LIVE on iPPV from Deer Park, NY
WHAT THE HELL IS A DEER PARK?!?! Wise words spoken by someone when they heard Gulak could be facing Thatcher at Evolve 50 in Deer Park, NY. But after the events of Evolve 49, it was Trevor Lee who earned a shot at Thatcher’s title. Sami Zayn was also slated to make his second straight appearance for Evolve in what has to be the most surreal backstage development in wrestling.
Special Challenge Match: TJ Perkins vs. Tracy Williams
The show kicked off with a great mat-wrestling affair between Perkins and Williams. Both men went back and forth on the mat, showing off their technical ability and arsenal of submission holds. Early in the match we saw Perkins pull out a modified sharpshooter that Williams was able to get out of and lock him in a Rocking Chair (something of a Seated Surfboard). Perkins utilized the 3 Amigos Suplex as a set up in to multiple Suplex variations. We are talking about delivering a regular Suplex followed up by a Northern Lights Suplex, or a German Suplex. Not to be outdone, Williams brought out his own Suplexes, highlighted by a sequence where Perkins was hit with a Back Breaker and kept in a Butterfly Lock, but every time it seemed he would escape Williams would slam him to the mat with a Butterfly Suplex and keep the hold locked in! After a back and forth strike exchange the closing moments of the match featured big moves from both guys (a Spike Michinoku Driver by Williams was my favorite) where Perkins tried making Williams tap to a Cross Arm-Breaker, but Williams was able to reverese is and make Perkins tap to a Grounded Neck Crank.
Immediately after the match Drew Gulak came to the ring to congratulate Williams on his win, laminating on how this is a massive improvement from his loss the night before to Dickinson. Gulak than puts-over the ability of TJ Perkins, with Williams shaking Perkin’s hand as a sign of respect. At this point Gulak begins to explain to Perkins how they have a common enemy in Timothy Thatcher and that maybe they can be of help to each other. Perkins shakes his head and walks off.
Very methodical match that was as good as fans had hoped for. I think people forget just how great a wrestler TJ Perkins is. Although he is known for his speed and acrobatic ability, his mat wrestling in this match must serve as an example of how complete a competitor is he. Williams is scary good on the mat, but when you think of the guys who regularly wrestle for Evolve he isn’t even a top 5 wrestler on the roster! They look to be teasing Perkins joining Catch Point, which would be an amazing addition to the team. Great way to get the night started.
Winner: Tracy Williams
Bonus Match: Ethan Page vs. Matt Cage
Following his war with Gargano last night, Page came in to this match against the lesser-known Cage looking to reassert himself as a top star for Evolve. Page started things off with a sneak attack on Cage, but Cage was able to fight back and get Page to the outside where he connected with a Tope Suicida between the middle and bottom ropes! The two tossed each other around on the outside, with Page gaining the upper hand after hitting cage with a Belly-to-Back Suplex on the ring apron. As is always the case with Page he couldn’t help but react to the crowd and boast, even pulling out a Yakuza Kick to mock Sami Zayn. Cage would take advantage of this boasting and come back with a series of big moves that almost put Page away. Once he regained control Page would relentlessly hit Cage with move after move (Ace Crusher, Sit-out Powerbomb, etc) but Cage refused to go down just yet. It would be a surprise Backslide pin by Cage that would defeat Page, pulling off the upset from out of nowhere!
After the match Page laid out Cage with a Rock Bottom, his frustration was clearly visible. Sami Zayn came to the ring after the match to confront Page. He spoke about the past and how he knew Page when he first got started and had all the tools to succeed but wont succeed because of his attitude. Page, looking distraught, quietly left the ring without responding to Zayn’s words.
Once Page was gone Zayn once again thanked fans for coming out and supporting Indie wrestling. He than called Thatcher to the ring, who quickly entered, where he spoke about Johnny Gargano and how Thatcher needs to beat Gargano to be a true champion. Thatcher, being the man he is, agreed and said he would offer Gargano a title match in Florida during the next Evolve shows.
