Orlando, FL – 4.18.2015
EVOLVE Champion: Drew Galloway
Open the Freedom Gate Champion: Drew Galloway
Open The United Gate Champions: The Premier Athlete Brand (Tony Nese & Caleb Konley)
Commentary is provided by Lenny Leonard and Ron Niemi.
Santana vs. Andrea
Santana has been champion since 4.3.2015 and this is her second defense. This shot was originally supposed to be for Su Yung, but So Cal Val gave it to Andrea instead. Val and Yung are in Andrea’s corner.
Andrea attacks Santana on the apron during her entrance. Santana avoids an attack against the rig apron and delivers a baseball slide dropkick. Andrea snaps Santana’s neck across the top rope and hits a big boot. Santana evades a corner attack. She gets in some shots, but Andrea shoves her down and kicks her in the stomach. Andrea blocks a kick, but takes an enzuigiri. Santana tries a headscissors but is dropped with a sidewalk slam from Andrea for two. Andrea applies a chinlock while sitting on Santana’s back, ripping at her face. She drives her body weight repeatedly into Santana’s back. Santana turns over to her knees to counter. Santana tries a whip but Andrea throws her into the mat by her hair. Santana yanks Andrea off the middle rope and gives her a superkick. She hits a cartwheel back elbow in the corner. Two superkicks lead to Santana going for the Shining Star press. Su Yung grabs Santana to stop her. Andrea tries to attack Santana but hits Su Yung instead! The misfire allows Santana to small package Andrea for the pin at 5:12. This was too short to be anything substantial, but Santana had a nice comeback and it set up a story piece for the main event. *
Of course, Val blames the loss on Yung. Andrea gives her 3 Seconds Around the World and Val dumps a bottle of water on her.
Ethan Page vs. Martin Stone
Stone gets the better of a wristlock exchange, jamming up Page’s arm. Page gets the ropes to get out of an overhead wristlock and shake out his arm on the apron. Stone cinches on a side headlock. Page escapes and withstands Stone’s running shoulder block, but is taken down by a back elbow. Another wristlock exchange sees Stone toss Page to the mat. Page pulls Stone into the middle turnbuckle by his belt and follows up with a bicycle kick. Page clocks him with a right hand and whips Stone back first into the turnbuckles. Stone blocks a running punch with a suplex. He applies a crossface. Page makes it to the ropes to escape. Page backs Stone to the corner to break a waistlock. He enzuigiri’s Stone after trapping his leg in the ropes. Stone gets in a flurry of chops and uppercuts. Page shoves Stone to the corner. This time, Stone gets in an enzuigiri, and then comes off the second rope with a dropkick. Page reverses a whip and scoops up Stone, looking for the lawn dart. Stone slips out. Page kicks him in the head, but Stone absorbs it and pulls Page into a short-arm lariat for two. Page drops him with a DDT and a release vertical suplex for two. Stone backs Page to the corner to escape the Spinning Dwayne. He places Page up top. Page headbutts Stone down and hits BOOM! Headshot. The Spinning Dwayne gets Page the win at 9:50. The graveyard silent crowd hurt this a lot, and it made the match feel much longer than 10 minutes. It felt like Page had a lot of momentum coming out of his victory over Rich Swann last night, and this halted it, because it’s hard to feel like somebody is an important player if nobody is responding to what they’re doing. I like Page and Stone quite a bit, but on this night, despite having a solid wrestling match, the atmosphere was a big detriment. **
Andrew Everett vs. Rey Horus
