Written by: Brian Bayless
April 2, 2016
From Eddie Deen’s Ranch in Dallas, TX
Lenny Leonard is your host
EVOLVE Tag Team Championship Match: Drew Gulak & Tracy Williams vs. Johnny Gargano & Drew Galloway (c)
Gargano and Williams start off the match as Leonard lets us know Gargano has NXT commitments later on this afternoon so this match is going on first. It starts out with Williams grounding Gargano. They work a reversal sequence that ends after Gargano used a crucifix for a nearfall. They mix it up again and end in a stalemate then Williams points at Galloway, who tags in as well as Gulak. They stare each other down then trade standing holds until Galloway catches Gulak with a spinebuster. Gargano and Williams are back in as Gulak launches Gargano at his partner, who hits him with a back suplex for two. Williams stretches out Gargano for a bit then Gulak comes in and pounds away. Splash gets two. Gulak works a chinlock but Gargano breaks free then makes the tag. Galloway runs wild then Gulak hits him from the apron. Galloway then chases Gulak outside as they brawl until Galloway drops him across the guardrail. However, Williams sends Galloway into the post and off of the apron as Williams & Gulak work the arm of Galloway on the floor. They continue to attack the arm of Galloway as the action heads back inside. Galloway ends up catching Gulak and flattens him with a powerbomb as both men are down. Galloway makes the tag as Gargano runs wild on Gulak. He almost puts him away with the Superman Spear as the crowd chants his name. Williams makes a blind tag then clotheslines Gargano for a two count. The match breaks down after that as all four guys are on the mat. Williams is up first and works over the arm of Galloway but ends up getting hit with the Air Raid Crash for a nearfall. Gulak tags and hammers away until Galloway boots him down. Gargano tags and they try a double-team move but its gets countered with stereo ankle locks. The champs come back to counter that with stereo crossfaces then they switch so the legal men are working with each other. Gargano now has Gulak in the Gargano Escape, which is countered into a rollup. The match breaks down again after that but Gargano accidentally takes out his own partner with a tope. He tries another Superman Spear but Williams blocks that and hits a brainbuster and after that locks on a crossface for the win (19:34) ***1/2. After the match, Galloway shakes hands with Gulak & Williams, congratulating them on their win. He then has something he wants to get off of his chest as Galloway said his first match outside of the WWE was in EVOLVE. He then puts over the company for featuring the best in-ring wrestlers in the world and talks about the company getting recognition and after dropping his title while his foot was under the rope then revs up about NXT showing up on his show, trying to take away his glory. Galloway now looks over at Gargano and kicks him in the balls as he goes down to him to say that is how he made him feel. Galloway locks on a crossface until Ethan Page breaks it up. Galloway then kicks Page low and hits the Future Shock. Galloway then starts screaming about how he is Independent wrestling and not just what is best for business but also the best in the business.
Thoughts: A damn good match. Galloway’s promo at the end was fantastic as well. With the WWE’s and EVOLVE partnership, having an ex-WWE guy who is against everyone involved with the company makes for an interesting storyline too.
Fred Yehi vs. Chris Hero
Yehi slaps away Hero’s handshake offer. Hero takes control to start the match as he overpowers his smaller opponent. Yehi manages a rollup but Hero places him up top after that and they get start to get testy. Yehi slaps Hero, who tells him to try again. Hero no-sells a few shots then lights up Yehi with a few shots. Yehi comes back and ends up backing Hero into the corner before grabbing a side headlock. Hero drops down then Yehi stomps his hand. Yehi hits a few chops and a headbutt as he takes control of the match. Hero sends Yehi over the turnbuckle before booting him off of the apron. Hero follows out and lays into Yehi, even chopping him over the guardrail. A “Chris is Awesome “chant breaks out as Yehi just beats the ten count. Hero mocks Yehi by calling him “little man” then eventually takes him down and hits a senton for two. Hero continues to lay into Yehi, who keeps trying to fight back. Hero beats him down but Yehi is able to fight back and hit a suplex. Yehi stomps Hero’s foot then trips him up before hitting a senton. Yehi hits a belly-to-belly for two as both men are down. Yehi gets knocked down by Hero, who kips up then delivers a cyclone kick for two. Yehi fights back again but eats a boot. However, Yehi ducks an attack then hits a pair of suplexes. They trade roaring elbows until Yehi knocks him down for a nearfall as both men are down as the crowd cheers. They get up as Hero knees him in the jaw before hitting a piledriver. He covers but Yehi kicks out as Hero is in disbelief. Hero takes his time getting up and tries a neckbreaker but Yehi turns that into a backslide for a nearfall. Hero gets up and lays into Yehi again as he elbows him in the back of the head for a two count but after that, Hero puts him away with a roaring elbow (16:41) ***3/4.
Thoughts: Really good match. The crowd loved Hero, the cocky heel who was much larger than his opponent, but started to get behind Yehi near the end. I was really impressed with Yehi here and he shows a lot of promise. And Hero has been one of the top workers in the independent scene this year.
