Evolve 49, October 17th, 2015, Queens, NY, LA Boom
What a show we have before us. I attended Evolve 47 last month and was blown away by a card that featured 2 of the best wrestlers in the world and a whole host of talent that will not be at the show this time around. Gabe spotlighted this event as a showcase for new talent so I’m curious to see how well they pmeasure up to a bar that has been set so high by talent. During Evolve 47 there was a noticeable contingent of WWE brass at the show, and the announced appearance of Sami Zayn for Evolve 49 tells us we are on the cusp of a modern day talent exchange system. Enough with the backstage ramble; let’s get in to some wrestling!
Note: From what I understand the ippv stream started late for viewers. FTW Wrestling held a show at LA Boom right before Evolve, and because it didn’t end until 6:30pm they wanted to give fans more time to attend the Zayn meet and greet they paid for.
Before the ippv went live Ethan Page came to the ring and called out Sami Zayn. Zayn watched him from the hall and left him to talk, not to be drawn in Page’s head games.
High-Flyers Freestyle: Anthony Nese with So Cal Val vs. Andrew Everett vs. Matt Cage v. Peter Kassa
A match I was very excited about but missed a good chunk of because I was in line for the Sami Zayn meet and greet. They began the match with the usual 4-man scramble brawl, with Kassa and Cage finding themselves alone in the ring. After throwing Cage outside of the ring, Kassa nailed Everett with a nice tope on the outside. Not to be outdone, Cage pulled off a stunning corkscrew dive to the outside, laying out all of his opponents. At this point it’s only been 3 minutes in and the crowd is already going nuts for these acrobatic moves. After this I’m speaking to Zayn so miss a few minutes, but when I return I see Andrew Everett on the top rope and catches his opponents with a Moonsault to the outside! So Cal Val looks distraught at ringside at the punishment Nese has been taking, trying to will him on while dealing with fan heat. Nese ends up back in the ring and delivers a series of lethal kicks to Cage and Kassa. At this point everyone begins nailing each other with big moves, the most impressive being Matt Cage’s Back Suplex to Everett. The end of the match comes when Kassa laid out cage, but Everett caught Kassa with a Shooting Star Press as he was getting up after a Suplex. Everett wins.
I was very upset that I had to miss a good chunk of this match. The parts I saw were so exciting and got the crowd hot for the rest of the night. These guys are freaks in the air, and the virtual unknowns Kassa and Cage really staked their claim here.
Impressive match and an awesome way to get the night started.
Winner: Andrew Everett
Special Attraction Match: Matt Riddle vs. Jonathan Gresham
Matt Riddle took a really long time to come out after his music hit (heel). Once the match got underway my jaw hit the floor at how good Matt Riddle was in the ring. He and Gresham got in to a fast-paced matt wrestling affair; Riddle’s MMA background was showing with how he was able to break out of Gresham’s holds. No matter the grapple, Riddle ended up on top of Gresham and when they broke away from one another Gresham would shake his head in frustration. At one point they got in to a Test of Strength and Riddle dominated this aspect as well. Fans got a quick peak in to Riddle’s striking ability when he connected on quick kick to chest that dropped Gresham instantly. At one point both guys got into a reverse pin spot that overstayed its welcome, but from this Riddle locked in an Ankle Lock on Gresham and got him to tap out for the win
Gresham’s work was great; he was the perfect opponent for Riddle since he kept it a pure mat-wrestling match. Riddle’s movement in the ring impressed me, but it was apparent he’s a newbie since many of the grappling spots were repetitive reversals that overstayed their welcome. Solid match otherwise that did its job to introduce the world Matt Riddle the wrestler.
Post-match Chris Dickenson charged the ring in a heated rage. He cut a promo talking about how he was apart of the first Evolve show and Riddle hasn’t paid his dues yet to earn a spot on the Evolve roster. Riddle keeps cool and shrugs off Dickenson, saying he knows he has many people rooting against him but none of those people will stop him from dominating. Dickenson slapped Riddle a couple of times but he still didn’t lose his cool, continually calling Dickson “bro” and treating him like an ant. Wrestlers come out to separate the two before a fight ensues, with Dickenson still hot and Riddle walking away without a care in the world!
Winner: Matt Riddle
Altered Match! Tracy Williams vs. Chris Dickenson
Willie Mack arrived to the arena late due to flight problems so he was put in another match later in the evening; Dickenson replaced him as Williams’ opponent following his encounter with Matt Riddle.
This match started off fast and with a lot of hard shots from each guy. Williams showed off a nice Back Suplex, but Dickenson came back immediately with some really hard chops. Fight spilled out to the outside of the ring where Dickenson took the chair of my friend sitting next to me and banged it against William’s knee. William’s knee would take a beating from then on as Dickenson kept his holds focused on the knee. When Williams fought back he was able to nail Dickenson with a sick Michinoku Driver that landed headfirst! Dickenson was able to break free from a Neck Crank and drop Williams with a Pick Up Powerbomb. A pin exchange turned in to a Figure-Four Leg Lock by Dickenson that almost made Williams tap out. Dickenson kept the attack focused on the knee, even hanging Williams by his knee over the top rope! In the closing stages of the match Williams mounted a comeback that saw an unsuccessful pin attempt after a Brainbuster converted in to a Crossface. Unfortunately for Williams, Dickenson was able to break free and nail him with an Enzaguri, putting him away by making him tap to a modified Indian Deathlock.
