Ring of Honor – Survival of the Fittest 2009

Survival of the Fittest 2009
Date: October 10, 2009
Location: Indiana State Fairgrounds, Indianapolis, Indiana
Commentators: Dave Prazak, Chris Hero

Never let it be said that KB won’t go check out other federations. I have never watched a full ROH DVD so this is truly brand new territory for me. I do know a bit about the company so I’m not flying blind by any means. From what I understand this was just after Danielson and McGuinness announced that they were leaving so this is a shaky time for the company. Tonight is a tournament, so I’ll get to see a lot of guys for the first time. Let’s see if this place lives up to the hype.


Keep in mind: I have never seen this before so I very well won’t know a lot of backstories or characters, so I apologize in advance for that.

The ring announcer who isn’t named says that you’ll see six men qualify and then those six will have a survival match at the end of the night to crown a winner. Sounds good enough. He then introduces Jim Cornette who is I guess the GM or something. Oh he’s the Executive Producer of the TV show.

That’s coming soon by the way. Oh apparently he really is the Executive Producer. Ok then. He puts over ROH as you would expect and says that ROH gives the fans what they want. The arena is really small but it’s a glorified indy company so that’s just fine. Jim is great at this stuff so there we are.

The night before this in St. Louis Delirious had a great match with Aries. Delirious gets a bye into the finals of the tournament and if he wins he gets a rematch with Aries. Cornette is perfect for something like this as he’s so smooth and collected on a mic. Also, it caught us up a bit so there we are.

Claudio Castangoli wants to know who the greatest is and then says something in not English. It sounds German but I’m not sure. He has a box of popcorn and crushes some of it, saying that’s like his opponents. He’s very European.

House of Truth vs. Young Bucks

The Young Bucks are Generation ME from TNA now. Hero, the commentator, is in the tournament and is the defending champion of it. I think the House of Truth is comprised of Christian Abel and Josh Raymond. I have no idea if that’s what they said as their manager has a lisp. They’re heels here. The Bucks are named Matt and Nick. I’ll likely not remember those names but whatever.

The commentary is obviously recorded later as the sound is odd but that’s fine. The heels’ manager is named Truth Martini. Ok Matt and Josh start. Ok Christian is in green and Josh has hair. I think I’ve got it. I’ve seen the Bucks before and they’re awesome. No clue about the other guys but there we are. Both make tags and apparently Abel is a hooker, getting us a Lou Thesz reference to make this sound cool. Yep the Bucks like to flip a lot.

The commentary is kind of bad here as Prazak sounds like a fan doing commentary but not terrible. The turnbuckles are really big here. In something I like the crowd is noticeably dead but Raymond plays to them a bit which gets them going a bit more. The House of Truth haven’t actually won a match at this point but they’ve been successful. That’s a bit odd but whatever.

The problem with the commentary is they’re both just kind of calling moves and there’s little analysis. Some heel shenanigans change the control here. That’s such a fun word to say too. The House of Truth has some solid double team stuff if nothing else. In a nice spot, Nick backflips out of a belly to back suplex but into another which he also backflips out of.

That was nice and he gets the tag. Matt does a standing moonsault to avoid a clothesline which is something you would see in a movie. I think Peter Parker does it in Spiderman. After some bad manager interference, the Bucks hit their finisher called More Bang For Your Buck which is a rolling over the shoulder slam (Kennedy and Finlay have both used it. It’s a Fireman’s Carry but they roll forward) followed by the other guy hitting a 450 and the first guy hitting a moonsauilt. Not bad at all.

Rating: B+. VERY fun tag match here and a great way to open a show. It was fast paced and formula driven stuff but it worked very well. This was flashbacks to WCW cruiserweight openers and that’s a very good thing. If this is what the rest of the night is going to be like I’ll enjoy it a lot.

Colt Cabana, Scotty Goldman for all of two months on Smackdown, talks about Survivor which wasn’t very funny at all.

Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Match: Colt Cabana vs. Kevin Steen

Steen is named Mr. Wrestling and I’ve heard good things about him. Cabana is someone I’ve seen a bit of and I wasn’t incredibly impressed. He’s mostly a comedy guy from what I understand so there we are. He’s over as all goodness if nothing else but this is face vs. face. They actually talk before the match but Hero won’t shut up so we can’t hear it.

The fans chant SAY YOU’RE SORRY to Steen who I think is all of a sudden heel here. He’s a bit fat mind you and he apologizes with a hug, earning him a pair of spanks. I feel a comedy match coming on. Hero talks about the tournament while the fans chant for Cabana. And back to the grabbing talking.

Hero keeps making fat jokes which are rather amusing actually. This match is nowhere near as crisp as the previous match. It’s also much shorter as Steen goes up top and launches a front flip straight at Cabana’s knees, causing severe pain and Colt gets the pin.

Rating: D. This wasn’t anywhere near the opener but it wasn’t terrible either. It was sloppy which was my main thing. The comedy in it was ok and had me chuckling a bit. The good thing was they kept it short as comedy matches should be. The ending left a lot to be desired though as it just felt like an ending rather than a finish if that makes sense. Not a good match to me.

Roderick Strong says that tonight is his big opportunity. He’s been on a roll lately and won this back in 2005.

Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Match: Rhett Titus vs. Roderick Strong

Titus is a like a male stripper or something like that but he has a tiny figure. That’s my contribution to the discussion tonightThere’s no joke there. I was just bored. Strong is WAY over. Apparently a ton of people want to sleep Rhett. Ok then. According to the Code of Honor, they have to shake hands first.

Titus is wearing the stripper tie and we’re off fast. Nothing wrong with that one. Strong is working on the back, so I guess he took his psychology pill today. Strong has a decent look but it’s nothing great. They go to the floor and nearly run over the timekeeper, who is a timekeeping machine apparently.

Titus’ signature moves are known as the Muff Driver, the Taint-alizer, the Super Sex Factor or the Thrust Buster. I love this guy already. Apparently Strong is known for hitting a really quick burst of offense in a row for the end of it. Nothing wrong with that. Prazak is ignoring Hero’s jokes here which might be a good thing. Titus’ tights are REALLY small. Not complaining mind you.

Strong with some GREAT chops. These moves are freaking LOUD if nothing else so that’s a nice plus. A Falcon Arrow (suplex into a spinebuster kind of thing. Go look it up on No Mercy) gets two for Strong. We get to see the Thrust Buster, which is a Fameasser from behind. Make your own ASSer and from behind joke. A standing blockbuster, which is one of my favorite moves, gets two.

This is much better than the last match. The Super Sex Factor connects, which is an X Factor from the second match. Now we’ve reached that bad part that a lot of matches get to where it’s just spot after spot with no transition at all. That’s rarely a good sign but thankfully a Gibson Driver (double underhook into a powerbomb) ends it.

Rating: C+. Not bad but the last third of it they were dropping fast. The transition and a lot of the psychology went out the window and they were just trying to hit big moves which rarely works. It can, but it’s between few and far between. Still though, this was pretty good indeed and worked fine.

Merchandise plug, which makes a lot more sense for a much smaller company like ROH.

Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Match: Kenny King vs. Tyler Black

King is one of the finalists from Tough Enough II. Black is more or less the big name in ROH that hasn’t been world champion along with Hero. More or less they just refuse to pull the trigger on the guy and the fans seem to be getting tired of it. He looks awesome if nothing else.

And we hear about Ronnie Garvin, making this match fall apart immediately. SHUT UP ABOUT GARVIN! Ok I’m liking Black already. Apparently Hero fought him last night so he’s automatically not liking him. King is Titus’ tag partner too. They haven’t been in the ring yet and I continue my streak of bad timing with lines like that.

Black is more or less dominating but he stomps on the mat for about 20 seconds before running blindly at King. Thankfully he gets his head kicked off as he deserves. I hate things like that as it’s just completely stupid looking. A kind of F5 move hits and looked awesome. More or less he just throws them in the air instead of spinning around but the landing is the same. Love that.

