Ring of Honor heads back to Baltimore, MD & The Du Burns Arena for the final time in 2012 for another round of “Ring of Honor Wrestling TV”, and for the first time in it's 8 year history, the Survival of the Fittest tournament will be taped for broadcast! This tourney has been a hallmark of ROH since 2004 and its lineage of victors is a who's who of the ROH history books:
2004- Bryan Danielson (future ROH World Champion)
2005- Roderick Strong (future ROH World, TV, & Tag Champion)
2007- Chris Hero (future ROH World Tag Champion)
2009- Tyler Black (future ROH World Champion)
2010- Eddie Edwards (1st ROH Triple Crown Champion)
2011- Michael Elgin
This single elimination tournament first sees a series of Qualifying Rounds to narrow the field down to 6 competitors, although we have seen less, and then those finalists compete in an Elimination Match with the winner receiving a future shot at the ROH World Title! To date, of the 7 previous winners, only Eddie Edwards has successfully parlayed his SOTF victory into championship gold when he defeated Roderick Strong at “Manhattan Mayhem IV”. To be fair to the statistics though, Michael Elgin has yet to take his shot, that comes at “Glory by Honor XI” on October 13th. Let's take a look at the randomly computer selected Qualifying Matches!
THE 2012 SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST TOURNAMENT!
-"No Fear" Mike Mondo vs. Kyle O'Reilly
Mondo, as has been mentioned previously, is having one heck of a year in 2011 with one tremendous bout after another. Be it fighting through in injury against Jay Lethal, pulling out victories over Mike Bennett, or challenging for the ROH World TV Title against Adam Cole & ROH World Title against Kevin Steen, Mondo has shown a heart and fire that quite honestly has surprised both fans and officials. Possibly the most integral of his accomplishments this year, the one that really caused fans to take notice, maybe the most important to this bout, is his time limit draw with Davey Richards at “The Nightmare Begins”.
“Honestly there's a part of me that looks back on it now and wishes I had gone that overtime period with Davey.” said Mondo to ROHWrestling.com when he was first entered into SOTF, “If it happened now I would gladly go that extra five and prove not only that Davey can't beat me, but that I can beat him. Maybe I'll have the chance to make up for it down the line, but right now my focus is on two things...winning the ROH World TV Title in Chicago Ridge and then winning Survival of the Fittest and earning another World Title shot. I've got a hell of a roadblock in Kyle O'Reilly but let me send a message straight to Kyle about this one. Kyle...you're not Davey, you will never be Davey, and if he couldn't beat me, what makes you think that you'll be able to? I'm hungrier than you can imagine and as talented as you are, you think you're owed the world. Me...I'm willing to fight for it.”
As Mondo mentioned, he could have headed into SOTF the TV champion after facing Adam Cole at “Death Before Dishonor X” but it was Cole who retained his title despite Mondo's “No Fear” rules addendum.
As for Kyle, he sees this fight a little differently...
“One year ago I was so close to winning SOTF.” he said to ROHWrestling.com, “Elgin and I tore the house down fighting for that title shot, and it took absolutely everything he had, including a table, to put me down, that will not that cannot happen this year. Mondo, I am telling you right now that you won't see the finals, that you will be tapping out in the center of the ring, and that you will be losing to the eventual winner of this tournament. Pull out your Davey card all you want, but remember you lasted the time limit with him all of one time...just once. In all the months we trained together, how many times do you think I went the distance with Davey? How many times do you think I made him tap? All I see in your draw is two weak men who couldn't get the job done fast enough. If you're putting all your hopes on that one, then Mondo, your entry into Survival of the Fittest is going to be very short lived.”
-Roderick Strong vs. "The Notorious 187" Homicide
During the nine month reign of Strong, Homicide was one of several individuals who made it their mission to claim the title. In fact, it was the Original Rottweiler who crashed the party at “Glory by Honor IX” following Roderick's title victory over Tyler Black, letting Roddy know he had a bullseye on his head. Several months went by before they collided, but in those months Homicide remained unbeaten against the likes of Jay Briscoe, Kevin Steen, and El Generico. Still, when the “9th Anniversary Show” rolled around and Homicide finally got his shot, Strong proved the better man when he successfully retained his championship. They met one more time in a Four Corner Survival at “Defy or Deny” where 'Cide tried to earn another title opportunity, but he was eliminated from that opportunity by Jay Briscoe.
