079 ROH Survival Of The Fittest 9/24/2005

ROH 79 – Survival Of The Fittest 2005 – 24th September 2005

If you read my review of last year’s Survival Of The Fittest, you should be pretty familiar with the format for this tournament. Basically, ROH stole the Shane Shamrock Cup idea when they couldn’t run in the Baltimore area to create SOTF and it works as follows. Six qualification matches, with the winners going into a six-way elimination main event. The winner is guaranteed a title shot, and perhaps more importantly, if you do well, you can establish yourself as a top-line guy in the promotion – just like Austin Aries did last year. The 2004 winner, Bryan Danielson, isn’t on this show, or the next couple for that matter. The new ROH Champion is finishing off some personal commitments before returning full-time to defend the belt. Who will step up in his absence? This year’s tournament has a mixture of big names and up and comers, much like last year. Austin Aries, Samoa Joe, Colt Cabana and Roderick Strong were all in the field last year. Christopher Daniels and James Gibson are new entrants, as are Jimmy Rave, Jay Lethal, the debuting Milano Collection AT, Ricky Reyes, Sal Rinauro and Jerrelle Clark. Will an old hat win, or will someone continue Aries’ precedent from last year and break out? We’re in Dorchester, MA for the last time before the Boston market was dropped due to plummeting turnouts and bad crowds. Commentary is handled by Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard.

Generation Next reflect on last year’s tournament. Aries calls it his break out match, but dwells on the fact that he didn’t win. Tonight he wants to right that wrong. Roderick says this year is his turn to shine and he’s going to prove himself to be the future of wrestling.

Jay Lethal vs Sal Rinauro

For some reason Sal’s promotion to the full-time roster has been made a big deal recently. He had a video segment, an interview and a bonus match all dedicated to him on the Glory By Honor 4 release! Anyway, he earned the spot by winning a fourway at Do Or Die 5 and now he makes his first main show appearance since New Frontiers. Jay Lethal was another guy who used Survival Of The Fittest 2004 to elevate himself. In his final appearance as Hydro (representing Special K) he gave CM Punk a stern test before eventually losing (and being made to look like a little b*tch in fairness). He’s got a lot better since then and will be looking to prove it. He’s hot off his pinfall victory over Low Ki btw.

It’s a whole succession of armholds and chain-wrestling to start with, and Sal rolls Lethal into a nice shortarm scissors. He uses that hold to control Jay until the former Pure Champion comes back with a spinebuster for 2. That gets followed by a pretty vicious looking backbreaker. Headbutts to the spine by Lethal, but he backflips right into a dropkick from Rinauro. Hiptoss backbreaker from Lethal for 2, and that’s succeeded by a high velocity back suplex. He breaks out the inverted surfboard for the first time in a while, since it hasn’t really fitted into his blood-feud with Ki. Sal looks to fight back and gets thrown BY HIS HAIR into the bottom turnbuckle – ouch. He skins the cat onto the top rope, but just leaves himself prone to a dropkick from Jay. TOP ROPE BULLDOG for Lethal! It hurt Sal’s injured back but at least brings him back into the match. A springboard swinging DDT plants Lethal right on top of his head. Rinauro with a bridging German suplex which gets 2. Running suplex scores for Jay, then the DIVING HEADBUTT for 2. Swinging stunner by Rinauro to block the Dragon Suplex. He misses a springboard enziguri…DRAGON SUPLEX! It’s goodnight Sal at 11:37. Lethal advances.

Rating – ** –
That was a real mixed-bag of an opening contest. The positives were that it was excellently paced, in that it started slowly but built to the big spots and the crowd were sucked into it, and there was some fun working of body parts. On the downside, some of the selling was downright horrible, and the first three minutes of chaining/arm-work were entirely pointless and went nowhere. The most memorable thing, for me at least, was a noticeable vicious crispness to Jay Lethal’s work. That’s an interesting development, and definite improvement coming from months of working Low Ki.

Lacey says she found some great talent for her Angels whilst scouting at Glory By Honor 4. She’ll be scouting again tonight as she looks to rebuild her stable since the old line-up of spot-urchins blew.

