ROH on Sinclair – Episode 058 – 27th October 2012
Survival Of The Fittest 2012 has made for a terrific October on ROH/Sinclair TV. Nothing has reached 4* standard yet, but with three weeks of consistently entertaining wrestling behind us, it all culminates tonight with the finals. Adam Cole, Davey Richards, Jay Lethal, Roderick Strong, Mike Mondo and Michael Elgin collide with one common goal – becoming the 2012 SOTF winner and earning themselves a guaranteed ROH World Title shot. With the current TV Champion, two former World Champions and a former SOTF winner in the field it’s sure to be hotly contested and one of the best matches ROH will put on free TV in 2012. The Briscoes and the Bravados meet in some non-tournament action too. Kevin Kelly and Nigel McGuinness welcome us to Baltimore, MD.
Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Bravado Brothers
I’m sure these two brother tandems have done battle before, and I’m equally sure that it was probably 95% Briscoes beating the shiznit out of the Bravados. But things have all changed since Lancelot and Harlem returned from Japan. They come into this hot after stealing the show at Caged Hostility with their cracking undercard battle with Coleman and Alexander and will want to make a big impression (as well as going to the head of the line to challenge SCUM for the Tag Titles) by beating the stalwarts of the Ring Of Honor tag division.
The Briscoes are clearly two of the biggest stars in ROH and the response they get, even from the horribly mic’d crowd is really something. They quickly assert their dominance over Harlem with a flying leg drop/sidewalk slam combo. He really takes a beating until Lancelot comes to his rescue, distracting Mark and allowing Harlem to land a bicycle kick for 2. The Bravados get a chance to show off their own proficiency as a team and cut the ring in half to isolate Mark. Eventually the Redneck Kung Fu opens the window for Mark to bring Jay into the mix – and he promptly gets a nearfall on Lancelot with a falcon arrow. Doomsday Device COUNTERED with a blockbuster from Harlem! FLIPPING NECKBREAKER FROM THE TOP! Gentlemen’s Agreement misses though…and Mark returns with a springboard dropkick. Doomsday Device on Lance…for the win at 05:24
Rating – ** – For such a short match this one started rather slowly, but really picked up towards the end. I really think the Bravados should be taken as a serious team in the tag division now. They have an incredibly entertaining gimmick (in a promotion pretty much devoid of comedy they are hugely unique in that aspect) and they clearly now have ring skills to back that up. I definitely think they are beyond matches like this – where they get fed to the Briscoes like jobbers.
The Guardians Of Truth enter the arena. They feel neglected by Truth Martini since he’s been so distracted trying to fix Roddy and Elgin’s relationship. They decide to do things their own way, and unmask to reveal themselves as The Headbangers (to the surprise of nobody). They cut a horrible promo – in essence laying down a challenge to the Briscoes. It’s all quite embarrassing…
We cut to an awesome video package with highlights of the previous Survival Of The Fittest finals. Future WWE and TNA stars like Bryan Danielson, Austin Aries, Matt Sydal, Chris Hero, Claudio Castagnoli and Tyler Black get significant screen time emphasising ROH’s role in cultivating talent before they get to the big leagues…but it’s alongside the likes of Roderick Strong, Eddie Edwards (who’s one-armed win in 2010 is still absolutely remarkable) and Michael Elgin who have all won the tournament previously and are still on the roster. I was surprised to see how many SOTF finals have been won by submission (only Tyler in 2009 and Elgin in 2011 won by pinfall)…and it made me miss Dave Prazak on commentary a lot. I know he had his detractors, but to me he was the voice of ROH
Adam Cole vs Davey Richards vs Jay Lethal vs Roderick Strong vs Mike Mondo vs Michael Elgin – SOTF Elimination Match
There’s so much experience in this match it’s hard to pick a winner. Roderick Strong and Michael Elgin are rivals within the HOT, and both have won the tournament before (in 2005 and 2011 respectively). Jay Lethal and Adam Cole have made the finals before (Lethal in 2005, Cole in 2010). Davey doesn’t have much of a record in the SOTF, but he is a former World Champion so has to be amongst the favourites. Mondo is the odd man out, competing in his first Survival Of The Fittest, but even he showed his credentials by beating last year’s losing finalist Kyle O’Reilly. There’s lots of little scores to settle too. Davey lost to Cole at the 10th Anniversary Show and won’t have forgotten that. He’s also a former stablemate and rival of Roderick Strong, and shared one of 2012’s top MOTYC’s with Michael Elgin at Showdown In The Sun. We also have Adam Cole as the current TV Champion, facing off with the two men who preceded him with that belt in Strong and Lethal. Again, you’d think Mondo would be the odd man out – but he’s not. He took Davey to a time limit draw in Charleston and has been boasting that Davey can’t beat him ever since. Despite being on TV the rules are the same – so it’s an elimination match, last man standing gets the title shot.
