Evolve is making its much anticipated return to the NY area after a long string of shows in the FL area. All eyes will be on the undefeated Matt Riddle who challenges Timothy Thatcher for the Evolve title, as tonight could be the culmination of quickest development I have ever seen a competitor make to wrestling in my life. Also, Zack Sabre Jr. begins the first of a series of matches being called the Best in the World Challenge, where he takes on the very best Evolve have to offer in order to lay claim to the moniker Best in the World. I will be in attendance for the show and am looking forward to a great night of wrestling.
Special Challenge Match: Sami Callihan vs. TJ Perkins
Match began with Sami trying to lure TJ to the mat so they can lock up; TJ refused and the two ended up in a back and forth exchange of standing grapples before devolving in to some hard strikes. TJ locked in an Octopus Hold out of nowhere, but Sami was able to counter it into a Stretch Muffler and than TJ reversed that hold into a Crossface! The two men found themselves on the outside where TJ showed off a little of his high-flying ability with a tope while Sami focused on delivering some heavy shots. Once back inside of the ring TJ connected on a Float-Over Suplex in to a Back Suplex that transitioned in to some kind of hold I cannot begin to name. Sami fought back and pounded on the leg of TJ, working in several holds and strikes to the same leg. Before long Perkins battled back, even getting a near fall on a Double-Arm Gutbuster. The close of the match saw both men exchange a series of kicks and Sami was about to connect with a forward version of the Dudebuster, but TJ countered it in to a Grapevine Ankle Lock, with Callihan forced to tap out. After the match TJ grabbed a mic and exclaimed that he was a free agent!
Great opener! Perkins pulled out a win no one expected and his words after the match show this is a man on a mission. Callihan brutalized Perkins with his strikes, and at many points it seemed as though it was only a matter of time before he put him away. As is the case with many of my Evolve reviews I have to laminate on how underrated a complete wrestler TJ Perkins is. While Callihan had the striking ability, Perkins brought his own and a high-flying and mat wrestling style that overwhelmed Callihan. I really do hope to see TJ Perkins in the Global Cruiserweight Open and as a new signee of WWE in the near future.
Winner: TJ Perkins
Bonus Match: Ethan Page vs. Jack Gallows
Jack Gallows was filling in for Mike Bailey who could not make the event
Before the match got started Page offered up a handshake to Gallows as a show of good sportsmanship, continuing his new positive persona. Gallows did not buy it and immediately began laying in to Page, but Page quickly assumed control of the match with his own hard strikes. After a Big Back Body Drop, Page slammed Gallows to the mat with a Stalling Jackhammer for the near fall. Gallows repeatedly regained control of the match; landing kicks, a German Suplex, and a Running Knee on Page, but Page constantly cut off his offense quickly. Page won the match following a Package Piledriver.
Really short match, and one that really seemed to showoff the ability of Ethan Page. Although Gallows brought in some sick offensive maneuvers Page always felt in control, he really overpowered Gallows in this match. A much needed win for the reformed Ethan Page who may be on to something following this win.
Winner: Ethan Page
Special Attraction Match: Drew Gulak vs. Fred Yehi
Both men go to the mat immediately as it became immediately clear this was going to be a grappling war. Gulak appeared to have an early control, attempting to work the arm before Yehi maneuvered his way to the legs of Gulak where he slapped on a Leg Lock. The match went back and forth on the mat with Gulak applying the pressure on a number of holds; however, Yehi is able to hang tough and find openings that led to him applying the pressure to Gulak. Yehi introduced strikes and rattled Gulak, getting a near fall after a Discus Elbow. The conclusion of the match saw Gulak counter an Okada Roll in to Modified Dragon Sleeper for the Submission victory. After the match Yehi offered to shake Gulak’s hand; Gulak grabbed a mic and said Yehi had potential, but did not earn his handshake as he failed to find the Catch Point.
This was such a good pure mat-wrestling affair. I’ve said in the past that ZSJ & Young Buck matches are the hardest to review because so much happens in them, and after tonight I may have to add Gulak to the mix. I saw holds tonight I’ve never seen in my life, and this match was all the more better because of the talent level of Fred Yehi.
