ROH Survival Of The Fittest 2010 11/12/2010

ROH 270 – Survival Of The Fittest 2010 – 12th November 2010

The SOTF concept isn’t anything new by this point. ROH debuted the tournament back in 2004, and with the exception of 2008, has run it every year since. We know that that we’ll see a series of qualifying matches, leading to a 6-man elimination match with the winner to receive a future World Title shot. With the current and former ROH Champion included in the list of past SOTF winners, it doesn’t take a genius to see that winning this tournament is a huge stepping stone to climbing the ladder and becoming a main event player in this promotion. What makes tonight a little different is the massive overhaul in talent the company has gone through in recent months. Guys like Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly make their first appearances, whilst guys like Kenny King, Rhett Titus, Eddie Edwards, Kevin Steen and El Generico are backbones of the promotion at this stage and all have legitimate chances of winning tonight. With veterans like Colt Cabana and Steve Corino, along with the Tag Champions: 2007 SOTF winner Chris Hero and 2007 Race To The Top Tournament winner Claudio Castagnoli in the field too, it’s another strong line-up. Personally I’ve never been a fan of this tournament, but the 2009 edition was a decent little show, with the best finale in years so lets see if this can deliver. We’re in Dearborn, MI with Kevin Kelly and Dave Prazak on commentary.

SIDENOTE – I hate to start another DVD by bitching, but there are a couple of things about this DVD which have annoyed me already. Firstly, I’m not a stickler for remaining SPOILER FREE, but the main menu for this DVD has a victorious Eddie Edwards posing with the SOTF trophy. Is there any need for me to watch the show after seeing that? And is this show really so bad that it needs to be packaged with a totally irrelevant ‘Best Of Nigel McGuinness’ bonus disc? I’m not AS wildly against putting a best of Nigel DVD as a bonus feature as I was putting the Joe/Punk trilogy, but it’s just an odd show to do it with. With Nigel taking off in TNA, I can see why ROH would want to capitalise on that by putting a best of Nigel disc out there – and since he left ROH so recently it probably wouldn’t sell too well in it’s own right. But if this is a move to attract new fans to your product, why put it with a show which most critics have dismissed as poor? And if this is a move to please ROH fans, why put such a random bonus disc? Why not just put a bonus disc of past SOTF finals which I think lots of people would enjoy. The Danielson/Aries and Strong/Aries final sequences from 2004 and 2005 are really great, and most ROH fans won’t have seen those. Delirious’ win in 2006 is one of the highlights of his ROH career, whilst in 2007 Chris Hero beat all five finalists in a hugely entertaining match. Surely that makes more sense than putting a random Nigel compilation out there?

Rhett Titus vs Colt Cabana
Need an indication of how improved and important Titus and King are to ROH by this point? Look no further than Rhett coming to the ring sporting the new ‘ANX’ t-shirt. I still consider Rhett’s match with Colt Cabana at Glory By Honor 8 to be one of the most important of his career thus far. That one saw him break out of the ‘Addicted To Love’ persona and work a legitimate grudge match against a guy he was pissed off at for busting him open weeks earlier.

Serious Titus strikes quickly, booting Cabana in the face literally as the bell rings. Colt fires back with some chain-wrestling and Rhett dives out of the ring to make sure he doesn’t build some momentum with that. Ironically, whilst Titus is stone-faced and serious, Cabana is back to being his jovial, fun-loving self and has tries to make fun of his opponent in the early minutes. Titus punishes him by landing a dropkick and starts going after his arm. Cabana goes on the defensive by HIPTOSSING Titus to the floor, then meets him with jabs and elbows when he tries to get back into the ring. Colt 45 blocked though, with Rhettski landing the leapfrog Rocker Dropper for 2. Rings Of Saturn locked in briefly and Cabana realises he needs to counter out quickly after the damage he’s already sustained to the arm. He delivers the Flying Asshole, only for Titus to sucker him into a drop toehold onto the ringbell. The ref somehow missed that, and Rhett advances in 08:21

Rating – ** – It was the right decision to let Titus advance, and he was great for most of this match, again showcasing his improved skills and more focused persona. But I’ve knocked the rating down for that terrible finish. I don’t understand why it was needed either – since Colt doesn’t need to be protected. He’s so popular with live crowds that it’s not like people will think less of him, and giving Titus the rub of a clean win over a guy who’s been in ROH since 2002 would have been a big deal.

