Survival of the Fittest Winners: Where Are They Now (Part 2 of 2)

Survival of the Fittest

Welcome to part two of Survival of the Fittest Winners Where Are They Now. Part one of the series looked at the tournament winners from 2004-2010. Part two of the series will look at the remaining winners of the tournament, and the finals of this year’s tournament. Let’s dive into the remaining winners of the Ring of Honor tournament.

Survival of the Fittest Winners 2011-2012

2011 and 2015 Winer: Michael Elgin

Michael Elgin in ROH

Michael Elgin won the tournament in 2011 and 2015 making him the only two-time winner of Survival of the Fittest. He cashed in his first tournament victory unsuccessfully against Davey Richards for the ROH World Championship. Elgin had a long feud with future tournament winner Adam Cole from the end of 2013 through June of 2014, ending in Elgin defeating Cole for the ROH World Championship. He held the title for 76 days before losing to Jay Briscoe.

Elgin won the tournament again in 2015 but was unable to defeat Jay Lethal for the title. He worked with NJPW in 2015 participating in both the G1 Climax and World Tag League. Moving into 2016, Elgin competed in the New Japan Cup where he advanced to the semi-finals before being eliminated. Elgin captured two titles during his time with NJPW. Elgin, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Yoshitatsu won the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team in 2016. He also defeated Kenny Omega in the first-ever ladder match in NJPW to become the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. Elgin also competed in promotions such as IMPACT and Pro Wrestling NOAH. Elgin largely stepped away from pro wrestling in 2020 and has made sporadic appearances in GSW and IWA Mid-South this year.

2012 Winner: Jay Lethal

ROH World Champion Jay Lethal

Jay Lethal has been dubbed “The Franchise” of Ring of Honor. He currently holds the record for most days as ROH Champion with 707 days. Lethal won Survival of the Fittest in 2012 when he defeated  Adam Cole, Davey Richards, Michael Elgin, Mike Mondo, and Roderick Strong in the finals. He was unable to defeat then-champion Kevin Steen (AKA Kevin Owens) for the ROH World Title. Lethal went on to defeat Jay Briscoe at Best in the World 2015 to capture the title for the first time. He also defended the ROH World Television Title in the match, becoming a dual champion.

Lethal went on to win the title again in 2018 and has been a cornerstone of Ring of Honor since. Currently Lethal competes as a member of The Foundation with the goal of restoring the honor in Ring of Honor. He has been key in the revival of the Pure Championship and Pure style in Ring of Honor. He is currently locked in a feud with other stables in ROH VLNCE UNLTDLa Facción Ingobernable. The stables represent very different philosophies in wrestling and are each trying to establish themselves as the top faction in ROH.

Survival of the Fittest Hiatus and Winners 2014-2018

2014 Winner: Adam Cole

Adam Cole

Survival of the Fittest took a year off in 2013 before returning in 2014. Adam Cole was victorious in the 2014 edition of the tournament. He unsuccessfully challenged Jay Briscoe for the title at Final Battle. The week following the match Cole announced that he would be taking time off to deal with an injured shoulder. He returned in May and teased a return with Future Shock before turning on his past partner Kyle O’Reilly. In May of 2016 Cole became a member of Bullet Club. Cole went on to win the ROH World Title two more times, making him the only three-time ROH World Champion.

Cole departed Ring of Honor in 2017 and debuted in NXT alongside Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly as The Undisputed Era. The stable added Roderick Strong to the roster NXT TakeOver: New Orleans, finalizing their line-up. Cole was crowned the inaugural NXT North American Champion at the same event when he defeated five other men in a ladder match. Cole is also the longest-reigning NXT Champion in history, holding the belt for 396 days. He is also a former NXT Tag Team Champion, making him a triple crown champion. The Undisputed Era broke up in 2021 when Cole turned on O’Reilly. The two were locked in a feud that culminated in an unsanctioned match at NXT Takeover Stand and Deliver. Cole most recently challenged for the NXT Title in a five-way match unsuccessfully at NXT Takeover In Yout House.

2016 Winner: Bobby Fish

Bobby Fish

Bobby Fish took home the title of Survival of the Fittest winner in 2016. He unsuccessfully challenged Adam Cole for the ROH World Title in March of 2017. Fish left ROH shortly after and joined WWE where he was a part of The Undisputed Era. Fish went on to win the NXT Tag Team Championships twice as part of The Undisputed Era.

During the 2020 WarGames Match, Fish suffered an injury that would take him out of action. While he was recovering from the injury the Undisputed Era broke up due to Cole turning on O’Reilly. Fish returned to NXT TV in May of 2021 saving Kyle O’Reilly from a beat down courtesy of Pete Dunne and Oney Lorcan. O’Reilly made things clear that although he appreciated the help, he wanted to do things on his own this time. Fish had his first match back in NXT on May 25, where he lost to Pete Dunne in singles action.

2017 Winner: Punishment Martinez

Punishment Martinez TV Champion

Punishment Martinez was crowned the champion in 2017. Following his victory in the tournament, he captured the ROH World Television Title in a 4-corners survival match from Kenny King. He entered 2018 as the TV Champion and attempted to become a double champion when he faced ROH World Champion Dalton Castle. He was unable to capture the ROH World Title but defended the TV title until his ROH departure in September of 2018.

Martinez made his NXT debuted under the name Damien Priest at the end of 2018. He made his first main roster appearance at Survivor Series 2019 as part of team NXT in a traditional 5 on 5 Survivor Series match. Following Survivor Series, Priest returned to NXT with the North America Championship in his crosshairs. After a couple of failed attempts to capture the title from Keith Lee, Priest captured the title in a ladder match at NXT: Takeover XXX. He lost the title to Johnny Gargano and feuded with him over the belt with his time in NXT coming to an end shortly after. He made his next main roster appearance at the 2021 Royal Rumble that lead to a WrestleMania feud with John Morrison and The Miz that involved Bad Bunny. Priest is currently out of action with an injury.

2018 Winner: Marty Scurll

Marty Scurll NJPW

Marty Scrull is the latest winner of Survival of the Fittest. Scurll won the tournament in November of 2018. He retained his number one contendership with a victory over Christopher Daniels, at Final Battle 2018. He lost his number one contendership to Dalton Castle in a 4-Corners Survival match in December of 2019. The remainder of his Elite stablemates departed ROH at the end of 2018 to form and compete in AEW. Scurll formed a new stable Villan Enterprises with PCO and Brody King. Flip Gordon joined the stable at Final Battle 2019 finalizing the lineup. Scurll, King, and PCO went on to win the ROH World Six-Man Tag Team Championships once before losing the belts to MexiSquad in January of 2020. He last competed for ROH in February of 2020 before production was seized due to COVID-19. Scurll was released from ROH in January of 2021 and has not competed since.

Survival of the Fittest Winner 2021 and More

Survival of the Fittest returned this year, with the winner getting their shot at ROH Champion RUSH. The finals of the tournament took place ROH TV #510. FlamitaBrian JohnsonEli IsomChris DickinsonBandido, and Rhett Titus competed in a six-way elimination match to determine the winner of the tournament. Bandido won the tournament and will now face RUSH at Best in the World with the title on the line.

To see where you can watch ROH on TV or see the latest episode of ROH TV click here. For all things ROH, check out Honor Club. or their YouTube channel for WOH Wednesday and ROH Week by Week. 

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