LIVE from The Rec Complex, Orlando, FL
Last night EVOLVE 53 put out a Tag Team match that could challenge as a MOTY candidate. Last night’s show was great and fans will be eager to see how EVOLVE follows up. The Style Battle & Tag Team Tournament continues in to the semi finals to set up the big show for Sunday. In addition, a Second Chance Tournament begins tonight with all the losing from last night competing for a future shot at the Evolve Tag Team Titles. Let’s see the kind of encore EVOLVE has in store for fans.
2nd Chance Tag Team Tournament First Round Match: Caleb Konley & Anthony Nese with So Cal Val & Andrea vs. Dan Barry & Bill Carr
Barry and Konley got things started with both men going back and forth a bit, but when Nese got in he found himself completely outmaneuvered by Barry. Carr came in and just overpowered the PAB, throwing them around like the true big man he is. Barry was back in quickly and got in to a KID AND PLAY-esq leg hold with the PAB. Team Tremendous were working the quick tags well; Carr got in and dished out some hard slaps to Nese, and than brought Barry in again but he allowed himself to get distracted by Andrea and Superkicked by Nese. From this point on Barry was isolated for quiet a while, with the PAB drilling him with a number of hard hits. Carr was able to get the hot tag in and started Suplexing Konley around until he ended up on the outside where he ate a Superkick and Tope Suicida. Barry was back up and pulled out a Corkscrew Dive to the outside. The match looks won after an STO combo by Team Tremendous but Konley broke up the pin. Val and Andrea used some distraction techniques that led to Barry being drilled by a double team Pumphandle Cutter combo, but he was able to kick out. Carr came back in to throw Konley out and Superkick, who is than hit with their Book Em Danno finish (A Doomsday Sliced Bread) for the pinfall.
PAB attacked Team Tremendous after the match, but Konley says screw tag team he wants the Evolve title and leaves! Nese continues to beat on Team Tremendous until Peter Kaasa comes in to chase him away.
Great opener! I’m fairly new to Team Tremendous, having seen them only once before in PWG, and their wrestling/charisma is so good. They are deceptively agile, a great dynamic when you consider they are taking on a team with chiseled physiques. Another tough loss for the PAB who may look to be breaking up since Konley has world title ambitions.
Winners: Team Tremendous
Style Battle Round Robin Tournament Night 2: Matt Riddle vs. Fred Yehi
Riddle took Yehi to the ground and they went back and forth a bit. Riddle gave Yehi a Belly-to-Back toss and Yehi immediately did the same Belly-to-Back toss to him. Riddle went for an early Kimura but Yehi countered and catapulted him with 3 German Suplexes! Hard chops by Yehi; Riddle attempted a few kicks but Yehi stepped on his barefoot to cut off the offense and gave him a Pumphandle Suplex. Yehi was in full control of the match, even falling in to a Triangle Choke but powered out of it. However, Riddle latched on an Ankle Lock out of nowhere, forcing Yehi to tap!
Another short match for Riddle, but again these matches are worked so well one really can’t complain. Yehi gave Riddle his toughest challenge and had an answer for everything thrown at him. Unfortunately, a single moment of sloppiness when in the ring with Matt Riddle leaves you susceptible to a match ending submission hold in the blink of an eye. That is exactly what happened here and I would love to see these two go at it again.
Winner: Matt Riddle
Bonus Match: Ethan Page vs. Tommaso Ciampa
After some grapples the match quickly got in to some hard slaps. Page tossed Ciampa around and hit him with a Tope Suicida. When getting back in to the ring Ciampa caught him with a knee and threw him back out, where he placed on the guardrail and hit him with another Running Knee. Ciampa than set him up again on the guardrail and ran around the entire outside area before hitting that Running Knee again. Once back in the ring both guys traded strikes but Ciampa got the better of it and slowed the match down with a sleeper. Page fought out of it but was cut off with a big boot and gets pounded while on the matt. Page again looked to mount a comeback, landing a Tilt A Whirl Slam on Ciampa and than a Sit-Out Spinebuster for a 2 count. Action went back and forth; Ciampa his Page with a Rope Hung STO for a near fall, while Page retaliated with a Spin Kick/DDT combo for his own near fall. Ciampa hit Page with another knee and connected with Project Ciampa but somehow Page got the shoulder up! Not to be outdone, Page pulled out an Ace Crusher and Sit-Out Powerbomb for another 2 count! Both men found themselves battling on the top rope and Ciampa got the better of the situation, leading to an Avalanche Air Raid Crash for one more 2 count! Ciampa began slapping the hell out of him but Page came back with a Super kick, just for Ciampa to hit a jumping knee and than a Running Knee for the win.
