Written by: Brian Bayless
April 1, 2016
From Eddie Deen’s Ranch in Dallas, TX
Your hosts are Rob Naylor and Lenny Leonard
The show starts off with and Rob Naylor telling us this is the biggest EVOLVE crowd in history. Johnny Gargano & Drew Galloway come out to the ring. Galloway puts over how its Mania week and puts over the fans for coming all over the world. Galloway puts over growing in the Independent scene and thanks the fans as a result, on behalf of himself and the others in the back. Gargano cuts Galloway off and says we should start off “wrestling week” as a bang and welcomes their special corner man, Kota Ibushi.
EVOLVE Tag Team Championship Match: Johnny Gargano & Drew Galloway (c) vs. Premiere Athlete Brand (Anthony Nese & Caleb Konley) w/ So Cal Val & Andrea
The stipulations here are if the Premiere Athlete Brand loses, they can never team up again. Match starts with the PAB attacking their opponents from behind. Galloway catches Konley’s tope attempt outside and drops him on the apron. He then avoids a super kick by Nese, who inadvertently takes out his partner. They brawl outside for a bit until Gargano works over Nese in the ring. He gets two with a reverse neckbreaker but Konley distracts him and that allows Nese to hit a leg lariat. The PAB work over the arm of Gargano until Konley works a body scissors. Gargano’s comeback attempt is stopped by a double team as the PAB cut off the ring. They work over Gargano with illegal chokes behind the referee’s back. Konley misses a charge as Gargano boots Nese off of the apron then spears Konley before making the tag. Galloway runs wild on Konley then on Nese. They set up Konley for a double team move but Nese grabs Gargano’s leg then the PAB dump Galloway. Konley catches Gargano as he tried his apron spear and drapes him on the ropes as Nese takes him down with a double jump moonsault. Galloway comes back to block a top rop move and fights up top with Konley, eventually taking him off with a German suplex from the tree-of-woe position as that starts up a flurry of moves ending with Gargano nearly putting Nese away with a slingshot DDT. The crowd chants “this is awesome” then Nese drills Gargano with a superplex. Then action is fast and furious as the crowd applauds after Gargano and Nese trade nearfalls. The PAB nearly put Gargano away with a pumphandle/neckbreaker combo then as the referee is distracted, Andrea hands Nese a string. Ethan Page comes out to distract Nese as Galloway hits him with a Yakuza kick. Konley comes over and attacks Galloway then hits a buckle bomb. Konley tosses Gargano on top of Galloway but gets distracted and eats a double kick. Galloway then hits Konley with an inverted Alabama Slam and Gargano locks on the Gargano Escape and while it appears Konley taps out, the referee said he did not as the crowd chants “what the fuck” then shits on the ref and then we learn that in fact, he did tap out and won the match (12:10) **3/4. After the match, Galloway grabs the mic and wants to have the finish not end up on “Botchamania” and brings in a fan from ringside to re-create the finish. The fans happens to be Dylan Hales, who is a frequent guest on many wrestling podcasts. Personally, I am a big fan of his. Anyway, they recreate the finish and all take a bow. I thought that was entertaining.
Thoughts: Solid match but if that was an attempt at a controversial ending, I thought they failed. It just came off terribly. The action here was fine. I was impressed with Konley though. I’ve only seen him a handful of times and he is a solid hand.
Matt Riddle comes out for a special challenge. He throws out “bro” a lot. Anyway, he calls out Timothy Thathcer and they immediately start going at it on the mat.
EVOLVE Title Match: Matt Riddle vs. Timothy Thatcher (c)
They continue to roll around on the mat until ending in a stalemate. Riddle works a front facelock on the mat as they go back to trading holds on the mat. The announcers put over Riddle’s amateur wrestling and UFC career as Thatcher is in control until Riddle puts on a rear naked choke. They continue to battle as the crowd starts up a mild dueling chant. We are back to trading holds on the mat and while it looks good, its not particularly exciting. And the crowd is not into it either. Riddle uses a body scissors but Thatcher works an ankle lock then wrenches it back as Riddle is able to reach the ropes. Thatcher goes back to the arm but Riddle counters with a stretch muffler then attacks the knee. Thatcher destroys Riddle with an elbow then lands some mounted punching as Riddle goes on the defense. Thatcher uses knee strikes to the back of Riddle’s head then lands some more strikes as that gets him a nearfall. Thatcher uses a Dragon Sleeper then tries an inverted suplex but Riddle is caught in the ropes so he just drops him. Riddle fights back with strikes then hits a Fisherman’s Buster for two. Riddle comes back with a running knee strike but Thatcher blocks a gutwrench suplex then hits rolling gutwrenches but after a struggle, decides to drop him and lock on a Fujiwara armbar. Riddle then counters and eventually locks on a cross armbreaker. They trade counters on the mat until Thatcher reaches the ropes. However, Riddle drags Thatcher back to the midle but refuses to break as Thatcher reached the ropes again. Thatcher rolls outside in agony and the referee calls for the bell after checking on him. (15:49) **1/2. The crowd boos as the match is ruled a no-contest then Thatcher tries to attack Riddle from behind until Catchpoint (Drew Gulak & Tracy Williams & TJP) run out to pull Riddle away.
