042 ROH Survival of the Fittest 6/24/2004

ROH 42 – Survival Of The Fittest – 24th June 2004

Last crisis I promise. This was originally supposed to be the Shane Shamrock Memorial Cup…and we were originally supposed to be in Glen Burnie, MD. However, thanks to the revelations that Rob Feinstein was still a part of ROH, the company’s Baltimore promoter pulled out, meaning ROH couldn’t run Baltimore. New venue needed, and no more SSMC either. However, ROH found a new building, back in Philly, and they’ll be keeping the same format for the show as the SSMC would’ve had. Six matches, where the six winners go into a six man elimination final to crown the first ever Survival Of The Fittest winner. Lots of big names in this, as both Briscoes will compete, all of Generation Next, Samoa Joe, Homicide, Colt Cabana, Matt Stryker, Bryan Danielson…etc. The Second City Saints defend the Tag Titles in a Scramble Match…and lots more Punk heelishness besides. We’re in Philadelphia, PA. Hosts are Jimmy Bower and Mark Nulty (who will no doubt continue to pronounce everyone’s names wrong, and go blissfully unaware that he’s not calling matches from 1952 or whatever…I like him).

Still no Top 5. That system has been replaced by the ‘Contenders Ring’. A list of people (it doesn’t have a set amount of entrants) from which challengers for the World Title and Pure Title will be drawn. Obviously the results of this show will go towards determining the first Contenders Ring.

Loc opens the show (because he’s not on it otherwise) and he still doesn’t know why Daniels and Masada took a sh*t in the bags of the Crew. It’ll be the Carnage Crew vs the New & Improved Carnage Crew at Reborn: Completion (next show). He vows that Masada and Daniels will be gone from ROH after that match.

Mark Briscoe vs Alex Shelley

The first SOTF qualification match, as the younger Briscoe takes on the leader of Generation Next. They met in the 8 man at Generation Next, then in a 6 man at World Title Classic, so by this point these two are familiar with each other and have some heat. With his technical excellence, and Mark’s lack of singles wrestling in ROH, Shelley must surely be the favourite to win this.

‘What a unique concept’ – Nulty wasting no time in spitting out his first complete error. Shelley traps Briscoe in a cross armbreaker in the early going. Fast near miss exchange ran through, before we pause for applause…well done fellas. Spinning heel kick from Shelley, then a diving clothesline out of the corner. Northern lights suplex from Briscoe, before he starts attacking Shelley’s knee with elbow drops and a leglock. Shelley gets in a superkick, then drops Mark with a neckbreaker, but the damage has been done. Neckbreaker over the knee from ‘The Next’…and that was dumb because it hurt his knee. Leg drop over the middle rope as he continues the abuse, but Mark still manages to squeeze in a dropkick to the knee.

Fishermans buster from Briscoe. Shelley tries to step through the ropes but gets caught and takes a DRAGON SCREW OVER THE MIDDLE ROPE!

Springboard missile dropkick to the knee (swish), before he goes for the Texas cloverleaf. Shelley is desperate, and he fights to the ropes. Enzi kick from Shelley, followed by a cross-leg suplex into an ace crusher! That was nice, but Mark gets up and goes back to the knee. He ducks a second enzi attempt, then drops Shelley on his back with a German suplex for 2. Alabamaslam from Shelley, then a suplex…INTO THE BORDER CITY STRETCH! Mark escapes…TEXAS CLOVERLEAF ROLL UP! Mark gets the surprise win at 10:12.

Rating – *** –
One of the best opening matches on an ROH show…period. Only Maff/Whitmer (Empire State Showdown) and London/Tighe (Frontiers Of Honor) immediately come to mind as being better than this. Ten minutes of crisp working of the body part, which all went somewhere and meant something in the finish. Alex Shelley hasn’t had a bad match in his ROH career by the way, he really is a star. It’s no wonder TNA have picked him up and started using him (meaning his push in ROH got lessened somewhat). Added to the list of kickass entrance themes in ROH – the Briscoes music rocks too.