Colt Cabana vs Ricky Reyes

Cabana has just started feuding with Homicide (who was kept from this show, and the IWA’s Ted Petty Invitational which took place the same weekend, for legal reasons), so a clash with a fellow Rottweiler in Ricky Reyes is interesting. I’m actually enjoying Reyes’ recent singles work against Lethal, Puma and a fourway at GBH4. He’s slowly transforming into a solid undercard talent in the absence of his more able tag partner, Rocky Romero. Cabana made the 2004 final, can he repeat?

Reyes tries to jump Colt and gets mugged by jabs from the Second City Saint. Armdrags and a dropkick send the Rottweiler to the floor. He comes back with his kicks and hammers on Cabana in the corner. Lacey is scouting just as she mentioned a second ago, as Reyes goes to work on the arm. Fujiwara armbar, then a flurry of knees to the shoulder. Cabana shrugs off some chops and fires off a series of knockdowns, then hits the butt-butt in the corner. Ricky uses the Fujiwara again but Colt gets the ropes. Quebrada press from Cabana for 2. His crummy lariat gets him the win at 04:27.

Rating – * –
It was disappointingly brief, and I really hate Cabana’s lariat finisher, even if it works in context of his feud with Homicide due to the insult-factor. Ricky Reyes continues to impress me though. His strikes are engagingly stiff, and there was some awesome working of the arm on display. He’s honestly been nothing but entertaining since he got brought back in July. Colt joins Jay Lethal in the final later.

Roderick Strong vs Jerrelle Clark

Clearly Jerrelle impressed enough during his match with Azrieal at Night Of The Grudges 2 to get the call into this tournament – something Az himself isn’t. These two should know each other pretty well, given that they both operate out of the Florida area. Strong has had to worry about The Embassy recently, and this tournament is really his first opportunity to continue his progression as a singles athlete since beating Matt Hardy at The Final Chapter.

Having the same commentary team as the FIP releases means Leonard and Prazak can go over the work these two have done in that promotion as well. Roderick dominates Clark from the bell, taking him to the mat to negate his aerial prowess. Awesome knucklelock heel kick by Jerrelle and Strong bails. 619 HEADSCISSORS TO THE FLOOR! That’s a helluva spot, but back inside Roddy wipes him out with a jumping heel kick. DOUBLE JUMP MOONSAULT PRESS from Clark, but again he can’t follow up a high spot and gets knocked down again with a clothesline. Strong finally dishes out his first backbreaker. Knee drops to the spine, then a camel clutch – all pressure on the back. He breaks out something new in the form of rolling vertical suplexes for 2. Jerrelle hits a pumphandle facebuster, then a handspring corkscrew press for 2. Running shooting star press scores for another nearfall. Strong isn’t impressed with the flippy stuff and press slams him INTO THE TURNBUCKLES! Clark counters a tilta-whirl with a DDT and it’s a race back to their feet. Jerrelle gets there with a series of kicks, and counters a powerbomb with a hurricanrana. Strong then powerbombs him anyway. Mr 630 hits a springboard moonsault but it’s still just 2. HALF NELSON BACKBREAKER! STRONGHOLD! That’s enough of Mr 630, he taps at 11:15. Roddy joins Jay Lethal and Colt Cabana in the final six.

Rating – ** –
I like Jerrelle…in that he’s so lovably clueless. He has amazing spots, and they’re fun to watch, but…Roderick Strong is the MESSIAH of the Backbreaker. We’re supposed to believe he’s destroying Jerrelle’s back. It’s harder to do that when he comes back from all the spinal damage by moonsaulting all over the shop. Seriously, this guy is just like RVD back in the day. Pretty spots and not a hint of selling in sight. Ultimately this was heaps of giggles, but the rating has to reflect the near-calamitous nature of Clark’s spot-tasting sell-job.

Jerrelle gets ‘please come back’ chants, and I agree with them. He’s grown on me for some reason.


Jimmy Rave vs Austin Aries

Yes indeed, the feud between Generation Next and The Embassy is spilling into Survival Of The Fittest with this rematch from The Final Chapter. These two had a really underrated little match there, so I’m hoping for more of the same. Last year Jimmy Rave was actually fired and missed the 2004 event, before Prince Nana brought him back and rejuvenated his career. We all know what Austin did last year, and how his career sky-rocketed as a result. He didn’t win though…he has quite the task ahead of him if he wants to this year. Rave is coming off his loss to AJ Styles, and is no longer able to use the Rave Clash as his finisher.

