120 ROH Survival Of The Fittest 10/6/2006

ROH 120 – Survival Of The Fittest 2006 – 6th October 2006

Ring Of Honor is coming back after what is critically acclaimed to be it’s best show of the year. In my opinion Unified had a better double main event combo (Aries/Strong vs Briscoes and Danielson vs Nigel) than Glory By Honor (Marufuji vs Nigel and Danielson vs KENTA), whilst Better Than Our Best AND Supercard Of Honor were better shows…but still, you can’t argue with critical acclaim! Anyway, they’re following that event with the annual Survival Of The Fittest tournament. SOTF2005 gained the arduous honour of being named my least favourite show of last year. It wasn’t bad, but nothing really delivered as it should have done (matches like Aries/Rave and Daniels/Gibson for instance) and the whole release was generally skippable fare. Can this show reinvigorate the SOTF (formerly Shane Shamrock Memorial Cup) format? The most enticing of the qualification matches sees ROH World Champion and 2004 winner Bryan Danielson meet nemesis Samoa Joe, who has a REAL problem with Survival Of The Fittest. 2005 winner Roderick Strong is in the field too, teaming with Homicide against the Briscoes in a tag qualifier. Austin Aries made the final two in both previous years and he’s back again. Also in the line-up are Chris Daniels, Davey Richards, Jimmy Rave, Matt Sydal and Delirious. Oh, and the Kings Of Wrestling defend their newly won Tag belts too. That’s your comprehensive preview. Lets get cracking. We’re in Cleveland, OH. Hosts are Prazak and David.

ROH VIDEO WIRE – Ring Of Honor are replacing the Video Recaps with the Video Wire…which is supposed to be like an internet TV show. It’s got matches, guest hosts, exclusive segments and so on. Colt Cabana is your first guest host. He name drops ALF the alien so it’s all good.

– Jack Evans says he’s gone from ROH till 2007. But come January he’ll be back full-time and he wants some gold.

– Lacey tells Colt Cabana she’s got a Tag Title shot for himself and Jimmy Jacobs at Survival Of The Fittest. Jimmy is here too. He isn’t happy, but he echoes Lacey’s sentiments about wanting to team with Colt. ‘We’re gonna be good friends…BFF’ – Cabana.

– After some Glory By Honor 5 highlights, Cabana, Lacey and Jacobs call it a wrap with Cabana and Lacey flirting away in front of a sulking Jimmy.

The Briscoes say that teamwork will ensure they win Survival Of The Fittest. Jimmy Rave interrupts to ask them where Prince Nana is. They’re only response is…MAN UP.

Austin Aries talks about his history in SOTF. This year he finally gets over that last hurdle and wins it.

SIDENOTE – No Bobby Cruise ring announcing tonight. Dave Prazak is filling in, so it’ll be interesting to see how they maintain the pretence that commentary is recorded live. Sound is MUCH better for this release. It’s taken long enough but it’s a vast improvement. Assume and less told otherwise that a match is an SOTF tournament match.

Davey Richards vs Matt Sydal

Looks like Davey is relegated to opening match duty again. SOTF is traditionally a time when one of the younger, talented midcarders finally elevates themselves. Austin Aries did it in 2004, Roderick Strong the same in 2005. You’d have to consider these two among the brightest prospects on the current roster, so both will be looking for a victory to cement movement up the card.