Thoughts: Technically solid and a lot better faux-MMA action than what the Undertaker and Shane tried at WrestleMania 32. However, it really was not that exciting and at times came off as nothing but a collection of matwork. If that is your style, you would probably like this match a lot better than I did. Also, the finish was poor. Have Riddle really go all out and cheat to get DQ’ed if that is the case. And Naylor say “bro-mission” during some of Riddle’s holds is quite lame, IMO.
Fred Yehi vs. “The Villain” Marty Scurll
They start off with some fast-paced matwork that ends in a standoff. After some more mat reversals, they work a fast-paced reversal sequence that ends with Yehi in control. He chops Scurll in the corner then gets two with a fisherman’s suplex. Scurll floats over and tries for the chicken wing but Yehi escapes, only for Scurlll to take him down. Yehi rolls outside where Scurll boots him from the apron then taunts the crowd. Back inside, Scurll covers for two then sets up for a surfboard but pulls at Yehi’s ears and nose instead. Yehi blocks a rollup by grabbing Scurll’s hand and stomping away. He then hits Scurll with a pair of German suplexes then gets two with a discus forearm. They work a reversal sequence that ends with Scurll faking out Yehi with a super kick and booting him in the shin. Yehi comes back with a discus forearm then a slam for two. Scurll blocks a chicken wing attempt then hits a pair of clotheslines. Scurll breaks the fingers of Yehi, who comes back and does the same. Yehi tries for a suplex but Scurll reverses then immediately locks on the crossface chicken wing for the win (10:01) ***1/4. Leonard notes that Scurll faces Thatcher tomorrow, who is currently at a medical facility and whose status for tomorrow night is unknown.
Thoughts: Solid match. I was impressed with Yehi, who has been only wrestling for about four years and Scurll is always entertaining. Good stuff and they put over Scurll heading into his match the following day against Thatcher.
Ethan Page vs. Sami Callihan
Sami immediately hits Page with a Yakuza Kick after the bell. Page comes back with a clothesline then dumps Page on to the apron. Callihan fights back then sends Page into the guardrail with a tope. Callihan spits on his hand and lets it drip off before hitting a chop. He beats on Page for a minute until Page drapes Callihan over the guardrail and hits a backbreaker. Back inside, Page stomps away. Leg drop gets two. Page works a chinlock for a bit as the announcers put over the animosity between Callihan and Gargano. Callihan comes back with a kick as the crowd chants his name. They trade kicks for a bit unitl they both knock each other down. They get up and trade go-behinds until Callihan catches Page with a Death Valley Driver for two. Page then comes back with a tilt-a-whirl slam then a nearfall with a Liger Bomb. Callihan slips off of the top and boots Page then takes him off with a Liger Bomb and segues into the stretch muffler but Page reaches the ropes. They trade strikes until Page hits a cutter then an uranage for two. Page unwraps his wrist tape and ttries for the package piledriver but Callihan escapes. He tries for the stretch muffler but that is blocked so Callihan stomps away then drills him with a running forearm for the win (10:39) **1/2. After the match, Callihan heads outside then walks over to Page, who is sitting on the mat, and flips him off.
Thoughts: The work here was fine but the finish was really flat. After all this, a running forearm smash gets the win? Anyway, Page did not impress me too much and I have no idea why Callihan is supposed to be a face in this promotion. He does not act anything like one.