Urgh, Aries still has crud music. He’s all fired up and jumps Rave from the bell. HEAT SEEKING MISSILE SCORES! Rave tries to run up the aisle but Aries chases him and beats the snot out of the Crown Jewel, taking him all around ringside. In the end it takes a distraction from Nana to allow Rave to shunt him off the apron. Nothing fancy from Jimmy on offence, literally punching Austin endlessly. Aries blocks a suplex but has his back hammered on then does get taken down. A camel clutch means more wear on the spine. They rather telegraph a spot with Rave kneeing Aries in the stomach for 2. Camel clutch again, but Aries comes up with a wicked electric chair drop counter. Rave goes back to his plodding attack of right hands and chokes in the corner. Aries eventually fires back with a roaring elbow, then the running corner dropkick. Mounted punches in the corner because this is clearly more of a fight than a wrestling match, and when Jimmy rolls away Austin springboards into a back elbow. Shinbreaker/back suplex combo for 2. Aries goes for the brainbuster but gets distracted by Jade Chung and almost rolled up by Rave. Inverted Finlay roll scores, but he misses with a frog splash. Rave hits a spear and the CRAPPY WIZARD for 2. Aries is dumped again with Ghanarea, but goes for it a second time and Aries lands on his feet. FACE KICK…and now Nana gets involved. Rave smacks Aries across the spine with a chair, costing him the win at 12:54. Aries advances via DQ.

Rating – ** –
I liked where they were going with this. They’d already had a decent wrestling match, but since then the feud has escalated, and now we progress to more of a knockdown, drag-out fight. The problem was, the execution was off, and the crowd was pretty dead/smarky for most of it. In truth there was far too much punching, kicking and other talentless, ponderous stuff I could watch Gene Snitsky do if it’s what I wanted to watch. Segments were really good, and I’m sure Aries’ carrying a back injury into his second Survival Of The Fittest elimination match will be significant, but it could’ve been a whole lot better. The Final Chapter’s Aries/Rave match certainly was…

Rave and Nana keep stomping on his back but bail when Roderick Strong runs out for the save.

Milano Collection AT vs Samoa Joe

Samoa Joe returns to SOTF competition with something to prove. Last year he was the first man eliminated from the final, which as ROH Champion, he found rather humiliating. Milano is making his ROH debut tonight. Originally he’s from Japan, and has been quite the star first in T2P, then later Toryumon/Dragon Gate. He’s left that organisation now and is working in the US, out of Texas I believe. He works an Italian supermodel gimmick by the way, hence the name. It’s quasi-comedic but AT’s no slouch in the ring. He was one of my favourite Toryumon workers whenever I saw him there.

Joe makes the mistake of trying to chain-wrestle with Milano and fails so he shoulder blocks the Italian supermodel instead. AT with a Fujiwara armbar but this time Joe is able to work himself free. Joe applies a hammerlock, still looking to go hold-for-hold with the debutant. Crazy reversals by Milano, tying Joe’s arm in the ropes as he goes. Satellite headscissors from the former Dragon Gate competitor, before putting the ropes to use again, tying Joe into the Paradise Lock (wrapping all the limbs around the bottom rope) then dropkicking him to the floor. Milano continues to press his advantage with a beautiful pescado. STO Slam by Joe, but after the work AT has done on his arm that hurts him. Chop/kick combo finds the mark, so does the knee drop. He knee strikes Milano in the corner, which is the cue for the bootscrapes – they all find the mark. Tajiri kick of death connects with the back of the head, and Joe comes close to winning by TKO. Milano beats the count and drops Joe’s arm over the top rope. That’s followed by a double armwrench takedown, into a modified cross armbreaker. Joe sweeps the legs from under AT and squishes him with the back senton. Powerbomb into the STF/Crossface/Rings of Saturn sequence by the former World and Pure Champion. Milano takes Joe off his feet with a handspring lariat, then enziguris him in the side of the head. He hits a back senton of his own for 2. Powerslam into the cross armbreaker by Joe…WITH ARM SELLING…so that hold doesn’t work. Milano matrix’s under a lariat and kicks Joe down for a SPRINGBOARD CORKSCREW SENTON for 2. AT Lock countered with a DVD. MUSCLEBUSTER SCORES! Joe advances to the final again at 14:22.

