Ring of Honor: Survival of the Fittest 2011

Dayton, OH – 11.18.2011

Championship Rundown
ROH World Champion: Davey Richards
ROH Television Champion: Jay Lethal
ROH World Tag Team Champions: Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin

Commentary is provided by Dave Prazak and Kevin Kelly.

Bonus Match
Winner Enters the 2011 Survival of the Fittest Tournament

Grizzly Redwood vs. Andy Ridge

”Glory By Honor IX” – New York, NY – 9.17.2011

Both men swipe off the others early attacks. Ridge kicks Redwood in the chest for one. Redwood slides out of Ridge’s slam attempt. An awkward clothesline moment occurs mid-ring, but they recover with Redwood putting on an abdominal stretch. Ridge looks to counter but Redwood sunset flips him for two. Ridge kicks Redwood I the chest for two. Ridge kicks Redwood in the back after Redwood misses a second rope maneuver. Ridge throws some more kicks. He hits a flying knee in the side of Redwood’s head for two. Redwood puts on a sleeper hold. Ridge rams Redwood into the corner to break the hold. Redwood kicks Ridge to bring him to the mat. Redwood kicks out Ridge’s knee to deliver a bulldog for two. Ridge gives Redwood a neck breaker across his back. Redwood huracanrana’s Ridge to the corner. Ridge evades a 619 and lands his slingshot Ace Crusher for two. Ridge also gets two with a superkick. Redwood comes out of the corner with a tornado DDT for two. Redwood sunset flips Ridge. Ridge counters with a folding press for the pin at 7:11. That was remarkably average and the sloppiness didn’t help whatsoever. Not a good advertisement for the ROH school. *

2011 Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Match
The Briscoes (Jay & Mark Briscoe) vs. The Bravado Bros. (Lancelot & Harlem Bravado)

Both members of the winning team move onto the Survival of the Fittest finals. The Bravado’s beat The Briscoes back at “Tag Team Turmoil 2011” thanks to interference from Haas & Benjamin. Mark elbows Lancelot to escape a wristlock. Mark hits a clothesline and chops Lancelot in the corner. Jay tags in and boots Lancelot to the mat. He tosses Lancelot to the floor and Mark dropkicks Harlem off the apron. The Briscoes beat on the Bravado’s on the floor, whipping them into the guardrails multiple times in the process. As The Briscoes try for a double shoulder block on Lancelot back in the ring, Harlem trips Jay and brings him to the floor. Lancelot chop blocks Mark and works over his leg. Mark fights out of the Bravado’s corner by giving Lancelot an enzuigiri. Jay cleans house once he’s tagged in. Jay gets a two count on Harlem with a Falcon Arrow. The Bravado’s hit him with the Gentlemen’s Agreement. Mark breaks Harlem’s bridging German suplex. Mark dropkicks Harlem into the corner. The Briscoes hit him with the Doomsday Device for the pin at 6:13. That was a glorified squash, but it was quite fun while it lasted. The Briscoes fire each other up afterwards by laying in headbutts to each other. To say I love #DemBoys would be an understatement. **1/4

2011 Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Match
Kyle O’Reilly vs. Andy Ridge

As you saw above, Ridge earned this spot by winning a match on the “Death Before Dishonor IX” pre-show. As you would expect from these guys, a kick from each is thrown at the start. Neither of them gain a real advantage when taking things to the mat. Ridge rolls up O’Reilly for two to block a cross armbreaker. They reach a stalemate after throwing simultaneous dropkicks. Ridge lights up O’Reilly with a flurry of strikes. Ridge catches him coming off the ropes with a chest kick for one. Ridge counters O’Reilly’s hip toss with a backslide for two. Ridge kicks O’Reilly back to the mat for two again. O’Reilly’s kicks take Ridge off his feet. O’Reilly back suplexes him for two. Ridge gets in a few bits of offense before O’Reilly delivers a pair of butterfly suplexes. He traps Ridge in the cross armbreaker but Ridge gets the ropes. An exchange of sole butts leaves both men out of breath. Ridge delivers a running boot to O’Reilly before hitting his slingshot Ace Crusher for two. O’Reilly cradle suplexes him for two. O’Reilly kicks Ridge in the chest for two. He puts Ridge in a Guillotine choke and Ridge taps out at 7:10. This is the best Ridge has looked since his trial series. He went toe-to-toe with one of ROH’s top prospects and actually looked like he had a chance to win. That’s more than I can say about a lot of his matches these days. **1/2

