Orlando, FL – 8.9.2014
Open the Freedom Gate Champion: Ricochet
EVOLVE Champion: Drew Galloway
Open The United Gate Champions: The Bravado Brothers (Harlem & Lancelot Bravado)
Commentary is provided by Lenny Leonard and Ron Niemi.
The show opens with Joanna Rose interviewing the new EVOLVE champion, Drew Galloway. He shows the large bruise he has on the back of his leg after his match with Chris Hero yesterday, surmising he may be hurt, but says there is no way in hell he would miss the show tonight, especially as champion. He states that he will be defending his title in every match he is in going forward. This includes his opponent for tonight, Anthony Nese, who comes out to start the show.
Drew Galloway vs. Anthony Nese
Galloway has been champion since 8.8.2014 and this is his first defense. Su Yung and Caleb Konley are in Nese’s corner. Nese of course immediately goes after Galloway’s legs, stomping on the right hamstring in the corner. Galloway blasts him with some punches and an uppercut. He drops Nese stomach first across the top rope and stomps on his chest. Nese slides to the floor attempting to bait Galloway, but Galloway ends up slamming him on the ring apron and dropping him chest first on the guardrails. Back in the ring, Galloway lands a running forearm in the corner and comes off the top turnbuckle with a flying clothesline for two. Su Ying enters the ring, distracting Galloway. Galloway tries a boot with his right leg, but Nese catches it, throws it into the ropes, kicks it, and stretches it out. Mid-ring Nese continues to focus his attack on the bruise. Galloway is able to maneuver to the apron and boot Nese in the face. He tries a sunset flip, but Nese escapes with a kick to the head. Nese then lands a quebrada for two. The two men trade punches, but Nese dropkicks Galloway in the mid-section to knock him down. Galloway sneaks in a flying boot to give himself some time to recover. More punches are thrown. Nese delivers a forearm, but Galloway cuts off his next attack with a Rydeen bomb for two. Nese ducks a boot and German suplexes Galloway for two. Nese misses a running knee strike in the corner. Galloway tries his own German suplex, but Nese flips through and double stomps Galloway for another two count. Nese goes to the top rope. Galloway trips Nese, kicks him onto his shoulders, then spins him out into a flapjack for two. Nese elbows his way out of a waistlock, so Galloway suplexes him into the corner. Galloway looks for the Future Shock, but Nese turns it into a jackknife pin. Galloway kicks out, so Nese sends him shoulder first into the ring post. The running corner knee strike connects. Nese misses a 450 splash. Galloway capitalizes with the Future Shock DDT for the pin at 11:38. Nese’s strategy made him look smart and Galloway look tough for fighting through the pain. The crowd was into it, and Nese had enough credibility to make them believe at least for a minute that he had a fighting chance of winning. It was a really good showcase for Nese and a good first defense for Galloway. ***
Rich Swann comes out and tells the Premier Athlete Brand that Su Yung was hanging out with him all night long yesterday evening. Yung’s face indicates guilt, so Nese and Konley yell at her as they head backstage. He then turns his attention to Galloway, giving him props for the match he just had. However, Swann was set to get a shot at the EVOLVE title tonight against Chris Hero, so he challenges Galloway so he can get the opportunity he was promised. Galloway is down, but the officials tell him that EVOLVE is now about how a performer does in a given weekend, so if Swann is able to beat Hero tonight, he will get a shot.
