Bonus Match: Ethan Page vs. Peter Kaasa
Almost immediately the emoness of Page is quite apparent. His movement in the ring isn’t as crisp as usual; he would go on to spend the crux of the match hesitating before every move, slow movements as if he is unsure how he should proceed. Meanwhile, Peter Kaasa is continuing to prove what kind of a genetic freak he is with his power/high-flying based offense. Watching him nail a guy the size of Page with a Gordbuster and a Deadlift German Suplex is amazing enough, than for him to bring out a Handspring Corkscrew Tope made me fall out of my chair! Page does his best to overcome his self-doubt, nearly putting Kaasa away with a great Big Boot/Sit-Out Powerbomb combo. But in the end Kaasa wins with a 630 Senton from the top rope.
After the match Page shows his respect to Kaasa, shaking his hand but walking away looking so dejected. Really good opening match that I’d be lying if I said it couldn’t be better. They are really playing up the internal problems of Page by having him wrestle a lower quality of match due to his indecision. Kaasa is something else. This is only his 3rd match for Evolve and he already needs to be on every card.
Winner: Peter Kaasa
Special Challenge Match #1: Drew Gulak vs. Matt Riddle
These guys went straight to the mat with some awesome grapples, Riddle’s size and strength constantly worked against Gulak as he struggled for leverage. It wasn’t until Gulak started resorting to strikes and wrestling moves is where he gained some sort of an advantage. Riddle would constantly regain control, even going as far as to completely no-sell an Irish-Whip and look at Gulak like “are you serious bro?” Gulak was going deep into his arsenal to try and beat Riddle, even pulling out a Suicide Dive during match, which is shocking for a mat wrestler the caliber of Gulak who is use to out-wrestling guys on the mat. At one point Riddle was mounted on Gulak laying hard strikes him to him and I was screaming for the ref to ring the bell as if it were an MMA fight. Riddle ended up putting Gulak away after he reversed a tope-rope dive by Gulak in to a Judo Throw followed by a Cross-Armbreaker for the submission win.
Post match Tracey Williams came to the ring and Gulak cut a promo praising the ability of Riddle. Going as far as to say he belonged in this business and he taught him a lesson. Riddle grabbed the mic and shrugged off the praise, calling Gulak nothing more than a stepping-stone in his path to the title. Williams didn’t take too kindly to the insult of Gulak and knocked Riddle down with a strike to the jaw.
What an entertaining match. Riddle is the rookie but he controlled every aspect of this match against one of the best mat wrestlers in the world, and did it with a cocky attitude. Every review I say this but it can’t be helped, Riddle is a star in the making. Gulak for his part was fearless; when one method of wrestling didn’t work he went for another, even getting in to a shoot fight stance to try to box Riddle (in the end that was a bad idea). I want these two to go at it again, they compliment each other so well.
Winner: Matt Riddle
NEW MATCH: Top Prospect Showcase: Lio Rush vs. Fred Yehi
Nice change of things, with two young speedsters going at it looking to make a name for themselves. These guys were so quick with their holds, the match felt like it was flying by with no real participant controlling the match. Yehi would dish out a barrage of Suplexes to Rush, with my favorite being his Fisherman Suplex Buster and Deadlift German Suplex. Rush went after Yehi with his strikes and highflying ability, eventually coming out the winner by hitting a Low Down Frog Splash for the pin.
Nice match, but I can’t help but feel it suffered from following Riddle and Gulak in terms of fan interest. Had this followed Page and Kaasa it may have been better received. It’s always a treat to see new guys getting a chance to perform, and both did well enough to warrant a return to EVOLVE.
Winner: Lio Rush
NEW MATCH: Pure Wrestling Clinic: Tracy Williams vs. Martin Stone
Martin Stone has seemingly returned from his excursion in NXT to take on Williams. In an instant Williams forces Stone to the mat, but both men go back and forth trading holds and mounted strikes. It appeared to be a stalemate early on, but Williams for a moment appeared to get the better the situation with his precision focusing on the head/neck of Stone. Not to be deterred, Stone would keep coming back with some tough strikes and after some back and forth strikes we saw a great Kamora Lock by Stone reversed in to a Tombstone Piledriver by Williams. This wasn’t enough to put away Stone, who would end up coming back with a nice Rolling German Suplex in to a Rainmaker for the near fall! Willaims however would catch Stone with a Piledriver, hold on to Stone for a Brainbust and than a Crossface to make Stone tap out.
Really underrated match. I expected Williams to dominate, and early on it apparead as though the match would be heading in that direction but Stone was tough and would not go down easy. Williams continues to impress at every Evolve show, one has to wonder when he will get a shot at Thatcher for the title. And if it’s anything like their encounter at Evolve 35 it will be a great match.