We start with a wristlock exchange, which Everett breaks by using Horus’ knee to step over him. Everett pops right back up from Horus’ shoulder block, but Horus dropkicks him down. Everett backflips to avoid a leg sweep and hits his own dropkick. They reach a stalemate with stereo dropkicks. Horus comes off the top with a corkscrew into an alita. Everett lands on his feet from a headscissors before delivering one of his own and dropkicking Horus outside. Everett lands a springboard moonsault to the floor. In the ring, Everett gets two with a standing shooting star press. Horus evades a corner splash. He runs the ropes and comes down with a double springboard wristdrag. Everett takes to the floor, and Horus follows with a corkscrew pescado. Horus sends Everett back first into the guardrails before bringing him into the ring. A high crossbody gets Horus a nearfall. Horus rolls through Everett’s sunset flip attempt and kicks him in the head for two. Horus catches Everett coming off the ropes with a standing Spanish Fly for two. Horus misses a 450 splash but rolls through. Everett uncorks an enzuigiri and German suplexes Horus for two. After a brainbuster, Everett ascends the ropes. He misses a shooting star press. Horus pops him to the top turnbuckle. After an enzuigiri, he brings Everett down with an avalanche Frankensteiner for the pin at 9:14. As expected, this was a fun aerial showcase. They reeled in a little bit, which is fine considering the card placement and the lack of story behind it. I like these two guys and want to see more from them, but doing something more substantial in the future would really be beneficial to these matches and the show overall. ***
Timothy Thatcher vs. TJ Perkins
The match immediately goes to the ground. Thatcher manipulates Perkins’ hand, wrist, and shoulder while digging his knee into Perkins’ face. Perkins weaves under and hooks Thatcher in a cravate. Thatcher throws Perkins overhead, holding onto the wrist so he can work on the fingers again. Perkins flips up to his feet and dropkicks Thatcher to the corner. He brings down Thatcher in a necktie headscissors. Thatcher cuts him off with a shoulder block. Perkins heel trips him, but Thatcher kicks him away. Perkins tries baiting Thatcher to the ropes, but Thatcher refuses. Thatcher does fall for a handshake into a bodyscissors, quickly turned into a side headlock. Perkins monkey flips Thatcher while holding onto a double wrist clutch. Thatcher kicks both of Perkins’ arms away and once again twists on Perkins’ elbow and shoulder. Perkins forwards rolls Thatcher into a headscissors. As Thatcher tries to headstand out, Perkins grabs a Fujiwara armbar. Thatcher gets the ropes before it’s locked in. Perkins tries again, and this time Thatcher clasps his hands together to prevent the hold. Perkins puts on a top wristlock with a figure four. Thatcher picks Perkins up off the mat and falls back, slamming Perkins and escaping the hold. Thatcher stomps Perkins’ arm into the canvas for two. He strings two gutwrench suplexes together. Perkins blocks the third and gives Thatcher two amigos and a back suplex. Perkins tries a frog splash. Thatcher gets his knees up and grabs a Fujiwara armbar! Perkins quickly gets his foot on the bottom rope to escape. They trade uppercuts. Perkins ends it with the Detonation Kick. He tries a springboard maneuver but is cut off mid-air with an uppercut from Thatcher. Thatcher tries the Tower of London. Perkins shoves Thatcher to the corner. Perkins goes for multiple armbar variations. Thatcher resists and gets the Fujiwara armbar! Perkins taps out at 12:54. This was an excellent technical wrestling match, with both men working over the others’ arms, and each guy outmaneuvering one another until the finish. This was a performance that raised the stock of both competitors while showcasing the style of wrestling EVOLVE promotes. ***¾
Timothy Thatcher takes the microphone and simply states that he wants the winner of Drew Galloway and Roderick Strong’s EVOLVE title match, which is happening May 31st.