Winner: Drew Gulak
Special Challenge Match: Chris Hero vs. Tracy Williams
Williams and Hero both worked each other to the ground and got on to a chop exchange. Williams was able to utilize his grappling ability to tie up Hero and lay in to stiff slaps, almost toying with Hero. Hero came back with a Bicycle Kick that sent Williams to the outside. On the outside Hero repaid the earlier stiff slaps with a hard boot and a number of elbows. At this point Hero started toying with Williams, shoving and smacking him around. This served to only anger Williams who came back with some shots of his own, but failed at Suplexing Hero who gave him another elbow. After a number of failed attempts Williams finally connected on a Back Suplex to Chris Hero and hit him with a number of quick Dropkicks. Hero found himself locked in a Crossface, but was able to get out of it and pulled out a Discus Boot for a near fall. Another near fall came right after with Hero hitting Williams with a Sit-out Piledriver. All of a sudden Williams was fired up and got the better of an elbow exchange that led to a German Suplex in to a Piledriver for his own near fall! Undeterred by the kick out, William stayed on Hero by landing a Brianbuster that was quickly followed up by another Piledriver for another two count! Hero mounted a comeback; delivering his patented KO Elbow, but Williams somehow kicked out as well! From than on Hero powered Williams up in to a Gotch-Style Piledriver for the win! After the bell Hero grabbed a mic and talked about how others call themselves the Best in the World, but he has already knocked those people out. He said it’s time for people to start talking about him as the Greatest of All Time.
Holy hell, what a match. Tracey Williams became a star with this performance as he took the fight to one the best wrestlers in the world and almost came out on top on so many occasions. From his strike exchanges to his unrelenting ambition to Suplex the man, Tracey Williams put on a show tonight. Anyone who does not acknowledge Chris Hero as one of the best wrestlers on the planet has seriously not seen that man wrestle. He was in fine form tonight and the fact that he is stirring a conversation about being the Greatest of All Time just adds to the already awesome mystic this man has built. Great match people need to go see.
Winner: Chris Hero
Grudge Tag Team Match: Team Tremendous of Dan Barry & Bill Carr vs. The Premier Athlete Brand of Anthony Nese & Caleb Konley w/ Andrea
Before the bell sounded The PAB got the jump on Team Tremendous, with chaos ensuing all over ringside as both teams battled it out. Once order is restored Dan Barry found himself isolated in the ring as Nese and Konley worked him over, connecting on a Double Foot Stomp/Lionsault combo for instance. Andrea, who was managing The PAB at ringside, had words with Bill Carr while he remained on his side of the ring during the iso work. Nese was setting up Barry on the top rope, but Barry countered it in to a Superplex and proceeded to bring in Bill Carr on the hot tag. Carr absolutely manhandled The PAB, with Team Tremendous almost getting the win when he hit Nese with a Spinning Side Slam and Barry landed a Moonsault on Konely for a near fall. The PAB didn’t stay down as Carr got laid out by a Springboard DDT and Barry was forced to kick out of a Pumphandle Neckbreaker combo. Konley & Nese then hit a Double Tope Suicida on Carr, but Barry was right behind them as he launched himself to the outside with a Springboard Corkscrew Dive. Barry threw Konely back in to the ring, and at that moment Andrea handed Nese a chair so he could distract Carr and ref while she delivered a Sick Kick to Barry. Once laid out, Konley hit Barry with a Moonsault to pick up the win.
Really good tag match. Both of these teams are so in sync with their partners that their movements look so crisp. I’m not sure why Tremendous lost when tomorrow night they challenge Gargano & Galloway for the Tag Titles. Even with the loss Team Tremendous continue to look like the new stars of the Evolve Tag Division (When Tommy End & Chris Hero aren’t teaming together).