Very good/physical match. Tommaso Ciampa did not disappoint in his Evolve debut, showing off those rough knee strikes he has become so well known for. Page continued to play up his new nice guy role, going so far as to shake Ciampa’s hand after the match. It was another loss for Page but probably his best outing since his newfound attitude came about.
Winner: Tommaso Ciampa
2nd Chance Tag Team Tournament First Round Match: Sami Callihan & Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Catch Point (Drew Gulak & TJ Perkins)
TJ and Callihan began things, with Callihan getting TJ in to a back hold and when it looked as though TJ broke free and had him in a Kimura, Callihan turned it in to a stretch muffler! TJ frantically grabbed the ropes to break the hold and than Callihan tagged in Zack. Quick Headscissors Takedown by TJ, he held on to the head of Zack with his legs and when Zack rose to break free TJ pulled out another Headscissors. Zack wiggled free and gave TJ his own Headscissors, where he grabbed the arm and began cranking the fingers of TJ back. TJ is kept in the Headscissors till he angled out and Dropkicked Zack. Gulak is in and he and Zack go back and forth with holds I can’t keep up with. Gulak is actually worked over by Zack and Callihan a lot in this match. Gulak tried trading European Uppercuts with Zack to no avail. TJ got the tag in and seemed to have momentum but was cut off and hit with a Dropkick Tombstone Slam combination by Zack and Callihan. TJ came back with a Crossbody and got Gulak back in and he hit Zack with a Fisherman Suplex. A lot of grapple exchanges; Zack is thrown on his head but managed to tag in Callihan who gave a few running boots to TJ in the corner, hit a Sit-Out Powerbomb in to a stretch muffler while Sabre caught Gulak in a Kimura Lock. Gulak was able to power Sabre off and break the muffler. Callihan accidently booted Sabre, leading to a TJ Perkins Sit-Out Powerbomb, Overhead Pele Kick, and a Cross-Armbreaker to make Callihan tap.
Frustrated with the loss, Callihan shoved Zack and cut a promo where he challenged him to a match. Going as far as to spit in his face, with Zack not backing down and ready for the challenge.
This match was so entertaining. Watching Zack Sabre Jr. in the ring is always a marvel, but when he is in there with guys like Perkins and Gulak its even better since they are hybrid mat wrestlers who know who to bring out the best in others.
Winners: Catch Point
Style Battle Round Robin Tournament Night 2: Tracy Williams vs. Peter Kaasa
Both men feeling each other out in the early go. Kaasa placed Williams in to a Romero Special and once broken both men got in to a back and forth test of strength. Williams looked to slow down the match on the mat but Kaasa sped things up with some strikes that knocked Williams out of the ring. Kaasa stayed on him, performing a Sasuke Special on to the outside. Back in the ring Kaasa went for a dive off the top rope but Williams caught him in a Crossface. Kaasa quickly maneuvered out of the Crossface and landed on his feet during a German Suplex attempt, quickly following up with a Standing Moonsault. A Kaasa Tilt A Whirl Slam led to the Cattle Mutilation hold being applied, but Williams got to the ropes to force the break. Williams ended up hitting Kaasa with a Back Breaker transitioned in to a Release German Suplex. Momentary control is lost by Williams when Kaasa pulled off Spin-Out Front Slam made famous by Trevor Lee. Kaasa connected on the Triple German Suplexes for near fall but missed on the 630 Senton dive from the top rope, allowing Williams to place him in another Crossface, but was able to get the ropes. Williams laid some really stiff strikes to the back of Kaasa and both men worked their way to the top rope where Williams brought him down with the Front Neck Chancery in to a Crossface for the submission.
This match felt very underwhelming. I came into this match expecting something amazing given who the two men were, but for some reason things didn’t gel. Match felt flat and the crowd showed it with their silence.