Very enjoyable match here, which to be honestly suffers a little because of such the high point Ethan Page left us with at Evolve 49 where he was in top character form. A toned down character tonight, but he and Cage wrestled a fine match that played off the underdog vs. the cocky heel dynamic. Zayn practically booking the title match for Florida annoyed me since Gargano hasn’t done enough to earn a shot. In any case, this match had me smiling the entire time and continues the great heel run of Page while putting over the new guy.
Winner: Matt Cage
High-Flyers Battle: Andrew Everett vs. Peter Kassa
Wow, just wow. When you have two talented high-flyers in a match together being able to keep track of all the action is near impossible. These guys got things started with some quick acrobatic exchanges, with Everett pulling out a Springboard Hurricarana early. When he went for it again Kassa countered it in to a Belly-to-Belly Suplex. Throughout the match Kass shows off his power with moves like the Ally Oop, Strong Arm Lariat, and Over-head Suplex. And than he proceeds to make our jaws hit the ground by pulling out a 630 Splash from the top rope (Everett rolled out of the way)! Everett worked from behind a lot, getting near falls off quick counters and strikes. The ending of the match saw Everett miss a Shooting Star Press and Kassa capitalize with a Back-plex that spiked Everett’s neck to the ground and put him away for the 3 count.
Great match. I had never heard of Kassa before this weekend and after seeing him at Evolve I need to see more of him and so does all wrestling fans. The best way I can describe him is the love child of Brian Cage and Neville, he is build like a machine and flies through the air with grace & precision. You can’t help but also be happy for a guy like Everett who has suffered countless injuries but is finally healthy and ready to live up to his potential. Fast-paced math that got me pumped (although the crowd was kind of dead, which for some reason was common tonight).
Winner: Peter Kassa
Special Attraction Match: Matt Riddle vs. Chris Dickinson
Even though there was a fair share of it, this match had nowhere close to the amount of mat wrestling we saw in Riddle’s debut the night before. This match with Dickinson was more strike-based, with Dickinson looking as though he nearly knocked Riddle out in the early going. Dickenson actually got the better of the strike exchanges; Riddle absorbed a lot of stiff kicks. Riddle came back with his own kicks but got shut down by a nice German Suplex. Riddle caught Dickinson in a Heel Hook in an instant and looked as though he was going to win, but Dickinson got to the ropes. During a strike exchange Riddle hit Dickinson with a high knee and it knocked him out; Riddle covered him for the win.
After the bell Catch Point came to the ring and applauded Riddle’s work, saying there’s a lot they could learn from him but also a lot he can learn from them. So they challenged Riddle to two matches in Florida against each of them to give him a real challenge. Riddle accepted in an instant with his signature “bro” laced promo.
Short but impactful match. I’m beginning to see the booking behind Riddle and I must applaud it. Just like the night before his matches are ending seemingly out of nowhere. They are having him pull out big moves or holds after receiving a lot of punishments to work in his MMA background and the notion that a fight can end in an instant. Not bad at all. I applaud his sharpness in the ring for being a rookie, and Dickinson looked really good here too. In just watching how Riddle walks to the ring you can see the charisma oozing out of him. He will be a star.
Winner: Matt Riddle
Special Challenge Match: Willie Mack vs. Drew Gulak
Early on Gulak looked to keep Mack on the floor, playing to his own strength by keeping it a mat-wrestling affair. Mack was able to slip out however and show off some nice Arm-Drags. Gulak than tried to use his strikes on Mack, which failed as Mack came back with some hard chops to knock Gulak down. This match was a case of the pure wrestler Gulak finding his offense having little to no affect on Mack. It would be one offensive series by Gulak, but Mack would come right back with his own that dealt more damage to Gulak. Gulak was able to seize control by focusing on the arm of Mack at first, and than focus on multiple body parts with various submission holds. In a crazy show of creativity Gulak had Mack in a Dragon Sleeper while seated on the top rope, and both men would trade Cattle Mutilation holds at another point. Mack found himself undone when he missed his Corkscrew Senton from the top rope, which allowed Gulak to nail him with a Fisherman Suplex and make him tap to his Ankle lock submission.
For whatever reason I found myself not too in to this match. I love Gulak and think Mack is a gravity defying force that is a pleasure to watch, but I had no interest in the result. It may be a matter of mat-wrestling fatigue, I have seen a lot of it this weekend and watching it on ippv with a dead crowd doesn’t help. I did yawn during this match, never a good sign.
