EVOLVE 36 was held live on iPPV on the 9th January 2015 where the main event was a rematch between EVOLVE Champion Drew Galloway and Roderick Strong in a non-title match.
The new DGUSA Champion Johnny Gargano opened the show and thanked the fans for all the support. Gargano then went on to speak about the future of EVOLVE and that there is now a new concept where newcomers will be endorsed by a member of the roster. Rich Swann comes out and talks about how difficult it was to get a shot until he, Johnny Gargano and Chuck Taylor formed Ronin. He then stated he wanted to give an opportunity to the’ King of Swerve’ Shane Strickland. Gargano then says that he’ll be more than happy to face Strickland and he’ll even put the Open the Freedom Gate Championship on the line.
Open the Freedom Gate Championship: Johnny Gargano (Champion) vs Shane Strickland (Challenger)
Giving Strickland a title shot right away tells the story of Gargano wanting to be a fighting Champion and that he isn’t scared of putting the title on the line against all comers. I felt the match was a bit slow at times and that the match never really clicked but it wasn’t a bad a match and Strickland did hold his own against the Open the Freedom Gate Champion, I feel as if Strickland would be suited to facing some of the highflyers EVOLVE has to offer so he can put on some great matches so the viewers can invest into Strickland before he has another big match.
Winner: Johnny Gargano retains the DGUSA Championship.
Match Rating 2.75/5
After the match Strickland and Gargano shake hands but afterwards Moose spears Gargano.
Biff Busick vs Trevor Lee
I’ve only seen a couple of matches from these two so I wasn’t really sure what to expect going into this match and from what I got, was a nice step up from the opening contest. This match was given little time and I hear quite a lot of praise about these two that this match could have been a great match if they were given a bit more time but I feel the purpose was to let Trevor Lee shine in EVOLVE and I do believe this was accomplished form this match.
Winner: Biff Busick
Match Rating: 3/5
The Bravado Brothers vs Uhaa Nation & AR Fox
The Bravado Brothers is a team that I’m not quite familiar with but I’m very familiar with what Uhaa Nation and AR Fox can do and to see them team up I was very excited about this match and this match didn’t disappoint. This match was very easy to watch with the Bravado Brothers using the more traditional tag team style wrestling while Uhaa and Fox focused on their strengths with their highflying abilities.
Winners: Uhaa Nation & AR Fox
Match Rating: 3.25/5
After the match Moose laid out Uhaa Nation and AR Fox with spears.
Ricochet vs Timothy Thatcher
Apart from AJ Styles, a lot of people say 2014 was the year of Ricochet and 2015 looks to be even better for him and this match showed why he was one the best of 2014. Normally when you think of a Ricochet match you would think this is going to be a highflying type of match but he surprisingly well managed to make this into a more technical match to suit Thatcher’s style of wrestling. I enjoyed how Thatcher was able to keep control of the match with stiff European Uppercuts rather than relying on rest holds and Ricochet really ate the offense well during the match. Ricochet’s work on the mid-section to help prepare to finish off Thatcher with the Shooting Star Press later on the match was well done because it shows he was thinking well ahead of what he wanted to do, Ricochet continues to evolve while Thatcher once again puts on another great wrestling match.
Match Rating: 4/5
10 Minute Flash Match: Rich Swann vs Anthony Neese
Before the match So Cal Val made her EVOLVE debut and offered her services to Neese and the rest of the Premier Athlete Brand before the match.
I didn’t understand why they went with this type of match when it can make a match feel rushed unless done right and I with them only getting 10 minutes to work with they managed to successfully cram a lot of stuff into this match. Swann got a quick pinfall on Neese early on in the match to take the lead and as the clock ticked away Neese got more desperate to catch up so he destroyed Rich Swann’s knee with a chair with gave Swann a 2-0 lead. Swann tapped out moments later to make it 2-1 to Swann which would eventually be the final score. This match wasn’t bad but I can’t help but feel with these two athletes that if the stipulation had not been put in place then the match could have been so much better.
Winner: Rich Swann (2-1)
Match Rating: 2.75/5
After the match The Bravado Brothers and Moose came out to attack Rich Swann but Johnny Gargano came out with a chair to save him. They set up a six man tag match for EVOLVE 37 with The Bravado Brothers and Moose vs Ronin (Rich Swann, Johnny Gargano & Chuck Taylor) and the losing team can never team again.
Non-Title Grudge Match: EVOLVE Champion Drew Galloway vs Roderick Strong
I loved the match these two had at EVOLVE 35 and when I heard that they were having a rematch, which is what sold me on this event. The story here was that since Strong lost the match at EVOLVE 35 he was mad and attacked Drew after the match and Drew wanted revenge. Before the match begins though Roderick is trying to apologise to Drew but Drew is having none of it and then they just go on an all-out brawl. I love this type of stuff where they just fight everywhere and that they don’t just stick to the ring area, these two fought in the bar and they even went out into the street and fought. As soon as both men got back to the ring area they both grabbed chairs and started trying to hit each other with chairs which is when the referee called for a double DQ but these guys just continued to fight and it only started to calm down after Drew went to superkick Strong but Strong pulled the ring announcer in front of him so the ring announcer accidentally got kicked. This would lead to Drew carrying the ring announcer to the back so Drew could get her some help.
This match really helped Galloway continue to reinvent himself after his awful run in WWE and with Roderick Strong they continue to put on good matches and Drew’s intensity is off the charts. This should lead to a third match and this time the EVOLVE championship should be on the line and I look forward to seeing these two fight each other again.
Winner: N/A Double DQ
Match Rating: 4/5
After the match Drew thanked the fans for supporting him ever since he first came to EVOLVE and won the EVOLVE Championship. He went onto say ever since he won the Championship he’s defended it all over world just lie he promised he would and that EVOLVE Championship is now going to be recognised as the EVOLVE World Championship.
Overall Event Rating: 8/10
Final Thoughts: EVOLVE kicked off 2015 in a good way, with barely anything bad on the show. Trevor Lee made an impressive debut while people like Ricochet, Thatcher, Busick and Galloway continue to shine and put on great matches. Drew Galloway vs Roderick Strong was a fun brawl to watch and it was something different and it helped make the show that much more fun to watch. I’m already interested in the future EVOLVE events with Drew Galloway vs Roderick Strong III coming soon hopefully and I’m glad they’re thinking about the future stars of EVOLVE already by bringing in guys like Shane Strickland.
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