SOTF06

Cleveland Grays Armory – Cleveland, Ohio – Friday, October 6, 2006

Dave Prazak and Jared David are on commentary. I’m sitting somewhere in the crowd.

MATCH #1: Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Match – Davey Richards vs. Matt Sydal

They start with some chain wrestling in what I believe is a first-time ever matchup. Richards takes the early control with his powerful kicks, and he focuses on the neck and back area. Sydal fights back and sends Richards to the floor, and then wipes him out with a dive. Back in the ring Sydal keeps Richards off balance with a variety of offense, including a standing moonsault for a two-count. Richards comes back and goes for a Liger Bomb but Sydal counters with a rana. Sydal goes up top but Richards catches him on the way down in a gutbuster. Richards then connects on the Liger Bomb but it only gets two. He goes up top and Sydal catches him on the way down with a spinning heel kick. They trade strikes and get back to their feet. Sydal appears to win the battle but Richards catches him with a handspring spin kick. Richards hits a discuss clothesline but that’s still not enough to keep Sydal down. They fight up top again and Sydal knocks Richards to the mat. A series of reversals and pinning combinations ends with Sydal hitting Fade to Black to score the pin at 12:23. That was a fun opener and a good way to kick off the tournament.
Rating: ***

MATCH #2: Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Match – Delirious vs. Jimmy Rave

They go back and forth to start and it takes little to no time for Delirious to engage in shenanigans, testing Rave’s patience. Rave is rolling sans Prince Nana and only has Daizee Haze in his corner tonight. Delirious gets the better of the crown jewel of The Embassy and Rave takes a powder. Back in the ring they chain wrestle a bit and then Rave catches Delirious with a knee lift to the breadbasket. Rave wears Delirious down for a while, and then Delirious makes the big babyface comeback. Delirious hits a leaping lariat for a near-fall. He tries the Cobra Stretch but Rave powers his way out of it, only to be dropkicked into the middle turnbuckle. Delirious charges and Rave cuts him off with a Spear! They fight to the apron and Rave takes Delirious down with a clothesline. Back in the ring Rave tries to put Delirious away with the Greetings from Ghana but Delirious avoids it, but he can’t avoid a huge knee to the face. Rave covers for two. He tries Greetings from Ghana again but Delirious once again avoids it. Delirious kicks Rave in the face and hits the Cobra Clutch Backbreaker. He locks on the Cobra Stretch and Rave taps out at 10:23. That was okay enough but lacked spark and it just felt like two guys doing stuff until the finish.
Rating: **½

MATCH #3: Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Match – Austin Aries vs. Christopher Daniels

Daniels has Allison Danger in his corner. Aries cuts an unnecessary promo for the second year in a row, this one about how the airline lost his luggage. Ugh, no one cares dude. Both of these men were in the finals last year, so only one of them can repeat. For Aries it would be a three-peat. Anyway, Aries controls Daniels with a side headlock, and Daniels responds in kind. Daniels tries a headscissors and is miraculously able to avoid the dropkick. Craziness. Daniels takes a brief powder and when he gets back in the ring it’s more headlockery. Daniels starts to build momentum so this time Aries takes the powder. After a series of reversals Aries hits Daniels with a dropkick that sends The Fallen Angel back outside. Aries follows him out with a Heat Seeking Missile. Back between the ropes Aries is dominating, wearing Daniels out with a variety of offense. Daniels catches Aries with a Death Valley Driver and Aries rolls to the floor. Back in the ring Daniels applies the pressure, keeping Aries grounded. Aries fights back and hits the twisting slingshot splash for two and then a quebrada for two. Momentum continues to shift with reversals and counters, and Daniels ends up with the Koji Clutch. Aries reaches the ropes. Daniels hits the uranage slam, and then another one. He tries the Best Moonsault Ever but Aries avoids it and hits the crucifix bomb. Aries hits an IED for two. He goes up to the top rope and Daniels joins him to try a super Angel’s Wings. Aries knocks Daniels back to the mat and lands the 450 Splash to get the pin at 17:11. With Aries and Daniels it’s going to be hard to get a bad match, but this just felt heatless, and there didn’t seem to be much on the line even though there was.
Rating: **¾

MATCH #4: Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Match – The Briscoes vs. Homicide & Roderick Strong