Roderick Strong vs. Biff Busick
Strong hits the floor and apron when Busick charges, creating distance and playing mind games. Busick hip tosses Strong into the ring, unloading with uppercuts afterwards. Strong throws some shots to Busick’s mid-section. Busick comes back with more uppercuts and back elbows. He misses a corner attack and the momentum sends him tumbling to the floor. Strong hits a running boot between the ropes. Strong pummels Busick around ringside and stomps on him back inside. He brings Busick to the apron. They resist getting dropped on the apron, ending up on the floor. Busick takes control with uppercuts, including one that he hit after picking up momentum by running around the ring. Strong guts off his second one with a backbreaker onto the guardrails! In the ring, Strong works over Busick’s mid-section. When Busick begins to fight back, Strong cuts him off with a dropkick. He also throws Busick head and shoulders into the turnbuckles when Busick nearly escapes from a waistlock. Strong comes off the middle rope and is caught mid-air with an uppercut. Strong blocks his charge with an enzuigiri and slams Busick stomach first into the canvas for a two count. Busick comes back with a running Blockbuster for two. Busick goes to the middle turnbuckle. Strong cracks him in the face with a knee strike and gives Busick a backbreaker on the top turnbuckle for two. He then turns Busick over into the Strong Hold. Busick rolls over and kicks Strong away. He then rolls Strong into a small package for two. Busick deposits Strong with a half-nelson suplex and locks on the Rear Naked Choke! The referee calls for the bell at 11:32, giving Busick the match! I liked the ending calling back to the referee stoppage from last night in which Busick felt he was screwed, but this time it worked in his favor and staked his claim as a title contender. The match itself was great, as the two guys took a less technical approach and just beat each other down the entire time. The finish was a surprise in a good way and built a new challenger while keeping the current one relatively unblemished. Very good stuff. ****
Strong is angry as the referee says he ended the match for Strong’s safety. Strong heads to the back. Busick says he is tired of being overlooked by EVOLVE, and thinks it’s sick that EVOLVE holds Timothy Thatcher on a pedestal. He got screwed in the Style Battle, he just beat the guy who is getting an EVOLVE title shot, and yet they put the spotlight on Thatcher. Thatcher himself enters the ring. Thatcher tells Busick that he’s beginning to piss him off. A shoving match leads to them trading blows. A smack from Busick to Thatcher’s ear messes up Thatcher’s equilibrium, so Busick takes him down in a mount and throws a flurry of punches. Officials come out to separate them.
Davey Richards vs. Trevor Lee
Lee takes down Richards with a running Frankensteiner. He tries to follow Richards to the floor, but Richards jumps to the apron. Lee blocks the PK and drives Richards face first into the apron. In the ring, Richards cuts off Lee with a dropkick as Lee comes off the top. He whips Lee hard into opposite corners and puts him in an abdominal stretch. Lee throws forearms after escaping. Richards catches him with a knee to the stomach as Lee comes off the ropes. Lee avoids a double stomp and hits a running double stomp of his own. After trading punches, Richards throws a kick to Lee’s shoulder. Lee blocks a second and from the apron kicks Richards in the head. He muscles Richards into a gutwrench suplex. A flying knee strike gets Lee a two count. Lee catches Richards Damage Reflex attempt and rolls him into a jackknife cradle for two. Richards counters a headscissors with a powerbomb and then locks on a cloverleaf. Lee grabs the ropes. Richards throws some kicks to the chest. Lee blocks one and throws multiple forearms to the face. Richards cuts him off with a sole butt kick and throws his own forearms. Lee stops him coming off the ropes with a running moonsault fallaway slam. Lee hits the Orange Crush for two. Lee misses a frog splash. Richards goes for the cloverleaf, but Lee turns it into a small package for two. Richards hits the Alarm Clock after taking a knee strike. He yakuza kicks Lee and deposits him with a Saito suplex. The top rope double stomp connects for a nearfall. Creeping Death gets Richards the win at 8:16. This had the makings of a dream match, but didn’t materialize into anything above average. Richards wins for no discernable reason and Lee’s key offense came off as not very effective. After two awesome contests, this was a let down. **½
Open The United Gate Championship; Street Fight Rules
The Premier Athlete Brand (Tony Nese & Caleb Konley) vs. Ronin (Johnny Gargano & Rich Swann)
The PAB have been champions since 9.14.2014 and this is their fourth defense. Ethan Page takes Ron Niemi’s place on commentary. So Cal Val and Andrea are in the PAB corner. After EVOLVE 41, Swann was attacked by Konley and Nese, which you can watch here, and his ribs were worn down by Ethan Page in their singles match on that night as well.
