Saturday, May 7, 2016
I’m a bit behind on this but it’s the final show from a loaded WrestleMania that I needed to watch/review.
Galloway and Gargano won a tournament to become the first ever Evolve Tag Team Champions. This was a really good start for the show. It felt like an important match and only went on so early so Gargano could leave to work NXT. Everyone brought their strengths to the table. At one point, Gulak slapped Galloway from the apron in the midst of Galloway kicking Williams’ ass. Galloway responded by going outside and lighting up Gulak. Catch Point would turn it around and pick apart the arm of the former Evolve Champion. Gargano got the hot tag, which was a nice surprise as I thought it would have been Galloway getting it. There was a great exchange of submissions from everyone shortly after. In the end, Williams hit Gargano with a double arm DDT for two and instantly went into a submission, making him submit. A really solid opener that had a hot crowd and really good, old school tag team wrestling involved. Also, Catch Point’s theme is easily five stars.
After the match, Drew Galloway got on the microphone and congratulated Catch Point. He had something to get off of his chest as Catch Point left. Drew put over Evolve and the wrestlers there, as well as his need to be the best in the world. He talked about how he put Evolve on the map before losing the title unjustly. He got suspended and watched as NXT got involved. Drew said he didn’t put in all of that work just so that WWE could come in and step all over it. He kicked Gargano low and said that everyone working with NXT/WWE has made him feel like that. He locked his partner in the Gargano Escape until Ethan Page made the save, only to also take a low blow. After a Future Shock, Galloway said he’s “best for business” and that he is this business. Great angle and awesome job of bringing the WWE partnership into the fold.
Fred Yehi has quickly become one of my favorite guys in Evolve, while Chris Hero has been on a tear. He just has consistently good to great matches everywhere. He showed up sporting the old Raptors jersey with the dinosaur on it, which was tremendous. Hero offered a handshake that Yehi declined, showing he has some serious balls. Hero just annihilates him chops. Yehi tried some of his own, but they were mostly shrugged off. Hero nailed all of the little things in this match. His reactions to everything were great and his offense looked like it hurt like hell. Yehi’s comeback attempts were great and the crowd bought into a few close calls. Hero put him down with a ripcord elbow. Great underdog match as Yehi played that role well, while Hero has mastered the bully role.
With an Evolve Title shot coming up later in the night on the Mercury Rising show, Callihan winning this was expected. There was some early brawling outside that proved to be the best part of the match. Once inside, they traded stuff but this was kept short. Callihan hit the Cuerno Killer and made Nese tap to an arm bar. I haven’t been enjoying Callihan since his return to the indies and this was another lackluster match. It wasn’t bad, it was just alright.
So Cal Val was disappointed in Anthony Nese. She said that, while the Premiere Athlete Brand had to split, both Nese and Caleb Konley are under contract with her and “Valifornia”. She wants to get them into WWE’s Global Cruiserweight Series but he tells her to shut up and that he was going to handle business.
Darby Allen earned a spot on the show by impressing higher ups at a recent training session. Page came in angry due to the Galloway stuff earlier and his upcoming Anything Goes match with Nese at Mercury Rising. Page dominated, though Allen got in a few pieces of offense and bumped well. He put away the youngster with the RK-Ego and a package piledriver. After the match, Page cut a promo on Galloway and Nese. He challenged Galloway to a match at Evolve 60. Kind of hard to rank since it was basically a squash, but it accomplished the goal.
The rest of the show is a set of four matches pitting American wrestlers against European competitors. TJP had the speed advantage, while End certainly held the upper hand in the strikes department. TJP, like he did to Ricochet a night earlier, went after the leg of End. He put End in the STF and did the “you can’t see me” motion with Tommy’s hand. He controlled a good chunk of the match, though End’s selling of the leg left something to be desired. Seemingly from out of nowhere, he struck with a knee that kept TJP down for three. It was a good match that never reached the next level and ended rather abruptly. While good, I’d consider this a disappointment.
Europe took a 1-0 lead. Tommy End hopped on the microphone and called out Kota Ibushi. They would meet as part of a six man tag later that night at the Mercury Rising show.
This doubled as part of the Europe/USA Series and Zack Sabre’s “Best in the World” one. Coming in, Sabre was 3-0 in his five match series. Two of the better technicians around just went at it here, hold for hold, to see who the better man was. Sometimes, that’s all you need. They just played to their strengths and worked a clean, crisp match. If you want to watch two guys grapple each other, this is the match for you. It’s also the shortest Sabre match I’ve ever seen. That made the finish even more shocking. Riddle used his Bromission to make Sabre tap out in less than ten minutes! That was probably an unthinkable time frame and end to the match coming in. The reaction of the crowd to the finish was perfect. Watching these to counter each other for ten minutes was a thing of beauty. They shook hands and hugged afterwards.
I talked about Sami Callihan being a disappointment but Timothy Thatcher is even more of one in 2016. In 2015, he was in my top three indy guys to watch, but his 2016 has been so lackluster so far. This was non-title and Thatcher entered with a messed up elbow. It was kind of cool to know that this was PROGRESS Champion vs. Evolve Champion. Thatcher had little to no use of his arm as it just dangled there at times. Scurll was his villainous self with eye pokes and attempted use of his umbrella. Scurll superkicking Thatcher’s injured elbow was probably my favorite part of this one. It was that arm that came into play as Scurll applied the chicken wing, pulling back on it, and made Thatcher submit. Really solid ten minute bout that featured fun moments from Scurll, good selling from Thatcher, and a surprising outcome.
Sami Callihan came out after the match to run down Timothy Thatcher. No need to go out of your way to see their match at Mercury Rising. It wasn’t very good.
Among everything done on WrestleMania weekend that didn’t involve the WWE, this probably had the most hype behind it. They had some fun beforehand, putting on each other’s jackets. These two guys seem meant to face each other as their styles are rather similar. They do some amazing things throughout this that take your breath away and all of it came off very crisp as I can’t really recall any slipups. I found the match to be a good blend of fun and competitiveness. For instance, they had fun with Ricochet’s “People’s Moonsault” spot in the early stages, but as thing progressed, it became a serious fight for superiority. They overdo it a bit on the series of near falls for me towards the finish, but it never stops being exciting. Ricochet came out on top after a huge Benadryller. A splendid showcase of athleticism.
Overall: A strong show from Evolve. There are only two matches on the show that are an easy skip and it would be the two middle matches involving Callihan and Page, though they’re kept short and aren’t terrible at all. Everything else ranges from good to great. Riddle/Sabre and Ospreay/Ricochet were the highlights for sure. The Tag Title change and Galloway angle were really fun as well. I also really liked the unpredictability of the card as I would have predicted the opposite outcomes for each USA vs. Europe Series match.