2011 Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Match
Eddie Edwards vs. Mike Bennett

Bennett goes to the ropes to end a wristlock exchange. Bennett boots Edwards in the stomach. Edwards chops and forearms Bennett in response. Edwards flips out of the corner but eats a right jab from Bennett. Bennett elbows Edwards in the corner. Edwards puts him in the tree of woe, delivering a dropkick. Edwards then hits a dropkick from the floor. Bennett catches Edwards with a modified body slam for two. Bennett clotheslines Edwards twice before delivering a falling variation of a clothesline for two. Edwards tries to fight back but takes a dropkick. Edwards baits Bennett to the apron and boots him to the floor. Edwards follows with an elbow suicida. That was risky, as that move injured Edwards during last year’s Survival of the Fittest event. Edwards chops Bennett against the guardrail before bringing him back into the ring. Bennett avoids a double stomp to his back. Edwards rolls Bennett into a cradle suplex for two. Edwards comes off the second rope with a Code Breaker. He turns Bennett into an STF. Bennett grabs the ropes to break it. Bennett trips Edwards and puts his feet on the ropes whilst pinning Edwards. Bennett gets angry when it only gets him two. Bennett gets two again with a spinebuster. Edwards blocks the Box Office Smash. He kicks Bennett on the ropes and goes for the Chin Checker. Bennett escapes and slams Edwards off of his shoulders for two. Edwards fights Bennett of the ropes. He double stomps and powerbombs Bennett for two. He turns Bennett over into the Achilles Lock. Bennett gets the ropes. Edwards kicks Bennett as he goes up top. Edwards flips out of super Box Office Smash attempt. He puts Bennett in a Dragon Sleeper, causing Bennett to tap out at 12:48. This was so much better than I expected. Usually these two are fairly bland and have a problem getting the crowd into it, but Dayton was game to play their role and elevate the match. The finish was really cool and I think Edwards has really grown into himself this past year. **3/4

Backstage O’Reilly discusses with Davey Richards how his training helped him win his match tonight. Richards lays down all the guys who have advanced so far, spoiling the result of the next match. Good job editors. Richards hypes up O’Reilly and O’Reilly jokes that he may be coming for his title sooner rather than later.

We then cut to the Embassy. Barrister RD Evans talks about what makes a wrestler strong. Ciampa talks about running through Andy Ridge last month and how his challenge on that show was intended for the top guys in the company, not someone he had already defeated. He says he will go through Survival of the Fittest to get the title shot he’s already earned. Too bad we already know he loses! Also, the match noise in the background of these promos has to stop. It’s distracting and makes these promos hard to hear.

All Night Express are also backstage. King says he made it to the final two in the finals last year and plans to go all the way this year. Again, we know that doesn’t happen thanks to Davey and O’Reilly’s segment. Titus will be in a singles match with Roderick Strong. Titus to Strong in the 2009 Survival of the Fittest, but vows tonight will go differently.

2011 Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Match
Kenny King vs. Adam Cole vs. Michael Elgin vs. Tommaso Ciampa

King takes over Ciampa with a couple of Japanese armdrags. Ciampa avoids King’s leg sweep and dropkicks King from off his knees. Ciampa also slips out of a sunset flip. Ciampa and Cole shove each other which tags in Cole. King ends a headlock exchange with a shoulder tackle. Elgin tags himself in when King hits the ropes. Cole quickly cradles Elgin for two. Elgin chops Cole off his feet. Elgin pops up Cole, who takes Elgin over with a huracanrana. Ciampa and Elgin go face to face allowing Ciampa to blind tag in. Inexplicably, Cole rolls up Elgin for two. Ciampa and Elgin almost go at it when King flies in and takes them both down. King slips when going for a springboard dive. Elgin Samoan Drops King while also giving Cole a fallaway slam. Elgin enzuigiri’s Ciampa after trading forearms. Ciampa overhead suplexes Elgin. With all three men down in different corners, Ciampa runs his knee into King and Elgin’s faces. Cole blocks his with a superkick that sends Ciampa to the floor. Cole suicide dives onto him. Cole enzuigiri’s King from the floor. Cole then missile dropkicks Elgin. Ciampa comes back in. He goes for Project Ciampa, but King instead uses Ciampa’s position to hit Cole with the One Night Stand (which is the All Night Express’ usual double team finish). King tornado kicks Ciampa in the back of his head. He hits shotgun knees and Elgin blind tags in. Elgin catches King’s shotgun knees. He counters a DDT with a spin-out uranage slam for two. King throws Elgin off the top rope. Ciampa crotches King on the top rope. King fights off a superplex and puts Ciampa in a tree of woe. Ciampa sits up and German suplexes King off the top. Cole picks up Elgin. Elgin slides off and hits a Backfist. He powerbombs Cole into Ciampa who is in the tree of woe. A spinning powerbomb gets Elgin the pin at 9:57. That was a really fun ten minute sprint that allowed everyone to shine. Elgin was probably the right guy to win here and I look forward to seeing his progression later on tonight. ***1/4

