him off with an elbow for 2. Nigel hits a superkick for 2. He sets Whitmer up on the top rope and kicks his back. He tries to put Whitmer up top again but he blocks. Nigel goes for the same quick sequence that he couldn't hit earlier and Whitmer stops him with a suplex. He hits a running knee for 2. Whitmer sets him on the top rope and hits a superplex for 2. They trade forearms and Whitmer falls first. Nigel gets 2. Whitmer hits a clothesline for 2. He climbs the ropes but Nigel knocks him down and hits the Tower of London for 2 when Whitmer uses his last rope break. Lacey takes notes from ringside as Whitmer sends Nigel to the apron. Nigel climbs to the top but Whitmer cuts him off and hits a super exploder for 2. Well, there goes that finisher. Whitmer hits a dropkick for 2 when Nigel uses his first rope break. Nigel goes low and gets a roll up with rope assistance for the win. This started off promising but it sort of fell apart in the middle and never quite recovered.
JZ says: Whitmer is looking to realize Edge & Christian's life long dream of double gold here. He gets Todd Sinclair to do the Jimmy Jacobs half of the Champs pose, because I guess he's as lost without Jimmy as Jimmy is without him. This is Nigel's second title defense, after a successful match last week against Roderick Strong. Nigel goes to work on the arm early on, and gains control with his British style. He doesn't need to take bumps you know. He also uses his knowledge of Pure rules to trick Whitmer out of using his first rope break. He gets him to use his second soon after. I'm really digging Nigel as a heel. Lacey is in the audience taking notes again. BJ hits a sick wrist-clutch exploder off the top rope, but Nigel is able to kick out. That kinda kills BJ's finisher. Nigel then hits a low blow behind the referee's back and does a folding press while holding the ropes (perfectly legal) to retain the Pure Title at 14:12. That was fine but nothing special. Nigel has now made two Pure Title defenses.
MATCH #8: Survival of the Fittest Final – Jay Lethal vs. Colt Cabana vs. Roderick Strong vs. Austin Aries vs. Samoa Joe vs. Christopher Daniels.
BG says: The winner of this match is unofficially guaranteed a shot at the ROH title. Joe, Cabana and Aries were all in this match last year. Aries and Strong show solidarity right away by sharing an entrance. Joe and Lethal are also aligned, leaving Cabana and Daniels as marked men. It occurs to me that there are no heels in this match.
Joe and Lethal attack before the bell and clear the ring. Everyone brawls on the floor so Joe and Lethal hit them with stereo suicide dives. Back in the ring Joe and Lethal hit a double shoulder block. Lethal gets the match organized by hitting Cabana with a suplex for 1. He tags to Joe who hits the Big Joe Combo. Lethal tags back in and hits a back suplex for 2. Joe tags in and hits Cabana with a powerslam. Lethal tags in and he and Joe hit an assisted suplex for 2. Lethal hits a leg lariat for 2. Joe tags in and puts on a chinlock. Cabana pulls on the thumb to escape but gets crotched on the top rope. Joe dumps him to the floor but Cabana catches him with a sunset flip for 2. That's how Cabana eliminated Joe last year. He hits a dropkick and tags to Daniels. Daniels hits a leg lariat for 2. He hits a pair of running forearms but Joe catches him with the STJoe. He tags to Lethal and hits a dropkick on Daniels while Lethal holds him upside down. It gets 2 for Lethal. Lethal hits a neckbreaker for 2 and puts on a chinlock. Daniels fights out but walks into a spinebuster for 2. Joe tags in but Daniels whips him into the Generation Next corner where Aries tags him out. Strong sneaks in and chops Joe down and Aries nails Lethal with a dropkick. He hits Daniels with the power drive elbow for 2. Strong tags in and hits a leg lariat for 2. Aries tags in and hits a butterfly suplex for 2. He hits a clothesline and tags to Strong. Strong hits a backbreaker but can't get 2 because the referee is distracted. Daniels gets a roll up for 2 but Strong comes back with a clothesline. Aries tags in and hits a slingshot splash for 2. Strong tags in and they hit a double delayed vertical suplex for 2. Daniels blocks a blind charge and hits an STO. He hits a back bodydrop and a dropkick. He hits a clothesline and a DVD for 2. He goes for the Last Rights but Aries rushes into the ring. Daniels manages to hit a bulldog on Strong for 2 while hitting Aries with a DDT. Joe tags Daniels out and he trades chops with Strong. Strong gets a roll up for 2 but Joe slips on the choke. Strong fights out and Daniels hits Joe with the triple jump moonsault. Strong hits Daniels with the half nelson backbreaker and then pins Joe to eliminate him. I guess there are still some hard feelings between Joe and Daniels. This marks two years in a row that saw Joe eliminated first.