Trent Acid vs Colt Cabana

Acid in his first singles match since he went solo in ROH (he tagged with Masada and Daniels against the Carnage Crew back in May). He’s from Philly so the hometown factor could see him through to the final. Colt Cabana is the only Second City Saint in the tournament tonight, so the pressure’s on him, particularly after he and Ace Steel lost the first Ultimate Endurance match to Maff and Whitmer (who aren’t on the show tonight – not positive but they may have been in Puerto Rico). He has to defend the Tag belts with Punk later, so he could be in for a busy night. He apparently has a new finishing move that nobody kicks out of…

Chain wrestling to start, but Cabana was just joking around, and he redneck dances with Acid…which pisses Trent off royally. Sissy slapfest…this is hilarious. Acid thinks he’s ducked a right hand and gets punched in the face for laughing. He pretends to Yakuza kick Colt, and when Cabana ducks, he thumbs him in the eyes. Acid climbs the buckles but gets shoved off the floor by Cabana…and my the Ramada’s carpeting is absolutely heinous. Neck ringer by ‘Cabaaaaaaaaana’ – Nulty, who seems to find it impossible to pronounce it Cabana. Ass to the face from Colt gets 2. Powerslam out of the corner gets 2 as well. Trent escapes the Colt 45 and hits a springboard swinging DDT.

Double knee in the corner, but Colt blocks a jump swinging DDT attempt and lifts Acid to the top rope. Nulty and Bower think this could be Colt’s new finisher…SUPER SIT OUT GOURDBUSTER FROM ACID! Roaring elbow, followed by a springboard corkscrew leg drop…for 2. Yakuza kick ducked…and Cabana hits a gutbuster…then breaks out some odd old school (according to Mark Nulty, who sounds like he knows something about wrestling assuming it hasn’t happened since 1975) roll up to win it at 07:56. Is that his new finisher? Cabana advances to the SOTF match later.

Rating – ** –
The comedy was funny, the new finisher was equally so. They filled out a few minutes between the comedy with some nice spots, so no real complaints. Not a wrestling clinic, but it’s short and inoffensive.

Shawn Price is with the Briscoes…looking to annoy still more people. His odd squishy little face looks all serious as he asks Mark how his neck is, then asks Jay if he’s ready to wrestle Homicide. Jay says he’s not scared of him, so I guess that’s a yes.

Generation Next come out, as the next SOTF qualification match is set to be Austin Aries vs John Walters. However, since Generation Next already took Walters spot (by making him tap at Generation Next) they think he should just move aside. Walters refuses, and he gets busted open by a GeNext chain attack, just like Matt Stryker at World Title Classic. GMC and Josh Daniels appear, and we have a tag match, where the winner of the fall will advance…

Generation Next vs John Walters/Josh Daniels

GeNext is Austin Aries and Roderick Strong…Josh Daniels appears not to be a member of The Embassy anymore, judging from the fact that there’s no sign of Prince Nana or the Outcast Killaz. Walters has been at odds with Generation Next since the faction was formed at Generation Next the show, and has already put in good performances in two prior tag matches. Can he keep the streak going and finally get a victory? Aries was part of the first team eliminated in Ultimate Endurance, but Jack Evans was injured and he was the man that took the fall…surely he won’t fail again. Daniels has looked solid without making any headway whatsoever in ROH thus far.

Aries and Strong try to cheap shot Walters and Daniels to start, but they fail. Double Indian deathlock on Strong…and Aries tries to help and makes it worse. More double teaming on Austin Aries, before it looks like it’ll come down to Daniels and Aries as the legal men. Walters is tagged in fairly soonish, and he continues the attack. Gory special surfboard on Aries, into a backslide for 2. Daniels in again and he works a submission until Strong kicks him in the back of the head. Walters in, and Aries kicks him in the face then tags out. Walters responds by taking over on Strong. Tag back to Josh who gets 2 with a snap suplex. Strong gives Walters a neckbreaker and makes a tag to Aries. Strong then tries to drag Walters out and take a few cheap shots. Aries guillotines Walters over the top rope, and this time he does fall to the floor. Back in and Aries delivers a slingshot hilo for 2. Strong in with a nice jumping heel kick. Walters no sells one of Rod’s chops, which isn’t the best idea he’ll ever have. FEROCIOUS running boot to the face in the corner from Strong. Aries is back in, and Walters looks to mount a fightback. Big clothesline connects, but Strong distracts the referee meaning Walters’ tag isn’t seen. The ref stops Daniels coming in, and Strong steps into the ring and puts Walters in a chinlock. More GeNext cheatery…ended with a DOUBLE double knee backbreaker on both Strong and Aries. Tag to Daniels finally made!