Eddie Edwards proclaims he will become the first ever back-to-back Survival of the Fittest winner.

El Generico vs. Steve Corino

Jimmy Jacobs is in Corino’s corner. He fires up Corino before the match. Generico turns down Corino’s handshake, which makes sense considering how much hell Corino and Kevin Steen put Generico through in 2010. Although Corino plays nice during the early going, Generico is still very apprehensive. Corino retreats to the corner after Generico armdrags him. They evenly throw moves at each other, ending with them staring at one another. Generico still refuses to shake Corino’s hand. Corino uses wrestling holds to get the better of him, as opposed to some of the cheaper tactics he would have utilized before. Generico slaps and yells at Corio in the corners. It’s almost as if he’s trying to bring the evil out of Corino. While he doesn’t break the rules, Corino fights back with punches and a leg lariat. Corino boots Generico to block a yakuza kick. Corino STO’s him to the mat. He gets two with the Colby Shock. Generico comes back with a tornado DDT for two. Generico also hits a Blue Thunder Bomb for two. Generico gets in Corino’s face, bringing Corino to hit a lariat. Generico blocks the Emerald Dream with a crucifix pin for two. Generico yakuza kicks Corino off the apron. Corino takes his time to recover on the floor when the timekeeper alerts us there is 2 minutes remaining in the time limit. Jacobs tries to convince Corino to stop, but he gets back in. Generico yakuza kicks him right away, then hits a half nelson suplex for two. Corino also kicks out of a brainbuster. With one minute remaining, Generico gets two with a second brainbuster. Generico yakuza kicks Corino. Jacobs gets on the apron with a towel in hand, looking like he’s going to throw it in to end the match. Corino waves him off. Corino then hits the Old School Bomb just as the 15:00 time limit expires. I really enjoyed the story they told during this match. This is one of the few moments of Corino’s redemption I’ve truly enjoyed. This was a good time for this match to happen and seeing Corino continue fighting against Jacobs’ wishes adds a whole new wrinkle to the story. ***

Corino and the fans want five more minutes. Jimmy Jacobs and Jim Cornette talk Corino out of it. Corino however does get his handshake with Generico, ending this portion of Corino’s journey. Corino says that he will face Kevin Steen at Final Battle, and for that match he will unleash the evil side of him one last side.

Backstage Corino is doubtful that the fans are behind him. Jacobs tells Corino that he’s making strides in his path of recovery and that tonight was a big step. Corino says at Final Battle it will be “Kill Steve Kill” time, not “Kill Steen Kill”.

2011 Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Match
Roderick Strong vs. Rhett Titus

Truth Martini is in Strong’s corner. Strong won the 2005 Survival of the Fittest tournament and has been in all of them except for last years. Meanwhile, Titus made it to the Finals last year defeating Colt Cabana. Titus is eager to start things off but Strong keeps bailing to the floor. When Strong decides it’s go time, Titus controls him by his arm. Strong brushes the back of Titus’ head with slaps before pulling on his face as he digs his knee into Titus’ back. Titus and Strong exchange strikes. Titus slams Strong and drops a knee for two. Titus turns his bodyscissors into a Gedo Clutch for two. Strong pounds on Titus outside of the ring. Back in the ring he punches Titus in the corner. Titus lays in some shots of his own. Strong cuts him off with a dropkick. Strong is able to side step a crossbody attempt from Titus. Titus is able to make a comeback, busting out a few dropkicks and the Thrust Buster. Titus drives Strong head first into the canvas for two. Strong O’Conner rolls Titus. Titus rolls through for a two count. Strong suplexes Titus after an enzuigiri for two. Titus drops Strong face first to the canvas from the top rope. Titus hits a frog splash which causes Truth Martini to get on the apron. Titus of course gets distracted just as the one minute warning is called. Strong hits two gamengiri’s and the Sick Kick for the pin at 14:34. That was solid action, but really nothing special or out of the ordinary. I was hoping Titus would advance here, as it really would do wonders for him, but having both House of Truth members in the Finals is also compelling. **3/4