Anthony Nese w/ So Cal Val & Andrea vs. Sami Callihan
Callihan charges but Nese boots him in the face. Nese follows outside with a Fosbury Flop as that leads to a spot where they keep trading topes. They brawl for a bit until Nese hits a super kick. Back inside, Nese misses a 450 splash. Callihan hits a Death Valley Driver then heads up top where Nese cuts him off and hits a hurricarana. They trade kicks until Nese deadlifts him and hits a buckle bomb. They keep going back-and-forth until Nese hits a double stomp. He follows with a deadlift German suplex then a running knee strike. Nese charges again but Callihan hits a Yakuza Kick then the Cuerno Killer before tapping Nese out with an armbar (4:37) **. After the match, So Cal Val yells at Nese for embarrassing her in front of the biggest EVOLVE crowd in history. She then runs him down for possibly blowing a chance at the WWE Global Cruiserweight Series then talks about the Premiere Athlete Brand being no more before wishing him greetings from “Valifornia.” Nese grabs the mic and says he will take care of business before tossing down the mic.
Thoughts: Both guys crammed a lot of action in a short amount of time. It was enjoyable for what it was. The big news here is that the Premiere Athletic Brand is over and now going to be called Valifornia. They also teased a split between Nese and the two women.
Darby Allin vs. Ethan Page
Allin is someone who apparently impressed officials at a WWN seminar. He is skinny with bleach-blond hair. He takes Page down with a headscissors but gets caught with a backdrop as he sells that with a 450 bump. Page tosses Allin into the corner then hits a fallaway slam. Page continues to overpower Allin until putting him away with a package piledriver (2:03) *. After the match, Page cuts a promo about turning a new page then puts over his match later tonight at the WWN Supershow as he promises to destroy Anthony Nese. After that, he yells about wanting to face Drew Galloway one-on-one
Thoughts: Really just a squash. Page tries hard but he still isnt impressing me yet. He is fairly young (26) and does have height (6’2) so I imagine he is someone the WWE would be keeping an eye on for the future. His promos still need work but he did show some fire. Allin did not get a chance to do much here but is a high-flyer type and could bump.
USA vs. Europe Series: TJP w/ Stokely Hathaway vs. Tommy End
They start off by feeling each other out. End comes back with strikes after TJP took him down. TJP cuts End off on the top and works a hanging leg lock. He then hits a pair of suplexes for a nearfall then goes to work on the leg. End counters with an armbar and they trade holds on the mat. TJP escapes from a cross armbreaker and puts on all sorts of stretches as we see Hathaway taking selfies with that going on in the background. TJP grapevines the leg again as End starts to favor that a lot. End’s leg gives out as he was whipped into the corner. However, he boots TJP off of a charge then hits a double stomp, with his leg seemingly fine. What the hell? He hops a bit but TJP counters and goes back to work on the leg. End fights out and knocks TJP down and follows with a knee strike. Both guys are on the mat as they get up with End hitting all sorts of strikes before locking on an armbar. TJP counters and goes after the leg. End escapes and hits a brainbuster for a nearfall then heads up top but TJP rolls away from a double stomp. He hits a missile dropkick but after a reversal sequence, End hits a jumping knee strike and gets the win (11:58) **1/4. Europe takes the 1-0 lead in the series. After the match, End grabs the mic and ends up calling out Kota Ibushi.
Thoughts: This was good until End decided to stop selling the leg then it made no sense at all. Honestly, this was some of the worst selling I have ever seen. There was some good stuff here and TJP has been very impressive since leaving TNA but End’s selling took away a lot from this.
USA vs. Europe Series: Matt Riddle vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
They start off by shaking hands then take it on the mat. Sabre stretches Riddle out with a surfboard then rolls through a test of strength to inflict more pain. Riddle comes back with a cross armbreaker then Sabre works some sort of modified bow-and-arrow lock that looks quite painful. Riddle breaks free and hits a delayed vertical suplex but runs into a boot then Sabre hits him with a diving uppercut. Sabre uses a bridging rollup for two then sets up for the Penalty Kick but Riddle catches that and comes back with an overhead suplex. Sabre floats over a suplex then uses an Octopus Hold but Riddle overpowers him and slaps on an ankle lock. Riddle hits a back suplex then follows with a German suplex as he asks the crowd if they want to see one more. Sabre counters a suplex and uses a hanging kimura but Riddle is able to turn that into a Fisherman’s Buster for a nearfall. Sabre fights back and hits the Penalty Kick but Riddle counters his submission with the Bromission and ends up getting the win (9:23) ***3/4. After the match, the two shake hands again.
Thoughts: This was excellent. If they were given more time it could have been one of the best matches to occur during WrestleMania weekend. I really hope these two work again in the near future. And Riddle winning was a bit of a shock as well. Riddle is just awesome and as long as he can keep his head straight, should be a major star going forward.