In that time since their last meeting, Strong lost the belt to Eddie Edwards and made several failed attempts to regain it from Edwards as well as Davey Richards after he defeated Eddie, and most recently against Kevin Steen at “Live Strong”. He also finds himself, despite what Truth Martini may claim, in the midst of chaos within The House of Truth, having briefly gone on strike against his allies.
Homicide, on the other hand, found himself on the wrong side of The Embassy when he took several defeats at the hands of Tommaso Ciampa and gained one Pyrrhic victory over Rhino that saw him driven through a table. He ended up on the losing end of a Mike Bennett bout at “Final Battle 2011” but that joy of that victory was short-lived for “The Prodigy” as he saw his trainer get knocked out and his girlfriend nearly get dropped on her head. Homicide disappeared from the ROH scene for a few months, but returned with a vengeance at “Best in the World 2012: Hostage Crisis”, looking better than ever in a victory over Eddie Edwards. The joy of that triumph was brief however as he too felt the wrath of Kevin Steen on “Ring of Honor Wrestling” TV in a failed ROH World Title bid.
Now these two former champions, two men who actually united at “Survival of the Fittest 2006” in a tag team Qualifying Bout, will go head-to-head with each one hoping to earn another shot at the title belt they both cherish.
“I own Homicide.” said Strong to ROHWrestling.com, “When I was the champ, at the ninth anniversary, he couldn't even beat me in what he thinks is his own game. This won't be any different. I'm a Triple Crown champion, a former SOTF winner, not to mention the most athletic guy on the ROH roster. 2012 is going to be the year I add two time Survival of the Fittest winner and two time ROH World Champion to that resume and Homicide, there is no chance in hell I'm letting you be the guy to kill that for me!”
It's a clash of two former World champions as Roderick Strong & Homicide go one-on-one for “Survival of the Fittest 2012”!
-ROH World TV Champion Adam Cole vs. Tadarius Thomas
Coming off his loss to Kyle O'Reilly at “Caged Hostility”, Adam Cole was greeted with the knowledge that the ROH computers had run his name through the system and determined the TV Champion's opponent for “Survival of the Fittest 2012”.
Unfortunately for Adam, he had to wait another week before he learned just who he would square off with because the randomized computer drawing decided that he would face the winner of the Tadarius Thomas vs. Silas Young that took place last Saturday night at “Death Before Dishonor X”.
“Saturday in Charlotte was not the best night for me.” said Cole prior to Chicago Ridge, “I got beat and Kyle earned a shot at the TV Title because I took my eye off the prize. When his day comes, trust me, I won't do that again. For now my focus is on Mike Mondo and our title fight at Death Before Dishonor this weekend. Good luck to Tadarius, good luck to Silas...I know which ever one of you wins, you will give me the fight of your life in Baltimore but for now, Mondo has my full attention. After I retain my title, which ever one of you is the victor...you will have my undivided focus from the moment I walk into the locker room with the TV Title still around my waist until the moment the last bell rings at The Du Burns to signify that you were pinned or that you gave up. Good luck.”
Well after last Saturday night it became official that Cole would step into the ring to face Tadarius Thomas in this “Survival of the Fittest 2012” Qualifying Bout! Tadarius picked up a hard fought win over Young in Chicago Ridge and now he looks to solidify his place in ROH with a win in the tournament!
-Jay Lethal vs. "God's Gift" QT Marshal
Lethal is coming off a big month so far between “Caged Hostility” which saw him not only win his bout against Adam Page but also step up to the Jim Cornette's challenge and prove himself worthy of getting an ROH World Title match at “Killer Instinct” in Rahway on October 6th. Then, he defeated former ROH World Champion “The Notorious 187” Homicide last weekend at “Death Before Dishonor X” in Chicago Ridge. Now, just a few short weeks before his World Title challenge, he will enter into the SOTF field.
Marshall, who has been impressive since his ROH debut a few months ago in spite of the growing dislike among fans & fellow wrestlers for “God's Gift”, fell short in Charlotte in his battle with “No Fear” Mike Mondo but is hoping to rebound in SOTF and earn himself an ROH World Title shot to go along with his recently won ROH contract.
