Evolve 3: Rise or Fall (5/1/2010)- Rahway, NJ
Welcome back to BRM’s monthly “This Day in Wrestling History” Review Series. After last months’ fiasco I said I was getting as far away from the Hulkamania Era as possible, and there is on wrestling product on Earth (that I have access to) that is the antithesis of late 80s WWF than the early days of EVOLVE, and the show that fits into our schedule is Evolve 3: Rise or Fall.
WHAT DOES 3-0 MEAN TO YOU?- These were three good quick-hit interviews from the three wrestlers with the chance of becoming 3-0. For Jimmy Jacobs it was a symbol of his ascent to veteran status in the locker room- that he is now the guy to beat, and the guy people should be listening to. For Brad Allen, it meant he was doing things right. For Kyle O’Reilly, it was about all of his hard work paying off.
WHAT IS EVOLVE? VIDEO PACKAGE- An expansion on what we got last time.
There were three important bits here. The first was the line that “if it’s not tolerated in sports, it’s not tolerated in EVOLVE.” The second was the focus on wins and losses, as embodied by the line- nay, the promise- that “every match has a consequence, and results are never forgotten.” The third thing, which was really the only truly new thing here, was an explanation of what specifically about the win-loss records we should be looking for. “The top players in EVOLVE will be determined by the leaders in three major categories. There is a wins leader, winning streak leader, and best record leader.”
THE DOCUMENTARY CREW CHECKS IN ON CHUCK TAYLOR- GREAT!
He’s in his locker room with Gran Akuma, bragging about how he went from the indignity of being forced to wrestle a qualifying match on the first show to now being in the main event just two shows later. He sees the documentary crew and lambasts them for not wanting anything to do with him during the first show. He then bends over and sticks his ass out and says “Hey, EVOLVE. This one’s for you. Put that on your DVD.”
Early EVOLVE Chuck Taylor is quickly becoming my favorite version of Chuck Taylor. He’s completely focused on his wrestling while not only retaining the humorous and irreverent parts of is personality, but has a chip on his shoulder due to feeling discounted because of them and thus plays them up to rub it in the faces of the people who he thinks have discounted him because of them.
THE DOCUMENTARY CREW CHECKS IN ON CLAUDIO CASTAGNOLI- good
He’s in his locker room with Chris Hero. He is complaining about Brad Allen being in Hidaka’s corner for the main event of the previous show even though Allen and Hidaka “aren’t even friends,” in this obnoxious (to Hero at least) attempt to get Hero’s attention. Claudio tells him to put it out of his head because he needs to focus on Bobby Fish tonight. Hero puts Fish over as someone who has “come a long way” since his debut.
Bobby Fish chooses this moment to walk into the room, and friendly hugs and handshakes are exchanged. They chat and joke around a bit, including about what I think was an upcoming NOAH tour that they have been booked on together. After Fish leaves, Hero tells Claudio that he’ll leave Fish “flopping around like a fish out of water” and advises Claudio to keep his eyes on Chuck Taylor because “he’s a little sneaky.”
The gimmick of tonight’s show is that people with similar records are being matched up with each other so that one will rise up the ranks and the other will fall. To ensure that the gimmick of this show works as advertised, every match tonight has a “there must be a winner stipulation.” That’s both a little weird and a little suspicious.
ADAM COLE(0-0) vs. SAMI CALLIHAN(0-0)- 6/10
This was much more of a standard “pro wrestling” style of match than we usually get on EVOLVE undercards. It was very good for the time it got. The story was about Callihan’s aggressiveness, and he picked up the win here in his EVOLVE debut.
RICOCHET(1-1) vs. JOHNNY GARGANO(1-1)- 6.5/10
They had a great athletic match that ended after Ricochet hit a huge dive but hurt his knee on it. They both tried to make it back to the ring, with Ricochet needing to use a chair to prop himself up. Gargano couldn’t make it back so he pulled Ricochet away at the last second to ensure a double-count-out… but because “there must be a winner,” it was announced that the first person to make it back to the ring would be the winner, and Gargano managed to prevent Ricochet from getting into the ring once again and then sliding in for the win. This was an odd finish.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- bad
Lenny Leonard asks Johnny about winning by count-out and about his “questionable tactics.” Well if count-outs aren’t good wins, then why does the company have them at all, Lenny? And as for Gargano using “questionable tactics,” I don’t see how “targeting an already-injured knee” is questionable in any way. Isn’t picking a body part and working it over to try to win via submission one of the most common tactics- if not the most common tactic- in the sport of professional wrestling?
