Saturday, January 28, 2017

NXT TakeOver: San Antonio Predictions

This is a strange TakeOver card. A lot of the show doesn’t have great build, and none more than this one. There was some interaction in a fatal four way match and then a few words exchanged. That’s it. Still, I’m a fan of both guys and this match has potential. Andrade Almas has looked rejuvenated since the heel turn and though Roderick Strong hasn’t impressed much in NXT yet, this could be the breakout match he needs. I was originally going with Almas, but I predict a fair amount of heel wins on this show, so I’m gonna say Roddy takes this.

Winner: Roderick Strong

Considering the story, I think this calls for a Tye Dillinger victory. He’s looking for his place in NXT and needs a win on a major show. He has never won on a TakeOver. However, I don’t see him staying with NXT much longer. Part of me believes he’ll be the tenth entrant in the Royal Rumble and carve out a niche in the lower midcard of Smackdown or Raw, similar to where Apollo Crews is (though both could do more). SAnitY is a cool group and though I’m not a big Eric Young fan, their leader should get his first major win here. Tye leaves NXT with a loss.

Winner: Eric Young

#DIY had a great 2016. Their matches with the Revival and even the one with Akira Tozawa and Tajiri were awesome. They started 2017 strong as well and could be the team to lead the division for a long time. I just don’t think they retain here. I really want them to, but the Authors of Pain have been built up as a big deal and I don’t see them losing their first title shot. It could happen on some sort of fluke, but I think Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa get the Sami Zayn run. They fought hard to win the titles and had great matches, but ultimately get a short run in favor of a monster champion.

Winners: The Authors of Pain

Call me crazy, but this is the match I’m looking forward to the most on this show. I’m a huge fan of both Peyton Royce and Billie Kay and have been dying to see them get TakeOver shine. They both deserve it. Check out their recent Performance Center videos posted on Twitter. They’re delightful. Nikki Cross has been great in her current role, which if you watched her on the indies, you wouldn’t have expected it to be a character she’d portray. Also, Asuka has been a dominant champion, but a multi-woman match isn’t a position we’ve seen her in before. Everything also feels fresh because none of these women have had a significant match with the other. Plus, the last women’s fatal four way on a TakeOver was awesome (****1/4 at Rival). I say Asuka retains and heads into Mania weekend nearing a year as champion for a clash with Ember Moon.

Winner: Asuka

Similar to Tye Dillinger, part of me senses that Shinsuke Nakamura is about done with NXT. He could enter Mania weekend as champion to help promote that show but I think he possibly makes the Mania card against the Miz or something. Bobby Roode is wildly over and is a good choice to help lead the brand moving forward. The one negative is that a lot of the best guys in NXT are also heels (Aries, Almas, Young, Joe, etc.) Still, Roode against a returning Hideo Itami, Roderick Strong or even singles runs for Gargano and Ciampa could be interesting. I’m gonna say Roode wins a good match, though I’m not expecting great.

Winner: Bobby Roode

Evolve 76 Review

Evolve 76
January 27th, 2017 | Woodlawn Park Gym in San Antonio, Texas

My Royal Rumble weekend of wrestling started with an NJPW show this morning but this was the first show I was truly looking forward to. With a new FloSlam account, I plan on catching as many Evolve events as I can. The final weekend of Chris Hero’s run with Evolve is upon us, along with a big Tag Team Title match and the debut of ACH.

Catch Point opened the show. Their new theme is lame. Matt Riddle had his PROGRESS Title. Tracy Williams said Catch Point is the standard around here and they are going to prove it tonight.

Jaka def. Peter Kaasa in 9:22
Jaka and Chris Dickinson are the newest members of Catch Point. Kaasa cut his hair and instead of looking like a shitty Scott Steiner, he now looks like a shitty Mason Ryan. He kept a rat tail though, so he looks absurd. There was more striking and fighting than mat wrestling here, which is different from the usual Catch Point stuff. Kaasa got most of the offense and did his typical flippy stuff. Jaka nailed a nice dive outside of his own too. Kaasa got two on a super Angle slam but the middle rope broke on his next spot attempt. Kaasa fell awkwardly and Jaka finished with a sitout powerbomb. Nothing special for the opener. I liked some of what I saw from but still can’t get into Kaasa. The finish was abrupt, most likely due to injury. **½

After the match, Jaka checked on Kaasa and hugged him before leaving. While they fixed the ring, they ran several video packages.

