Like me I’m sure many of you watch alot of wrestling, you get home after work and sit down to the latest weekly TV show from WWE, TNA or ROH, each month you get excited for that particular companies special event, but like me I’m sure you start to fall a little behind, recently my wife gave birth to our first child, my nights have become even more stacked, but my love of wrestling continues to be as strong as ever.
This week I found myself checking up on my list of events to watch, I noticed I’m a little behind on the brilliant EVOLVE, I actually stopped and questioned myself, did I really just miss EVOLVE ?
I mean sure I could forgive myself for missing Raw or Smackdown, sorry Smackdown Live, musten forget the Live now, but why have I missed the last 4 EVOLVE shows….. I’ve no real answer for this, so I sat back and thought I’m not only going to watch those shows im also going to give you my thought of them….. So here goes, EVOLVE 66.
*** Please note, I wrote these review while watching the matches ***
EVOLVE 66 (19.8.16) starts like all the shows do with Lenny Leonard in the ring announcing tonight card, I often think that EVOLVE still has that ECW feel to it and an early ROH, sure Gabe Sapolsky has worked for both so it only natural alittle of those companies would rub off onto his latest brain child.
WWE CWC Spotlight Match: TJ Perkins w/Stokely Hathaway vs. Cedric Alexander
If anyone follows me on twitter then they would have seen what a huge fan of TJP I am, the way hes developed himself from Manik in TNA to what we see now and how EVOLVE have given him the opportunity to showcase all his talents including excellent ground work is fantastic to see, I spoke to TJP about this and he said he’d always been a more technical wrestler but TNA wanted high flying, where EVOLVE he can do both, another that has that ability is the brilliant Cedric Alexander, Cedric has looked great recently following moving on from ROH.
Anywhere in the world and in any wrestling promotion this is a hell of a way to open an event, the match started on the ground with some technical work by Cedric before TJP was able to escape not before giving Alexander a little DAB, immediately the pace of the match accelerated into another gear, with Alexander mocking TJ with a DAB of his own.
Cedric went on the offence before Perkins was able to counter this by attacking the knee of his CWC opposition, TJP continued this assault on the knee for several minutes, you really don’t see enough of this in wrestling now and its really refreshing to see two “high-flyers” work a hold and actually sell the more for longer than a few seconds, really great work by both men.
Perkins went for a highflying maneuver but missed a slingshot from the outside, allowing Cedric to take over again, as the match progressed, Perkins countered the brainbuster, and rolled into the knee bar but Alexander was able to escape, They traded strikes and then traded kicks before they got to their feet.
Both men went close to the fall with Perkins kicking out of the Michinoku driver and a brainbuster but it was TJP that managed to pick up the win as both men hit a series of kicks, Alexander managed to block a kick the ribs but TJP rolled into the knee bar for the win.
A lovely start to the event, both men work the mat and then accelerated when the match needed, massive credit to the knee selling from Alexander after aswell, this is really missed in alot of promotions.
Stokely Hathaway cut a promo about the greatness of TJP, and also hypes his match on the Cruiserweight Classic next week, before calling out Stephanie McMahan to call him because each and every day, Perkins’ price goes up. “
Tracy Williams & Fred Yehi vs. Jigsaw & Peter Kaasa
A back and forth start to the match with Jigsaw and Williams, Kaasa/Yehi were both tagged in as Kassa started to use his speed, but Yehi cut him off by the leg and took control of the match before tagging back out, Jigsaw and Williams again went back and forth with several counters, Jigsaw like TJP has the ability to work several styles which is testament to the wrestler and the company for allowing him to display everything he has.
Each time I watch Tracy Williams the more I like what I see, while he’s been working more Tag Teams recently I certainly think he could go alone with a few more opportunities.
The finish came a little out of nowhere but sometimes you can catch the audience of guard, all four men were in, Yehi hit several German superplex to near falls, as Jigsaw fought back he managed to hit a double stomp on Yehi while he was on the ropes Jigsaw then hit a brainbuster for the win, this was a big surprise to me as I honestly didn’t see Jigsaw/Peter Kassa winning this.