Richards establishes control of Sydal on the mat early, which works to his advantage since Sydal is an aerial specialist. Matt is finally able to use his speed to escape. Davey comes up with a sweet counter to an armdrag, but Sydal still manages to hit a Japanese armdrag instead. Sydal tries a headlock but EATS Saito suplex and lands on his head. ‘Sorry Matt’ – Davey before chopping and kicking the tar out of him. Having suitably beaten him down, Richards looks to ground his opponent with a headscissors. Matt looks for some offence but gets taken down again or Richards to nail a running kick to the chest. Sydal stands up and dares Davey to keep kicking him…but it’s a psyche as he nails a dragon screw then the enzicanrana. Richards to the floor, and Sydal flies with the RUNNING MOONSAULT PRESS! Davey blocks the Here It Is Driver so gets hit with the Slice instead. STANDING MOONSAULT gets 2. Richards’ Ligerbomb is blocked with a hurricanrana, but Davey catches Sydal coming from the top with a gutbuster, than NAILS the Ligerbomb anyway for 2. He goes to the top rope, but succeeds only in diving into a Sydal spinning heel kick. Davey goes back to the strikes then the HANDSPRING ENZI! Sydal blocks a lariat once, but runs from the ropes right into a SICK neck-bump lariat for 2. Richards seems to contemplate a top rope DR Driver but Matt kicks him away. Sydal Press misses…DR Driver blocked. INVERTED TOMBSTONE! Sydal wins at 12:24.

Rating – *** –
Good start to the show, but you’d expect nothing less from these two. It wasn’t anything clever or subtle, just a basic match pitting Davey’s hard strikes against Sydal’s high-flying. My only criticism would be that most of the match seemed to be basically Richards kicking the crap out of Sydal. Not that that’s bad, but Sydal going over was made to look lucky rather than him being the better man. It’s surprising to see Richards go out of the tournament early (he was my pick to win), but he’ll have other chances to break out of the midcard.

Roderick Strong is back one year after his breakthrough win in 2005. He wants the tag belts back from Hero and Claudio, but tonight he wants to become the first 2-time tournament winner and advance his singles career.

Jimmy Rave vs Delirious

The two men that probably NEED to win SOTF the most are in this match. Jimmy Rave is an ROH staple now but 2006 hasn’t been a great year for him. He lost his ROH World Title shot. He lost his ROH Tag Title shot. He’s lost Alex Shelley as a regular partner. Now he can’t find Prince Nana either. Winning this tournament would put him right back in the ROH mixer. As for Delirious, we’ve all seen him go to Jim Cornette and ask for bigger matches. That shows you he’s very eager to further his career and move up the card. But he isn’t coming in to the tournament with a great deal of momentum behind him…so winning here is imperative if he wants to get title shots and so on.

Rave is fresh back from touring Dragon Gate and he starts this match with as quick a wrestling exchange as anything he’s done. Unfortunately he falls into the trap of chasing Delirious round the ring…and finally has enough and heads up the ramp to chill out. Delirious responds by eating a ‘Rave To Win’ sign. Jimmy gets an advantage by tossing Delirious from the ring and distracting the referee whilst Daizee Haze gets some cheap shots in. Abdominal stretch on the masked man, then a back suplex as he looks to fight out of the hold. Back to that abdominal stretch but this time Delirious is able to battle his way free. Leaping lariat gets a 2 on Rave. Jimmy blocks the Cobra Stretch so Delirious boots him into the corner. Panic Attack blocked with a big spear. They battle on the apron, where Rave ends up clotheslining Delirious down to the hard ring-edge. Delirious escapes the Greetings From Ghana but gets knee’d in the head by the Crappy Wizard for 2. Cobra backbreaker into the Cobra Stretch. Rave taps at 10:24, so it’s Delirious joining Sydal in the finals.

Rating – * – Honestly? I really didn’t like their Weekend Of Champions Night 1 match…and this was even more disappointing. It wasn’t that any of the work was bad, it’s that it was SO slow and ponderous. I know Rave was working injured…but, it was never once made to seem like a “big deal”, neither man seemed to put in an enormous amount of effort, so what reason am I given to care about this match? It’s not that it was bad, but it was just a total copy and paste match for both men.

SIDENOTE – Due to a luggage screw up at the airport Austin Aries and Bryan Danielson don’t have their wrestling gear tonight. They’ve been forced to borrow from a variety of other wrestlers. To be honest, Aries (wearing Pelle Primeau’s tights, Bobby Dempsey’s knee pads and Jake Crist’s boots) doesn’t look much different…but Danielson looks old school AWESOME!

