ROH WRESTLING DVD REVIEWS
| *** Official OWW.com ROH DVD Reviews by Brad Dykens ***|
October 6, 2006 - SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST - Cleveland, Ohio
Survival of the Fittest has become one of Ring of Honor's most popular annual events due to it's grueling nature. It is widely considered to be a major stepping stone for any wrestler who is climbing the ladder in ROH. Previous winners were American Dragon "Bryan Danielson" and Roderick Strong; Austin Aries was the runner up at both the earlier SOTF events, but his career was "made" due to his performance against American Dragon at Survival of the Fittest 2004. It's sure to be a test for all the wrestlers who are lucky enough to be involved and I for one look forward to this event each year. The format is simple; There are five qualifying matches for starters - then the five (or six) winners come back to face off in an Elimination-style match.
ROH home releases have a new feature called "ROH Video Wire," which is an updated version of the Video Recaps they used to put on each DVD. They sorta kinda borrowed the concept from IWS's Bloodstream videos, but I'm sure it's merely coincidental. Anyway, Colt Cabana hosted this 10-minute recap which was mostly spent making crude sexual remarks about Lacey. Eventually they ended up on the couch with Lacey showing the absolute maximum amount of leg before getting slapped with an "R" rating (see photo). Jimmy Jacobs eventually showed up dragging the shattered pieces of his broken heart behind him. Jacobs swallowed his pride and apologized to Cabana for the unfortunate incident at Glory by Honor V and was forced to beg Cabana to be his tag team partner because it would "make Lacey happy." This stuff is well produced but is so beyond creepy it makes me uncomfortable just watching it. Lacey and Cabana are such jerks to Jimmy Jacobs; I don't know how Cabana is still considered a babyface. I hope that Jacobs somehow gets redemption by the end of this storyline.
Before the matches could get underway, the Briscoe Brothers were given some promo time (exclusive to the DVD) -- and as I've said many times in the past, the Briscoes should be banned from talking.. FOREVER! Hearing them talk diminishes their appeal.. well for me it does. Jimmy Rave showed up irate looking for Prince Nana and Sal Rinauro; he said he went to Japan and came back and everything was different. Rave then demanded the Briscoes help him find Jim Cornette -- the Briscoes got offended and told Rave that it was "time to MAN UP!". Austin Aries cut a quick promo acknowledging the fact that he was runner up in both the previous Survival of the Fittest competitions, and promised that 2006 would be HIS year! Now let's get the show on the road!
Qualifying Match #1 - Matt Sydal defeated Davey Richards: This should tell you a lot about how stiff the competition is for Survival of the Fittest. These two men were probably the two fastest rising stars in 2006, and I probably would have picked the winner of this match to win it all if I hadn't already known the outcome. Richards and Sydal fought hard and showed how important this competition is for everybody. Matt Sydal scored a minor upset by defeating Davey Richards and advancing to the SOTF Finals ( 7.5 / 10 ).
Roderick Strong cut a promo about winning Survival of the Fittest last year and needing to win it again and become a 2-time champion. I hadn't noticed before but Roderick has come a long way in the last two years improving his interview skills.
Qualifying Match #2 - Delirious defeated Jimmy Rave w/Daizee Haze: The Crown Jewel of the Embassy was not in a good mood as he made his way to the ring, and the fans didn't help matters when they gave him the traditional toilet paper treatment. The announcers didn't acknowledge it as much as they used to do - I think they have begun the process of phasing that gimmick out. What can I say; it was fun while it lasted. God bless Prince Nana wherever he is, because he is sorely missed in Ring of Honor. They're playing it off as if he's missing in action, but in reality he gave his noticed and left the company for unknown reasons. Delirious made Jimmy Rave tap out with the Cobra Stretch to advance ( 7 / 10 ). Delirious looked good for this match, but not great.
Qualifying Match #3 - Austin Aries defeated Christopher Daniels: This match is just another reason why this tournament totally rules. Two of ROH's long-time talents fighting for a spot in the Elimination match at the end of the night. Austin Aries came out with unfamiliar ring-gear, and quickly explained that the airlines lost his luggage so he had to borrow gear from some of his ROH students. Allison Danger was trotting around ringside doing what she does best -- looking great! Allison was particularly harsh with the referee tonight (he must owe her money). Anyway despite working in someone else's boots, Aries scored the victory to advance to the Survival of the Fittest finale ( 7.5 / 10 ). Austin Aries is poised to win SOTF and reclaim his former glory as ROH World champion.
Jim Cornette and the Briscoe Brothers went to the ring for their obligatory Homicide tirade. Cornette called the Homicide fans a bunch of cowards and said he didn't come to Cleveland to be disrespected. There are still a couple of Cornette supporters left and Cornette was smart enough to point each of them out during his speech. Cornette said the Brisoes were the finest tag team in ROH and ordered them to win their match tonight and hurt Homicide in the process so he's in no shape to win the ROH World title in December.