Big upset! I did not see Dickenson winning this match or expect him to look like a threat to a guy like Williams. Really good match, but I have to wonder what you get out of Dickenson winning outside of making him look to be a big hurdle for Matt Riddle to overcome eventually.
After the match Gulak came to the ring and was shaking his head in disappointment. He asked how could he lose to a guy like Chris Dickenson (my thoughts exactly) and how he missed the catch point. He told Williams to stay at ringside so he could see how it’s done and proceeds to call out Trevor Lee for their match.
Winner: Chris Dickenson (no joke, he really won)
Winner Gets An EVOLVE Title Shot At EVOLVE 50: Drew Gulak vs. Trevor Lee
The match got underway with a back and forth grapple exchange, where neither man gained a decisive advantage. Most of the match turned out to be very mat based, something that is always a pleasure to see at Evolve. In one sequence Gulak locked in an Armbar, but Lee got out of it and hit a quick Standing Moonsault. Gulak eventually began to target the arm, working all of his offense around it. Lee saw this and also targeted the arm of Gulak, even going full Minoru Suzuki by pulling apart the fingers of Gulak! Side note: The guys end up on the outside of the ring and the fans (including myself) chant “ take his chair” and point to my friend who had his chair taken by Dickenson before but got it back. Lee takes the chair and uses it to get in the ring. This chair taking becomes a running gag all night. With all of the arm and hand targeting going on Gulak actually decided to go to work on the leg of Lee, changing the focus of his attack. In this time we see Gulak pull out a vicious Dragon Screw and Indian Deathlock to weaken the leg. In an instant Lee caught everyone off-guard by hitting Gulak with his patented Mushroom Stomp to take control, followed up by a Samoan Slam and a Superkick for the near fall. After an attempted Gulak comeback Travor Lee pulled out the Rolling Belly to Belly Moonsault and the Deadlift German Suplex. To end the match Lee hit a Deadlift Cradle DDT to put Gulak away and earn a shot at Thatcher for the title.
Hell of a match by these two guys. Although it seemed like Gulak controlled the match Lee constantly fought back and in the end his comeback and decisive win shows how much of a force he really is. I’m disappointed I wont get to see Thatcher vs Gulak, but by the looks of this match the right guy went over. But this now makes me wonder why the Catch Point pairing of Williams and Gulak would both lose this weekend after being so dominant last Evolve weekend.
Following Gulak’s loss Williams got in the ring and cut the same promo Gulak cut on him for losing to Dickenson! The both agreed they can do better and will do better. I really enjoyed that exchange since it shows both men are on a level plain with no decisive leader.
Winner: Trevor Lee
Impromptu Match! Premier Athlete Brand w/ So Cal Val vs. Milk Chocolate
Caleb Konley came to the ring with Nese and Val to talk about how he felt he is being disrespected by Evolve since he has been undefeated for 6 months, not put in the number 1 contenders match, and did’t even have a match tonight. Val added that the Premier Athlete Brand ought to also be tag team champions as well. All of a sudden music hits, and from out of nowhere the Long Island based tag team known as Milk Chocolate comes to the ring (rapping their theme no less) claiming they should be tag team champions. This leads to an impromptu match between the two teams.
In reality the match was a squash as The Premier Athlete Brand dominated and won in a few minutes, but Milk Chocolate looked very good.
Winners: The Premier Athlete Brand
Willie Mack vs. The Rockstar
As I mentioned earlier, Mack was slated to fight Williams but he was replaced after running late due to flight problems. The fans instead got to see Willie Mack take on former FTW champ the Rockstar.
The Rockstar looked a bit unpolished in the ring, with his slowness in transitions coming to mind immediately. Mack looked great, for a man his size to move as quick and as smooth as he does defies wrestling logic. It was another short squash match that Mack won following a German and T-bone Suplex combo topped off by a corkscrew splash from the top rope. Great showing by Mac, his match tomorrow night against Gulak will be a great affair.
Winner: Willie Mack
Bonus Main Event Tag Team Attraction: EVOLVE Champion Timothy Thatcher & TJ Perkins vs. Trent Baretta & Rocky Romero
The match began with some nice back and forth sequences between Perkins and Romero. It’s Perkins who got the better of the situation courtesy of a seated dropkick. Romero ran to tag Baretta, but to counter TJ tagged in Thatcher who scared the hell out of Baretta with his wrestling stance. Baretta tagged Rocky back in immediately, but Baretta attacked Thatcher from behind while he attempted to grapple with Rocky. Thatcher found himself on the receiving end of the RPG Vice offense for a while, highlighted by Romero’s signature clotheslines. It was during this time Baretta grabbed my buddy’s chair to use as a weapon, but he ref stopped him dead in his tracks. Trent went for a Face Wash but Thatacher caught is boot and gave him that scary intense look he is known for. Thatcher proceeded to deliver one of the hardest headbutts I have ever seen and tagged in TJ for some quick offense. When Thatcher got back in the match he connected with some great European Uppercuts to Baretta and Romero, he even worked the fingers of Baretta while he had him trapped in an Armbar (the fingers have become such a popular target for wrestlers). Perkins found himself the isolated man at one point but Thatcher was able to come to his aid and continue what I considered to be his European Uppercut Party. It looked as if Thatcher and Perkins had the match won when they had both Baretta and Romero tied up in submission holds, but the scrappy tag team was able to break free and get Thatcher to accidentally nail Perkins with a clothesline. After they get Thatcher out of the ring they hit Perkins with the Strong Zero for the win, really good match.