Austin Aries vs Christopher Daniels

If you’re interested, it was Austin Aries who eliminated Chris Daniels from the SOTF final last year. He made his name in the inaugural Survival Of The Fittest event by pushing Bryan Danielson to the limit in their memorable showdown at the end of the 2004 final. He then got to the last two in 2005, but was eventually beaten tag team partner Roderick Strong. This year he’ll be looking to win it once and for all. Christopher Daniels continues to not really do a whole lot. He gets MASSIVE pops but hasn’t been given a storyline, gimmick or angle of any great significance all year. Winning this tournament could get him some much needed direction. Or he could use it to another Tag Title shot with Sydal.

Aries obstinately works a headlock for the opening few minutes of the match. Daniels escapes that so Austin gives him some armdrags instead. Headscissors on Aries, and Daniels bails before he can escape and dropkick. Back to square one with more of the usual basic exchanges. Daniels scores with a series of hiptosses and forces Double A to flee the ring. Aries escapes a backslide with the low dropkick, then dives to the floor with a Heat Seeking Missile. He seems to focus on the Fallen Angel’s midsection after that move (and the ensuing heavy collision with the railings). Front suplex into a bridging camel clutch but there’s no submission. He seems to want to go after the neck as well, but Daniels immediately puts pay to that by hitting a DVD. It’s now Daniels that targets the neck with a high angle back suplex then a couple of neck wrenches. Neckbreaker scores for 2, then he applies a neck vice. He gets Aries prone on the middle rope then locks in a hanging leg choke for the maximum allowed five count. Blue Thunder driver gets 2. He misses the Arabian press, which has added consequences since Austin targeted the torso earlier. AA hits a slingshot corkscrew splash then a Lionsault. He thinks about a brainbuster but Daniels counters that and nails the Arabian press for 2. Koji Clutch applied but too close to the ropes. There’s nobody home for the BME, and Aries capitalises with the Crucifix driver. He thinks 450 Splash but Daniels cuts him off with a palm strike. Aries blocks a top rope Angel’s Wings attempt and scores with the 450 to advance at 17:10.

Rating – ** –
I actually don’t want to criticise this one too much, since it’s not a bad match. It’s just got nothing going for it that takes it from average to good. Much like Rave/Delirious, neither man particularly wrestled like the match meant a great deal, so it was hard to care about the outcome. The first five minutes were so meaningless and dull, and whilst there was some good body part work in the middle part of the match they decided to forget that and no-sell everything to hit a few spots at the end, and even then the match was devoid of any real excitement. These two are both great workers, so it’s almost impossible for them to wrestle almost 20 minutes and have a “bad” match…but at the same time it wasn’t like they were busting a gut to do more. I’m disappointed as this should’ve been much better.

American Dragon proclaims himself to be the man that made Survival Of The Fittest famous (and made Austin Aries a star in the process) when he won it in 2004. Tonight he’s going to beat Samoa Joe and make sure he never gets another ROH Title shot.

Oh good…Jim Cornette is here with a microphone. Unsurprisingly, once again he complains about people booing him since he’s not a bad guy, he just hates Homicide. It’s basically the same overlong promo for a shocking THIRD time. It’s all building up to him telling the Briscoes (who are out there with him) to injure Homicide and stop him making it to Final Battle 2006.

SIDENOTE – I like Jim Cornette. He’s been amazing for ROH, and his work in the CZW feud was fantastic. But after sitting through the same crap for a third show out of four, I’ve really had enough. It’s turning me off ROH. I see it has a purpose. It’s getting heat on the Briscoes, and it’s getting heat on a storyline for the live audience who may not have seen a recent DVD. But overlong, repetitive promo segments are the exact reason people have turned away from the WWE in droves in recent years. They turn to ROH to be an alternative…and another 10+ minute Cornette rant just isn’t good enough. Use some selective editing on the guy before you release a DVD…or keep him on a tighter leash.

Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Homicide/Roderick Strong

This is a tag team SOTF qualifier, with the winning team both earning spots in the final. The Briscoes’ issues with Homicide stretch back to 2004, but their rekindled ties with Jim Cornette have reignited the hatred that existed between the three men. We’ve also seen the Briscoes wage war on Generation Next throughout 2006 in pursuit of the tag belts – a quest they ultimately failed in.

Mark and Roderick trade a few holds, then Homicide and Jay tag in for an exchange of hard-hitting stuff. Jay runs out of the way of Homicide’s tope con hilo, and Mark pushes Cide to the floor before diving on top of him with a running suicide dive. All four start brawling on the floor with guardrail bumps a-plenty. Roddy attempts a Stronghold on Jay out there, but Mark pulls him away and hurls a chair in his direction. The ref is doing as much as possible to keep this within the rules it seems, as he stops Homicide using a chair barely seconds later. He gets back in the ring to knee Jay in the head instead. The babyfaces take turns in working Jay over, but he’s finally able to batter his way towards his brother for a tag. That was messy…and it doesn’t get any prettier as Homicide launches Mark over the top rope to the floor. Jay blocks a super DDT for an OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY from the second rope. They mess up a second rope Rocker Dropper spot. Strong gets a totally heatless tag but does his best to clean house on the Briscoes. Urinage backbreaker on Mark gets 2. Homicide hits a neckbreaker on the younger Briscoe as he and his partner catch Mark in the ring. Jay gets a blind tag to boot Strong in the head. Stretch Plum applied, but Homicide breaks it. The Briscoes target Homicide now, but all of a sudden they’ve only got 5 minutes left in the time limit. Eventually Rod lands an enziguri and gets a tag. TOPE CON HILO ON JAY! Mark hits a spinning heel kick on Cide, but he turns straight into a charging big boot by Strong. Homicide gets 2 with a frog splash. Splash Mountain neckbreaker on Strong, but Cide looks for the Three Amigos. Jim Cornette gives a tennis racket to Mark Briscoe, and he cracks Homicide in the ribs. Briscoes win at 19:51.

Rating – ** –
A better match than Aries/Daniels, but it still wasn’t anything to write home about. There was some good stuff here – such as the brawl on the floor which I felt had some good intensity. But the dead crowd sucked all life out of this match, and as in the previous two matches, it didn’t really seem like any of the wrestlers wanted to put that extra effort in to kick it up a notch. Throw in a few really messy moments as well and it all adds up…to drag down that rating. I have no beef with the finish though, as it made sense to the feud, and it’s not like it was a dirty finish to ruin what had otherwise been the perfect wrestling match anyway.

Samoa Joe vs Bryan Danielson

This is the final qualification match, with the winner joining Sydal, Delirious, Aries and the Briscoes in the final. It’s also a non-title match. 2004 winner American Dragon thinks Joe doesn’t deserve another shot at the title after going to a 60-minute draw at Fight Of The Century, and with a win here, he could knock Joe right out of title contention. But of course, as is customary in ROH, when a champion is pinned in a non-title match, he is generally then obligated to defend the title against the victory. If Joe wins this match then he goes to the front of the queue for the REMATCH of the Century…