Grizzly Redwood tries to play up his skills as a survivor…but is interrupted by Claudio Castagnoli who has a smirk on his face as he towers over the Littlest Lumberjack. They meet next…

Claudio Castagnoli vs Grizzly Redwood
On paper this is the most one-sided match in the first round. Double C has a massive size and weight advantage over Redwood, which makes him the overwhelming favourite. But as Grizzly just pointed out, the fact that he’s even in this promotion is a testament to his ability to survive, so apparently nobody should bet against him pulling off an upset.

Claudio somewhat meanly shoves Redwood into the turnbuckles rather than shake his hand. Grizzly, wrestling in boots for the first time in months, retaliates by getting him out of the ring for a tope suicida. But he takes to the air once too often and is caught with an easy powerslam. He gets 2 with a chokeslam moments later, then hits the easiest Les Artess Lift of his career. Redwood fires back again, this time with a Déjà vu headscissors takedown. He even claws at Castagnoli’s bald head to counter a press slam into a sleeper hold. That takes Claudio down to one knee, allowing him to hit a sliding bulldog for 2. He attempts a tornado DDT…then COUNTERS THE POP-UP EUROPEAN INTO A SMALL PACKAGE FOR 2! Castagnoli has had enough, steamrolling through him with a running uppercut, then hitting the UFO for the win in 05:04

Rating – * – I actually expected more from this match. Not that I wanted to see an even fight, I just expected to see more nifty big man/little man spots since both guys really excel in that area. Claudio is renowned for his ability to do innovative things with smaller opponents, whilst Redwood has gotten so good at doing nifty little counters with bigger wrestlers in the last year. Other than that awesome counter of the Pop-Up European, this was a really slow, basic match.

Kevin Steen vs Kyle O’Reilly
There is some significance in the pairing of these two, and with Adam Cole and Steve Corino in a later SOTF qualification match. Cole and O’Reilly put in a star-making performance in a tag team match with Steen and Corino at Allied Forces, and are clearly happy to take another shot at beating the most dangerous alliance in Ring Of Honor right now. Kyle is a student of Davey Richards, a well-versed grappler and an effective striker…but how will he fare against Mr Wrestling who is gearing up for his showdown with El Generico at Final Battle.

Corino is at ringside with Steen and immediately gets involved by distracting O’Reilly to enable Kevin to jump him. Completely deranged by this point, Steen picks some gum up off the floor, chews it up then spits it into O’Reilly’s mouth. Kyle tries to hit back with his trademark striking combinations, and actually manages to drive Steen out of the ring. Mr Wrestling tries to come back in but O’Reilly strikes again with an athletic legsweep…then he gets dropped on his head as Steen hits a hanging DDT out of the ropes. O’Reilly tries an exploder suplex, but has no ability to lift the bigger man and gets PUNTED in the face. He tries to no sell…SO STEEN HITS HIM EVEN HARDER! Kyle folds like wet paper and is possibly only spared defeat by the fact that Steen is more interested in playing to the fans than winning the match. That buys him time to recover…WRIST CLUTCH EXPLODER! Impressive strength from Davey’s protégé, but he’s so beaten down he can’t capitalise straight away. Steen is knocked into a chair on the floor…KYLE HITS A MISSILE DROPKICK OFF THE APRON INTO THE RAILS! Steen teases a dive of his own only to have his arm wrapped around the ropes and is then defenceless as O’Reilly flies with another missile dropkick right on arm. Corino starts brandishing Generico’s mask to fire Steen up – except it doesn’t work and O’Reilly double stomps the arm. Tornado DDT INTO A CROSS ARMBREAKER! Kevin has a genuine struggle to get to the ropes there. He lands a superkick then hoists Kyle into an F-5, but can’t hit the Package Piledriver with his bad arm! ONE-ARM PACKAGE PILEDRIVER NAILED! But even with the match won, Steen keeps playing to the crowd, pulling Kyle’s shoulders up at 2. He puts the Generico ask on, pulls Kyle up and hits the BRAINBUSTER! Having used Generico’s move, he accepts the win at 10:19

Rating – *** – I’ve seen a lot of poor reviews of this show, but I’d like to see more made of what a fun little match this was. Kyle O’Reilly has a lot of talent, and he’s a plucky young kid who brings a crazy amount of workrate into every match he wrestles. He’s full of energy and, since he looks 10 years old, is perfect in the plucky underdog role to bounce off the maniacal Mr Wrestling. He sold Steen’s stuff like death, and easily transitioned to fiery babyface when making his comebacks and looked a genuine threat to one of ROH’s top guys. Working the Steen/Generico feud into the finish was a nice touch too.