Winner: Tracy Williams
Special Challenge Match #2: TJ Perkins vs. Anthony Nese w/ Andrea
This match was filled with a lot of exchanges and reversals, and Perkins led as the catalyst for many of the creative maneuvers witnessed by fans. Perkins would repeatedly try to make tap to the Cross Armbreaker, wearing down the arm repeatedly. The power of Nese came in to play many times, with a one armed Buckle Bomb highlight this strength. Perkins won the match after converting a missed 450 Splash by Nese in to Frankenstiner followed in to a Cross Armbreaker for the submission.
Once the match concluded Thatcher came to the ring and nailed Perkins with a hard uppercut, payback for the cheap shot from Evolve 50. Gulak and Williams hit the ring right after to defend Perkins. If I may quote someone on twitter, it appears Perkins has found the Catch Point.
Watching TJ Perkins wrestle is such a delight. His submission ability is so good, and his transitions are some of the best in the world. Nese came in to the match with a high stock, but was really outworked by Perkins. For this match and in Konley’s match Andrea is replacing So Cal Val as the valet for the Premier Athlete Brand. I think she really got in to it after a while, but it is always difficult to replace a heat magnet like Val.
Winner: TJ Perkins
Grudge Match: Drew Galloway vs. Caleb Konley w/ Andrea
This match got underway in a hurry with Konley hitting a Tope on Galloway during his entrance. From this point on more than half of the match consisted of a brawl on the outside, with Galloway getting the better of the brawl. A nice spot was Galloway hitting Konley with a Tilt-A-While Slam on the bar and than pouring himself a pint, which he downed in an instant. Galloway was lining up a row of chairs but Andrea got in his face and it looked as if he was going to hit her, but he dodged a Konley Superkick that ended up catching her square in the chin! For his troubles Galloway was tossed on to those pile of chairs. The match, finally, got officially underway and the two exchanged some hard chops. Galloway no sold Konley’s chops, but Konley came back with repeated Powerbombs and a great Michinoku Driver for the near fall. After a failed Best Moonsault Ever by Konley, Galloway laid him up with a tope rope Air Raid Crash. Galloway would win the match after hitting a Sick Kick followed by his Future Shock DDT.
I really enjoyed this match. The outside brawls are always welcome for me at Evolve since so much of the wrestling fans see is mat-based. This was Galloway’s return after a 4 month suspension and he did not disappoint. Although one would expect Konley to be outmatched he hung in there with him and came close to winning this encounter. Big ups to Andrea for eating that Superkick, Val would be proud.
Winner: Drew Galloway
EVOLVE Championship Match: Timothy Thatcher (c) vs. Johnny Gargano
Just whoa. Thatcher and Gargano put on a wrestling clinic, the likes of which I hadn’t seen since Thatcher and Zack Sabre Jr. mixed it up a couple months ago. Gargano spent most of the match in control, with Thatcher having to constantly battle back and fight the pro-Gargano crowd. It played right in to the angle of Thatcher having to overcome Gargano to be seen as the face of the entire WWN family of promotions. Most of Thatcher’s offense focused on the arm and fingers of Gargano, with Gargano spending the entire match working Thatcher’s leg. The closing moments of the match saw some great counter wrestling, including Thatcher reversing a Lawn Dart attempt in to a Tower of London. On this day it would be Thatcher walking away the winner after escaping the Gargano Escape and locking on a Fujiwara Armber for the submission victoy.
After the bell rang Gargano and Thatcher shook hands in a great show of respect. Drew Galloway came to the ring and laid out a challenge to Thatcher so their non-title Evolve 52 meeting would become a title match. After strong-arming Evolve officials the title match was set for the next show with Thatcher’s blessing.
Damn good match right here. Gargano’s matches these days are so emotionally charged because of how fans feel like he could be leaving for NXT permanently at any moment. Thatcher continues to have a great year and collect some deserved respect for his in ring ability.
Winner: Timothy Thatcher (Champion)
Really good show in general, better than the Evolve shows last month. An indication of it is how this review is shorter than usual; it was really hard to take notes during high quality matches. The Ethan Page story is something to follow, the man looks like he lost his smile so they are building to something big likely. Matt Riddle continues to be a sight to behold, while guys like Perkins and Thatcher lay claims as some of the most underrated wrestlers going today. I encourage everyone to start watching Peter Kassa matches, this guy needs to be seen by wrestling fans everywhere.
MOTN: Thatcher vs Gargano
Wrestler of the Night: TJ Perkins
Personality of the Night: Matt Riddle
Show Rating: 8/10