Ethan Page vs. DUSTIN (Chuck Taylor )
A nice build up to this recently with DUSTIN turning his back on Mr EVOLVE Johnny Gargano to the dismay of Ethan Page, All Ego is looking get revenge for Gargano, I do like how they just jumped into a brawl rather than locking up for a traditional wrestling match.
I like Ethan Page alot, I’ve always been a big fan of cocky heel/faces but for me All Ego does everything that a heel would do from his promo work to in ring style…. Maybe we will see the real All Ego again ?
A slower match than the previous two but I sure nobody is expecting these two be hitting high spot after high spot, I liked the stiffness to the match and that both men were able to have the opportunity to be on top but nobody was really able to take complete control for any length of time.
The match to the floor, where DUSTIN tripped Page on the apron and then hit a piledriver on the floor Page sold this really well and barely made it back into the ring before being hit with a stiff superkick from DUSTIN.
As the match slowed down a little, DUSTIN then worked a Gargano escape, Page managed to escape and hit Gargano’s lawn dart, a big boot followed for the near fall. DUSTIN countered out of the package piledriver, but Page then escape the backslide and hit the package piledriver of his own for the win, the best outcome for storyline having Page win, a decent match but nothing really special for me.
WWE CWC Spotlight Match:: Tony Nese vs. Drew Gulak
Tony Nese vs Drew Gulak…. I mean you can’t get much better than that on paper at all, Nese is one of the most gifted pro wrestlers around right now, he#s everything to be a major star and I just love Gulak’s old school style, has a perfect example that in ring talent matters more than being just able to cut a promo for me.
Again both men showed a willingness to work the ground game while accelerating the match when needed to a standoff.
Large parts of the match had Gulak on top with alot of technical ground work, Nese provided some great selling throughout, again I enjoyed the emphasis of working a hold and a body part, this is so badly missed in alot of other places.
Both men went back and forth with stiff blows before Gulak was able to show some highflying ability with a suicide dive to the outside to the delight of the crowd, again I really enjoy how both men can speed up the place for a nice spot and then go right back into working a hold or a body part. Brilliant wrestling.
I would of liked to have seen Nese have more offence during the match as the way the match was going it looked like he was going to comeback for the victory, the finish came as Nese went for the 450 splash but missed, Nese then fought out of the dragon sleeper, and hit a piledriver for a 2, both men slowly traded strikes before Gulak grabbed Nese’s beard and slapped him several times before hitting an electric chair for another near fall.
Both went to top rope and Gulak hit a superplex for another 2, Gulak quickly went up top again and hits a lariat for a near fall, Nese was able to hit several kicks, but Gulak countered a leapfrog into a sunset flip for the win.
Following the match Drew Gulak cut a promo on EVOLVE World Champion Timothy Thatcher, this was a set up as Thatcher made his way to confront his nemesis the excellent Matthew Riddle jumped him.
EVOLVE Title Match – No Holds Barred: Champion Timothy Thatcher vs. Matt Riddle
Big fan of both these, personally think Matt Riddle is the best up and coming wrestling in the world right now, his technical abilities he learnt as an MMA fighter and his legitimate striking is already at the top of the wrestling world, each time he wrestlers he seems to get better and better, being in there with a masterpiece of a pro wrestler in Timothy Thatcher will only help him.
They brawled on the floor and took advantage of the no holds barred aspect of the match, both men then worked the ground game in the ring with Thatcher displaying excellent ground work and attacked the ankle of Riddle.
Riddle went on the attack but Thatcher again got control back, and then hit a delayed vertical suplex for the near fall, Riddle managed to gain control for a short period of time with foot stomps to the chest of the Champ before pulling him into a triangle choke while connecting with 6-12 elbow strikes to the top of Thatcher’s head, as the hold was broken Riddle managed to hit another triangle choke on the champ but this time inside the middle rope.
Riddle is looking like a million bucks right now inside the ring, his selling is on a different level to what he been doing previously, The Champion is really bringing out the best in the former UFC fighter.
The ending of the match came as Riddle hit the Champ with a tombstone for a two count which Thatcher counted into an armbar and then into a cross armbar as Riddle pulled himself out of the ring, the Champion refused to let go of the hold so Riddle had no other choice but to tap out.
Gulak came out for the save and grab the EVOLVE World Title before Timothy Thatcher went face to face with tomorrow night’s challenger, Gulak scouted Thatcher’s head butt and laid out the Champ with a spinning backfist.
