ROH Survival of the Fittest 2018 (11/4/2018)- Columbus, OH
SOCAL UNCENSORED PROMO- Did these guys actually do anything to turn babyface, or are they just babyfaces now for no reason other than the fans latched onto their heel shtick?
SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST QUALIFYING MATCH: Beer City Bruiser vs. Christopher Daniels (w/SoCal Uncensored)- 1/10
Ian keeps telling us which number SOTF tournament it is for each guy, but it’s only a two-round tournament, so I think it’s kind of silly to count anything other than appearances in the finals. Speaking of the finals, Ian said that they were a “Six-Man Mayhem” match. I really hope that’s just a slip of the tongue and/or Ian being dumb, because the whole name of the tournament derives from the fact that the finals are this big, long six-man elimination match, with the winner being the person who shows they are most FIT by SURVIVING longer than everyone else.
Ian and Colt pushed the importance of winning SOTF to Christopher Daniels, saying that winning tonight and then using the ROH World Title shot it grants him to win the title might be the only way Daniels can get leverage to ensure that he is rehired at the end of the year. Is the fact that his stablemates are the ROH World Tag Team Champions not leverage enough? They can’t just threaten to walk out with the belts if all three of them aren’t rehired?
The match went less than two minutes. Daniels was turned around giving his jacket to SCU when the bell rang, so BCB ran in and squished him. BCB did a bunch more squishing of Daniels’ ribs. Daniels got some strikes in and went for the Angel’s Wings but wound up getting squished under BCB’s weight as BCB reversed it. BCB tried to squish Daniels with a top-rope splash but Daniels moved out of the way, hit the BME and won. That was it. This made the Beer City Bruiser look like total crap.
SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST QUALIFYING MATCH: Adam Page vs. Colin Delaney vs. Dalton Castle (w/the Boys)- 6.5/10
Dalton’s right hand and left thigh are still both heavily taped up. He also never took his shirt off. I hope that’s just a work and that he is really fully recovered from his injuries.
Delany did a gimmick where he did a bunch of stunners. Ian Riccaboni trying to call this like Jim Ross was terrible. Page got the win in a good three-way, pinning Delaney. I just hope he didn’t concuss himself when his momentum rolling off of Delaney after hitting his Shooting Star Plancha caused him to seemingly hit his head on a concrete wall.
Okay… the announcers need to stop calling Colin Delaney an “international star.” I don’t care how many places he has wrestled or been seen. He just isn’t one. Who cares if people “recognize him from his time in WWE” (as Ian said)? Said time in WWE was spent as a complete and total jobber. He’s the sort of person ROH should be avoiding altogether. There are plenty of guys out there who are just as good and don’t have jobber stink all over them.
And what “recent” matches has Colin had with Lio Rush and KENTA? Both of those guys have been under contract to WWE for over a year (hell, in KENTA’s case over FOUR years).
EDIT: I went and did some research, and apparently these matches that Ian is praising Delaney for were Delaney getting squashed on 205 Live (and the KENTA one was over a year ago). This is the sort of thing that makes ROH look SOOOOOOO desperate and small-time and pathetic. At best it makes the announcers look dumb to be calling a guy a “big international star” because he got squashed on WWE TV, and at worst it not only does that but makes ROH look like a place so desperate for exposure that they’ll use any WWE castoff they can get their hands because to ROH these people are “big international stars.” It also buries other people you want to push as “big international stars” like Jay Lethal, the Briscoes, Bullet Club, etc. by putting them on the level of this loser geek jobber.
SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST QUALIFYING MATCH: Tracy Williams vs. Jonathan Gresham- 7.75/10
This was the story of two men grabbing a hold on any part they could grab, throwing a strike with any limb that was free and at any target they thought they could connect with, and taking any legal opening they could find, because they were trying to win a professional wrestling match. It was intense and gritty and raw. Pure and simple professional wrestling.
SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST QUALIFYING MATCH: Flip Gordon vs. Guerrero Maya Jr. vs. Andrew Everett- 4/10
Your rating for this will probably be higher than mine because this match managed to touch in so many of my pet peeves. There was some pointless comedy in the beginning. There was a spot where Guerrero Maya Jr. bent down to pull Tod Sinclair’s arm up rather than running over and breaking up the pin. They did a dive train just for the sake of doing dives. There was a spot where Flip seemed to hurt his knee, then proceeded to do all of his flippy stuff while still selling the knee (good)… and then just never sold the knee again for the remainder of the match (very bad). And, of course, we had a bullsh*t finish. And what a bullsh*t finish it was.
Flip went to the top to hit Guerrero Maya Jr. with his 450 Splash and win the match. Bully Ray showed up in the crowd, facing flip, and threw a streamer at him (impressively, he managed to connect at that distance). Flip stared at Bully. He didn’t get down to go after Bully because this building has a really tall barricade, so Bully would have had a bunch of trouble climbing down to get Flip, in which time Flip could have easily either hit his move and gotten the pin, or could have run over and been in position to attack Bully while Bully was still vulnerable because he had to climb over the barricade.
Flip hit his finisher on Guerrero Maya Jr. Rather than go for the pin, Flip then got up and kept staring at Bully, even though Bully had not moved. Flip eventually ran over to try to do a springboard crossbody off the ropes and onto Bully, but Bully just punched him out of mid-air and Flip fell to the ground, making Flip look like such a f*cking idiot. If he had just climbed down and ran over to try to get Bully that would have been fine, but instead he had to hit his move- which lands you right in a f*cking pin- but then deliberately not go for the pin to stare at Bully, before finally trying to get Bully and failing at that too, being dismissed by Bully with zero effort.
Then Andrew Everett climbed to the top and too forever to go for his Shooting Star Press so Guerrero Maya Jr. was able to roll out of the way, hit Everett with his own finisher and pin, so Everett looked like an idiot, too, and Guerrero Maya Jr. looked like an unworthy winner because Flip had him beat.
SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST QUALIFYING MATCH: P.J. Black vs. Luchasaurus- 6.75/10
Short, but extremely athletic and FANTASTIC for the time it got. I’d love to see both of these guys come back to show what they can do (with each other, and with others) with more time.
SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST QUALIFYING MATCH: Stuka Jr. vs. Marty Scurll vs. Silas Young- 6.75/10
For all those who keep telling me that three-way matches never have count-outs, they did a spot here where they teased counting everyone out. This was a very good three-way match that made very good use of the usual three-way story.
WINNER QUALIFIES FOR FOUR CORNER SURVIVAL WOMEN OF HONOR TITLE MATCH AT FINAL BATTLE: Britt Baker vs. Madison Rayne- 4.75/10
The story of the match appeared to be Dr. Britt Baker DMD working over Madison Rayne’s face. Even her pumphandle suplex seemed designed to make Madison land on her face. This got me thinking: Britt should do a gimmick where she keeps knocking people’s teeth out and swears it’s an accident, and then tries to persuade her opponents to come to her dental practice for a wrestler discount.
They did a spot where it seemed like the idea was that Britt was going to go for an AA but Madison would land on her feet and then hit Britt with an RKO, but instead of landing on her feet, Madison landed on her ass, so Britt had to sell awkwardly and wait while Madison recovered from what appeared to be a very uncomfortable bump right on her tailbone. Madison eventually won with a kick to the head where she tied Britt’s arm up in some wacky way first.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- fine
Madison showed Britt respect after the match, but the Twisted Sisters came out of the crowd from behind and beat them up.
ROH WORLD SIX-MAN TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH: Bullet Club (the Young Bucks & Cody Rhodes)(c) vs. The Kingdom- 4/10
There was a second referee at ringside, seemingly just to get bumped… and before the in-ring referee did. The ref bump was apparently necessary so Cody could get a visual pinfall on Taven (because that’s a good thing to do with a guy you’re trying to do a “real world champion” angle with) and so O’Ryan could hit the babyfaces with a baseball bat. Babyface announcer Colt Cabana responded to this blatant cheating by saying “why not? There’s no referee.”
