SOTF12

Du Burns Arena – Baltimore, MD – Saturday, September 22, 2012

Kevin Kelly and Nigel McGuinness are on commentary.

~Episode #55 – October 6, 2012~

MATCH #1: Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Match – Adam Cole vs. TaDarius Thomas

Cole is the current ROH World TV Champion, and is making his third appearance in the Survival of the Fittest tournament, and has been to the finals once. Thomas is making his SOTF debut. They start with some fast packed back and forth action, and Cole scores the first near-fall off a Northern Lights Suplex. Thomas tries to fight back and Cole cuts him off with a hangman’s neckbreaker for two. The determined Thomas is able to connect with some unique kicks and he scores a two-count. Cole responds with a jumping enziguiri. He follows with the Brainbuster onto the knee for two. Thomas fights back with some unique kicks and strikes and the crowd is getting into it. Cole gets sent to the floor and Thomas tries to take him out with a dive off the apron but Cole catches him with a superkick. Back in the ring a series of reversals ends with Cole hitting a superkick to the back of the head and the Florida Key for the pin at 6:43. That was a solid open to the tournament, with quality action between two well matched opponents. Thomas putt up a good fight but he didn’t have enough to put the TV Champion away. Cole goes to the finals for the second time.
Rating: **¼

Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team are set to face Fusion DS, but Rhett Titus comes out before the match can begin and he challenges Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin to face him instead. Haas thinks Titus doesn’t have a partner, but Titus brings out BJ Whitmer!

MATCH #2: Rhett Titus & BJ Whitmer vs. Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team

Titus and Whitmer start off hot and attack WGTT with gusto. Titus sends Benjamin to the floor and beats him down, and then throws Benjamin back in as Haas gets dumped outside. It’s all Titus and Whitmer in the early going, as WGTT were totally unprepared to face this team. Haas and Benjamin resort to some shady tactics to take control of Titus. After a brief beatdown, Titus is able to avoid a charging Haas and he makes the tag. Whitmer comes in guns blazing and throws both members of WGTT around the ring. Titus and Benjamin fight to the floor and Whitmer is able to surprise Haas with a schoolboy rollup to get the upset pin at 4:45. That was too short to really get anything going, but this match was used to set up another match, and it accomplished that. Hass and Benjamin beat down Titus and Whitmer after the bell just to be jerks.
Rating: *¾

MATCH #3: ROH World Tag Team Title Match – Steve Corino & Jimmy Jacobs vs. Caprice Coleman & Cedric Alexander

Corino and Jacobs have been the Champions since 9.15.12, and this is their first defense. Coleman and Alexander start the match. Jacobs is all cocky so Coleman uses his speed and agility to make him pay for it. Alexander and Corino tag in and Alexander keeps things on the challenger’s side. Corino avoids a cross body block and that is the opening the champs needed to take over. They take a commercial break with Jacobs and Corino firmly in control on Alexander. When we come back the champs are still in control, but when Jacobs goes to the second rope for a senton splash, Alexander gets his knees up. The hot tag is made and Coleman is a house afire. Coleman handles both Tag Team Champions on his own while the crowd rallies behind him. He takes Corino out with a springboard cross body block to the floor. Jacobs comes out to the floor and gets kicked in the face. Alexander then re-joins the fray by taking out both Jacobs and Corino with a dive. Back in the ring Alexander Slams Jacobs on his face and Coleman hits a sweet guillotine legdrop, and Corino has to break up the cover. The referee has lost control as all four men are brawling in the ring. Coleman and Alexander look primed to take the titles when they hit Jacobs with Overtime, but Corino drills Coleman with a $10 punch to draw the DQ at 7:10 (shown). That was a fun, albeit brief tag team match that really made the challengers look good. The finish was a bit lacking, but to do a DQ on a TV show every so often is just fine, so this all worked for me.
Rating: **¾

Corino and Jacobs continue the beatdown after the bell, until Michael Elgin of all people runs out to make the save. Truth Martini is upset as Elgin shakes Coleman and Alexander’s hands.

