Orlando, FL – 7.11.2015
EVOLVE Champion: Timothy Thatcher
Open the Freedom Gate Champion: Timothy Thatcher
Commentary is provided by Lenny Leonard and Ron Niemi.
FIP World Heavyweight Championship
Caleb Konley vs. Andrew Everett
This is technically on the FIP Kickoff show, but was included on the EVOLVE 46 Blu-Ray. Konley has been champion since 7.3.2015 and this is his first defense. The Premier Athlete Brand (Tony Nese, So Cal Val, and Andrea) are in his corner. Everett wastes no time unloading with forearms. Konley responds with one of his own and chops up Everett in the corner. Everett goes up and over in the opposite corner. He takes down Konley with a pair of armdrags, but Konley responds with a kick to the chest. Everett goes to the apron. He slingshots in over Konley and sends him out with a dropkick. Everett follows with a suicide dive. Back inside Everett hits two springboard dropkicks. When he’s going for a third, Konley distracts the referee so Andrea can trip Everett. Konley drives Everett back first into the guardrails. Everett shows signs of life back in the ring, but Konley backdrops him for two to keep control. When Everett breaks a bodyscissors, Konley goes to his eyes and chokes him on the middle rope. Konley yanks Everett off the middle rope. Andrea delivers a strike from the floor. Konley pounces Everett when Everett comes up from the mat with punches. Konley pumps the break when he almost collides with Andrea, who jumped to the ring apron, allowing Everett to sneak in a tornado DDT on Konley. He snaps off a running Frankensteiner. Konley ducks a quebrada press but takes an enzuigiri from Everett for two. Konley blocks a suplex attempt. He hits the ropes. Everett hits another enzuigiri and German suplexes Konley for two. Konley does the deal with a Falcon Arrow for two. Everett kicks Konley away to avoid the O-Face submission. Konley sweeps out his legs and lands a senton. A sliding clothesline and Regalplex earn Konley a nearfall. Konley swings Everett into a backfist. A Blue Thunder Bomb gets another nearfall. Everett spikes Konley with a reverse Frankensteiner. A normal Frankensteiner finals, but Konley is able to kick out of the pin attempt. Konley back elbows Everett and hops to the top turnbuckle. Everett cuts him off. The fight atop the ropes ends with Everett bringing Konley down with a super Frankensteiner. The shooting star press gets a close two count. Everett sets Konley up for a second shooting star press. This time, Konley catches Everett and brings down Everett with a release superplex. The double jump moonsault gets Konley the pin at 14:20. They worked hard and got the crowd up by the end, but a portion of this match felt lifeless; just two guys doing moves with little rhyme or reason. I appreciate that Konley won the same way he did the night before, and they used the shooting star press which beat Nese from the night before as a close nearfall, but aside from those specific instances there wasn’t much to this. **¾
Konley talks some trash. Trevor Lee comes out to challenge Konley for the FIP title in the future. So Cal Val takes offense to this. She tells Lee that if he can defeat Tony Nese tonight, he will get a future title opportunity. Lee agrees. Cut to the proper start of the EVOLVE show…
Trevor Lee vs. Tony Nese
The Premier Athlete Brand (Caleb Konley, So Cal Val, and Andrea) are in Nese’s corner. Nese shoves Lee of the apron as he makes his entrance. He delivers a chop against the guardrails before bringing Lee back and stomping him down in the corner. Lee comes back with some running forearm strikes. Nese ducks a Superman Punch. Andrea grabs Lee’s legs, but Lee catches Nese with a back elbow. Nese flips out of a German suplex and lands a double stomp. Andrew Everett comes to ringside to keep the PAB at bay. Even so, Konley gets in a few boots to Lee after Nese throws him to the floor. Back in, Nese whips Lee hard into the turnbuckles for two. Konley taunts Lee with his title belt as Nese chokes him in the corner. Lee manages to crotch Nese on the top turnbuckle. He throws forearm shots. Nese uses his body to trip Lee. Nese misses a slingshot quebrada. He overhead suplexes Lee into the turnbuckles. Lee throws knee strikes and forearms. Nese evades a clothesline, but a Northern clothesline connects. Lee lights up Nese with chest kicks. Nese strings some kicks together of his own. Nese avoids the running double stomp and sunset flips Lee. Lee escapes, but Nese muscles him up into a one-armed powerbomb. Lee’s double stomp connects on the second try, as does the Superman Punch. Lee from the apron Penalty kicks Konley when Konley distracts him. However, Nese is able to jump in with a DDT on the ring apron! He follows up with a 450 splash, but Lee kicks out. Lee kicks Nese away to avoid a half crab. Nese gets it on when he prawn holds his way into it. Lee fights his way to the ropes. He sends Nese to the floor. Nese comes back in, but it was enough time for Lee to get his composure together. He kicks Nese in the head and German suplexes him for two. Nese fights out of another German suplex. He goes for the pump-handle driver, but Lee counters into the small package for the pin at 10:47! I like that Lee’s small package of doom is crossing over from PWG into EVOLVE. Like the last match, it could’ve been stronger, but it was a fine opener. **½
The PAB leave Lee and Everett after the bell. Lee will get a shot at the FIP title at Heatstroke next month.