Steen has lost it, and wants to further assault Kyle with a chair…and even Steve Corino thinks that’s excessive and tries to focus him on winning SOTF, then the Tag Titles tomorrow night. This a great way to make Steen seem like the feud with Generico is making him lose his mind. Kevin is one of the most compelling and well-rounded characters on the independent scene now, and the depth of his commitment to the role is shown when he dives out of the ring to go after guys in the crowd wearing El Generico masks and has to be restrained by Corino and referees.

Steve Corino vs Adam Cole
Having seen his tag partner have to be carried to the back after his match, Cole won’t be too pleased to see Kevin Steen remain at ringside to watch the King Of Old School’s match. Steve will want to advance to the finals, meaning he and Steen can use their numbers advantage to run through the rest of the field before settling it amongst themselves.

Much as with Steen/O’Reilly, the roles reverse as Mr Wrestling distracts Cole to allow Corino to attack him and get the match started. Just when Adam looks to mount a comeback the veteran tries to leave, only for Cole to give chase with a flying headscissors off the apron. Kevin Steen gets involved again to distract Adam, who still manages to fly off the top rope into a crossbody for 2. Kevin Kelly and Dave Prazak announce that Corino is working with a triceps injury suffered during his I Quit Match with Cabana…and Cole targets it with a Fujiwara armbar. Steve isn’t impressed with that and drops him with the Colby Shock. He tries to emulate Steen and pull out a brainbuster…but Adam grabs his arm again and delivers a northern lights suplex. Steve tries to ignore his bad arm to hit a running STO but noticeably winces in pain as the move lands. Emerald Dream gets 2 as Steen grabs a microphone and decides to bring his HDNet commentary to Detroit…then Cole BOOTS HIM IN THE FACE! Thumb In The Bum by Corino but he winds up getting so distracted by Steen screaming at the referee that he doesn’t see Cole rolling him up coming. Adam advances in a shocker at 06:45

Rating – ** – Not quite as good as Steen/O’Reilly, but they worked a very similar vibe that meant this never stopped being entertaining at any point. Considering Corino was working hurt against a rookie most of them won’t have had too much exposure to, I thought the crowd was really lively for this too.

Kevin Steen charges the ring in an instant and delivers a vicious beating on Adam Cole. El Generico, in black trunks, a black mask and a black trenchcoat which makes him look like a sex pest, comes to the ring to help the youngster with a Yakuza Kick on Steen. Corino stops the luchador in his tracks, and Steen grabs him for a MICHINOKU DRIVER THROUGH A TABLE!

Chris Hero vs Eddie Edwards
There are a lot of first time entrants into the tournament this year, and the only man in the field with experience of winning it is in this match – in Chris Hero. He won it in Las Vegas in 2007, using any means necessary to beat all five of his opponents on that evening. But he has arguably the toughest first round match of anyone tonight, as he faces reigning TV Champion Eddie Edwards – and there’s more than just a spot in the finals up for grabs with Shane Hagadorn in Hero’s corner still pissed off about being dumped as the American Wolves’ manager.

These two have teamed together on several occasions and the opening minute is fought at a slow pace as they look to test each other for weaknesses. Hero goes for his senton bomb but he does that a lot so Edwards knows to get his knees up into the back. He follows that with a succession of brutal chops which have Hero retreating across the ring. Elbow strike attempted, but again Eddie blocks it and blasts him with another chop. Chris leaves the ring to get some distance…and here comes Shane Hagadorn with a distraction. Hero pounces in an instant to haul the TV Champion out of the ring and smash him into the railings. Of course, Shane is quick to land a cheap slap across Eddie’s face too. ‘Two men tugging away at each other here’ – Kevin Kelly dropping an unintentional clanger. Hero delivers a BRUTAL head stomp/Roaring Elbow combo and is so pleased with it he stands back and demands to win by TKO instead. Edwards gets to his feet at 9 and demands Hero hit him again! Hero obliges, but this time Eddie shakes it off to hit a STANDING WIZARD! Hero raises a boot to block the flying Codebreaker but Eddie crotches him on the ropes and hits a SPRINGBOARD HURRICANRANA for 2. Hero tries to skin the cat and gets kicked in the mouth…TOPE SUICIDA BY EDWARDS! The referee rushes to check on Edwards, and it looks like for the third time in the last 13 months he has injured himself with that tope. Hero inadvertently elbows Hagadorn in the mouth…and turns back into the ACHILLES LOCK! Hero taps and it’s Edwards, despite his injury, who advances at 13:42

