Ring Of Honor
Survival of the Fittest 2018
November 4, 2018
Express Live
Columbus, Ohio

Survival Of The Fittest Qualifying Match – Christopher Daniels def. The Beer City Bruiser

The Beer City Bruiser decided to come out through the crowd instead of the regular entranceway, for some reason. I guess he came straight from the bar in the venue. This was an incredibly short match (it only went about two minutes), but for what it was, I thought it worked. The Beer City Bruiser went after Christopher Daniels right away, and tried to beat him quickly. In a one-night tournament like this (which ends in a Six-Way Elimination Match), that’s an excellent strategy, because you want to be as fresh as possible. Unfortunately for The Beer City Bruiser, things didn’t quite go his way, as Christopher Daniels won with a Best Moonsault Ever after avoiding a top rope splash. A quick bout, but it worked within the context of the tournament. **

Survival Of The Fittest Qualifying Match
“The Hangman” Adam Page def. Colin Delaney & Dalton Castle

Even though he took some time off after losing the ROH World Title, it appears Dalton Castle still isn’t fully healed up from the laundry list of injuries he occurred over the last several months. His left thigh was still wrapped up, and it looked like he was wearing some sort of brace around his lower torso. Despite the fact that he appeared to not be at full strength, Castle still contributed to what ended up being a really entertaining triple threat match. All three men got moments to shine, but Colin Delaney was certainly a standout. He was always in the middle of the action, and more than held his own. I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing Delaney again in ROH down the road. I’m not sure if he’d get any serious push, but he’s a solid performer that’d be a fine addition to the undercard. Anyway, there were a number of cool spots in this one, and Page ultimately emerged victorious after hitting Delaney with the Rite Of Passage. ***1/2

Survival Of The Fittest Qualifying Match
Jonathan Gresham def. Tracy Williams

These two have had a number of matches against each other in other independent promotions, so this was far from the first time encounter. When the dust settled, these two had a great bout that, in my view, was the best match of the night. There was good technical wrestling throughout, along with some hard-hitting action. Additionally, the runtime of the match (roughly twelve minutes or so) was perfect. In many ways, this felt like a match we would’ve seen in EVOLVE circa 2015-2016. I was very intrigued to see how Tracy Williams do in his ROH debut, and I thought he acquitted himself well. One of the problems with ROH over the last few years is that they haven’t done a good job acquiring independent talents that are established names. The recent signing of Jeff Cobb was a big step in the right direction, and I believe Tracy Williams would be a fine addition to the roster. The former EVOLVE stalwart put up a good fight, but he ultimately came up short, as Gresham got Williams to submit to his Octopus Hold. ****

Survival Of The Fittest Qualifying Match
Guerrero Maya Jr. def. Andrew Everett & Flip Gordon

This bout featured two men who were making their returns to ROH. Guerrero Maya Jr. made his debut during a couple of live events in Texas back in June (where he team with Atlantis & Stuka Jr. in a pair of trios matches), while Andrew Everett was making his first ROH appearance since 2015. He used to be a semi-regular in 2014, but got more involved with GFW and TNA after returning from a knee injury in 2015. This was an incredibly entertaining match that featured fun action from start to finish. All three competitors got to the showcase some of their high-flying offense, and they made good use of the nine minutes or so that they were given. It was so great to see Andrew Everett in ROH again and, much like Tracy Williams, I hope he sticks around. As for Flip Gordon, he came into Survival Of The Fittest with a shot at the ROH World Title already in his back pocket, after winning the Sea Of Honor Tournament. His efforts to obtain a second title shot (which would’ve been an interesting scenario, which Ian Riccaboni mentioned on commentary) were dashed by Bully Ray, who came in through the crowd and started throwing streams at him. Gordon then tried to make a big leap from the ropes to where Bully Ray was, but he ended up crashing and burning HARD. With Gordon out, Guerrero Maya Jr. picked up the win shortly thereafter over Andrew Everett to advance. Despite the Bully Ray involvement (which didn’t totally bother me, since he mainly just served as a distraction, and didn’t actually interfere), this was one of the better qualifying matches on this card. ***3/4

