Elmhurst, NY – 9.13.2014
Open The Freedom Gate Champion: Ricochet
EVOLVE Champion: Drew Galloway
Open The United Gate Champions: The Bravado Brothers (Harlem & Lancelot Bravado)
Johnny Gargano comes out to start the show. He admits that he’s been crazy and unfocused since losing the Open the Freedom Gate Championship. It took Caleb Konley telling him he was no longer the man at EVOLVE 32 to open his eyes and clear his mind. Although he doesn’t like Rich Swann, he knew that when the Premier Athlete Brand jumped him at the end of EVOLVE 33, saving him was the right thing to do. He wants to prove once again that he’s the man, so he has asked to be placed in the opening matches of both shows this weekend so he can work his way back up the ranks. In EVOLVE’s new Top 10 ranking system, Gargano currently sits in 10th place.
Johnny Gargano vs. Anthony Nese
An injured Trent Barreta, Su Yung, and Mr. A of the Premier Athlete Brand are in Konley’s corner. Gargano gets in a series of left hands after he ducks Nese’s attempt at a running boot. He enzuigiri’s Nese to the floor and follows with a cannonball senton from the apron. Gargano takes him around ringside, chopping and punching him against the guardrails. He drops Nese crotch first on the guardrails before throwing him back in the ring. Gargano slingshots in with a DDT for two. He unloads with stomps in the corner. Out of desperation, Nese flings Gargano out of the ring by grabbing his tights. Nese gets a few shots of his own on the outside and digs Gargano’s face into the apron. The two men trade shots on their feet. Nese violently whips Gargano to the corner, sending Gargano up and over to the floor. He chokes Gargano on the bottom rope when he comes back in. A leg lariat gets him a two count. Gargano fights his way out of a chinlock, but Nese takes his legs out and hits a slingshot lionsault for two. Gargano knees his way out of a vertical suplex, then gives Nese one of his own. He rolls Nese out of the corner and kicks him in the head. Nese tries throwing Gargano out, but Gargano skins the cat and headscissors Nese to the floor. Nese avoids a pescado. He cartwheels back to the floor and clobbers Gargano with a left handed punch. He looks to dive but is cut off by Gargano’s slingshot spear. A series of kicks and strikes ends with a lariat from Gargano. Nese superkicks him into a roll-up. When Gargano looks to kick out, Nese picks him up with one-arm looking for a powerbomb. Gargano counters with a sunset flip for the pin at 11:33. That was an action packed opener that re-established Gargano’s focus and determination. I like the story and it’s a much better story than Gargano getting a rematch against Ricochet just because he was a former champion. Nese also should get credit for playing his part well. ***
Mr. A clotheslines Gargano after Caleb Konley distracts him. Rich Swann returns the favor of Gargano saving him last month by taking out Mr. A with a 540 kick. Barreta tries to attack Swann with his crutch, but Swann gives him a 540 kick as well. He catches Su Yung trying to attack him from behind. Swann grabs her by her hair but Nese attacks him from behind. Nese sends Swann into a ring post and DDT’s him onto the floor! Gargano suicide dives onto Nese, Konley and Mr. A. He fights Nese to the back. The referee checks on Swann as the rest of the Premier Athlete Brand head backstage. Swann is helped to the back by the referee, leaving us to question what condition Swann will be in when he competes in the main event.
