Evolve 38 (3/8/2015)- Deer Park, NY
MARTIN STONE vs. BIFF BUSICK- 5.5/10
This was very good for the short amount of time it got (about six minutes). Stone had a good showing, but the idea was that he left Busick an opening to lock on the rear naked choke and that’s all Biff needed. This did a fine job of making Stone look strong in defeat and getting over the idea that Biff’s choke can end a match at any time.
BIFF BUSICK PROMO- He’s say that he’ll choke Chris Hero out in San Jose just like he did to Biff Busick tonight.
TEAM TREMENDOUS vs. JODY KRISTOFFERSON & EARL COOTER (w/Larry Dallas)- 6.5/10
This was surprisingly good considering that I was going into this expecting a squash. It was definitely a showcase match for Team Tremendous, who were the ones who really got to show what they could do (although in this case that included Barry showing off his ability to sell).
A.R. FOX vs. MATT CAGE- 7.25/10
Cage is part of the “New Talent Initiative,” having been endorsed by Uhaa Nation, and I have to say that Uhaa made a pretty great choice. These two had a match that was mostly just big moves at the beginning, but they did a great job of making everything matter (with one or two exceptions), and this allowed them to get the increased excitement that comes with picking up the pace by going at what would otherwise be a normal speed.
The other interesting thing about this match was the intense dislike that they seemed to have for each other. These two did train together, but this is apparently their first-ever match against each other, so we can only speculate about what the (seeming) dislike (kayfabe, I assume) is about, but for this match it definitely helped give the feeling that this was something more than just a new guy’s first match with the company, which in turn helped get me to buy the idea that Fox might actually lose to Cage here. Cage appears to have won some respect from Fox with his performance tonight, though?
DREW GULAK PROMO- Historically significant.
He says that everyone else has become too concerned with “style over substance.” He doesn’t directly say it, but the implication seems to be that the thing that is making everyone so concerned with “style over substance” are the EVOLVE rankings assigned after every weekend of competition (you need to be in the top ten to get a title shot), which has often been explained to us as “it doesn’t just matter if you win but also how you do it,” and has been used as a way to penalize wrestlers for cheating for to reward someone for coming out on the losing end of an extremely hard-fought battle. Drew tells us that winning wrestling matches is about facing the challenge in front of you. It’s about control. “It’s about a catchpoint.”
DREW GULAK vs. CHRIS HERO- 8.5/10
Gulak worked Hero’s knee and ankle while Hero was just… well… Chris Hero. He let you know that he absolutely did not want to lose this match, and he would hit Gulak as hard as he could to make sure he didn’t, while Gulak responded to Hero’s attempts to knock him out with a similarly defiant attitude, getting up again no matter how hard Hero hit him.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- great!
Chris Hero grabs a mic and lets us know that he’s sick and tired of people trying to come out and make a name for themselves by calling him out. He mentions Biff Busick by name, which brings Biff out as Hero says “You don’t get to say my name until you’ve earned the right.”
Hero asked Biff if he wanted to go right now and Biff was happy to… but Hero then turned his attention to Gulak, who was still in the ring and pulling himself up to his feet with the aid of the ropes. Hero dismissively told Gulak “I addressed you already. You can leave now,” and when Gulak didn’t (and he really didn’t seem able to do so very quickly under his own power) Hero grabbed him… and tossed him right into Biff to create a distraction so that he could rush Biff with his hard strikes… but Biff managed to slip behind Hero and almost locked in the choke but Hero managed to slip out of the ring, then promptly hopped the guardrail and ran away. Biff then offered Gulak a hand up and Gulak accepted.
P.J. BLACK vs. CALEB KONLEY (w/Anthony Nese)- 6.75/10
Big pop for P.J. here in his EVOLVE debut. A.R. Fox, who faces P.J. Black at the WWN Supershow at the end of the month, was on commentary (with Rob Naylor and Trevin Adams) to scout him. He was terrible.
