It was announced last Thursday night during ROH ON HONOR CLUB that, following Samoa Joe vacating the ROH World Television Championship, a new champion would be crowned at FINAL BATTLE 2023. To determine the new champion, AEW/ROH President Tony Khan dipped into the rich, nigh on twenty-two year, history of Ring of Honor and landed on the Survival of the Fittest tournament as the method by which the 31 World Television Champion would be crowned! It's a tournament format that hasn't been tapped since 2021, and while has always seen the winner earn a shot at the ROH World Championship, has never before been used as a championship match itself.
But what is Survival of the Fittest? Here's a bit of a history lesson for those either unfamiliar with the format, or simply need a refresher course after a couple years without a SOTF taking place. Born on June 24, 2004 at the Ramada Inn in Essington, PA, the Survival of the Fittest tournament was inspired by Maryland Championship Wrestling's Shane Shamrock Cup, a tournament so-named in honor of the late Shane Shamrock (Brian Howser) who died on August 18, 1998.
The initial idea for the tournament finals was an Elimination Match featuring six competitors who each had to qualify via victory in six singles matches. That original intent faded fairly quickly as the inaugural SOTF Tournament actually featured fourteen men looking to qualify for the finals due to one bout morphing from a singles bout into a tag team format:
Of those 14 men, the finals would come down to Aries, Cabana, Homicide, Mark Briscoe, Samoa Joe, and Bryan Danielson, the last of whom would actually win the 43 minute fight, leading to his failed challenge against Samoa Joe for the ROH World Title four months later at MIDNIGHT EXPRESS REUNION.
The success of that original Survival of the Fittest Tournament would make it a part of the ROH calendar nearly every year prior to the dawn of the new era of honor, all but 2008 and 2013 as a matter of fact, with past winners of the tournament including Roderick Strong(2005), Chris Hero(2007), Tyler Black(2009), Eddie Edwards(2010), Jay Lethal(2012), Adam Cole(2014), and Bandido(2021). All of those men, save Hero who was a record-setting World Tag Champion, held the ROH World Championship at one point, several of them directly due to their victory in the SOTF tournament, and all are certifiable ROH Hall of Famers. The importance of Survival of the Fittest to their careers can not be understated, and with its return in the closing month of 2023, it is now set to change the course of another individuals career. Only this time and for the very first time, instead of a future ROH World Championship opportunity at stake, the winner of the tournament will be crowned the new ROH World Television Champion! Who will follow in the footsteps of Samoa Joe, Matt Taven, Adam Cole, Shane Taylor, and Dalton Castle to create their own enduring legacy as World TV Champion?
The qualifying matches kick off shortly exclusively on future episodes of ROH ON HONOR CLUB, with the final Six Way Elimination bout taking place at FINAL BATTLE 2023 which will be available exclusively on Honor Club for subscribers! Not only will the ROH faithful get the traditional year-end extravaganza, but they will also have access to previous the ROH PPV's in the new Era of Honor, classic ROH content dating back to 2002, and so much more featuring the greatest professional wrestlers of the 21st Century!