Santa Clara, CA – 3.27.2015
Open the Freedom Gate Champion: Johnny Gargano
EVOLVE Champion: Drew Galloway
Open The United Gate Champions: The Premier Athlete Brand (Anthony Nese & Caleb Konley)
Commentary is provided by Lenny Leonard.
Drew Galloway vs. Uhaa Nation
After breaking a lock-up against the ropes, Galloway knocks down Nation with a running shoulder block. Nation gives him one back and holds onto Galloway’s arm after a Japanese armdrag. Galloway tries to slam and monkey flip his way free but Nation holds on. A forearm to the face gets Nation to let go. Nation however sends Galloway to the floor. Galloway comes back in but is promptly dropkicked back out. Nation follows and gets in some shots until Galloway drops Nation chest first onto the guardrail. Nation flips off the ring apron, but Galloway swings Nation out into a backbreaker on the apron. In the ring Galloway forcefully sends Nation back first into the corner. He gets a two count with a release belly-to-belly suplex. Nation fights out of a chinlock, so Galloway once again sends him back first into the corner. Nation takes another corner, but comes back out with a pair of clotheslines. A corner splash and leaping clothesline follow. Nation strings three German suplexes together for a two count. Nation lands a top rope splash onto Galloway’s back for two. Galloway fights off of Nation’s shoulders and out of a waistlock. He pops him up into a Rydeen Bomb for two. Nation evades a Future Shock DDT attempt and cracks Galloway with an enzuigiri. Galloway however German suplexes Nation into the buckles. The Claymore gets him a two count. They trade boots, with Nation getting the upper hand. Nation gets his own nearfall with a sit-out powerbomb. They fight for a backslide until Galloway flips Nation around into the Future Shock DDT for the pin at 11:17. This told a simple story of Galloway wearing down Nation’s neck and upper back, all leading to him finally hitting the Future Shock DDT for the win. Nation looked strong by having some nice counters and having the move scouted until Galloway was able to swing him into it from an unusual spot. It was well put together and felt like a legitimate sporting contest, which I always appreciate. ***
Galloway puts over Nation and the fans in the crowd. He says the EVOLVE Championship is the most important thing in the world to him. Tomorrow, he and Gargano face each other and both his title and the Open The Freedom Gate championship. He guarantees the fans the show of a lifetime.
Timothy Thatcher vs. Tommy End
Hero is in End’s corner, as Hero endorsed End to come into EVOLVE, and to scout Thatcher for their match tomorrow night. Thatcher takes End to the mat and tries a cross armbreaker. End has it scouted. He brings Thatcher to his feet. He tries a kick but Thatcher evades it. Hero gives End some advice as he takes the corner. Back on the mat End again fights to prevent Thatcher from going for a body part. Thatcher places his knee on End’s leg and pulls on his ankle. End puts on a headscissors. Thatcher turns him over into a half crab. End rolls him over and tries some shots to Thatcher’s head, but Thatcher gets his arms up to block. Thatcher Judo throws End down and hammerlocks the arm. End again grabs a headscissors, looking for a triangle choke. With Thatcher resisting, End kicks Thatcher in the end with the heel of his boot. End tries a cross armbreaker. Thatcher grabs End’s foot and kicks him in the face. They throw shot at one another’s ribs while seated. Thatcher tries a kimura lock but End gets his foot on the ropes. End throws a kick to the thigh. He tries again but Thatcher grabs the leg and takes End down to the mat. It backfires as End rolls Thatcher into a cross armbreaker attempt. Thatcher rolls End onto his shoulders for a one count, effectively breaking the submission. As Thatcher has on a lateral press he goes for End’s leg. End gets up and kicks Thatcher in the chest. Thatcher throws End over by his arm. He twists up End’s left elbow and wrist. End grabs a front facelock. Thatcher backs End to the ropes and throws some open handed strikes. End throws one of his own but Thatcher headbutts him! End throws a roundhouse kick to the head! The referee checks to see if Thatcher is knocked out, then begins the ten count. Dazed, Thatcher gets to his feet, but has a harder time covering up from End’s strikes. He does however instinctively uppercut End to the floor. Thatcher comes to the apron where End kicks his legs out, causing Thatcher to crash face first onto it. When Thatcher gets to his feet, End throws him back into the ring for a two count. He gets in some shots and kicks before going for another pin. Thatcher kicks out. Thatcher avoids a knee strike. He applies a front facelock. End backs Thatcher to the corner. End blocks an uppercut by trying a backslide. That doesn’t work, but the jumping knee strike connects. End bridges Thatcher in a German suplex. Thatcher tries the arm bar. End escapes quickly and throws to chest kicks. He knees Thatcher before taking the mount. Thatcher blocks his open handed strike going for an armbar. He turns that into a Fujiwara variation and End taps out at 16:26. This did much more for End than the Busick match from last night, as End wrestled a smart match, out wrestled Thatcher a few times, and the crowd believed he had the match won on a couple occassions. Thatcher portrayed End as a threat to the point where you felt that Thatcher was lucky to get the submission on when he did. This felt like a real fight with consequence and it helped build momentum for Thatcher vs. Hero tomorrow. A match that holds up on it’s own while also building to another bout is hard to pull off, but they did it flawlessly. ***½