An outstanding match that built up the title match for the next EVOLVE show and also the development of Matthew Riddle.
Cody Rhodes vs. Zack Sabre Jr
Been looking forward to this match since it was announced, the best technical wrestler in the world against a revamped superstar, this has everything to be a special match.
Looking forward to seeing what Cody can do inside the ring with a guy as talented as ZSJ, nice back and forth action with Sabre Jr doing his normal technical wizardry as Cody tried to grapple with the Brit.
Really enjoyed that Cody was a little bit of an underdog in the early parts of the match with Sabre being able to counter pretty much all of Rhodes advances and playing up to the crowd while showing some typical cocky British attitude… ( Yes I’m British too )
Cody managed to gain some momentum in the match and looked to work the left leg of ZSJ to the dismay of some at ringside, the finish came as ZSJ hit a suplex followed by the soccer kick for a near fall, Rhodes went for an Alabama slam but ZSJ countered into the kumara. Following some counters and near falls, Rhodes then hit cross Rhodes for a 2.
ZSJ worked a arm bar but Rhodes powered up and power-bombed Sabre down and the former Intercontinental Champion locked in an inverted figure four for the win.
A nice match for Rhodes first in some time, I liked the ending with something different and Sabre sold the submission really well after aswell. Cody addressed those watching saying that he bet on himself and that EVOLVE also bet on him and he’s ready to step out of the shadows and prove people wrong, Cody also stated that he’s not Drew Galloway’s man not now and not ever…… Time will tell.
Overall a good show, I loved the Timothy Thatcher vs Matt Riddle match, it was nice to see Cody Rhodes without being under a WWE banner, he was still wrestling like he was in the WWE I’m sure this will change as he wrestles more people outside his comfy zone, very admirable.
Next up…. EVOLVE 67
A Hero vs A Dream
Lenny Leonard out as always confirmed tonight’s card and announcing Joey Styles to the company with his best well Joey Styles manner, these two are both extremely talented ring announcers and I’m excited to see how they work together for the EVOLE World Title Main Event.
Ethan Page vs. Kobe Durst
I’m not really familiar with Kobe Durst so I’m interested in seeing what he’s going to do with All Ego Ethan Page, as I said before I really prefer Page as a heel, I think he works alot better as one, hes just gives me the feeling that I should dislike him bout of his cockiness, time will tell if he grows on me as good guy.
It was Page that dominated most the early parts of the match, as everytime Durst tired some offence he was quickly cut off by All Ego.
Ethan Page picked up a quick and easy win following a Package piledriver over his former seminar student Kobe Durst.
All EGO quickly jumped on the mic and cut a promo on Johnny Gargano leaving the company in a short few weeks, he’s begging for Gargano to forgive him for everything…… I hope this is the heel teaser for a heel turn.
Tony Nese vs. Peter Kaasa
As good old JR likes to say this one will be a barn burner, both are extremely talented in the ring, Nese for me is someone that has the world at his feet.
Really nice quick opening to this match with both men showing excellent athletic and high flying ability, but again what I like from Nese and EVOLVE is that they quickly bring the match down to the ground rather than just high spot after high spot.
Kaasa reminds me a little of Brian Cage but on a slightly smaller scale, both are jacked with a great looks, both have really good high flying ability and can work a stiffer type of match, I’ve not seen much of Kaasa but I do like that I’ve seen so far.
Overall a decent match where the finish came as Kaasa hit an angle slam and then went up top but Nese cut him off, a superplex by Nese but Kaasa managed to kick out at two, they traded strikes before Kaasa hit a one armed powerbomb for the two count..
Nese went to the top, 450 MISSES. Kaasa then up and attempted the shooting star press but this also missed, Nese then went back claim back up top and hit the 450 for the win.
Tommy End vs. Matt Riddle
See this is why Matt Riddle is the best up and coming talent in the world right now, he’s still selling the armbar from the night before, there are very few wrestlers around right now that would be doing this, he’s putting over Timothy Thatcher still, if people reading this aren’t familiar with Matt Riddle this is the perfect time to jump on EVOLVE shows and enjoy his work.