CHOPFEST between Daniels and Strong, two of the stiffest choppers you’ll ever see. German suplex on Strong…German on Aries. Tiger suplex scores, and Strong has to make the save. More chops between those two, before Strong hits a full nelson backbreaker. Walters is back – double knee jawbreaker…DOUBLE KNEE BACKBREAKER. Strong gets right back up and hits a DOUBLE KNEE GUTBUSTER! Strong powerbombs Daniels, which leaves him prone for the 450 SPLASH FROM ARIES! Aries goes to the finals at 12:46.

Rating – *** –
Lots of fun and on a different night, with fewer matches, it could’ve gone a lot longer and not lost anyone’s attention. For me, Rod Strong was the star of this match, with his heel actions early in the match, then his all-impact wrestling style as it went on. The chops with Daniels, then the double knee exchange with Walters both ruled, and I’m glad he got the chance to shine, as he seems to get the least attention of all the GeNext members. Besides, Aries time to shine comes later. Once more Walters and Daniels looked solid (even though the WWE rumours have turned Walters from breakout star to the next Jimmy Rave) and there is definite potential as a permanent tag team.

Jay Briscoe vs Homicide

Both men who have been with ROH since the very first show…and I don’t recall them ever having wrestled each other to be honest. I know Homicide’s met Mark Briscoe in a fourway before…but unless these two clashed in a completely unmemorable fourway, or an even more forgettable Scramble match back in 2002, I don’t think they’ve met. Homicide is getting more and more deranged. He stole the new ROH World Title belt at World Title Classic, after he lost once again to Samoa Joe at Generation Next. He’s added the Havana Pitbulls (who aren’t here tonight) to his Rottweilers stable and even with the May 22nd match, it appears his feud with Joe isn’t over yet. Can Jay emulate his little brother and earn the Briscoes another upset win here? Mark is in Jay’s corner, Smokes is in Homicide’s.

No handshake from Homicide since he is a heel and all (personally I think the nutty handshakes helped his heel character but whatever) and we’re underway. They start out slow as both men jostle for an advantage. Armdrag from Homicide, then a dropkick. Jay avoids a baseball slide…Homicide avoids a pescado. Slingshot sunset flip from Briscoe gets 2. Clothesline from Jay drops Homicide, and he has to roll outside and take a chill. Jay looks for a running pescado, but Homicide moves aside. Homicide tries to sneak back in but gets trapped in an armbar. They go punch for punch, and Jay gets the better of that surprisingly. Snap suplex gets a 2 count. Jay blocks a tornado DDT attempt, but Homicide drops him with a dragon screw, then plasters him with a running knee in the corner.

Homicide scores with a piledriver for 2. Nice submission from Cide as he rolls Briscoe into a hammerlock with a leg over the neck. Double underhook front facelock as he continues to wear down Jay Briscoe. He works a rear chinlock…and Jay finally escapes with a Blue Thunder Driver. Briscoe goes to the top rope but gets caught. Briscoe throws Homicide down and scores with the missile dropkick. He sets up for the Jay Driller, but it’s too early for that. Bridging German suplex almost gets it done though. Homicide goes for the Cop Killa, but Jay rolls through. Homicide rolls through a second German attempt from Briscoe then kicks him in the face. YAKUZA KICK DUEL! They finally kick each other off their feet and both men are flat on their backs. Jumping heel kick from Jay, then a Falcon Arrow. He again goes for the Jay Driller but Smokes grabs his leg. He punches Smokes…SUPERKICK on Homicide! Jay goes upstairs, and again Smokes distracts him. SUPER ACE CRUSHER FROM HOMICIDE…FOLLOWED BY THE LARIAT! That gives Homicide the win at 14:19. Homicide advances, and Jay looks like he’s got an injured neck…

Rating – *** –
Solid competitive match, but it was just a little too unexciting in the early going for the rating to stand any chance of going higher. They’re both wonderful talents to this was fun to watch, but there’s just too little attempt to tell a story or run any kind of psychology. They decided instead to go spot for spot, and it went pretty well. The finish was nicely in keeping with Homicide’s heel persona, which gets more and more interesting to watch. I dig his lariat as a finish, since he hits it with such velocity. The problem is, when you use the Cop Killa as your regular finish, anything else you try and lose is always gonna seem somewhat less exciting.

Homicide’s a bastard, so now he wants a handshake. Mark Briscoe doesn’t find that too funny, and they almost get into a fight. Homicide lays out a few jobbers as well. Once more he’s gone out of control. Smokes rants on the mic, but fortunately it’s hard to hear him.

