Written by: Bob Colling
Evolve #1: Richards vs. Ibushi
From: Rahway, NJ
Opening Contest: Bobby Fish vs. Kyle O’Reilly: Early on, O’Reilly misses a spear and hits the ring post. That allowed Fish to take him out with a somersault dive on the floor. Fish followed up with an exploder suplex and diving head butt for a near fall. Fish has some good offense while O’Reilly is relying on kicks mainly. O’Reilly slams Fish down with rolling butterfly suplexs but can’t get a three count. They trade a series of stiff kicks, which may have went a little too long. O’Reilly gets to the ropes to break an arm bar. Now they are trading stiff forearm shots until O’Reilly hits an leg trapped overhead suplex. O’Reilly nails Fish with a lariat after they both hit super kicks. O’Reilly plants Fish with a tornado DDT but Fish drives O’Reilly down with the Falcon Arrow for a near fall. Fish powerbombs O’Reilly into the corner but O’Reilly avoids a kick to hit another tornado DDT and the brain buster for the win. (***. A fine opener to start of the Evolve promotion. Fish impressed me in the match and O’Reilly had a fine showcasing.)
Second Contest: Chuck Taylor vs. Cheech: Cheech is doing a lot of comedy early on as he is doing a lot of clapping, which is reminding of the American Males. Taylor puts a stop to that with a back breaker, though. Cheech hits a middle rope moonsault but runs into a dropkick moments later. Cheech avoids the Awful Waffle and gets a two count on a roll up Cheech nails Taylor with a baseball slide dropkick in the corner for a near fall. Cheech spears Taylor in the corner but Taylor connects with the Soul Food. Taylor spikes Cheech with the Awful Waffle to win the bout. (**. A rather boring contest to me, but the finish was nice.) After the match, Taylor is interviewed. Taylor is pissed that he didn’t get an automatic shot in Evolve and he needed to qualify. He doesn’t think people in Evolve like him. The microphone is cutting in and out. He declares that he will win every match to make them all miserable.
Third Contest: Arik Cannon vs. Ricochet: Ricochet sends Cannon to the floor with a head scissors and takes him out with an impressive dive over the top. Cannon sends Ricochet into the corner with an exploder suplex for a near fall. Cannon is having trouble with Ricochet’s speed but hits a swinging neck breaker to get the advantage. Cannon plants Ricochet with a brain buster but misses a splash in the corner. Cannon hit Total Anarchy for a near fall. Cannon tried for a double leg slam out of the corner, but instead Ricochet hit a modified Canadian Destroyer, it looked like. Ricochet hits the 630 to win the match. (**1/2. Well, it was mainly just how many impact moves could they fit in such a short amount of time. It was a fine contest and good way to get the show back on a good note.) After the match, Chuck Taylor comes out to cut a promo. Taylor came here to create his own spot and he issues a challenge to Ricochet for the next show. He accepts the challenge..
Fourth Contest: Dark City Fight Club vs. Aeroform: It’s a classic big team vs. small team match here. Aeroform start off early with a double dropkick on Jon Davis and Corey. Louis Lyndon runs into a vicious clothesline from Corey. Jon Davis hits the Head Rush on Flip Kendrick. There was a very brief “this match sucks” chant but it hasn’t been that bad. DCFC is just toying around with Kendrick. Lyndon kicks Corey in the corner and Kendrick comes off the top with a cross body. Kendrick hit a reverse somersault splash on Jon for a near fall. Jon stops Lyndon with a knee on the apron and attempts a brain buster on the apron but can’t hit it. Lyndon springboards off of Jon to take Corey out with a moonsault on the floor. Kendrick hits the Spiral Tap 540 on Jon but can’t get the victory. Jon takes Lyndon out with the Pounce! DCFC pin Kendrick after the Project Mayhem. (**1/4. I thought this went a little too long. DCFC never looked that good in ROH when they had their brief run there, but I liked what they had to offer here in Evolve. Aeroform isn’t bad by any means, though.)
Fifth Contest: WSU Heavyweight Champion Mercedes Martinez vs. Nadia: Just a squash match for Martinez who wins with a fisherman buster. After the match, Martinez made it known she is going to prove she is the best female wrestler going today.
Sixth Contest: Brad Allen vs. Silas Young: Allen dropkicks Young to the apron but is kicked to the floor. Allen completely overshot Young on his somersault dive to the floor. Allen clotheslines Young from the apron and got a near fall after a slingshot leg drop. Allen missed a top rope cross body attempt and it was rather obvious that Young was nowhere near the area but Allen did the spot anyway. Allen hits a springboard senton splash for a two count. Young plants Allen with an elevated DDT on the floor! Young gets a near fall after a lariat to a seated Allen. He did a unnecessary somersault before the move, too. Allen gets a two count after a delayed senton splash from the apron. Allen blocked a kick and flips him over and Young hits his legs dangerously on the top rope. Allen looks for a moonsault off the top to the floor but Young nails him with a dropkick and both men appear to be injured. Allen breaks the twenty count and kicks out of a cover attempt. Young misses a headstand moonsault. Allen gets a two count after a corkscrew cross body. Allen stops Young from hitting his headstand moonsault and spins Young around before driving him face first into the canvas for the win. (**1/4. Not that great of a match. The early moments were okay, but once the count out spot happened it got boring and went too long for my liking.) After the match, Allen is interviewed. Allen has been waiting for this moment for his entire career. He thanks everyone for his shot in the company. He also thanks his mother, who died seven years ago. Allen issues a challenge to Chris Hero for the next Evolve show.