USA vs. Europe Series: Marty Scurll vs. Timothy Thatcher
This is a non-title match, as Thatcher is the champion. The story here is that Thatcher also refused medical attention on his arm after his match the previous night against Riddle. They start off on the mat as they end in a stalemate. Scurll uses an eye poke then a bunch of counters and reversals as he goes after the injured arm. Thatcher gets sent to the floor but catches Scurll with an ankle lock on the apron. Back inside, Scurll calls out for the chicken wing but Thatcher makes it to the ropes. Thatcher fights back and hits a belly-to-belly for two. He then hits a butterfly suplex and from that an armbar. Thatcher switches to an ankle lock then puts it on again after Scurll escaped. Thatcher goes back to the armbar until Scurll reaches the ropes. Scrull comes back with a few slaps to the face then fakes out Thatcher with a super kick and insteads kicks his elbow. Thatcher comes back with a headbutt then sits their angry for a minute before deadlifting him. Scurll counters then locks on a chicken wing for the win (9:36) **1/2. After the match, a disappointed Thatcher sits on the mat as Sami Callihan’s music hits. We hear his voice as he tells Thatcher he is inside his head and that the Callihan Death Machine will become the face of EVOLVE.
Thoughts: These two just did not click together. Thatcher did not have a good weekend here, wrestling in two disappointing matches. In fact, he is not having too good of a year. The crowd was out of it and Scurll’s heel act was rather toned down here.
USA vs. Europe Series: Ricochet vs. Will Ospreay
Ricochet mocked Ospreay’s pose before the match but they did end of shaking hands. Ricochet works an armbar then Ospreay does a series of kip-ups until reversing the hold. After that they work a fast-paced reversal sequence that ended with both guys posing after backflipping as the crowd goes nuts. That was an impressive sequence. They go at it again as Ospreay hits a rana and a dropkick as Ricochet retreats to the corner. Ospreay then aggressively lays into Ricochet. Ricochet ends up fighting back and stretches out Ospreay over his head. Ricochet hits a spinebuster but misses the People’s Moonsault. Ospreay gets up and tries the same move but Ricochet got his feet up and pushed him off before finally hitting the move. Ospreay comes back with a jawbreaker then a handspring into a kick. He heads up top and hits a forearm before landing a standing sky twister for a nearfall. Ricochet comes back to catch Ospreay with an Ace Crusher then a running shooting star press for two. Ospreay counters a Blue Thunder Bomb in midair with a headscissors then lands on his feet after an inverted rana to hit one of his own as both men are down. They get up and trade chops until knocking each other down with roundhouse kicks. They get up and trade kicks on the apron until Ricochet catches Ospreay on his shoulders and hits a Death Valley Driver on the apron. Ouch! Back inside, Ospreay is able to kick out of a 450 splash then blocks a Benadryller. Ospreay hits an enziguiri then jumps backwards off of the middle rope with an Ace Crusher. Ospreay then hits a running shooting star press then rolls through and leaps up top for a Phoenix Splash as the crowd goes crazy. Ospreay measures Ricochet but misses a kick and eats a bicycle kick. Ricochet almost puts Ospreay away with a Regal-Plex but rolls through a 450. Ospreay catches Ricochet with the Essex Destroyer for a nearfall then climbs up top but misses. Ricochet hits a pair of kicks then rolls through a Northern Lights Suplex to hit a brainbuster for a nearfall. Ricochet climbs up top for a shooting star press but Ospreay got his knees up. Ospreay hits a few kicks but Ricochet catches his handspring attempt then hits the Benadryller for the win (18:31) ****1/4. After the match, the Europeans head out to the ring. Sabre thinks they should have a series tie-breaker right now. Catchpoint comes out then Hero does as well. Hero stares down Sabre then looks at End as they lay out Ricochet and Catchpoint. Hero ends up knocking Sabre out with a forearm then and says he doesnt give a shit about the series but that the tiebreaker will happen in a few hours at the WWN Supershow. Ricochet and Ospreay attack Hero as End makes the save. End and Ospreay stare each other down as Kota Ibushi is now out and he comes in to take out End. Ibushi shakes the hands of Ricochet but Ospreay blows him off. Everyone leaves but Ricochet, who starts booing. Ricochet then puts over EVOLVE and their fans, promising to return as soon as he can.
Thoughts: Excellent match. However, I would not call it a “Match of the Year” or even a candidate for that award. It was just a notch below the latter. If this same match took place at PWG, the crowd would have been insane throughout the match as they wrestled a style more in tune with that product. The end was to hype up some of the matches at the WWN Supershow: Mercury Rising, which took place later that evening.
Final Thoughts: Overall, a damn fine show. Sure, there were some disappointments but overall the action was really good. It will be interesting to see how the WWE’s relationship with EVOLVE effects things going forward. I’d certainly check this show out though as it breezes by and clocks in at under 2.5 hours.