Written by: Brian Bayless
June 10, 2016
From the Orpheum in YBor City, FL
Your hosts are Rob Naylor and Lenny Leonard
Tonight, Drew Gulak & Tracy Williams defend the EVOLVE Tag Team Titles against the Bravado Brothers. Plus, EVOLVE Champion Timothy Thatcher returns and more.
Fred Yehi vs. Anthony Nese
They start off on the mat as Yehi grounds Nese. He then switches to a side headlock for a bit until Nese escapes and hits a clothesline. Yehi comes back with a pumphandle takedown then stomps the leg and hands of Nese. He gets two with a basement dropkick then they work a reversal sequence until Nese uses a flurry of kicks to take him down. Nese works over Yehi in the corner but Yehi comes back and yanks him down. Yehi stomps Nese in the chest before he works over the neck. Yehi then works a stump puller for a bit but Nese knocks him off of the apron. Nese cartwheels off of the apron before catching Yehi with a super kick. Back inside, Nese works the neck then stops a comeback by hitting a vertical suplex for a nearfall. Yehi escapes from a body scissors but Nese trips him up and hits a quebrada for two. Yehi blocks a chop and stomps Nese on the foot then they trade go-behinds until Yehi punches his foot and drags him down. He follows with a German suplex as both men are down. They get up as Yehi trips him up and almost gets the win with a rollup. Yehi continues with his stomps on various body parts but Nese ducks under and hits a bridging German suplex for two. Yehi sends Nese into the corner but gets caught with a super kick as both men are down. They get up and use some more reversals until Yehi gets two with a rolling elbow smash. Yehi hammers away then counters a pumphandle as he puts Nese in the Koji Clutch. Nese ends up using a Gotch lift to escape then sends Yehi into the corner for two. Nese heads up top but misses the 450 splash as Yehi once again uses the Koji Clutch and gets the win (16:00) ***3/4. After the match, Nese asks for the mic. He asks the crowd to applaud for Yehi before saying he wanted to create a name and brand for himself in EVOLVE. So, he created the Premiere Athlete Brand but instead, it turned into two guys acting like a “bunch of assholes” as he tells us the Premiere Athlete Brand is over but he is still there and can turn his career around with the WWE Cruiserweight Classic as he wants an opportunity to be in the tournament
Thoughts: A damn good opening match. They started off a bit slow but it was properly built up and the last few minutes were great. Nese has always been underrated, IMO, and Yehi is a young up-and-comer to keep an eye on for the future. Yehi could be a special talent one day. I’m a huge fan of his.
Darby Allin vs. Ethan Page
Allin has half of his face painted go along with his mohawk. He looks like the Dollar Store version of Shannon Moore’s ECW character. Page starts off in control until Allin catches him with an armdrag then a dropkick. Page slams Allin, who uses his speed to his advantage and gets two with a rollup. Springboard splash gets two. Allin hits a few chops but Page boots him off of the top rope as he beats on Allin in the corner. Page launches Allin over the top rope as Allin hits the ring post while the crowd chants “holy shit.” A few officials run out to check on Allin as Page is in the ring looking concerned while Leonard puts over Page’s restraint in this situation. Allin crawls around the floor before eventually making it inside. Page tells Allin to go to the back but Allin hits a chop. Page knocks him right down then covers but that only gets one. Jackhammer gets two. Allin fights back as Page his approaching him cautiously and hits a springboard headbutt as both men are down. Allin puts Page on top for a superplex but Page blocks that and slams him off then hits the RK-Ego but that only gets two. Allin manages a nearfall with a small package but Page knocks him down before finishing him off with a package piledriver (9:20) **1/2. After the match, Page shakes Allin’s hand then leaves as the crowd gives Allin a standing ovation, even chanting his name.