Style Battle 2014 Round Robin Tournament Match
Drew Gulak (1-0) vs. James Raideen (0-0)
Last night, Gulak was victorious over Timothy Thatcher while Raideen lost to Busick via referee stoppage. Raideen forearms Gulak in the face during introductions. He throws some strikes in various corners. Gulak tries fighting back but is put in a side headlock. Gulak fights his way out, but Raideen shoulder blocks him down. He picks up Gulak and gives him a chop, starting a chop battle. Gulak fires up, despite Raideen’s larger frame absorbing the chops. Gulak forearms him to the corner. Raideen avoid being whipped across the ring. Gulak’s dropkicks have minimal effect on Raideen. Raideen catches one, but Gulak uses his legs to get him into a pinning combination. He tries an ankle lock but Raideen kicks him away. It takes multiple attempts for Gulak to bodyslam Raideen. He does it, but Raideen gets right back up and slams Gulak twice for a two count. He pitches Gulak to the floor, only to punch and chop Gulak before bringing him back into the ring for an elbow drop. Raideen does some damage to Gulak’s back. Gulak headbutts him in the stomach twice before Raideen back elbows him to the mat. Raideen lariats Gulak in the corner. Gulak responds with one of his own. He ducks another clothesline and dropkicks Raideen in the leg. He twists up the leg in a dragonscrew, causing Raideen to drop to a knee. Gulak comes off the top with a clothesline. He puts on an ankle lock. After some struggle, Raideen makes it to the ropes. Raideen pulls Gulak into a lariat for two. Another lariat follows, but this time Gulak kicks out at one! Raideen pulls him up and gives him a powerbomb for the pin at 10:09. I really enjoyed seeing Gulak fight back against a larger opponent. His determination and fighting spirit resonated with the crowd, telling a really strong underdog story. Raideen, however, does not have much personality and his style did not mesh with Gulak as well as it did Busick. A solid effort, and a great outing from Gulak, but not a terribly interesting overall package. **
Style Battle 2014 Round Robin Tournament Match
Biff Busick (1-0) vs. Timothy Thatcher (0-0)
Last night, Busick was victorious over James Raideen while Timothy Thatcher tapped out against Drew Gulak. Thatcher cleanly breaks a lock-up in the corner, while Busick attempted a chop after breaking a lock-up against the ropes. Thatcher blocked it with his arms. He twists up Busick’s left elbow and wrist while bending back his fingers. He looks for an armbar, so Busick shoves him to the ropes to escape. Busick applies a side headlock. Thatcher maneuvers into a cross armbreaker, and again Busick uses the ropes to escape. Busick digs his knee into Thatcher’s shoulders and stretches out his arms. He also uses his head. Thatcher turns Busick around by his arms and gives him a butterfly suplex for two. He tries pushing Busick’s shoulders to the mat in a double knuckle lock. While they hold onto that double knuckle lock, the two men exchange headbutts. Thatcher goes for a Fujiwara armbar while Busick looks for a rear-naked choke. Thatcher once again tries the cross armbreaker but he is too close to the ropes. Thatcher pulls Busick to the middle of the ring and twists up Busick’s left wrist and fingers. He drives his knees across Busick’s arms as well. Thatcher transitions into a Kimura lock, but Busick gets his foot on the bottom rope. Back on their feet, Busick applies a side headlock. Thatcher uses a back suplex in an attempt to escape, but Busick holds on. Thatcher backs him to the corner. Busick catches Thatcher coming in with a back elbow. Thatcher uppercuts Busick while Busick sits on the top turnbuckle. Busick grabs Thatcher in a front facelock. He let’s go at the count of four, then goes for the rear-naked choke with a bodyscissors. Thatcher stands up and throws Busick overhead. They clothesline each other simultaneously, then Thatcher uses a short-arm clothesline to get a two count. He stretches back Busick’s arm while placing his shin on the back of Busick’s head. Busick escapes and fires away with open hand strikes to the face. Busick dives off the top, only to be caught mid-air with an uppercut. Thatcher gutwrench suplexes Busick into the turnbuckles! He gives Busick some forearms to the chest. He looks to charge but Busick comes out of the corner with a hard uppercut. A half-nelson suplex and diving uppercut follow. Busick then grabs the rear-naked choke with a bodyscissors. Thatcher gets up, but Busick Judo throws him back down while keeping the rear-naked choke applied. Some posturing leads to Thatcher throwing Busick down a Fujiawara armbar! Busick taps right away, giving Thatcher the win at 15:56. Naturally these two had great chemistry, with similar styles and great wrestling acumen. Both got to showcase their talents, while sticking with a defined game plan throughout the entirety of the contest. Real good stuff. ***½
