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Montgomery County Fairgrounds – Dayton, Ohio – November 18, 2011
Dave Prazak and Kevin Kelly are on commentary. This is the first show in Dayton since World’s Greatest in February.
MATCH #1: Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Match – Jay & Mark Briscoe vs. The Bravado Brothers
Both members of the winning team advance to the finals. The Briscoes were in the 2004 and 2006 Survival of the Fittest events, with Mark going to the finals in ’04 and both making it in ’06. This is the debut for the other brother tandem. The Bravados actually beat the Briscoes back in July, so #DemBoys are eager for revenge. Mark and Harlem start the match and it goes about how one would expect in the early going. The Bravados use cheating to gain control. They work Mark over in their half of the ring, focusing on the left knee. After a brief period Jay gets the hot tag and unloads on both Harlem and Lancelot. The referee loses control and the Briscoes hit Lance with the Doomsday Device to get the win at 6:14. That was pretty squashy.
Jay gets on the mic to proclaim that the brothers will be the last two men standing in the Survival of the Fittest night, and that he won’t hesitate to whip Mark’s ass.
MATCH #2: Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Match – Kyle O’Reilly vs. Andy “Right Leg” Ridge
O’Reilly lost to Kevin Steen at last year’s event, and this is Ridge’s debut. These are two very hard kickers. They take it down to the mat and exchange holds. Ridge hits the first collection of kicks for a two-count. O’Reilly strikes back with his own kicks and a two-count of his own. The momentum continues to shift, and O’Reilly catches Ridge with the rolling butterfly suplexes and turns it into a cross armbreaker. Ridge gets to the ropes. They get up and trade kicks back and forth and the crowd loves it. Ridge hits more kicks and a slingshot Ace Crusher, or “the big one” as Kevin Kelly calls it, but he can’t get the pin yet. O’Reilly fights back with kicks and locks on a guillotine choke and Ridge taps out at 7:10. That was a lot of kicks and not much else.
MATCH #3: Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Match – Eddie Edwards vs. “The Prodigy” Mike Bennett
Edwards beat Chris Hero en route to winning it all last year, while this is Bennett’s debut. Bennett is rolling sans Brutal Bob tonight. Both of these men are from Boston, if that’s something that interests you. They strike back and forth in the early going, because Bennett doesn’t do much else. Edwards traps Bennett in the Tree of Woe and delivers a hesitation dropkick and then a sliding kick to the head for two. Bennett comes back with more punches. Really dude? I like how the commentators try to sell that fans hate Bennett because they’re jealous. No, we hate him because he sucks. Edwards tricks Bennett to the floor and wipes him out with a suicide dive, the same move that he injured his shoulder with at last year’s Survival of the Fittest. Nice continuity there. Back in the ring Edwards locks on an STF and Bennett reaches the ropes. Bennett comes back with a spinebuster but only gets two. They blow whatever move they were trying next and it results in Prazak saying “plants him.” That’s the laziest commentary move in the back and I’m sick of it. Edwards hits a powerbomb and puts on the Achilles Lock. Bennett reaches the ropes again. Bobby Cruise announces three minutes left in the time limit. Bennett tries a top rope Box Office Smash but Edwards flips out of it and locks on a Dragon Sleeper to get the win at 12:48. Edwards gave it a good try, but what are you gonna do with Bennett?
Backstage – Davey Richards and Kyle O’Reilly reflect on O’Reilly’s win and the upcoming finals. Richards mentions Michael Elgin, giving away the result of the next match. Thanks Davey.
Elsewhere – The Embassy is getting fired up for Tommaso Ciampa’s qualifying match, which we already know he’s losing thanks to Davey Richards. You can hear a match going on in the background. ROH really needs to make promos look more professional. Come on, it’s been almost ten years, get it together.