Rating – *** – Good match, albeit one fought at a painfully slow pace through most of the first half. Eddie Edwards really needs to cut that tope suicida from his repertoire as he just keeps hurting himself with it. It was only two weeks ago on HDNet we saw his match with Rhett Titus curtailed due to an injury sustained doing the same move. Credit to him for finishing the match (I believe he separated his shoulder in landing on the floor) but with the finals still to come he’s in for a long, painful night.

Kenny King vs El Generico
This is the last of the SOTF qualification matches, with the winner advancing to join Rhett Titus, Claudio Castagnoli, Kevin Steen, Adam Cole and (hopefully) Eddie Edwards in the finals. These two have met a few times this year, and more often than not it’s been King getting the win on the Generic Luchador. But the last two months since Kevin Steen stole his mask at Glory By Honor 9 have left Generico in a dark place. Now wearing in black tights and a black mask, he has been entirely consumed by his hatred of his former tag partner and may be more focused on Final Battle than he is on earning himself a World Title shot in this tournament tonight.

Generico walks slowly and has his ribs taped after going through a table earlier tonight, putting him at an immediate disadvantage. It doesn’t take long for Kenny to aim a kick right at that damage midsection either, but such is Dark Generico’s rage that he shakes it off and takes King down for a series of right hands on the canvas. More kicks and punches to the ribs from King, then a front suplex onto the top rope does even more damage to that body part. Tilta-whirl gutbuster from one half of the All Night Express, then he puts Generico into an abdominal stretch to continue piling on the pressure. But he starts dancing across the ring and EATS a Yakuza Kick from a pissed off luchador. He looks for a second but again King goes to the ribs. He tries a Brainbuster out of desperation, and defies yet more shots to the ribs to hoist Kenny into the Michinoku Driver for 2. Generico to the top rope only to be met with a MID-AIR CORKSCREW ENZI TO THE RIBS! SHOTGUN KNEES TO THE CHEST! King advances to the finals, alongside his tag team partner, in 07:53

Rating – *** – The angles they were running here (both the ‘dark’ Generico mask and the rib injury from earlier in the show) meant this wasn’t to the quality of their HDNet matches earlier this year, but I still felt this was good enough to warrant 3*. King was fantastic as the uber-cocky dick, totally unsympathetic to Generico’s injury or problems with Steen and only wanting to exploit them to his own ends. Meanwhile Generico continues his evolution into the best babyface in professional wrestling today. Even in a plain black mask, no noticeable positive body language or recognisable mannerisms he STILL had the crowd in the palm of his hands.

INTERMISSION – By way of an intermission, here’s the list of Nigel McGuinness matches on the bonus DVD, with my ratings included. To be fair, they are probably the best matches of his ROH Title reign. I can only think of the Supercard Of Honor 3 Aries rematch, the Rising Above 2008 Dragon rematch and the 7th Anniversary KENTA match that could be included in this list and aren’t. Maybe the Take No Prisoners ppv match with Tyler, or the Death Before Dishonor 6 fourway too.

Nigel McGuinness vs Takeshi Morishima (**** – Undeniable)
Nigel McGuinness vs Austin Aries (****1/2 – Rising Above)
Nigel McGuinness vs Bryan Danielson (****1/2 – 6th Anniversary show)
Nigel McGuinness vs Kevin Steen (****1/2 – Northern Navigation)
Nigel McGuinness vs El Generico (**** – Age Of Insanity)
Nigel McGuinness vs Roderick Strong (**** – Driven 2008)
Nigel McGuinness vs Naomichi Marufuji (**** – Final Battle 2008)

Outside the building Homicide is pissed off at having to face Andy Ridge rather than having a World Title shot, and blames Jim Cornette just as he did on HDNet this week.