When the show resumed, Catch Point returned. Williams talked about them proving that they’re the best again. Dickinson took the microphone, which barely worked. He shouted about opportunity and called out his opponent.

Darby Allin def. Chris Dickinson in 6:14
Darby is part of Uncle John’s Friends in FIP. He’s also known for taking big bumps, so facing Dickinson could end badly for him. Allin avoided Dickinson’s grasp early on but once he got caught, he took a beating. Dickinson went for a Razor’s Edge off the apron but had it countered into a rana. Back inside, Dickinson took over again with Germans and a vicious clothesline. Just when things looked their bleakest for Allin, he pulled Dickinson into a victory roll for the upset. About what I expected here. Dickinson threw Allin around, who was more than willing to bump. They told a tried and true story that almost always works. The upset was a nice touch. **¾

Chris Dickinson jumped Darby Allin after the match but Catch Point broke it up. That’s not the Catch Point way.

Jason Kincaid def. DUSTIN in 10:53
It’s future PWG Champion DUSTIN! Like Allin, Kincaid is a different kind of performer. He used that style to makes things fun in the early stages. DUSTIN’s serious heel offense just doesn’t fully click with me. He sent Kincaid into the steel steps at one point and it just looked so weak. Kincaid’s rally saw him bust out some more of his unique offense and I noticed the middle still doesn’t look strong. DUSTIN comes back and DID THE DEAL but only got two. Kincaid’s attempted tope suicida DDT saw DUSTIN catch him and hit a great walking, stalling vertical suplex outside. DUSTIN tried using a chair but the referee stopped him. That opened the door for Kincaid to go on a flurry, ending in a submission for the win. Another upset but not as good as the previous match. Kincaid was impressive but DUSTIN’s offense, outside of the suplex, just didn’t interest me. He controlled most of the match and when he did, it was dull. **

Grudge Match: Ethan Page w/ The Gatekeepers def. Zack Sabre Jr. via disqualification in 12:56
Zack Sabre Jr. attacked Ethan Page from behind during his entrance. He went wild and managed to take out both Gatekeepers, showing a more vicious, aggressive side. They continued the fight outside for a bit until going in and finally starting the match. They were back outside quickly, where Sabre nailed a tornado DDT. The things they do all look good and painful. Page took control for a while and Sabre turned it around with a brutal sounding strike. Page was too strong for a lot of Sabre’s typical submission offense. RK Ego only got a near fall shortly before Sabre worked a modified triangle choke to make Page submit. Sabre refused to let go of the hold, so the Gatekeepers ran in. Darby Allin entered and somehow that was enough to send them packing. Some bodyguards. Allin smiled at Page as he passed out. The referee reversed the decision and gave Page the win. Good match that did what it needed to. There was a heated intensity to this, which the match needed given the grudge match billing. ***¼

Matt Riddle def. ACH in 13:48
There are two matches on this card I was excited for and this was the first. They shook hands and went to the mat. ACH got the surprising upper hand first, but Matt made him go to the ropes on their next exchange. We got a standoff, showing how these two scouted one another. Riddle started in with some brutal chops and strikes, so ACH answered with a sick sounding soccer kick. They continued to trade vicious chops, kicks and even some snap Germans. Riddle laid in a string of chops and ACH hit a superkick. Riddle nailed a kick of his own, the Bro to Sleep and a fisherman buster for the 1-2-3. Easy match of the night thus far. ACH played to Riddle’s strengths and hung tough with him on the mat and with the strikes. Staying in the sub-15:00 minute range always works for Riddle. This was awesome and 2017 feels like it could be the year of Riddle. ****

They hugged after the match and Riddle cut a “bromo” saying he would hold some WWN gold by the end of the year. DUSTIN attacked from behind with a steel chair. He said that there were rules in the Octagon but there won’t be in their No DQ match tomorrow.