King hits a sweet spinebuster for two. After a sweet move based off an F5 again from King, with him flipping the guy the other way on the landing, he gets two but the referee stopped counting a split second before Black kicked out, which made it clear that that’s not the finish. Very minor though and not something I’d hold against them.

One thing I really like here is they call moves by their more common names, such as the X Factor, the F5 and the Pele. Those are the more common names and it makes thing easier than asking the fans to remember a different name when they’re just going to call them the original name most of the time anyway. I like that. They speed things up a lot but a missed knee shot from King lets Black hit a NICE superkick for the pin.

Rating: B. This was very solid and they did a nice thing here: they took a match that looked like a total squash and made it into something fun. Not only is that hard to do, but it’s very rare. I don’t think anyone thought King was going to win, but they let him get some offense in and showcase himself. A squash doesn’t really help either guy so I really like this idea. Fun match too.

Petey Williams says he’ll be reborn in ROH.

Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Match: Petey Williams vs. Claudio Castagnoli

Claudio is freaking RIPPED. He’s announced as being VERY EUROPEAN. I love that. Williams is still doing the dumb Maple Leaf Muscle thing that got him nowhere in TNA but whatever. Claudio was trained by Honky Tonk Man. Oh dear help him. The visual here is really funny as Claudio is 6’5 and Williams is 5’7, so it’s really weird looking.

I love all the little jokes we’re getting here to old wrestlers and move names that you don’t get elsewhere. They’re doing a lot of mat stuff here but it’s actually good so I can’t complain at all. Claudio is the heel here but he’s ridiculously popular so it means nothing at all. Petey gets to use some of his highflying stuff that wasn’t allowed in TNA because he had to work slow to not show Steiner up.

He hits a jumping over the top rope thing into a Codebreaker. Nice but it’s just two. Claudio does a move called the UFO, which is a rack but he spins in a circle really fast, at one point letting his arms go and then just throws Petey to the mat. Again though it’s just two, which makes it seem far less impressive.

A Canadian uses a Russian Legsweep onto a Swiss man into an Oklahoma Roll. I love wrestling. Claudio grabs the referee to avoid a Canadian Destroyer and hits a low blow and a European uppercut to end it.

Rating: C+. Not bad but not great either. Petey got to show off a whole lot and that’s something you don’t get to see from him that often. Also here you didn’t have the whole big man vs. little man formula stuff going on and they got to play off of each other a bit. Again, very nice for a change.

Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Match: Chris Hero vs. Kenny Omega

Omega is apparently a bit odd. Hero’s finishing move of the week is a spinning elbow smash. Omega does the Kamehameha from Dragon Ball Z and has various Street Fighter names on his shirt. There’s a new commentator named Eric and that means nothing at all to me. Hero is more or less a legend of indy wrestling but I’ve never seen much of his stuff.

Some fans chant boring and far more chant shut the heck up. Still better than the crucial crew. It really is amazing to see such a totally different style than I usually see in WWE or TNA as Hero for example has so many different styles and is Punk’s age. For some reason that’s amazing to me.

Now they’re just beating the holy goodness out of each other and it’s freaking sweet. Omega has this weird striking style and it’s working for him. I don’t even think Hero is sweating. He avoids a charge and just knocks the freaking heck out of Omega with the spinning elbow.

Rating: B-. Again, Omega wasn’t going to win but they made him look good. That builds up credibility and is something WWE needs to do badly again. This was fairly long too with both guys being in control for long portions of the match. Hero is indeed good but not as great as he’s made out to be.

Briscoes vs. Austin Aries/Davey Richards

So this is a dream tag team match. Richards is a tag team champion and Aries is world champion. The Briscoes are more or less tag team gods in ROH. Actually there’s no pretty much to that. Good night those are some awesomely bad sideburns.

This is random but you have to remember that their TV show is taped about 6 weeks in advance in big long blocks of TV tapings. So therefore, what’s going to happen in say early November has already been taped, so the outcomes are already known. Apparently in this taping cycle, Austin’s chant has switched from Austin Pervert, which he makes sure the crowd knows. That’s just funny to me for some reason.