Johnny Gargano vs. Caleb Konley
Anthony Nese is in Konley’s corner. Konley gets in a quick pin attempt. He blocks Gargano’s punch and throws one of his own before stringing a Japanese armdrag and dropkick together. Gargano tackles Konley, then knocks him down with a back elbow when they get to their feet. Konley tries throwing him outside, but Gargano skins the cat and headscissors Konley to the floor. Gargano then follows with a pescado. He sends Konley into the guardrails and follows in with a running chop. He goes for another, but Nese’s jaw jacking gives Konley just enough time to cut off Gargano with a bicycle kick. Konley sends Gargano back first into the guardrails and the ring post. Back in the ring, Konley sweeps out Gargano’s legs and delivers a back senton for two. He applies a chinlock. Gargano drives Konley to the corner and delivers a chop. Konley violently whips Gargano back first across the ring for two. Konley kicks out Gargano’s leg and comes in from the apron with a springboard quebrada for two. They fight for a vertical suplex. Gargano knees his way out of Konley’s grap. They trade boots to the face. Gargano catches Konley with a slingshot spear. Gargano kicks Konley in the face from the apron, then rolls him into a low enzuigiri. Konley ducks a kick and hoists Gargano onto his shoulders. Gargano slides off onto the apron and comes back in with a slingshot DDT. Gargano tries a lawn dart. Konley shoves him away and comes off the middle rope with a dropkick. He follows up with a tornado DDT for two. Gargano attempts a comeback, but Konley dropkicks him off the apron and to the floor. Konley misses a pescado, allowing Gargano to sneak into the ring and come back with a suicide dive. Gargano misses a spear. He gets his knees up to block a quebrada from Konley and small packages him for two. Kicks are traded until Gargano takes down Konley with a discuss clothesline. Gargano gets Konley on the middle rope and follows. Konley muscles up Gargano for a Death Valley Bomb from the second rope, but Gargano manages to kick out. Konley looks for the O-Face. Gargano turns it into the Garga-No Escape! Konley turns it into a pin attempt. Gargano kicks out, kicks Konley in the face, then gives him the Lawn Dart for two. Gargano positions Konley on the top rope. Nese distracts Gargano as Gargano sets him up. Konley throws down Gargano and comes down with a moonsault for the pin at 16:14. Two shows in a row the PAB have become the group to beat. Konley had a great showing against Gargano, who despite all he’s done lately had the fans firmly in his corner. The finish was a bit abrupt and it took the crowd some time to warm up, but even so this was a fun match and enhanced Konley’s trajectory while showing how low Gargano has gone. ***½
Konley tells Gargano that this victory ended up being pointless, because he discovered during the match that Gargano is washed up and a shell of who he used to be. Obviously, with Gargano’s confidence already shaken, this weighs heavily on his mind.
Chris Hero vs. Rich Swann
Like last night, Johnny Gargano attempts to attack Rich Swann before the bell, but Swann clocks him with a right hand and officials take Gargano away. Hero throws Swann down. Swann comes back with a pair of armdrags and a dropkick. Hero brings down Swann by his left arm, hooking him in a crucifix pin for two. Swann escapes a wristlock and tries taking Hero’s legs out. He grabs a front facelock. Hero simply stands up and carries Swann to the corner. He outstretches Swann’s arm behind his back. Swann switches out, looking for a backslide. He can’t get it, so Hero rolls Swann into a sunset flip position for two. Hero chops Swann in multiple corners. Swann tries hopping over his shoulders, but Hero takes him down in a cravate. Swann attempts a lepafrog only for Hero to stop him mid-air with a boot to the stomach. Swann is able to dropkick Hero to the floor after flipping through a Lucha roll. Swann tries coming down with a front flip, but Swann inadvertently lands on the guardrail. Hero gets in some chops but Swann recuperates. Back in the ring, however, Hero cracks him with a boot for two. Hero keeps control, but when Swann starts to fight back, Hero cracks him with a simple punch. He then lands a senton splash for two. Hero mentions something to