Thoughts: They appear to be on the verge of turning Page, who is someone I am still not sold on despite the fact he is showing some improvement. ILooks like they want him involved as a face to go up against Galloway & EC3. I was actually impressed with Allin here. That guy can sell like a champ. Sure, he is scrawny with a terrible look but the guy can play the role of the underdog well.
Cedric Alexander vs. Matt Riddle
This is Alexander’s EVOLVE debut. Riddle toys with him a bit until they go back-and-forth on the mat as Riddle wins that. A dueling chant busts out then Alexander takes him down with a headscissor then hits a dropkick. He chops Riddle against the ropes then they go back to the mat where Riddle briefly catches Alexander with the cross armbreaker. Riddle floats over and nearly kills Alexander with a German suplex before he hits rolling dead-weight gutwrench suplexes. Riddle lands some kicks but Alexander fights back with an exchange in the corner. Alexander hits a springboard clothesline then whips off his elbow pad and tries a brainbuster but Riddle breaks that up in midair with a knee smash and hits a Fisherman’s Buster as both men are down. They start fighting on their knees before standing up where Alexander hits a 360 enziguiri as both men are down again. They get up and trade strikes until Alexander hits a Michinoku Driver for a nearfall. Backbreaker gets two as Riddle got his foot on the ropes. Alexander then measures Riddle for a springboard attack but Riddle hits him with a knee smash then locks on some sort of stretch for the win via submission (10:36) ***1/2. After the match, Riddle shakes Alexander’s hand as they hug and raise hands. The crowd chants “thank you” at Alexander, who tells them to expect him in EVOLVE for a long time.
Thoughts: Great action here. Give them more time and they could probably have a classic. Alexander shined in his EVOLVE debut and Riddle is a future star in the making. I’d love to see these two go at it again.
EVOLVE Tag Team Championship Match: The Bravado Brothers vs. Drew Gulak & Tracy Williams (c) w/ TJP & Fred Yehi
Harlem stalls by ducking underneath the ropes. Gulak takes him to the mat for a bit before Lancelot tags in and works a side headlock. Gulak breaks and tags out as the Bravados huddle in the corner. Williams and Lancelot fight over a test-of-strength as Williams wins that battle. Lancelot knocks Williams into his corner as the Bravados are now cutting off the ring. Williams finally tags out as Gulak beats down Lancelot. Williams tags back in and gets two with a clothesline as Harlem broke up the pin. Williams works the arm for a bit before tagging out as Gulak tags. Lancelot wins a slugfest and tags out as Harlem as the Bravados double-team behind the referee’s back. They neutralize Gulak in their corner for a bit until he hits a suplex and tags out as Williams takes control. He gets two with a basement dropkick as Gulak & Williams are in control as they beat on Harlem, hitting a few cool double-team moves in the process. Harlem comes back with an Ace Crusher than Gulak sells oddly as Lancelot tags and beats on Gulak for a bit. Liger Bomb gets two. Harlem yanks Williams off of the apron but he got back up and got the tag as he runs wild on Lancelot. Williams uses a combo of strikes and suplexes before applying a crossface. Lancelot reaches the ropes and tags out as Harlem dropkicks Gulak off of the apron before beating on Williams. Gulak tags in and starts going nuts on Harlem. He gets a nearfall with a cradle suplex then locks on a Dragon Sleeper with bodyscissors but Lancelot runs in for the save. The Bravados hit Gulak with the Gentleman’s Agreement but Williams is able to make the save. Gulak tags out and Williams dumps Harlem before hitting Lancelot with a springboard forearm for two. The match breaks down then the Bravados hit Williams with the Doomsday Tope as the crowd starts a “holy shit” chant. Back inside, Williams kicks out of a double-team Ace Crusher. Lancelot puts on a half crab as Gulak runs in for the save. Gulak gets booted to the floor as Harlem flies out with a somersault plancha. Lancelot locks on another half crab after a double-team attack until Gulak breaks it up as all four men are down. Harlem and Gulak brawl until they fall to the floor as Lancelot and Williams are left inside. They fight on top as Williams pushes Lancelot down and follows with a splash for two as a light “this is wrestling” chant breaks out. Williams then DDT’s Lancelot on the turnbuckle and follows with a brainbuster as that only gets two. On the outside, Gulak slams Harlem as Williams ends this match with an avalanche DDT (27:29) **1/4.
