Evolve 62 (6/10/2016)- Ybor City, Florida
FRED YEHI vs. ANTHONY NESE- 7/10
A great opener that would have been even greater still if Nese had sold his leg better. Yehi is pretty darn great in the ring, and he was rewarded here by picking up his first EVOLVE victory.
ANTHONY NESE PROMO- basically a mea culpa for letting the Premier Athlete Brand turn into a bunch of assholes. He says that the Premier Athlete Brand and “Anthony Nese” are no more but “Tony Nese is still here.” He admits that he hasn’t been particularly successful over the past year, but he thinks that wining the WWE Cruiserweight Classic will turn his career around, so he wants to win his way into the tournament tomorrow night.
DARBY ALLIN vs. ETHAN PAGE- 6.25/10
More of a story than a match, but with some backstory by Lenny Leonard and a well-told story here (with one or two crazy bumps thrown in), Darby Allin has now been established as “fight with all your heart” babyface. The story they told here also allowed Page to get some good character moments in, too. Any time you can kill two birds with one stone, that’s good booking.
CEDRIC ALEXANDER vs. MATT RIDDLE- 7.75/10
Cedric got quite the pop here for his EVOLVE debut. At first this seemed like one of those Riddle matches that Gabe uses to get over the idea that “submissions can happen at any time” by having Riddle win relatively quickly and slightly out of nowhere, but as time went on, they really made ou believe that Cedric was going to win this match.
EVOLVE TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH: Catchpoint (Drew Gulak & Tracy Williams)(c) (w/Fred Yehi & TJP) vs. The Bravado Brothers- 8/10
This was another match where I went in thinking the Catchpoint guys had zero chance of losing but began to lose that certainty as things went on. This match definitely dragged at times and it did seem to burn out part of the crowd, but it was still quite awesome, including one crazy spot which was new to me.
CATCHPOINT AND TIMOTHY THATCHER SEGMENT- Gulak said Thatcher didn’t deserve to be the Evolve World Champion because he wasn’t even trying to get the belt back from Catchpoint. Some of the things Gulak said got a little weird. Gulak kept talking for a while, burying Thatcher. Thatcher only came out after Gulak specifically called him out. This has not been the first time that Thatcher seemingly just sat around while someone (particularly Catchpoint) trash-talked him. I don’t know what Gabe is going for with this whole thing, but to me it is making Thatcher come off really poorly. Gulak also said everyone in Catchpoint should get title shots. Thatcher says he has already told them they will all get their title shots, and asks that they kindly leave so that he can focus on his match with Chris Hero. Hero comes out and cuts a dismissive promo towards Catchpoint. Gulak says “in the spirit of competition, we’ll let this match happen” before they head to the back. You know… so they don’t come off like little bitches the way Thatcher kind of does in these segments. It’s not that he hasn’t proved that he is tough in the ring. He just seems to let other people walk all over him.
EVOLVE TITLE MATCH: Timothy Thatcher(c) vs. Chris Hero- 7.5/10
This was one of those matches that Hero sometimes does where there is way too much hitting the other guy once and then spending thirty seconds waiting for him to get up in order to hit him again instead of just following up like normal. It was still enjoyable, though, with a few pretty fantastic spots (Hero blocking Thatcher’s quick, Goto-style headbutt with an elbow particularly stands out).
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- Catchpoint comes out, now with Thatcher’s Title. Tracy Williams challenges Thatcher to defend the title against him tomorrow night. Gulak cuts a promo saying that Catchpoint will succeed in doing what Chris Hero couldn’t, which made Hero angry.
Stokely Hathaway grabbed the mic (and the title belt) and said that he likes Tracy Williams and Catchpoint is cool and all, but the guy Thatcher should really be defending against is TJP, who is a member of Catchpoint, but Stokely referred to as a member of his “Dream Team.” Stokely then ordered the referee to strap the title on him, and for some reason the ref complied.
Thatcher finally spoke, agreeing to give Williams a title shot tomorrow night. He also warned that as he works his way through Catchpoint, every one of them that has disrespected the title belt by even laying a finger on it: “I will hurt you.” When you see it written out, it sounds a lot cooler than Thatcher’s delivery was. It did, however, make Stokely take the belt off very quickly.
Although this seems like a perfect place to end this segment, instead Matt Riddle now cut a promo reiterating why he thinks he deserves another title shot (or at least his side of the story… although his points certainly have merit). Then he started to trash-talk Thatcher, and, in fact, literally called him “trash.” Then he picked up the belt and got right in Thatcher’s face… and Thatcher just stood there and took it like a total loser.
UNSANCTIONED STREET FIGHT: Ethan Carter III & Drew Galloway vs. Johnny Gargano & TJP (w/Stokely Hathaway)- 7.5/10
The first thing EC III did in this match, immediately after the bell rung, was to punch out the referee because Ethan is an asshole who doesn’t live EVOLVE (or WWE) very much. Lenny Leonard made sure to point out that Ethan couldn’t be punished for this because this match was unsanctioned.
Their brawl quickly spilled outside of the building, resulting in a horrifically stupid (and also quite dangerous) spot where Ethan got into one of those bicycle-taxi things and I guess he wanted to leave or something, but Gargano jumped onto the carriage and stood up and punched Ethan in a head a bunch of times WHILE THE BIKE WAS MOVING, and the driver seemed completely unaware that anything was amiss. Ethan, meanwhile, just sat there and let himself get punched, never once trying to stop Johnny from getting on to the carriage or from punching him in the head. Then they went inside and we got one or two good spots, and the some more goofy comedy spots that were completely inappropriate for an unsanctioned street fight with your promotion’s pride at stake.
Once they stopped doing dumb sh*t the match got pretty great. They used weapons, Ethan was a huge douchebag, etc., etc. The big turning point in the match came after Drew and Ethan gave TJP a two-man powerbomb through a table, taking TJ out. Gargano managed to avoid a similar fate, using a chair to make a comeback, and took the two heels out. Meanwhile, Drew Gulak came out to check on his fellow Catchpoint member’s condition, and Chris Hero decided to use this opportunity to jump Gulak from behind and lay him out with a piledriver. Gargano saw this and went to… maybe defend Gulak or yell at Hero or just ask him what the hell or something. We never found out because Hero decided to kick Gargano in the face, seemingly joining with the anti-WWE/EVOLVE relationship stable (or the bitter ex-WWE washouts stable, depending on whose side you take). Ethan pinned TJP, telling him to suck it before hitting him with the One Percenter.
DREW & ETHAN PROMO- Great.
Drew cut a promo reiterating their side of the argument, which is that EVOLVE as a promotion and the wrestlers as individuals don’t need WWE’s help to be successful. They said that Hero had joined up with them, but, interestingly, he wasn’t actually out here for this. If he was, you’d think he would have been standing with him here during this promo.
Someone who IS apparently with them, though, is CODY RHODES, who will be facing Johnny Gargano on August 19th.
Ethan Page came out to try to shut them up but got kicked in the nuts by Drew and ate a Future Shock DDT.
Ethan Carter III then said that he would now say something even more likely to infuriate the office than the things he said last month burying WWE: He plugged Slammiversary. That was f*cking fantastic!
A great show by EVOLVE. A little below their standards, but everything aside from the Thatcher stuff was either a great match or an important part of a story (and often both).