ROH Survival of the Fittest 2012 (22/9) DVD Review By Adam Timmins

Posted: March 11, 2013 in Uncategorized
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I didn’t think I was going to get to see the SOTF this year, as it was announced it would be taped for TV. But ROH have put it out as a DVD for people like yours truly who don’t watch their TV show, for which they deserve some credit.Adam Cole vs. Tadarius Thomas – SOTF qualifier – a solid opening bout; another impressive showing from Thomas, who looks the business from what I’ve seen of him. The TV champ goes over with a nasty-looking straight-jacket German suplex at 6.52.

World’s Greatest Tag Team vs. Rhett Titus & B.J. Whitmer – It’s supposed to be WGTT vs. two jobbers, but Titus comes out and demands a match. They accept, and then Whitmer is revealed as Titus’ surprise partner. After a perfunctory few minutes, Whitmer rolls up Benjamin at 4.45. ROH needs a WGTT vs. Titus/Whitmer feud like I need a hole in the head; much of the companies booking these days seems to proceed on such assumptions.

There’s an in-ring segment with Steen and Elgin to promote their title match at GBH 11. Steen has Jacobs and Corino with him, while Elgin only has Truth Martini. After an exchange of promos Steen el al beat down Elgin; the Headbangers and Rhyno – but not Strong – make the save.

Caprice Coleman & Cedric Alexander vs. Steve Corino & Jimmy Jacobs – A much better match than their contest at DBD, this was a much more crisp and pacey affair. C & C hit the Leap of Faith/ Frogsplash combo on Jacobs, but Corino smacks Coleman in the head with a roll of coins, causing the DQ at 7.10 (clipped). I’m not too fussed about the DQ finish, as it’s preferable to C&C doing a clean job. Jacobs and Corino beat down C&C after the bell, but Michael Elgin makes the save.

Mike Bennett vs. Davey Richards – SOTF qualifier – good to see Davey back; the cards have definitely looked a little thinner without him. And this might be just what he needs more of; ten minute TV matches to learn that you don’t necessarily have to go half an hour every time to have a good match. Bennett wrestled his usual style, not much you can say about that that hasn’t already been said. The finish involved Mike Mondo running in and giving Maria a kiss (don’t ask – apparently this relates to some angle they’ve been doing on TV), and the distraction allows Richards to hit the Alarm Clock and a running kick to the head for the win at 10.02 (clipped). Screwy finish, but the right guy went over, so I’m not too fussed.

Jay Lethal vs. QT Marshall – SOTF qualifier – Lethal vs. Ciampa was advertised, despite Ciampa being out for a while due to injury. RD Evans (Archibald Peck) comes out with Ciampa and states that his client will still compete in this match. Ciampa is a thoroughbred…but when thoroughbreds go lame, you shoot them in the head. Thus, his new client is QT Marshall. Evans ends up whacking Ciampa’s bad knee with his crutch. Not a bad idea giving Marshall Evans as his manager; but more unkind commentators than I might cite the precedent of the turd that was unable to be polished. Lethal dispatched Marshall at 6.25 with the handspring Lethal Bizzle after the latter was distracted by Nana coming out and brawling with Evans. That’s an interference finish for two straight matches incidentally – it’s like Pearce has got the book again!

Kevin Steen vs. Rhett Titus – Titus joins the likes of Trent Acid and Ruckus in the ranks of the most undeserving world title challengers. I know it’s a consequence of the “Steen must defend the title in every match storyline”; but that just points to how stupid said storyline is. Jacobs and Whitmer have some interaction at ringside, and Steen polishes off Titus with the F-Cinq at 6.43.

Homicide vs. Roderick Strong – SOTF qualifier – like many a Homicide match, this had a lot of action that was negated by too little psychology. Strong goes over via the butterfly powerbomb at 10.22 (clipped).

Mike Mondo vs. Kyle O’Reilly – SOTF qualifier – a solid match between two of ROH’s most consistent performers in 2012. Davey Richards watches the bout at ringside, but doesn’t interfere. O’Reilly went for the cross armbreaker, but Mondo countered with a Kondo Clutch. O’Reilly tapped out by tapping the referee’ back; looked odd, but presumably will play into some sort of angle where later he claims he didn’t tap. Mondo advances via submission at 10.43 (clipped).

Rhyno vs. Michael Elgin – SOTF qualifier – had this been on a regular show and given some proper time it would have been interesting; but here it just amounted to a throwaway TV match. Strong and Martini both get involved towards the end, and it results in Elgin hitting Spin City on Rhyno at 7.50.

The Briscoe Brothers vs. The Bravado Brothers – Another throwaway TV match. It always seems to be a case of one step forward two steps back for the Bravados in ROH; after a decent little run, they get jobbed out to the Briscoes. The one noteworthy incident in this match was that Mark Briscoe executed a springboard manoeuvre; something he’s largely excluded from his arsenal since his last major knee injury in 2008. The Briscoes pin Harlem Bravado with the Doomsday Device at 5.25.

After the match the Guardians of Truth reveal themselves to be the Headbangers. That revelation is right up there with the news that the Pope is inclined towards Catholicism. They challenge the Briscoes to a match.

A video package of the previous SOTF winners is shown. Delirious’ 2006 win sticks out like a sore thumb; what was Gabe thinking? Seeing Larry Sweeney celebrating Hero’s win in 2007 bought a slight lump to the throat.

Jay Lethal vs. Adam Cole vs. Mike Mondo vs. Michael Elgin vs. Roderick Strong vs. Davey Richards – SOTF Final – I’ll list the eliminations first before commenting on the match. First elimination comes out of nowhere as Strong gives Mondo the flying yakuza at 4.49. Strong and Cole have a minute or two, before Strong takes a backfist from Elgin and a superkick from Cole eliminates Strong at 6.41. Elgin finishes off Cole with Spin City at 7.43. While Lethal and Richards fight on the outside, Strong sends Elgin flying off the top rope; and Richards gives him an exploder off the apron through a table. Elgin eventually makes it back into the ring, and Lethal and Richards team up to put him away. A pair of superkicks put paid to Elgin at 13.08. In a spot blatantly ripped off from Chikara, members of the locker room surround the ring to cheer both men in the final fall. Lethal hits the Lethal Bizzle at 20.51 (clipped) to become the 2012 SOTF winner. As you can see from the timings, the match was ridiculously rushed, with the first three eliminations all fairly meaningless. Once it came down to the final three they were able to tell a bit more of story; with Elgin looking very strong in defeat. The final portion between Lethal and Richards was ok, but the constant wittering about ‘killer instinct’ from the commentary team really got on my pip. My views on Lethal’s push are fairly well known, so no need to repeat them here. He was booked fairly strongly in the finish, so from a strict booking standpoint you can’t really complain. Personally I would have had Adam Cole win the tournament, but there you go.

Overall – the fact that it was taped for TV pretty much killed this year’s tournament; with eleven matches stuffed into the card, most of the qualifiers were meaningless, sub-ten minute affairs – and the final was a rushed 20 minute effort that played out in front of a burned out crowd. Avoid.

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