TJ Perkins vs. Ricochet
Ricochet starts by getting the crowd to chant his name in the style of the “New Day Rocks” and he starts gyrating to that. Match starts off with TJP working the arm until Ricochet breaks by reaching the ropes. The announcers also talk about how Ricochet means a lot to EVOLVE and briefly detail his history with the promotion. They work an unbelievable fast-paced sequence that ends with Ricochet dropkicking TJP to the floor. Ricochet does a backflip and lands in a pose as the crowd applauds. Ricochet catches TJP with a spinebuster then follows with the Peoples Moonsault for a two count. TJP avoids a corner charge then grapevines the leg of Ricochet and rolls him around on the mat. TJP works over the leg, including an acrobatic knuckle lock sequence that ended with TJP using a leg driver. TJP goes back to the legs and knees of Ricochet. He places him in the tree-of-woe then distracts the ref so he can stomp on the groin of Ricochet. TJP catches Ricochet with a cloverleaf then turns it into a STF. TJP stretches out and is now working a headscissors on the mat. Ricochet fights back eventually and hits a running cutter as both men are down. The announcers talk about Ricochet vs. Ospreay tomorrow and how even Dave Meltzer is waiting for that. Ricochet comes back with a few kicks but is also down as he sells the leg. Ricochet sweeps TJP then gets two with a running shooting star press. TJP blocks a back suplex and puts on a rolling knee lock. They then trade kicks until TJP hits a low dropkick. TJP hits some low kicks but Ricochet catches him and hits a Blue Thunder Bomb. He then hits a brainbuster for two as both men are down. A well-deserved “this is awesome” chant breaks out as Ricochet climbs up top but has to roll through a 630 attempt and ends up hurting his knee. TJP hits Ricochet in the knees with a missile dropkick then rolls through for the knee bar and Ricochet ends up tapping out (14:32) ****1/4. After the match, Stokeley Hathaway comes out and hands TJP a contract. He says that he will be known as TJP going forward, for marketing purposes. Hathaway then tells Triple H that if he is looking for a cruiserweight for his tournament, then look no further.
Thoughts: Excellent match. Perkins really impressed me here and its insane that TNA wasted him with the “Manik” gimmick. Actually, its not surprising that TNA squandered someone’s potential. Ricochet has charisma for days and maybe I am reading too much into things but with how much the announcers put over his history with the promotion and the fact he tapped out cleanly here, I’d have to think the rumors of him signing with the WWE this Summer are true.
Will Ospreay vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
They start off by trading standing holds as neither man can gain an advantage. Sabre works the arm on the mat until Ospreay escapes as the announcers put over Triple H for putting together the Global Cruiserweight Tournament. Ospreay now works the arm then they trade rapid-fire snapmares but Ospreay goes back to the arm. Ospreay catches Sabre with an armdrag then connects with a dropkick as the fans applaud and chant for Ospreay. The announcers apologize for their technical difficulties and offer not only the On Demand version of this but a free show from the library. Sabre takes control and blocks a back handspring rana before catching him with a full nelson suplex. Sabre now works a figure-four necklock while wrenching back Ospreay’s leg. Sabre dropkicks Ospreay in the back of the neck then steps on it while stretching out his leg. Sabre uses an octopus hold then steps on Ospreay’s head while flexing as he maintains the move. Unreal. Sabre is now working all sorts of unbelievable holds and stretches that I have never seen before. He backs Ospreay into the corner, who comes back with a back handspring into a kick as both men are down. Ospreay sidesteps a charge then comes back with a springboard clothesline. Sabre rolls outside as Ospreay hits the Flying Space Tiger Drop perfectly then poses as the crowd chants “holy shit.” Back inside, Ospreay jumps off of the middle rope backwards to hit a cutter as that gets a nearfall. That also looked great. Ospreay climbs back up top but rolls through his move then Sabre catches him in a wheelbarrow and hooks his arms before hitting a Tiger Suplex as that gets two. My lord! Sabre then stretches out Ospreay’s arms with his legs while using a Dragon Sleeper. Ospreay rolls through a crucifix and hits a standing shooting star then goes up top to connect with a Phoenix Splash as that gets two. Again, the move looked perfect. They have a reversal sequence that leads into a rollup reversal then Ospreay hits a tornado DDT. However, he tries for a running shooting star press but Sabre catches him with a triangle hold. Ospreay is fading away but is able to hold up his hand after the thrid try. He ends up deadlifting Sabre and tosses him into the corner. Ospreay charges and leaps all the way to the top but Sabre dodges and kicks him into the tree-of-woe position. Sabre is on the mat as the crowd again chants “this is awesome.” Sabre puts Ospreay up top and tries for a super Dragon Suplex but Ospreay fights out and tucks Sabre’s head underneath the turnbuckle and hits him with a super kick. Ospreay hits the Essex Destroyer (flipping uranage) and climbs up top but Sabre got is knees up then follows with the Penalty Kick. Sabre then hits a Liger Bomb and rolls Ospreay over for the double arm lever and the win (16:32) *****. After the match, the crowd showers them with all sorts of cheers, which are all deserved.