Gargano and Swann hide near the entrance ramp and attack Konley and Nese from behind! Gargano takes Nese into the crowd. Konley takes over on Swann ringside by dropping him ribs first on the guardrails. Konley takes Swann over to Nese and Gargano, saving Nese by whipping Gargano into multiple rows of chairs. Konley hip tosses Swann off the bleachers. Nese misses a charging knee, crashing into the wall. Swann hits a kick-flip enzuigiri to Konley and Gargano uses the wall for a tornado DDT. In the ring Nese takes various kicks from Ronin. Nese slides out when he is whipped to the ropes. Swann throws him back inside. Nese however sends them both ringside. He cartwheels off the apron where Gargano throws a chair at his head. Gargano also throws it at Konley’s head to stop Konley’s suicide dive. Gargano and Swann each procure ladders from the back. Gargano rams his ladder into the PAB’s stomachs and Konley’s head. Swann introduces some chairs. Konley uses a chair on Gargano and kicks Swann to keep him on the floor. Konley slams Gargano back first onto a chair and whips Swann into a ladder in the corner. He DDT’s Swann onto a chair. The PAB prop up a ladder between two chairs. Gargano spares Swann from being tossed onto it and places Konley onto it. Swann goes for a frog splash, but misses, and his hurt ribs crash onto the ladder! Referee Brandon Tolle has some other officials check on Swann and help him to the back. Gargano is now on his own against Nese and Konley. He does a valiant job at first but succumbs to the numbers game. Andrea tries to get in on the fun, but when he stops her from a powerbomb, Konley and Nese jump on him. Gargano drops them with a DDT/Complete Shot combo after ducking a double clothesline. Gargano hits Nese with the slingshot spear and suicide dives onto Konley. A slingshot DDT on Nese gets him two, thanks to Konley breaking the cover. The PAB whip and choke Gargano with belts. They tie his hands to the ropes so that his body is laying against a ladder. They’re about to toss the other ladder at him when Swann returns with a garbage can full of weapons! He wipes out Konley and Nese with a cookie sheet. He attacks Konley’s leg and sends Nese throat first into a chair before untying Gargano. Gargano drives a ladder crotch first into Konley and then Nese. Swann dropkicks the ladder into Nese’s groin as well. Swann whips them both with a belt and digs a piece of wood into Nese’s head. Gargano props a ladder up between the guardrails and ring apron. Gargano smashes a trashcan lid into Nese’s groin using a broom handle. Swann does the same to Konley. Konley fights back. He misses a trashcan assisted moonsault! Swann hits a back handspring Ace Crusher, right into the Hurts Donut from Gargano. Nese breaks the pin just in time. He trades punches and superkicks with Gargano. He one-arm powerbombs Gargano into the corner. Swann cuts off Nese’s running knee with a tornado kick. He drills Konley with a Canadian Destroyer. Gargano lawn darts Nese into a trashcan propped up in the corner. Andrea pulls the referee out of the ring to stop the count! Gargano goes to them but is stopped by a punch from Konley. Swann takes a lot of punishment back in the ring, including a Dudebuster from Nese onto a cookie sheet! Swann somehow kicks out. The PAB set back up the ladder onto the two chairs. They look for a double superplex on Swann, but Gargano fights Konley off. Andrea holds onto Nese so Swann can’t move him while Val cheers them on. Su Yung comes in and spits red mist into Val’s face! Andrea tends to Val outside. Yung comes off the apron with a somersault senton to Andrea. All the women fight to the back. Gargano throws a trashcan at Konley’s face, and Konley falls backwards onto the ladder set up between the ring and guardrail Gargano set up earlier. Nese climbs up after Swann. Swann smashes a beer bottle onto his head! Gargano powerbombs Nese onto the ladder and chairs contraption! Swann follows up with the frog splash for the pin, winning Ronin the titles at 26:12. While the undercard of the show showcased the technical wrestling style EVOLVE has embraced since the beginning of Chapter 2, this showcased the storytelling elements that they’re known for. The issues between the two sides has been building since Gargano and Swann’s street fight at EVOLVE 33 and was paid off in fittingly brutal fashion, with the poor treatment of Su Yung getting a satisfying pay off and the Ronin reunion paying dividends. This was an excellent way to end the show and a fun street fight overall. ****
Gargano tries to give a post-match speech but Ethan Page keeps heckling him from the commentary table. Gargano says he’s a spoiled brat who used him to get attention. Gargano says Page doesn’t deserve to get into the ring with a talent like him. He brought Page to EVOLVE because he thought he had potential, but while Gargano was in the main event in Santa Clara, Page carried his bags. He calls Page a lower-card nobody and says that’s what he always will be. Although Gargano doesn’t want a match with Page, he will fight him right now. Page looks as if he’s going to acquiesce, but instead goes backstage. He tells Gargano to enjoy his moment. Gargano says he and Swann will celebrate their title win all night long.