Rating – *** –
Yay, Samoa Joe arrives and immediately the match quality steps up no end. It started a bit like an exhibition match, with Milano showing off his funky chaining skills but never really looking like a threat to the established star…until he kicked the arm-focused offence into a higher gear. Once again Joe’s selling of it was masterful and that helped the match build to a fine conclusion, with Joe using a big offensive flurry to save himself from being out-wrestled and eliminated. Milano Collection has signed on for a load of future dates, so you can look forward to more from him.

Christopher Daniels vs James Gibson

This is the final qualifying match, and it’s probably the pick of the bunch. Gibson said he’d stick with ROH as long as he was champion, but after losing the belt at Glory By Honor 4, the end of his time is drawing close. He’s got three appearances left including this one, and will be looking to go out on a high and solidify his claim to be 2005’s MVP. Daniels needs this win after seeing his career stall a little since his big comeback. He’s failed to win the ROH Title twice, and the Pure Title too. He was even unprofessional enough to be late for the Dragon Gate Invasion and miss his match (wink, wink). He remains one of the most over guys in ROH though. The ovation he gets is wild…

Daniels is pissed off with Gibson for losing the belt last week so he doesn’t get a shot tonight. He’s all over Gibson from the bell. Jamie bails and quickly avoids a baseball slide to take over on the floor. He picks Daniels up and rams him THROUGH the guardrails back-first, but the Fallen Angel responds by shunting Gibson into the metal in return. Like numerous other guys tonight, Gibson looks to assault the arm and does so. We see about the 42nd Fujiwara armbar of the show at this point, and it’s followed by a bridging hammerlock. Tilta-whirl backbreaker from Daniels, continuing the back attack he started on the floor. He controls Gibson with a surfboard for a decent amount of time, then grounds him with a Samoan drop when he eventually does counter out. A camel clutch in the ropes is a pretty unique way of continuing the punishment. Slingshot elbow to the small of the back into a crossface. Gibson counters into an anklelock but that’s too close to the ropes. The former champion is too injured to even body slam Daniels who goes right back to the surfboard. Jamie breaks it with a Saito suplex and goes onto offence. In a cool instance of move modification to sell an injury, he goes for an elbow drop off the second rope, rather than his usual leg drop.

Swinging neckbreaker finds the mark for 2. A spinebuster scores as well, and this is all weakening Daniels for the Tigerbomb/Trailer Hitch. He chinlocks Daniels in a tree of woe position at 15 minutes. Gibson gets all disrespectul, slapping his opponent around then forearming him to the mat. Hanging headscissors choke over the middle rope as Gibson is slowly getting more aggressive to look for the victory. Daniels hits the FALL FROM GRACE for once and both men are groggy. The TNA wrestler is the first man up with a springboard reverse elbow. They fight over a hiptoss with Gibson eventually grabbing the ropes and sending Chris tumbling to the floor. The knee strike to the side of Daniels’ head gets a 2 count…so does a brainbuster. Gibson is cocky now and misses the WORST BME EVER. Blue Thunder Driver by Daniels. Jamie refuses to be caught in a cloverleaf and counters to the TRAILER HITCH! Flatliner from the Fallen Angel and both men are down again. Kicks by Daniels, but he runs into a powerslam. Angel’s Wings blocked and Jamie almost wins with a flash pin. LAST RITES and Daniels wins at 26:03.

Rating – *** –
A hell of a hard fought contest, but given how much time they had, and the ability they possess, it should’ve been a lot better. For one thing, they wrestled the first half of the match almost painfully slowly – even for a 25+ minute, mat-based match. There just wasn’t enough to spike a viewers interest. It was also one of James Gibson’s worst performances in ROH. His selling of the back was all over the place (going for moonsaults anyone?), and his long-running fault of pointless early arm-work resurfaced sadly. But I don’t like dwelling on the negatives – look at it this way. It’s one of the privileges of watching ROH that you get to watch two guys like this just pick each other apart for almost half an hour. Not a classic but still mostly enjoyable is the best verdict I can give.