Champions Challenge
Davey Richards & Jay Lethal vs. Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin

As you have probably gathered, all four of ROH’s current champions have come together for a special attraction match. Richards wins the opening exchange with Benjamin. Benjamin stays steady when blocking Richards’ shoulder block attempts. They exchange surfboards on the mat, Gedo clutches and armdrags. They stalemate when each guy catches the others’ kick. Haas uses his amateur background to maintain control on the mat. Lethal comes back with a hip toss/dropkick combo for two. Haas uppercuts Lethal into a running clothesline from Benjamin. Haas and Benjamin isolate Lethal in their corner for awhile. Richards trips Benjamin when he and Haas go for the Broken Arrow. Richards’ interference backfires, as Benjamin and Haas just stack him on top of Lethal and give them both the Broken Arrow. Once again they go back to t work wearing down Lethal. Lethal hits a leg lariat from the second rope onto Benjamin, giving him enough time to tag in Richards. Richards elbows and knees Benjamin in the corner, even taking a moment to knock Haas to the floor. Richards superplexes Benjamin for two, then turns him into an ankle lock. Benjamin throws Richards to the corner to break it. Richards kicks Haas from the ring apron. He looks for a dive but is cut off by a knee strike from Benjamin. Lethal however tope con hilo’s onto both Benjamin and Haas. Lethal catches Benjamin with a drop kick when Richards pushes him off the top rope. Richards double stomps Benjamin in the back for two. He re-applies the ankle lock. Haas comes in and gets put in a crossface by Lethal. Richards turns his ankle lock into a cloverleaf. Benjamin grabs the bottom rope to break free. With Benjamin’s ribs tapes up, Lethal decides to give him a gut buster and then apply a body scissors. Benjamin and Lethal collide with each other when throwing stereo clotheslines. Haas is getting more frustrated as time passes, especially with Richards now helping his partner out. Benjamin spin kicks Richards to tag out. Haas gives Lethal multiple clotheslines and a boot. After a belly-to-belly suplex to Lethal, Haas German suplexes Richards to counter the Damage Reflex. He powerslams Lethal for two. Lethal tornado DDT’s Benjamin and superkicks Haas. He hits a handspring Ace Crusher on Haas and Benjamin breaks the count. A series of moves leaves all four men on the mat. Richards sends Benjamin to the floor. Lethal helps Benjamin hit the Alarm Clock. They simultaneously kick Haas. Richards hits a diving headbutt, followed by Lethal’s top rope elbow drop. Benjamin breaks the pin and Richards tosses him back to the floor. Lethal springboard dropkicks Haas while Benjamin and Richards fight it out on the floor. Lethal misses a second springboard dropkick. Haas blocks a huracanrana and puts Lethal in the Haas of Pain. Benjamin superplexes Richards to prevent him from breaking the pin. Lethal taps out at 23:23. The action here never stopped and the crowd was into pretty much everything. Lethal and Richards worked well together, pulling off (and flubbing, in story) some of their tandem moves. This is one of the best Haas & Benjamin matches I’ve seen since probably their matches during WrestleMania weekend. I figured one of them would beat Lethal and get a TV title shot, I just wish it were Benjamin instead of Haas. ***1/2

2011 Survival of the Fittest Elimination Match
Jay Briscoe vs. Mark Briscoe vs. Kyle O’Reilly vs. Eddie Edwards vs. Michael Elgin vs. Roderick Strong