Swann about being distracted. Swann fires up with a series of shots. He misses a back handspring, allowing Hero to deliver another senton splash. He tosses Swann to the floor and drops him throat first on the guardrail. Swann is able to make it back in the ring before the twenty count. Immediately upon entering, Hero boots Swann in the side of the face for two. Swann avoids a corner attack. He unleashes some punches. Hero tries a rolling elbow but Swann ducks and delivers a neckbreaker. He back heel kicks Hero in the face. Swann swings around into a Frankensteiner. Swann tope con hilo’s to the floor into a Frankensteiner on Hero! Back in the ring, Swann lands a frog splash for two. After an axe kick he goes for a running frog splash. Hero boots him from the apron to block. Swann is bleeding from the mouth now, which is exacerbated by a few more kicks to the face from Hero. He punts Swann in the ribs before giving him a release vertical suplex. Swann finds the strength to kick out. Hero tags him with a rolling elbow, but again Swann kicks out. Swann comes back with a tornado kick and jackknife pins Hero for two. Hero cracks him with a rolling elbow and the Death Blow. Swann kicks out again! Hero taunts him, but when he picks up Swann, Swann gives him an Ace Crusher. Hero gets right back up and spits in his face! Swann hits another one, as well as a tornado enzuigiri and back handspring Ace Crusher. Swann on Fire is blocked by Hero’s knees. Hero small packages Swann, but Swann reverses it and gets the pin at 19:36! The earlier promo with Swann made it quite obvious he was set to win here, but I like the way in which he was portrayed: tough enough to withstand a hellacious beating and defeat a former champion in doing so. It did seem like somewhat of a lucky win, but that also shows that he could eek out a similar win when put in a championship opportunity. It went too long and lost the crowd at times, but like Konley vs. Gargano, it showed one man’s rise and another man’s fall quite well. ***½
Frustrated, Hero shoves the referee. He then grabs the referee by the shirt. The referee warns him about being fined. Hero says he doesn’t care and slaps him in the face. He looks to hit him with a rolling elbow but thinks better of it. He leaves angrily out the front door, despite the fact that interviewer Joanna Rose wishes to speak with him.
Open The Freedom Gate Championship
Ricochet vs. Matt Sydal
Ricochet has been champion since 4.4.2014 and this is his first defense. A stalemate is reached after some wristlock and armdrags are traded. Ricochet uses the ropes for a modified armdrag and dropkick. This leads to a chop battle. Ricochet backflips away but Sydal takes him down with a headscissors and spinwheel kick. Sydal kicks at Ricochet’s legs before giving him a dragonscrew leg whip. Ricochet sunset flips Sydal, but Sydal rolls through and double stomps him on the chest. Sydal kicks out Ricochet’s legs. He looks for a standing moonsault but Ricochet kicks him away. Ricochet then lands his own standing moonsault for two. Ricochet snapmares him out of a cravate, then hits a kneeling slingshot senton. He applies a bodyscissors, transitioning into a headscissors and subsequent skullf*ck on Sydal. Sydal fights back with more kicks to the leg. Ricochet chops him and stops some of his offense, until Sydal cracks him in the face with a knee strike. Sydal successfully pulls off a standing moonsault for two. Back on their feet, strikes are exchanged. Ricochet ends it with a Regalplex for two. He enzuigiri’s Sydal from the apron. He misses Chocolate Rain. Sydal clotheslines Ricochet in the corner, then comes off the top with Meteora for two. Ricochet goes for the Benadryller. Sydal cuts him off with an inverted legdrop bulldog for another two count. Sydal looks to bring Ricochet off the top with a headscissors. Ricochet lands on his feet. He catches Sydal with a kick to the face. Ricochet pulls him up for a suplex, which Sydal counters mid-air into a huracanrana for two. Sydal misses a moonsault. A couple of kicks to the head from Ricochet only leave Sydal down for a one count! The Benadryller, followed by a 630 splash, does the trick, giving Ricochet the pinfall victory and title retention at 15:20. Obviously this was a very good pairing, with Ricochet being the more arrogant of the two and Sydal putting him in his place. I like that it had both a good story and good action, as I think some fans may have expected nothing but a paint-by-numbers high-flying bout. It’s a good first defense for Ricochet (finally, after four months!) and an excellent way to end the evening. ***¾