Jack Evans vs Bryan Danielson

Can you say ‘mis-match’. Poor Jack Evans…he can fly and flip around like nobodies business, but he’s about to step into the ring with one of the most merciless wrestling machines in America today. Does he really stand a chance? He’s at least done some homework on Dragon, as he brings out a picture of Danielson during his backyarder days as ‘The Dagger’. For Danielson, this is a big night. He wants an ROH Title shot…if he wins the SOTF tournament, he’ll get that. Last time we saw him was the Reborn weekend, where he went 1-1, beating CM Punk and losing to Homicide. How is Evans’ back after the abuse it took on the 12th at World Title Classic.

Jack Evans breakdances…and Dragon wants to do it. He has Evans show him how to do it again…’I can’t do that’ – Danielson. Instead he pelvic grinds then moonwalks. This is funny stuff…but now the match is underway, and Jack Evans is in WAY over his head. Dragon starts out slow, then hops outside to start challenging fans. ‘Somebody get a waiver for this man’ – Dragon, pointing out some cocky guy in the crowd. Bryan Danielson has evolved into one of the funniest guys on the roster! Goku Raku stretch on Evans…and when I say stretch, I mean, oh dear LORD the stretching. Evans tries to outwrestle Dragon, and gets dropped on his back. Headscissors submission from Danielson…and he grabs Evans’ leg and does his best to bend him in half. Evans headlocks, but quickly gets taken into the extremest looking abdominal stretch you’ll ever see. Danielson grabs the leg to make it even more brutal, and he eventually turns it into a roll up for 2. Back to the Goku Raku…and now he bends Jack’s leg behind his own head. Backbreakers from Evans, as Nulty starts pushing for the new ROH video company to do porn DVDs.

Sammartino backbreaker from Dragon…but Evans somehow manages to (just about) get a couple of kicks to the gut. Spinning heel kick follows, then a jumping knee to the head sends Danielson to the outside. A baseball slide sends Dragon into the guardrail. SPRINGBOARD TWISTING MULTIPLE CORKSCREW SPINNY FLIPPY FLOPPY FLYING MOONSAULT PRESS THING! Evans brings Danielson back inside and delivers a standing corkscrew somersault splash for 2. Dragon fires back with a vile vile European uppercut, and he almost snaps Evans in two with a gutwrench lion tamer at 10:59.

Rating – *** – It gets 3* because of how unique it is. Dragon looked like an absolute destroyer as he was in there with someone who could literally bend themselves in two to make Danielson’s stretches look impressive. Essentially this match was real simple – lots of Evans getting bent in half, one crazy dive, then Dragon making him tap out. But it’s THAT fun to watch…

Matt Stryker vs Samoa Joe

Poor Matt Stryker…we’re back in Philly which means everyone hates him here. The title isn’t on the line, but this is the final SOTF qualifier, and a rematch from Reborn Stage 2, when Samoa Joe put Matt Stryker away with a triangle choke. Can Stryker get revenge for that, and of course, another title shot, since pinning Samoa Joe in a non-title environment earns the victor a title match. Joe had what is almost certain to be ROH’s 2004 MOTY with CM Punk on the last show, and doesn’t have an awful lot to gain from the SOTF tournament, but masses to lose. Plus he’s embroiled in the Homicide feud…PLUS after an eternity as ROH Champion, has his body had as much as it can stand? Why does everyone seem to love his new music so much? It’s not a PATCH on ‘Another Body Murdered’?

‘Die Stryker Die’ – Philly. Stryker works an armbar, and that isn’t popular. Joe comes back with headbutts to the hand, and they’re far more popular. ‘You’re not even the best Matt Striker’ – fan, referring to Matt Striker, even Joe finds that hilarious. Stryker gets some knee strikes and some forearms and he is in trouble now. STO SLAM! Why would you run into the corner at Joe, Matt Stryker? Stryker rolls outside…ELBOW SUICIDAAAAA! Stryker avoids an Ole Ole Kick…then tries to jump Joe as the champ gets back in the ring. Legsweep DDT connects for 2. Stryker dives off the top rope with a neckbreaker, but that doesn’t put Joe away either. Enziguri kick from Joe. Powerbomb-2 count-STF and he’s looking to make Stryker tap out here and now.

Stryker somehow manages to muscle Joe over with a powerslam for 2. DEATH VALLEY DRIVER…again only for 2! Stryker lifts Joe to the top rope and looks for the rope run belly to belly. Obviously he doesn’t get that BUT HE DOES SCORE WITH A SUPERPLEX! He goes for a second DVD but Joe blocks. ISLAND DRIVER! Just like that it’s over at 09:35. The SOTF final will be Mark Briscoe, Cabana, Aries, Homicide, Danielson and now Samoa Joe.