That means your SOTF final is Lethal vs Cabana vs Strong vs Aries vs Joe vs Daniels.

INTERMISSION – Update time…Spanky has returned to the WWE and is now done with ROH. AmDrag is missing the next few shows but then he’s around full-time.

Prince Nana yells at Jade Chung for messing The Embassy up again, and orders her to walk like a dog from now on. If she screws up next show in Manhattan she’s in trouble.

I like Nigel’s new heel gimmick where he interrupts the reading of the rules before his matches, since it’s funny and means we have to put up with less UNFUNNY smark comments from the wiseass fans. ‘It’s not cricket is it?’ – Nigel on baseball, after calling the Red Sox ‘Red Stockings’.

Nigel McGuiness vs BJ Whitmer – ROH Pure Title Match

The only scheduled non-tournament match of the evening sees Nigel make his second defence of the belt he won from Samoa Joe at Dragon Gate Invasion. He used shady tactics to gain that victory, and used more of them last week to overcome the challenge of Roderick Strong so Whitmer has to watch out for that. BJ is probably getting his match because he pinned then-World Champion James Gibson in a tag match at Punk: The Final Chapter. His partner Jimmy Jacobs isn’t here tonight since he’s in IWA for their big TPI weekend. What genius booked these shows going head to head? Nobody wins and it just reduces the talent available to both promotions.

Wristlock exchanges first, and McGuiness forces Whitmer to use his first break by shoving him into the ropes during a cobra clutch. Nigel clearly has counters for everything BJ tries, and forces the second break by moving him into the ropes with a front facelock. The challenger is pissed off and almost punches Nigel in the face. He continues to get out-wrestled and finally switches games and connects with a flurry of forearms. Chops follow that, but Nigel comes back with a boot to the back and returns to the wrestling with a rear chinlock. Whitmer charges into a superkick but kicks at 2. He scores with an exploder suplex to counter all of Nigel’s fancy springboards out of the corner then scores a 2 of his own with a running knee strike. The tag champion nails a superplex but isn’t able to make the cover right away. They have a pretty stiff forearm duel but it’s almost at a snails pace. BJ hits a big lariat for 2. TOWER OF LONDON nailed, and Whitmer has to use his final break to kick out. McGuiness gets caught on the top rope with a TOP ROPE WRIST CLUTCH EXPLODER! How is that not over? Incredibly Nigel kicks out at 2. He then uses a rope break kicking out of a dropkick to distract the referee so he can low blow Whitmer. He pins using the ropes (which is legal) and retains under pretty controversial circumstances at 14:15.

Rating – * –
Compare it to Nigel’s first defence in that the way he’s going heel almost on the Pure Title rules by using them to cheat and sneak his way to wins is really entertaining. However, the match was largely slow and entirely predictable…and unlike the Strong match, came off like a complete squash. That’s not good when you’re jobbing out one half of your tag champions guys! The crowd sucked, but they weren’t given any reason to get behind Whitmer anyway. He got comprehensively out-wrestled for almost the entirety of the match, then had the most dangerous manoeuvre in his arsenal – the super Wrist Clutch – kicked out of. Obviously this only matters so much because we’re still laying the ground work for the tone of Nigel’s Pure Title reign, but that doesn’t make it any easier to watch.

Jay Lethal vs Colt Cabana vs Roderick Strong vs Austin Aries vs Samoa Joe vs Christopher Daniels

Obviously this is the final of the 2005 Survival Of The Fittest tournament, and there are tons of issues. Austin Aries made it to the final two of last years event and wants to better that. Colt Cabana actually eliminated Samoa Joe from the 2004 final. There’s also heat between Joe and Daniels after they cost each other their eliminations from the World Title match at Redemption, and clashed in a Pure Title contest at Night Of The Grudges 2. It’s interesting to note that Generation Next and Joe/Lethal are both fairly regular tag teams – that could play a factor. Remember also that Aries brings a back injury into this from his match with Jimmy Rave, Samoa Joe’s arm is weakened after his bout with Milano Collection AT, whilst Daniels must deal with a sore neck and the fatigue factor of wrestling 25+ minutes with James Gibson.