Jimmy Jacobs cuts a promo saying he sees the love and the hate. Jacobs says he will die for the people who love him and he suggests the people who hate him can continue to hate him. Jacobs says that Ken Doane has been given everything in his career while he has worked for everything in his career.
Seventh Contest: Kenn Doane vs. Jimmy Jacobs: Early on, Jacobs gets the better of Doane and nearly wins with a inside cradle after blocking a suplex attempt. Jacobs blocks a kick and clotheslines Doane before locking in a choke. Doane crashes to the floor after Jacobs avoids him on the apron. Jacobs tries a baseball slide but Doane traps him in the ring apron and pummels Jacobs on the floor. Doane continues to use cheap shots to control Jacobs and hits a slingshot elbow drop from the apron for a two count. Jacobs is clotheslined a couple of times and Doane focuses on a headlock just to piss off one fan it looks like. Jacobs backdrops Doane from the apron back into the ring but is clotheslined quickly. Jacobs begins to get a second wind and isn’t overly affected by Doane’s offense. Jacobs hits a head scissors and drop toe holds Doane into the bottom turnbuckle. Doane counters a choke with a spine buster for a two count. Jacobs plants Doane with an elevated DDT off the middle rope. Doane gets a two count following a German suplex. Doane shoves Jacobs off the top rope and hits a top rope leg drop to win the match, though Jacobs had his foot on the bottom rope. Here comes Tommy Dreamer to tell the referee that Jacobs had his foot on the bottom rope. Dreamer gets the match to restart and Jacobs has a choke hold locked in to win the match. (**1/2. An average match between these two. Doane’s offense was rather boring and the headlock spot just to piss off one or two guys in the front row hurt the match, I thought. The Dreamer surprise wasn’t all that shocking either because it was obvious leading into the show that’s who was coming in. I was disappointed by this match, I guess.) After the match, Doane yells at Dreamer for costing him the match but ends up leaving with nothing happening. Dreamer cuts a promo putting over the fans and goes to leave but Jacobs grabs the microphone. Jacobs isn’t going to thank Dreamer for helping him win his first Evolve match. He doesn’t need help from a guy like Dreamer. He notes how he had a lot of followers but now in Evolve he stands alone in Evolve. Dreamer ends up getting into the ring and is low blowed by Jacobs. Dreamer battles back and plants Jacobs with a DDT.
Eighth Contest: Johnny Gargano vs. Chris Dickinson: Dickinson chops away on Gargano in a corner early on in the contest. Gargano kicks Dickinson in the head but Dickinson quickly gets the offense back with a diving lariat to a seated Gargano. Gargano spears Dickinson from the apron back into the ring to regain the advantage. Gargano hits an ace crusher and tries to pin Dickinson several times with a series of roll ups but can’t get a three count. Gargano has the Rings of Saturn on Dickinson but Dickinson gets out of it and hits a gut buster! Dickinson kicks Gargano right in the face after he is spat on by Gargano. Dickinson nearly wins following a lariat. Double knee strike by Gargano but Dickinson hits a yakuza kick in the corner. Dickinson gets a near fall following the Falcon Arrow. A springboard elbow drop by Dickinson but he only gets a near fall. Dickinson misses a top rope knee drop and is planted by Gargano with a DDT. Gargano tosses Dickinson face first into the middle turnbuckle and gets the win following the Hurts Donut. (***. I enjoyed the match, which was rather short. They kept a good pace and both men had some quality offense throughout the match.)
Ninth Contest: Munenori Sawa vs. TJ Perkins: They slapped each other before the ring introductions, so maybe this one will be a hard hitting match. Naturally, they start off with some mat wrestling with neither man getting a clear advantage. Sawa does get a kick in on Perkins after he reaches the ropes. Sawa hits a quick German suplex and they have a nice exchange of kicks and a roll up That was insanely quick and nicely done. They trade kicks until Sawa delivers a dragon screw leg whip. Sawa focuses his offense on Perkins left knee now. Perkins gets a cross arm breaker on after a northern lights suplex. Perkins connects with a hammerlock belly to back suplex for a two count. They both go for a front kick and hit at the same time. Sawa gets an ankle lock on Perkins but can’t keep it on for too long. Perkins puts a cross arm breaker on Sawa but he reaches the ropes quickly. Perkins absorbs a kick and knocks Sawa off his feet with a running knee strike! Sawa slaps Perkins several times and hits a shining wizard for a two count only. Sawa punches Perkins in the face and gets the submission on Perkins with the octopus. (***1/2. I was surprised by this match considering I haven’t seen much of Perkins stuff and Sawa is a foreign talent I’ve never seen before. Nicely done by those two men.)