Timothy Thatcher is such an intimidating presence in the ring, and that was on full display here. His strikes felt so impactful and he is so technically sound in the ring. Perkins was a good choice as a partner since his acrobatic ability created a whole other dynamic for the match with his face-paced exchanges with Romero and Baretta. Perkins wanted no part of Thatcher post match, shoving him away as if to blame him for the loss. Title feud looming?
During the RPG Vice celebration the Premier Athlete Brand came to the stage and stared them down. These two teams are set to wrestle tomorrow night in Deer Park.
Winners: RPG Vice
The Main Event – I Quit Match – If Gargano Loses, He Will Leave WWN: Johnny Gargano vs. Ethan Page
I have to begin with the genius that is Ethan Page. Our ring announcer said we were about to be joined by a very special guest; suddenly, Triple H’s music hit and the crowd went nuts! Than Ethan Page emerged from the curtain, trolling the crowd completely while wearing the same attire The Rock wore for his 1999 I Quit Match with Mick Foley. The heat from this alone had fans booing the hell out of Page.
Once Gargano hit the ring the match got underway immediately with Gargano connecting with a Powerbomb and locking in his Gargano Escape submission hold (Chicken-wing over the shoulder crossface). Page was able to get out and roll to the outside of the ring where Gargano caught him with a Suicide Dive. Once again, they took my friend’s chair to use as a weapon. Gargano dragged Page through the crowd to a back area where he proceeded to throw 17 chairs directly at Page! The two made their way back to ringside and when Gargano asked the crowd for chairs fans lined up to give him chairs, filling the ring with them. Page ended up recovering and hitting Gargano with the side of a chair, it looked really painful. After repeatedly getting his leg pounded on by a chair, Gargano seized control of the match and brought out a table, setting it up in the corner. It would be Gargano however who ends up going through the table following a Fall Away Slam by Page. Page holds on to control of the match for a bit, laying out Gargano with an Ace Crusher through a chair and even a Pedigree! When Gargano makes his comeback he brings out a very thick table, and ends up sending he and Page through it courtesy of a Tornado DDT from the tope rope! That table exploded when they hit it. The bottom rope ended up unconnected from the turnbuckle, and Page attempted to use it to choke out Gargano, but he was able to reverse it and use the rope as part of his Gargano Escape submission hold to make Page say I Quit!
Crazy match that went all over the arena. This match easily topped their Anything Goes match at Evolve 47, largely because of the emotion in the room since many people thought this was going to be Gargano’s last match for Evolve. Ethan Page brought the heat; his heel character is so good and has been for a long time. More people need to see the shenanigans this man pulls out during feuds.
After the bell the night’s special guest, Sami Zayn, joined the crowd and the competitors. He addressed the comments made by Page earlier in the evening, and flat out told him he is no Kevin Owens after he claimed to be just like him. He than thanked the crowd for coming out and supporting indie wrestling and Evolve since his career was made because of the indie scene. He put over Gabe, Evolve, and Gargano saying big things are coming and Gargano should be the guy to lead the promotion and be its champion. He bid farewell to the crowd and left with Gargano to end the show.
Winner: Johnny Gargano
Video of Sami Zayn’s speech can be seen HERE
This was something special. A lot of new wrestlers (Rookies and Evolve Newbies) were featured on this show and they more than lived up to the Evolve name. From a pure wrestling perspective this was a really good show, and I personally had a lot of fun in the crowd. Sami’s presence was a treat for live fans and just generated an added buzz for Evolve. No show is without negatives, and this one had a few. We had a number of short matches, and while short matches can be done properly, it left us expecting more. The greenness of guys like Riddle and Rockstar was apparent in their wrestling, but nothing overly distracting since they were working with great talents. Something about Zayn saying Gargano should be champ rubbed me the wrong way. Just ignoring the fact that Thatcher is an amazing wrestling, it makes me worry and wonder if maybe Evolve would look to make Gargano a champ again and ruin what could be a great title reign for Thatcher. All things considered Gargano is a great wrestler, and his name is synonymous with the now defunct Open the Freedom Gate Championship. I just feel its time for a guy like Thatcher to shine. Overall pretty damn good show and I cannot wait for Evolve 50.
MOTN: Drew Gulak vs Trevor Lee
Wrestler of the Night: Drew Gulak
Personality of the Night: Ethan Page
Show Rating: 7.5/10