Jacksonville, FL – 8.10.2014
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.
Lince Dorado vs. Anthony Nese
Caleb Konley is in Nese’s corner. Nese shows off his strength by throwing Dorado down in a waistlock. He pops out of Dorado’s headscissors. Dorado gets two with an Oklahoma roll, which angers Nese. Nese thrusts his hand into Dorado’s throat and chops him in the corner. Nese bodyslams Dorado for a two count. Dorado avoids a corner attack. He boots Nese from the corner and delivers a gamengiri from the apron. Dorado lands a high crossbody and a quesadora bulldog. He sends Nese out with a Frankensteiner, but before he can dive, Nese comes back in and delivers a lariat. Nese puts on a half crab and Dorado submits at 3:49. I am all for truncated matches to get a guy over, especially in introducing a new finisher, as commentary indicated. *
Caleb Konley tells us that Su Yung is no longer with the Premier Athlete Brand, saying they don’t deal with incompetent sluts. He’s already warmed up and wants to go party with Nese, so he tells his opponent for the night, Chris Hero, to come out so they can wrestle now.
Chris Hero vs. Caleb Konley
Anthony Nese is in Konley’s corner. Hero goes for a quick pin after dropping Konley out of a waistlock. Konley goes to the apron to create some distance. Konley grabs a wristlock which Hero turns into a cravate. He drops Konley down and key locks his legs. He hooks Konley’s arm to outstretch his entire back, then turns him into a crucifix pin for two. Hero locks for a Kimura lock but Konley gets his foot on the ropes. Konley backs Hero to the corner. He sneaks in a cheap shot and drives his shoulder into Hero’s mid-section. He gets in a few strikes, but Hero catches him with a boot to the face and a back senton for two. He bicycle kicks Konley as Konley lay in the corner. Konley tries to fight back, but Hero gives him a straight right hand. Hero flips to the apron and boots Konley. Nese distracts Hero for a second, allowing Konley to deliver a dropkick to Hero and take over with a chinlock. He drives his knee into Hero’s head, then puts on another chinlock variation. Hero backs Konley to the ropes to escape. Konley lands his own back senton for one. Hero throws some chops. He tries another senton but Konley gets his knees up. He drives his knee into Hero multiple times before driving Hero’s arm into his knee. Konley looks for a Fujiwara armbar, but Hero rolls into the ropes before it can be applied. Hero chops Konley again. Konley kicks Hero’s leg out, then comes in from the apron with a springboard quebrada for two. Hero avoids a top rope attack and clobbers Konley with a clothesline. Hero rocks him with a series of harder chops then before, then drops Konley with a rolling neckbreaker. Hero drops Konley out of a release suplex for two. Hero boots Konley twice as Konley is on the apron. Konley avoids the third and comes in with a springboard dropkick. He tries a suplex. Hero elbows out and looks for the Death Blow. Konley evades it and gives Hero a spinebuster. A swift kick to the head gets a two count. A strike exchange ensues when both men get back to their feet. Hero gets the better of it, but has to boot Nese off the ring apron. Hero bicycle kicks Konley and goes for a powerbomb. Konley counters with a Death Valley Bomb for two. He comes off the top with a moonsault for two. Konley throws some punches before attempting a second rope moonsault press. Hero stops him mid-air with a boot. Hero hits the Cyclone Kill. When Konley kicks out, Hero rocks him with three rolling elbows to get the pin at 15:18. I’m really surprised at this result, because Hero lost both of the previous nights and was made to look unstable while Konley is coming off two big wins, only for that to be somewhat nullified by Hero winning and Konley losing. I don’t have an issue with that result in theory, just seemed counterintuitive to the story that progressed throughout the weekend. The match itself saw a solid effort from both participants, though a more substantial story would have been nice. ***
Style Battle 2014 Round Robin Tournament Match
Timothy Thatcher (1-1) vs. James Raideen (1-1)