Drew Gulak vs. TJ Perkins
Gulak is accompanied by George Gatton, Emil J, Jarek 1:20, Trent Seven, and one other person I don’t recognize.. He immediately attacks Perkins at the bell, getting a flurry of shots in the corner. Perkins gets in some of his own, so Gulak brings him down in a side headlock. Perkins gets Gulak in a backslide. They hold onto a double knuckle lock as each man monkey flips the other. Perkins grabs an armbar while applying a body scissors. Gulak turns it into a variation of the CHIKARA Special. When Perkins grabs the ankle, Gulak kicks him away, but Perkins comes back with a standing Octopus Stretch. Gulak counters into the Stretch Muffler, but Perkins rolls Gulak onto his shoulders. Perkins baits Gulak to the apron. Gulak however gives Perkins a dragonscrew leg whip in the ropes. Gulak goes for the leg. Perkins grabs a hammerlock. Gulak pushes him back to the corner. Gulak headbutts Perkins and elbows him in the face. He jumps off the second rope where Perkins waits with a kick to the shoulder. Perkins then sends Gulak shoulder first into the corner. Gulack blocks Perkins’ cross armbreaker attempt. Perkins go back to the Octopus, bringing down Gulak into a modified crucifix for two. Perkins slams him while keeping his arm hammerlocked. Perkins maneuvers him into a vertical suplex. Gulak slides out of a hammerlock belly-to-back suplex and jams Perkins’ leg across his shoulder. Gulak does more damage to the leg and slams Perkins into the ring ropes. Perkins grabs the ropes to break a half crab. Perkins counters a slam and goes for the cross armbreaker. Gulak counters into one of his own. Perkins counters that first into a sharpshooter, then a Fujiwara armbar. Gulak grabs an ankle lock. Perkins grabs the ropes. After some more posturing, Gulak reapplies the ankle lock. Perkins gets to his feet, so Gulak slaps him in the ear. It happens again, but this time Perkins ducks the slap and rolls Gulak into the cross armbreaker. Gulak gets the ankle lock. Perkins enzuigiri mises, and him rolling forward doesn’t work the first time, but the second time it does and he gets on his own ankle lock. Gulak kicks out of the pin Perkins sat down into and gets the ankle lock on. Finally, Perkins taps out at 12:14. This was a great way to show how good both of these guys are at counter wrestling. They each had their goals, they each had great counters and reversals, and Gulak just happened to be the more relentless of the two and Perkins had no choice but to submit. In a way this was like End vs. Thatcher in that a submission specialist bested the striker, although Perkins is well rounded in both. The crowd was a bit on the quiet side, but these two worked hard and put on the exact type of match EVOLVE is looking to showcase. ***¼
AR Fox vs. Ethan Page
Fox has trouble escaping Page’s side headlock. When he pushes Page off, Page takes Fox’s do-rag with him and puts it on. Page catches Fox’ boot attempt. Fox ducks his clotheslines and delivers a series of his own. They don’t do much to Page, but an enzuigiri from Fox sends him to the corner. Fox strings a clothesline and skin the cat dropkick together. Page comes back with a clothesline in the opposite corner. Fox evades a second and sends Page to the floor with a springboard dropkick. Fox follows him out with two suicide dives and a kickflip moonsault. Fox throws him into the guardrail before hitting the guillotine legdrop on the apron. Fox tries a Shiranui on the floor. Page escapes and drops Fox with a spinebuster on the apron. He then uses the guardrail to turn Fox over into a backbreaker. After some chops, he drops Fox with a back body drop for two. Page stomps on Fox in the corner before pulling him into a leaping elbow drop. Fox gets his foot and elbow up to stop some attacks from Page. Page blocks the springback Ace Crusher and hits a reverse brainbuster for two. Fox is able to fight free from a chinlock and from Page’s lawn dart attempt. Fox successfully delivers the springback Ace Crusher and Page rolls to the floor. Fox lands a beautiful tope con hilo. In the ring he gets two with a Swanton Bomb. Page is able to evade a 450 splash. He sends Fox into the corner with a lawn dart. Boom! Head Shot and a spin-out DDT get Page a two count. Fox gets himself to the