By Big Red Machine
From April 01, 2016
EVOLVE TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH IN WHICH IF THE PREMIER ATHLETE BRAND LOSE, THEY CAN NEVER TEAM AGAIN: Drew Galloway & Johnny Gargano(c) (w/Kota Ibushi) vs. The Premier Athlete Brand (w/SoCal Val & Andrea)- 6.5/10
This match was… BUFFERING!
(EDIT after rewatch):
A fine match with a completely f*cked up finish. Konley tapped out clean, but first the ref said he wasn’t legal… then he just kind of gave the belts Galloway and Gargano anyway. I guess only really was legal? The fans realized the mistake and chanted “this ref sucks!” After the match, Drew did some dumb comedy asking Johnny to put a “soft version of your finish” on someone who maybe was a student or something… either way I thought it was really dumb, but the crowd liked it.
MATT RIDDLE PROMO- he wants his title match right now! Thatcher comes out, so we are starting the weekend off with two straight title matches!
EVOLVE TITLE MATCH: Timothy Thatcher(c) vs. Matt Riddle- 7.5/10
Really good fake MMA building to a climax that was a new and (at least to me) interesting variation on the Dusty Finish. Basically what happened was that Riddle had Thatcher in an armbar but Thatcher got to the ropes. Then, in the middle of the referee’s count, Riddle, yanked down on the arm and Thatcher immediately rolled to the outside. The ref checked on Thatcher and called for the bell so Riddle grabbed the belt, figuring he had won, but the ref snatched the belt away from him and ruled this a “no contest” because while he technically didn’t hold on for the full five count, Riddle did perform an illegal maneuver which led to Thatcher being unable to continue. The fans really didn’t like this and many on Twitter also seemed quite confused by this finish. I thought it was pretty clever, but I guess it was too clever for some people.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- Thatcher recovers and goes after Riddle but referees and Catchpoint quickly separate them. The announcers sold it like Thatcher’s elbow was REALLY f*cked up. Like visibly so. The announcers made sure to put over how tough Thatcher was for trying to fight in this condition.
MARTY SCURLL vs. FRED YEHI- 6.25/10
Dueling chants. I’m not trying to start anything here, but there was definitely a distinctly British tint to the “LET’S GO MARTY!” chants that was missing from the “LET’S GO YEHI!” chants. They did some stuff. It was fine.
ETHAN PAGE vs. SAMI CALLIHAN- 6.75/10
TJ PERKINS vs. RICOCHET- 8/10
TJ’s outfit makes him look like a fifteen year old Sonjay Dutt. One clever fan decided to chant “LET’S GO PUMA!” Well done, sir.
I’m not saying that after two not-so-good finishes in title matches (one f*cked up by the ref and the other that most of the fans just didn’t seem to understand) and major buffering issues in the opener Gabe went up to them and said “please save my show!” but it kind of felt like that. Anyway… they delivered. Awesome match, with both cool flipping and great mat wrestling.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- Stokely Hathaway shows up! And he says he has signed TJ Perkins to his stable, called “the Dream Team.” He says that, for marketing purposes, TJ Perkins must now be known as “TJP.” Also, he wants to enter TJP in WWE’s Global Cruiserweight Tournament.
ZACK SABRE JR. vs. WILL OSPREAY- 9/10
Well… if that last one didn’t save the show for the live crowd, this sure as hell did!
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- Chris Hero and Tommy End came out and Hero had a good segment with Sabre Jr. At this rate, I’m pretty sure that Hero won’t be looking to knock Sabre Jr. out at Mercury Rising so much as he will be looking to decapitate him. Hero and End cut promos hyping up their matches for the rest of the weekend, then called out Team Catchpoint for the main event, which was…
CHRIS HERO & TOMMY END vs. TEAM CATCHPOINT (Drew Gulak & Tracy Williams) (w/TJ Perkins)- 8.25/10
Despite the earlier segment, TJ Perkins was out here seconding Team Catchpoint and wearing his Catchpoint T-shirt. CRAZY match with lots of hard-hitting strikes and some really cool double-team spots towards the end. Catchpoint wins because they’re awesome, with End tapping out to Gulak. TJP, who faces End tomorrow, laughed at him over this. Stokely Hathaway then came out to tell TJP to go to the back. Not sure what the point of that was. Surely if Stokely was upset that TJP was out here with Catchpoint, he would have come out and gotten him before now, right? Also, Stokely didn’t even look particularly upset.
Rob Naylor described Chris Hero as a bastard child of Dick Murdoch & Skayde.” That made me crack up.
An awesome show EVOLVE! It go off to quite the rocky start in many ways, but this certainly proved itself to be one hell of a way to start off the biggest weekend of the year for wrestling fans! Also, on a personal note, major props are due to Lenny Leonard and Rob Naylor for not mentioning the finish of the match that had the buffering problems- even though it was a title match with important storyline consequences- for the entirety of the show so that we could all experience it spoiler-free when we sat down to watch it. Props are also due to Gabe and Sal whoever makes the decision to give people a make-good due to the buffering problems. Paying for a show that is being streamed live is always risky (especially for those of us with bad memories of ROH’s experiences with the technology back in 2010-2013), but EVOLVE always makes sure that there is no risk. If you bought the live-only version of the show, they gave you access to the VOD version for free. If you chose the live viewing plus VOD option, they offered to give you another EVOLVE/DGUSA/FIP family show in the archives for free. Very classy.