Winner: Drew Gulak
EVOLVE Championship Match: Timothy Thatcher defends vs. Trevor Lee
Thatcher set the tone for the match by going straight in to an Armbar and pulling back the fingers of Lee! Both men got in to some rough grappling and its Thatcher with the control in this situation. Lee frequently found himself backing out of grapples because he was getting overmatched by Thatcher and needed a reset. The constant resets annoyed Thatcher, who went back to the arm and fingers the first opportunity he got to show some of that frustration. After a quick Dropkick that forced Thatcher to the outside, Lee punted Thatcher square in the chest to take control of the match. While in control Lee connected on a pretty cool Belly-to-Back Suplex. To mount his comeback Thatcher delivered multiple Deadlift Gutwrench Suplexes to Lee, tossing him around as though he were a child. Lee cutoff the comeback with his Rolling Belly to Belly Moonsault for a near fall followed up by a Uranagi and a Superkick. Lee looked as though he was on the cusp of winning the title when he hit a German Suplex, but Thatcher immediately grabbed the arm and locked in the Fujiwara Armber for the submission win.
Post match, Gulak and Williams came to the ring to lay down a challenge for Thatcher’s title. TJ Perkins came to the ring too to apparently defend Thatcher, but he ended up attacking Thatcher from behind. It looks as though Catch Point has a new member!
Darn good match by these two guys. The ring presence of Thatcher was amazing, and the win via the surprise Armbar solidifies that presence as a man who is a constant threat to flip the switch and kick someone’s ass. Trevor Lee played up the ability of Thatcher well, but also showed he can hang in a pure wrestling contest. Moving forward it looks as though Thatcher has a massive target on his back with all the challengers lining up this weekend for a title shot.
Winner: Timothy Thatcher (Champion)
Tag Team Main Event Grudge Match: Roppongi Vice of Trent Baretta & Rocky Romero vs. The Premier Athlete Brand of Anthony Nese & Caleb Konley with So Cal Val
A very back and forth affair between these two teams. After the usual exchange Trent got knocked off the top rope and found himself on the outside. Nese held Trent while Val slapped him right in front of his mom who was in the audience. So Trent’s mom literally ran against the rail and tried to grab Val to defend her son! I could not stop laughing when I saw this. Romero got a hot tag in and to return the favor Trent held Nese while his mom slapped him! After this point it got in to a serious tag team match where both teams pulled off a great set of tag team moves. Crazy spot saw Romero hung up on the turnbuckle by his knee, where Konley would deliver a Superplex to Trent and Nese connected with Coast to Coast on Romero! The Premier Athlete Brand was able to score their finish (a top rope Michinoku Driver by Konley followed up by a Nese 450 Splash from the top rope as well), but Trent rolled up Nese, nearly scoring a surprise win from out of nowhere. RPG Vice would eventual pick up the victory after connecting with the Strong Zero.
This was a great tag match! The Premier Athlete Brand are stars and need to be wearing gold around their waists when you consider their ability in the ring and the heat they get from having So Cal Val as their manager. RPG Vice meanwhile has gone from a glued together tandem to a force in tag team divisions in the US and Japan in less than a year. After match Trent thanked his mom for supporting him and said RPG Vice wants tag titles. Evolve looks to be building towards a tag team title picture, but one has to hope they get more teams until than.
Winners: RPG Vice
Very solid show overall. Nothing blew me away or would make me recommend the DVD purchase since it was a fairly tame show (and the crowd did the show no favors in that regard). Which is a shame considering Evolve likely had a lot of eyes on the product because of the appearance of Sami Zayn, but they weren’t able to pull out their A+ game to keep interest. Guys like Thatcher, Perkins, and Kassa were the highlight of the show, not to mention the ascent of Matt Riddle and a great tag team main event. A good wrestling show that was made special because of the Sami Zayn backdrop.
MOTN: RPG Vice vs The Premier Athlete Brand w/ So Cal Val
Wrestler of the Night: Peter Kassa
Personality of the Night: Trent’s Mom
Show Rating: 7.5/10