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ROH Survival of the Fittest - Sep 24, 2005

by SamoaRowe

-I’m waiting for some WWE tapes to arrive in the mail, so I figured I’d review the first ROH event I ever attended. For those of you who are familiar with DWS, I took this event in with Viceroy Virus and GreatWhiteChoate.

-From Dorchester, MA. Our hosts are Lenny Leonard and Dave Prazak.

-Austin Aries and Roderick Strong can hardly believe it’s been a whole year since the first Survival of the Fittest tournament. Aries had a star-making performance last year, but came up short in the finals, so this year will be his redemption. Strong politely disagrees, saying it’s going to be his year.

Survival of the Fittest Qualifier:
Sal Rinauro vs. Jay Lethal

They exchange wristlocks in the early going. Rinauro counters into an armlock, but Lethal reverses into a pinning predicament. Rinauro goes after the arm some more. Lethal rebounds with a spinebuster for 2. Lethal targets the back, but Rinauro surprises with a drop-kick. Belly to back suplex by Rinauro gets a near fall. Hip toss backbreaker by Lethal! Back suplex by Lethal isn’t enough for the win. Sal counters out of a crucifix submission. Rinauro gets caught on the ropes but counters with a flying bulldog. Rinauro nails a springboard DDT. German suplex by Rinauro still isn’t enough. Lethal rebounds with a running suplex. Flying head butt by Lethal gets 2. Sal gets some near falls but misses a springboard kick. Lethal pops up with the Dragon Suplex for the win at 11:35. Perfectly good opener here, they made that look easy **¾.
Winner: Jay Lethal

-Lacey has been scouting talent for a new and improved Lacey’s Angels stable. She gets hit on by one of the boys and throws a tantrum.

Survival of the Fittest Qualifier:
Colt Cabana vs. Ricky Reyes

Reyes attempts a sneak attack, but Cabana is too smart to fall for that. Cabana serves some arm drags and sends Reyes crashing to ringside. Reyes connects with some kicks and goes after the arm. Lacey appears on the stage, taking notes. Cabana counters with a head scissors takedown. Cabana absorbs some chops and returns the favor. Flurry of offense by Cabana but Reyes counters into an armbar. Springboard moonsault by Cabana gets 2. A big lariat gets the win for Cabana at 4:25. Impressive win for Colt, this was a solid sprint, *½.
Winner: Colt Cabana

Survival of the Fittest Qualifier:
Roderick Strong vs. Jerrelle Clark

They trade wristlocks in the early going. Strong goes after the knee. Clark counters with a back kick and sends Strong to ringside. Clark delivers a flying head scissors from the apron. Strong rebounds with a leg lariat. Butterfly suplex by Strong gets 2. Standing moonsault by Clark, but Strong bounces back with a running clothesline. Backbreaker by Strong, who is back in the driver’s seat. Clark takes some abuse and makes a comeback with quick attacks, including a standing shooting star press. Strong launches Clark into the turnbuckles. Clark counters with a tornado DDT. Clark dishes out a flurry of offense but Strong slingshots him into the turnbuckles. Clark counters a power bomb with a rana. Powerbomb by Roderick only gets 2. Springboard moonsault by Clark gets 2. Clark is too hurt to nail a power bomb, so Strong delivers a back breaker and finishes him with the Strong Hold at 11:10. These guys showcased a great chemistry here, ***.
Winner: Roderick Strong

-Clark gets a standing ovation and a “please come back” chant. Sadly, I don’t think he ever did.

-Kenta Kobashi is coming to Ring of Honor! We see him leaning against a wall.

Survival of the Fittest Qualifier:
Jimmy Rave (with Prince Nana and Jade Chung) vs. Austin Aries

Prince Nana has Jade Chung on a leash and is dragging her around. Aries charges into the ring and quickly nails a hard suicide dive. I can be seen in the crowd during the ringside brawl. Nana grabs Aries’ knee, giving Rave the opportunity to take control. Rave sends Aries crashing into the steel barricade. The action returns to the ring, with Rave in the driver’s seat. Rave is in control for what feels like an eternity. Aries absorbs a ton of punishment but nails a roaring elbow. Aries makes his comeback but can’t seem to get the pinfall. Jade Chung hops on the apron as Rave pulls the tights for a near fall. Aries plants Rave but misses a frog splash. Spear by Rave and a knee to the head only gets 2. Aries kicks out of Rave’s finisher, prompting Prince Nana to run in with a chair. The referee was distracted by Jade but manages to see Rave using the chair on Aries and calls for the DQ at 12:52. This was pretty meandering up until the hot home stretch, **¼.
Winner via DQ: Austin Aries

-The Embassy isn’t finished with Aries, but Roderick Strong runs in for the save. Strong holds Aries’ arm in victory, even though they’re going to be opponents in the finals.