Thatcher tapped out to Drew Gulak at EVOLVE 31 and submitted Biff Busick at EVOLVE 32, while Raideen lost to Busick via referee stoppage at EVOLVE 31 and pinned Gulak at EVOLVE 32. Thatcher blocks a clothesline and goes for an armbar right away. Raideen rolls to the floor. They block one another’s strikes. Raideen pounds on Thatcher’s back. Thatcher gets his hands up to block a chop, but Raideen throws Thatcher’s arms down and chops him anyways. Thatcher takes Raideen to the mat. Raideen gets back to his feet, chops Thatcher, then stomps him down. Thatcher resists a bodyslam, but Raideen is able to pull it off. Thatcher looks for a side headlock but Raideen belly-to-back suplexes his way free. Thatcher throws an uppercut and goes for a vertical suplex. The larger Raideen reverses it for a two count. Thatcher and Raideen chop one another. Raideen whips Thatcher into the corner. Thatcher catches Raideen coming in with a boot. He throws a flurry of uppercuts and tries bringing Raideen down in a cross armbreaker. Raideen shoves him off and clotheslines him in the corner twice. He follows with a standard lariat for two. Thatcher avoids a piledriver. He brings down Raideen in a Fujiawara armbar. Raideen taps out at 6:43. The crowd a pin drop silent for this one. Raideen just isn’t engaging and I think most people suspected Thatcher would win anyhow. At least he did win and they didn’t overstay their welcome. *
Style Battle 2014 Round Robin Tournament Match
Drew Gulak (1-1) vs. Biff Busick (1-1)
Gulak tapped out Timothy Thatcher at EVOLVE 31 and was pinned by James Raideen at EVOLVE 32, while Busick defeated Raideen via referee stoppage at EVOLVE 31 and tapped out to Thatcher at EVOLVE 32. Coincidentally, this was the finals of the 2013 Style Battle as well. Timothy Thatcher is shown watching the match. The first few minutes are spent feeling one another out. Busick brings down Gulak in a side headlock. Gualk turns it into a headscissors. Busick reverses back to the headlock, but it’s not long until Gulak hooks him for a high-angle crab. Busick grabs the ropes to escape. He brings Gulak back down in the side headlock. They switch holds until Gulak brings Busick up for an atomic drop. He then twists on Busick’s left arm and fingers before trying a crucifix pin. Busick keeps trying for a side headlock but Gulak escapes. He mounts Busick from behind and puts on a side chinlock, then an ankle lock. Busick gets the ropes. He goes for the rear-naked choke. Gulak escapes but Busick drop toe holds him into the corner. He whips Gulak hard into the corner for two. Gulak avoids an up and over in the corner and comes off the second rope with a crossbody. Busick rolls through and puts on a sleeper hold. Gulak escapes and goes for a cradle. He gets two with a backslide. Busick then backslides Gulak to get his own three count at 16:20. This was odd, as it felt like the first part of a match extended for a long period of time that ended out of nowhere. There was some consistency, and all the wrestling was excellent given the participants, but in front of a dead crowd and given how tame it was in comparison to all their other matches, I can’t help but feel let down. **¾
Timothy Thatcher is announced as the winner of the 2014 Style Battle. Both he and Busick ended the weekend with a 2-1 record, but since Thatcher defeated Busick, he’s declared the winner. Thatcher says he and the rest of the men in the tournament set the standard for EVOLVE’s second chapter. He thanks guys like Ricochet and Chris Hero for setting the stage for them to succeed, and Thatcher believes it’s his and the other tournament participants time. As Thatcher thanks the fans and tells everybody how appreciative he was to be a part of the weekend, Chris Hero comes out. He takes offense to what Thatcher said, because to him it seems like Thatcher said that Hero’s time is over. Hero says Thatcher doesn’t deserve to say his name. Thatcher says he means no disrespect and asks for the microphone. Hero passes him the microphone so Thatcher can retort, but then kicks Thatcher in the face! Gulak tries to calm Hero down. Hero elbow strikes Gulak and shoves down the referee! Busick begs Hero to fight, but Hero instead rolls out of the ring and walks out the front door. I really like how Hero was portrayed in all of these post-match segments this weekend, and I’m really intrigued as to what his future in EVOLVE is.