Thoughts: People might think that I am overreacting with this rating but this match was incredible. It had all sorts of innovative holds and the action was flawless. Their timing was perfect. Sabre is a technical wizard and Ospreay is a revelation. At only 22 years old, this kid is really going to be a star one day. An amazing match that everyone should seek out.
After the match, Tommy End and Chris Hero come out. Hero sarcastically puts over Sabre before saying he has not beaten the best of all-time. Sabre then tells him that will change tomorrow and insults him before walking off. End then says he will put away TJP tomorrow then will be known as the man who knocked out Ibushi. Hero then calls out their opponents, Catchpoint.
Heroes Never Die (Chris Hero & Tommy End) vs. Catchpoint (Drew Gulak & Tracy Williams) w/ TJP
The announcers alert us that Thatcher refused medical attention. End and Williams start things off. Williams grounds End as he does not want him to be able to land his strikes. Hero tags and is even busts out a kip-up before trading arm wringers with Gulak. They trade chops and hits some wacky armdrags in a sequence that just looks odd. Williams tags in and knocks End off of the apron. Then, Gulak runs in and tries to go after Hero and eats a roaring elbow. Williams still stands in the corner as Hero catches his foot then boots him off of the apron onto the shoulders of End. Hero kicks him off of End’s shoulders as Williams hits the floor. Back inside, End tags in and lays into Williams. Heroes Never Die work over Williams for a bit but are unable to put him away. Williams comes back to hit Hero with a German suplex but Hero was able to pull Gulak off of the apron. End tags and kicks the crap out of Williams. Hero tags and yells at Williams, who comes back with strikes as Hero yells “you can’t hurt me.” Williams then hits a Teardrop Suplex as both men are down. End tags and tries to boot Gulak off of the apron but he jumped up then leaps back on as Williams runs over for the tag. Gulak runs wild as Catchpoint uses a few cool double-team moves. They work over End for a while until he fights out and kicks the crap out of both guys as both guys are down. The crowd rallies behind End as he makes the tag. Hero runs wild now until double-teamed by Catchpoint. End comes in and takes out Williams as they hit Gulak with a running knee strike/release suplex combo. Williams blocks a suplex from End with a knee strike then Gulak comes off of the top with a clothesline as Williams works a rear naked choke. Gulak blocks Hero from interfering but gets suplexed onto his partner. The match breaks down a bit after that as they all trade strikes. Heroes Never Die almost get the win with stereo covers then try for stereo gotch piledrivers but they are both countered into submissions. Heroes Never Die breakout then hit Williams with a Gotch Piledriver/Double Stomp Combo that looked deadly. Gulak comes back to hit Hero with a suplex but eventually gets hit with a high knee from End. However, Gulak then is able to catch End with a Dragon Sleeper and locks on the body scissors for the surprise win (27:46) **1/4. The announcers put over how Catchpoint will have a shot at the titles the next show. TJP comes out and laughs as he stands over End.
Thoughts: This match completely fell flat to me. There was never a sense of urgency to me and I thought it was never going to end to be honest. The beginning of the match was disjointed to me as well. The crowd also seemed out of it and waiting for the match to end. Also, and this was a bit of a problem for me here at this show, its very tough to differentiate who is the face and the heel in this promotion. It makes it tough for newer viewers. The Heroes Never Die did not come off as faces at all and Catchpoint came off as heels. They were never going to top Ospreay vs. Sabre but this was far too long and a bit of a mess.
Final Thoughts: Overall, a good show. You got to see a once in a lifetime match here and the action was generally good. My only complaint was a few of the finishes were poor and the announcers do a bad job at telling the viewers about the wrestlers, especially when it comes to faces and heels. I’d recommend seeking this out though, especially Ospreay vs. Sabre and Ricochet vs. TJP.