Survival of the Fittest 2007

*** ROH DVD Reviews by Brad Dykens ***
October 19, 2007 – Las Vegas, Nevada

INTRODUCTION: “Survival of the Fittest” is the ultimate test of endurance – an annual event that is known to catapult ROH wrestlers into stardom in a single night. Previous winners include American Dragon, Roderick Strong, and Delirious. This year’s list of participants is as diverse as it has ever been – with the debut of several well known independent wrestlers usually only seen on the west coast. The event was made even more special by the location… VEGAS, BABY! That’s right, Ring of Honor debuted in Las Vegas, Nevada for a big night of action that will never be forgotten.

The No Remorse Corps (Roderick Strong & Davey Richards & Rocky Romero): The DVD began on the streets of Las Vegas with a promo from the No Remorse Corps, all of whom will participate in the Survival of the Fittest competition. Roderick and Rocky continue to tease Davey, denying him the right to go out on the town with them after the matches because he has to keep an eye on their bags. Richards tried to convince one girl to hang out with him while he watched the bags but she wanted to party instead. Can you blame her?

ROH World champion Nigel McGuinness: The tradition in Ring of Honor when the ROH World title changes hands is that the following show opens with a speech from the new champion. So the ring announcer introduced the Nigel McGuinness, who came out and gave a speech about his dream of being ROH World champion becoming a reality! Roderick Strong, wearing the FIP World championship, interrupted the speech and called McGuinness a fluke. Brent Albright (with Shane Hagadorn) interrupted and told Nigel to shine up the belt because he is going to take it from him. Roderick Strong confronted Brent Albright and their match got started.

Roderick Strong (No Remorse Corps) vs. Brent Albright (Hangmen 3): 2005 SOTF champion Roderick Strong was successful and became the first to qualify for the 2007 Survival of the Fittest finals.

Chris Hero (Sweet & Sour Inc.) vs. Karl “Machine Gun” Anderson: California-based wrestler Karl Anderson was making his debut with Ring of Honor and had the tough task of making a good impression against one of the most well-rounded athletes ROH has to offer. Chris Hero was dominant and easily advanced to the finals of the Survival of the Fittest.

Rocky Romero (No Remorse Corps) vs. T.J. Perkins: T.J. Perkins might not be a familiar name to many viewers, but it’s possible that you have seen him wrestle as PUMA at some point – perhaps in Total Nonstop Action. These two know each other very well, having wrestled each other literally all over the world. Rocky Romero prides himself on being some kind of ass-kicking latin lover. Romero won the match and earned his spot in the Survival of the Fittest. T.J. Perkins received a nice ovation after the match.

Delirious vs. Austin Aries (The Resilience): Austin Aries has a long history with the Survival of the Fittest competition. Aries was the runner-up in the first SOTF (2004); but even in a losing effort, that show made Aries a huge star. The following year (2005), Aries once again finished in the runner-up position, this time in favor of Roderick Strong. Last year (2006), Aries got too over-zealous and was the first man eliminated from the finals – a major disappointment. Needless to say, Aries has a lot to prove. Meanwhile, Delirious was the winner of last year’s Survival of the Fittest. Austin Aries took one step towards redemption with an impressive victory to advance to the Survival of the Fittest finals for the fourth year in a row!

Claudio Castagnoli vs. Davey Richards (No Remorse Corps): If I was a betting man, I would bet on the winner of this match winning the competition – but we’ll see how things unfold. Two members of the No Remorse Corps have already qualified for the Survival of the Fittest, so there was a lot of pressure on Davey Richards to join his stable-mates in the final. This would give the Corps a major advantage over everybody else, but would also create an issue over which of the three would win in the end. Claudio Castagnoli, who recently won the Race to the Top tournament, appeared to have injured his neck on his way to a victory over Davey Richards – thus claiming a spot in the Survival of the Fittest finals.

Nigel McGuinness vs. “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson: It’s a complete shame that both of these guys couldn’t participate in the finals. The ROH World title was NOT on the line. The winner of the Survival of the Fittest would receive a title match, which meant if McGuinness won then he would be wrestling himself (or have the night off). I was quietly wishing the match could end in a double-pin and both would advance, but it ended in a 20:00 time limit draw and neither man advanced to the finals! The fans demanded five more minutes, and American Dragon started doing his heel “you want five minutes?” thing. McGuinness immediately locked Danielson in an Arm-bar submission, and the Dragon quickly tapped out. This would have given Nigel that elusive victory over Bryan Danielson, but the bell had not sounded so it was not an official match. Dragon slipped out of the ring holding his shoulder and retreated backstage.

Shane Hagardorn vs. Pelle Primeau vs. Human Tornado: This was supposed to be a regular triple threat match, but was turned into a SOTF Qualifying match at the last minute to fill the void left by the McGuinness-Danielson draw. This suddenly turned into a big opportunity for one young wrestler to make a name for himself in one night. Human Tornado made the best of his ROH debut by scoring a victory in a short triple threat match. Human Tornado has a cult following on the west coast, and if he comes to ROH more often I’m sure his huge fan-base will follow.

The Briscoe Brothers vs. The Age of the Falls (Jimmy Jacobs & Necro Butcher): The Briscoes-AOTF feud has developed into a war very quickly, and this match exemplified the insanity of what ROH fans have come to expect. Necro Butcher is about as coordinated as Mick Foley, but fortunately shares the same kind of unique charisma. Jimmy Jacobs scored the victory with a tight Guillotine Choke submission to earn a Non-title victory over the ROH World Tag Team champions. Here’s a quick tip; if you want to freak out your neighbors, download a copy of the Age of the Fall’s entrance music and play it loud on your computer speakers at 3:00 in the morning.

Roderick Strong vs. Chris Hero defeated vs. Rocky Romero vs. Austin Aries vs. Claudio Castagnoli vs. Human Tornado: Roderick Strong was trying to become the first 2-time winner of the competition, and had Rocky Romero in the match to give him an advantage – or would that become a disadvantage? Austin Aries is trying to break the curse of being 0-3 in Survival of the Fittest final matches, including finishing in the runner-up position twice. Human Tornado is attempting to make a huge name for himself in one night. Claudio Castagnoli and Chris Hero are long-time partners, but have more recently spent time feuding with each other. Hero was accompanied to the ring by super agent “Sweet & Sour” Larry Sweeney. Chris Hero eliminated Human Tornado (please come back!). Austin Aries was on fire, and was about to finish off Rocky Romero with his trademark 450 splash off the top rope when Chris Hero tagged himself in and stole the pin on Romero! A few minutes later, Hero scored a sneaky pinfall over Austin Aries to eliminate Aries! The story of the match is that Hero was standing on the ring apron letting everyone else do the work, waiting for the right moment to sneak in and steal the pinfalls. It came down to Chris Hero, Roderick Strong, and Claudio Castagnoli. Larry Sweeney paid off Strong with cold hard cash to align himself with Hero. Stong and Hero double-teamed Castagnoli for a couple of minutes before Hero pulled the plug and pinned Roderick Strong! Hero reached into Strong’s knee-pad and took back the cash that Sweeney had given him! Chris Hero has pinned everybody, so far! The former King’s of Wrestling fought for the Survival of the Fittest bragging rights. Hero might have used questionable tactics thus far, but it would take good old fashioned skill and ability to reach the top of this mountain. After a couple minutes of back-and-forth action, Hero won by making Castagnoli pass out with the Hangman’s Clutch! Claudio’s “neck injury” from the qualifying match came back to haunt him. Chris Hero is the 2007 Survival of the Fittest champion! Hell, he earned it.

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