apron and gets his own two count with a springboard Code Breaker. Fox and Page trade shots on the apron. Page clotheslines Fox back in, but Fox pulls Page in with a modified Code Breaker. Fox wants the guillotine legdrop again. Page instead brings him down an Ace Crusher on the ring apron for two. Page wants the Spinning Dwayne. Fox backs him to the corner. Page boots him away, but Fox throws a couple shots before hitting the Lo Mein Pain. A 450 splash connects for the pin at 13:37. Despite Hero having a bigger name, this match was a far better showcase for Page. His personality got to shine, allowing him and his offense to connect more with the crowd, and it felt like he had a real chance at beating Fox (and one could argue he should have). This could have been a mess given the contrasting styles, but these two ended up having good chemistry and a fun bout. ***¼
Page notes that he is now 0-2 so far this weekend and feels the boo’s he’s received are warranted. He feels that by losing twice, he’s let down the franchise of WWN, Johnny Gargano, who endorsed him. He wants to be just like Gargano and apologizes for the loss. Gargano makes his way to the ring. He tells Page that he brought Page here because he believes in him. He didn’t let Gargano down, because even in a loss, he worked hard and showed everybody he belongs in an EVOLVE ring. He knows, because he’s been in WWN for six years. He talks about how much he loves what he does and vows to defeat Drew Galloway tomorrow night.
Biff Busick vs. Chris Hero
Busick has switched over to a knockoff version of his Bro Hymn theme from Beyond, which is a big step up from his generic theme. Hero makes the first shot with a chop. A chop exchange turns into Hero throwing boots and Busick throwing uppercuts. Hero slaps Busick and drives his foot into Busick’s face. A low boot sends Busick to the corner. Busick fires up with an uppercut, but Hero bicycle kicks him back down. Busick blocks a kick, uppercuts Hero, then ducks Hero’s rolling elbow. Hero knocks him down with an elbow when they go face to face. Busick asks for more, so Hero elbows him again. A straight jab to Busick gets a two count. A saito suplex yields the same result. Busick fires away with chops. Hero absorbs them all and sends Busick across the ring. Busick hops to the top turnbuckle. Hero boots Busick down. Busick’s leg gets caught in the ropes, but Hero doesn’t see it, and the referee frees him before Hero can. Hero goes to the floor and tags Busick with an elbow, causing Busick to fall into the guardrails. Upon recovering, in the ring, Busick is able to block a kick and daze Hero with a half-nelson suplex. This buys Busick time to recover. Hero though takes Busick to the corner and rocks him with numerous elbows to the head. Busick refuses to stay down. Hero elbows him again. Busick gets up just before the ten count. Hero back suplexes him for two. Hero gives him a running forearm in the corner. Busick catches Hero coming off the ropes with a running neckbreaker. Busick hits it a second time. Hero rolls to the floor, walking around ringside dazed. Busick catches him off guard with a running uppercut four times. In the ring, Busick goes for the rear naked choke, but Hero escapes quickly and nails a big boot. Hero flips to the apron. Busick drags him back in and reapplies the choke. Hero rolls to the ropes. Hero rolls to the floor. Busick dives out and puts on the choke. Hero drives Busick into the guardrails, apron, and ring post, but Busick is relentless in keeping the hold applied. In the ring, Hero drives all his body weight into the canvas to finally free himself. A piledriver only gets Hero a two count. Busick escapes the Death Blow and dumps Hero with two half-nelson suplexes before blasting him with a lariat for two. Hero takes the corner to avoid another suplex. Busick places him on the top turnbuckle. He wants a super half-nelson suplex but Hero knocks him down. Busick headbutts Hero thrice before going back up the ropes. The half-nelson superplex pays off, but only earns a nearfall. Hero escapes the choke sleeper attempt. Hero’s rolling elbow has no effect! Busick tries a Judo throw, but Hero weaves him into a rolling elbow to the back of the head for two. Two more elbows taken and somehow Busick kicks out of Hero’s pin at one! Another elbow and a tombstone piledriver get Hero the pin at 19:38. It isn’t just Busick’s skill that made him a crowd favorite, but also his tenacity and fighting spirit, which were on full display in this bout. Busick took all he could until he couldn’t take any more. I actually thought they were going to go for a Knockout finish, but I think the way it played out was the better choice. The match felt like a fight that both men needed to win, and while Busick is talented, he’s not at the level just yet to best a former EVOLVE champion. We also go into Hero vs. Thatcher tomorrow with both men at 2-0 with only one man able to end the weekend undefeated. Great match. ****