Survival of the Fittest Qualifier:
Milano Collection AT vs. Samoa Joe

Milano is a Japanese Italian supermodel and he walks an invisible dog to the ring. Seriously. Joe goes right after the arm but they end up trading holds. Hard shoulder block by Joe. They trade counters on the mat until coming to a stalemate. Joe goes after the arm and snaps his full weight against it. Milano reverses with a Hindu squat and ties Joe’s arm in the ropes in creative fashion. The sprint off the ropes and Milano knocks Joe off his feet! Milano ties Joe up in the ropes in a hilarious spot. Joe is helpless and is only freed by a Milano drop-kick. Flying plancha by Milano! Joe counters with his patented uranage out of the corner. Joe drops the knee for 2. Running boot to the face by Joe, who’s rolling now. Milano splits to avoid a chop and snaps Joe on the ropes. Milano resumes his arm attacks. Leg sweep and back senton by Joe! Powerbomb by Joe sets up the STF. Back handspring lariat by Milano and an enziguri! Back senton by Milano gets 2. Joe surprises with a power slam and cross arm breaker. Milano nails a springboard twisting senton for a close near fall. Death Valley Driver by Joe gets 2! The Muscle Buster ends it at 14:20. Tremendously entertaining match here, ***½.
Winner: Samoa Joe

-Joe shakes Milano’s hand afterwards and puts him over. Milano remains in the ring for a standing ovation and gets the second “please come back” chant of the evening.

Survival of the Fittest Qualifier:
Christopher Daniels vs. James Gibson

Daniels had resigned with TNA, Gibson had resigned with WWE, so this is a TNA vs. WWE match taking place in an ROH ring. Daniels is pissed because this was supposed to be a ROH title match, but Gibson lost the belt to Bryan Danielson. Daniels charges as the bell rings and takes control. They brawl at ringside, where Gibson chops his way back into the competition. They take turns driving one another into the barricade. Back to the ring, Gibson goes after the arm. Daniels throws some forearms while remembering to sell his injured arm. Tirt-a-whirl backbreaker by Daniels shifts the momentum. Daniels works over Gibson’s back for a while. Gibson counters with an ankle lock but his back is too weak and Daniels regains control with a slam. Saito Suplex by a desperate Gibson, who finds his second wind for a comeback. Swinging neck breaker by Gibson only gets 2, as does a spinebuster. Gibson is in the driver’s seat for a bit, working over various body parts. Daniels chops his way back into the contest. Daniels tosses Gibson off the ropes and they’re both down. Daniels finds his second wind, but Gibson counters and dumps him to ringside. Back to the ring, Gibson struggles to hit a Brainbuster. Gibson misses a moonsault, allowing Daniels to deliver an STO for 2. Blue Thunder Powerbomb by Daniels is good for another near fall. Gibson applies a guillotine choke, but Daniels counters. Both men go down after a Daniels slam. A slug-fest erupts, which Gibson wins with a high knee. Gibson cuts Daniels off with a power slam for 2. Crucifix pin by Gibson, and a wheelbarrow roll-though. Daniels pops up with the Last Rites for the win at 25:57. They were aiming for a classic, but ended up with a pretty good match. It didn’t pick up enough to warrant the slow build, ***¼.
Winner: Christopher Daniels

-Prince Nana tells a camera man to “shut the heck up” and berates Jade Chung for messing up. Nana warns her that she’ll have a “heck of a problem” if she doesn’t shape up. He orders her on her knees. My wife wanders in about this point and wonders why I’m watching a show with a woman on a leash, causing me to have to pause and explain myself. Once again, wrestling has ruined my life.