Timothy Thatcher vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
Thatcher won the 2014 Style Battle in August. Thatcher takes down Sabre by his foot, but Sabre quickly grabs Thatcher’s foot and twists on his ankle. They trade control on the mat until Sabre snapmares him over and they go back to square one. Thatcher tries a bow and arrow, but Sabre flips over into a lateral press. Sabre twists up Thatcher’s left arm and wrist. Thatcher escapes into a waistlock, but Sabre brings him back to the mat in a headscissors. He digs his feet into Thatcher and pulls on his arm. Thatcher attempts to roll free, but Sabre goes back to the headscissors. Thatcher escapes but Sabre rolls to the corner before he can grab him. However, Thatcher is able to clasp on a courting hold. Sabre tries a standing headscissors, but Thatcher fireman’s carry’s Sabre back down while keeping the courting hold applied. Sabre tosses him over. Thatcher claps his hands to stop an overhead wristlock from being applied. He bends back the wrist and kicks Thatcher in the head and elbow. Thatcher mounts Sabre and throws some forearms while avoiding a triangle hold from Sabre. Sabre turns it over into a double headstand leg lock with each competitor slapping one another. Sabre then gets on a cross armbreaker, but Thatcher gets his foot on the ropes very quickly. He bengs back Sabre’s left arm and fingers. Sabre reverses and does the same, but stomps on Thatcher’s elbow once again and kicks him in the chest. Thatcher avoids another armbreaker and goes for an ankle lock. Like Thatcher, Sabre quickly gets the ropes. Thatcher tries pinning Sabre’s shoulders to the mat in an overhead wristlock. Sabre bridges up multiple times and gets his foot on the ropes again. Each man stretches out the others arm hoping for an armbar or armbreaker. Thatcher changes things up with a Regal Stretch. Sabre grabs the ropes. Sabre blocks a butterfly suplex and puts on an Octopus stretch. He releases into a modified crucifix pin. Sabre retreats to the ropes when Thatcher goes for his legs. Annoyed, Thatcher stomps Sabre’s arm into the canvas. He strings together three gutwrench throws. Thatcher drives Sabre chest first into the ring apron. Sabre kicks Thatcher in his injured elbow. He rocks Thatcher with three hard running European uppercuts in the corner. Sabre maneuvers around Thatcher until he catches him in the European Clutch. Thatcher kicks out, so Sabre goes for a cross armbreaker. Thatcher rolls him into a Fujiwara armbar, but when that doesn’t work, he tries a cross armbreaker. Sabre kicks Thatcher in the head. A Penalty kick scores a two count. Sabre locks Thatcher’s left arm around his leg, then outstretches Thatcher’s right arm while kicking him in the ribs and head. Thatcher submits in 17:58. These two are some of the best at mat wrestling, with both looking for ways to outsmart and outmaneuver each other while maintaining focus on their plan of attack. Thatcher continued to look awesome after his debut weekend last month, and this win felt like a big win for Sabre by defeating the Style Battle champion in his debut. There may have been a couple of repetitive minutes in the middle, but overall this was an excellent wrestling exhibition. ***¾
Uhaa Nation vs. Roderick Strong
This is Strong’s EVOLVE debut. Nation powers Strong to the corner with a lock-up and breaks cleanly. Strong does the same but strikes Nation in the chest. He kicks him in the stomach and forearms him in the upper back twice. He knees Nation in the stomach as Nation comes off the ropes. Nation dropkicks him after a leapfrog and drop down. He does some damage to Strong’s stomach, ending with a jumping elbow drop. Strong kicks out his leg and stomps on his chest. Nation stops Strong’s vertical suplex and muscles him over into one of his own. Strong pulls Nation to the floor, causing Nation’s face to hit the apron. Strong gets in a few shots before bringing back into the ring and pulling on his face. Nation looks to fight back. Strong gets the referee in between them as Nation ascends the ropes, and Strong shoves Nation off of the second rope and to the floor. Strong cracks him with an enzuigiri and brings Nation back in for a two count. Strong focuses his attack on Nation’s back and midsection. Nation looks to fight back, only for Strong to cut him off with a dropkick. He gives Nation a backbreaker for a two count. He clobbers Nation’s chest while putting on a chinlock. He then applies a legged full nelson. Nation rolls over and grabs the ropes. They trade forearm strikes in the corner. Strong catches Nation with a kick to the mid-section. Nation catches Strong mid-air when he goes for a second rope crossbody and tosses him in a fallaway slam. Nation follows up with a belly-to-belly suplex and leaping corner splash. A leaping