CHUCK TAYLOR vs. CALEB KONLEY - 7/10
A GREAT opener. Konley gets the big win here to start moving him up the card, while poor Chuck Taylor’s losing streak continues with the added humiliation of losing by verbal submission.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Larry Dallas, Trina Michaels, and Buggy Nova came out and Larry tried to get Caleb to return to The Scene, but he refused. Larry seemed sincerely dejected about this.
IVELISSE vs. MIA YIM - 6.25/10
A solid little wrestling match to essentially serve as a plug for next month’s SHINE 11, where they will crown their first champion, and both of these ladies will be in the tournament.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Fine. The Young Bucks came out and Matt noted that in EVOLVE there are “serious consequences” for breaking the rules… and yet the Bucks have been breaking the rules all weekend and haven’t been fined or suspended or anything. “To prove we’re untouchable, why don’t we superkick these two whores right on the lips.”
Ivelisse backed down and left but Mia Yim was ready to fight. A.R. Fox came out to defend her, saying that as the champion, his job was to defend the company from people like the Young Bucks. The Bucks backed down from Fox.
TOMMY TAYLOR vs. ANTHONY NESE - 7/10
Another great action match with the purpose of starting to create a new generation of stars, giving these guys fifteen minutes and letting them sink or swim. These guys definitely swam. Taylor stood out the most to me, simply for the way he sold the finish. You really don’t see people sell any kind of splash like that much, and it’s a shame- especially if you want to get over to the crowd that there is actually something that makes a 450 stronger than a regular diving splash.
ANDREW EVERETT & THE BRAVADO BROTHERS vs. SHANE STRICKLAND & DOS BEN DEJOS (Jay Cruz & Eddie Rios) - 7/10
This match was advertised as a “showcase match,” with Lenny Leonard flat-out telling us that it was “a chance to give up-and-coming stars a chance to show what they’re capable of in front of a new audience.” And that’s exactly what they did. Strickland and Everett stuck out the most to me, but that honestly could just be that they were the only guys who weren’t wearing the same tights as someone else on their team. Strickland pinned Everett. The Bravados still raised Everett’s hand after the match to get him some applause from the crowd for a good effort, but it was just a swerve to lull him into false sense of security before dumping him backwards and walking out on him. One team gets the win, the other team gets an angle out of it. Everybody wins (well… not the losing team, but you know what I mean).
EVOLVE TITLE MATCH:
A.R. Fox(c) vs. Lincé Dorado - 4.25/10
This was originally booked as a non-title match, but after a quick flippy sequence, Fox grabbed a mic and said that “this action is what EVOLVE is all about!” and offered to put the title on the line. I hope everyone else on the roster is paying attention to this so that they know that if they’re ever booked against Fox in a non-title match, they, too, should just to a bunch of flips in the beginning, and Fox will become so impressed that he’ll offer to put the title on the line.
I thought this was very silly. Lenny Leonard pushed it as Fox “wanting to bring some prestige to this young championship” by defending it, so why not just have Fox offer to put the belt on the line beforehand? And don’t tell me the answer is “because Lincé didn’t earn it, because how the hell does doing a flippy sequence with the champion enough to push you across the finish line and to the point where you’ve now earned a title shot?
At one point Fox sat Dorado on the apron, went to a stage, took a running start, and then DOVE OVER A SECTION OF CHAIRS AND HIT DORADO WITH A CANNONBALL! That takes an INSANE amount of confidence in your athletic ability to even attempt! If he came up short, he could have hit his head on either the floor or the apron, or even hit his back on the apron and then feel down and hit his head on the floor. And Fox nailed it perfectly.
That being said, if you’re going to do something crazy like that, you probably shouldn’t have Dorado to be the first one recovered enough to throw a punch afterwards. Make your high-risk move look like it hurts your opponent more than it hurts you, so you don’t look silly for doing it (because if it hurts you more than your opponent even if you do hit it, why would you ever even try it?).
We got a dumb spot where Lincé got a shot from the bar… and for whatever reason he decided to hold it in his mouth and not drink. Of course, he then went for a moonsault press, landed on his feet when Fox avoided it, and got superkicked, causing him to spit it out. You know… because it looks kind of cool.
This kind of thing is exactly the mentality that wrestler need to avoid, because while this looks cool, it’s not really adding anything to the match because the fans are already going to pop for the superkick because it’s a superkick on a guy who just landed a backflip. Meanwhile, for those of us who want our wrestling to make sense and want to pretend that this is a fight (you know… the premise of the whole genre?) rather than two guys trying to entertain us by doing things that look cool, it detracts from our enjoyment of the match. It subtracts value for one subset of fans and adds no value for any others, so why the hell would you do it?
Oh G-d. Now the f*cking bartender thinks he’s a part of the match and is teasing not giving Fox a shot when he asks for one. Fox did a senton onto Lincé on the bar. For some reason, this has caused the referee to restart his count. This match would have been ninety times better if they had just stayed away from the f*cking bar. You already did the craziest spot on the outside we’re going to see all night (the one I described earlier), so just stay in the ring.