Rating – *** –
Props to Matt Stryker (and to Joe as well of course) because he managed to pull of a good little match there under a lot of pressure. The Philly fans absolutely hate this guy, and to work such a solid match when you’re just getting jeered after everything you do is admirable. If ROH want to continue booking Stryker, they really do need to turn him heel, because he will not get over as an ‘I’m a good babyface because I’m a great wrestler’ babyface (i.e. Bryan Danielson) because the fans simply don’t buy him as a good enough wrestler.

CM Punk cuts Samoa Joe off before he can head to the back, and together they come back to the ring. Punk wants to know when he’s getting his rematch. Joe doesn’t get a chance to answer, because the lights go out. They come on, and Homicide is on the hard camera tower with Joe’s new ROH Title belt. Joe charges through the crowd and they start fighting right in front of the merchandise table. They brawl to the back…and that’s all we see.

INTERMISSION – GMC has…Samoa Joe, so I’m guessing the fight is over. Joe is…yeah, he’s pissed off. Joe says Homicide has until July to be ready to finish the war. He rightly points out that he’s beaten Homicide frequently, and claims Cide can’t take defeat. Anyway, he says he’s ending it in July…

Shawn Price is with Bryan Danielson…Dragon is looking forward to getting revenge on Homicide (for Reborn Stage 2), and getting to wrestle Samoa Joe. He even points out that the last person to beat Joe in a singles match was him (waaaaaaay back at the First Anniversary Show). He wants that belt as well, and I’m SALIVATING at the prospect of a third Danielson/Joe match. This segment doesn’t end with Danielson snapping SSP’s arm off.

It’s time for the Scramble match for the ROH Tag Titles…but CM Punk sends Colt Cabana to the back since Cabana is in the Survival Of The Fittest match later. Punk, apparently, will be defending the belts himself.

CM Punk vs Outcast Killaz vs Dunn & Marcos vs Special K – ROH Tag Title Scramble Match

First time the belts have ever been defended in a Scramble match, which is pretty surprising considering the sheer amount of Scrambles there have been. Big chance for the Killaz and the RCE, since they’ve been jobbers for like, 2 ½ years, imagine if they won the belts here! Special K are Dixie and Hydro…and the K guys still don’t look happy. That slump is continuing folks. Philly takes it’s title as the best town at singing along to Punk’s entrance theme. The DIE DIE DIE asshole is there, I’m gonna stop talking about him, since I refuse to put him over anymore. Nana and Xavier are in the Killaz’s corner.

Punk pretends he’s going to start but doesn’t. Dixie and Dunn start, but eventually bring Punk in. Everyone tries to pin Punk but fails…and it breaks down to Punk and Hydro. Punk steps out and it’ll be Hydro and Oman. Tortuga boots Hydro into a Santiago Russian legsweep. Diablo powerbombs Marcos, then lifts him up into a fisherman’s suplex for 2. Marcos sends both Outcast Killaz into the turnbuckle. Dunn gives Oman the Gory Driver, before Special K come in and give him the hiptoss facebuster. Diablo gives Hydro and Dixie a double blockbuster, but gets spiked with a DDT from Dunn. Inverted Catatonic from Oman on Marcos, before putting Dunn into an abdominal stretch. Punk stops that with a missile dropkick.

Hydro sails through the ropes with a tope, and it’ll be Dixie and the Killaz now. Dixie gets taken out, and in come Dunn & Marcos to not take it anymore. HYDRO DRAGON SUPLEXES BOTH DUNN & MARCOS! Punk throws Hydro out of the ring then pins both of them for the win at 04:52.

Rating – DUD –
I don’t care that it was short, and I don’t care that it served it’s purpose in making Punk extremely unpopular. It was an awful, awful spotfest, and a flashback to 2002/2003 when matches like this were on every card. Every person on this match is capable of better…this was poor, probably the worst match of 2004 so far.

Punk gets on the microphone and points out he’s undefeated in Scramble matches. At Reborn: Completion he’s calling Ricky Steamboat out one more time. He wants more competition next time he steps in the ring…but Hydro takes offence to that. He wants a match with Punk since Punk ducked him all match…then calls him a pussy. Oh yeah, that pissed him off, it’s on!

