ROH Survival of the Fittest 2014: Night 1
Columbus, Ohio 11/7/14
For anyone who’s familiar with Survival of the Fittest, you would that it was always a one-night tournament, with qualifying matches & the six-way finals taking place in the same night. In 2014, ROH decided to change things up. Instead, they decided to split the tournament across two nights, with the qualifying matches taking place on Night 1, and the finals taking place on Night 2. It’s a very interesting decision. Personally, I didn’t mind it, as I thought it would give the qualifying matches more time, as in the past, they were usually shorter matches since the winners had to wrestle in the finals later in the night. Let’s see how this change in format worked out for them.
1.) Jay Diesel & Jake Dirden (with Truth Martini) vs. RD Evans & Moose (with Veda Scott): **
This is an interesting match, as RD Evans & Moose vs. The House of Truth. It’s somewhat building up the Jay Lethal vs. RD Evans World TV Title Match the following weekend in San Antonio, Texas for Glory By Honor XIII. Before the match Truth Martini cuts a promo, expressing his interest in Matt Sydal, as a potential new of The House of Truth. He then turns his attention to RD Evans, but is interrupted by “Streak” chants (referencing The New Streak). He then tells Jake Dirden that this is his opportunity to show what he can do, and calls out RD Evans.
The match itself was ok. With the big title match coming the following week, it did serve a purpose. Decent action in this one. Truth Martini got involved at one point, but got scared off by Moose. In the end, Moose tossed RD Evans into a speak on Dirden to score the win for their team. Evans, Moose & Veda Scott do the “Streak” Taunt & Chant to close the pre-show.
1.) Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Match - "Sicilian Psychopath" Tommaso Ciampa vs. Will Ferrara: **3/4
This was originally scheduled to be Tommaso Ciampa vs. Caprice Coleman, but Coleman had a family emergency and was unable to make the show. Will Ferrera was announced as his replacement a few days before the show. I thought this was a pretty solid opener. Ciampa got to do his stuff, while Ferrara continues to use these opportunities to showcase what he could do. In the end, however, it would Ciampa getting the win. He advances to the Survival of the Fittest Finals.
Following the match, it looked like Ciampa was going to hit the Project Ciampa on Ferrara, but instead he just threw him back down and shook his hand in a sarcastic manner.
2.) Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Match - Roderick Strong vs. TaDarius Thomas: ***
I have to say that I was looking forward to this match. These two have met in multi-man matches in the past (Four-Corner Survival, Six-Man Tags, etc.), but I think this is their first singles encounter. It was a good match, with some solid action throughout. Was it below the usual Roderick Strong standard? Yeah, but it’s really hard to have a match with Roderick Strong that goes below ***. Strong would end up scoring the win. He advances to the Survival of the Fittest Finals.
3.) Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Match - Adam Page (with BJ Whitmer) vs. Cedric Alexander: ***½
There’s a lot of backstory behind this match, as Adam Page turned his back on Cedric Alexander at Raising The Bar: Night 1 to join The Decade as their “young boy”. These two had a really good match. Lots of really solid back & forth action. We know how good Cedric Alexander is, but it was nice to see Adam Page get the chance to showcase himself in a singles environment, something he really hasn’t done since joining The Decade. In what most saw as a surprise, Adam Page was able to get the win, punching his ticket to the Survival of the Fittest Finals.
4.) Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Match - Adam Cole vs. Delirious: ***1/4
This is a rematch from the first Future of Honor Show, where Cole, then ROH World Champion, retained his title against Delirious in the Main Event. Now, Cole is without his World Title, and is looking to get back in the hunt. Delirious is no stranger to Survival of the Fittest, as he won the tournament in 2006. This was a fine match, though it wasn’t quite as good as their previous match. Part of that had to do with the length. The match went just over 20 minutes which a lot longer than it needed to be. It ended when Cole shoved Delirious off of the top rope to the floor, and then locked in the Figure Four on the outside until the count was near 20 before getting back in the ring. Delirious, with his injured legs, couldn’t answer the count. Cole advances to the Survival of the Fittest Finals.
5.) Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Match - ROH World TV Champion Jay Lethal (with Truth Martini) vs. Hanson: ***1/2
Hanson continues his foray into singles competition, but if he wants to advance to the Survival of the Fittest Finals, he needs to defeat the ROH World TV Champion Jay Lethal. This was another really good match. Lethal continues to be an awesome heel, while Hanson continued to show what he’s capable of. The match told a really good story as well, where Hanson got the initial advance, forcing Lethal to resort to dirty tricks to take control. He eventually got overconfident, allowing Hanson to fight back. At one point, we even saw Hanson hit a Handspring Back Elbow, which wowed the crowd! After a few more minutes of back & forth action, Hanson hits the Spin Kick of Doom for the upset victory over Jay Lethal. He advances to the Survival of the Fittest Finals. Another very good match on this card. The crowd was really into this one. I really enjoyed.