Winner: Tracey Williams
EVOLVE Tag Team Title Tournament Semi-Final Match: Johnny Gargano & Drew Galloway vs. Harlem & Lancelot Bravado
Gargano and Lancelot got the match going with some back and forth wrestling for a while until Lancelot pulled out hard a couple hard strikes, which Gargano responded too with his own. Both men tagged out, allowing Drew & Harlem to go at it in the ring, with Drew roughing up Harlem. Fight was taken to the outside where Gargano and Lancelot go at it as well. Back in the ring Gargano was back in but found himself doubled teamed by the Bravados. Drew finally got in after a long isolation and absolutely demolished the Bravados. But a combination German Suplex by the Bravados put Drew down for a bit, with Gargano coming right back in and cleaning house (he literally got his ass beat all match but is fresh as a daisy). Bravados came back with a Tope Con Hilo and than a Tope Suicida Doomsday Device on the outside. Bravados had a poor connection on a combination Wheelbarrow Cutter in the ring, allowing Gargano to kick out. Bravados started talking trash to Galloway who was put in a tree of woe, but he sprung back up with a Double Back Suplex. All men pull out a number of Superkicks, clotheslines, and boots, leaving them all on the floor out colld. The match looked won when Galloway and Gargano pulled out a Hurts Donut and Future Shock DDT combo, but Harlem kicked out! Galloway than placed Harlem in the Reverse Alabama Slam position, where Johnny gave him a Superkick, got planted by Galloway in the slame, and put in to the Gargano No Escape for the submission victory.
Great effort by the Bravados. They have really showed their improvement during this weekend, hanging tough with two great wrestlers. The first part of the match did feel a bit slow, but this match picked up in a big way. Galloway is a monster when it comes to utilizing his power, he towers over everyone in the ring and feels like an unstoppable force.
Winners: Johnny Gargano & Drew Galloway
EVOLVE Tag Team Title Tournament Semi-Final Match: Chris Hero & Tommy End vs. Trent Baretta & Rocky Romero
Hero and Rocky started out and Hero just threw Rocky, looking to intimidate him. They ended up in a quick exchange with Rocky catching Hero in a Hurricarana. End and Trent got in the match and after one kick Trent left the ring and tagged Rocky back in. Rocky didn’t back down, as both men squared up and felt each other out with a number of holds. End was tossed while Trent and Hero traded chops until Trent caught him with a tornado DDT. Rocky tossed End back in to the ring and stomped on him until End fired back with a stiff kick to the chest kick. Trent tried to help out but was tossed out, allowing Rocky to get End into a Cross Armbreaker to begin working the arm over with Trent. End tried fighting back but was constantly kept away from Hero. End eventually used his kicks to take out RPG Vice and get Hero in on a hot tag, who started knocking both men around. Trent attempted a Tope Con Hilo but Hero caught him and flipped him in to a Tommy End knee strike! Once back in the ring Trent eats a Running Senton/Penalty Kick by Hero & End for a 2 count. All guys get in to the ring and stared throwing hard strikes at each other. Tommy End found himself isolated again and almost pinned if not for a hero break up after a Running Knee combo by RPG Vice. Rocky delivered a Sliced Bread #2 to Hero and than brought out the Forever Clotheslines, taking down both Hero & End. End and Trent went at it, with End countering a Dudebuster, just to find himself being hit with one for a near fall. Trent hit a low blow and rolled up End but he was able to kick out! Hero came in and nailed Rocky with an elbow when he attempted a Springboard Dive and gave another elbow to Trent. Hero went on to land about 4 more elbows and 2 boots before he and End destroys Trent with a Double-team Spike Gotch Piledriver! Rocky was left alone and eating elbows and kicks but still fighting back! He somehow managed to clinch a Cross Armbreaker on to End from the top rope, but End picked him up and Hero gave him a Senton! A combination Elbow/Knee Strike by Hero & End finally put Rocky away.
Amazing match! Chris Hero and Tommy End are on a path of being the best Tag Team of 2016. This match was very different from last night’s classic, but it was very good in its form. Trent and Rocky did a great job of playing the role of the established tag team, finding ways to constantly pester the two powerhouses. Rocky Romero was a machine in this match; worked the mat, worked the crowed, and single handedly fought off Hero & End on his own! He was not intimidated by this team and was a real ring general. Another match fans need to make sure they see.
Winners: Chris Hero & Tommy End
I found myself really into the first half of the card. For whatever reason the Kaasa/Williams match was all that impressive while the Bravados vs. Drew & Gargano took too long for me to get in to it. Awesome main event without a doubt, End & Hero are setting a new standard in Tag Team wrestling. Team Tremendous have done great the past two nights, and if not for the sensation performances of Hero & End they would be the main story of my reviews, they have been that good. I always talk about how underrated TJ Perkins is and I hope his recent series of Evolve matches show everyone his true class. The finals are all set for tomorrow afternoon’s Style Battle and Evolve Tag Team Championship Tournament, and I expect both to cap off what has been a great Evolve weekend in a big way.
MOTN: Chris Hero & Tommy End vs. RPG Vice
Wrestler of the Night: Rocky Romero
Personality of the Night: Rocky Romero
Show Rating: 8/10