Andy Ridge vs Homicide – Trial Series Match #3
Thus far Right Leg’s efforts in his Trial Series have been largely unsuccessful. Despite some spirited moments of offence, his losses to Colt Cabana at Allied Forces then Ricky Reyes at Richards vs Daniels were fairly comprehensive. Will he have learnt enough from those two defeats to fight the Notorious 187? Homicide has only been back in ROH for a couple of months and is already demanding title shots and pissing off management with his complaints. He’ll want to deliver a message tonight…

In the first minute of this match Low Ki is mentioned more on an ROH DVD than he has been in every other DVD release since 2006 combined. Ridge actually controls Homicide from the bell with headlocks and wristlocks which, whilst impressive, isn’t necessarily fun to watch or that believable. Eventually Homicide has had enough of entertaining the rookie’s basics and chucks him out of the ring for an assault out there. Andy actually tries to fight back on the floor…and is poked in the eyes by the former World Champion. The next couple of minutes follow the same pattern of Homicide dominating, Ridge trying to land a couple of shots only to be smacked down again. Homicide misses a diving headbutt and Right Leg capitalises with a series of boots and knees for 2. Cop Killa countered into a Superkick from Andy, who’s scream of fury is met with a combination of laughs and boos. Finally Homicide hits the Ace Crusher, then the Lariat for the win at 09:50

Rating – DUD – Am I being harsh on this? I absolutely hated this match, not in an ‘I want to trash everything about Homicide’s comeback’ like some critics, but this was just horrible. People were bored from the get-go as we went through two minutes of Ridge working random basics on Homicide (who didn’t seem interested). Then we got some generic back and forth brawling for a few minutes, then Ridge started screaming and getting boo’d out of the building…then it ended. The structure was just so odd. It wasn’t a squash because Andy got in so much offence, which means Homicide gains very little. But at the same time the ease with which he beat him, and the total lack of selling, meant that Andy looked like a total washout and gets very little rub either. Fans were rightly sitting on their hands here for this

Truth Martini, with his hand in a heavy cast, formally announces that both Josh Raymond and Christin Able are both out of the House Of Truth for various reasons. Tonight he will reveal the newest members of the HOT, who will need to prove themselves as valuable assets to his group.

Roderick Strong/Michael Elgin/Zach Gowen vs Christopher Daniels/Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe
He actually won the World Title in mid-September, but due to the HDNet taping schedules and an extended tour of NOAH since that time, this is actually the first occasion that we’ve seen Strong walking to the ring with the belt around his waist. He is joined by the returning Michael Elgin and Zach Gowen. Elgin appeared on a couple of shows in 2007-2008, but has drastically changed his look since then by losing weight and getting a new haircut meaning he no longer resembles budget-price Rhino. Gowen has been in ROH a few times, most recently as a member of Age Of The Fall, but of course, is more famously known for his run alongside Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan (as Mr America) in the WWE. Daniels challenges Strong for the World Title in Toronto tomorrow, whilst the Briscoes have ongoing issues with the House Of Truth too, so there’s lots of pride at stake here, as well as the returning workers looking to prove themselves and cement spots on the roster.

Strong teases starting with Daniels, before tagging out to allow Elgin in. He looks to make a statement with the veteran, constantly overpowering him in the early minutes. Fallen Angel retorts with a dismissive stomp to the face before bringing Mark in for the first time. Credit to Elgin, he shakes off some fierce shots from Briscoe and mows him down with a shoulder tackle. Gowen tags in briefly and lands his signature one-legged offence on both Briscoes then tags the World Champion in for the first time. He demands Daniels this time, but again it’s a trap to draw his opponent for tomorrow into the ring then tag Michael Elgin in to beat him up. Daniels takes a beating for a couple of minutes but eventually does escape Elgin’s clutches to make the tag to Jay. If not the least experienced, Michael is certainly the least well-known of his team, and with the least exposure in ROH. His ROH inexperience soon shows as he is trapped in the ring by all the babyfaces…and needs Roddy to come to his aid with a BACK SUPLEX on the apron for Jay. Thanks to the interventions of the ROH Champion, House Of Truth now have control and keep Jay from his partners for the next few minutes. All the highlights from that period come from Jay and Strong stiffing the sh*t out of each other. Of course, Jay does get the tag to Mark after a while and he breaks out the Redneck Kung Fu on Zach. Urinage suplex nailed too before Strong and Daniels take advantage of an empty ring to go at it. Roddy nearly beats the Fallen Angel with the Superkick, which he appears to have stolen from Tyler Black now, then applies the Stronghold. Even with a title match tomorrow, Daniels refuses to tap and fights back to deliver the Fall From Grace. All six start brawling in the ring, then start emptying the other way as Gowen hits the ONE-LEGGED PLANCHA on Daniels! SOMERSAULT PLANCHA BY JAY! Elgin thinks about a dive too, but winds up being forcibly catapulted out of the ring with a back drop to the floor by Mark. Crazy Mark to the top…MOONSAULT TO THE FLOOR! He goes after Martini next, only to be speared into the guardrails by Elgin. Fisherman bomb/moonsault combo from Elgin and Gowen gets 2 as this has completely broken down now. Mark dives back in with a frog elbow drop and the Briscoes join forces to take out the powerful Michael Elgin. He blocks the Doomsday Device though, then hoists up BOTH Briscoes…SAMOAN DROP/FALLAWAY SLAM COMBO FROM ONE MAN! Daniels tries to give him Angel’s Wings but he’s so powerful he fights out. Zach inadvertently takes him out with a dropkick…BME ON GOWEN! Daniels pins him at 20:56