~Episode #56 – October 13, 2012~

MATCH #4: Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Match – Davey Richards vs. Mike Bennett

Bennett has Maria Kanellis and Brutal Bob in his corner. This is Bennett’s second Survival of the Fittest, while Richards is making his third appearance. Neither man has made it to the finals. Bennett tries to attack from behind but Richards catches him with a kick to the head and nearly pins him in the first 10 seconds! Richards unloads with kicks and strikes, and even puts on an early Ankle Lock! Bennett reaches the ropes and rolls to the floor to break the momentum. He uses Maria as a human shield, and when Richards chases Bennett around the ring Brutal Bob takes a cheap shot to give his protégé control. It doesn’t take long for Richards to resume control, and he blasts Bennett with a running boot to the face. Back in the ring Richards continues to work the leg, keeping Bennett on the mat. Bennett fights back and they head to the floor. He hits Richards with a spinebuster on the apron, and it’s time for a commercial break. When we come back Kelly says that Richards has been on the receiving end the whole break. Richards tries to fight up but Bennett cuts him off with a superkick. Moments later Richards’ next comeback attempt is more successful, as he clotheslines Bennett to the floor and follows him out with a dive. Back to the ring Richards hits a missile dropkick but then runs right into a big boot. Richards responds with an enziguiri for a two-count. They fight to the apron and Richards hits nothing but ring post on a kick. Bennett then delivers a spear and covers but only gets two. He puts on the ankle lock and Richards counters into a cradle for two. Brutal Bob interferes and Richards makes him pay for it with a running kick to the chest. Richards goes up top and hits another missile dropkick for two. He puts on the Ankle Lock and Bennett is able to escape. Maria slaps Richards in the face and then Mike Mondo comes out to sexually assault Maria to the sound of a crowd cheering. Yeah, it blows my mind too. Bennett chases Mondo, and when he gets back in the ring Richards destroys him with an Alarm Clock and a Shining Wizard to get the pin at 10:02 (shown). This was going along all well and good and then Mondo had to interfere for some reason. Richards also kind of stopped selling his leg injury near the end, so it loses major points for both of those things.
Rating: **½

R.D. Evans and Tommaso Ciampa make their way to the ring. Ciampa is scheduled to face Jay Lethal in the next qualifying match, but he’s on crutches and looks to be in no shape to perform. Evans says he promised that his client would wrestle, so he brings out his new client, “God’s Gift” Q.T. Marshall. Oh, goody. Marshall and Evans then beat Ciampa down and he has to be carried out.

MATCH #5: Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Match – Jay Lethal vs. Q.T. Marshall

Marshall is making his SOTF debut, while Lethal is entering the tournament for the second time, with one trip to the finals under his belt. Lethal hits an immediate superkick and sends Marshall to the floor. He follows with a suicide dive and the crowd is juiced. Back in the ring Lethal stays on offense, landing the hiptoss-cartwheel-dropkick for a two-count. Lethal sends Marshall outside and tries another dive, but Marshall gets back in the ring and catches Lethal with a tilt-a-whirl powerslam for a one-count. Marshall is in control now, and Evans interferes every chance he gets. Lethal makes the comeback but Marshall cuts him off but still can’t put him away. The resilient Lethal fires off a superkick and hits the Lethal Combination. Lethal goes up top and Evans distracts him. Prince Nana runs out and beats Evans down, throwing him into the barricade. Officials come out to break up the melee, and Lethal hits the Lethal Injection to get the pin at 6:26. Not really much going on there, as this match was more a setup to introduce Q.T. Marshall and further the Nana/Evans/Embassy issue. Lethal was also a very obvious (and rightful) winner here, so the result was never in question.
Rating: *½

MATCH #6: ROH World Title Match – Kevin Steen vs. Rhett Titus

Steen has been the Champion since 5.12.12, and this is his ninth defense. Steve Corino has joined the commentary team for this match. Steen has Jimmy Jacobs with him, and Titus has his new tag team partner BJ Whitmer in his corner. Titus attacks Steen in the aisle before the bell rings and we’re off and running. They make it into the ring and Steen uses some dirty tactics to gain control. Titus hits The Dropkick and Steen rolls to the floor. Steen and Jacobs regroup, and Titus takes them both out with a dive. Back in the ring Titus hits the Thrust Buster for a two-count. Steen is able to position Titus on the middle rope to hit the DDT for a near-fall. He ties Titus up in the Tree of Woe and delivers the Cannonball. Momentum continues to shift, as the plucky Titus won’t go down without a fight. The battle spills to the floor and Jacobs successfully distracts Titus long enough for Steen to hit the powerbomb on the ring apron. Back in the ring Steen covers but only gets two! Steen goes up top and misses a moonsault. Titus goes up top and Whitmer stops Jacobs from interfering, and that allows Titus to gain control of Jacobs’ notorious spike. The referee tries to stop Titus from using said spike, and Steen capitalizes with a superkick. One F-Cinq later and Steen retains the title at 6:42. That was rather pedestrian for an ROH World Title match, as Titus did nothing to earn that title shot and had no shot at winning. They did what they could to dress it up, but it was just meh.
Rating: **

~Episode #57 – October 20, 2012~

MATCH #7: Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Match – Roderick Strong vs. Homicide

