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Worth Your Money? ROH "Survival of the Fittest 2016: Night 1"

By James Bullock Jan 26, 2017 - 7:49 AM print

Following the model introduced two years, Ring of Honor’s “Survival of the Fittest” tournament was held over the span of two days. Rather than having the qualifying matches and the finale happen all in one night, the men competing for a chance to face the ROH World champion in the near future would be able to not hold back and fight like never before on night one just to see if they had what it took to face five other individuals come night two. Who will be able to survive? Who will be able to thrive? Who will break out in a field of first time competitors? It’s time to review ROH’s “Survival of the Fittest: Night 1” to find out if it’s Worth Your Money!

“Survival of the Fittest: Night 1”; November 3rd, 2016; Arlington, TX

Survival of the Fittest Qualifier: Silas Young vs. Will Ferrara vs. Yo vs. The Panther
No Code of Honor from Young infuriated everyone. Panther challenged Silas, only to run into that Last Real Combo. Ferrara also got dropped by Young, as did Yo as he went for a DDT on Will. Panther recovered, sending Young crashing against the barricades after utilizing a head scissors to put one of his opponents on the floor. Yo stopped Panther’s second flying attack, showcasing his German suplex abilities. Ferrara reentered the ring, having his arm bar turned against him by Yo. Young reentered the fray, taking a Samoan drop by Ferrara. Panther sent Will to the floor with some help by Young, only for “The Last Real Man” to yank the CMLL star down courtesy of an ace crusher. Yo was fired up, stopping a sure pin before elbowing and kicking Silas in position for the suplex into a neck breaker. Ferrara’s single-leg codebreaker on Yo didn’t end this one. Panther came off the ropes, dropkicking Ferrara on the side of his head in sickening fashion to knock Will out for those precious three seconds and the first entry in tomorrow night’s tournament finale.

Survival of the Fittest Qualifier: Donovan Dijak vs. Jax Dane
“Godzilla” Jax Dane followed the Code of Honor after literally shoving his way past Dijak to pose. Dijak tried to make Dane pay for the disrespect, but got tossed overhead and knocked to the floor courtesy of a shoulder tackle. Dane didn’t want the count-out victory, showcasing his overhead belly-to-belly suplex skills. Trying to continue the onslaught against the referee’s orders cost Dane as he took a big boot when he finally backed off. Fighting his way out a suplex by his opponent, Dane almost took Dijak’s head off with a pair of clotheslines. Big spine buster by Dane put Dijak on the apron. Donovan tried to counter whatever Dane had in mind, only to feel a super border toss. Donovan kicked out of the follow up pin, initiating a battle over the chokeslam he won courtesy of that choke slam backbreaker … that gave him a near fall!
Dijak’s follow up moonsault saw Dane catch his opponent to execute the Samoan drop-spear combination to pin Donovan for another advancement.

Before the next match Chris Sabin was in ring to announce Alex Shelley’s inability to wrestle because he was attacked backstage. Sabin promised the next time he’s in Arlington it will be him and Shelley.

Survival of the Fittest Qualifier: Colt Cabana vs. Cheeseburger vs. Damian Martinez
Colt Cabana grabbed the microphone to ask the legendary Sign Guy to hold up his Colt Cabana sign, but he unfortunately embarrassed himself. Cabana lambasted the super fan before remarking how being a pro wrestling god he gifted Dalton Castle some knowledge by teaming with him. But Castle needed a more physical lesson. Colt, confused over the fans cheering for a “rookie” like Dalton, declared he’s a singles superstar above and better than his opponents.
Martinez immediately confronted Cheeseburger, only to have Cabana grabbed the burgerman to use him as a weapon against the big man. Martinez made Colt pay by locking him in the goozle. Cheeseburger getting involved actually saw him gain the advantage by taking Colt down with the cross body. Martinez blocked the Shotei to simply slap Cheeseburger down. When Martinez set his sights on Cabana, Colt left the ring while mockingly asking for a tag from Cheeseburger. Martinez let Cheeseburger “tag” into this Triple Threat match. In a shocking twist, Cabana actually helped Cheeseburger to send Martinez outside in preparation for a double team dive. Colt changed his mind at the last second to clothesline Cheeseburger. Cabana stepped back to allow Martinez to destroy Cheeseburger to his heart’s content including whipping Cheeseburger into the discus big boot. But Colt reminding Martinez who is the star in this one led to a fistfight between Martinez and Cabana that saw Cheeseburger interrupt with the Shotei on Colt. The Shotei had no effect on Martinez. Cheeseburger was slipping & sliding to avoid Martinez’s attacks, only to springboard into that sit-out choke slam. Before Cabana could break up the pin, Martinez succeeded in pinning Cheeseburger.