Ronin (Johnny Gargano & Rich Swann) vs. The Premier Athlete Brand (Caleb Konley & Brian Cage)
So Cal Val and Andrea are in the PAB corner. The fans want a dance off. Swann goes for the Worm, but Konley stops him with a side headlock. Swann switches out, so Konley rolls him into a sunset flip position for two. Swann forces Konley to a short dance out of a wristlock exchange. They pick up the pace in a Lucha exchange, where Swann avoids a senton and dropkicks Konley in the back of the head. Gargano snapmares Konley into another dropkick to the head. Ronin lay in a series of kicks, ending with an axe kick from Swann. Cage jumps in, but Swann disposes of him with a swinging headscissors. Konley backs Gargano to the PAB corner. Cage maus him with punches and clotheslines in the corner. Gargano gets a foot up to send Cage away and comes out of the corner with a flying Complete Shot for one. Swann tags in but is quickly taken down with a clothesline. Swann kicks Cage in the head and delivers a dropkick. Cage catches Swann coming off the top in a vertical position, dropping him into a Jackhammer. The PAB isolate Swann in their corner until he’s able to slip out of a vertical suplex attempt by Konley. Gargano rolls Konley into an enzuigiri. Cage intercepts Gargano coming off the ropes and deposits him back first onto Konley’s knees. He now finds himself trapped and beaten down in the PAB corner. Andrea even gets in on the action, but Gargano sends her into the ring post to stop her assistance. Gargano manages a superkick and Hurts Donut on Konley. Konley taps out at 15:19. It’s announced though that due to an injured Swann (who I didn’t notice until the tap out was laying on the ground the entire match after tagging out), the match is stopped and the PAB are the winners. Huh? While that ending was confusing, an injured wrestler causing panic and perhaps some incoherence in the match ending is understandable. It was food for what it was, but it felt incomplete as we were clearly poised for a Swann and Gargano comeback down the stretch. (Not Rated)
Ricochet vs. PJ Black
AR Fox is on commentary with Lenny Leonard. He faces Black tomorrow night. Black adds pressure to a top wristlock before wrapping Ricochet up in a Magistral cradle for two. Ricochet gets his bearings on the floor. When he comes back in, Black trips him into a front facelock. Ricochet reverses. Black brings him up in a side headlock. Ricochet shoves Black off and pops right back up from Black’s shoulder block. Ricochet lands on his feet out of a monkey flip. They each pull off a headscissors, leading to a stalemate. Ricochet uses his feet to push Black away from the corner and rolls towards him with a dropkick. The People’s Moonsault gets a one count. Black escapes a suplex and ducks an enzuigiri. He rolls Ricochet off of his shoulders into a DDT for two. He snapmares Ricochet into a pair of back kicks. When he can’t get a pin he unloads more kicks to the back. Black stretches out Ricochet’s arm and back, driving his elbow into Ricochet’s shoulder blades. Ricochet gets in a flurry of strikes, but Black clotheslines him to the floor. Ricochet stops Black’s suicide dive with an enzuigiri. Black uppercuts Ricochet to stop his dive. Ricochet dropkicks Black in mid-air after a springboard, sending Black back to the floor. Ricochet Fosbury Flops after him. In the ring Ricochet lands a high crossbody for two. Black stops a Regalplex with a kick to the head. Ricochet comes back with a running Ace Crusher and running shooting star press for two. Black grabs the ropes to escape the Benadryller. He drops Ricochet with an STO. Ricochet escapes a moonsault. Black lands on his feet. They throw kicks until both men crumple to the mat. A strike exchange ends with Ricochet stringing a Northern Lights suplex and vertical suplex together. Ricochet misses a springboard 450 splash. Black shows Ricochet up by hitting one of his own, but Ricochet kicks out. After trading waistlocks, Black jumps to the top rope. Ricochet crotches him on the top turnbuckle and brings him down with a super reverse Frankensteiner for two. Ricochet goes up top. Black tries his own Frankensteiner, but Ricochet drives him down with a big powerbomb! Ricochet then hits a 630 splash for the pin at 14:25. This wasn’t the spotfest many may have wanted, but I liked it because it told a story and allowed Black to show more character than he had in his previous EVOLVE bouts. They did a “can you top this?” tale more subtly than some other high-flier vs. high-flier matches do, and it led to the finish. This wasn’t the best match on the show, but a fun one, and a nice, light-hearted affair to lift the crowd’s spirits after the Swann injury. ***½
Ricochet puts over Black, saying that Black is proving to the wrestling world how good he is “without handcuffs.” Black says he left the WWE to wrestle matches like this every night, and he was looking forward to this match for a long time. Ricochet ends it by singing a Wale lyric to the ring announcer since Wale is ringside.