Strong is making his seventh appearance in Survival of the Fittest, with four trips to the finals and one victory to his credit. Homicide is making his third appearance, and was in the finals once before. Interestingly enough, these two were tag team partners in a qualifying match in 2006, but they lost to The Briscoes. They take it to the mat and exchange holds. Homicide fires up and sends Strong to the floor and follows him out. Strong tries to fight back but the floor is Homicide’s domain. When they get back to the ring they fight back and forth until Strong hits his first backbreaker. Strong covers for a two-count. Time for a commercial break and when we come back they are slugging it out. Homicide wins that battle and goes for the Three Amigos, but Strong counters and drops Homicide’s midsection on the top rope. They continue to counter each other and trade control of the match. Homicide goes for the Gringo Killer but Strong escapes it. Strong hits the gutbuster and the Sick Kick for a near-fall. He follows with a hard Gibson Driver to score the pin at 10:22 (shown). This was okay but it was just all back and forth, so nothing ever really got established in terms of a story for the match, just two guys doing moves.
Rating: **½

MATCH #8: Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Match – Mike Mondo vs. Kyle O’Reilly

Mondo is debuting in Survival of the Fittest, and O’Reilly is making his third appearance and was in the finals last year. I really, really dislike everything about Mondo. They chain wrestle to start, trading holds on the mat as Davey Richards comes out to sit at ringside and watch. Creep. Mondo and O’Reilly engage in a test of strength and flip around the ring. O’Reilly wins that battle and lands a knee strike. The fight spills to the ring apron, and O’Reilly shoves Mondo down into a well-placed chair so he can hit the flying dropkick off the apron. That’s a good time to take a commercial break. When we come back the two wrestlers are trading strikes, but O’Reilly is still in control. O’Reilly uses suplexes and strikes to keep Mondo subdued, but when he goes to the top rope Mondo follows him and brings him down with a superplex. They rise to their feet and Mondo hits a quick snap mare driver for a near-fall. The back and forth continues, with both men trying to bring out the big guns but neither man can put the other away. O’Reilly tries the Cross Armbreaker, but Mondo counters it into an inverted Cloverleaf. The referee gets right up in there and O’Reilly taps out on his back at 10:43 (shown). Another perfectly adequate match but the result stinks and the finish was awkward.
Rating: **½

MATCH #9: Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Match – Michael Elgin vs. RHINO

This is Elgin’s second Survival of the Fittest appearance after winning the tournament last year, while this is the debut for RHINO. They start off slugging right away. Elgin has been compared to RHINO many times over the years so this is an intriguing match-up. Elgin surprises by hitting a slingshot back elbow. RHINO takes a powder. Elgin follows him out and throws some punches. RHINO whips Elgin into the barricade. Roderick Strong comes out to watch. Elgin reclaims control. Back in the ring Elgin hits a flying shoulder tackle off the top rope for two. RHINO hits a belly-to-belly suplex and goes for the Gore. Elgin moves out of the way and gets a schoolboy rollup for two. RHINO catches Elgin with a spinebuster for a two-count. He continues to wear Elgin down on his way to trying another Gore. Elgin hits an enziguiri and both men are down. Back on their feet Elgin unloads with a series of clotheslines and a bicycle kick. Elgin hits a Black Hole Slam for two. He follows with a bridging German Suplex for another two-count. Elgin tries the powerbomb but RHINO backdrops his way out of it. RHINO drives a shoulder to the midsection and this a TKO for two. Strong gets up on the apron to argue with the referee. RHINO sets up for the Gore but Truth Martini gets in the ring and begs him not to. That gives Elgin the distraction he needs to hit his own Gore. Elgin that hits the Spiral Bomb to get the win and move to the finals at 7:50. That was a very good power match from two guys with similar styles. I’d like to see them go again.
Rating: **¾

~Episode #58 – October 27, 2012~

MATCH #10: The Briscoes vs. The Bravado Brothers

Mark and Harlem start the match with some stuff. The more experienced Briscoes take the early advantage and wear Harlem down. The Bravados use some devious tactics to take control and they get a short burst of offense on Mark. Before too long the Briscoes are back in control and dominating. Jay hits Lance with a Falcon Arrow for a two-count. The Briscoes go for the Doomsday Device but the Bravados break it up and unleash a flurry of offense. Harlem hits Jay with a blockbuster and Mark has to break up the cover. The referee loses control as it turns into a brawl. That doesn’t bode well for the Bravados, and this time the Briscoes hit the Doomsday Device to get the pin at 5:25. That was a fine little squash for the Briscoes on their way to yet another title shot.
Rating: *½

