Brooklyn, NY – 9.14.2014
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.
Johnny Gargano vs. Drew Gulak
This is billed as a “Climbing the Ranks” match, as both men currently stand in the last two spots of the rankings coming into this weekend. Gargano fights free from Gulak’s headlock. He goes for Gulak’s arm, but Gulak rolls forward to his feet. Gargano takes him back down to the mat looking for an arm hold but Gulak slips away. Gulak goes for Gargano’s arm. Gargano trips him but Gulak then picks his ankle. Gargano uses his legs to pull Gulak into a headlock. Gulak escapes. Gargano tries a leapfrog but Gulak rolls under and catches Gargano in a sunset flip for two. Gulak puts on an Octopus stretch. He tries turning it into a sunset flip, but Gargano grabs his legs and applies a modified cross-legged kneebar. Gulak tries to roll Gargano on his shoulders, but when that fails, he pulls back Gargano’s arm and shoulder. He takes shots at Gargano’s ribs before applying a rear chinlock. Gargano flips Gulak forward into a bridging pin for two. After some posturing, both men get to their feet and armdrag one another. Gulak hits a Jon Woo dropkick. He hooks Gargano’s arm and rolls him back to the mat. Gargano kicks Gulak to stop an ankle lock, so Gulak uppercuts him. Gargano avoids a corner attack and rolls Gulak into an enzuigiri. Gargano snapmares Gulak and dropkicks him in the back of the head. He pulls on Gulak’s fingers while hooking his other arm in his leg. Gulak gets the ropes to escape. The two men fight up the ropes, where Gargano brings down Gulak with a superplex. Gulak kicks out of a pin. After he and Gargano fight for a suplex, Gulak O’Connor rolls Gargano into the Gu-Lock. Gargano breaks it by getting the ropes. Gargano takes a clothesline in the corner. He ducks a Northern lariat and superkicks Gulak. The Lawn Dart follows for two. Gulak and Gargano trade forearm strikes. Gulak uses his legs to bridge back Gargano into a roll-up. Despite Gargano briefly getting on the Garga-No Escape, Gulak hooks Gargano in an ankle lock. Gulak breaks when Gargano grabs the ropes, but then pulls him back to re-apply it. Gargano kicks Gulak twice in the head to knock him down. Gulak and Gargano switch positioning in a small package until they both release. Gargano tries to roll Gulak into another enzugiiri but Gulak grabs his ankle! Gargano rolls to send Gulak outside and suicide dives after him! In the ring Gargano tries the slingshot spear, which Gulak evades. He grabs the ankle lock. Gargano uses the ropes to climb up. He misses an enzuigiri and Gulak puts on a crossface. Gargano gets on his own ankle lock. He puts on the Regal Stretch. Gulak taps at 17:05. It’s not often you see Gargano do a ton of mat wrestling, but he had a great opponent in Gulak who is a connoisseur of that style. I also like that Gulak lost the match due to not changing up his plan of attack, which wasn’t working, and Gargano won because he did. Good stuff and a fun opener. ***½
Su Yung and Mr. A of the Premier Athlete Brand come to the ring as Gargano celebrates. She warns Gargano that if ever helps out Rich Swann again, he will face some consequences. Gargano ponders if that means she’s going to give him herpes. Somebody tell him it’s not 1996 and that those kind of insults are super lame. Mr. A charges per Yung’s request, but Gargano trips him and applies the Garga-No Escape. Anthony Nese and Caleb Konley come out to save him, but Gargano releases the hold and gets out of dodge before they can do any damage.
