EVOLVE 54 1/23/2016

Written by: Kevin Pantoja

Evolve 54
January 23rd, 2016 | Orlando Downtown Recreation Complex in Orlando, Florida

The tournament to crown the first ever Evolve Tag Team Champions continues, along with a second chance tournament, which is a pretty cool idea.

Second Chance Tag Team Tournament
Team Tremendous def. The Premiere Athlete Brand in 13:42
This tournament goes like this; the four losing teams from Evolve 53 meet in two tag matches. The winners of those matches meet the losers of the Semi-Finals tonight at Evolve 55. The winner of that four way gets a title shot down the line at whoever the first champions are. Team Tremendous was just as fun here as they were at Evolve 53. This worked because they followed a tried and true formula. The PAB are easy to hate and Team Tremendous is so easy to get behind, allowing the hot tag to big Bill Carr to work perfectly. Both teams did some cool stuff and the crowd was mostly hot. The finish was awesome, seeing Team Tremendous hit Book ‘em Dano (doomsday sliced bread) and advance to the four way. Like the rest of the tag matches so far, this was good fun. ***¼

After the match, the Premiere Athlete Brand attacked the winners. Caleb Konley got on the microphone though, saying that he doesn’t need this tag team stuff and he wants the Evolve Title. After he left, Nese continued the assault until Pete Kaasa made the save

Style Battle Round Robin Challenge
Matt Riddle (2-0) def. Fred Yehi (0-2) in 6:03
I mostly liked what I saw from Riddle in his short match at Evolve 53, while Yehi was great against Williams. Both guys impressed again here. They did some early grappling, fighting tooth and nail to try and eke out an advantage. Yehi went nuts, busting out three straight Germans, including one that flipped Riddle over. It garnered some “suplex city” chants. Riddle had to fight from behind, but eventually made Yehi tap out to the heel hook. Solid work from both guys involved. Even though he’s 0-2, I’d love to see more from Yehi. ***

Tommaso Ciampa def. Ethan Page in 17:42
The continuing saga of Ethan Page and his redemption story. Tommaso Ciampa earned massive points with me for having “Psycho Killer” as his entrance theme. I used to play that in Rock Band 2 all of the time. This got off to a really good start. Page was being aggressive but Ciampa had some viciously loud knee strikes that were hard to contend with. Watching Ciampa run all the way from the entrance and around the ring before hitting a knee was pretty damn cool. Now, things dragged a bit for me around the middle. It did pick back up in a furious finishing stretch though, culminating with Ciampa delivering multiple knee strikes to win. I think if they shaved a few minutes off, this could have been really good. The Page story continued to be handled well as he was gracious in defeat while putting up a good fight, like any good babyface. ***

Second Chance Tag Team Tournament
Catch Point def. Sami Callihan and Zack Sabre Jr. in 17:23
Catch Point consists of Drew Gulak and TJ Perkins. They lost to Galloway and Gargano the night before, while Callihan and Sabre lost a physical war to Hero and End. Last night, Sabre was kind of out of place in a match involving three other guys that hit pretty hard. Here, it was Callihan that was the hard hitter in the midst of grapplers. It gave this match, like their previous one, an interesting dynamic. For the first time ever, I was kind of interested in Gulak. He and Callihan went at it in a way I’ve never seen from Gulak. I liked nothing about Solomon Crowe, but as Callihan, he seems more motivated and interesting. I loved the aggression that he brought to the table here. Unfortunately, he and Sabre had multiple miscommunication accidents that led to their downfall. Callihan tapped out to an armbreaker from Perkins. After the match, Callihan was pissed at Sabre and spit at him before challenging him to a match at Evolve 55. Sabre wanted to go right there and they nearly did. Sabre slapped him down and walked off, but the match is set. This was the best bout of the night so far. ***½

Style Battle Round Robin Challenge
Tracey Williams (2-0) def. Peter Kaasa (0-2) in 14:55
Of the four guys in this challenge, Peter Kaasa had the least impressive showing on the first night and the same held true here. Something between these two guys didn’t mesh and it made for a very average performance. Kaasa nearly killed himself on a dive to the outside that didn’t quite come together the way he hoped. I felt like this went a bit long. Take a few minutes off of this and give it to the earlier Riddle/Yehi match, and things may have worked out better for both. Williams made Kaasa tap out via crossface. The worst thing on the show so far. **

Evolve Tag Team Championship Tournament Semi-Finals
Drew Galloway and Johnny Gargano def. The Bravado Brothers in 19:16
This time around, Johnny Gargano was there for the entire match. Despite one team having two cornerstones of Evolve, the other duo was super over. It seems like the Bravado Brothers won over the fans with their win over the Premiere Athlete Brand at Evolve 53. They were great here, not only once again showing off their fun offensive arsenal, but the Bravados took a beating like champs. Galloway got to play the vicious monster here and it worked even better than normal thanks to the Bravados selling it so well. It was nice to see a full on display of offense from Galloway and Gargano instead of only a few minutes. They managed to work in some really cool double team moves including a breathtaking series of them to end things. Gargano superkicked Harlem while he was held by Galloway. Galloway hit the reverse Alabama slam into the Gargano escape, making Harlem tap. Another really strong tag match. The right guys won as two key cogs of Evolve make it to the finals while the Bravados come out of this as winners anyway. ***½

Evolve Tag Team Championship Tournament Semi-Finals
Heroes Eventually Die def. Roppongi Vice in 28:34
The duo of Chris Hero and Tommy End have quickly shown that they have really strong chemistry. Roppongi Vice on the other hand, is an established tag team across numerous promotions. Early on, Roppongi Vice wisely took their opponents to the mat, knowing their opponents are two badass dudes. As things progressed, they unfortunately went away from that strategy in favor of a match that just moved along at a frantic pace. It has been a staple of the tournament so far, but the final few minutes were just pretty great. Both teams exchanged strikes and submission attempts to go along with near falls. Heroes Eventually Die ended up hitting Romero with a sick combination of elbows and knees, putting him down to advance to the finals. Again, I think this was good but not great. It also went a bit long for the work done. Still, this tournament continues to be strong. ***½

Overall: 7/10. Outside of the Kaasa/Williams match, I found everything on this show enjoyable. This was missing what Evolve 53 had, which was one or two great matches. Even without that, you can easily watch this show and come away satisfied. There is a good blend of styles throughout the show, most of it is pretty entertaining and I’d recommend giving this show a watch.

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