“The fact that I have secured an ROH World title match does not make me any less hungry.” said Lethal to ROHWrestling.com, “You could be forgiven for thinking that Survival of the Fittest somehow is less important to me now that I have my shot. You would be wrong but I can forgive that. This tournament is my insurance policy that, god forbid, Rahway does not go my way. On the chance that Steve Corino or Jimmy Jacobs decide to screw me over or the chance that Kevin Steen takes an easy way out to keep his title, winning SOTF is my insurance policy that he won't get away. By hook or by crook, I will be the ROH World Champion before you know it.”
-"Unbreakable" Michael Elgin vs. "The Man Beast" Rhino
We thought the tensions within The House of Truth reached an all-time high at “Caged Hostility” in Charlotte when Michael Elgin, after Roderick slapped him earlier in the bout & bailed on him when Elgin attempted to make a tag, stood inches away from Charlie Haas as he applied the Haas of Pain to Roderick. Rather than break up the painful submission hold, Elgin walked away, which forced his HoT partner to tap out.
We were wrong when we thought that was the all-time high because at “Death Before Dishonor X” where Elgin & Roddy united to face The Irish Airborne, Strong was very blatantly disrespectful to Elgin. Roderick tagged himself in & out at a whim, bailed on tags from Elgin, and even stole the winning pin from “Unbreakable”. All of that though was nothing compared to what happened in the chaotic aftermath of the already chaotic Kevin Steen/Rhino World Title match. In the midst of that, Elgin finally snapped on Roderick and delivered a devastating spinning powerbomb to Strong.
We have no idea where the Elgin/HoT situation stands at the moment and to throw a further monkey wrench into the machine of The HoT, the randomized computer drawing selected this battle of Truth Martini's followers for the Qualifying Round!
One can only imagine how Martini reacted to the news when he initially read it, and how much worse his disposition must be now after Chicago Ridge! It will be an interesting clash for several reasons this weekend, and one has to wonder what ROH officials will do should Elgin win the SOTF AND capture the ROH World Title at “Glory by Honor XI” from whomever holds the title...
-"The American Wolf" Davey Richards vs. "The Prodigy" Mike Bennett w/ Maria Kanellis
Up until last Saturday at “Death Before Dishonor X” the question of who Mike Bennett would face in his Qualifying match still lingered. Many names were tossed around, speculation was rampant, but it was stated by ROH officials that in Chicago Ridge it would all be revealed. Unfortunately, as he & The Young Bucks were representing ROH as finalists in the CHIKARA “King of Trios Tournament” last weekend, “The Prodigy” Mike Bennett was not there in-person to find out who his opponent would be. Still, that did not stop him from offering some thoughts to ROHWrestling.com on the situation prior to finding out his opponent...
“I hear names thrown out all over the place as to just who will be the twelfth man entered into Survival of the Fittest”, said Bennett, “Returning icons, former champions, and wrestling legends...and to all of that I say who gives a damn. I don't, Maria doesn't, and there is no reason why you should invest too much thought into it either because as soon as they were paired up with me, their identity became absolutely irrelevant. Last year, my first Survival, Eddie Edwards eliminated me. I came back and beat him a few times over so check former champs off the list. Lance Storm? Check wrestling legends off the list. Homicide? Check returning icons off that list too. See what I'm getting at here people? No matter who it is that throws their name in the hat on Saturday, they will fall, I will advance to the finals, and it will be “The Prodigy” Mike Bennett who's declared 2012 SOTF winner. Then it's only a matter of time before I'm your World Champ ROH Universe, the champ you deserve, the champ that you want and don't even realize it.”
Well in his absence in Chicago, it was confirmed that former ROH World Champion “The American Wolf” Davey Richards would take on “The Prodigy” in the final Qualifying Match! As per prior stipulations, if Davey wins SOTF, he cannot challenge for the ROH World Title as long as Kevin Steen remains champion. We will have to see how that plays out, and if Richards wins, how long will he have to wait for a new champion before he challenges for the title?