Tenth Contest: Brodie Lee, Gran Akuma & Icarus vs. Mike Quakenbush, Hallowicked & Frightmare: The fans are very excited for this match. Icarus and Quack start off the six man tag match. Quack hits a spinning heel kick and a standing knee drop early on. Quack head scissors and arm drags Akuma and Icarus at the same time. Icarus tags out after a double team move by Hallowicked and Frightmare. Lee enters and Hallowicked hits a hurricanrana followed by a running kick in the corner for a two count. Frightmare and Akuma enter but don’t do anything all that important. Icarus clotheslines Frightmare to get the cheap advantage. Icarus spears Frightmare after Akuma knee lifts Frightmare from the apron. Akuma is tripled teamed and nearly pinned by Frightmare with a victory roll after a few kicks. Lee enters and powerbombs Frightmare like it is nothing. Double vertical suplex on Frightmare by Icarus and Lee. Icarus keeps control with a fall away slam and Akuma tags in to work over Frightmare with a few shots. All six men go at it until Lee hits an ace crusher on Frightmare for a two count. Frightmare is trying to get out of the ring as he steps off of Akuma to hit a hurricanrana on Lee. Frightmare hits one on Akuma to tag in Hallowicked. Lee drives him down with a side slam, though. Quack sends Lee to the floor with a backdrop. Akuma drives both knees into Frightmare’s midsection for a near fall. Quack hits a top rope hurricanrana on Akuma and a top rope senton splash. Frightmare hits a double knee on Akuma for only a two count. Icarus hits a Death Valley Driver on Quack in the corner. Lee nearly pins Hallowicked after a big boot. Frightmare plants Lee with a tornado DDT! Frightmare takes Akuma out with a twisting dive on the floor and Quack takes Lee out with a dive as well. Hallowicked pins Icarus after a sit out spine buster. (***. A solid six man tag match from the Chikara guys. Personally, I didn’t like Frightmare being involved in so much of the match, mainly because he is fairly green and his beating seemed to drag out a little bit.) After the match, Quack admits his back is just about 75% but he feels that it’s good enough for him. He wants a four way tag team elimination match in March.
Main Event: Kota Ibushi vs. Davey Richards: A quick start as they waste no time going for kicks and punches. Richards knocks Ibushi to the floor with a spinning heel kick. Ibushi hits a missile dropkick and a cross body on the floor. They are on the apron where they trade kicks and chops. Richards blocks a chop and drives Ibushi’s arm down onto the apron! Richards hits a hammerlock back suplex and keeps his focus on working Ibushi’s left arm. Richards knocks Ibushi down to the canvas with several kicks and Ibushi’s left arm is clearly weak. Richards has a cloverleaf locked in on Ibushi. Ouch, Richards delivers an arm breaker on Ibushi from off the middle rope. Richards isn’t affected by a forearm shot and delivers a stiff kick to Ibushi’s midsection to maintain control of the bout. Richards delivers a kick right to Ibushi’s face and hits a snap suplex. Richards goes up top but Ibushi nails Richards with a cartwheel double kick to his head. Holy shit, Ibushi springboards off the top turnbuckle and takes Richards out with a moonsault on the floor! Ibushi is now working over Richards with several kicks and standing moonsault for a two count. Richards kicks Ibushi in the midsection and comes off the top with a missile dropkick. Richards nearly wins following a cartwheel kick. Richards kicks Ibushi as he is sitting on the top rope. Richards connects with a superplex but Ibushi gets up quickly and avoids a clotheslines before hitting a German suplex! Ibushi hits a double moonsault but Richards powers out before three. Ibushi powerbombs Richards but that only gets a two count. Richards hits a top rope German suplex and follows up with a running knee in the corner followed by a back suplex for a two count. Richards delivers a stiff kick and locks in the kimura but Ibushi counters with a roll up for a two count. Ibushi hits a reverse hurricanrana but Richards comes back with a running lariat and both men are out! They return to exchanging stiff shots. Richards clotheslines Ibushi and nearly wins following a DR Driver! Ibushi stops Richards on the top rope and they trade headbutts. Ibushi misses a Phoenix Splash off the top rope. Richards delivers a missile dropkick to Ibushi’s injured arm. Richards only gets a two count following a shooting star press. Richards is raining down forearm shots and has the kimura locked in again and wins by submission to win the match. (****. That was a very good match to close out the show. These two brought their best stuff for the main event of the first show. By far the best match on this show, which had other good matches.)
A solid first show for Evolve. The early portions of the show seemed to drag a little bit and didn’t have much interest for me, but after the Jacobs/Doane match the show had some good stuff. The main event has a lot of entertainment value and the show is a fine way to spend 2+ hours. Yeah, it’s not 4 hours long or anything. So, this gets a thumbs up from me.
Thanks for reading.
31-year old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Longtime fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Vikings. Avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on the old school wrestling.