Gargano responded that a win is a win. Then he acted like a goof and talked about having “a wife and seven kids” at home and claimed that a wheelchair-bound fan in the back row had been so inspired by him that he was able to walk again. Also, the Party People showed up and Gargano said that Jimmy Jacobs’ sexuality was questionable. This was all very bad.
JON MOXLEY PROMO- awesome
Not only did he cut a great promo on his opponent for tonight, Drake Younger, but he also did an excellent job of getting over what I assume with be a key character trait for him, which is that while he likes competition, he does not do well with rules, and EVOLVE has a lot of rules.
WSU WORLD TITLE MATCH: Mercedes Martinez(c) (w/Sammy Geodollno) vs. Brittney Savage- 0.25/10
Another quick win for Mercedes, with Savage being allowed to get one or two moves in but that’s it. That being said, I don’t feel comfortable calling it a squash because when you look at the amount of offense each woman got relative to the time of the match, this was actually more of a 50-50 match than a real squash.
LENNY LEONARD INTERVIEWS MERCEDES MARTINEZ- good
Mercedes is tired of EVOLVE not setting up good competition for her, so she is taking matters into her own hands and calling out Amazing Kong!
UP IN SMOKE(1-0) vs. AEROFORM (0-2) vs. TEAM BEYOND (Zane Silver & Chase Burnett)(0-0)- 6.75/10
Standard tag team spotfest, but as we haven’t seen anything like that in EVOLVE yet, it felt new and exciting. Team Beyond in particular were impressive, but they wound up eating the pin as Aeroform finally picked up their first win. Up In Smoke and Aeroform had a short confrontation after the match.
KYLE O’REILLY & CHRIS DICKINSON TRAIN BACKSTAGE- fine
The important takeaway here is that Dickinson is now training under Tony Kozina, just like Kyle O’Reilly.
DRAKE YOUNGER(0-0) vs. JON MOXLEY(0-0)- 7/10
This match was exciting and definitely felt like a step up in terms of the violence from what has previously been expected on an EVOLVE undercard, without ever really feeling like the referee was losing control of things. They had a fine line to walk and they walked it very well. Moxley’s bleeding here was the first time I can remember seeing blood in EVOLVE. The winner cut a decent promo after the match in which he was not particularly respectful to the winner.
BOBBY FISH(0-2) vs. CHRIS HERO(0-1) (w/Claudio Castagnoli)- 7.5/10
The story here was Hero working over Fish’s head to try to win via knockout, with the added twist that every time Fish tried to take a risk, it didn’t pay off for him and allowed Hero to regain control. Fish put on an excellent display of babyface fighting spirit and really came off as someone who felt like his EVOLVE career would be in deep jeopardy if he fell to 0-3.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- good
Brad Allen came out to check on Fish after the match, which Hero interpreted as Allen once again trying to get his attention. This put Hero in such a bad mood that he refused to give Lenny Leonard a post-match interview. Considering that we haven’t really seen Fish and Allen interact before, I’m not sure that Hero wasn’t right about Allen’s intentions.
FOUR CORNERS MATCH: Gran Akuma(1-0) vs. Brodie Lee(0-1) vs. Hallowicked(0-1) vs. Chris Dickinson(0-2)- 5.75/10
The commentators told us that the only people whose records would be affected by this match were the people involved in the decision. This really should have been mentioned during the three-way tag match earlier on. If it was, then I missed it. The match was short and spotty, but good for the time it got, minus one botch that they did their best to hide in editing. Brodie Lee pinned Dickinson, so Dickinson now joins Bobby Fish down at the bottom of the standings at 0-3.
