After a thoroughly enjoyable first night of Survival of the Fittest (of which my review can be found here), Ring of Honor moved cross state from Columbus to Toledo for the finals of their twelve-man tournament to determine who would go onto challenge Jay Briscoe at Final Battle. The final as always is a six-man elimination match, with the participants being Ciampa, Strong, Page, Cole, Hanson and Sydal. The rest of the undercard is filled up with a couple of tag team matches, including the first-ever Briscoes vs. Addiction match, as well as a couple of singles matches between eliminated participants.
Ring of Honor “Survival of the Fittest” Night 2
Saturday, November 8, 2014
Steve Corino and Kevin Kelly are on commentary. Television champion Jay Lethal came out to kick off the show. Lethal talked about his disappointment with losing to Hanson in the first round. However, he said that it doesn’t really matter, because Survival of the Fittest only for a shot for the World Ttitle, while he already holds the title people care about. This lead to him teasing putting the title on the line tonight. Swerve! Lethal said Cedric Alexander hadn’t done anything to earn a shot, while the commentators pointed out Cedric had pinned Lethal on TV a few weeks ago during a gauntlet match.
Non-Title – Jay Lethal vs. Cedric Alexander: This was a battle of two guys who were on the wrong side of upsets in the first round. This was a very good back and forth opener to get the crowd into the show. Martini is really good at interfering in matches enough to be relevant and draw some heat, but stay out of it enough that they feel clean doesn’t negatively affect the match. It’s a real art form that he’s nailed down, and I have to applaud him for it. Here, early on in the match, Truth low bridged Cedric as he was running the ropes, disrupting his momentum but Alexander landed on his feet. He then didn’t interfere for the rest of the match.
The finishing stretch started when Cedric flipped through on the reverse STO portion of the Lethal Injection, and then moved out-of-the-way of a back elbow in the corner. This led to Alexander hit a short run up corner dropkick, then ran to the opposite corner and went for another heat seeking running corner dropkick, but Lethal took him out of mid-air with a superkick followed up by a Lethal Injection to achieve the victory. This got Lethal an important clean win back after losing in the first round, keeping the champion strong while also making Hanson’s win look all the more impressive. It also continued the ongoing story of Cedric not being able to put people away recently in his bigger matches. Good opener, well booked. ***
The Decade (Jacobs & Whitmer) vs. New Streak Family (Evans & Moose): This one was born out of the interactions these two teams had the previous match. Before the bell, Jacobs got on the mic and again told Moose to get away from the goof RD Evans if he wants a career in wrestling, and offered him a spot as his Young Boy because “People who hang around with me become stars, look where Tyler is”.
The Decade spent most of the match isolating and working over Evans, who eventually ducked a clothesline and made the tag to Moose… who followed up by going with lots of Brodus Clay headbutts. Yay. He cleared house, and then tagged Evans back in. He went up top to go for a diving headbutt, but Adam Page went to distract him only to get taken out by Roddy making a run in. This caused Jacobs to go out and try to play peacemaker between them, leaving BJ to get speared by Moose and the jackknife pinned by Evans to take #thenewstreak to 173-0 ahead of Evans’ title challenge. And the Decade continue to never win.
This wasn’t very good. Evans is good enough in the babyface in peril role, but Moose is just incredibly green and boring. Evans is always better in comedic matches too, and this was attempted to be played straight and it simply wasn’t good. **
Michael Bennett vs. Will Ferrara: I didn’t care about this match going in, and they gave me zero reasons to care about it during the match. The action was there, and there was a tonne of interference when Bennett really shouldn’t need any help to beat Will. In the end Bennett pinned him with a piledriver after Taven made a run in. Just a bland match. **
After the match Taven and Bennett laid some boots into ACH, which brought out ACH to make the save and we go straight into the next match.
ACH vs. Matt Sydal: ACH is having one hell of a finish to this year performance wise, having a series of great matches with Lethal, being the star of Champions vs. All-Stars and having a brilliant match of the night against Sydal the day before this. This however, sucked.
Taven managed to make an ACH match bland. That’s quite the achievement, but he did it. Taven dominated almost the whole match, the Kingdom were goofs around ringside, there was a metric fuck load of interference and ACH made a couple of flips in his comeback and won. The Kingdom then made a post-match beatdown. Urgh. **1/4
Romantic Touch vs. Tadarius Thomas: Jesus, this undercard is bad. These two may well be my two least favourite regulars on the roster at the moment. This match was just really bad. I didn’t care. The crowd didn’t care. The announcers clearly didn’t care and spent most of the match reminiscing about 80s wrestling. You won’t care either. Thomas won with a top rope slingblade. *3/4
The Briscoes vs. The Addiction: This is a first ever matchup, and hopefully one that’ll help save this show after an atrocious middle. The crowd deserves it, because they’ve tried to be good all night, yet they’ve just been fed garbage. This match was tag team wrestling by the book by two great veteran teams, and I mean that in the best way possible. It had great cutting off of the ring, a great breakdown and some fantastic near falls broken up at the last second and perfect tag legalities. This was a battle between the superior physicality of the Briscoe brothers going up against the finesse of the Addiction.
Much of the match was fought over the Doomsday Device, and the first time Jay actually managed to get Kazarian up onto his shoulders Kazarian managed to counter by catching Mark in mid-air and hitting a powerslam off of Jay’s shoulders, which was a great spot. This was nicely called back to in the finish, when Jay caught Kazarian on a float over in the corner on his shoulders, but held onto his arms to stop him repeating his earlier counter. This allowed Mark to successfully hit the Doomsday, leading to Dem Boys’ arms being raised in victory. Not quite a classic, but a very good match, much-needed after the garbage that this show has put out. ***3/4
Survival of the Fittest Final – Six Man Elimination Match Hanson vs. Roderick Strong vs. Adam Cole vs. Adam Page vs. Tommaso Ciampa vs. Matt Sydal: This one is for a spot in the main event of Final Battle 2014. Two men are legal at a time, while the other four men take a corner each with tag rules being in effect. The only direct rivalry going into this one was between Page and Strong, but there’s a lot of history between all of these guys.
