Since 2004, the Survival of the Fittest tournament has brought together the top stars of ROH to prove who truly is the best of the best. The tournament is composed of a series of qualifying matches, with the winners meeting in a multi-man elimination match to determine the overall winner. The lone survivor will be rewarded with a future shot at the ROH World Championship.
This year, the prestigious tournament takes place during the weekend of Nov. 17-19, starting at Austin Highway Event Center in San Antonio, Texas; then moving on to Gilley’s Dallas; and concluding at Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City, Okla.
Here are the top five Survival of the Fittest finals matches:
5. BRYAN DANIELSON MAKES HISTORY (2004)
Result: Danielson defeats Austin Aries, Samoa Joe, Mark Briscoe, Colt Cabana and Homicide.
Danielson showed why he was one of the best wrestlers in the world and a “founding father” in ROH by winning the inaugural tournament. The match came down to him and Aries, and the two of them engaged in a hard-hitting, high-flying battle that left the crowd breathless. After numerous near falls and submission maneuvers by both competitors, Danielson finally gained a hard-fought victory by trapping Aries in a Boston Crab and forcing him to tap out.
4. ANOTHER ACCOLADE FOR JAY LETHAL (2012)
Result: Lethal defeats Adam Cole, Roderick Strong, Davey Richards, Michael Elgin and Mike Mondo.
Lethal had already been ROH World Television Champion and Pure Champion, and on this night he solidified his status as a future world champion. He emerged victorious in an elimination match that included four other future or former world champions. Lethal got the win after hitting Lethal Injection and pinning Richards, who was just four months removed from an 11-month reign as ROH World Champion.
3. RODERICK STRONG’S COMING OUT PARTY (2005)
Result: Strong defeats Austin Aries, Samoa Joe, Jay Lethal, Christopher Daniels and Colt Cabana.
Strong entered this match as a promising up-and-comer and he left it as a legitimate world title contender. He personally eliminated four of his five opponents, pinning Joe, Lethal, Cabana and, finally, his teammate in Generation Next -- Aries (who had eliminated Daniels). After hitting a series of backbreakers on Aries, Strong finished him off with his Stronghold submission maneuver.
2. EDDIE EDWARDS OVERCOMES INJURY (2010)
Result: Edwards defeats Kenny King, Kevin Steen, Adam Cole, Claudio Castagnoli and Rhett Titus.
Edwards suffered a shoulder injury during his victory over Chris Hero in a qualifying match earlier in the night, but he defied doctor’s recommendations by competing in the finals. Fighting with one good arm, medical staff intervened during the match and sent him to the back. Edwards would not be denied, however. Just as King eliminated Castagnoli, Edwards returned to the match, and it was down to him and King. Edwards caught him in the Achilles Lock, and King tapped out, giving the gutsy Edwards an improbable win.
1. CHRIS HERO’S CLEAN SWEEP (2007)
Result: Hero defeats Claudio Castagnoli, Austin Aries, Roderick Strong, Rocky Romero and Human Tornado.
For the first and only time in the history of the Survival of the Fittest tournament, the winner of the finals made all of the eliminations. Hero achieved that impressive feat in less than honorable fashion, however. His strategy involved bailing out of the ring multiple times and opportunistically blind-tagging himself in and pinning vulnerable opponents. Fittingly, it came down to Hero and Castagnoli, who had been ROH World Tag Team Champions as The Kings of Wrestling but were now rivals. On this night, Hero was the better man, defeating Castagnoli with the Hangman’s Clutch.