Timothy Thatcher vs. “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams
This is Williams’ EVOLVE debut. Thatcher takes over Williams in a Judo throw and grabs a wristlock. Williams escapes and goes for his leg. He keeps good control but when Thatcher grabs the leg, Williams grabs the ropes. He gets control of Thatcher with a hyperextended wristlock. Thatcher backs to the ropes. He blocks Williams’ chop attempt. Thatcher dragonscrew leg whips Williams and grapevines his leg. Williams gets a few shots on Thatcher when he takes him to the corner. Thatcher escapes a leg lock and suplexes Williams for two. He gives Williams and uppercut. Williams violently whips Thatcher to the corner. Thatcher escapes Williams’ front facelock and uppercuts Williams in the armpit. He gut wrenches Williams into a throw. Williams holds onto Thatcher’s arm and does some damage to his ribs. Williams brings down Thatcher in a cradle DDT, then puts on a crossface. Thatcher gets the ropes. Williams goes for a piledriver. Thatcher counters with a double underhook brainbuster. When Williams kicks out, Thatcher locks on a Fujiwara armbar. Williams taps out at 9:18. This was more truncated version of what we saw previously, but also very good. Williams has a lot of promise and Thatcher has proven to be a commodity for EVOLVE very quickly. **¾
Drew Galloway and Roderick Strong come out for their match. Galloway wants to put the EVOLVE title on the line, but the referee says it’s a non-title match and tells Strong that defeating Galloway would put him closer to a title shot. Strong doesn’t like the ambiguity of that statement. He tells Galloway he will beat him, stating he’s going to be a failure in EVOLVE just like he was in WWE. He then hits Galloway with the microphone and the match is on!
Drew Galloway vs. Roderick Strong
Strong gets in a few shots. Galloway explodes out of the corner with a lariat and throws Strong overhead with a belly-to-belly suplex. They trade shots on the floor, taking a brief foray back into the ring. Strong uses the ropes to swing into an enzuigiri. He nails a dropkick through the ropes. Strong charges at Galloway after delivering some chops, but Galloway tosses Strong up and into the ring post. Galloway drops him sternum first on the ring apron. He pounds on Strong’s chest as Strong lay against the ropes. Strong enzuigiri’s Galloway and gives him a backbreaker on the ring apron! Strong digs Galloway’s face into the canvas with his boot. Galloway looks to fight back, but Strong throws a series of kicks to Galloway’s left leg to stop him. A belly-to-back suplex gets Strong a two count. Galloway Judo throws Strong to stop a waistlock, but Strong quickly hits a leg lariat in response. Strong sends him chest first into the corner. Strong gets a few more strikes in before hitting the ropes. Galloway pops up from the mat and hits his own Sick Kick. He takes another page from Strong’s playbook but utilizing a backbreaker for two. Strong throws a couple of boots to the face. Galloway clobbers him with a forearm strike. Galloway pops him up into a spinebuster for two. The two get to their feet and make their way up the ropes. Strong almost has a super gutbuster set, but opts for an enzuigiri when Galloway resists. That allows Strong to bring down Galloway with a superplex. Strong pummels Galloway in the corner before taking him over with an Angle Slam. Galloway kicks out of the pin attempt. A gutbuster has the same result, so Strong puts on the Stronghold. Galloway fights out of the Gibson Driver, leading to a strike exchange. Strong gets in a knee strike. Galloway catches Strong and buckle bombs him. Strong nails an enzuigiri. Galloway lariats Strong leaving both men laying. Galloway recovers and drops Strong with a cradle tombstone piledriver. Strong kicks out. Galloway wants the Razors’ Edge. Strong slips out and hits the Stick Kick. The Gibson Driver follows. When Galloway kicks out, he hits it again. Galloway kicks out of that as well. Galloway gets a two count with a small package. They forearm strike each other at the same time twice. Galloway hits a Sick Kick and the Future Shock for the pin at 17:20. In two days time, Roderick Strong has become the best heel in the company, because he’s amazing. This match was heated right from the start, felt like a real competition, and the fans got invested in the nearfalls. This went from a fun “dream” match to a hot feud very, very quickly. Kudos to both guys. ****
After the match, Strong knee strikes Galloway in the face and nails him in the head with the EVOLVE championship! Strong tosses the title on Galloway’s body before leaving.
Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Biff Busick
Sabre goes after Busick’s leg on the mat. Busick gets the ropes. Sabre goes after Busick’s wrist and arm. Sabre snapmares Busick into a crucifix pin for a two count. Busick grabs a side headlock, which Sabre headstands out from. The two engage in a double knuckle lock. Busick monkey flips Sabre over. Both men bridge up to prevent a double pin. They roll to their feet, where Sabre rolls back and takes control of the lock. Sabre and Busick both look for roll-ups, resulting in them both retreating to the corner. Out of a tie-up, Busick uppercuts Sabre multiple times. Sabre headbutts Busick in the stomach, so Busick gives him a chop. He snapmares Sabre into a figure four headscissors. Sabre maneuvers out. He puts Busick in a seated parachute stretch, then stomps his elbow and wrist into the mat. He violently twists up Busick’s wrist and shoulder. Sabre outstretches Busick’s arms behind his back. Although Busick escapes, Sabre grabsa full nelson. Busick switches out, looking for a half-nelson suplex. Sabre escapes. He lands three running European uppercuts in the corner. Sabre wants a cross armbreaker. Busick tries turning it into a rear-naked choke, so Sabre Dragon suplexes his way free. Sabre misses a Penalty Kick. He comes off the second rope right into an uppercut from Busick. Busick pulls off a half-nelson suplex and a diving European uppercut. Sabre is too close to the ropes for a pin. Busick places Sabre on the top turnbuckle. Sabre avoids a super half-nelson suplex and goes for asusnet bomb. Busick escapes, but Sabre kicks his legs out. The Penalty kick from Sabre gets him a two count. Sabre applies a bodyscissors with a kimura while Busick is on his feet. Sabre gets him to the mat where he locks one of of Busick’s arms hyperextends the other. He bridges back, and Busick puts on a rear-naked choke! Sabre turns it into the European Clutch for two. Busick swings Sabre back to the mat in a rear-naked choke. Sabre passes out at 18:34. This was a good blend of submission wrestling and striking. Given Sabre’s caliber of performance, it made Busick’s win seem like a big deal. Busick has been one of my favorites to watch for years now, and his stock will continue to rise if he puts on matches like this. Busick challenges Timothy Thatcher to a match afterwards, which I am very much looking forward to. ***½
Open The United Gate Championship – Elimination Match
The Bravado Brothers (Harlem & Lancelot Bravado) vs. AR Fox & Rich Swann vs. The Premier Athlete Brand (Anthony Nese & Caleb Konley)
The Bravado’s have been champions since 11.16.2013 and this is their eighth defense. Moose is in their corner. Su Yung and Mr. A are in the Premier Athlete Brand’s corner. This was supposed to be a match between the two teams, but AR Fox used his “choose your own match” reward from last May to enter himself and Rich Swann into this bout. They jump the Bravados before the bell. Nese and Konley take over on Swann and as Fox recovers and the Bravados watch from the floor. Swann hops off Nese’s back into a Frankensteiner on Nese. Fox takes down the PBA with a London Bridge. The Bravados jump in, but Fox wipes them both out. He tope con hilo’s onto Lancelot, Nese, and Konley. Swann tope con hilo’s into Moose’s arm by accident. Moose powerbombs him onto Fox. This allows the Bravados to take turns wearing down Swann back in the ring. Nese and Konley join in on the fun. Swann manages to drop the Bravados with stereo back handspring Ace Crushers. Fox fights off Nese and Konley on his own. Konley inadvertently assists Fox with Air Fox on Nese. Fox then drops Konley with his own Ace Crusher. Fox takes down Harlem with a springboard knee crusher. Swann nails a rolling frog splash, but Lancelot breaks the cover. Harlem follows up with a Diamond Dust. Lancelot powerbombs Swann into an Ace Crusher from Harlem. Lancelot gets a two count on Swann with a gorilla press into a Death Valley Driver. Lancelot tries to German suplex Nese. Nese flips over and double stomps him. Konley lands a springboard lionsault. Harlem saves his brother from being pinned. The Bravados and PAB superkick one another. Harlem gives Konley an exploder suplex off the apron onto Nese on the floor. Swann wipes everyone out with corkscrew senton. From the rafters above, Fox somersault sentons onto all parties minus Su Yung. In the ring, Fox hits a Swanton Bomb on Harlem. Harlem however gets his knees up to block Swan’s frog splash. The Bravados look for the Gentleman’s Agreement, but Fox sneaks up and schoolboys Harlem for the pin and elimination at 11:15! Angry, the Bravados attack Fox inside the ring while the PAB beat down Swann on the floor. The two teams end up in each other’s faces. Moose stands in the way of the PAB, so Mr. A wipes him out with a spinwheel kick! The Bravados and Moose