The first elimination happened about ten minutes in after BJ Whitmer came up onto the apron when Page was in the Strong hold. Roderick let go of the hold to take a swipe at BJ, but this allowed Page to roll him up in a small package for a quick one, two, three. Sadly after this point, they basically threw tag legalities out of the window, which was disappointing and begs the question why have them in the first place? Page himself was the next one eliminated, after taking a knee strike from Ciampa followed by a shooting star press from Sydal.
At this point, Michael Elgin showed up at ringside and got on the mic while the match was ongoing, told everybody that you can’t have Survival of the Fittest without Michael Elgin, so joined the commentary table and started knocking the wrestlers on a regular mic so everybody could hear him, not just commentary. Ciampa then hit a bucklebomb on Sydal to get his attention, which lead to Elgin hitting the ring and pulling Ciampa out, throwing him into several barricades and then powerbombing him through a table. Elgin’s former associate Hanson then got up in his face, so hit him with a big lariat too. This lead to all the wrestlers in the back coming down to ringside in order to drag Elgin to the back. I’m really not enjoying the crappy worked shoot angle, but Elgin looked like a total monster in his attack here, laying out two guys in Ciampa and Hanson who’ve been built up as badasses in their own right. Ciampa had to be carried to the back, and the commentators speculated on him being eliminated.
This lead to the Kingdom hitting ringside, and while the refs were still off dealing with Ciampa they laid a beatdown on Hanson. Ciampa eventually stormed back to the ring with a pipe and took out Bennett and Taven, and then squared off with Cole. After getting on the better end of the forearm exchange with Cole, he floored him with a lariat knocking him out of the ring. Sydal then springboarded back into the ring, going for a huricanrana, but Ciampa caught him, elevated him back up and hit a Project Ciampa, eliminating Sydal and taking us to a final three.
Ciampa then pulled Cole up to his feet, and told him he was next, but Bennett and Taven grabbed Cole’s feet and pulled him out of the ring. While Todd Sinclair was distracted by remonstrating with the Kingdom, Elgin ran back down from the locker room chair in hand and nailed Ciampa before getting out of there again, blowing Ciampa a kiss. Cole then crawled back in and eliminated Ciampa.
This left a final two of Cole and Hanson. Every time Hanson and Cole had ended up squaring off in this match Cole had been targeting the knee, and it was in this one-on-one scenario where it finally started paying off. Cole kept going back to the knee every time Hanson started gaining momentum, and used it as an equalizer to the Hanson’s power advantage. This allowed him to dominate this one on one encounter, but Hanson kept kicking out of Cole’s big moves and fighting out of the figure four. Eventually he did manage to gain some momentum, and he hit a suplex lift setup Bernard Driver and it looked to be over, but Cole got his foot on the rope. Hanson then dragged Cole into the centre, but took too long getting to the top due to his knee and when he went for his big man moonsault Cole rolled out-of-the-way. Cole then finally put Hanson away after forty minutes with a trio of superkicks followed by a Florida Keys Straightjacket German.
The way this show went, this match really needed to be blow away for this to be a good event. Some shows are built like that though, and when you have a tournament show with only one tournament match on it, that’s kind of what you expect. And traditionally the Survival of the Fittest match has been one of my favorites of most years, and a terrific main event. Sadly this year didn’t quite live up to that precedent.
First of all it was overbooked, and when you’ve got a one match show you really don’t want to disadvantage it with that. Now I had no problem with the Elgin interference, I thought it was well done. It made Elgin look like a monster and Ciampa look strong for battling back, but the Kingdom interference and the Decade interference was just too much and really unnecessary. Let Page get a flash pin on Strong clean, it’ll actually mean something rather than doing it with interference and it not helping Page at all. Hanson can take a clean pin from Cole, Cole is a big enough star that if he just puts up a really good fight against him after beating the TV champion on the previous night he’ll be elevated a lot by the weekend.
On top of that, as I mentioned earlier they just through tag legalities out of the window after the first elimination. If you’ve been reading my reviews, you’ll know that’s a real negative for me because it voids the logic of the isolation earlier in the match where tag rules are used.
So that, combined with the over booking, definitely starts my enjoyment for this match at a disadvantage, but the action that did occur was very entertaining. I didn’t find it dragged at any point, and I think that’s an achievement in itself for an over forty minute match. That’s a testament to the action, which was great throughout, and Ciampa especially was on fire during this match, selling really well for the Elgin beat down and then looking awesome on offense.
This match, despite the aforementioned flaws, could really have still been a good main event then, if maybe not enough to completely save this show. The last five minutes of Hanson against Cole was almost completely clean, and if it had come off really well this would have left a great parting impression. Unfortunately though, after Ciampa’s elimination the crowd kind of died, and the finishing stretch which they did, involving the face being able to kick out of everything the heel was throwing at him, really needs a hot crowd to come off well. There was nothing wrong with what they actually did, but it just wasn’t matched by the crowd reaction. So all in all this was a good match, maybe even a very enjoyable one, but not quite main event standard and definitely not enough to save this show. ***1/2
Yeah, this show wasn’t very good. The main event was a good match, but not main event worthy all things considered, and while the Briscoes-Addiction match was pretty great it wasn’t must see or anything, and those two matches didn’t make up for what was a pretty shocking undercard. I feel sorry for the crowd here; they had to struggle through all of this in one sitting. Thumbs down, give this one a miss.