Joe and Lethal answer the questions about teaming up by clearing the ring of the other four guys then diving onto them all with STEREO TOPE SUICIDAS! Colt Cabana gets singled out for isolation first, and he doesn’t help himself by charging into Joe’s powerslam. Suplex/springboard crossbody combo by Joe and Lethal for 2. Joe chinlocks then crotches Colt on the top rope. ELBOW SUICIDA COUNTERED WITH A SUNSET FLIP…BUT JOE KICKS OUT! That was how Joe got eliminated last year! Daniels in with Joe but after some initial success he gets dumped on his neck with the STO slam. Lethal holds him prone for the running boot from Joe and causes more damage with a neckbreaker and a spinebuster. Aries blind tags Joe out and GeNext team up on the Joe/Lethal combination before going to work on the Fallen Angel themselves. Roderick Strong means more trouble for Daniels as he goes to work on the midsection as well. Finally he hits back with a running STO on Strong and he needs to make a tag. DVD on Roddy gets 2, but Aries saves before he can hit Last Rites. CHOP WAR between Joe and Strong, then they counter each other’s trademark spots. CHOKE ON STRONG…but Rod breaks it by targetting Joe’s hurt arm. BME ON THE SHOULDER BY DANIELS! Strong rids the ring of Daniels with a backbreaker and covers Joe to eliminate him at 13:57. Joe is out first two years running! Lethal goes for revenge but ends up getting isolated by the GeNext tandem instead. He manages to tag out to Cabana, who hits Aries with a spinning body slam. Suddenly it’s Austin who’s trapped in the ring and having an injury worked over. Lethal puts him in the inverted surfboard after offensive flurries from both Colt and Daniels.

Joe’s protégé misses the diving headbutt and it’s tags all round. Daniels gives Strong the blue thunder driver for 2. He goes for Angel’s Wings but Aries has blind tagged and he rolls Daniels up from behind to score a second elimination at 19:11. The crowd HATE that! Cabana tricks Lethal into thinking they’re a team, but Lethal tope’s onto both GeNext members anyway. ASAI MOONSAULT TO THE OUTSIDE from Colt when he eventually does dive. Aries again manages to avoid a prolonged isolation thanks to Roderick Strong’s intervention. He hits a slingshot elbow drop on Cabana as Strong hold him prone before they get into a COMPLETE muddle over who the legal man is. Either way the Chicago-native is trapped in the Generation Next corner. He drops Strong with a hurricanrana and tags out to Jay. Camel clutch/inverted crab combo on Strong has Austin coming in to help his partner out. Aries comes in again to cut Lethal’s offensive flurry off and change the balance of the match again. Double hiptoss into a double elbow drop on Jay for 2. Aries Boston crabs him, and asks Strong for advice on the hold since he’s the Messiah of the Backbreaker. Lethal scores with a second rope heel kick as the clock passes 30 minutes but Aries prevents any hot tag. Strong with the double knee gutbuster…ARIES WITH THE BRAINBUSTER! Lethal is gone at 31:23, meaning it’s Cabana left alone with GeNext…except he backs out and makes them wrestle each other at last. They just drag him in the hardway and mug him.