Edwards and Jay jockey for position. Jay brings Edwards to the corner so that Mark can tag in. Elgin blind tags himself in when Edwards and Mark end up in his corner. Elgin dominates for a bit, but then Mark is able to go strike-for-strike with him. Elgin slams Mark to stop that. Strong tags in, brings Mark to the opposite corner and O’Reilly tags in. Strong brings O’Reilly to Elgin’s corner so that he and Elgin (the House of Truth) can team up on O’Reilly. Elgin tags out to Edwards after O’Reilly gives him a chinbreaker. O’Reilly takes to Edwards’ leg causing Edwards to grab the ropes quickly. O’Reilly and Edwards evade each others’ moves and stand-off. They tag in Jay and Mark. Instead of fighting each other, they clear the apron and fight the other opponents on the floor. O’Reilly foolishly ties to fight them both back in the ring. Meanwhile, the House of Truth beat up Edwards outside the ring. The Briscoes beat O’Reilly silly. Eventually Edwards gets back to the apron and O’Reilly takes down Briscoes with simultaneous dragon screw leg whips. Edwards gets attacked by Strong once he’s tagged in. He and Elgin beat down Edwards bringing O’Reilly in. The Briscoes come back in and give O’Reilly the Redneck Boogie. The Briscoes and the House of Truth get in each others’ faces and start trading shots. Edwards double dropkicks Mark and Strong and O’Reilly double dropkicks Elgin and Jay. This leaves O’Reilly and Strong in the rig. Edwards throws chops while O’Reilly throws kicks. Edwards kicks O’Reilly to one side of the ring. Edwards pescado’s onto Strong. Mark hits a tope con hilo onto Elgin and Jay. O’Reilly tope con hilo’s onto Edwards and Strong. Strong drops O’Reilly back first on the ring frame. Strong fights it out with the Briscoes still outside the ring. Elgin saves his partner by moonsaulting onto everyone. In the ring, Elgin stops O’Reilly’s tornado DDT with a backbreaker. Mark shotgun dropkicks Elgin to the corner. Strong high knees Mark to the floor and Jay boots Strong out. Edwards and Jay boot each other. Edwards and O’Reilly superkick Jay to the mat. Edwards then hits Die Hard on Jay to eliminate him at 18:21. Edwards puts Mark in a Dragon Sleeper right after and he taps out at 18:37.

Strong and Elgin decide to team up on Edwards. Edwards pitches Elgin to the floor and gives Strong a fisherman’s buster. O’Reilly heads to the top rope just as Truth Martini gets on the ring apron. Edwards attacks Martini, which causes the ropes to shake and O’Reilly to fall through the ringside table. Strong and Elgin go back to teaming up against Edwards. Edwards collides them together and schoolboys Strong to pin him at 20:41. A backfist and lariat from Elgin eliminated Edwards at 20:58. This makes Elgin and O’Reilly the final two participants in the match. O’Reilly makes his way back in slowly after recovering from the table incident. Elgin gets in O’Reilly’s face, easily keeping him on the mat at first. O’Reilly blocks a clothesline with a crucifix pin. Elgin picks him up and O’Reilly elbows his way out of the position. He turns Elgin’s powerbomb attempt into a Guilltoine choke. Elgin powers his way out. O’Reilly tornado DDT’s Elgin back into the choke. Davey Richards is now out to motivate his protégé. Elgin finally pops O’Reilly out and hits a uranage slam for two. The crowd is totally behind O’Reilly. O’Reilly manages to counter a powerbomb with a reverse huracanrana. He hits a capture suplex on Elgin for two. He transitions into a cross armbreaker right away. Elgin is able to escape, so O’Reilly sunset flips him for two. Elgin shrugs off O’Reilly’s chest kicks, even spitting in O’Reilly’s direction. Elgin and O’Reilly throw slaps at each other with reckless abandon. O’Reilly throws more chest kicks which do a bit of damage. Elgin mows him down with a lariat for two. Elgin tombstones O’Reilly. O’Reilly gets his foot on the ropes just in the nick of time to stop the count. O’Reilly tries to sunset flip Elgin off the apron. He fails, but is able to suplex him from a seated position. O’Reilly fires up and is able to hit his off the apron dropkick to Elgin in the corner of the barricades. Back in the ring, Elgin catches O’Reilly coming off the ropes. He buckle bombs O’Reilly, then drops him with a spinning powerbomb for the pin at 32:00.

I just saw two stars born in Ring of Honor. The last 12 minutes with O’Reilly and Elgin were absolutely tremendous and rivals the ending of any other Survival of the Fittest match. O’Reilly was so incredibly over and motivated to keep fighting that the fans became unglued and couldn’t help but cheer for him. Elgin spoiled their party by winning, but even he got to look like a monster at times. I don’t mind that four eliminations came so quickly together, because they didn’t seem forced or phony and it allowed for a fantastic finish. Even in the early going they did a great job of furthering the Edwards/Richards feud by Edwards accidentally putting O’Reilly through a table. They also teased a tag match that I really want to see. This was great booking and great wrestling coming together to make for an exciting match that was fun to follow. ****

Elgin and Martini hold the trophy up high while Elgin and Richards have a stare down.

You can do so buy going to the ROH Store.

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