Survival Of The Fittest Qualifying Match
PJ Black def. Luchasaurus

I had no idea who Luchasaurus was coming into this show. Visually, he looks like a mix between Delirious and Punishment Martinez. He spent some time in WWE’s developmental system (late FCW and early NXT) before becoming part of Lucha Underground, where he was a former Lucha Underground Trios Champion. Here, he took on someone who was also very familiar with WWE and Lucha Underground in the form of PJ Black. This was a perfectly fine singles match. While PJ Black didn’t do much (he was heeling it up at points, and didn’t do much in terms of high-flying), Luchasaurus looked pretty good. Much like Punishment Martinez, Luchasaurus is a guy who can pull off some crazy stuff for a guy of his size. At one point, he busted out a Spanish Fly, and later on, he attempted a Shooting Star Press! He’s certainly a guy who I could see taking the spot that Punishment Martinez left open, but I want to see him against someone….better. Out of all of the qualifiers, this was the one that I was the most concerned about. It didn’t seem like a good idea to put two guys making their ROH debut in the same match. Hopefully we’ll get to see Luchasaurus more, and against better opponents. PJ Black wasn’t exactly stellar here, but he was able to get the victory after avoiding that aforementioned Shooting Star Press attempt from Luchasaurus. **3/4

Survival Of The Fittest Qualifying Match
“The Villain” Marty Scurll vs. Silas Young & Stuka Jr.

For some reason, Rhett Titus came out to pose on the stage before the match, all oiled up and wearing nothing but his underwear. He ended up joining Ian Riccaboni and Colt Cabana on commentary. This was the third triple threat match of the night, and when the dust settled, Marty Scurll (who was my pick to win the tournament coming in) got the win after hitting Stuka Jr. with Graduation. These three had a very solid bout that was similar to most of the other qualifiers from earlier. They didn’t get a ton of time (this particular match went under nine minutes), but they made the most of that time. Stuka Jr. dominated a good chunk of this one which, with the benefit of hindsight, was probably a good indicator that he wasn’t going to win. Out of the three triple threat matches on this card, it was probably the weakest, but as a whole, I still found it to be really solid. ***1/2

Madison Rayne def. Britt Baker

It was announced over the weekend that Sumie Sakai will be defending her Women of Honor Title in a Four-Corner Survival Match at Final Battle. Ian Riccaboni then confirmed that the winner of this bout would earn a spot in that match. There was a lot working in Madison Rayne’s favor going in (she was wrestling in her hometown, plus she’s signed with ROH), and ultimately, she won after hitting a knee strike on Baker. These two had a pretty decent back and forth contest that featured some fine action throughout. The finish was a little weak and did seem to come out of nowhere, so it didn’t quite reach the “Gentlemen’s Three” for me. Obviously, we don’t know who else is going to be in that Four-Corner Survival Match at Final Battle, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Rayne is going to win the title. **3/4

Afterward, The Twisted Sisters (Thunder Rosa & Holidead) attacked Madison Rayne and Britt Baker. Looks like that team will be more heavily involved with the division going forward.

ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Titles – The Kingdom (Matt Taven, Vinny Marseglia, & TK O’Ryan) def. The Elite (Cody & The Young Bucks) (c)

The Kingdom requested that two referees be assigned to this match (Paul Turner was the main referee, while Todd Sinclair was the second referee) after they claimed that the legal man wasn’t pinned in the match where they lost the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Titles to Cody & The Young Bucks. For the most part, these two teams were having a very good six-man tag. There was some solid action in the opening minutes, before The Kingdom isolated Cody. Eventually, he managed to get back to his corner, and both of The Young Bucks took turns running wild on The Kingdom. This had the chance to be one of the best bouts of the night if it had a proper finish, but unfortunately, we got shenanigans. Both referees got taken out, and that gave TK O’Ryan the opportunity to use his baseball bat. It looked like a third referee was going to count the pin for The Kingdom, but it was Brandi Rhodes, who flipped Taven off.