Survival of the Fittest Qualifier: ROH World Television champion Bobby Fish vs. Kenny King
Of course Caprice Coleman grabbed the microphone to mock the Dallas Cowboys, congratulated “Bobby Fish-eyed Fool” on being the luckiest man in the room for not having to defend the TV title, and the champ being a jive turkey! There actually was a Code of Honor from King, leading to an exchange of holds topped by King almost running through the champ courtesy of a shoulder block. Fish countered by sweeping King into the crossface. Making it to the ropes, King set off a chain of events that resulted in his legs getting slammed across the ring’s edge. King fought through the pain, shoving Fish against the barricades. Using the ropes & apron, King unleashed a 619 lariat. The action returned inside with King avoiding strikes to unleash one of his own in the case of a 540 kick that connected with the back of Fish’s head. “The Infamous” countered the Royal Flush, but couldn’t follow up courtesy of a big boot. King came off the ropes, running into that shoulder ram against the turnbuckles. Fish had knees aplenty coming at King until he tossed him with that exploder suplex.
King fought back, kicking Fish to the floor for a corkscrew plancha that had Caprice Coleman going crazy at ringside and a fan offering him popcorn. Spin kick follow up missed for King in the ring; witnessing him take a dragon screw leg whip off the counter. King quickly recovered, stopping the subsequent attack with shotgun knees and paying Fish back for his suplex against the turnbuckles with one of his own. Unfortunately for King, Fish was close enough to the ropes to save himself. Rolling to the floor, Fish leg swept his opponent after the sleeper hold in the ropes was broken up. Running into the ring, “The Infamous” came off the ropes with great momentum to forearm smash King into the falcon arrow. When King kicked out, the champ swept him into that knee bar for the submission victory.

Survival of the Fittest Qualifier: Dalton Castle w/ The Boys vs. Chris Sabin vs. Rhett Titus w/ Caprice Coleman
A streamer fight broke out between Castle and Coleman. Sabin joined in by clubbing an unsuspecting Titus in the face with an errant streamer. Of course Titus didn’t want any part of the Code of Honor and created a cat & mouse scenario between himself and Sabin. Castle grew upset when he was left out of the chase, only to find himself disgusted over Titus wanting Sabin to fight him. “Big Dawg” responded by punching Sabin in the mouth and clobbering Castle from behind. Infuriating both of his opponents didn’t end well for Titus as he was positioned for a double team clothesline. Titus ducked, dropkicking Sabin. After watching Castle dispose of Titus from the ring, Sabin reentered and almost ended this one with a sneaky roll up on “The Peacock”. Titus stopped Sabin’s assault, shoved Castle off the ropes when Caprice distracted him with some cawing, and even somersaulted on both of his opponents. It was all Titus as he dominated Castle. Just when it seemed Titus was going to end this one in his favor, Sabin came in kicking and somersaulting to wipe out both opponents. The tornado DDT connected for Sabin on Titus, but Castle stopped the follow up by utilizing a pair of suplexes on the Machine Gun. The fans wanted Castle to win this one and it seemed he was on that route when Caprice distracted the referee. A three-way low blow came from Coleman’s interference.
Sabin recovered, super kicking Castle out of the ring. Titus showcased his big boot ability to set up the Big Dawg Splash on Sabin. Just as Titus went for the pin, Castle grabbed him from behind to German suplex Rhett. “Big Dawg” couldn’t stop the Bang-a-Rang or the three count that followed.
Castle grabbed the microphone to remark on his belief that he was going for Tag Team gold. But now he’s on his own again and still fantastic. Castle promised to be the next ROH World champion.

Survival of the Fittest Qualifier: Adam Page vs. vs. Lio Rush vs. Misterioso Jr. vs. Sho
Page and Sho started this one off in a fast fashion as Sho unleashed the head scissors to force “The Hangman” to tag out. Rush was just as fast as Sho, almost taking his head off with the spin kick. Misterioso entered legally, but ended up taking a kick to the head. Page and Misterioso decided to work together to attack both of their opponents, but got dropkicked for their troubles. Rush was flipping and nipping around the ring until he prepared to dive. Misterioso stopped whatever Rush had in mind, yanking him to the floor before Sho took both men down courtesy of a somersault plancha. Page tagged himself in, getting a, “Other Adam!” chant as he tried to grind Sho’s face off. Sho found himself on the wrong part of town, getting tossed and struck by Page and Misterioso respectively. But the relationship didn’t last long as both men wanted to win. Sho’s attempt at fighting back gave Rush the chance to enter and knock all three men out of the ring for two topes on Page and Misterioso before his head scissors to Sho sent one-half of The Tempura Boyz careening against the barricades. Page ran in to stop Rush’s offense on the CMLL star, only to feel a German suplex from Sho. Misterioso paid Page back for the save, only to feel a Lio DDT. Page turned on his “partner”, executing that shooting star press off the apron before executing his slingshot somersault lariat on Rush in the ring … to gain a near fall!
Sho stopped the Rite of Passage on Rush, only to run Lio’s Rush Hour seconds later for a pin that gave Lio Rush the final spot in the tournament finale.