Lethal runs in and beats on Strong. Strong hits a dropkick and tags to Aries. Aries hits a side slam for 2. He hits a knee to the back and gets a roll up for 2. Lethal blocks a blind charge and hits a clothesline. Cabana tags in and hits Aries with a forearm. He hits a bodyslam and a fist drop. He wrenches the neck and puts on a legvice. He rolls Aries up for 2. Daniels tags in and hits a back suplex for 2. He tags to Lethal who puts on his inverted cloverleaf. He slams Aries' face to the mat and hits the running suplex. He climbs the ropes but misses the diving headbutt. Aries tags to Strong and Lethal tags to Daniels. Daniels hits a series of clotheslines and a blue thunder bomb for 2. Aries tags in and gets a sunset flip on Daniels to eliminate him while he was distracted with Strong. Lethal and Cabana hit dropkicks on Generation Next. Lethal hits a suicide dive onto them on the floor and Cabana follows him out with an Asai moonsault. Cabana rolls Aries into the ring and hits a back elbow. He inadvertently slingshots Aries into his own corner and Strong tags in. Strong hits a double stomp and slingshots him into an Aries elbow drop. The referee counts it as Aries tagging in for Cabana and Generation Next has a problem. Actually, everyone has a problem as the referee can't figure out who the legal man is, and the way it gets resolved makes no sense. At any rate, we end up with Aries and Cabana in the ring. Strong tags in for Aries and hits a vertical suplex for 2. He puts on a full nelson leglock and rolls Cabana up for 1. Strong keeps the hold on so Cabana rolls back for 2. Cabana hits a hurricanrana and a hip toss. Lethal tags in for Cabana and hits an elbow drop for 1. He hits a seated dropkick for 2. Cabana tags in and puts on an inverted crab while Lethal holds him in a chinlock. Aries comes in and kicks them off until Lethal knocks him to the floor. Lethal tags in and Aries attacks him with a clothesline. It gets 2 for Strong. Aries tags in and they hit a double hip toss and a double elbow drop. Strong tags in and hits a running forearm in the corner. He hits a stiff kick to the back for 2. Aries tags in and hits a bodyslam and a pair of knee drops. He puts on a Boston crab but Cabana helps him get to the ropes. Strong tags in and gets 2. He puts on the royal octopus and rolls him up for 2. Lethal blocks a blind charge and hits a second rope leg lariat. He hits an enziguiri but Aries cuts off the tag to Cabana. Lethal tries to fight off both Aries and Strong but gets hit with the double knee gutbuster. Aries hits him with a brainbuster and Strong pins him for the elimination. The referee declares Aries and Strong legal so Strong makes like he's going to chop Aries but uses it to tag Cabana. Aries puts him in a guillotine choke but Cabana reverses to a wish maker. Strong breaks it up and tags in with a chop. They set Cabana on the top rope but he fights them off and hits Aries with a missile dropkick. He hits Strong with a hurricanrana but gets hit with the Sick Kick. Strong hits the half nelson backbreaker but Aries slips off the top rope while going for the 450 splash. The legal man rule is a lost cause at this point. Strong hits a uranage backbreaker for 2. He hits a piledriver for the elimination to put this portion of the match out of it's misery.
Aries gets on the microphone and tells the fans not to boo Generation Next for teaming up in the match because they would have done the same thing. He tells Strong that they'll always be friends, but that's all being put aside to see who the best man is. That was beyond annoying. They lock up and Aries gets a hammerlock. Strong rolls him up for 2. He grabs a headlock but Aries reverses to a legvice. Strong gets out with a toehold and pins Aries for 1. He puts on a chinlock but Aries powers out and puts on a wristlock. He gets his own headlock and goes for a basement dropkick but Strong scoots away. They trade chops and Aries hits a clothesline. Strong fires back and blocks the crucifix bomb. Strong goes for the gutbuster but Aries blocks and goes for a Boston crab. Strong blocks it and they lock up. Strong puts on a surfboard stretch and blocks the slingshot elbow, knocking Aries to the floor. He rams him into the barricade and rolls him back into the ring. Aries catches him on the apron and hangs him up on the top rope. Strong falls to the floor and Aries hits him with a corkscrew dive. Back in the ring Aries hits a senton and a kneedrop for 2. Strong blocks the brainbuster and hits a backbreaker for 2. Aries hits the fireman's carry slam but his back is hurt. It's still good enough for 2. They trade big boots and Aries hits a legsweep into the turnbuckle. He hits a dropkick in the corner for 2. He hits a brainbuster but his back is still hurt and he's slow to climb the ropes. Strong cuts him off and hits the gutbuster from the second rope. Aries reverses the half nelson backbreaker to the crucifix bomb. He hits the stiff kick to the face but Strong blocks the brainbuster and hits a half nelson backbreaker. He hits another and puts on the Stronghold. Aries goes for the ropes but Strong pulls him back to the middle with a Boston crab. Aries once again becomes the runner up as he taps giving Strong the win.