Thoughts: First off, this was too damn long. And secondly, the psychology of this match was all over the place. The middle of the match was a chore to watch as whoever was getting his ass kicked would just tag out without struggle and have their partner take over. The last few minutes were good but a lot of this was just a bunch of moves strung together. I like Gulak much better as a singles wrestler anyway and the Bravados are just an average team.
After the match, Catchpoint celebrates as Lancelot is getting checked out. Gulak then grabs the mic and puts over how TJP and himself are going to be part of the WWE Cruiserweight Classic before saying he has the EVOLVE Championship that belongs to Timothy Thatcher. Gulak calls out Thatcher for being the champion and letting him wake up with it in the morning and how he owes everyone in Catchpoint a title shot. The crowd chants for Thatcher as Gulak wants him to be a man and grant what they deserve. Thatcher then comes out as he makes his return to EVOLVE. Thatcher tells them they will all get their title shots but tonight, he faces Chris Hero and he wants them to get out of the ring.Hero comes out and makes fun of Catchpoint, saying the kids need to go to bed, as Gulak tells him in the spirit of competition, they will let this match happen. I’m liking the Thatcher vs. Catchpoint feud. Plus, with all members of Catchpoint wanting the title and Stokely Hathaway trying to split up the group, it appears that Catchpoint is not long for EVOLVE and will likely dissolve.
EVOLVE Championship Match: Timothy Thatcher (c) vs. Chris Hero
These two had an awesome match on Night Two of PWG’s Battle of Los Angeles in 2015. They start off on the mat. Thatcher works a hammerlock for a bit as the announcers put over Hero, saying he even said if he wins the title tonight, he is going to run up and shove the belt in the face of WWE officials. They trade holds and strikes for a while until Thatcher works a hanging knee bar from the apron. Thatcher beats on Hero in the corner until Hero decks him with a right, sending him over the top rope. Hero follows out and screams at Thatcher before sitting him in a chair and hitting an elbow smash. Back inside, Hero continues to rough up Thatcher. He is more aggressive than usual tonight. Thatcher attempts to hulk up but Hero drops him with a back suplex. Thatcher blocks a kick then hits a butterfly suplex for two as he is now landing mounted punches on Hero. He locks on a cross armbreaker but Hero makes it to the ropes. Thatcher hits a few uppercuts until Hero catches him with a backslide then hits a short piledriver for two as both men are down. Hero hits a few elbow smashes but Thatcher refuses to go down as he catches Hero with a German suplex. Hero then gets back to his feet after a back suplex before drilling him with an elbow for a nearfall. After resting in the corner, Hero tries for a piledriver but Thatcher escapes and that leads to a reversal sequence ending with Hero getting two with a headbutt. Thatcher surprises Hero with a crucifix after a senton then blocks a rollnig elbow with a headbutt for two. Thatcher works an armbar and switches to a cross armbreaker as Hero taps out (22:50) ***3/4.
Thoughts: Good match. Thatcher has had a bad 2016 to say the least and he needed to have a solid showing. Hero has been one of the best wrestlers this year as he constantly goes out and has awesome matches.
After the match, Catchpoint hits the ring. Gulak holds up Thatcher’s belt as Williams tells Thatcher to put the title on the line tomorrow night so he can take it from him. Gulak then said Catchpoint will do what Hero could not as Stokely Hathaway takes the belt from Gulak. Hathaway said TJP is the uncrowned EVOLVE Champion and that its not Williams time yet. Hathaway makes the ref put the belt around his waist as Thatcher said he told them all he would defend the title and agrees to face Williams. He then promises to hurt everyone who disrespected his title as Hathaway takes it off. Riddle tells Thatcher he beat him twice already and is nothing but trash as those two get in each other’s faces. So, Thatcher will begin facing off against members of Catchpoint one-by-one, likely until Riddle is the only one left. That will be a Championship match to look forward to for sure.