Bryan Danielson’s cobbled together ring gear makes him look like a throwback to the 70’s. Danielson looks cocky as ever from the bell, and an early move is him making a grab at Joe’s leg. His focus on that was a key element of their FOTC clash. Nothing doing there, and he switches tactic quickly. Joe tests out that injured shoulder as he drops his weight on Danielson as the champion bridges upwards. Dragon makes the mistake of trying Joe’s trademark bootscrapes, and the Samoan launches into some full-blooded kicks to punish that error. Next mistake is Danielson running into the STJoe, and he crawls up the aisle having been thoroughly bashed about. But he’s still cagey, scampering to the side to avoid Joe’s elbow suicida. Joe responds by throwing him into a guardrail right in front of a hot girl. Having had enough of being abused Dragon goes to the legs again. He doesn’t have the strength of a Mexican surfboard due to his ongoing shoulder injury, so he stomps the knees instead. Joe’s power makes it difficult to keep him on the mat, so Danielson leaps into a second rope European uppercut for 2. Double underhook suplex gets 2 as well, then Dragon comes with repeated knee drops to the head and shoulder. Sexy Party deathlock puts more pressure on the legs again. But he gets too cocky, and quickly has to go to a leg snap in order to prevent an angry response from his opponent. He picks at the leg in the ropes, but when he tries the diving uppercut for the second time Danielson succeeds only in diving into an Ace crusher. The powerslam gets Joe a 2, and he blocks a roaring elbow with submission holds on the injured shoulder. Danielson scores with a missile dropkick then the judo DDT. Diving headbutt is nailed and gets 2. Joe blocks the Chickenwing and powerbombs Danielson into an STF. Two minutes left in the time limit. Cattle Mutilation locked in but Joe finds a rope. He boots Dragon in the face, but the World Champion gets the knees up as he goes for a senton. Joe lifts Danielson to the ropes. CHOKE…but the 20 minute time limit has already expired. It’s a draw so both men are out.

Rating – *** – The psychological depth and story telling made this match superior to the other first round matches, but for these two this wasn’t a great match. Like all the others (bar Sydal/Richards) the match was totally devoid of excitement, both on the part of the fans and the wrestlers. It was obvious from very early on in the match they were wrestling to a draw again, and that really hurt. These guys had a great 60-minute match in Edison and should’ve done much better with this 20 minute affair here. Still, the positives were that they told a solid story. Danielson’s cockiness and memory of prior encounters with Joe (Fight Of The Century, clipping the knee in Cage Of Death etc) went up against the power and size of the Samoan and again it meshed well. I just wanted something…ANYTHING to get excited about. It felt like 20 minutes of solid work with no pay-off. That’s why it’s match of the show thus far, but that’s why I’m also not going to shower it with heaps of praise.

The fans want extra time, and so does Samoa Joe. Bryan Danielson acts like he might oblige (even though, surely as this is a Survival Of The Fittest match he has no ability to do so)…but then beats the sh*t out of Joe with the ROH Title belt. The angle was probably cooler and more engaging than anything in the match they just had. Neither man goes on to the final, meaning it’ll now be a five man elimination match.

INTERMISSION – Jimmy Rave asks Dave Prazak where Jim Cornette is since he wants answers as to the whereabouts of Prince Nana.

Kings Of Wrestling vs Colt Cabana/Jimmy Jacobs – ROH Tag Title Match

The KOW won the belts at Glory By Honor 5, and as such, that gets Chris Hero a spot on the Ring Of Honor roster. Lacey has used her business acumen to get her men the first shot at them. But her men winning is deeply reliant on how well Jimmy and Cabana can work as a team. Colt isn’t a member of Lacey’s Angels. He just wants to have fun in the ring then fun with Lacey when the show is over. But that doesn’t sit so well with his insanely jealous partner. Can Jacobs put aside his own personal resentment of the Cabana/Lacey relationship and co-exist with Cabana in order to please Lacey?

Cabana tries to offer Jimmy a dance with Lacey, but she says by emphatically shrieking. ‘That’s not realistic’ – Hero on Cleveland’s ‘f*ck him up, Jimmy’ chant. Hero spends almost three minutes pissing everyone off whilst barely even wrestling. Jacobs eventually lands a multi-revolution satellite headscissors on him. Castagnoli and Cabana work the comedy as they work the mat. Cabana in particular works very hard to get people laughing as they run through a few entertaining counter sequences. Double J trampolines on Double C’s chest, but gets distracted by Lacey. DÉJÀ VU HEADSCISSORS sends Castagnoli to the floor! But Jacobs foolishly gives chase, and is blindsided by Chris Hero as he tries to re-enter the ring. He’s a much smaller man and the KOW are easily able to toss him around. Claudio applies the abdominal stretch with heel leverage-pulling supplied by his partner. Hero in next with an STF then a surfboard. Finally Jimmy is able to roll through Hero’s legs and get the hot tag to Colt. He rams Hero’s ass into Castagnoli’s face in the corner, then gets 2 with a quebrada press. Jacobs in with the torpedo headbutt on Double C. Hero blocks the Contra Code and hands him to Castagnoli to hit the big boot/Dislocator for 2. Inadvertent teamwork by the challengers leads to Jimmy almost winning it with a schoolyard trip. Golden Gate Swing on Castagnoli gets 2. But Double C is able to recover as he leapfrogs Jacobs, leading to him spearing Cabana. DOUBLE HERO’S WELCOME on Colt, and the champions retain at 17:29.