clothesline and trifecta of German suplexes get a two count. Nation enzuigiri’s Strong outside. He comes off of the apron with a moonsault press. In the ring, they counter one another’s offense until Nation successfully lands a spinebuster. He misses a top rope splash. Strong gets in a knee strike and three running elbows in the corner. A jumping knee strike only gets him two. He lands the Death by Roderick. He comes off the ropes only for Nation to stop him with a powerbomb. Nation wins a forearm exchange. Strong slides off a press slam attempt. He hits the Sick Kick and Gibson Driver. Nation kicks out so Strong turns him over into a Boston Crab. Nation grabs the ropes. He stops a suplex. He drops Strong out of a Gorilla Press. He attempts the Uhaa Combination but Strong stops him. He wants the Stronghold. Nation kicks Strong away, pops him up into a press slam, then pulls off the Uhaa Combination for the pin at 18:33. This match lacked a certain urgency, and with Nation having a title match the winner was never in question. That said, Nation being able to say he have defeated Roderick Strong is a nice superlative. It was a solid match, but you could tell the crowd was winding down after the strong performance that preceded it. ***¼
Ricochet vs. Caleb Konley
Su Yung and Mr. A of the Premier Athlete Brand are in Konley’s corner. Konley resists Ricochet’s running shoulder block. he tells Ricochet to do it again, but wisely Ricochet instead delivers a sole butt kick. Konley hits him with a dropkick. Ricochet ducks a clothesline. He takes Konley over with a headscissors and dropkicks him to the floor. When Konley rushes back in, Ricochet catches him with a boot to the stomach. He slingshots in with a senton after a snapmare, but Konley gets his knees up to block and lariats Ricochet down. He stretches Ricochet’s neck across the bottom rope. He drives his knee multiple times into his head. Ricochet elbows his way out of Konley’s bodyscissors. Konley knee strikes him in the face as he tries to get to his feet. He suplexes Ricochet for two, then goes right into an armbar. Ricochet gets his foot on the bottom rope. He kicks Konley in the hamstring from the apron. Angry, Konley throws him outside the ring and backdrops him onto the ring apron. In the ring he drops a knee across Ricochet’s face. He hip tosses Ricochet into the corner for two. A chop exchange leads to uppercuts and an axe kick from Ricochet. He enzuigiri’s Konley from the apron and springboards in with a clothesline for two. Konley fights out of a Regalplex attempt and tags Ricochet with a forearm strike and enzuigiri for two. Konley locks on an inverted parachute stretch. Ricochet is able to escape. Konley blocks his Ace Crusher and hits a diving lariat. Konley German suplexes Ricochet for two. Ricochet rolls up into a Pele Kick. He tosses Konley into a chest kick, then lands a standing shooting star press for two. Ricochet misses a second rope shooting star press but lands on his feet. He strings a Northern Lights suplex into a vertical suplex. Konley kicks out. Konley blocks the Benadryller and lands a Regalplex for two. Konley misses a double jump moonsault. Konley ducks the Benadryller and drops Ricochet with a Cradle Shock for two. He goes for it again, but Ricochet hits an enzuigiri. A release Regalplex leads to a springboard 450 splash. Konley kicks out. Ricochet goes up top but Konley knocks him to the apron with a haymaker. Konley sits on the top rope and tries to drag Ricochet up. Ricochet fights him off and springboards up. Konley catches him on his shoulders and brings him down with a super Cradle Shock for the pin at 15:05! That definitely felt like a big upset, but a believable one with a surprising, brutal finish. The body of the match was solid action all around. With Nation winning his match and Ricochet losing this one, it will make for an interesting atmosphere come tomorrow night’s Open the Freedom Gate championship bout. ***¼
AR Fox is still recovering from a wrist injury, but last May, he won the right to book himself in any match he wanted.. Fox reminds us that he was the first Style Battle winner, the first EVOLVE champion, and one half of the best Open the United Gate champions with CIMA. This brings out the current United Gate champions, the Bravado Brothers, who deny this claim, stating they beat the team (the Young Bucks) who beat Fox and CIMA, and are the longest reigning team in history. Fox calls them the most boring tag team of all time and dislikes that they got the Young Bucks suspended. He says they’re nothing more than “grandma’s bitches.” Harlem Bravado knows Fox is still hurt, but because of his hurtful words, they spring a surprise opponent on him: Moose. Fox is down for the match, so I guess the EVOLVE officials are going to just let the bout happen.