Jim Cornette is with the Briscoes, and he cuts a long, rambling promo before the match that I don’t care about in the slightest. Homicide and Strong have no real reason to be teaming together that I can recall. Strong and Mark start the match with chain wrestling. Homicide and Jay tag in and things get a little more heated in this SOTF 2004 rematch. Jay gets knocked to the floor so Mark responds by knocking Homicide to the floor and wiping him out with a dive. The brawling continues and everyone fights on the floor. Referee Todd Sinclair stops Homicide from using a chair. They make it back to the ring and Strong and Homicide work well together to keep Jay isolated in their half of the ring. Jay fights back and the Briscoes use their superior double-team abilities to keep Homicide away from his partner. After a few minutes Homicide makes the tag. Strong is a house afire, tearing into the younger Briscoe brother. Now Strong and Homicide tag frequently, keeping a fresh man in the ring. Once again the Briscoes reclaim control. No team has stayed in control for very long, as the momentum has shifted multiple times. Guess what? Strong makes the tag and Homicide comes in guns blazing. Prazak announces that there are two minutes left in the time limit as everyone starts busting out the big strikes to try and get the win. The referee has lost total control. One minute remains and the action is still chaotic. Jim Cornette comes out and hands Mark Briscoe the tennis racket, and he distracts the referee. Mark catches Homicide coming off the top rope with the racket to the chest, and that’s enough to get the pin at 20:01 by my clock, or one second over the time limit. At any rate, this was an okay tag team match but the control kept switching back and forth so often that it was hard to buy anyone as ever being in any real danger. They kicked it up down the stretch, which is always a nice way to finish, but Cornette being involved was kind of deflating.
Rating: **¾

MATCH #5: Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Match – Bryan Danielson vs. Samoa Joe

Danielson is the ROH World Champion, coming off perhaps his greatest title defense against KENTA just a few weeks ago. The title is not on the line in this match though. He is wearing odd trunks and boots and no knee pads, so his luggage must have gone missing too. They start off slowly, as they know each other so well that neither man wants to make an early mistake. Momentum shifts back and forth in the early going, as both men try to establish dominance over their rival. Joe has Danielson well scouted and he takes early control, catching Danielson with an STJoe. Danielson goes to the floor to regroup but Joe gives him no rest, following him out and throwing him repeatedly into the barricades. Joe tries the Ole Kick but Danielson avoids it and goes back to the ring. Danielson tries to get Joe up in the surfboard but he can’t do it, so he stomps on the legs instead. The Champ continues to keep Joe on the mat and works him over, focusing on the legs. After several minutes Joe is able to catch Danielson leaping off the second rope with an Ace Crusher. Joe hits a snap powerslam for a two-count. He tries attacking Danielson’s injured shoulder and he goes for a Muscle Buster but Danielson fights it off and hits a missile dropkick. Danielson goes back up top and hits the diving headbutt for a near-fall. Joe fights back and hits the powerbomb for two and then turns it into an STF. Prazak announces the two-minute warning as Danielson counters to Cattle Mutilation. Joe reaches the ropes. One minute remains as they continue to battle. Joe hits a big boot and goes for a senton splash but Danielson gets his knees up. Back on their feet Joe is able to connect with an enziguiri. Joe puts Danielson in the Choke but time runs out at 20:08. Both men are eliminated from Survival of the Fittest. I have no problem with a 20-minute draw here, as they weren’t able to beach each other in 60 minutes back at Fight of the Century so I see why 20 wouldn’t cut it. It’s Danielson versus Joe, of course this was good, but it didn’t feel like they were really fighting for something important.
Rating: ***¼

Everyone wants five more minutes, but Danielson attacks Joe with the title belt and tells the crowd they can kiss his ass. I love heel Bryan Danielson.

MATCH #6: ROH World Tag Team Title Match – The Kings of Wrestling vs. Colt Cabana & Jimmy Jacobs

Cabana and Lacey dance to Cabana’s music, and when Cabana tries to help Jimmy out and get him a little dance, Lacey freaks out and berates Jimmy for not being focused. Jimmy is heartbroken. I really liked this angle a lot. Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli have been the Champions since 9.16.06, and this is their first defense. They are also the CZW Tag Team Champions. #DoubleGold! Hero and Jacobs start the match. They begin slowly, with Jacobs eager to please Lacey after getting yelled at. Hero tries to use his size and power advantage but Jacobs picks up the pace and uses his agility to take an advantage. Cabana tags in and tries to get Jacobs to double-team Hero, but Jacobs just goes to the apron. That allows Castagnoli to tag in. Cabana and Castagnoli chain wrestle and the challengers take control. Despite being their first time teaming together, Jacobs and Cabana are doing a nice job against the Champions. The Kings use some dubious tactics to finally take control and they isolate Jacobs in their half of the ring. After several minutes of abuse Jacobs is able to make the tag and Cabana comes in a house afire with a little flip, flop, and fly! Jacobs tags himself back in and he takes Castagnoli out and goes for the Contra Code on Hero but gets caught. The Kings double-team Jacobs but are unable to put him away. Jacobs and Cabana use some creative double-team moves on Castagnoli, but Jacobs accidentally spears Cabana, and the Kings send Jacobs to the floor. The Kings hit Cabana with Au Revoir to get the pin at 17:29. Cabana and Jacobs definitely had their own thing going on here, and the Kings were just kind of there, which is odd to say about the Tag Team Champions. The match was good formula stuff though, and with the added bonus of the Jacobs/Cabana dynamic it worked well enough for me.
Rating: ***