There really isn’t much to be said about Tommy End that every man women and dog isnt already staying, hes got everything to be a huge success wherever he goes (WWE NXT the likeliness ) I’ve been able to follow his rise in PROGRESS Wrestling he impresses me each time, I just hope moving to WWE they don’t change what makes Tommy End so great…. Time will tell.
Both men have outstanding striking ability and this match really didn’t disappoint in that aspect, Tommy End looked like he got knocked out by Riddle at one point, either End sold this so well or they completely fooled me here, the crowd were so into this match chanting BRO, BRO, BRO at Matt Riddle, this guy is seriously over.
Tommy End is a world class wrestler and at time Riddle made him look like a kid with his foot stomps to the chest and pulling End in the triangle choke before tough 6-12 elbows to the head, Riddle’s MMA skills are really showing well with another striking master.
I absolutely loved this match more for the fact that Tommy End really put over a younger talent whom is on such a rise in EVOLVE, the finish came as End hit a double stomp and spin kick for a great near fall. Riddle worked to his feet, ate more kicks and challenged End to throw more. Riddle become fired up with these kick managed to hit an up kick into a jumping tombstone for an 2 count,. Riddle went for the twister, but End reversed into a knee bar before Riddle used several stiff strikes to escape, hitting the twister which End had to tap.
Looks like Tommy End said a little goodbye following this match leaving his wrist tape on the EVOLVE logo, WWE and NXT are getting themselves a superstar in the making, I just hope they don’t stop him doing what he does so well.
WWE CWC Spotlight Match: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Cedric Alexander
Sabre Jr tried to use his traditional grappling game right away, but Cedric Alexander was able to go hold for hold with ZSJ, a really nice opening to the match with both men producing counters for the others advances.
Both men are showing some excellent work in recent matches proving why the WWE is so keen on them both, Sabre Jr is quickly becoming the go to guy for a lot of “indy” companies right now and its easy to see why, he fails to have a boring match with anyone he goes in there with, the finish came as Alexander countered an uppercut unto a backslide another near fall as the action quickens. Alexander springboards into a uppercut by ZSJ, as the PWG Champion his Cedric with his traditional soccer kick, they traded strikes daring each other to hit harder as a head butt by Alexander was turned into a hanging guillotine, which got transitioned into a brainbuster by Alexander for a close two count.
ZSJ sinked in the octopus and pulled Alexander to the mat before repeated kicks to the head of Alexander as he taps.
Zack Sabre Jr seems again to be showing heel signs or like I said before that typical cocky British attitude, in Rev Pro where he’s starting to turn to The Villain Marty Scurll more, he’s been displaying alot of heelness, this was similar to that, Sabre Jr post match declared that he wanted to be EVOLVE World Champion.
Cody Rhodes vs. Chris Hero
Big fan of both men, another match on Cody’s famous “list” I’ve higher hopes for this match than I did for the Sabre – Rhodes match the night before, think these two match up alot better, Chris Hero for me is displaying some of his best work in years right now.
Cody Rhodes wanted to shake hands with Hero but he didn’t accept, Hero tried to start the match with some offence but Rhodes managed to knock the former ROH Tag Team Champion to the outside as Cody Rhodes started to shake the hands of those at ringside.
Rhodes took control, hitting a long delayed suplex and then took the action to the floor, where they brawled into the crowd and even onto the bar, the match continued for large parts on the outside where they both really beat the hell out of each other to the delight of the crowd watching on.
This was an excellent back and forth match that should be watched by any wrestling fan of these two.
Chris Hero went down on a knee injury which he hurt during a tour of the UK (I was at a show he couldn’t compete on because of it) this was just getting on top of Cody as once Rhodes turned his back, Hero managed to strike with a big boot in the corner before again taking the match to the outside.
This was a great action packed match with the finish coming as both men hit several strikes and head butts, before Hero hit a bicycle kick and then Rhodes hit one in return. The disaster kick followed for a quick two count, Hero and Rhodes both teased cross Rhodes, which Rhodes finally hit for the 2 count, Galloway arrived and distracted Rhodes, allowing Hero to hit repeated elbows on Rhodes in the corner, Hero hit another in the middle of the ring before putting Rhodes away for the 3 count.
