SOTF 14-1

Ohio Expo Center – Columbus, OH – Friday, November 7, 2014

Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino are on commentary.

~PRESHOW MATCH~
R.D. Evans & Moose (w/ Veda Scott) defeat The House of Truth (J. Diesel & Jake Dirden) (w/ Truth Martini) at 8:51. Dirden looks like he could pass for Hagrid. No one is on commentary here, which is a bummer. Evans does his comedy stuff, Moose does his power stuff, and the crowd is into them both. The House of Truth duo is able to stay in it and they isolate Evans for a bit. Eventually Truth has to make his way into the ring and stand there for a bit before doing nothing. That was thrilling. Moose gets left all alone but it matters not, as he cuts through both Diesel and Dirden with ease. He hurls Evans into Dirden with enough force to take Dirden down for a three-count. Moose and Evans have interesting chemistry as a team, even if I think the “streak” stuff is pretty lame, which I do. Still, the pre-show was a good place for this.
Rating: **¼

~MATCH #1~
In a Survival of the Fittest 2014 Qualifying Match, Tommaso Ciampa defeats Will Ferrara at 11:08. Ferrara is replacing Caprice Coleman, who was not able to make it due to family issues. He’s making his SOTF debut, while Ciampa is in the tournament for the second time. The youngster Ferrara keeps pace with Ciampa in the early going, countering some attacks and dishing out plenty of offense. Once Ciampa takes over though, things get pretty rough for Ferrara pretty quickly. Ferrara holds his own for a bit and almost gets the pin with a Code Red, but he runs right into a vicious knee strike and that’s enough for Ciampa to get the pin and move on. That went a little longer than I would have anticipated, and Ferrara made a pretty good showing. Ciampa looked plenty vicious, and I like his inclusion in the main event scene.
Rating: **¾

~MATCH #2~
In a Survival of the Fittest 2014 Qualifying Match, Roderick Strong defeats TaDarius Thomas at 10:56. Strong is entering his eighth Survival of the Fittest tournament, with five trips to the finals and one win. Thomas is making his second appearance in the tournament. Both men take a quick pace in the early going, as they are probably somewhat familiar with each other from their days in The Decade together. They trade strikes and suplexes, and Thomas is doing a decent job of hanging with his much more experienced opponent. Thomas looks to have Strong right where he wants him, but Strong ducks a kick and then lands a hard knee strike and a vicious forearm. Strong follows with the End of Heartache and then locks on the Stronghold to get the win. That was a fun battle, as Strong continues to be amazing and bring almost everyone closer to his level just be working with them. I think a lot of people know this by now, but Roderick Strong is really, really good.
Rating: ***

~MATCH #3~
In a Survival of the Fittest 2014 Qualifying Match, Adam Page (w/ BJ Whitmer) defeats Cedric Alexander at 10:38. Both men are in this tournament for the first time. Page is eager to show off his aggression for his mentor watching at ringside. Alexander is certainly ready for him, and he’s only happy to quicken the pace. They go back and forth trying to one-up each other, and they elicit a “This Is Awesome” chant. Good for them. Alexander seems to be in control as he lands a dive to the floor, but he tries to springboard his way back into the ring and Page catches him and hits Fade to Black to get the upset pin! I did not see that coming, but I love the super-clean finish. That makes Page look like a threat without making Alexander look weak, which is great. The match was well-worked too, showcasing both men effectively and whipping the crowd into a frenzy.
Rating: ***¼

~MATCH #4~
In a Survival of the Fittest 2014 Qualifying Match, Adam Cole defeats Delirious via countout at 23:13. Cole is appearing in his fourth tournament, with two trips to the finals. Delirious has been in Survival of the Fittest tournament, with two trips to the finals including a win in 2006. This starts off with plenty of stalling and shenanigans. Delirious now wrestles barefoot and with his ring jacket on. Cole is able to power through Delirious’ unorthodox attacks in the early going and he starts wearing the masked man down. I think Cole needs a haircut. Delirious makes the occasional comeback, but Cole mostly controls the pace and flow of the match. Cole often goes for the Figure-Four Leglock, while Delirious tries to use the Cobra Stretch. The crowd gets into a “this is awesome” chant, but I’m not exactly sharing that feeling with them. Late in the match Delirious goes up top for Shadows over Hell but Cole shoves him down to the floor. Cole goes out and puts the Figure-Four Leglock on while referee Todd Sinclair counts. Cole gets back in the ring before the 20 count, and Delirious does not, so Cole advances to the finals. Parts of that match were fun, but it went on way too long, and while I like the heel dickishness of Cole winning the way he did, was that really necessary against a part-time (at most) wrestler? Still, this puts Cole in the finals and I’m all for that.
Rating: **¾