The Kingdom hit Cody with Rockstar Supernova, then Taven called for a referee from the back and went for the pin… and out came Brandi Rhodes in a referee’s outfit and a hat to hide her hair. Why is Brandi hanging out backstage in a referee’s outfit rather than being at ringside with Cody like usual? Were Bullet Club planning on trying to have her come out and pose as a referee? And if they were, then why would anyone think she had and refereeing authority. Surely even if it fooled people in the moment (and it didn’t, because Cabana recognized her right away), the surely ROH Management would declare the results of the match null and void because the count was not made by an ROH official, and they’d probably punish Brandi for impersonating a referee, too.
The heels menace Brandi, but don’t actually touch her because they’re gentlemen, I guess. The babyfaces make the save with superkicks, then Cody hits O’Ryan (not the legal man if Taven was just pinning Cody and Cody pinning Taven before that) and goes for the pin and Brandi makes the count, and apparently that’s good enough, because the timekeeper rings the bell and the sound technician plays Cody’s music.
The only two people who seemed particularly off-put by this were there ring announcer, and the random hot chick they have in the dress at ringside for seemingly no reason, and even she eventually just went with it and started clapping. The other two referees recovered and told the timekeeper that the pin doesn’t count because Brandi Rhodes isn’t a real referee and the match should be restarted… and the fans all booed, because they would rather see a f*ck finish in a title match where a biased, illegal referee lets her husband pin the illegal competitor than take the chance of seeing any sort of finish where Bullet Club doesn’t win. How the f*ck did we come to this?
Anyway, the match is restarted on exactly the grounds I predicted earlier. The problem is that this makes everyone who believed that the match could legally lend with a non-official referee counting the pinfall a giant dumbf*ck. Such people include the timekeeper, the sound technician, the fans, and, of course, our “heroes” Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks themselves.
The Kingdom attack Bullet Club from behind while they’re still celebrating their “win,” and of course Cody gets shoved into Brandi so she takes a bump, and this requires her being carried to the back by Cody. Remember this the next time Brandi wrestles a match and takes several bumps without selling anything close to this much. Taven then hit Cody with the Climax while Cody was holding Brandi, and Taven and Marseglia hit one of the Bucks with their finisher with a name so stupid I refuse to use it (the name includes the phrase “of a thousand horses”) to win the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Titles in a pathetic overbooked clusterf*ck, because G-d forbid the heels actually win a title cleanly here in Ring of Honor.
KINGDOM PROMO- More stupid “Kingdom conspiracy” sh*t. They claim it’s dead, which they also did six months along the last time they won these same belts, which should tell you exactly how much faith I have that anything they say matters.
JAY LETHAL & JEFF COBB vs. SOCAL UNCENSORED (Frankie Kazarian & Scorpio Sky)- 7/10
Kenny King joined Colt and Ian on commentary. Rhett Titus had actually done so for an earlier match, but I didn’t mention it because he said nothing relevant or intelligent… which makes it a fine metaphor for Rhett’s entire existence in ROH since 2012.
These guys worked well together. The finish… is something I want to talk about. Said finish was the Briscoes showing up and throwing a chair at Scorpio’s head while the referee was distracted, knocking him off the apron and taking him out. Kazarian then got distracted by the Briscoes, allowing Cobb to grab him for Tour of the Islands but Kaz countered it with a roll-up, which Cobb kicked out of… and then Cobb countered one move of Kaz’s and hit Tour of the Islands for the pin. Not just having Cobb hit Tour of the Islands the first time for the pin undoes the protection that the distraction was supposed to provide because Kazarian wasn’t distracted when he got beaten.
But still, the chair to the back of Scorpio’s head makes this yet another match without a clean finish… and this is a fine example of a spot where I would have been totally fine with it if it was the only dirty finish on the show. It would 1) make it so your tag champs don’t have to lose cleanly to a non-team and neither of the other two champions have to do a job, either, 2) adds more fuel to the Briscoes vs. SCU feud, and 3) sets up Cobb & Lethal as challengers for the tag titles, which could have taken place on the Global Wars Tour or the TV tapings the night after Final Battle, and is something that it makes sense to book because if the story is that SCU need to hang onto the belts through the end of the year to have negotiating power to stay in ROH then the logical thing to do is put challengers in front of them.