Qualifying Match #4 - The Briscoe Brothers defeated Roderick Strong & Homicide: Homicide's entrance music is so cool, it has the same effect (on an indy level) that Stone Cold Steve Austin's broken glass music has in the WWE. The other day I was watching the Kill Bill movies and realized just where Homicide got the first part of his music from. By the way, Kill Bill Vol.1 and Vol.2 are awesome - the soundtracks are phenomenal. They didn't really explain why one of the qualifying matches was a tag team match, but it would make sense later. When the ring announcer announced that there was only 2-minutes left in the 20-minute time limit, the pace of the match suddenly tripled. Jim Cornette came down and gave the Briscoes his famous tennis racket and they used it on Homicide and scored the pinfall with about 12-seconds left in the match ( 7 / 10 ). Jim Cornette isn't Jim Cornette without that frickin' tennis racket.
Qualifying Match #5 - "American Dragon" Bryan Danielson vs. Samoa Joe was a draw: As Joe and Dragon made their entrance, it felt like your typical ROH main event - I quickly realized there was still much to be seen before the night was over. Considering these two competitors regularly engage in 1-hour draws, it would have to be an aggressive encounter for one of them to advance into the finals. I suspect Bryan Danielson didn't really care about Survival of the Fittest, just just wanted to prevent Samoa Joe from winning. This 20-minute draw was a cake walk for the ROH World Champion ( 7 / 10 ). The fans in attendance and Samoa Joe wanted five more minutes but Dragon was satisfied with the result and repeatedly whacked Joe with his ROH World title belt! Neither man advance.
Editor's Notes: It is almost tradition in the wrestling business for opening round of tournaments to be predictable and insignificant, but ROH has consistently gone against the grain. Of all ten entrants, just about anybody could have won the entire thing and made it believable. The prize for the winner is an ROH World title shot - each and every one of them deserve it.
In non-SOTF action, the Kings of Wrestling (Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli) made their first defense of the ROH World Tag Team titles against the Lacey-led team of Jimmy Jacobs and Colt Cabana. Before the match, they had to squeeze in some soap opera entertainment. Lacey and Colt Cabana were dancing to the Copa Cabana music while Jimmy Jacobs cried in the corner. Cabana noticed and offered to let Jacobs cut in but Lacey would have nothing to do with Jacobs -- poor guy! The King's made their entrance through the front door as "We Are the Champions" by Queen blared over the sound system. The King's are smart enough to lock all four of their title belts in a large briefcase before the match so nobody steals the belts (like they to Aries and Strong). Whenever he wasn't crying or blowing kisses to Lacey, Jimmy Jacobs was at the top of his game for this match - but it still wasn't enough to impress Lacey. Lacey's constant derogatory comments caused Jacobs to lose focus and he accidentally speared his partner, leading to the King's retaining their ROH World Tag Team titles ( 7.5 / 10 ). Lacey consoled Cabana after the match, while berating Jacobs for screwing up her chances of bringing ROH gold into Lacey's Angels. B.J. Whitmer showed up after the match and attacked Jimmy Jacobs, but Jacobs kicked Whitmer in the injured ankle and yelled "F*ck you!" at both Cabana and Whitmer before leaving.
Survival of the Fittest Finals (Elimination match) - Matt Sydal vs. Delirious vs. Austin Aries vs. Mark Briscoe vs. Jay Briscoe:
A lot of big names lost their chance in the qualifying round, and I admittedly would rather have seen Roderick Strong and Homicide in this match instead of the Briscoes. Although it IS a treat whenever we get to see the Briscoes in singles competition. You might say it was a night of upsets, and the first elimination of the match was what I consider a major upset as Austin Aries was the first man sent to the showers when he was eliminated after a spring-board Doomsday Device! This was shocking because Aries was the runner-up at both the previous SOTF events. It turned into a tag team match with the Briscoes against Sydal and Delirious, although it was still every man for himself. Matt Sydal then eliminated both Briscoe brothers and it looked like they were grooming him to win it all. It came down to long-time rivals Matt Sydal and Delirious. Matt Sydal did an psychotic moon-sault off the top rope into the second row taking out Delirious! A few minutes later, Delirious made Matt Sydal tap out to the Cobra Stretch to win the prestigious Survival of the Fittest 2006!! ( 8.5 / 10 ). It got so heated during the last ten minutes that the crowd was chanting "This is Awesome!"
The DVD closed with Jimmy Rave confronting Jim Cornette in the parking pot about the disappearance of Prince Nana. Cornette said Prince Nana tried to pull a power-play on Ring of Honor, so he got rid of him. Cornette said Nana would be able to come back when he was willing to play by the rules. Jimmy Rave seemed lost and confused, which hopefully will lead to something good.
Final Thoughts: Delirious would have been my last choice to win it all, but I like him and I'm glad he won. He has been unsuccessful on several occasions against American Dragon already, but I don't think Matt Sydal has ever had an ROH World title shot. I'd rather have seen Matt Sydal win it all, rather than Delirious. Survival of the Fittest 2006 is well worth purchasing if you're crazy about ROH.
If you would like to purchase this or any other ROH DVD, please check out ROHwrestling.com ---- if you need some convincing, you can check out streaming video of various ROH matches for free at www.ROHVideos.com
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