Kyle O’Reilly vs. Christopher Daniels w/ Frankie Kazarian
The early going saw O’Reilly focus on the side headlock. “Headlock City!” chants were the precursor to Daniels getting upset when he felt disrespected by Kyle keeping the headlock a little too long after making into to the ropes. “The General” had to use the ropes to save himself from an early attempt at the Armageddon arm bar, only to have his legs caught in the very same ropes and sent to the floor for that O’Reilly flying knee strike off the apron. Kazarian took a stand for his partner; giving Daniels the chance to attack Kyle from behind and send O’Reilly left shoulder first against the steel ring post. The work from Daniels focused on the left arm of his opponent to great effect. Daniels mixed arm-based high impact maneuvers with key and kimura locks. Just when it seemed Daniels was on the verge of victory, O’Reilly fought his way out of a hold to initiate a double clothesline that downed both men. O’Reilly made it to his feet, starting a barrage of offense with the Killer Kick Combo. O’Reilly’s attention moved to the left leg of his opponent. Getting a running start for something, O’Reilly ran into the blue thunder bomb. The uranage by Daniels followed, but O’Reilly countered the Best Moonsault Ever by catching “The Almighty” on the way down with a triangle choke. Daniels punched his way out of the hold by aiming for the injured shoulder.
Stopping Axe & Smash after initiating a fistfight, Daniels knocked the spit out of O’Reilly’s mouth courtesy of a palm strike. O’Reilly fired back by kicking Daniels on the ear – preparing him for the brain buster. Daniels blocked the maneuver, leaving himself open to a guillotine choke. Muscling O’Reilly around, Daniels executed Last Rites for the first time in a long time … to gain a near fall!
Daniels was looking for Angel’s Wings when O’Reilly countered the maneuver to cinch in Armageddon. Daniels couldn’t maneuver his way to the ropes and was forced to submit.
After O’Reilly left, Daniels grabbed Kevin Kelly’s headset to congratulate his opponent for the evening, but Kazarian reminded everyone he’ll be fighting Kyle tomorrow night.

Before the main event could start, Keith Lee & Shane Taylor came out to make the challenge for War Machine right here & now. Before a fight could break out, The Briscoes entered the ring as scheduled with a proposition: add Lee & Taylor to this match to make it a Triple Threat affair with no disqualifications.

The Briscoes vs. War Machine vs. Shane Taylor & Keith Lee
And dey was a clubberin’ in Ar-lan-ton, Tony! Lee & Taylor were the focus of both teams; getting bashed with trashcans and covered in collected streamers. Both Taylor and Lee were being double teamed by halves of each opposing team working alongside each other. For some reason, the referee demanded order be restored and tags be implemented. Shane & Keith had other plans, pitching all four men to the floor so they brawl on the floor yet again. The rivalry between The Briscoes and War Machine finally restarted as Hanson looked to back drop Mark Briscoe to the floor, but actually helped “Chicken” succeed in somersaulting on top of his opponents. Hanson followed suit, wiping out everyone before taking Mark to the back of the building to fight. Ray Rowe joined them, as did Lee, Taylor & Jay Briscoe. During this crowd brawl, moments like Mark getting thrown like a javelin against the side of a truck were only topped by him somersaulting off the top of the truck on top of Hanson, Lee & Taylor!
Jay Briscoe and Rowe found the ring again to throw hands, uppercuts and the Death Valley driver from the former World champion to gain the first failed pin of the bout. Jay took Rowe down with the tope after Ray rolled out of the ring. Reentering the ring, The Briscoes were knocked down by War Machine. Causing a miscommunication by moving to avoid Rowe’s shotgun knees, Lee & Taylor were able to knock down both members of War Machine before focusing on The Briscoes. The offense of Dem Boys had Taylor floored and Lee prone to an uranage from Mark. Rowe and Shane broke up Mark’s follow up pin, leaving everyone down until they met in the ring’s center for a challenge from Lee & Taylor for a four on two fight. War Machine & The Briscoes obliged, leaving only Hanson and Jay in the ring until Lee almost drop “War Beard” through the ring with that DVD jackhammer. Taylor felt the yelping neck breaker from Jay; leaving him prone for Mark’s Froggy Bow and the subsequent three count for a Briscoes victory.

Is It Worth Your Money: This is the type of show that’s incredibly conflicting. On the one hand you have an event featuring one of the freshest looking ROH rosters in some time delivering a slew of good matches. On the other hand a majority of those matches felt ultimately forgettable by the time the show reached its climax – a climax that proved to be different from anything else on the card and, arguably, the best part of the second following a highly entertaining semi-main event. Is it a must-see show? Maybe not. But it is a strong one that doesn’t immediately jump out and does a great job setting the stage for a potential better show the night later.
The rest of the show never dips beyond a solid level, making it a very easy viewing experience that really gets one excited about the events to come.
ROH “Survival of the Fittest: Night 1” is a Completionist’s Purchase.

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