~MATCH #5~
In a Survival of the Fittest 2014 Qualifying Match, Hanson defeats ROH World Television Champion Jay Lethal (w/ Truth Martini) at 15:24. Lethal has been in two Survival of the Fittest tournaments, going to the finals both times and winning it all in 2012. Hanson is making his debut. Lethal refuses to shake Hanson’s hand, and the big man takes exception to that. Hanson uses his power to control the early parts of the match, thwarting all of Lethal’s attacks. Truth interferes every chance he gets of course. Lethal finally does take control and he wisely tries to keep Hanson grounded by working on his leg. He uses some dubious tactics and almost puts Hanson away with Hail to the King but Hanson is able to kick out. Lethal signals for the Lethal Injection but Hanson surprises everyone with his own handspring back elbow! Hanson goes up top for a moonsault but Lethal moves out of the way. Lethal hits the Lethal Combination for two! He gets one more shot at the Lethal Injection but Hanson catches him in a backdrop! Hanson then lands the Spin Kick of Doom to earn his way into the finals! That was a really good showing for Hanson, who got to stand toe to toe with the ROH World TV Champion. Lethal was a little bit overconfident against the tag team specialist Hanson, and it ended up costing him in the end. Good stuff here.
Rating: ***¼

~R.D. Evans Speaks~
Before the in-ring action can continue, we’re joined by R.D. Evans, Moose, and Veda Scott. Evans talks about how important his upcoming TV Title shot in San Antonio is to him and to the New Streak. He rambles on for a bit, and thanks his support staff. Jimmy Jacobs and BJ Whitmer come out to interrupt them. Jacobs says that Evans and his New Streak are a joke, and he says he Decade has serious business to attend to. He even gets in Moose’s face and calls him a washed up football player. Them’s fightin’ words, and Adam Page quickly makes his way to the ring to give the Decade the edge. The Addiction come out to make the save, and they’re ready for their match RIGHT NOW.

~MATCH #6~
The Addiction (Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian) defeat The Decade (Jimmy Jacobs & BJ Whitmer) (w/ Adam Page) at 12:01. The action is fast and furious, with plenty of tag team expertise on display. All four of these men are multiple time World Tag Team Champions, by the way. After the initial flurry, The Decade cuts the ring on half on Daniels, wearing him down and keeping him away from Kazarian. But of course Daniels eventually frees himself and makes the tag, and Kazarian comes in a house afire. Things break down and referee Brian Gorie loses complete control and doesn’t seem interested in getting it back. Page interferes several times throughout the match, and when the Addiction drag him into the ring, Moose comes running out and destroys Page with a Spear! In all the confusion the Addiction hit Jacobs with Celebrity Rehab to get the win. That was a solid, well-worked tag team match between four experts in the field. It was pretty straight formula stuff, but that formula is good so it worked.
Rating: ***¼

~MATCH #7~
In a Survival of the Fittest 2014 Qualifying Match, Matt Sydal defeats ACH at 19:31. Sydal is making his second Survival the Fittest appearance, with one prior trip to the finals. ACH is making his debut in the tournament. There seems to be a good amount of tension between these two similar wrestlers. ACH is particularly aggressive, and he’s able to control most of the early parts of the match. Sydal comes back and goes to work on the leg, always a good strategy against a high-flyer. ACH of course comes back and flies around more and does more kicks. He does sell the leg after the moves, but it’s still a little suspect. ACH tries a couple of big moves to pout Sydal away but he can’t quite do it. Sydal on the other hand, is able to hit the pop-up rana and then a Shooting Star Press to get the pin and complete the Survival of the Fittest finals field. I like both of these guys a lot, but this just didn’t click for me. It felt long and meandering, with no real glue holding it all together. They did some moves, the selling came and went, and then it was over. I think they can do better.
Rating: **¾

~MATCH #8~
The Kingdom (Michael Bennett & Matt Taven) (w/ Maria Kanellis) defeat The Briscoes (Jay Briscoe & Mark Briscoe) at 13:26. This is a No Disqualification Match. Jay and Mark charge the ring and the fight is on. Things are immediately out of control as all four men brawl on the floor. Lots of weapons get involved, particularly chairs. I’ve been watching Ring of Honor for over 10 years, so I’ve seen a number of Briscoes matches exactly like this. It’s not bad or anything, it just is what it is. For the finish, Jay gets tied up in the ropes and Maria helps hold him there while the Kingdom obliterates Mark with a spiked Piledriver onto a chair. Taven and Bennett continue the beating after the bell, and their leader Adam Cole comes out to join them. The Kingdom stands tall to end the show. This was like dozens of other Briscoes matches, nothing to see here.
Rating: ***

A2Z Analysiz
This is a solid if unspectacular show. Five of the eight matches reach three stars, but nothing gets as high as three-and-a-half stars, which makes for a decently entertaining watch. I prefer having the entire tournament on one night, but they did a solid job setting up the main event for Night Two, with a nice variety of guys in the finals.

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