Davey has a title shot that he can cash in but his tag partner is injured so he needed Aries to help him her. The deal is he won’t cash in tonight and he has a tag partner. Ok then. The Briscoes are named Mark and Jay mind you and Mark and Davey start us off. They spend a LONG time talking about Aries defending against Ruckus in Poland. I mean they go on for probably three minutes about it.

The announcers debate which team is better. Why would you even argue that? You have two guys that aren’t partners normally and brothers who have won more tag titles than anyone. Where’s the argument here? This is a rather slow paced match but it’s a slow build and not boring at all so I can’t complain there.

Apparently the Briscoes like to drink a lot. Good to know then. The odd thing about ROH is that in their I think 7 year existence, they’ve had one two time champion: Aries. That’s very odd when you think about it. He and Davey have a competition of throwing kicks on Jay. Not bad I guess.

And yep there’s your miscommunication as Richards misses an enziguri and Austin gets kicked in the head, allowing Jay to get the hot tag to Mark. They’re keeping it basic and there’s nothing wrong with that. With one match to go we have a match and a half left. That’s quite odd indeed.

The Briscoes crank it up by throwing off some double team stuff but the Doomsday Device doesn’t get to launch. Now we’re cranking up the speed and it’s getting better. Not that it was bad earlier but this is better.

Mark and Davey do a brief strong style which works really well. I’m digging this in case you can’t tell. Aries accidentally kicks Richards in the head and just walks out, allowing the Doomsday Device to connect for the pin.

Rating: B-. This was good but not great. I’ve never been a big fan of these kinds of matches but it certainly wasn’t that bad at all. The Briscoes are good but something tells me this wasn’t their best stuff. Aries and Richards seem pretty good but I didn’t get to see enough of Aries to really know. This was good but I wouldn’t call it a dream match.

Ad for the training school. We have over fifty minutes to go heading into the final.

Survival of the Fittest Finals: Claudio Castagnoli vs. Chris Hero vs. Delirious vs. Roderick Strong vs. Colt Cabana vs. Tyler Black

Now for those of you that haven’t heard of Delirious, this guy is freaking INSANE. He babbles incoherently and has been known to wrestle matches in slow motion. What does that tell you? Oh and he’s awesome in the ring by the way. He and Punk had an AWESOME match in I think IWA-MS that got me into both guys.

The cool thing about this for me is I legitimately don’t know who is going to win. Most of the time I know the results but here I’m completely blank on them. Black sells the injury to his neck from earlier on the way in which is nice. I hope there are tags in this.

Claudio and Hero used to be in a team that dominated indy tag wrestling for awhile called the Kings of Wrestling and Delirious and Black were in the Age of the Fall together. Ah good it is tagging. Delirious, Strong and Hero have all won. Black and Delirious start, and my money is on Black to win it.

They start with a lot of technical stuff before Cabana comes in for Black. Let the comedy begins. Black is criticized for never being able to win the big one, which is a common criticism that there was for ROH. I’m not going to list off all the tags as they’re going rather fast. We get Castagnoli vs. Hero, which is a battle of the skyscrapers in ROH as both guys are 6’5, which is enormous in this company.

A thing I like about indy wrestling is you can use other stuff than signature moves in a match. For example, they trade full nelsons. That move makes sense, but in WWE no one but Masters can use it. See what I mean? Now I don’t mean everyone uses the FU or the Pedigree, but a transitional move like the spinebuster shouldn’t be only reserved for HHH and two other guys.

In a WEIRD looking spot, both guys interlock their legs and then wind up standing on their heads. They shake hands while in this position. That’s rather…uh…yeah. It’s Black and Claudio now as we’re definitely in for the long haul here. Everyone is still in at this point. Prazak is in love with Hero I think. He refuses to shut up about how awesome he is. In a PAINFUL looking spot Claudio spins Black around by the hair.