Up next, we take a break from the qualifying matches as RD Evans comes out with Moose & Veda Scott to hype up his World TV Title Match with Jay Lethal the following week at Glory By Honor XIII. We saw a different side of RD Evans in this promo, as he dropped his usual comedy shtick and got serious about his upcoming title match. It was a pretty good promo, and a nice change of pace for Evans. You really got the sense that this match was extremely important to him.
Unfortunately, his promo is interrupted by The Decade. For those who missed it, at the recent TV Tapings in Lakeland, Florida, there was a major implosion within The Decade, and Strong left the group after getting into with BJ Whitmer & Adam Page (Jacobs wasn’t there). Jacobs mentions what a travesty that situation was, and when RD Evans tried to interrupt, Jacobs demanding that they get our of their ring. He then offered Moose a spot as a new young boy in The Decade, saying he was a “washed up football player pretending to be a wrestler” (I should mention that these two teams have a match the next night). A brawl breaks out, and The Decade takes advance (with help from Adam Page) until The Addiction came to the rescue. Kazarian distracted them on the mic, allowing Daniels to surprise them with a diving crossbody off the top rope to the floor to kick off the next match!
6.) The Addiction ("The Fallen Angel" Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian) vs. The Decade (Jimmy Jacobs & BJ Whitmer with Adam Page): ***1/4
The Addiction have faced The Decade before, but this is the first time that they’re facing the BJ Whitmer/Jimmy Jacobs combination. A pretty solid tag team match. Adam Page tried to get involved on a few occasion, but Moose came out and speared him, taking him out of the equation. Daniels & Kazarian would eventually score the win with their new tag team finisher, called Celebrity Rehab.
7.) Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Match - ACH vs. Matt Sydal: ****1/4
Up next we have our Final Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Match of the night, and it’s a big dream match. As you would expect, this was a pretty awesome match! It definitely lived up to the hype. What was interesting is that, for a bit, Sydal started acting like a heel, which led to ACH having to fight from underneath (which is a role he’s great at playing). The match told a good story, had a lot of great action, and the crowd was really into it. It’s everything you want in a wrestling match. Sydal would eventually pick up the win with the Shooting Sydal Press, becoming the final man to advance to the Survival of the Fittest Finals. I believe they shook hands after the match, showing respect to one another, and they would eventually go on to form a tag team, but more on that in future reviews.
So the 2014 Survival of the Fittest Finals are set. It will be “Sicilian Psychopath” Tommaso Ciampa vs. Roderick Strong vs. Adam Page vs. Adam Cole vs. Hanson vs. Matt Sydal.
8.) No DQ Match - The Briscoes vs. The Kingdom (Matt Taven & Michael Bennett with Maria Kanellis): ***1/4
Our Main Event is a continuation of the feud between The Briscoes & The Kingdom, but this time, there are No Disqualifications. This was a pretty solid match. As you would expect, there was a fair deal of brawling & plunder. Chairs, barricades, the steel entrance ramp, tables, and what looked like stripper poles (yes, you heard that right) were all used as various points of the match. We saw some crazy moments in this match, including Mark Briscoe diving off the top rope to put Taven through a Table, and Jay Briscoe hitting Bennett with a Death Valley Driver off the ring apron onto the entrance ramp (which I think they dragged out to ringside. Despite this, The Kingdom was able to comeback, hitting a tandem Spike Piledriver onto Mark Briscoe through several standings chairs. Maria had Jay Briscoe tied up in the ropes, which prevented him from breaking up the pin.
After the match, Adam Cole came out, and joined his stablemates in beating up The Briscoes. It ended when Cole, Taven & Bennett hit a triple superkick on Jay Briscoe, which closed out the show.
This was a really good show from Ring of Honor. I’m sure some were skeptical about splitting the Survival of the Fittest Tournament across two nights, but on the first night, at least, it worked pretty well. I liked how the show was laid out, with six Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Matches and two tag team matches. It reminded me of how the first two nights of the 2014 edition of PWG’s Battle of Los Angeles Tournament, and that worked out really well. For the most part, the qualifying matches were good to great, with Page vs. Alexander, Hanson vs. Lethal & ACH vs. Sydal being the highlights. The tag team matches were both entertaining, and it think, on the whole, it was a really entertaining show.