Somewhere else – The All Night Express are talking about their respective qualifying matches tonight. Last year King was the last man eliminated by the winner Eddie Edwards. Tonight he’s in a four-way qualifier. What is Rhett Titus doing? Titus has a rematch with Roderick Strong, who beat him in a qualifying match two years ago. He says this year will be different.
MATCH #4: Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Match – Kenny King vs. Adam Cole vs. Michael Elgin vs. Tommaso Ciampa
Elgin is accompanied by Truth Martini in his Survival of the Fittest debut. Ciampa is also debuting tonight, while King was involved in 2009 and 2010 (when he made it to the finals), and Cole also made it to the finals last year after defeating Steve Corino. King and Ciampa start the match. After a little back and forth Ciampa tags Cole. Elgin tags himself in at King’s expense, and Cole almost gets a quick pin with an inside cradle. The Unbreakable one quickly takes over with his power, but Cole counters with speed and agility. Ciampa tags in and Cole once again gets a quick rollup for a near-fall. Elgin doesn’t want to leave the ring so he just dumps Cole out. Ciampa and Elgin fight and King decides to come in and get a piece of the action. The referee has lost control less than five minutes into the match. King tries a springboard move but slips on the top rope and almost breaks his neck. That was scary. Elgin picks up King and Cole simultaneously for a combination Samoan Drop/Fallaway Slam. The action continues and Cole knocks Ciampa to the floor and wipes him out with a dive. King tries to follow but Cole kicks him in the face. Cole hits Elgin with a missile dropkick. Ciampa tries to hit Cole with Project Ciampa but King takes the opportunity to hit a Blockbuster, much like he does with his partner Rhett Titus. The referee pays no attention to any sort of legal man rule, so there’s action all over the place. Ciampa gets tied up in the Tree of Woe, and Elgin picks up Cole and hits a Buckle Bomb right into that corner. Elgin then hits Cole with the spinning sitout powerbomb to get the win at 9:58. They packed a ton of action in there and it was a lot of fun to watch.
Backstage – Eddie Edwards talks about his chances of winning back-to-back Survival of the Fittest matches. He says he doesn’t know who the five guys are he’s facing, even though four of them have been determined. He promises to the best last man standing, because he is Die Hard, and this year is the year of history. I fail to see what everyone sees in this guy. I’m looking at you Jim Cornette.
MATCH #5: Special Challenge Match – Steve Corino with Jimmy Jacobs vs. El Generico
Jacobs cuts a quick promo before the match to remind Corino that he’s not a pussy and gets him fired up. Generico wisely neglects to shake Corino’s hand, which is smart given everything that Corino did to him during the Kevin Steen feud. They keep it civil during the opening exchange of holds but Generico still seems wary. Corino goes for another handshake but Generico won’t bite, slapping him in the face instead. The formerly evil Corino resists Generico’s taunts to return to his evil ways, instead preferring to keep it a wrestling match. Corino even teases the Thumb in the Bum but thinks better of it. Generico responds by hitting a Michinoku Driver for two. He keeps up the offense on the man who tormented him for the better part of a year. Corino fights back and hits Colby Shock for two. Generico responds with a Blue Thunder Driver for two. Corino hits two lariats and then goes for the Eternal Dream but Generico catches it and rolls him up for two. Generico hits a jawbreaker that sends Corino to the apron, and then Yakuza Kicks him to the floor. Cruise announces three minutes left in the time limit. Back in the ring Generico hits a half-nelson suplex for two. Generico follows with a brainbuster for another two-count. He hits another Brainbuster as Cruise announces one minute left and Corino kicks out again. Generico hits a running Yakuza Kick in the corner and Jacobs gets on the apron and appears ready to throw in the towel but Corino waves him off. That distraction allows Corino to hit the Old School Bomb as the time limit expires at 15:00. I’ve really grown to like the Corino storyline and this was an effective match in telling that story.