That has to hurt badly. In a great sequence that gets the crowd going, Delirious drills Claudio with about 10 clotheslines in the corner before Hero saves him. Cabana comes in and we get a mini tag match. The Kings of Wrestling are thrown to the floor and get stereo suicide dives, but then Strong and Black get in and launch themselves over the top rope at both guys. Very awesome and fast paced spot.

It’s Delirious vs. Claudio now and the crazy masked man is in trouble. In a movie I haven’t seen before, Claudio uses a hip toss from the second rope. That’s different if nothing else. I like Hero’s facial expressions. Delirious goes for a backslide on Claudio but Hero knocks the European’s head off with the elbow, allowing Delirious to get the backslide and the pin. Immediately as in less than 5 seconds later, he rolls up Cabana and we’re down to four. I’ll give this match this much: it’s not boring.

After an elbow from Hero he covers Delirious and the referee does that same thing he did earlier on with the count stopping at two even though the kickout hasn’t happened yet. We hit a messy segment and Strong hits a big kick into the chest of Delirious to put him out. Immediately after he kicks out of the elbow from Hero and a Liger Bomb.

We have Strong, Hero and Black left in case you weren’t sure. If I remember right Strong is known as the Messiah of the Backbreaker, as he uses a ton of them. That’s unique if nothing else. Hero and Black just pound the tar out of each other with forearms. And there goes Hero to a move called God’s Last Gift. Think of a Perfectplex but instead it’s a really compact DDT where he just hooks the legs into a small package for the pin. I like that.

So it’s Strong vs. Black for the title. Works for me. Black gets a NICE flying elbow from the top for two. They’re cranking up the speed here and I’m digging this. Strong hits a bunch of backbreakers and then we hit the Strong Hold: a Boston Crab. That’s psychology, even though Black has a bad neck. It’s passable though as his finisher is a back submission.

Strong gets knocked into the crowd and Black goes up with a flying clothesline into about the third row. I love the shot of the fans just moving backwards for them. I like that for some reason. I love Black’s springboards. He doesn’t use a bunch flips or anything but just launches himself at Strong. We’re back in the Strong Hold and the fans chant tap.

Somehow he kicks out and then Black hits his two finishers for two. This is great stuff here. Strong gets the loudest kick to the back of Black’s head that I’ve ever heard. Fans are WAY into this. Strong just goes insane on Black with knee shots and an AWESOME kick to the head for TWO.

The kicking out is getting to be a bit much here. I get the survival thing, but this is getting to be a bit much. Ok yeah three straight superkicks gets two. The fourth gets it but Strong kicked out anyway, so the fans boo the finish. That’s never good. Black wins and then gets on the mic and says thank you to Strong in a cool moment. He then says that Cornette was wrong. These guys aren’t the future, but the future is now, and Strong deserves a rematch to end the show.

Rating: A-. This was about 45 minutes long and awesome throughout. The fans were way into it and by the end I was buying into it also. The key thing for me was that all 6 guys looked like potential winners and while based on the way Black had been built up throughout the night it was kind of clear he would win, it was never a lock, which makes the match instantly better. Very fun stuff here and while I usually don’t like multi-man matches, this was an exception, which is saying a lot for me.

Overall Rating: B+. The one issue I have here was the dream tag match. It just wasn’t that interesting to me as I never bought into the dream aspect of it. It’s the best tag team ever against the world champion and a guy he’s trying to keep the title from? How is that a dream? The match was pretty good, but that story isn’t the best in the world.

Overall though, this was a VERY fun show and I definitely had a good time watching it. Everything on here is completely watchable with a point to everything (the tournament so that helps to prevent the need for stories) and matches that were able to be fleshed out. I think the shortest was about 8 minutes which is acceptable.

I would definitely check this out again as this is what I think of when I think of an alternative to WWE and TNA, which are becoming more and more alike every day, which isn’t good. This was fun and I’ll definitely be watching the TV show weekly now. Check this out if you can as it’s a very fun show.

1 comment

  1. noahconstrictor says:

    This seems like a good show. Great review. Also, here’s a video of a Falcon Arrow. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-57-aYtyxmg

    Not sure if that’s the best one, but that’s the one that I found.

    [Reply]

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