KYLE O’REILLY (2-0) vs. TJP(0-1)- 6.75/10
Tony Kozina’s absence tonight is explained as him having come down with a stomach virus. The announcers immediately began to wonder if not having his trainer/mentor at ringside with him like usual would have a detrimental effect on the performance of a young athlete like O’Reilly. This match was an excellent grappling encounter that I wish got more time, especially considering the big milestone Kyle was going for. TJP picked up the win, so the winner of the next match will be the first person to go 3-0 in EVOLVE.
BOBBY FISH ON THE PHONE BACKSTAGE- good
To make a long story short, he’s on the phone with some sort of loved one who wants him to quit but Fish insists that he is SOOOOOO close to winning, and this loved one doesn’t realize that because he/she hasn’t been at the shows to see for himself/herself just how close Bobby is. He also insists that his head is fine after taking so much punishment from Chris Hero. Also, he is icing his knee, which appeared to be injured at the end of the match with Hero.
BRAD ALLEN(2-0) vs. JIMMY JACOBS(2-0)- 7/10
The Party People pulled some chairs up to ringside to watch this match from. This was another match with great storytelling. Said story was Jacobs trying to negate Allen’s size advantage by using the End Times (a guillotine choke) and Allen repeatedly being able to use his size to power out of it… until he finally wasn’t. Allen was distracted by the presence of the Party People once early on which allowed Jacobs to capitalize, but they weren’t a factor after that point. The real purpose of their presence was so the commentators could get over the idea that Gargano’s applause for Jacobs was “sarcastic” because these two are best categorized as “frenemies.” Jimmy Jacobs seems to pick up a lot of those, doesn’t he?
CHUCK TAYLOR(1-0) vs. CLAUDIO CASTAGNOLI(1-0) (w/Chris Hero)- 7.75/10
This match got to be the main event due to an online vote. Also, EVOLVE officials have apparently decided that Qualifying Matches for the divisions will no longer be a thing, but they’re not going to change Chuck’s qualifying match into an official singles division victory post-facto. Between that and the whole “this match was voted to be the main event by the fans” thing and booking Taylor against a guy he is going to be at a notable size and strength disadvantage against, it really seems like Gabe is trying to make Chuck feel like a subtle babyface, despite his attitude.
Chuck definitely felt like the babyface in this match, even with Claudio being the one to do the big dives. Chuck took a heck of a lot of punishment (particularly to his back) but came back and got the win in an excellent finish.
CHUCK TAYLOR PROMO- He says that he is going to start making his own rules and that “things are going to change here in EVOLVE.” Sure, he’s got one of the best records in the company, but I’m really not sure why Chuck thinks he’ll be able to start changing rules.
BACKSTAGE SEGMENTS INVOLVING JIMMY JACOBS- good
Jimmy sees Adam Cole sitting at a table, so he stops by to make fun of Cole for losing tonight. Then the Party People showed up to invite Jimmy out to party with them but Jimmy turned them down, saying he is focused on his wrestling and doesn’t want to hang out with them anymore. Not wanting to hang out with Sean Davis is always a good choice. He plugged the Evolve 2 DVD by telling them he was going to go home and watch himself kick Johnny Gargano’s ass on it.
Jimmy left, and the Party People then tried to convince themselves that they didn’t care about Jimmy not wanting to hang out with them anymore, saying that they wanted to hang out with real main eventers like Chuck Taylor. Then they left, too, and we ended with a close-up of Adam Cole, still sitting there and still looking extremely disappointed in himself.
Another very good show from EVOLVE. While this one lacked the blow-away main event of the first two shows, it had a much better undercard. The promotion seems to be moving away from the attempt at creating an in-ring shoot-style vibe in favor of a more “pro wrestling” style, while not retaining the “real sports” atmosphere and booking, which I think is an excellent middle ground. Throw in some good storyline advancement, and you’ve got a very worthy show. The thing I’m enjoying most about these shows is the very sports-like atmosphere, so we’ll try to keep that up for next month with our very first puroresu show, so next month I’ll see you all in… England?
PWG, EVOLVE, AAW, WWN, etc
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