Rating – *** – Maybe it’s the low standard of the rest of the card, but I quite enjoyed that. It seemed to strike just the right blend of KOW heelisms, Jacobs playing the plucky underdog, comedy moments and progression of the love triangle storyline and had the crowd as “into” the match as any other on the card. It wasn’t the pinnacle of excitement but it was solid tag formula wrestling done by four guys who are very good at what they do.

BJ Whitmer tries to do a run-in on Jimmy even though his ankle is in a cast. Jacobs kicks the ankle but Cabana prevents him from doing more damage.

Matt Sydal vs Delirious vs Austin Aries vs Jay Briscoe vs Mark Briscoe – SOTF 2006 Final

So this would be your main event and Survival Of The Fittest final – remember it’s elimination rules. There’s actually a few interesting issues here. Delirious and Sydal have that whole competitive friendship/rivalry thing we saw reignited at Epic Encounter 2. Sydal also has issues with the Briscoes (stemming back to his days with GeNext) and used to be stablemates with Austin Aries, despite repeatedly opposing him this year. Aries is looking to win SOTF after getting to the finals in the previous two years, but he’ll also want to get some of the Briscoes, who were perennial challengers to him and Roderick Strong whilst they were tag champions. The winner is guaranteed a spot at the top of the card, and a World Title shot to boot.

Delirious and Sydal start out with some of their smooth-as-silk familiarity chaining. Sydal ends almost 5 minutes of that by refusing Delirious a clean break in the corner then pounding him in the face. Aries tags in and demands one of the Briscoes get in with him – Jay obliges. Delirious decides to run a lap rather than stand on the apron. Jay elevates Aries into a springboard spinning heel kick from Mark on Aries, then together they BIEL SYDAL OVER THE TOP ROPE over onto all three opponents. They’re going to operate as a team just as Aries and Strong did in the 2005 final. Leg drop/sidewalk slam combo on Matt gets 2. Jay gets 2 again with a swinging neckbreaker. Sydal recovers with a STANDING super rana (I love that move) and gets the tag to Austin. He tries to come in with his explosive offence, but has to combat the Briscoes working as a team again. Running dropkick pegs both of them back in the corner, but Mark ends up giving him a guillotine. SPRINGBOARD DOOMSDAY DEVICE! Aries is eliminated at 11:19. He still can’t win Survival Of The Fittest.

Jay and Mark send Delirious and Sydal running for cover with high impact moves…and on the floor Delirious engages Matt in conversation. SYDAL UNDERSTANDS LIZARD-SPEAK! They agree to team up against the Briscoe combo so now it’s become a tag match. Delirious holds Mark in place for Sydal to hit the Cannonball legdrop to show off their cohesiveness as a makeshift team. SLINGSHOT SPLIT-LEGGED CORKSCREW SENTON by Mark as Jay holds Sydal in a backbreaker. Matt avoids Mark’s slingshot double stomp by rolling to the apron, so Briscoe slingshots the other side again to hit the move. MILITARY PRESS DVD on Sydal, but Delirious shows loyalty to the team by saving Matt from the pin. The Briscoes try the Springboard Doomsday Device again but Sydal evades with a victory roll to eliminate Jay Briscoe at 19:06. That now makes it 2-on-1 on Mark. Sydal slaps an armbar on him, and Delirious pulls back on the bottom rope making it harder for Briscoe to reach it. Finally Mark hits an urinage on Sydal. SPRINGBOARD ACE CRUSHER but Delirious saves Matt again. Panic Attack by the Lizard man…then the SYDAL PRESS eliminates Mark at 23:08.