ROH Pure Championship:
Nigel McGuinness © vs. BJ Whitmer

Nigel interrupts Todd Sinclair from explaining the rules of the match to lecture the smart-ass fans who’ve been heckling him. The bell rings and they trade wristlocks. They are each only allowed three rope breaks, so they have to rely on counters. Nigel forces Whitmer into the ropes, causing him to use his first rope break. The match restarts with a chain wrestling sequence. Nigel forces Whitmer to waste his second rope break. BJ is fired up and almost throws a closed fist, which would cost him his third break. McGuinness outwrestles Whitmer, who starts throwing hard shots. McGuinness takes control until running into an overhead suplex. Running knee to the face gets 2 for Whitmer. Superplex by Whitmer, but he’s too slow to make the cover. They trade forearms, with Nigel winning the exchange. Hard lariat by BJ gets 2. Chinbreaker off the ropes by Nigel, but Whitmer uses his last rope break to stop the count. Lacey shows up on the stage, taking notes yet again. BJ nails a nasty exploder superplex and McGuinness somehow kicks out. McGuinness uses his first rope break to stop a count, and immediately delivers a blind low blow. McGuinness rolls up Whitmer and uses the ropes for leverage (which is now legal for him to do) to earn the pinfall at 14:11. Solid story driven match here, just took a while to get rolling, **¾.
Winner and still ROH Pure Champion: Nigel McGuinness

Survival of the Fittest Finals (6-Man Elimination match):
Jay Lethal vs. Colt Cabana vs. Austin Aries vs. Roderick Strong vs. Samoa Joe vs. Christopher Daniels

Lethal and Joe team up in the early going to clear the ring. They hit stereo suicide dives onto their opponents. They floor Cabana with double shoulder tackles and isolate him as if it was a tag match. Cabana uses a slingshot sunset flip to attempt to eliminate Joe the way his did in last year’s tournament. Daniels finally gets a tag and cleans house on Joe until getting planted with the uranage. Lethal assists Joe in isolating Daniels in their corner. Joe gets whipped into Generation Next territory, and Aries tags himself in. Aries and Strong take over the Daniels beat down. Daniels finally rebounds with an STO on Strong and makes a comeback. Strong blocks Angels Wings and Joe tags himself in. Strong and Joe trade chops and block finishers. Joe applies the rear naked choke, Daniels hits the best moonsault ever, and Strong nails Joe with a backbreaker to eliminate him at13:55. Lethal storms the ring but is quickly isolated by Generation Next. Cabana gets a hot tag and cleans house on Aries. Daniels, Cabana, and Lethal team up to work over Aries. Daniels gets rolled up by Aries at 19:08. Cabana and Lethal are going to team up, but Cabana fakes Lethal out on a double suicide dive spot and hangs back to nail an Asai moonsault on everyone. Colt inadvertently slingshots Aries into a tag to Strong, allowing Generation Next to retake control. Cabana powers a tag to Lethal and they resume their uneasy alliance. Aries and Strong manage to isolate Lethal again, as the match plows on. A combination of moves finishes Lethal around the 30 minute mark. Cabana jumps down from the apron, forcing Aries and Strong to square off. Strong chops Cabana to force him into the match. Cabana blocks a double superplex to create an opening for a comeback. It’s a short-lived comeback, but Aries slips on his 450 splash attempt. Strong finishes Cabana with a piledriver at about the 35 minute mark. It’s down to Aries vs. Strong. Aries takes a break to cut a promo about how important everything they’re involved in is. The match restarts with Aries and Strong trading pinning predicaments. They transition to exchanging submission holds. Strong bats Aries around ringside but gets snapped onto the ropes. Aries nails a corkscrew press to the floor. Slingshot senton by Aries only gets 2. Aries’ back is too injured to hit a suplex so Strong capitalizes with a backbreaker. Aries comes back with a Finlay roll, but aggravates his back injury in the process. The crowd is ready for this to end as Aries struggles to hit the Brainbuster. Aries crawls to the top and Strong meets him for a top rope gut buster. Crucifix bomb by Aries but the Brainbuster is countered into a pair of backbreakers! The Strong Hold finishes it at about 49:11! Hell of a main event that told several stories and ended in decidedly epic fashion, ****.
Winner: Roderick Strong

-Strong can barely talk as he cuts his victory promo. Strong says he and Aries will always be friends and they embrace. Strong vows to take the ROH World Championship from Bryan Danielson next month.

-Kenta Kobashi cuts a promo in Japanese. I’m sure he plans on defeating Samoa Joe.

Final Thoughts: This is a pleasant show to sit through, as ROH was on a creative roll at the time and the action is generally top-notch. The only downside is that the show runs a bit long, and you could pretty much call the outcome of every qualifying match. Still, this manages to be a historically significant show as far as the main event progress of Roderick Strong goes, so it’s worth checking out if you’re a fan. Thumbs up.

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