It then seemed like The Elite had won, after Brandi counted the pin for them, but Paul Turner restarted the bout, since Brandi wasn’t the legal referee. Just as the match is getting restarted, Brandi gets taken out after Taven shoved Cody into her. The Kingdom quickly took advantage of the situation, and they reclaimed the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Titles after Marseglia and O’Ryan hit House Of A Thousand Horses on Matt Jackson. The finish was very strange, as it came off as The Kingdom finally getting justice after The Elite seemingly screwed them over. If you explained what happened here to someone who knew nothing about wrestling, they would probably think that The Kingdom were the good guys. Not the best finish in the world, and that’s a shame because this was on its way to being one of the better bouts of the night. ***1/4

Afterward, The Kingdom proclaimed that the conspiracy was dead. That’s a weird thing to say, considering that Taven is still carrying around that purple World Title belt.

Meanwhile, Kenny King joined the commentary team for this next bout.

Champion’s Challenge
ROH World Champion Jay Lethal & ROH World TV Champion Jeff Cobb def. ROH World Tag Team Champions SoCal Uncensored (Frankie Kazarian & Scorpio Sky)

In case you didn’t know, Frankie Kazarian and Scorpio Sky are your new ROH World Tag Team Champions. I don’t believe the title change has actually aired on TV yet, but that wouldn’t be the first time that something like this has happened in the Sinclair Era. Anyway, they ended up having a really good tag team encounter against Jay Lethal and Jeff Cobb. This was the longest match of the night, up to this point (roughly eighteen minutes or so), but there were never any major lulls to speak of. There was good back and forth action throughout, and everyone involved had moments to shine. SCU had the edge at times, which made sense, since they’re a regular tag team. At the same, Jay Lethal and Jeff Cobb proved to be a force as a team in their own right, as they took the fight to the ROH World Tag Team Champions. We did get a bit of interference towards the end, as The Briscoes came out and threw a chair at Scorpio Sky while the referee was distracted. Shortly thereafter, Kazarian got hit with Tour Of The Islands, and that was it. A very good match despite the late involvement from The Briscoes. I’m sure those two teams will be meeting again for the ROH World Tag Team Titles at some point down the line. ***3/4

Before the main event began, Ian Riccaboni and Colt Cabana announced that RUSH would be coming in for the post-Final Battle TV Tapings in Philadelphia on December 15th.

Survival Of The Fittest Finals
“The Villain” Marty Scurll def. Christopher Daniels, “The Hangman” Adam Page, PJ Black, Jonathan Gresham, & Guerrero Maya Jr.

Ian Riccaboni did a really good job on commentary (both throughout the night and as this match was getting started) putting over some of the minor injuries that the competitors involved in the Finals had suffered in their respective qualifying matches. A nice bit of continuity there. As for the bout itself, it was relatively good as a whole, but when compared to previous Survival Of The Fittest Finals, I’d say that it was certainly one of the weakest. The wrestling throughout was perfectly fine, but at times, it lacked any energy. In particular, the match seemed to come to a crawl after Guerrero Maya Jr. and Jonathan Gresham were eliminated within the first eight minutes. The middle portion of the bout, which featured Christopher Daniels working with PJ Black to take on The Elite was not interesting at all (in general, PJ Black was a massive disappointment, as he really didn’t do much). After Black was eliminated, it looked as though Daniels was going to get eliminated by The Elite. However, Scurll and Page eventually came to blows, and Daniels managed to eliminate Page with the Best Moonsault Ever. Even though Frankie Kazarian and Scorpio Sky won the ROH World Tag Team Titles, Daniels was still in search of something to keep his job going into 2019. He was hoping that winning Survival Of The Fittest would be his ticket, but unfortunately for Daniels, he got with Graduation by Marty Scurll and pinned. Scurll has now earned himself a shot at the ROH World Title, which he’ll probably get in 2019. “The Villain” celebrated as the show came to a close. ***1/4

Final Thoughts

Survival of the Fittest 2018 was a relatively fun show from start to finish. Pretty much everything on the event ranged from decent to good and even really good. Nothing was bad, and that made the show a lot easier to watch. Jonathan Gresham vs. Tracy Williams was the best match of the night, in my view, while the Champion’s Challenge tag team bout and other Survival Of The Fittest qualifiers were all very solid. The main event was one of the weakest Finals in the long history of Survival of the Fittest, but they made the right choice with the winner, so I suppose that makes up for it a little bit.