Colt blocks a double superplex attempt and missile dropkicks Aries. Strong blocks the lariat and nails the HALF NELSON BACKBREAKER! ARIES BOTCHES THE 450! He just slips off the top rope…and the commentators cover by saying it’s because his back is so messed up. Strong gives Colt the Rock Bottom backbreaker for 2, then eventually does eliminate him at 35:21 with a piledriver. Generation Next have eliminated everyone…and Aries doesn’t apologise for it. He says they’re still friends, but now they’re putting that on hold now to see who the best man is. They start cagily, trading holds on the mat jostling for an advantage. Aries tries to spring out of a headscissors with a dropkick, but Strong has that trademark spot scouted. Aries has the crucifix driver blocked, but he counters the double knee gutbuster and tries to Boston crab Strong unsuccessfully. Roddy with a surfboard to wear down that back. Aries goes for his slingshot reverse elbow but Strong has that spot countered as well! On the floor Roderick decimates the spine by charging his friend into the rails, but he gets guillotined over the top rope. CORKSCREW PESCADO from Austin – who did it hurt more? He comes back in with a slingshot hilo and hurts himself again. He can’t hit the brainbuster and Strong escapes to nail a SUPLEX backbreaker for 2. Aries is still fighting though, nailing the running corner dropkick. BRAINBUSTER SCORES! He’s slow to the top rope going for the 450 and gets caught. SECOND ROPE GUTBUSTER! Half Nelson backbreaker COUNTERED TO THE CRUCIFIX DRIVER! Brainbuster countered with ROLLING HALF NELSON BACKBREAKERS! STRONGHOLD LOCKED IN! Aries has to tap at 50:31. Roderick Strong wins the 2005 Survival Of The Fittest!

Rating – **** –
I’ve given it the exact same rating as last year’s final, and I’m going to be somewhat different here, and say I actually think this was every bit as good a match. Admittedly we didn’t get anything as specifically good as the Aries/Danielson exchanges from 2004 but my biggest criticism of last year was how ROH wasted the opportunity to really utilise the unique six-man rules to put on something different and special – rushing everything to make room for AmDrag and Aries. That’s what was put right this year, as we actually saw all six men come together to tell a plethora of wonderful stories in the last hour. Obviously the common theme running through it of Generation Next teaming up on everyone was good. The way Daniels, Joe and Aries were all eliminated due to prior injuries rocked. I loved the reference between Joe and Cabana to Joe’s 2004 elimination as well. Then in the final fall, the way Aries and Strong continually countered each other’s trademark spots was wicked. But that isn’t to say it was all rosey, there were numerous problems. For one thing, at times it was really sloppy – from Aries botching the 450, to badly executed spots to the frequent miscommunications over who the legal man was. I also have to question the booking as well, since I thought it absolutely killed a crowd that was hardly setting the world on fire anyway. I don’t have a problem with GeNext teaming to the final 2, that was a good storyline – but it meant they effectively turned themselves heel, meaning they had to work damn hard in the last 10 minutes to bring the crowd into their storyline, given that they’d been getting boo’d for the previous 40. I also think the climax would’ve been far more heated had it one of Joe or Daniels lasted longer. They were way more over than Lethal and Cabana. The crowd audibly went VERY quiet after the “big stars” as they perceived it, were eliminated first. It’s a big moment for Roderick Strong though, he eliminated four of his five opponents, and should now go on to end 2005 as a huge star.

Roddy thanks Aries and they hug to show they’re still Generation Next…then immediately cashes in his World Title shot for October 29th (my birthday) in Woodbridge, CT. He challenges Bryan Danielson for that show.

Kenta Kobashi cuts a promo (in Japanese)…you assume he talks about coming to ROH to wrestle Samoa Joe though. Joe vs Kobashi…NEXT SHOW!

Tape Rating – ** –
I hate to say it, but probably the second worst show of the year after Night Of The Grudges 2. Not that it was bad – hell, I really liked the main event. The problem was…pretty much like last year’s SOTF actually. It’s an event with very little diversity on the card. It’s all very similar and that makes the DVD hard to watch in one sitting. I love mat-based pure wrestling, with two guys working a body part and breaking each other down…but three hours straight of it is tough-going. Add that to another lousy/smarky/quiet crowd (good riddance to the Boston area for now) and a few bad matches on the show as well, I can’t give this more than a VERY mild thumbs up. You can skip it if you need to save your cash. The SOTF final, Joe/Milano and Daniels/Gibson are all pretty good…Strong/Clark is a fun undercard match too, but there’s just nothing you need to see. Coming up next is the Kobashi shows, and I’ll tell you now they’re damn good. They really should take priority over this DVD.

Top 3 Matches

3) Samoa Joe vs Milano Collection AT (***)

2) Christopher Daniels vs James Gibson (***)

1) Roderick Strong vs Austin Aries vs Colt Cabana vs Jay Lethal vs Samoa Joe vs Christopher Daniels (****)

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