Jim Cornette makes his way down to help Jacobs convince Generico that Corino is a changed man. Generico finally agrees and shakes Corino’s hand. That’s a good moment that really didn’t need any involvement from Cornette. Corino gets on the mic to hype his match with Kevin Steen at Final Battle, saying that for one night he will be evil again.
Backstage – Jimmy Jacobs tries to convince Corino that his efforts tonight did not go unnoticed. Corino is unsure of himself still.
MATCH #6: Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Match – Roderick Strong vs. Rhett Titus
Strong is accompanied by Truth Martini. He’s a veteran of Survival of the Fittest, having appeared in every tournament except 2010, even winning it all in 2005. This is Titus’s third straight appearance, and he made it to the finals last year. They exchange holds early on, with Titus eager to show that he’s in Strong’s league. Titus starts building some momentum so Strong takes a powder. Outside the ring Strong throws something at Titus that I can’t quite indentify. That gives Strong control back in the ring and he pounds away. Strong keeps Titus down for a bit before the inevitable comeback. Titus brings out all of his big guns but he can’t put Strong away. For the third time tonight Cruise announces there are three minutes remaining. Strong fights back and starts hitting all his big moves, including the gutbuster and a superkick for two. He takes Titus up for a superplex but Titus counters by dropping Strong face-first on the mat. Titus goes up top and hits a Frog Splash but Martini distracts the referee. The distraction allows Strong to hit a big knee to the face, several kicks to the face, and then the Sick Kick to get the win and advance to the finals at 14:34. Titus is getting better as a wrestler, now if he could get his promos to come along he’d be really good. Strong was his usual solid self here.
MATCH #7: Champions Challenge – ROH World Champion Davey Richards & World TV Champion Jay Lethal vs. World Tag Team Champions Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas
What’s with this rash of people being announced as “wrestling out of [whatever city]?” I don’t get why they have to say that, just say where they’re from. Richards is still one half of the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions along with his old No Remorse Corps stable mate Rocky Romero. Lethal and Benjamin start the match but before any contact is made Lethal tags in the World Champion. The crowd enjoys that. Benjamin still has taped ribs but it looks like just about the worst tape job in history. Even so Benjamin is able to keep pace with Richards as they battle back and forth. Tags are made and that puts my least favorite wrestler in ROH in the ring. I’ll leave you to guess which one I mean. Before anything can happen Lethal takes a powder to confer with Richards. It doesn’t do him much good, as back in the ring Haas dominates Lethal on the mat. As Lethal makes the comeback Benjamin gets the blind tag and the Tag Team Champions resume control. Haas and Benjamin go for the Leap of Faith but Richards illegally breaks it up. It backfires though, as the champs put Richards on top of Lethal and hit the move on both of them. Lethal is able to scurry up to the second rope and hit Benjamin with a leg lariat. Richards gets the tag and hits Benjamin with a missile dropkick. He follows up with a superplex for two, and then puts on the Ankle Lock. The referee loses control a bit as Lethal hits both tag champs with a flip dive over the top rope. Back in the ring Richards and Lethal double-team Benjamin and Richards puts on the Ankle Lock again. Lethal then puts Haas in the Crossface, and Richards turns the Ankle Lock into the Texas Cloverleaf. Benjamin reaches the ropes as Lethal pitches Haas to the floor. Richards and Lethal continue to work Benjamin over in their half of the ring. Eventually Haas gets the hot tag and he’s all over Lethal. The match breaks down once again and offense is coming from all over the place. All four men knock each other down and the crowd is rockin’. They all get up and start throwing hands, Benjamin with Richards and Haas with Lethal. Benjamin gets dumped to the floor and the singles champs use kicks to wear Haas down. Richards hits Haas with a diving headbutt and Lethal follows with the Top Rope Elbow and Benjamin breaks up the count. For some reason Richards chokes Benjamin out on the floor while Haas avoids a Lethal missile dropkick. Lethal tries a hurricanrana but Haas blocks it and puts on the Haas of Pain. Benjamin dispatches of Richards and Lethal taps at 23:23. That was almost non-stop action the whole way, especially down the stretch, and the crowd was into it.