Unsanctioned Match: Drew Galloway & Ethan Carter III vs. Johnny Gargano & TJP w/ Stokely Hathaway
The match starts after EC3 decked the referee as he and Galloway beat on their opponents. The action spills outside the ring and into the crowd as EC3 and Galloway maintain control. They are now outside with Gargano beating on EC3 on the back of a bike taxi while TJP and Galloway brawl on the sidewalk. Gargano poses in the middle of the street as the finally head back into the building. TJP takes out both guys with a dropkick to the floor as Gargano follows with a tope. They head to the back and are on the bar as TJP and Gargano do the Pee Wee Herman Tequila Dance on top. TJP tries a crossbody but Galloway catches him and hits a tilt-a-whirl slam. Galloway throws Gargano into a pole before he picks him up for some squats. Back inside, EC3 & Galloway hit a double suplex as Galloway looks for the referee as EC3 taunts the crowd. Galloway drags in a referee from the back as they bully him for a slow count. Gargano manages a school boy for two then TJP finally comes back as he runs wild. He hits EC3 with a frog splash for two then Gargano chops EC3 down in the corner. Galloway makes the save as EC3 removes a turnbuckle cover. Galloway hits Gargano with an overhead suplex but EC3 misses a charge and runs into the turnbuckle. Galloway whacks TJP with a chair then heads inside but takes too long as Gargano takes him down with a drop toehold and locks in the Gargano Escape. TJP cuts off EC3 and works a knee bar as the crowd goes nuts but they are able to escape. Galloway has a turnbuckle hook in his hand but eats a double super kick. TJP gets a table but EC3 and Galloway hit stereo low blows before powerbombing TJP through the table. Gargano is outside and fights back as he rolls inside to check on his partner, who is out cold. Gulak comes out to check on TJP but Hero runs out and piledrives Gulak before booting down Gargano and hitting him with a piledriver. Hero then takes TJP and pushes him at Galloway, who hits a tombstone. He then points to EC3, who picks up TJP and hits the One Percenter for the win (20:38) ***1/2.
Thoughts: A wild brawl. The portion in the street was fun and added to the chaos factor of this being unsanctioned. EC3’s character here in EVOLVE is just fantastic though. Man, the WWE missed the boat with this guy. The big news here was Hero helping out EC3 and Galloway though. That is a dangerous trio for sure.
After the match, EC3 knocks down the ref after congratulating him on his job. Galloway grabs the mic and said the company needs some heroes. He then talks about how they want to show how you can make it on your own and not jump “back into the machine,” referencing the WWE. Galloway said that Hero is on their side and the numbers are growing as they finally tell us that Cody Rhodes is with them too as he makes his debut in EVOLVE on August 19th against Johnny Gargano. EC3 has the might as Page runs out but he gets stopped and hit with the Future Shock DDT. EC3 tells us words are weapons and how he has made this whole industry talking with his comments last month then closes by plugging the TNA Slammiversary PPV as Leonard screams for someone to cut his mic as the camera shows everyone laid out on the mat. Well, Galloway’s army is growing as his war against those for the WWE invovlement in EVOLVE continues. I did love how EC3 plugged Slammiversary at the end though. What a time in wrestling where both TNA and WWE are involved in a feud for EVOLVE.
Final Thoughts: Another fine showing for EVOLVE. There was no show-stealing match here but the main storyline is currently the best feud in wrestling and even the Thatcher vs. Catchpoint stuff is awesome. This promotion is firing on all cylinders right now with great talent to match up with an exciting product.
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.