On a show with no other dirty finishes, this one dirty finish would stand out as memorable and would clearly serve a purpose. Here it feels like just another dirty finish. Oh, and by the way, the Briscoes are here tonight, but you fans don’t get to see them wrestle.
RUSH DEBUTS THE NIGHT AFTER FINAL BATTLE- it’s about f*cking time!
2018 SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST MATCH: Guerrero Maya Jr. vs. P.J. Black vs. Marty Scurll vs. Adam Page vs. Jonathan Gresham vs. Christopher Daniels- 8/10
Okay, thankfully the finals are, in fact, still an elimination match the way they should be. There were two stories in this match. The first was that of the alliance between Scurll and Page; how they helped each other, how others had to adapt to combat it, and the consequences when it broke down. The second- and, granted this was more in the commentary than anything else- was the idea of Daniels needing to win to earn an ROH World Title shot and win a title shot he could stay in ROH.
The way the announcers talked about that second storyline really bugged me. They kept saying things like this was Daniels fighting back against “the idea that there is no longer a place for Christopher Daniels in ROH.” This makes it seem like this is a total babyface story where SCU must prove to Joe Koff that age is just a number and that they do still have the talent to compete in ROH. The problem is that that’s not what the story is. Joe Koff didn’t announce that he wasn’t planning on renewing SCU’s contracts because he thought they couldn’t go anymore; it’s because they were being giant f*cking assholes and attacking people and doing all sorts of other mean things. But now these guys have somehow magically turned babyface (they certainly didn’t do anything to take a deliberate step back to the Light Side of The Force), the entire story seems to have changed in order to make them look like they deserve our sympathy. It’s things like this that make me so angry at the booking of the current product.
This was a relatively disappointing show from ROH. I really expect better than 8/10 from a big match like Survival of the Fittest. If the undercard had been better I could have excused it, but it wasn’t. Some of the new talent was very exciting (Tracy, Luchasaurus, and P.J. in particular) and it was nice seeing Dalton Castle back, but there were too many matches on this show that had poorly-booked finishes. It really feels like doing a dirty finish is the only trick Delirious has to in his storytelling arsenal anymore. What happened to the guy who did such a phenomenal job in late 2010 and 2011? Where did that Delirious go?
STUPID ANNOUNCER QUOTES:
1. Colt Cabana theorized that one reason Dalton Castle might not be wearing his usual fancy entrance gear is that he is “too injured” to do so.
Too injured to wear a robe? If he’s too injured to wear an entrance robe (even one as complicated as his), there is no way in hell he should be wrestling.
2. In order to try to convince us that Flip Gordon- who just won the tournament on the Jericho cruise to earn himself a shot at the ROH World Title- has a snowball’s chance in hell of winning tonight’s tournament for a future shot at the ROH World Title, Ian cited Christopher Daniels, Marty Scurll, and Jay Lethal as examples of men who have won earned “multiple” ROH World Title shots “at a time.”
This is completely untrue and never happened. Based on what he said about Marty, it seems that Ian was trying to cite examples of men who received several title shots within a few months of each other (then again, Ian said Marty did it “last year” but it was actually earlier this year), which is in no way the same thing as earning multiple title shots at the same time (as in winning more than one in one go) or the same thing as being due multiple ROH World Title shots due to different accolades (like if someone were to win SOTF, then also win an Honor Rumble or win Trios Tournament use the resulting power to book any one match he wants to give himself another title shot). If Ian has this much trouble with basic English words and concepts, he should not be an announcer.
3. Every time Ian Riccaboni calls Gresham and Tracy’s style of wrestling “unique” or says they are “bringing it to Ring of Honor” as if ROH has never had grappling-heavy matches before, it makes me want to scream. Preferably in Ian’s face about how his lack of knowledge of ROH is an insult to longtime fans and a detriment to the product. Alas, that option is not available to me, so I must instead express my frustration on internet message boards.
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