Delirious immediately cross bodies Sydal and they both crash over the ropes…we’re down to two! Sydal suplexes Delirious onto the wooden floor. He lifts him into the front row as well, then climbs to the ring. MOONSAULT OVER THE GUARDRAIL! Back in the ring…Delirious gets the boots up to block the standing moonsault. HERE IT IS DRIVER gets 2. Delirious blocks the standing super rana and rocks Sydal with REPEATED PANIC ATTACKS! BIZARRO DRIVER for 2! So head dropping didn’t work, they instead go to chopping lumps out of each other. Duelling big boots leave both men down. COBRA STRETCH, but Sydal finds a rope. He recovers before Delirious can hit Shadows Over Hell. Moonsault Belly to Belly countered with SHADOWS OVER HELL! COBRA STRETCH AGAIN! Sydal counters this time by rolling over into a pin. STANDING MOONSAULT NAILED! DELIRIOUS KICKS OUT! MOONSAULT BELLY TO BELLY! DELIRIOUS KICKS OUT AGAIN! That’s already beaten him at Reborn Stage 1, Do Or Die 3 and Epic Encounter 2! Delirious pulls Matt away as he thinks about another Sydal Press. CHEMICAL IMBALANCE II…only gets 2. Sydal Press misses! COBRA STREEEEEEETCH! SYDAL TAPS! Delirious wins at 34:53!

Rating – **** – Matt Sydal and Delirious just totally saved the show. That last 10 minutes with those two going wild with all out highspot warfare rocked. I actually enjoyed the match before that (the Briscoes teamwork, then Delirious and Sydal teaming as well was fun) but much like in 2004 with Danielson/Aries, it’ll only be the final two that get remembered. If you’re looking at ranking them, 2004 is still the best final (although possibly the worst in terms of being a multi-man ELIMINATION bout, of the three) simply due to the quality of the Dragon vs Aries clash, but this sits a comfortable second ahead of the 2005 final, which had a lot of good ideas but dragged on for WAY too long.

In the parking lot Jimmy Rave goes to find Jim Cornette. Cornette tells him that Prince Nana ‘tried to pull a power play’ and has been fired. That’s a wrap…

Tape Rating – ** – 10 crazy minutes by Delirious and Sydal didn’t do enough to save the show, as it rivals the Epic Encounter 2/Gut Check weekend for most skippable show of the year. There isn’t a bad match on the card, and you’re getting a LOT of wrestling for your money…but most of it is disappointing. Daniels/Aries, Briscoes vs Homicide/Strong, Delirious/Rave, and even Joe/Danielson are all real let-downs given the talent involved. The crowd is dead for most of the night (probably part of the reason why the Cleveland market has since been dropped from ROH’s touring schedule) and the wrestlers don’t exactly raise their game to get them going. It’s ROH so it’s decent of course, but it’s predictable and it was as OBVIOUS a B-show as the promotion really does. Personally I suggest a major revamp of the whole “Survival Of The Fittest” concept if they’re to stick with it, since the 2005 and 2006 shows have been two of the more forgettable releases of recent years. I’d change the format and make it a 2 night elimination tournament. I know we already have PWG’s Battle Of Los Angeles and IWA-MS’s Ted Petty Invitational, but if they can do one, so can ROH. They run so many double shots these days anyway, it actually makes sense. If they don’t, I think this may well be the final SOTF. Do I recommend it? Not right now. Maybe wait a year or so and pick it up in a $10 sale. The last 10 minutes of Sydal/Delirious are well worth a look.

Top 3 Matches

3) Matt Sydal vs Davey Richards (***)

2) Samoa Joe vs Bryan Danielson (***)

1) Delirious vs Matt Sydal vs Mark Briscoe vs Jay Briscoe vs Austin Aries (****)

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