Rating – *** – This had a number of things counting against it. Firstly, a lot of the match depended on Elgin getting over as a powerhouse, and at the start of the match, Detroit audibly didn’t give a sh*t about him. It also relied heavily on Zach Gowen being a credible ROH wrestler, something he’s struggled with in the past. It also involved Detroit caring a lot about the Strong/Daniels ROH Title match that they’ve seen none of the build up for and won’t be seeing in person since it takes place tomorrow. And it was the first time this incarnation of the House Of Truth have all teamed together. But despite all that stacked against them, this was an enjoyable 6-man encounter. I can’t go to 4* because some of it was a little slow, but if the key points were to give Elgin an impressive re-debut and push the Strong/Daniels bout, they succeeded on both fronts. It’s a shame Raymond and Able had to step away from ROH competition, but I think we’d all agree Michael Elgin offers a lot more to the promotion long term than those two, so his appearance was enormously exciting. I didn’t have high hopes for this match, and the sullen, forgettable opening minutes did little to change my mind, but it just kept getting better as it went along.

Rhett Titus vs Claudio Castagnoli vs Kevin Steen vs Adam Cole vs Eddie Edwards vs Kenny King – SOTF Elimination Match
It’s probably worth pointing out that every previous winner of Survival Of The Fittest has gone on to lose their ensuing title shot. Danielson failed to beat Samoa Joe in 2004, but later claimed the belt and successfully beat both 2005 winner Roderick Strong and 2006 winner Delirious in their subsequent title matches. In 2007 Chris Hero tried to claim his guaranteed title shot ‘money in the bank’ style to beat an injured Nigel McGuinness but failed, whilst 2009 winner Tyler Black could only manage a draw against Austin Aries at Final Battle last year. But the one thing all those winners have in common is that each has become a legitimate main event player (or a masked lizard-booker) in ROH, with Dragon, Joe and Tyler all now signed with the ‘big two’ as well. That’s how much of a star-making achievement winning this tournament can be. None of these finalists have won it before and all would provide a unique challenge to current champion Roderick Strong. Will Claudio’s power and tournament winning experience (the Race To The Top Tournament) give him the edge? Will Steen’s mental state mean he’s too dangerous for all the competition? Will the All Night Express team up to defeat all their opponents? And since both Adam Cole and Eddie Edwards come into this match with injuries to varying degrees, are they a genuine threat to win this at all?

Steen has to be handcuffed and surrounded by security during his entrance to prevent him trying to attack fans during his entrance. But before the match even starts El Generico runs in and DDT’S HIM ON THE FLOOR! Steen is wounded and so distracted that he walks into a Bicycle Kick from Claudio that eliminates him in 00:08. Is that the quickest SOTF elimination ever? ANX take to the ring to start double teaming Claudio now, perhaps looking to cement their claims for a Tag Title shot in the future. Cole flies in to save Castagnoli with a double crossbody, and Double C takes the opportunity to deliver a cheap shot to Edwards as revenge for eliminating his partner earlier. Cole gives Rhett a slingshot DDT on the apron, then counters the Royal Flush into a crucifix pin and nearly eliminates King for good measure. The numbers do eventually catch up with him as Kenny holds Adam open for a top rope double knee drop from Titus. After nearly 6 minutes Edwards is tagged in for the first time, clearly in great pain and working with one arm hanging limply by his side.