An injured BJ Whitmer comes charging out after the bell and attacks Jacobs, but Cabana breaks it up and herds Jacobs to the back. Lacey is angry of course.

MATCH #7: Survival of the Fittest 2006 Final Five Way Elimination Match – Matt Sydal vs. Delirious vs. Austin Aries vs. Jay Briscoe vs. Mark Briscoe

Aries is making his third appearance in the Survival of the Fittest finals, and Mark is in it for the second time. Everyone else is a first-timer. Delirious gets all fired up at the sound of the bell, as per usual. He starts the match with Sydal, and these two know each other very well. They chain wrestle back and forth for several minutes, with neither man really taking control. Aries and Jay tag in and they’ve faced off many times in 2006 in tag team matches with Mark and Roderick Strong, respectively. Jay and Mark work together and clear the ring of everybody, and use their double-team skills to control the flow of the match. They focus on Sydal for several minutes and wear him down. Sydal is able to make a desperation tag to his former Generation Next mate Aries, and Aries is able to befuddle the Briscoes, albeit momentarily. The Briscoes catch Aries with the springboard Doomsday Device and Jay scores the first elimination at 11:19. That happened a lot sooner than I would have guessed. The brothers from Sandy Fork clear the ring of Delirious and Sydal, and the two non-Briscoes in the match decide that they will need to work together and we’ve got a makeshift tag team match on our hands.

Delirious and Sydal form a pretty impressive unit, but are quickly overwhelmed by the tag team badassery of the former two-time ROH Tag Team Champions. Jay and Mark focus on Sydal and put a beating on him both in and out of the ring. Delirious tries to come to the rescue but referee Todd Sinclair won’t have it. The Briscoes try the springboard Doomsday Device but Sydal ducks and traps Jay in a victory roll to eliminate the eldest Briscoe at 19:06! Delirious and Sydal continue to work together on Mark in the hopes that they can wrestle each other to decide who is the Fittest. Mark fights valiantly and almost eliminates Sydal with a springboard Ace Crusher from the top rope but Delirious makes the save. Delirious hits Mark with the Panic Attack and Sydal follows with the Sydal Press for his second elimination at 23:08. We’re down to Matt Sydal versus Delirious to decide this year’s winner.

Delirious charges at Sydal with a cross body block and both men tumble to the floor. They fight over a suplex and Sydal connects but both men land on the floor with a thud. Back on their feet Delirious charges at Sydal against the barricade but gets back dropped into the crowd! Sydal follows him out with a moonsault from the top rope! The crowd is loving all of this. Sydal brings Delirious back to the ring and covers him but only gets two. He goes for a standing moonsault but Delirious gets the boots up. Instead Sydal hits the Here It Is Driver but again only gets two! Delirious counters Sydal’s aerial tactics and hits two Panic Attacks and the Bizarro Driver but Sydal kicks out! Both men have the same idea and take each other out with a big boot to the face. They get back to their feet and Delirious takes Sydal down into the Cobra Stretch! Sydal reaches the ropes. Delirious goes up top and hits Shadows over Hell for another near-fall! He immediately goes into the Cobra Stretch but Sydal is able to counter out and they trade pin covers for two-counts. Sydal hits the standing moonsault for two. They fight up on the top rope and Sydal hits the moonsault belly-to-belly suplex, the move he has beaten Delirious with twice before, but this time Delirious kicks out! The crowd is going banana. Sydal goes up top and Delirious pulls him down into the Chemical Imbalance II but it only gets two! They fight up on the top rope and Sydal goes for the Sydal press but nobody’s home. Delirious rolls him up for a two-count. A series of reversals culminates with Delirious locking on the Cobra Stretch and Sydal finally taps out at 34:51! This started off a little awkward with five guys in instead of six, but they made it unique by turning it into a tag match pretty quickly, and the final stretch with Delirious and Sydal was great stuff. Both guys were pretty well set as upper level guys in Ring of Honor after this, and rightfully so.
Rating: ****

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