Hero and Galloway cut a promo on Rhodes with Hero declaring that unless he wanted a beating he shouldn’t of called out the best on no list, Galloway expressed its disgust that Rhodes wasn’t joining forces with him and that he thinks he would make it without the master (Drew Galloway)
Drew Gulak came out to make the save for Cody Rhodes, I liked the outcome of this as its building the Drew Galloway vs EVOLVE feud more and more, I really love heel Drew Galloway.
EVOLVE Title Match: Champion Timothy Thatcher vs. Drew Gulak
As I’ve said before I’m a big fan of both these men and I’ve high hopes for this match, will Thatcher finally take hold the EVOLVE World Title and accept he’s the Champion by defeating all of Catch Point.
Back and forth grappling to begin with both guys getting a chance to control the match early on, Gulak managed to hit a nice high spot on the Champ with a suicide dive to the outside, again I love how Timothy Thatcher is working a body part mainly the arm here which is similar to last nights match with Matt Riddle, Thatcher just looked a heel to me, nothing really screams good guy during his matches, I wouldn’t mind see Thatcher as a heel and push Matt Riddle as the baby face, obviously time will tell on this.
This was really everything I expected a tough counter style match where both men are being shown as legitimate contenders as the face of EVOLVE and World Champion, the finish came as both men traded head butts in the center of the ring before Timothy Thatcher managed to strike a final headbutt for the victory, it felt like the fans weren’t totally behind Thatcher as World Champion, I’m hoping that they go with a double turn and have the young star Matt Riddle as World Champion soon.
Following the match Gulak looked to hand the title to Thatcher but The Champ seems to just dismiss the title saying he’s a man of his word and he’d would hurt anyone holding that title, Thatcher proceeded to laid out the challenger before Hot Sauce Tracy Williams made the save.
Drew Galloway then called Joey Styles to the ring, and said that they have an opening for a centerpiece, a mouthpiece that knows this business like none other and wants him to join them, before Styles replies Fred Yehi & TJ Perkins hit the ring and they brawl with Galloway and the Tag Champions, but Tracy Williams is taken to the back so Catch Point is a man down for the main event.
No DQ Evolve Tag Team Title Match: Drew Galloway And EVOLVE Tag Team Champions Ethan Carter III & DUSTIN vs. Ethan Page And Catch Point (Fred Yehi & TJ Perkins) w/Stokely Hathaway.
If Drew Galloway, EC3 or DUSTIN lose then Catch Point will become EVOLVE World Tag Team Champions, Catch Point would have to choose two men to serve as champions, as Tracy Williams was taken to the back, it is 3 on 2. They brawled for a few minutes, but then Ethan Page made the save to make this 3 on 3 again.
I love everything that Drew Galloway and EC3 touch right now, both of them as heel’s are outstanding while they make a brilliant partnership too.
The match ran a little all over from work on the floor to the outside before getting into the ring for some more action, everyone in the action manages to hit some big moves and go close to a 3 count, this is just an all out action match with no real tag in and out. Galloway’s team are doing a masterful job as heels right now, while the underdogs are playing the part too.
Maybe the pace was going a little too quick but there wasn’t much structure to the match, and the finish finally came with DUSTIN hitting a piledriver for win, it had a little ECW Tag Team match feel to it, where pretty much anything goes and not much direction. A little disappointed in this match.
Cody Rhodes hit he ring post match and cleaned house, Joey Styles then ran down telling Drew Galloway that he is lucky to be in EVOLVE where fans actually have to pay for tickets.
Styles also mocked EC3 Ante D for getting Bill Corgan to invest in TNA before announcing that on September 11th, Cody Rhodes and Johnny Gargano will face Galloway and Hero in Johnny’s last match for the company.
Overall a decent event with some great inring work, I like how EVOLVE build storylines with its inring work rather than long drawn out promo’s.
Really impressed with the work of Drew Galloway and his group, I’d like them to expand further with some other former WWE talent or even TNA talent.
Please keep an eye out for the second part of this review of recent events in EVOLVE as I look at Johnny Gargano’s last match for the company.
Untill next time
I’m not one to complain when a company has streaming or sound issues so I’m not going to go into details about this but I’ve seen a lot of negative comments being made, I happen to think the wrestling spoke wonders in large parts.