Winners: The Premier Athlete Brand
Best In The World Challenge Series – The WWN Icon: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Johnny Gargano
Gargano and Sabre got in to a quick back and forth exchange, Gargano looked as though he could match up well with the man regarded as the Best Technical Wrestler in the World. But it became immediately apparent that no matter the hold Gargano placed on to Sabre, he was able to find a way out of it and counter it in to his own hold. Seeing this, Gargano went the extra mile to find his way out of the holds of Sabre and in to his own holds. At one point both men went into a pin exchange on the ground that went back and forth at a lightning quick pace with a smoothness that can only come from top competitors. In time, Sabre began working on the arm of Gargano, where he brought out the arm stomps, kicks, and holds he has become famous for. Gargano still had moments of resiliency, connecting on a number of Superkicks and Springboard offensive maneuvers to keep Sabre at bay. The match ended when Sabre trapped Gargano into an Octopus Hold for the submission. After the match both men shook hands as a sign of respect, but once Sabre departed Gargano was attacked by the PAB who claimed they were stilling coming for the Tag Team Titles. This led to Ethan Page hitting the ring with a chair to chase away the PAB. Page told Gargano that he could have his back when Galloway is not around.
This was such a good match. The technical wrestling of Zack Sabre Jr. has a brutality to it that makes audiences want to close their eyes in horror. This match also showed off some of his underrated striking abilities, especially his European Uppercut. Gargano truly is Johnny Wrestling, not many people can get on the mat and match Sabre but he did a great job. The win begins Sabre’s march to the title “Best in the World” while the post match situation makes one wonder if Gargano and Page may be teaming together in the future.
Winner: Zack Sabre Jr.
EVOLVE Championship Match: Timothy Thatcher defends vs. Matt Riddle of Catch Point
Thatcher and Riddle assumed stances as Riddle first looked to connect on some standing strikes. Thatcher did well to either block the strikes or move out of the way enough for the damage to be minimal. Both men take the battle to ground where Riddle absolutely pounds on Thatcher with targeted knees to his ribs. When Riddle targeted the head Thatcher covered used his hands to minimize the damage, eventually maneuvering his way on top of Riddle to gain control of the situation. Riddle is able to get Thatcher in to a Cross Armbreaker but was forced to break the hold once Thatcher reached the ropes. Continuing the aggressive pace, Riddle landed a High Angle Fisherman’s Buster for a two count, but immediately mounted Thatcher for more head strikes. Both men exchanged Gutbusters and got back in to a standing strike battle where Thatcher suddenly hit Riddle with Headbutt and what may have been a low blow at the same time. Thatcher covered Riddle for the win and Catch Point (who were at ringside) were livid, as it appeared Thatcher cheated to win. Gulak went as far as to call him a disgrace to the title. During this post match exchange Sami Callihan hit the ring and delivered a Bicycle Kick to Thatcher and grabbed the Evolve Title, signaling that he would be coming for the title at Mercury Rising. Tracey Williams was not impressed by this display and choked out Callihan. Catch Point left both men on the floor as they exited and the show ended.
Intense match that ended too soon. The grappling, the strikes, the facial expressions, this match had it all. The sudden finish makes people wonder if Thatcher hit that low blow on purpose or if it was just an accident. Whatever the case may be, there are a lot of loose ends between Thatcher and Catch Point that are to be solved in the coming weeks.
Winner: Timothy Thatcher
Great show that kept the crowd invested heavily in all matches. Williams and Hero put on a stellar match that was easily the match of the night. Riddle vs. Thatcher felt like a fight, the style they were using had the crowd intently watching for the result. With that said, the sudden ending caught people off guard as I was one of the many people who felt the match was too short. Although it raises the credibility of that Thatcher headbutt, Matt Riddle matches are notoriously short. Riddle matches are great, but short. It really is always a case of audiences wanting more from Riddle who continues to develop in to a star. Zack Sabre Jr. did his thing tonight against Gargano; I am yet to be unimpressed by any of his matches. In the long run I hope Team Tremendous become permanent Evolve fixtures, they are a pleasure to watch. I am already looking forward to the next Evolve show as Evolve continues its string of great shows. Their shows are consistently good to great, and the looming shows in Dallas could feature an Event of the Year.
MOTN: Chris Hero vs. Tracey Williams
Wrestler of the Night: Zack Sabre Jr.
Personality of the Night: Tracey Williams
Show Rating: 8/10