TJ Perkins vs. Zack Sabre, Jr.
After feeling each other out on the mat, Sabre controls Perkins in a double arm wringer behind the back. Sabre tries multiple snapmares, but each time Perkins holds onto his wrist, so Sabre eventually has to kick him away. Sabre twists up Perkins’ ankle. Perkins takes down Sabre in a headscissors submission. Sabre reverses into his own headscissors. Perkins headstands his way free, and cartwheels through Sabre’s next headscissors attempt. Perkins’s baiting attempt doesn’t work, as Sabre grabs his arm, traps it between his feet, and kicks the arm away. He bends Perkins’ arm down and stomps his wrist and hand into the mat. He torques on Perkins’ elbow while also putting on a top wristlock, and Perkins hastily makes it to the ropes to stop the pain. Sabre controls Perkins by his wrist. Perkins trips Sabre and snaps his arm. Perkins gives him two vertical suplexes and a belly-to-back suplex. He misses a frogsplash. Sabre tries a diving uppercut but Perkins dropkicks him in mid-air. Perkins’ evades a series of kicks and rolls Sabre into a cross armbreaker. Sabre quickly switches it out into a Northern Lights suplex. Perkins rolls Sabre into a cloverleaf, transitioning into a cross armbreaker. Sabre tries reversing, but Perkins pushes Sabre onto his shoulders for a two count. Sabre fights out of a backslide and kicks Perkins’ in his hurt arm. Sabre lands two uppercuts in the corner. On the third, Perkins brings him down. They each go for a cross armbreaker but can’t get it applied. Perkins ducks Sabre’s Penalty Kick. He hits the Detonation Kick. Sabre blocks the Tenchi Crash. Perkins stops his European Clutch and pins him for two. Perkins tries a 450 splash. Upon landing, Sabre catches him in an armbar. Perkins quickly gets up to his feet. Sabre keeps a bodyscissors and brings Perkins back down in the Ode to Breaks. Perkins submits at 14:56. This was an excellent back and forth technical wrestling match, which continued to build the Ode to Breaks as Sabre’s submission of choice and showcased Perkins’ technical prowess. If you dig this style, it’s a match you want to be sure sure to check out. ***½
Drew Galloway vs. Trent Baretta
So Cal Val and Andrea are in Baretta’s corner. Before the match, Galloway tells the crowd that he’s in EVOLVE due to Baretta. Baretta’s injury around that time canceled their match against one another and allowed for Galloway to win the EVOLVE title from Chris Hero, which he lost last night. He’s fine starting at the bottom and fighting his way back up to the top. He’s tired of Baretta’s bitching and the PAB interfering in matches, so he asks Baretta to send Val and Andrea to the back to make it a fair fight. Baretta agrees, much to Val and Andrea’s dismay.
Baretta ducks a chop and lays in one of his own. It happens a second time, and Baretta tells Galloway that he lost his belts and his touch. Baretta slides under a boot and chops Galloway again. Galloway escapes a headlock, shoulder blocking Baretta into a stomp. Baretta taunts Galloway with another chop and takes him down in the corner with a back elbow. Baretta says Galloway “isn’t shit anymore.” Galloway pummels him in the corner before taking him out with an overhead suplex. Baretta slips to the floor when Galloway sets him up for the Future Shock DDT. Galloway chops him into the crowd and throws him into a wall. Galloway carries him ringside. Baretta slips off of Galloway’s shoulders, sends him into the ring post, and superkicks him twice. Baretta talks trash as he keeps on Galloway in the ring. Galloway is able to stop a springboard maneuver with a mid-air clothesline. He chops Baretta multiple times in the corner, then hits his own springboard clothesline. He drops Baretta onto the top turnbuckle before giving him a Rydeen Bomb for two. Baretta stops Galloway’s corner attack by driving him into the mat with a double stomp. Baretta avoids a boot and lands an enzuigiri. He gets two with a tornado DDT. Galloway goes to the apron. Baretta resists a suplex. Galloway forearms Baretta and muscles him up for a slam. Baretta instead brings him down to the spron, missing a tornado DDT on the apron. Baretta brings him back up to the apron and this time Galloway pulls off the apron DDT! In the ring Galloway buckle bombs Baretta twice. He goes for it third time and Baretta counters with the Dudebuster. Galloway gets his shoulders up just in time. He avoids a kick from Baretta against the ropes. He shoves Baretta over the ropes so he can bring him back in with a reverse waterwheel slam for two. Galloway climbs the ropes. Baretta runs up and brings him down with a super belly-to-belly suplex. Baretta hits the Gobstopper for two. Galloway stops a second Dudebuster and swings Baretta into the Future Shock DDT. Baretta kicks out! Galloway and Baretta trade strikes. Galloway boots Baretta. Baretta responds with an enzuigiri. Galloway hits the Claymore. He brings up Baretta in a double underhook and swings him around before hitting the Future Shock DDT again for the pin at 16:50. I liked the story they told, with Galloway letting Baretta get under his skin. They kept the match competitive but the last few minutes felt like overkill. These two have chemistry and put on a good, but not great, match. ***
Tony Nese and Caleb Konley hit the ring to attack Galloway. As Nese and Konley pose in triumph, Galloway gets up and fights back. He tosses Nese out and gives Konley a piledriver. Andrea enters the ring and gets in Galloway’s face. She shoves him, so Galloway gives her a clothesline! So Cal Val tries to talk down Galloway who has her backed into the corner. The referee tries to stop him, so Galloway turns around and decks him! Galloway shows immediate regret and heads to the back in frustration. Shortly after, it would be announced that Galloway would be indefinitely suspended from EVOLVE for his actions.