AR Fox vs. Moose
The Bravado Brothers are in Moose’s corner. Fox gets in a flurry of strikes and kicks, even flipping out of a chokeslam. Moose throws him down with a fireman’s carry. Fox unloads with chops, forearms, and a sole butt kick in the corner. He hops over a corner attack and drop toe holds Moose onto the second turnbuckle. Fox hops on the ropes into a wheelbarrow. Moose tosses Fox off but Fox low bridges the top rope to send Moose outside. Fox suicide dives onto him twice. He goes for a tope con hilo, but Moose catches him and throws him into the ropes. In the ring Moose easily throws Fox overhead with a fallway slam. Fox avoids being thrown to the floor. Two springboard dropkicks don’t take Moose off of his feet. Fox goes for a third but Moose dropkicks him to the floor. Back in the ring Fox kicks out of Moose’s pin attempt. He misses a corner splash. Fox crossbody’s in from the apron. Moose catches him and tries a fallaway slam. Fox couners with a crucifix pin for two. Moose overhead suplexes Fox into the corner for two. Fox dropkicks Moose to the floor and follows with Lo Mein Rain. Fox sunset bombs Moose off of the second rope and lands a Swanton Bomb, but Moose is able to kick out. After an enzuigiri, Fox sets up Moose on the top rope for Lo Mein Pain. Moose holds the ropes to block. He muscles up Fox into a buckle bomb. Fox leapfrogs over Moose to avoid a spear. Fox cracks him with a yakuza kick. The Lo Mein Pain connects. The Bravado Brothers interject, giving Fox the DQ win at 7:49. That was pretty solid up until the lame finish. You could tell even at this point Moose had potential, and the crowd was into Fox. Especially in hindsight I don’t know why one person couldn’t have won clean. **¼
The Bravados give Fox the Gentleman’s Agreement. This brings out the Colony, the Bravados opponents for the night. The Bravados hit the floor, but since all the competitors are out, their match is on!
Open The United Gate Championship
The Bravado Brothers (Harlem & Lancelot Bravado) vs. The Colony (Fire Ant & Silver Ant)
The Bravado’s have been champions since 11.16.2013 and this is their seventh defense. This is also a rematch from “EVOLVE 30”, where the Bravados tampered with Green Ant’s (now Silver Ant) mask which led to them getting the win. The Bravados try a sneak attack but the Colony stop them. They dropkick the Bravados to the floor and land stereo suicide dives. The two teams trade strikes around ringside. Silver Ant brings Lancelot back into the ring for the official match start. Silver Ant goes for the CHIKARA Special, which gave the Colony their first win over the Bravados in a trios match back at DGUSA’s “Mercury Rising 2014”, and the move which would have won them titles at “EVOLVE 30” had his mask not been tampered with. Harlem jumps in to break the submission. The Colony get in some double team offense on Harlem, leading to Silver Ant applying a cloverleaf. Lancelot breaks that hold and stomps down Silver Ant in the corner. Some more Colony offense leads to Fire Ant giving Lancelot a brainbuster for two. Harlem grabs Fire Ant’s boot, allowing Lancelot to knock him down with a running shoulder block. He catches Fire Ant with a powerslam. The Bravados isolate Fire Ant in their half of the ring, even teasing removing his mask during the process. Fire Ant is able to catch the Bravados with tandem stunners, allowing him to tag in Silver Ant who enters with a top rope dropkick to Lancelot. He kicks Harlem in the leg and side of the head. He hits a tiger feint kick and slingshots in with a senton on Harlem. He drops Lancelot with a kneeling Michinoku Driver for two. Harlem stops Silver Ant from suplexing Lancelot. Fire Ant high crossbody’s onto Harlem and hits the Yahtzee Kick. The Colony hit Harlem with the Ants Marching dropkick. Harlem knocks down Silver Ant in the corner. Fire Ant fights off a suplex. He tries a tornado DDT, but Harlem counters by giving Fire Ant an exploder suplex onto Silver Ant. Lancelot looks for a powerbomb on Fire Ant. Fire Ant cascades through into a Yoshi Tonic. Lancelot misfires a kick and hits Harlem. Silver Ant assists Fire Ant with a tornado DDT on Lancelot. Harlem and Silver Ant trade forearm