MATCH #11: Survival of the Fittest 2012 Final Six Way Elimination Match – Adam Cole vs. Davey Richards vs. Jay Lethal vs. Roderick Strong vs. Mike Mondo vs. Michael Elgin

This is Lethal’s second trip to the finals, the second for Cole, first for Mondo, first for Richards, the fifth for Strong (with one win), and the second for Elgin (also with one win). Strong and Richards start it off. These two know each other very well but they don’t get too far with each other before Elgin tags himself in. Elgin chases after Strong, who wants nothing to do with his House of Truth brother. Strong tags Mondo, who tries to match power with Elgin. That doesn’t go so well, as Elgin flattens Mondo with a powerslam for a two-count. Richards tags in and all hell breaks loose. Action is too fast to call as they all spill to the floor and bodies are flying all over the place. Mondo strikes last, knocking everyone down with a moonsault from the top rope. Back in the ring Mondo covers Richards for two. Cole tags in to battle Mondo. That doesn’t last long as Strong blind tags himself in. Strong surprises Mondo with a Sick Kick to score the first elimination at 4:48. Good riddance. Strong then tears into Cole, probably still upset that Cole took the TV Title from him earlier this year. For some reason Nigel continues to fellate Mike Mondo on commentary long after Mondo is out of the match. Strong hits the gutbuster but Cole kicks out at two. He attacks his own partner and Elgin strikes back with a spinning back fist. Cole adds a superkick to eliminate Strong at 6:41. Richards comes in and Cole hits him with a Death Valley Neckbreaker for two. Elgin tags in to battle Elgin and they go back and forth. Cole tries a Shining Wizard but Elgin catches him in a Buckle Bomb. One Elgin Bomb later and Cole is done for the night at 7:43. Lethal goes right after Elgin as we take our first commercial break.

When we come back Elgin has both Richards and Lethal in his arms, and he hits the simultaneous Fallaway Slam/Samoan Drop. Lethal and Richards regroup on the floor while Elgin goes up top. Strong is still out there, and he throws Cole’s TV Title belt in the ring and then shoves Elgin off the top rope. Richards and Lethal get back in the ring and slug it out. Richards takes Lethal out with an enziguiri, and then he goes over and suplexes Elgin off the apron and onto a ringside table! Great move by Richards, making sure the biggest threat in the match was neutralized. The down side is that he gave Lethal time to recover, and the slug fest is back on. This goes on for quite a while, long enough for Elgin to crawl his way back to the ring. Richards and Lethal work together on Elgin, hitting a double stomp from the top rope (Richards) and Hail to the King (Lethal), and both try to cover the Unbreakable One at the same time but Elgin kicks out! Elgin powers up briefly but gets taken back down with a flurry of kicks and a simultaneous superkick to finally get eliminated at 13:18. We take another commercial break to get ready for the final two men to square off.

It’s down to Lethal versus Richards, as members of the locker room come out to surround the ring and cheer both men on. That’s pretty lame. Lethal hits an immediate Ace Crusher and he goes up top for Hail to the King and Richards kicks out! Richards comes back with the Alarm Clock and a running forearm. Lethal catches a charging Richards with two Lethal Combinations but he only gets two! Now Lethal puts on the Koji Clutch and Richards reverses it to the Ankle Lock. Lethal re-counters with the inverted surfboard and Richards gets to the ropes. They fight on the apron and Richards hits an exploder suplex! Richards throws Lethal back in and murders him with a super double stomp. Lethal kicks out at one! Richards destroys him with kicks to the head but Lethal kicks out again! Superkicks are traded and Lethal gets the better of it and covers for two. A very constipated Kyle O’Reilly is even watching on from the entranceway. Lethal tries the Lethal Injection but Richards avoids it. Richards unloads with hard strikes and puts Lethal up on top. He brings Lethal down with a superplex and he holds to deliver a Brainbuster. Lethal somehow kicks out! Richards hits a Shining Wizard for two and then locks on an Ankle Lock. Lethal escapes and hits a huge release German Suplex and then a release Dragon Suplex for two! Richards rises to his feet and Lethal is able to hit the Lethal Injection to win the tournament at 20:51 (shown). I liked a lot of this match, even if it had to be structured a little differently to be on TV. The eliminations made sense, and Lethal and Richards tore it up down the stretch. I love that Lethal only had to hit his finisher once to win, because they did tons of stuff to each other. Lethal needed this win and it did a lot to establish him as a threat to Kevin Steen. The only major issue it loses points for here is the forced nature of all the guys coming down to watch at ringside and cheerlead. Just let Lethal and Richards do their thing, they know what they’re doing.
Rating: ***¾

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