Timothy Thatcher vs. Chris Hero
Thatcher has been champion since 7.10.2015 and this is his first defense. This is a rematch from “Mercury Rising 2015.” Thatcher goes for Hero’s arm while Hero goes for his leg. Hero takes to the ropes when Thatcher has control. Thatcher has to go to the ropes when Hero has his toe and ankle twisted up. Thatcher switches up his strategy also goes after Hero’s legs with a half crab. Hero ties up his foot around his legs to counter and stomps Thatcher’s knees into the canvas. Hero backs Thatcher to the corner and knees him in the face repeatedly. Hero’s bicycle kick fires Thatcher up. He throws a series of uppercuts. A boot from Hero stops Thatcher momentarily. Thatcher fires back with more shots. Hero stumbles to the floor to get away. Thatcher comes out to deliver more strikes. As Thatcher gets to the apron, Hero hits him with multiple boots, but Thatcher won’t go down! Hero yanks him back to the floor and finally knocks him down with another boot to the face. He tags Thatcher with multiple elbow strikes. He taunts Thatcher with a free shot. Thatcher slaps him and Hero boots him down. He makes Thatcher use his own energy to get back into the ring, where Hero slides in with a boot to the side of the head for two. Hero tries a senton but Thatcher blocks by getting his knees up. Hero fights through the pain, backing Thatcher to the corner and peppers him with upturned elbows. He stomps on the back of Thatcher’s head. Thatcher hooks Hero’s head for a dragonscrew leg whip but Hero kicks him in the face. Hero grabs Thatcher by his bad ear and lands a chinbreaker. Thatcher’s equilibrium messes up his balance. A simple slap takes Thatcher down in the corner. Hero drags his limp body out for a pin, and yet Thatcher is able to get his shoulder up. Despite his multiple elbows to the side of the head, Thatcher manages a Saito suplex. He takes over Hero in a double underhook suplex, floating over in the hopes of getting a Fujiwara armbar. Hero rolls under the bottom rope to stop him. Thatcher from the floor drives Hero’s sternum into the apron. Hero holds onto the ring skirt to stop Thatcher from dragging him in. Thatcher knee strikes Hero in the ribs twice and then goes for the Gotch piledriver. Hero swings out and hits a rolling elbow for two. A jumping boot to the head gets Hero another two count. He twists Thatcher’s right arm behind the back while also twisting on Thatcher’s neck. He converts into a crucifix pin for two. More elbows to the side of the head from Hero follow. He goes for the Death Blow but Thatcher headbutts Hero in the chest as Hero makes the turn. He unloads with uppercuts. Hero cuts him off with a bicycle kick. He tries a piledriver. When Thatcher resists, Hero spits his mouthguard at Thatcher and hits three rolling elbows. He sets up for the Gotch Piledriver. Thatcher grabs onto Hero’s arm. Despite Hero’s strikes to the ear and neck, Thatcher brings Hero down into the Fujiwara armbar. Hero taps out at 23:38! This wasn’t quite at the level of the Mercury Rising match, but a very good match with a strong story. Hero’s attack on Thatcher’s equilibrium and his relentless elbow strikes just weren’t enough to thwart Thatcher’s cross armbreaker. Some of the action got a little repetitive, and more focused arm work from Thatcher would’ve made the finish significantly better, but that withstanding Hero’s onslaught and arrogant attitude were a strong enough story thread throughout to make that error a little more tolerable. ***¾
Zack Sabre, Jr. makes his way out. He tells Hero he heard his comments from yesterday, then turns to Thatcher and says he wants a title match at EVOLVE 47 in Queens. He’s going to do what Hero couldn’t and take the EVOLVE title from Timothy Thatcher. Hero storms off. Thatcher shakes hands with Sabre to make the title match official. Each man heads into it with an established submission move. I love it.