They had a very good match based on P.J. trying to hit his big stuff. He eventually hit the springboard 450 splash for the win. This angered Anthony Nese and Nese and Konley tried to attack P.J. but P.J. was too quick and got out of the ring first. Nese grabbed a mic and said that he was angry because P.J. had come into his home town and done his move. He told P.J. to “got to the back and think up something new,” then demanded that Davey Richards come out for their match, so we got…
DAVEY RICHARDS vs. ANTHONY NESE (w/Caleb Konley)- 8/10
Nese worked over Davey’s head while Davey did his usual Davey Richards stuff. It’s great to finally have him back in EVOLVE.
RODERICK STRONG PROMO- well-delivered, but completely pointless. In fact, it wound up being counter-productive because the idea of this promo was that Roddy was going to insist to us that he is not, as Drew so eloquently put it, “the biggest pussy in Tampa,” and then he would try to get out of the match by claiming that the case was poorly constructed and thus an unsafe working environment… and while I’m not expert on cage construction, this one definitely looked like the shoddiest I’ve ever seen erected around a wrestling ring. It looked like they just got four cage walls and leaned them against the side of the ring, then loosely tied them together on top. Roddy tried to leave but Drew charged out from behind the curtain to stop him from leaving, and thus we started the…
STEEL CAGE MATCH: Roderick Strong vs. Drew Galloway- 8/10
They brawled around ringside for a bit until Drew tossed Roddy into the cage, followed him in, and we finally got a bell. Then they brawled inside the cage, threw each other into it, and did a bunch of big moves. At one point Roddy tried to use the ref as a human shield to save himself from the Claymore (as he had done with ring announcer Heather Lynn during their last encounter) but Drew shoved the referee aside… and Roddy took advantage of this by kicking Drew in the balls and really took over from there.
The shoddy construction of the cage did an excellent job of making bumps into the cage feel more violent. Even better, the cage wasn’t constructed this way out of cheapness but rather because the way the cage was constructed played into the finish (which also makes me suspect that, in reality, it wasn’t as shoddy as it looked). What happed was that Drew got stuck on between the ropes and the cage and Roddy nailed him with a big sick kick that send his head into a gap between the two panels of the cage wall and busted him open. Drew tried to make it back to his feet but Roddy kept nailed him first with running jumping knees and the with Sick Kicks until Drew fell down to the apron… and Roddy just kept hitting with Sick Kicks until Drew fell out of the ring, but he was stuck between the ring and the cage wall… and Roddy still just kept hitting him with Sick Kicks until the referee called for a stoppage.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- The crowd was not happy about this referee stoppage finish, and neither was Roddy, apparently, as he pulled the barely-conscious Drew up and locked him in the Stronghold. P.J. Black came out to make the save, and Roddy scampered off, though once he was out of the cage and away from P.J., he made sure to publicly celebrate his victory before heading to the back.
P.J. then asked for a mic and the Evolve World Title belt, and cut a promo telling Drew that his victory tonight should result in him being ranked high enough for his already-scheduled match with Drew at Evolve 39 later this month. He asks Drew to make the match a title match. The now recovered enough to speak Drew shockingly tells everyone that “the title isn’t the most important thing anymore” but then reiterates that he defends the belt anywhere and anytime he is allowed to, so P.J. can have his title shot.
Satisfied, P.J. leaves, leaving Drew to explain what could possibly be more important that the title. This started off sounding like it was going to be a goodbye speech of sorts (Drew had just debuted in TNA) but that was all meant as a swerve because what was really more important to Drew was to have another match with Roddy to settle their feud (which he promised the crowd would be in New York).
Then, after telling us that that this Roddy feud was much more important than the title, Drew started to talk about how important the title was and how there should only be one champion in the company and he challenged Johnny Gargano to unification match with Drew’s Evolve World Title and Johnny’s DGUSA Open The Freedom Gate Title. Then he rambled on for a bit and cut the big babyface show-ending “I love the fans, I love this company, and I love wrestling” promo. Everything that was said in this whole segment was good, but ordering of it definitely made it come off kind of clumsy and awkward.
An excellent show from EVOLVE, with the usual awesome wrestling up and down the card, plus some big storyline moments in Drew setting up the unification match and Gulak saying the word “catchpoint” for the first time. The only weaknesses were the commentary (especially Rob Naylor, who was a little too goofy, especially during the main event) and how disjointed Drew’s promo was. Next we’re off to WrestleMania weekend for EVOLVE 39.
PWG, EVOLVE, AAW, WWN, etc
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