Hydro vs CM Punk

This is the second time Hydro’s stepped up to the plate and made an impromptu challenge (the first was at Generation Next) and the second time he’s got MAJOR pops for doing it. It’s obvious from this his split from Special K is imminent. Last time he made a challenge like this, he had a competitive match with Alex Shelley and lost. He’s turned down invitations to join Generation Next because he wants to concentrate on the Pure division and get to the top that way. Beating Punk would be a decent little start on his rise to the top wouldn’t it?

Punk tries to chatter on the mic some more…AND GETS B*TCHSLAPPED! You better believe Hydro’s family are going absolutely berserk for this! Punk backs Hydro in the corner and tries to slap him back, but just gets slapped again for his trouble. Hydro unloads some more offence on Punk, and the Tag Champion has to bail because Hydro is kicking his ass. Hydro chases him round the ring, then tries to springboard back in. Punk catches him with a powerslam, and for the first time he has the advantage. Backbreaker from Punk…and oh dear lord one of Hydro’s family members is SCREECHING. Punk wraps Hydro’s legs in his vest then stomps him in the face. Stalling vertical suplex lays him out again. ‘Shut her up’ – Philly at Hydro’s loud ass relative.

To the floor and Punk drags Hydro all the way down the aisleway to beat him up, charging him into the guardrails there. Back in the ring for the double underhook backbreaker. Chopfest, and Hydro almost gains an advantage so Punk knees him in the stomach. Back suplex leaves Hydro set up for the slingshot hilo. Punk locks in a rear chinlock, and the referee calls Hydro ‘Lethal’ when asking him if he wants to quit. To the ropes, and Hydro blocks Pepsi Plunge attempts – HE SCORES WITH A SUPERPLEX! Clotheslines from Hydro, then a jumping heel kick for 2. Hydro wants the dragon suplex (that did for both members of the RCE). Punk rolls through a German attempt – SHINING WIZARD CONNECTS! That would be it, but Punk pulls Hydro’s shoulders up before the three. Mule kick leaves Hydro rocking, and Punk follows it with an enzi kick. BACKBREAKER FROM HYDRO…GUTBUSTER FROM HYDRO…HEAD AND ARM SUPLEX FROM HYDRO! They trade near falls but neither man puts it away. Hydro goes for a powerbomb but can’t get Punk up – Devil Lock DDT from Punk, and once more Punk pulls Hydro’s shoulders up before the three. Punk takes Hydro to the top, and hits a super rana…but Hydro rolls through and we have more nearfalls. HYDRO HITS THE DRAGON SUPLEX! Nulty rabbits on about shooting a half…as Hydro covers for 2. Punk rolls him up for a three at 18:48.

Rating – ** – It’s a good match, but unfortunately, not the breakout performance from Hydro that I’m sure ROH was looking for…although personally I think Hydro should shoulder very little blame for that. The match itself did nothing to present him as a breakout star, but rather presented him as a plucky jobber, who gave it everything but never looked capable of beating Punk. I think Punk (who I assume was calling the match) has to carry more of the blame for the failure. The pulling Hydro out of pin attempts and roll up finish didn’t made Hydro look like a total jobber…good match, but Hydro will have to wait for that breakout I’m afraid.

Mark Briscoe vs Colt Cabana vs Austin Aries vs Homicide vs Bryan Danielson vs Samoa Joe – Survival Of The Fittest Elimination Match

This is a supremely interesting match – lots of issues, lots of new matches, and lots of chances to shine. For Colt Cabana and Mark Briscoe, it’s a chance to step out from the shadows of their somewhat more established solo-wrestling tag partners (CM Punk and Jay Briscoe respectively) and make a name for themselves in their own right. Obviously this is a huge match for ECWA Super 8 2004 finalist Austin Aries, easily his biggest match in ROH to date. Danielson, meanwhile, is out for revenge on Homicide after he used a low blow to beat him at Reborn Stage 2. You know he wants to get in there with Joe as well, since he’s been demanding an ROH Title shot since the convention card at Final Battle 2003. This is also another extension in the never-ending Joe/Homicide feud. Are the confines of this match enough to contain their bitter rivalry? Obviously anyone pinning Joe in this match will get themselves a World Title shot you’d presume…plus the winner is guaranteed a spot in the Contenders Ring and a title shot. Joe really doesn’t have a lot to gain from winning this, poor guy.

