Ring of Honor returns to Dayton, OH Friday when the company presents its annual “Survival of the Fittest” tournament. “Survival of the Fittest” is a one-night tournament with the winner receiving a future ROH World Title shot. The tournament traditionally had six singles matches with the winners of each match meeting in a six-man elimination match in the finals. The 2011 version of “Survival of the Fittest” will feature three singles matches, a four corner survival match and a tag team match with both members of the winning team advancing. In addition to the tournament, there are two other matches on the card. Let’s take a closer look at each match.
Kyle O’Reilly vs Andy “Right Leg” Ridge
O’Reilly and Ridge have both been impressive during their time in Ring of Honor. Ridge performed admirably in the Trials Series in 2010 against some of the best competition that the company has to offer. Although he didn’t win a match in the series, he took several of the top competitors to the limit and gained valuable experience that will help him throughout his career. O’Reilly has already had moderate success in tournaments in Ring of Honor when he made it to the finals of the 2011 Top Prospects tournament, where he lost to Mike Bennett. Ridge earned his way into the tournament by defeating Grizzly Redwood on the preshow of “Death Before Dishonor IX” in September, so the drive and determination is there for him to win the tournament. O’Reilly trains with Ring of Honor World Champion Davey Richards, so he would know what it would take to defeat him. Either one of the wrestlers would be a tough person to eliminate in the “Survival of the Fittest” tournament.
Kenny King vs Adam Cole vs Tommaso Ciampa with the Embassy vs Michael Elgin
The first four corner survival match in “Survival of the Fittest” history brings together four of the most impressive athletes on the roster. King and Cole both have “Survival of the Fittest” experience when they both made the finals of the 2010 tournament, with King being the final wrestler eliminated. This will be the first time Ciampa and Elgin have competed in the tournament and they have a tough road ahead of them by being in the four corner survival match. Ciampa and Elgin are going to have to use their power to their advantage if they are going to advance to the finals, while King and Cole will have to use their athleticism. The match will most likely come down to who is at the right place at the right time to pick up the victory.
Jay and Mark Briscoe vs The Bravado Brothers
The Bravado Brothers pulled off one of the greatest upsets in Ring of Honor history when they defeated the Briscoes at “Tag Team Turmoil 2011” in July. The Bravados defeated the Briscoes in the opening round of a tournament that would guarantee a future tag team title shot. The two teams once again wrestle in a tournament, except this time an opportunity at the World Title is on the line. The Bravados will once again try to upset the Briscoes, but with the Briscoes being more focused than ever it is not very likely to happen. The Briscoes have too much pride to lose going into their match against Wrestling’s Greatest Team at “Final Battle” to risk losing another match to the Bravados.
Eddie Edwards vs Mike Bennett
Edwards is living proof of what winning “Survival of the Fittest” can do for a wrestler’s career. One year ago he won the tournament and used his title opportunity at “Manhattan Mayhem IV” where he defeated Roderick Strong for the World Title to become Ring of Honor’s first-ever Triple Crown champion. He looks to repeat history this year, but Bennett will not be an easy task. The brash Bennett promised to win a title in Ring of Honor by year’s end and has taken TV Champion Jay Lethal to a time limit draw. Winning “Survival of the Fittest” will take Bennett one step closer to accomplishing his goal
Roderick Strong vs Rhett Titus
Strong knows what it takes to be at the top of the mountain in Ring of Honor. He has won “Survival of the Fittest” and held the ROH World Title for over six months. He knows what the top feels like and winning “Survival of the Fittest” again would help take him back to the top. He has a difficult opponent in Titus, who has been having a break out year as one-half of the All Night Express. He and his partner Kenny King have battled the Briscoes all over the country and defeated them in Ladder War III at “Death Before Dishonor IX” that guaranteed the team a title shot against Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team. Titus is going to look to continue his successful year at “Survival of the Fittest,” but Strong’s desire to get back to the top may be too much for him to overcome.
Survival of the Fittest Finals
Although it is impossible to say who will be in the finals of “Survival of the Fittest,” that doesn’t mean there aren’t favorites to win it all. Here are the top five wrestlers I think could possibly win the tournament if they are able to make it to the finals:
1. Kyle O’Reilly
2. Michael Elgin
3. Mike Bennett
4. Tomasso Ciampa
5. Roderick Strong
In addition to the tournament, there are two other matches taking place in Dayton, OH Friday.
Steve Corino with Jimmy Jacobs vs El Generico
Corino was originally scheduled to wrestle Generico at “Death Before Dishonor IX” before Jacobs requested that he replace Corino in the match. Kevin Steen interrupted the match between Jacobs and Generico and Corino was not there to confront him. Corino has demanded that the match between himself and Generico happens and it is scheduled to take place at “Survival of the Fittest.” Corino has to be looking for closure for his actions from 2010, while Generico is looking to move past that portion of his career once and for all. But will they be able to get the closure they need, or will Steen once again prove to be the never-ending nightmare he want to be?
ROH World Champion Davey Richards and ROH World TV Champion Jay Lethal
vs ROH World Tag Team Champions Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin
All four champions in Ring of Honor will collide in a huge tag team match at “Survival of the Fittest.” Richards has a brief history with Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team in 2011. He and Eddie Edwards lost to the team at “Honor Takes Center Stage: Chapter Two,” and Richards defeated Haas at “Supercard of Honor VI” in May. Friday will be the first time Lethal has squared off against either Haas or Benjamin. Richards and Lethal are teaming for the first time in this match, and that inexperience as a tag team is going to be difficult to overcome against a team like Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team. The winner of the match will be able to claim himself as the best champion in Ring of Honor today.
“Survival of the Fittest” takes place Friday at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds in Dayton, OH. At the end of the night, fans will know which wrestler has proven himself to be worthy of a future title shot and possibly a future World Champion.