ROH World Championship Match
“Wrestling's Worst Nightmare” Kevin Steen will defend against Rhett Titus
It was announced Monday of this week that Steen would defend his ROH World Title in Baltimore this weekend, but it was on Tuesday that ROHWrestling.com confirmed just who will get that title opportunity. The recipient of this shot is a man whose entire wrestling career has been defined right here in Ring of Honor: former World Tag Team Champion Rhett Titus!
Growing up watching Ring of Honor Wrestling VHS tapes & DVDs, it was a childhood dream of Titus' to hoist the ROH World Title over his head in victory. The dream grew a little more realistic when he entered into the ROH Wrestling Academy in 2005 under the tutelage of former 2-Time ROH World Champion Austin Aries and took another step closer when he stepped into the ROH ring for the first time to face Shane Hagadorn in Dayton in January 2006.
Since that day nearly seven years, Titus has fought his heart out to reach the top of the ladder in ROH. He stood alone as the Top of the Class Trophy holder, then stood at the side of Kenny King as part of The All Night Express & briefly held the ROH World Tag Team Titles. Now Rhett, having just celebrated his 25th birthday last Saturday, once again stands alone and on September 22nd he will attempt to claim the ROH World Title in possession of Kevin Steen!
ROH World Tag Team Championship Match
S.C.U.M (Jimmy Jacobs & Steve Corino) will defend against Caprice Coleman & Cedric Alexander
On the April 28th “Ring of Honor Wrestling” TV, Caprice Coleman & Cedric Alexander defeated then-ROH World Tag Team Champions Jay & Mark Briscoe in a Proving Ground match to earn a future shot at the championship. Unfortunately for C&C, here they are almost 5 months later, and through no fault of their own, they have yet to receive their title opportunity.
Originally Coleman & Alexander were scheduled to receive their championship match on July 28th in Spartanburg, SC but that event was postponed and the ROH World Tag Team Titles had also been declared vacant by that date. The duo were entered into the Tag Team Title Tournament to crown new champions and in fact defeated The Young Bucks in the 1st Round to advance to the semi-finals at “Death Before Dishonor X” last Saturday. The pair lost in the semi-finals to eventual new champions Steve Corino & Jimmy Jacobs but this Saturday night in Baltimore, at the last Du Burns Arena event of the year, Coleman & Alexander will finally get the title match they earned in the spring!
“It's been a long time coming.” said Caprice via e-mail, “It has been a long time since Cedric and myself earned this title match and it has felt even longer. Despite the wait, despite the bit of frustration that began to creep in our hearts, I firmly believe that it has all been part of a larger plan. The last five months have prepared us for this challenge, the last five months have let us face some of the best teams in Ring of Honor to fine tune our game, and most importantly, the last week has allowed us to take the measure of S.C.U.M. We lost in the tournament, which was a heartbreak no doubt, but now we know what you have in the tank Steve Corino and Jimmy Jacobs. This Saturday night in Baltimore is our time to throw caution to the wind, to know our limits but ignore them, to risk it all for the glory of being known as champions.”
Tag Team Challenge Match
Jay & Mark Briscoe vs. Lancelot & Harlem Bravado
Both of these teams came up short in the ROH World Tag Title tournament, the Bravados having lost to the eventual winners Steve Corino & Jimmy Jacobs in the opening round while the Briscoes fell to Rhett Titus & Charlie Haas in their semi-final match. Now both teams look to get back in the hunt as they collide in tag team action in Baltimore!
Wrestling's Greatest Tag Team, "The Outlaw" Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin, will also be in attendance and after how things went down in Chicago between Haas, Benjamin, & Titus in the finals of the tag team tournament, one can only guess what mindset these too barely controllable athletes will be in!
And in honor of our final event of 2012 in Baltimore, this Saturday night will also be Fan Appreciation Day as we offer a special autograph signing with a commemorative 11x17 featuring Jay Lethal, “No Fear” Mike Mondo, ROH World TV Champion Adam Cole, Caprice Coleman & Cedric Alexander, and “The Man Beast” who will all be available for autographs prior to the start of the event! It's “Survival of the Fittest 2012” and it all goes down in Baltimore THIS Saturday night!!!! Tickets will be available at the door so make sure you're there early to get yours and take advantage of this special autograph signing!