It impacts everything from his ability to pull of moves to even basic strikes and after hammering Cole with a few kicks and headbutts, he quickly tags out again and rolls to the floor to nurse the shoulder. In the ring an exhausted Adam Cole hits a superkick on Rhett…but as he lunges for a tag Castagnoli jumps off the apron and leaves him to suffer. Then Castagnoli tags in to clothesline poor Adam ON HIS NECK! Sick bump and Claudio eliminates his second opponent at 09:17. For the second time the ANX start double-teaming Castagnoli and, with Eddie seemingly reluctant to get involved, the remaining Tag Champion in the tournament is in serious danger of elimination. Claudio blocks that blindside lariat combo to hit the POP-UP EUROPEAN ON TITUS! That’s good enough to eliminate Rhett at 12:18 and Claudio is threatening to emulate his own partner in 2007 and eliminate an entire field of opponents! Edwards steps in and peppers Castagnoli with slaps…only for him to take one shot at the injured shoulder and force the TV Champion to roll out of the ring screaming.

Hopefully not knowing that it’s a legitimate injury, large portions of the Detroit crowd boo, jeer and hurl insults at Eddie as he is helped to the back. Remember jerks, this is guy who fought in a ladder match with a broken f*cking arm and doesn’t deserve that at all. Castagnoli joins in the heckling too and doesn’t see Kenny King waiting for him. Springboard blockbuster nailed and Claudio only just gets a shoulder up. He tries another springboard move and gets CAUGHT WITH A BACKBREAKER! DEAD-LIFT GERMAN SUPLEX GETS 2! Bicycle COUNTERED TO A BRIDGING CAPTURE SUPLEX BY KING! He misses the Capo Kick though, and gets scooped into the UFO for 2. King with a corkscrew enzi…but Claudio NO SELLS to deliver a big lariat…and STILL King kicks out. Eddie Edwards is back out here and he distracts Claudio for long enough for King to hit the ROYAL FLUSH! Castagnoli is eliminated at 17:48…and we’re down to 2! ONE-ARM STRIKE DUEL! King tries kicking Eddie…who starts HEADBUTTING HIM! ACHILLES LOCK ON EDWARDS BY KING! He escapes…Capo Kick COUNTERED TO THE ACHILLES LOCK! KING TAPS! EDWARDS WINS! It’s over at 19:47 and Edwards will receive a World Title shot in 2011.

Rating – *** – I really want to rate this higher as the last five minutes with King, Claudio and Edwards all dropping bombs on each other, coupled with the Edwards injury/return storyline were fantastic. The start with the Steen/Generico angle was also really fun. However, there was just too much stalling in the middle. Not that I don’t understand why given that there were lots of guys in their first SOTF final, and they were having to contend with the planned winner not being able to take part due to his injury. To be fair, this was always going to be a tough ask to work around Eddie’s injury and they probably had the best match they possibly could. And credit to Eddie, who is such a tough bastard he just doesn’t know when to give up. He could easily have dropped out and forced a booking change on this night, just as he could at Glory By Honor 8, but both times he has put the good of ROH above his own health and most (although it should be all) Ring Of Honor fans are hugely grateful for that.

Tape Rating – ** – With no matches reaching the 4* mark, lots of brief forgettable matches through the undercard and one absolute stinker in Homicide/Ridge, it’s easy to see why this show has been panned. Personally, I thought it wasn’t as bad as many have it out to be though. I’ll admit that, in terms of match quality, you don’t need this. However, as a completist, I really enjoyed how well thought-out from top to bottom this show actually was. The SOTF tournament, although slightly ruined by Eddie’s injury was still really well booked. The ANX got over in their respective qualifying matches, you had the Kings looking to bring their tag team dominance to the singles ranks. The Steen/Corino vs Future Shock qualifiers were a lot of fun (Steen/O’Reilly was my MOTN up until the main event), and led brilliantly into the Steen/Generico interactions throughout the show. And, whilst unplanned, it’s impossible to deny that another incredible display of courage and dedication from Eddie Edwards added an extra element of drama to the main event. Throw in hype for Daniels/Strong tomorrow and encouraging debut from Michael Elgin too, and I really don’t think this show was that bad. It was definitely a breeze to sit through, with the Trial Series Match being the only real flat point.

Top 3 Matches
3) Christopher Daniels/Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs House Of Truth (***)
2) Kevin Steen vs Kyle O’Reilly (***)
1) Eddie Edwards vs Kenny King vs C. Castagnoli vs Rhett Titus vs Adam Cole vs Kevin Steen (***)

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