Davey and Roderick start, renewing a long term rivalry as they’re in the ring together for the first time in months. But it’s not for long as Elgin tags himself in and makes a beeline for Strong…who flees and has no intention of getting in the ring with his colleague in the House Of Truth. Mondo tags in with Elgin and laughably tries to trade power moves with him…and is predictably squashed into the canvas with a big powerslam. Davey explodes into action again, hitting the running punt from the apron on Elgin. APRON BACKBREAKER BY STRONG! TOPE SUICIDA BY LETHAL! MONDO-SAULT TO THE FLOOR! He goes for the Double Arm DDT on Cole…but turns his back on Strong who levels him with a Sick Kick. Mondo is eliminated at 04:49. Roderick puts a vicious beating on Cole, making a statement at the expense of the man who beat him for the TV Title earlier in the year. DEATH BY RODERICK! Cole barely kicks out there and is clinging onto his spot in the finals now. But Strong gets distracted by Elgin…WHO BACK FISTS HIM IN THE FACE! Superkick from Cole, and he eliminates the 2005 winner at 06:41. Richards rolls in to capitalise, ripping apart Adam’s leg with an anklelock. Elgin tries Chaos Theory…but Cole counters to a roll-up. SHINING WIZARD COUNTERED TO THE BUCKLE BOMB! SPIRAL BOMB! Elgin eliminates Cole at 07:43. Things are happening so quickly it’s hard to follow this! Jay Lethal has barely been involved thus far, but with Elgin’s back turns it’s him that flies into action next – flooring Unbreakable with a sliding dropkick. When we come back from commercials it’s clear that didn’t have much effect as Elgin is hoisting both Richards and Lethal up for the SAMOAN DROP/FALLAWAY SLAM COMBO! For some reason Roderick Strong is still at ringside…and he shoves Elgin off the top rope.
Elgin is still woozy from that bump and Richards capitalises to hit an EXPLODER SUPLEX OFF THE APRON…AND THROUGH A TABLE! Elgin looks done, leaving Lethal and Richards alone to beat the hell out of each other in pursuit of a shot at the World Title. It’s only their disbelief at seeing Elgin crawl wounded back into the ring that breaks up their brawl. Davey enzi kicks Elgin into a DDT from Lethal! DOUBLE STOMP! MACHO ELBOW! ELGIN KICKS OUT! The crowd are right behind him here, and he refuses to go down despite a barrage of strikes from both opponents. STEREO BUZZSAW KICKS! For some reason a double pin is legal, and Elgin is eliminated at 13:15 (shown). That leaves Richards and Lethal as the final two, as the locker room empties to cheer them on. LETHAL INJECTION! MACHO ELBOW! FOR 2! Richards knocks him back with the Alarm Clock…ROLLING LETHAL COMBINATIONS! STILL 2! KOJI CLUTCH! COUNTERED TO THE ANKLELOCK! Lethal counters out of that into that crucifix stretch before both men collapse wearily into the ropes. They trade shots on the apron…until Davey hits an EXPLODER TO THE FLOOR! And he whips him straight back into the ring for a flying double stomp. ONE COUNT OF DISRESPECT! REPEATED KICKS TO THE FACE! LETHAL KICKS OUT! Lethal Injection COUNTERED to the Anklelock, only for Jay to kick free of that! SUPERPLEX…ROLLED INTO A BRAINBUSTER! Lethal barely got his shoulder up! Sliding Enzi (which beat Mike Bennett) gets 2 as well! ANKLELOCK COUNTERED TO A HEAD DROP GERMAN! NO SOLD! DRAGON SUPLEX BY LETHAL! GETS 2! Can he show the killer instinct to put the American Wolf away? LETHAL INJECTION NAILED! LETHAL WINS! He’s the 2012 SOTF winner at 20:45 (shown)
Rating – **** – This was a strange match to call. On the one hand seeing the SOTF format so rushed to fit into the TV time allocations took some getting used to. But, on the other hand, it meant everyone moved at a breakneck speed…and as a non-stop spotfest this was tremendously exciting. There was no psychology or story-telling to speak of, it was just 20 minutes of high octane pro-wrestling…and what’s not to like about that? The never-ending slow burn on the Roddy/Elgin split continued in an entertaining fashion, and Elgin’s last stand against a vicious assault from both Davey and Lethal was hugely memorable. But, as with most SOTF’s it was the showdown between the final two which really made this. Richards and Lethal continued the proud tradition started by Bryan Danielson and Austin Aries back in 2004 by delivering a scintillating climactic portion. They dropped bombs on each other, countered each other’s signature moves in front of a really hot crowd. The finish, with Lethal feigning remorse…then busting out the ‘killer instinct’ to finish Davey off was particularly striking. It wasn’t an all-time great Survival Of The Fittest final. In fact, it wasn’t even as good as last year. BUT, for free TV this was top notch stuff and definitely a must-see for Ringside Members if they haven’t already.
Kyle O’Reilly (who had been watching from the stage) turns away in disgust at the sight of his former mentor losing. Davey doesn’t see that, and sportingly raises Lethal’s hand in victory to end the show.
NEXT WEEK – Glory By Honor 11 Road Rage…urgh
Tape Rating – **** – The whole episode was built around the conclusion to the SOTF tournament. Since the final delivered so spectacularly, despite the confines of television time limits and commercial commitments, I can’t go any lower than 4* for the show. As I said at the start, it was definitely one of the best free TV matches of 2012 and a worthy addition to the legacy of the Survival Of The Fittest. The fiery conclusion to the match with Davey and Lethal tearing into each other was truly momentous. In TV terms it was a great follow up to Glory By Honor, but having reviewed this for the DVD, I can tell you it served as a terrific prelude to their MOTYC in Toronto.
ROH on SBG Episodes 51-58 – Top 5 Matches
5) Roderick Strong vs Homicide (*** – Episode 057)
4) Adam Cole vs Michael Elgin (*** – Episode 051)
3) Davey Richards vs Mike Bennett (*** – Episode 056)
2) Mike Mondo vs Kyle O’Reilly (*** – Episode 057)
1) Jay Lethal vs Davey Richards vs Michael Elgin vs Adam Cole vs Roderick Strong vs Mike Mondo (**** – Episode 058)