June 10, 2016
The Orphuem – Ybor City, Florida
WWW allowing me to review a promotion of the year contender’s weekend loop shows? Count me in. The boss man here, reviewing EVOLVE 62 and 63 as Cedric Alexander and Trevor Lee return to the promotion and big matchups happen. If you haven’t checked out EVOLVE so far this year, you need to, as even though the storytelling at times can be questionable (the big elephant in the room is the Timothy Thatcher storyline), the in ring almost always delivers. Gabe/WWN are booking big time matches that specifically pop those of us in the wrestling bubble that are active watchers of indie wrestling. Hell, even those that don’t keep as much track buzz over some of the matches not only on paper, but after the fact. Let’s see what EVOLVE had to offer on a Friday of a double shot. It’s EVOLVE 62.
Fred Yehi vs. Anthony Nese
EVOLVE is looping back with the way their shows are structured. It’s starting to get ridiculous in good ways and not great ways. Shows are starting off hot everytime with ***3/4+ matches: Sabre Jr. vs. Hero from WM weekend, Rush vs. Konley from Maryland and now Yehi vs. Nese. This was everything I’d want from an encounter between these two and then some. The way the match was structured, and the way these two worked the bout felt exactly like the EVOLVE style. It was high tempo offense mixed with complex selling and grappling. Nese brought athleticism, and Yehi brought EVERYTHING to the table. The match was built around stomps, Yehi surviving heat spots, and the Koji Clutch continually being applied in different situations. After tons of awesome twists and turns, including Yehi ironically stomping Nese off of a kip-up which was a brilliant spot, Yehi caught Nese in the Koji Clutch for the last time; tapping him out.
Nese cut a promo post-match, and went straight to putting over Yehi. He went further on to explain that the Premier Athlete Brand is done with, but his individuality can take him to greater lengths; and demanded to be entered into the Cruiserweight Classic flashpoint the next night; which is an elimination scramble prelude to the tournament taping soon. Overall a solid promo which furthered his path to potential success.
Darby Allen vs. Ethan Page
This is a rematch from EVOLVE 59, where Allen was more or so used as an enhancement talent. This time Allen has an interesting look, and has showed off his promo style in the buildup to the rematch via WWNLive’s YouTube channel. This has more weight of importance than just a filler squash now. Short but a job well done. Seattle’s Darby Allen (I’m a Pacific Northwest brother!) got over via punishment. The story that was told saw Darby not going down without a fight, with confident Page running all over him. Plummeting to the outside, Page didn’t do any further damage, furthering his “good guy Page” gimmick, yet Allen beat the 20 count. A top rope bodyslam, a Jackhammer, an R-K-Ego kickout; Darby still wouldn’t go down. However, with more brutal punishment came the end in a Package Piledriver, center of the ring. Page predicted it would end that way, and it would again. Allen is a guy that has been put on the map, with his beautiful float through the air offense, combined with his daredevil mentality – I see him fitting in well with the EVOLVE roster in the years to come.
Cedric Alexander vs. Matt Riddle
You could not have booked a better match for Cedric Alexander’s EVOLVE return. This is just ridiculous on paper. Absolutely incredible match. I couldn’t have asked for more, once again in a matchup here on the show. This didn’t even go THAT LONG, yet the two went all out and provided everything; going all out and providing a perfect clashing of their own styles. Between Cedric Kobashi chopping the hell out of Riddle, and Riddle selling like a God, to Cedric literally barging back into EVOLVE with his BITW skill-set – acting like nothing’s changed; this was literally perfect. There was lots of fast paced offense, and Alexander brought out his Michinoku Driver and knees/kicks, which made for great near falls and survival spots. Riddle kept nudging to get position, and eventually did after catching Cedric with a brutal double knee attack. The Bromission was locked in and Cedric had no choice but to tap. “Don’t thank me yet, I’ll be here a long time,” said Cedric at match end. Hell yeah. The two embraced post-match to boot.
EVOLVE Tag Team Championship: Catch Point (Drew Gulak & Tracy Williams) (c) vs. The Bravado Brothers (Harlem Bravado & Lancelot Bravado)
This was fucking ridiculous! My lord, these guys put on a freestyle tag team wrestling clinic. It built up with grappling, transitioned to mild spots, then picked the hell up whilst the drama continued to settle in at a rapid pace. At first I was thinking to myself “oh god, people put this over and I’m scared I’m not gonna like it because I can’t typically fully get invested in these two teams…” but it built up so well that I couldn’t help but fully enjoy the experience. All of this combined with boisterous Fray in the background blended amazingly. Hot Sauce continues to provide a mound of improvement everytime he enters a ring. These two teams clicked wondrously and told a great story. Some ridiculous spots occurred, with my favorite being this: Gulak gets a Bravado in the dragon sleeper, only to be flipped into a Gentlemen’s Welcome for a HUGE near fall. That was only like 70% of the match in. After that, it only picked up to new heights, with a thrilling closing sequence. Hot Sauce and Lancelot killed each other, with the culmination being a DDT on the turnbuckle, knocking Lancelot the hell out. 1-2-3.