strikes. Harlem pops him up into a powerbomb. Fire Ant trips Harlem and boots him in the head from the floor. He tries a Franknesteiner from the apron. Harlem stops him and powerbombs him on the ring apron. The Bravados give Silver Ant a chop block/lariat combo for two. Lancelot powerbombs Silver Ant into an enzuigiri from Harlem. Fire Ant crotches Harlem on the top turnbuckle and backdrops Lancelot to the floor. Fire Ant takes Harlem off the top with a super Frankensteiner. Silver Ant hits a frog splash for two. He then locks Harlem in the CHIKARA Special. Harlem goes for the mask but Lancelot blocks it and re-applies the hold. Lancelot pulls Silver Ant up using the mask. Harlem low blows Silver Ant and rolls him up for the pin in 10:12. The finish took me out of what was otherwise a fun match. The Bravados do a good job playing an updated Midnight Express and have good chemistry with the Colony, but for whatever reason (maybe because it’s been four months without advancement in the story), I found it hard to truly get invested. The fans also seemed deflated by the finish, which is never good when it’s ostensibly the feud ending bout. **½
Drew Galloway vs. Rich Swann
Galloway has been champion since 8.8.2014 and this is his fifth defense. Swann is limping, showing some effects from the beatdown the Premier Athlete Brand gave him earlier in the night. Swann immediately starts throwing punches at the bell. He takes Galloway down with a satellite headscissors and dropkick. Galloway flips him over in a backdrop and cracks him with a running forearm strike. The referee checks on Swann to see if he can continue when Galloway goes to hook him for Future Shock. Galloway swoops in and unloads with forearms to the neck and face. He snap suplexes Swann for a two count. Swann sends Galloway to the floor. He looks for a suicide dive but Galloway cuts him off with a forearm. He sidewalk slams Swann from the ring steps onto the ring apron. He then slams Swann back first onto the ring apron. Swann kicks out of Galloway’s pin attempt. Galloway doesn’t want to keep beating down Swann, but Swann fights back with punches and a chin breaker. Galloway blocks Swann’s boot and gives him a reverse waterwheel slam for two. Somehow Galloway’s arm got a cut on it. He tells Swann he gave him a chance to give up. Swann smacks him in the face, and a frustrated Galloway clobbers and stomps Swann in the corner. He pummels him in the chest while pulling him up from the top turnbuckle in a chin lock. Swann enzuigiri’s Galloway and brings him off the top with a headscissors. He is tossed to the corner by Galloway, but Swann boots Galloway as Galloway runs towards him. Swann comes off the second rope and spikes Galloway with a DDT for two. He tries a running frog splash but Galloway gets his knees up. Swann flips out of a German suplex attempt. He leapfrogs over a charging Galloway, which sends Galloway to the floor. Swann comes after him with an extra rotation tope con hilo. In the ring Swann comes off the top. Galloway catches him mid-air with a backbreaker. Galloway goes for Future Shock. Swann counters with a jackknife pin. Galloway kicks out so Swann attempts a backslide. When Galloway doesn’t bite, Swann flips over and nails a superkick for two. Galloway avoids a top rope attack from Swann and cracks him in the face with a running boot. Caleb Konley, Anthony Nese, and Mr. A appear ringside. Galloway wipes them all out with a tope con hilo. Swann uses the ropes to get back to his feet. Galloway puts him down with a cradle tombstone piledriver. Swann amazingly kicks out. Galloway picks him up, and Swann cracks him with a 540 kick right away. Galloway kicks out. Swann goes for a back handspring Ace Crusher. Galloway catches him coming back looking a sleeper. Swann uses the ropes but Galloway rolls with him and gets on a rear naked choke. Swann passes out at 13:23. This was effective in making Swann look like a fighter. I think the story of Galloway not wanting to fight him was a little disjointed and the PAB appearance wasn’t necessary, but the match accomplished it’s goal and gave the fans a solid title match and main event. The choke out victory was perfect for the story too. ***½