Evolve Tag Team Championship: Fred Yehi and Tracy Williams (c) def. Jeff Cobb and Evolve Champion Timothy Thatcher w/ Stokely Hathaway in 15:42
This was the other match I was pumped to see. Stokely Hathaway wore the Evolve Title to the ring. There’s a new (improved) remixed version of Thatcher’s theme. Both Yehi and Williams got a chance to take on the Evolve Champion in the first few minutes. Cobb came in and made a difference because he’s so thick. He threw Yehi around and Thatcher was more than happy to take advantage. Yehi took a small heat before finding an opening to tag Hot Sauce. Williams went nuts, suplexing Cobb and beating the champ up. The challengers turned it around and took turns working Williams over. Thatcher was a dick, booting Yehi off the apron. Yehi got the hot tag and did his thing, complete with “THIS GUY’S IN TROUBLE” yell towards Thatcher. He nearly won but Cobb broke things up with a suplex. Williams dealt with him outside, leaving Yehi and Thatcher alone. Yehi trapped him in the Koji Clutch and made the Evolve Champion tap out! A huge win for Yehi and I love all the shine he’s getting lately. A good tag match, mainly due to Yehi and Williams. Cobb was good but didn’t do too much, while Thatcher was kind of just there. ***½

Larry Dallas entered the ring in a Miami Vice style suit to interview Hathaway about Thatcher rebounding from the loss in time for his match tomorrow. Hathaway yelled at Cobb, calling him a fat slop and saying it’s his fault Thatcher tapped. Cobb responded by saying he’s taking the title tomorrow and wanted to know when Thatcher became Hathaway’s bitch.

Chris Hero def. Keith Lee in 21:43
There was a big deal made about Lee signing but I honestly have never seen him before. These are two big boys. This got off to a slow start with the guys trading headlocks. After about five minutes, the feeling out process ended and Lee sent Hero into the ropes, which broke again. Hero’s lucky he didn’t get hurt. They remove the top rope to do things with just two. My friend was there live and said Gave was livid at the ropes giving out again. Apparently, Riddle watched form the merchandise table and chanted “these ropes suck” with the crowd. Hero demanded they move outside, where Lee beat his ass with some brutal shots. Hero delivered some of his own as they just wailed on each other. He somersaulted off the apron onto Lee in a rather impressive spot. There was a funny moment where Hero shouted “NO COUNTOUTS, IT’S MY WEEKEND” but then thought countouts were okay when Lee was outside. As they seemed to near the finish, Lee went for a high risk move off the second rope and it broke again! Lee still hit a huge powerbomb for two. Hero was out of it but fired off a series of elbow strikes. Lee wouldn’t fall, even after one to the back of the head. He used a Gotch style piledriver to win it. It’s hard to rate this since they had to change things up due to the ring problems. They still managed to have a damn good performance despite it, which is a testament to their skills. Lee impressed me and I look forward to more from him in a better environment. I would love to see a rematch at some point, with a working ring. ***¼

Chris Hero got on the microphone and put over Keith Lee. He said Lee had everything but a killer instinct, which is something he developed over the past few years. In his mind, once Lee gets that, he’ll be unstoppable. Zack Sabre Jr. arrived to tell Hero that his sendoff doesn’t end until he beats him. He said Chris Hero can stay but Kassius Ohno can piss off to Florida and left. Hero said he’s gonna beat Zack’s ass tomorrow and shook hands with Lee to close things.

Overall: 7/10. A good show from Evolve. Matt Riddle and ACH had the match of the night, but there were other strong outings. I enjoyed Sabre/Page more than I expected to and the Tag Team Title match was fun. I also loved Yehi making Thatcher submit. The first two matches were decent and I wasn’t a fan of DUSTIN’s performance. The main event was strong, especially when you consider the ring. The ring messed up a few things on the show but they mostly worked well around it. A good start to 2017 for Evolve.