retreat. Fox is out from a Gentleman’s Agreement, but finds the strength to kick out of the PAB’s pins. Fox avoids a back suplex from Nese and tags in Swann. He takes down Konley with lariats and Nese with a dropkick. Swann brings Konley off the top turnbuckle with a standing Frankensteiner. Nese catches Swann’s back handspring and suplexes him in the corner. A running knee from Nese leads to a Falcon Arrow from Konley. Fox makes the save. Nese pump handle slams Fox into a neckbreaker from Konley. Swann kicks Nese in the face to stop his pin. He drops Konley with a neckbreaker. Su Yung distracts Swann. Nese hits her with an enzuigiri when Nese ducks it! Swann superkicks Nese and drops him with a back handspring Ace Crusher. Fox bicycle kicks Konley in the corner. Konley blocks the Lo Mein Pain. Nese gets his knees up to block Swann on Fire. Konley Death Valley Driver’s Fox off the top rope and onto the ring apron! Nese hits a 450 splash off the top onto Swann for the pin and the titles at 17:02. This was all action, set up PAB as the top group in the company, while also making Swann and Fox look stellar. The Bravados are great but their reign was not doing the titless or them any good. It was a time for a change, and despite the PAB’s booking being questionable at times, they’re the right team to give the championship at this time. It was an exciting match and had a killer finish. I guess Konley just murders guys with top rope moves now? Word. ***¾
Open the Freedom Gate Championship
Ricochet vs. Uhaa Nation
Ricochet has been champion since 4.4.2014 and this is his second defense. Both men are members of the Monster Express stable in Dragon Gate. After feeling each other out, Ricochet dropkicks Nation. Ricochet seems embarrassed when he realizes Nation didn’t budge. Nation shows him how it’s done with his own dropkick after a leapfrog and drop down. Nation’s leaping elbow drop gets a two count. Nation tosses Ricochet with a back body drop, belly-to-belly suplex, and gutwrench suplex. Ricochet throws a punch, so Nation belly-to-belly suplexes him again. Nation muscles him up into a vertical suplex. Ricochet rolls to the floor. Nation jumps to the apron. He misses a moonsault but lands on his feet. Ricochet baseball slides into him before nailing a springboard shooting star press on the outside! Back in the ring Ricochet works over Nation’s left knee. Ricochet uses the ropes for a springboard senton, then goes back to the knee, as the crowd cheers on. Nation and Ricochet trade punches until Ricochet kicks out Nation’s bad leg. Ricochet comes off the ropes and Nation catches him with a desperation leaping pariat. Nation is able to flip over an attack from Ricochet and come off the second rope with a crossbody. His knee in pain, Nation makes a cover and only earns a two count. Nation absorbs a Superman punch. He bicycle kicks Ricochet and gives him a big spinebuster for another two count. Nation misses a leaping corner splash. Ricochet goes for a Death Valley Driver and fails. Nation blocks the Rickrack but succumbs to an Ace Crusher and standing moonsault. He strings a high crossbody and running shooting star press together, but Nation kicks out. Ricochet attempts another springboard move, but an enzuigiri from Nation crashes Ricochet to the apron. Nation muscles Ricochet up for a superplex from the second rope. Ricochet recovers. He gets in a couple of axe kicks to the head. He takes over Nation with a Northern Lights suplex, then surprisingly picks him up for another suplex! A top rope shooting star press only gets Ricochet another two count. He goes for the Benadryller. Nation blocks it. He nails two pop up powerbombs. When Ricochet kicks out he press slams him into a standing shooting star press. Before he can finish the Uhaa CombiNation, Ricochet trips him down into a cross-legged submission. Nation grabs the ropes. Back on their feet, dazed, both men return to trading blows. Ricochet superkicks Nation’s leg out. Nation fights off the Benadryller again. He pump handles Ricochet into a tombstone! Somehow Ricochet kicks out. Nation misses a top rope splash. Ricochet hits him with a tornado enzuigiri. Nation grabs his ankle, but Ricochet punches himself free. He heads up top. Nation again grabs at his legs. Ricochet kicks him down. The 630 splash gets him the pin at 22:50. The familiarity between these two guys played a big role in this match, as they had one another well scouted and had to surprise one another with their offense. I loved in the beginning when Ricochet realized how foolish he was to even try any offense when Nation was still fresh, then proceeded to get down to business on his leg. Nation’s leg selling probably could have been a little more consistent, but that may be just a bad habit picked up from Dragon Gate. Overall it was a really solid, really good title match and main event. ****