Post-match we got a Gulak promo pimping WWE Cruiserweight Classic then switching gears to calling out Thatcher. Thatcher accepted, and retorted face to face with Gulak, who had HIS belt around his waste. Thatcher (lol on the mic) made a clear cut message, to get out of the ring as his match is now. “It’s time to put the kids to bed and let the men take care of business,” Hero exclaimed towards Catch Point as he interrupted the segment. Catch Point accepted because they’re gentlemen! They enjoy the spirit of competition.
EVOLVE Championship: Timothy Thatcher (c) vs. Chris Hero
This, like a lot of Thatcher matches, was split down the middle. Guys like D Spence disliked it, where as guys like Quentin said it was a top 5 Hero match this year. I’m about in the middle. I thought that it was a good match, not great, but was an enjoyable title defense for Thatcher. It beats any other horrific match he’s had this year; and people are right with him seemingly reverting back to 2015 form Thatcher. You cannot have a bad match with Chris Hero. He is the definitive best in the world. The grappling was suburb, but what really stuck out to me, much like other matches of these two, is the fighting spirit and brawling spots. What elevated those was Thatcher’s selling, which is unreal. He has the best facial expressions in wrestling, and arguably the best physical selling skill-set to boot. The finish was abrupt like all Thatcher matches, but was fine. He kept the arm-bar in no matter how Hero tried to get out of it, which made for a cool looking ending. Hero had to eventually tap. Right or wrong call, I respect Gabe for keeping to his choices. This wasn’t a top 5 Hero match of 2016 to me, but it was a good, solid title defense, and one that I can look back it positively; even more so for a Thatcher case this year.
Post-match Hot Sauce geared up for a title challenge vs. Thatcher, as “Ridd-le” chants broke out funny enough. Gulak pledged that Catch Point would do what Hero couldn’t do, win the EVOLVE title. Based Stokely (god bless ya) got on the mic and explained Thatcher should defend vs. Dream Team. HE GOT THE DAMN REF TO STRAP THE BELT TO HIS WAIST. Thatcher will defend against everyone in the stable, and he pledged to hurt anyone that laid a finger on it. Stokely dropped the title real quick. Commentary corpsed. RIDDLE SCHOOLED THATCHER. “You’re nothing but trash, dude.” “You’re gonna die trash.” What a segment/hoot.
Street Fight: Drew Galloway & Ethan Carter III vs. Johnny Gargano & TJ Perkins
This was a blur to me. It was fun for a few minutes, as they went outside, did some crazy shit, and fought in a street cart. Then it flowed out back into the arena, lost me, and there were multiple run-ins in ROH/PWG esque fashion. It makes sense and the whole match was fine. Just not for me, and a weird placing for the match (in the main event) even if the feud is supposed to be “that big”. This was the worst match on the show, but by no means is that a diss. EC3 hit the One Percenter on TJP to win the match after Hero hit a Gotch piledriver on Drew Gulak and Galloway took out Gargano with a piledriver of his own. The refs continued to be knocked down throughout the match. They jumped the shark too quick with this match in my humble opinion. A decent way to end the show.
Team TNA got on the mic post-match to cap everything off. They bragged that they were right and that this isn’t a war. Galloway’s promos as part of this feud are starting to blend together like his “THIS IS WRESTLING” ones. Hero is apparently on their side, when in reality he was preventing Catch Point from doing anything. It’s a double-edged sword. They name dropped Cody Rhodes. They drop a bomb that Cody Rhodes is coming for Johnny Gargano on August 19. Ethan Page tried to spoil the promo but Drew hit him with a Future Shock DDT. EC3 dropped a plug for Slammiversary (which I un-ironically plan on enjoying about an hour out from posting this review) to heroically end the show~!
Even with the ‘meh’ main event, EVOLVE 62 was a very good show. Not quite show of the year level, but good enough to where it should be sung all praises. I’d be fine with Yehi/Nese, Alexander/Riddle, or the tag match getting match of the night praise from whomever. I’d have to go with the tag match, but my heart says Alexander/Riddle all the way. Storyline advancement was solid even if questionable again, with Thatcher continuing to embark on his road to defeat all Catch Point members and Team TNA/independent wrestling savants apparently gaining new members in Chris Hero and Cody Rhodes. I look forward to reviewing the second-half of the double shot when it drops on VOD tonight. EVOLVE continues to kill it none the less. Support ’em.