Mark Briscoe jumps Homicide to start the match after what Homicide did to Jay earlier. Homicide quickly throws him to the mat and tags out to Cabana. Cabana works a surfboard variant, testing Mark’s injured neck early. Inverted crab applied, which he turns into a pendulum stretch, then drops an elbow across Briscoe’s neck. Danielson tags in, and you do not want an injury when you’re in the ring with this guy. Evenly contested knucklelock, before Danielson turns it into a crossface chickenwing on Mark. Half crab applied, and he has a knee across the back of the neck as well. Tag to Samoa Joe, and it looks like he’ll be isolating Briscoe’s leg. He does so with a spinning toehold. Cabana gives Mark some relief and tags in…then tags right back out to Homicide. Homicide pretends to square up to Joe…then tags out to Aries. Aries uses his quickness to avoid some strikes, but gets laughed at by the crowd when he tries a kick of his own. Japanese armdrags on Joe…then a crucifix driver takes down the World Champion. Unfortunately, Joe gets right back up and muscles him into a spinebuster.

Rolling cradle on Aries for 2. Cabana and Mark back in, and Mark gets caught in an armbar. Spinning heel kick from Briscoe gets 2. Danielson tags in and drives his head into Colt’s lower back. Neck crank on Colt, and Nulty correctly points out Cabana may still have neck injuries from the Burning Hammer he suffered at World Title Classic. Judo DDT gets 2 before he tags back out to Mark. Cabana tags Homicide (when Cide wasn’t looking), and Homicide just chokes him against the ropes. Mark gets suplexed over the top rope THEN DROPPED WITH A DDT! Dragon tagged again and he goes back to Briscoe’s leg. Bridging figure 4 on Mark before he tags out to Aries. Joe tags in…E HONDA SLAPS ON ARIES! Belly to belly sends Homicide to the floor…and now Danielson charges in and dropkicks Joe. TOPE ON MARK BRISCOE! ARIES FOLLOWS HIM OUT WITH A CORKSCREW PESCADO! Cabana and Joe go at it now…SUNSET FLIP…JOE IS THE FIRST MAN ELIMINATED! We’re around the 15:30 mark, and Colt Cabana just got himself an ROH Title shot by pinning Samoa Joe!

Cabana and Homicide in the ring, and Cabana drops Homicide on his ass with a back body drop. Cide with a thumb to the eye, but Cabana comes back with an ace crusher off the ropes. He misses the high knees in the corner – LARIAT SCORES. Homicide covers, but Mark had blind tagged himself in…SHOOTING STAR PRESS ON CABANA! Mark eliminates Cabana at 17:08, and does that now get the Briscoes a rematch for the tag titles? Springboard dropkick wipes out Homicide for 2. Homicide low blows Mark, then drops him on his head with a piledriver…but Briscoe kicks out before the three. Homicide wants the super ace crusher, but Mark blocks. He hits a crossbody off the top for 2. Standing switches, before Mark German suplexes Homicide. He can’t hold the bridge though, and both men have their shoulders counted down at 19:06. Fans don’t think that decision is too hot, but whatever, it’s now down to Aries and Danielson to determine the first Survival Of The Fittest winner…meanwhile Jay and Mark Briscoe are brawling with Homicide and Julius Smokes in the aisleway – do we have ourselves another new feud there?

Duelling chants for Dragon and Aries as Danielson waits for his opponent to enter the ring. Nulty optimistically claims Aries can match Dragon on the mat – I wouldn’t go that far personally. Rear chinlock from Danielson…which he then turns into a double overhand wristlock. Dragon has Aries down but can’t put him into Cattle Mutilation, so goes for a camel clutch instead. Aries tries to pick Dragon’s ankle, but just gets dragged into a chinlock whether he likes it or not. Aries manages to hammer Danielson down in the corner with forearms and kicks, but he quickly gets backed into a corner himself. Dragon isolates the neck with chops and a European uppercut. Double underhook suplex follows for 2. Aries goes for his rolling springboard crossbody BUT GETS MET WITH A DROPKICK TO THE BACK! Backbreaker from Dragon, before he puts Austin into a bow and arrow. Aries gets the ropes quickly, and isn’t letting them go for sh*t. Knee drop to the back, and this time Danielson gets Aries into a modified camel clutch.

Aries literally bites Danielson to break that. Dragon goes to the top but gets caught up there by Aries with a springboard dropkick. That hangs Danielson into the ropes, where he takes a dropkick to the back of the head. Dragon down on the carpet, and Aries go out to send him HARD into the guardrail. He takes him back inside and gets 2 with a slingshot splash.