Fox breaks the count, then rolls back out to reset it and they start brawling around the back of the bar. There is no lighting and the camera is struggling to keep up, so it’s hard to see anything. Lincé did a dive off of a high window sill or something like that.
Brandon Tolle is counting slowly, but at least he’s counting. Someone hit the other with a garbage can. Maybe Tolle is too far way to see. Why can’t he count while following them around on the outside? It shouldn’t be that difficult to tell if someone makes it back to the ring in time if you’re standing on the floor. We got the big tease of the double-count-out that people in the building somehow bought.
From there, Lincé dropped Fox on his head a few times but Fox always kicked out. We pretty much immediately then went to the finish, which I believe was the debut of Lo Mein Pain. Unfortunately, the way they had both guys jump up to the top rope at the same time to set the move up made the whole thing look contrived, like an upward version of the dreaded “1-2-3 go” when both guys are coming off the top rope through a table or onto a pile of bodies. This was one of the worst matches in the history of this title. Having it be one of the first defenses… well… let’s just say that Fox failed in this goal to add prestige the title by putting it on the line in this match.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Didn’t like it. The Young Bucks came out and Matt Jackson gave the preceding match **1/2, so he liked it more than I did. They taunted Fox about EVOLVE’s rules, offering him a free shot at Nick while still reminding him that he’ll get suspended if he does “because of these lame EVOLVE rules.”
Will he, though? The story seems to be that the Bucks have been breaking them all weekend and managed to avoid punishment by threatening to throw the DGUSA Open The United Gate Titles in the trash if they are punished. Couldn’t Fox just pull the same trick with the Evolve Title? And I’m pretty sure that if he did make that threat, management would be more than happy to not suspend him because the Bucks have been such assholes and Fox is being the “face of the company” like he’s supposed to and standing up for the company (something the Bucks have been taunting him about not being able to do).
Instead, Fox decided to stick within EVOLVE’s rules, and held his hands behind his back to signify that he wouldn’t be taking that free shot at Nick. So Nick hit his unprotected face with a superkick. I get what Gabe was going for here, but the whole thing already makes the company feel impotent because it’s unable to enforce it’s own rules on the Bucks, and if it’s Fox’s job as the babyface champion “face of the company” to stand up for the company, then him using the same tactics the Bucks are using to allow him to break the rules is fighting fire with fire, and thus should be fine, and it’s not disrespecting the company by not following their rules if the company essentially tells him he can break the rules to fight the heels who the company has been unable to stop from breaking the rules.
DEREK RYZE PROMO - He impressed at a seminar and wants to show his fighting spirit, so he is making an open challenge. He wants “the biggest and the baddest” person in the locker room to come out and face him. He gets his wish, because his match winds up as…
DEREK RYZE vs. BRIAN CAGE (w/Larry Dallas & Trina Michaels) - squash
After the obliteration of Derek Ryze, Larry Dallas cut a promo demanding that Cage’s already-scheduled opponent for tonight come out for their match. He did, and we started…
JON DAVIS vs. BRIAN CAGE (w/Larry Dallas & Trina Michaels)- 5.75/10
This was a fun eight-minute hoss fight.
DGUSA OPEN THE FREEDOM GATE TITLE MATCH:
Johnny Gargano(c) vs. Samuray del Sol - 8.5/10
This was a fantastic display of athleticism and figuring out how they could mesh their usual move-sets together to have an awesome match. Gargano was a great heel, not just being a dick, but also allowing Samuray del Sol to be the one to do most of the cool stuff… and holy sh*t was there a lot of cool stuff.
The finish saw Gargano counter a move he had previously been hit by, then rip of del Sol’s mask before locking in the Gargano escape so del Sol quit right away. I am of the opinion that purposely ripping off a luchador’s mask should be a DQ no matter the promotion, but apparently no one bothered to add that to the EVOLVE rule-book when del Sol and Generico started showing up. Gargano was an absolutely tremendous douchebag after the match, parading around in the stolen mask and pretending to be del Sol “crying” after a loss.
OPEN THE UNITED GATE TITLE MATCH:
The Young Bucks(c) vs. Tomahawk TT & Eita - 8/10
Chuck Taylor joined Lenny Leonard on commentary for this match. The Bucks jumped the bell on their opponents. The story of the majority of the match was the Bucks’ incessant cheating. At one point Matt even BIT Eita. Then he acted disgusted and spit a bit and said “Chinese food tastes disgusting.” Yeah… that comment doesn’t age well. Heck, Lenny Leonard and Chuck Taylor even called it out at the time.
Once the hot tag was made, we eventually just got into a bunch of big moves, but they were fitted together extremely well, especially once you get past the balcony dive. The last few minutes in particular were quite excellent.
This was a great show from EVOLVE, even with the stinker of a title match. The undercard was very strong, and the two main events both delivered to the necessary level. A lot of new talent proved themselves tonight. Will they keep up the momentum? We’ll find out next time.