MATCH #8: Survival of the Fittest Final Elimination Match – Kyle O’Reilly vs. Jay Briscoe vs. Mark Briscoe vs. Michael Elgin vs. Roderick Strong vs. Eddie Edwards
There is a trophy on hand for the winner. The House of Truth is accompanied by Truth Martini. This is O’Reilly’s first appearance in this match, Jay’s second time, Mark’s third time, Elgin’s first time, Strong’s fourth time, and Edwards’ second time. Both Strong and Edwards are former winners. Other winners, for the curious type, are Bryan Danielson, Delirious, Chris Hero, and Tyler Black.
Edwards and Jay start the match. Jay and Mark work together to keep Edwards on the mat. Elgin gets tagged in and immediately shows off his power. Strong and O’Reilly tag in, and the House of Truth work together. Edwards tags in, and there’s still some tension between him and O’Reilly. They go back and forth a bit and then the Briscoes get tagged in. They choose to attack everyone else rather than fight each other. I seriously love these guys. The match resettles with the Briscoes wearing down O’Reilly. Fortunately for O’Reilly he’s able to survive long enough to make a tag to Edwards. The referee loses control as all six men get in the ring. The two tag teams get rid of the other two guys and they duke it out. The other guys make it back in with a pair of missile dropkicks, and that leaves Edwards and O’Reilly in the ring. Everyone spills to the floor and there’s some awkward brawling going on. Elgin of all people takes everyone out with a moonsault from the top rope. Everyone starts making their way back in the ring and offense is coming from everywhere. Edwards traps Jay in the Die Hard to score the first elimination at 18:21. He then quickly grabs Mark in the Dragon Sleeper and both Briscoes are gone at 18:36. The House of Truth focuses on Edwards while O’Reilly gets a rest. Edwards comes back and O’Reilly goes to the top rope. Meanwhile, Martini jumps up on the apron, and when Edwards kicks him down he pulls the rope and O’Reilly crashes through the timekeeper’s table! After some miscommunication between Elgin and Strong, Edwards is able to trap Strong in a schoolboy rollup to eliminate him at 20:41. Elgin then blasts Edwards with a lariat to eliminate last year’s winner at 20:57.
Now we’re down to Michael Elgin versus Kyle O’Reilly for a future shot at the ROH World Championship, currently held by Davey Richards. Elgin is in much better shape and bullies O’Reilly with his strength. O’Reilly valiantly fights back and is able to lock on a guillotine choke. Elgin powers his way out of it. The persistent O’Reilly finally hits a tornado DDT and goes back to the guillotine choke as Davey Richards has shown up at ringside. Elgin once again powers his way out with a side slam but O’Reilly kicks out at two. He goes for the spinning powerbomb but O’Reilly hits a revere rana and a Regalplex for a very close near-fall. O’Reilly puts on the cross armbreaker but Elgin powers out of that too. The adrenaline is flowing through both men as they rise to their feet and go nose to nose. They trade strikes and Elgin wins that battle with a lariat for a two-count. Elgin hits a Rikishi Driver but O’Reilly is able to get his foot on the bottom rope. They take it to the floor, where O’Reilly hits a belly-to-back suplex. O’Reilly follows up with the awesome running dropkick off the apron and the crowd is collectively hard for him. Back in the ring O’Reilly goes for a rana off the top rope but Elgin catches him and hits a Buckle Bomb. Elgin follows with the spinning sitout powerbomb to become the Fittest at 32:00. The eliminations came together very quickly but I like how they were structured, and the action was great from bell to bell. It’s good to see two new faces going at it in the end, and I think both Elgin and O’Reilly’s stock soared with their performances here. This was good stuff.
Tags: Eddie Edwards, Kyle O'Reilly, Michael Elgin, ROH, Survival of the Fittest