Reverse elbow takes Dragon down, then he gets pinned for 2 off a standing frog splash elbow drop. Big chops from Danielson send Aries onto the apron. Dragon goes for a suplex BUT GET SUPLEXED TO THE FLOOR HIMSELF! Aries is still on the apron – CACTUS ELBOW SCORES! Austin’s chin is cut wide open and bleeding all over the carpet…and my mother informs me that will not be easy to clean. Shinbreaker INTO a back suplex from Aries. He goes upstairs…450 MISSES…DRAGON HITS A LARIAT! Running forearms from Dragon, and he hits a big second lariat for 2. DRAGON SUPLEX…FOR 2! ROLLED INTO CATTLE MUTILATION! ARIES ESCAPES!! FISHHOOK CROSSFACE ON DANIELSON…RINGS OF SATURN! Dragon somehow makes the ropes, and Aries is bleeding pretty badly by this point. He goes for a brainbuster but Danielson counters with a knee to the head – in midair! FINALLY HE HITS IT…DRAGON KICKS OUT AT 2! Aries is thinking about the 450 Splash again…BUT DANIELSON GETS THE KNEES UP!

Headbutts…forearms…and Danielson floors Aries. Scoop slam…scoop slam…SCOOP SLAM. Aries escapes a fourth body slam – ROARING ELBOW CONNECTS! Aries gets his hands on the ropes before the three! Dragon lifts Aries to the top rope (and the ceiling is looooow)…TO SCORE WITH A BACK SUPERPLEX! MORE SCOOP SLAMS! SMALL PACKAGE FROM ARIES…FOR 2! Danielson puts Aries into a bear hug, and Aries’ back has just been massacred here. Aries tries to break it – GUTWRENCH LION TAMER! Aries taps at 42:27. Danielson wins the inaugural Survival Of The Fittest, and he is now guaranteed a shot at Samoa Joe somewhere down the line.

Rating – **** –
The Aries/Danielson stuff is truly awesome and as a match, it was excellent…problem was, this was supposed to be a six man elimination. I deducted half a star because they completely under-utilized the format, making it seem like they hurried (well…got rid of four guys in under 20 minutes) through the other four, then had the Aries vs Danielson match. It’s hard to complain when it was that good, but I was disappointed they didn’t even attempt to do anything with the six man concept. I guess what we did see before everyone got eliminated was lots of useful storyline advancements. The Briscoes/Rottweilers scuffle brings them into the feud that Joe is involved in, which would lead to a six man tag at Reborn Completion next month. Joe’s elimination means Cabana gets a title shot – and who says he doesn’t put people over? Mark Briscoe was an early star of the match, holding it together with his selling of knee and neck injuries, before the eliminations all came along at once to leave us with AmDrag and Austin. As far as they go – rematch please!

In The Embassy locker room, Nana is pissed off at the Outcast Killaz for not winning the Tag Title tonight. He sends them back to the hotel to run his bath water lol. Xavier isn’t happy about them even being in The Embassy, and Nana yells at him because he’s injured and his opinion doesn’t matter. Nana says on July 17th, he’s spending all his Ghanaian funds to bring a new member to The Embassy.

In the Generation Next locker room, Alex Shelley puts a positive spin on a less than successful night for GeNext tonight. They zoom in on Aries’ gash on his chin which is quite grotesque. Still, that’s the price you pay to climb to the top apparently…and GeNext have only just begun.

Tape Rating – *** –
Another solid tape from top to bottom, but one of my least favourite of 2004 so far – although that says more about the strength of other shows rather than the weakness of this one. It’s a good show, and the main event is great once it breaks down to Aries/Dragon…but it just seemed like too many matches, with none of them getting enough time (bar the SOTF final)…plus the relatively disappointing Punk/Hydro effort. Austin Aries breaks out in a major way, however…and there’s a whole bunch of storyline stuff to send ROH into it’s summer schedule with a real buzz about it. However, if you’re not a completist, this joins The Last Stand on the ‘you can skip this if you’re trying to catch up and don’t want every show’ pile.

Top 3 Matches

3) Austin Aries/Roderick Strong vs John Walters/Josh Daniels (***)

2) Mark Briscoe vs Alex Shelley (***)

1) Bryan Danielson vs Austin Aries vs Mark Briscoe vs Homicide vs Colt Cabana vs Samoa Joe (****)

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