Ricochet vs. Drew Galloway
This is a battle of champions, and neither title is on the line (despite Galloway saying last night he would defend his title in every match going forward). Ricochet wins the opening exchange by sneaking in a roll-up. Galloway controls Ricochet by his arm before throwing him down and attempting a Gedo Clutch. Ricochet kicks out of that and a backslide. He goes for the Future Shock DDT but Ricochet bails to the apron before it’s hooked. They lock-up and Galloway places Ricochet on the middle rope. Ricochet hops off into an armdrag. He takes out Galloway’s hurt leg and targets it with kicks and strikes. Frustrated, Galloway throws Ricochet into the corner. He goes for a boot, but Ricochet ducks it, kicks the leg, then twists it up in the middle ropes. After more shots to the leg, Galloway sneaks in a flurry of right hands. Of course, Ricochet stops his momentum by grounding Galloway and stretching out his leg. Galloway catches Ricochet Frankensteiner attempt and give him a buckle bomb. Galloway muscles Ricochet up for a superplex and connects. When they recover, they trade offense until Ricochet sends Galloway to the floor with a rolling enzuigiri. Ricochet looks to dive out on Galloway. Galloway catches Ricochet and throws him into the wall! Galloway catches Ricochet coming back in the ring with a running boot to the side of the head for two. Ricochet comes back with a Pele kick. He hits a Superman punch and the Benadryller into the shoulder. A running shooting star press gets a two count. Ricochet tries a springboard 450. Mid-air, Galloway punches him in the face for two. He drives Ricochet back first into the ring post and ring frame from the floor. He looks to powerbomb Ricochet off the apron into multiple rows of chairs. Ricochet resists, so Galloway stomps on his back. Ricochet is able to shove Galloway into the ring post. He gamengiri’s Galloway back into the ring, following up with a 630 splash for the pin at 13:52. I really enjoyed this, as Ricochet got to show his arrogant attitude while also working on the same body part of Galloway’s that was worn down all weekend. Galloway and Ricochet fought hard to prove they were THE champion in WWN and the crowd bought into the action. Plus, it gives Ricochet a reason to challenge for the EVOLVE title in the future. I had a lot of fun watching these two wrestle and look forward to any future contests involving them. ***¾
Rich Swann vs. Johnny Gargano
In the ring, EVOLVE rules must be followed, but on the floor anything goes. Swann tackles Gargano as soon as the bell rings. He takes the mount and pummels Gargano until Gargano rolls to the floor. Gargano misses a chair shot and Swann kicks him in the stomach. Gargano rolls back into the ring as Swann grabs a chair. He kicks the middle rope into Swann’s crotch and takes over with punches. Swann gets in a kick, but Gargano avoids his jump-up Frankensteiner and suplexes him into the turnbuckles. He snapmares Swann into a dropkick to the back of the head. Swann leapfrogs over Gargano to avoid a charge. Gargano hits the floor and Swann follows with a tope con hilo. They get into a battle of chairs, blocking each others shots, until Gargano lands a shot to Swann’s head. He digs the chair into the back of Swann’s head. He sets up four chairs in the hopes of suplexing Swann onto them. Swann superkicks Gargano to stop him. They end up back in the ring where Gargano hits a slingshot DDT. Gargano throws Swann back first into a wall twice. Swann spits in his face, so Gargano kicks Swann in the head. Swann uses the wall and kicks Gargano in the face. He then gives Gargano an implant DDT onto the chairs Gargano propped up earlier! Back in the ring, Gargano powerbombs Swann to counter a Frankensteiner, then gets a two count with a chest kick. Gargano sets Swann up for the Lawn Dart. Swann slides off his shoulders, dropping Gargano with a neckbreaker. He kicks Gargano to the floor. Swann misses a pescado but lands on his feet. Gargano Lawn Darts him into the wall! Swann is taken back in the ring so Gargano can pin him, but enough time had passed for him to recover and kick out. Because of this, Gargano gives Swann two more Lawn Darts, but Swann kicks out from those too. Swann fires back with some strikes. He and Gargano trade superkicks. Swann takes Gargano down with a 540 kick for two. Swann grabs a ladder. He rams it into Gargano’s mid-section three times, driving Gargano back first into a wall. Swann then dropkicks the ladder into Gargano’s groin. Swann sets up some chairs and props up the ladder between them. Gargano superkicks Swann and delivers ten punches. Swann throws multiple chairs at Gargano’s head, then hits him in the shoulder with a chair. Swann and Gargano fight on the stage near the commentators. Gargano gives Swann a tombstone piledriver off the stage and onto a chair! Su Yung comes out, encouraging Swann to keep going. Swann is able to get to his feet, so Gargano comes out of the ring with a suicide dive. In the ring he goes for a slingshot spear. Swann stops him with a superkick. He hits a back handspring Ace Crusher for two. Swann misses a Phoenix Splash. Gargano hits the Hurts Donut, then locks on the Garga-No Escape. Swann gets to the ropes and slides to the floor. Aggravated, Gargano rolls out to the floor. He picks up a cinder block from behind the stage and places Swann’s head on it. He then grabs a chair. Swann moves out of the way before Gargano can hit him. He then kicks the chair into Gargano’s face and gives him a piledriver onto it! Swann places Gargano on the chair and ladder bridge he set up earlier and comes off the apron with a double stomp! Back in the ring, Swann finishes Gargano off with a top rope frog splash at 22:17. This was exactly what you want from a grudge match; no wasted time, a lot of violence, and some ingenuity. They hooked the crowd and had them 100% in Swann’s corner, and their enthusiasm was infectious. Swann looked awesome looking like the hero slaying the proverbially dragon and being able to put the feud in his rearview window as he goes for the EVOLVE championship. Awesome stuff, and a great way to end the weekend. ****
Su Yung celebrates with Swann, only to give him a low blow! The Premier Athlete Brand hit the ring and attack Swann. Su Yung wasn’t fired after all, it was all a set-up! Johnny Gargano sees the attack and decides to come to Swann’s aid! The PAB head for higher ground. Gargano and Swann give each other a look, but certainly don’t make up. Swann sends the fans home with a thank you.