Last year's Survival of the Fittest match was my runner up for match of the year. This was not nearly as good as last year's masterpiece. This year had the benefit of better spaced out eliminations, but suffered as well. Cabana, Strong, Aries and Sinclair completely ruined the legal man confusion spots in the second half of the match, and things slowed down as a result. Aries speech before his showdown with Strong was ridiculous as well, and reminded me of the needless promos from the first Ultimate Endurance match. Strong and Aries showed spurts of awesomeness in the final minutes, but couldn't keep a pace that measured up to what Aries did with Danielson the year before. Still, the rest of the match was filled with great stuff, so it wasn't a total write-off.
Strong gets on the microphone after the match and calls it the greatest match of his career. He hopes that everyone realizes that his win against Matt Hardy wasn't a fluke, and he's going to continue having great matches throughout the upcoming years. He tells Aries that he's the best tag partner and friend he could have. He challenges Bryan Danielson to a match when ROH next runs through Connecticut.
JZ says: Daniels refuses to shake hands, a remnant of the Prophecy era. A big brawl starts it out, and Joe and Lethal take everyone out with simultaneous dives. They continue to double team a bit, since Joe wants to win the Tag Team Titles, and Lethal is his chosen partner. Prazak says that Joe wants to be a Grand Slam champion, but since ROH only has three titles, it would be a Triple Crown. I know it's a little thing, but it bugs the shit out of me. Joe and Cabana are in the ring together, which recalls last year when Cabana pinned Joe to earn an ROH title shot (in a ***½ match). Aries and Strong are hanging out in the same corner, which I think is a nice touch. Joe and Lethal are in one corner too. Roderick actually knocks Joe down with one chop. Aries and Strong then take over, particularly on Daniels. Roderick and Joe desperately need to have a one-on-one match in ROH. The ones in FIP were pretty good. A melee breaks out and Daniels hits Joe with the BME on the arm, and but Roderick sneaks in and gives Daniels a backbreaker and pins Samoa at 13:57. That's the second year in a row that Joe was the first to be eliminated. That's some tough luck for Joe. At last year's Survival of the Fittest, Jay Lethal was still known as Hydro. That's why I'm the best color man in the business, folks. Strong and Daniels are having a go now, but Aries sneaks in with a blind tag and pins Daniels with a surprise sunset flip at 19:12. Lethal and Cabana form an alliance out of necessity to go after Gen Next. Referee Todd Sinclair somehow manages to screw up this match by not being able to figure out who the legal man is. Holy crap that was incredibly frustrating. Roderick and Aries go to work on Lethal, and after MORE legal man confusion Strong gets the pin on Lethal to eliminate him at 31:23. Cabana faces huge odds now. He makes Sinclair force Gen Next to wrestle each other. They do that for about two seconds before beating on Cabana instead. Strong then eliminates Cabana after a piledriver at 35:51. It's down to just Aries and Strong now. Aries grabs the microphone and explains to the crowd exactly what's going on and exactly what they're going to do. You know, I think the crowd could have figured this out by themselves. Aries feels the need to spell it out though. That's uber lame, and it slows down the momentum of the match a lot. Brad recently reviewed a match these two had in FIP back in March, so go read that…now. Roderick goes to work on the back, as he's known to do. Strong hits a couple of half-nelson backbreakers and locks on the Stronghold, causing Aries to tap out at 50:30. Roderick Strong has won the Survival of the Fittest tournament. That match was not nearly as good as last year's, and I'm still annoyed about Aries's promo. He says calls Aries his best friend and they hug. That's a little gay, dude. Strong has now earned an ROH World Title shot, which he would like to take on October 29.
BG says: Kenta Kobashi says some stuff in Japanese as his scheduled matches scroll across the screen. It will be Kobashi v. Samoa Joe the first night and Kobashi & Homicide v. Low Ki & Joe the following night.
JZ says: I heard that Kenta Kobashi may be on the next ROH shows. Don't hold me to that though.
BG says: Roderick Strong, because I'm obvious like that. He really did perform well in the main event however, and his match with Clark was a good time.
JZ says: Roderick Strong is the easy choice here, for showing how good he's going to be and winning one of the biggest matches of the year.
Coming soon will be our review of Joe vs. Kobashi!
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The 411: BG says: On its own the show is solid from top to bottom. However, compared to 2004's show it's a bit of a disappointment. If you're like me and you love the Survival of the Fittest concept you'll pick this one up, and Strong fans should do the same. Mild recommendation to the general wrestling fan for those reasons.
JZ says: I don’t like this one nearly as much as the first one, but there’s some good stuff on here. The main event is good, and I enjoyed three of the first-round matches a great deal, so it’s easy for me to recommend this one.