Evolve 1: Ibushi vs. Richards
Rahway, New Jersey 1/16/10
1.) Bobby Fish vs. Kyle O’Reilly (with Tony Kozina): ***1/4
This match is really crazy in hindsight. A few years down the road, these two would go on to form arguably one of the greatest tag teams in the world, tearing up Ring of Honor & New Japan in the process. The match itself was a pretty solid opener. You can tell, even in early 2010, that these guys were great wrestlers, or had the potential to be great wrestlers. After some great exchanges, Kyle O’Reilly hits a brainbuster to score the victory in the first ever match in Evolve.
2.) Qualifying Match – Chuck Taylor vs. Cheech: ***
So the story here is that a number of wrestlers were invited to the singles roster of Evolve, but Chuck Taylor was not. So this Qualifying Match was made, where the winner earns their wave onto the Evolve singles roster. This was another solid match. Chuck Taylor looked really good, as did Cheech, who we really don’t see that much in singles competition, as at this time, he was mostly known for being part of the tag team Up In Smoke. Taylor gets the win with The Awful Waffle.
After the match, Lenny Leonard interviews Chuck Taylor in the ring. He’s annoyed that certain guys got automatic invites to Evolve, but he had to be in a Qualifying Match. Taylor surmises that someone in the Evolve office doesn’t like him, so he’s going to make their lives miserable by winning all of his matches going foreward.
3.) Arik Cannon vs. Ricochet: **3/4
It’s so weird looking back at some of these early Evolve shows and seeing some of the talent, including Ricochet. He looked so different back in early 2010. Here, he’s taking on Arik Cannon. This was a short match, going a little longer than four minutes, but it was actually pretty entertaining. They packed a lot of action into that time, and it kept my attention. Ricochet gets the win with (what looked like) a sloppy 630 splash.
Afterwords, Chuck Taylor comes out, saying that where he’s from (Kentucky), they believe in creationism, not evolution. He says he’s going to create his own spot in Evolve, and challenges Ricochet to a match at the next Evolve show, which Ricochet accepts.
4.) The Dark City Fight Club (Jon Davis & Kory Chavis) vs. Aeroform (Louis Lyndon & Flip Kendrick): **3/4
The DCFC are probably best known for their ROH run during the HD Net Era or ROH TV. They defeated Aeroform in a fun little tag team match. It was the classic case of power vs. speed, but in this case, power won in the end, as The Dark City Fight Club picked up the victory.
5.) WSU World Champion Mercedes Martinez vs. Niya: DUD
This was the lone women’s match on the card, and their wasn’t really much to it. Martinez squashed Niya in about a minute for an easy victory.
Martinez is interviewed by Lenny Leonard after the match. She says that she’s out to prove that Evolve isn’t just a man’s promotion, and demands more competition.
6.) Silas Young vs. Brad Allen: ***
Of course, most people will know of Silas Young, but I’m not that familiar with Brad Allen. I know he seemed to be a guy that they were pushing in the first few Evolve shows, and he apparently had a WWE Developmental Contract at one point. As far as this match goes, it was pretty solid. Good action from both guys in this one. In the end, Allen would pick up the win over Silas Young.
After the match, Allen gets interviewed by Lenny Leonard, where he talks about getting his chance in the Northeast, and thanking people like the staff of Evolve, the fans, and his mother. He challenges Hero to a match at the next Evolve show, but that didn’t end up happening at the show. I don’t think it ever happened.
7.) Jimmy Jacobs vs. Kenn Doane: ***
Jacobs cuts a promo before the match, saying that while his opponent, Kenn Doane (former WWE Superstar & Spirit Squad Member Kenny Dykstra), got everything handed to him, he had to earn everything he got. Another solid match here. Jacobs was his usual self, while Doane slowed the pace down and did a good job playing the heel. Initially, Doane pinned Jacobs with a top rope leg drop, but Jacobs had his feet on the bottom rope and the referee missed it. Tommy Dreamer then comes out, and tells the referee about this, and after realizing what happened, he restarted the match! Jacobs quickly won with The End Time shorty thereafter.
Afterwords, Dreamer cuts a promo, putting over the crowd as well as the wrestlers. Jacobs then cuts a promo, say that he didn’t need help to win that match, and seemingly took offense to Dreamer being here, hogging the spotlight. Jacobs says he’d attack him, but that’d be against Evolve’s rules. He says Dreamer is washed up and doesn’t need his help. Dreamer then says that he doesn’t need to worry about suspensions, since he’s not on the Evolve roster, and attacks Jimmy Jacobs! I think Jacobs tried a low blow, but Dreamer fought back and took him out with a DDT. This was a very weird segment, as while Dreamer was intended to be the face and Jacobs was supposed to be the heel, Jacobs got a very positive reaction, while the reaction to Dreamer was more mixed.
8.) Johnny Gargano vs. Chris Dickinson: ***
Here we have another match with two guys much earlier in their careers. One again, another solid match. Much like the others, it was relatively short (just over six minutes), but they packed a lot of action in that time frame. Gargano would end up getting the win over Dickinson with the Hurt’s Donut.
9.) Munenori Sawa vs. TJP: ***1/2
I find it a little weird that TJ Perkins is announced as just TJP. Here, he’s taking on Munenori Sawa in what ended up being a really good match. I honestly can’t remember a time when TJP wasn’t a good wrestler, and he meshed really well with Sawa. Lots of great action from both guys. In the end, Sawa would get TJP to tap out for the win. This was definitely one of the better matches on this show.
10.) Six-Man Tag – Akuma’s Army (Gran Akuma, Icarus & Brodie Lee) vs. Team Frightning (“Lightning” Mike Quackenbush, Hallowicked & Frightmare): ***1/2
Up next is a match that gives a CHIKARA flavor to this first Evolve show. Interestingly enough, while Gran Akuma & Icarus are partners in F.I.S.T. in CHIKARA, I don’t think Akuma’s Army was never a stable in CHIKARA. They’re taking on Team Frightning, who have teamed before in CHIKARA. This was a really fun six-man tag. Whenever you get these six guys in a match, you know it’s going to be good, and it delivered. Lots of entertaining action in this match, and eventually, Team Frightning would get the win.
After the match, Lenny Leonard interviews Mike Quackenbush, asking him about how his back is holding up (he had just come back from surgery). Quackenbush says he’s getting better, and says that the next time he’s in Evolve, he’ll be in a four-corner tag team match.
11.) Kota Ibushi vs. Davey Richards (with Kyle O’Reilly & Tony Kozina): ****1/4
Now it’s time for the much anticipated Main Event! I’ve heard a lot about this match, and I was really looking forward to watching it. After seeing it, I think it definitely lived up to the hype! This was just an awesome match, as you would expect. I said the same thing about TJP, but I can’t remember a time when Kota Ibushi wasn’t good. This was also right before the height of Davey Richards’ popularity (as he begun his chase for the ROH World Title). Incredible back & forth action from both guys. They went right at each other right from the opening bell and never let up. After an incredible flurry of offense, Richards finally puts away Ibushi with a Kimura for the win to close the show.
This was the first ever Evolve show, and I think the promotion is off to a good start. The undercard was relatively good, with matches that were short but solid. You had a few really good matches, such as Sawa vs. TJP and the Six-Man Tag. Then you had the Main Event, where Davey Richards defeat Kota Ibushi in an amazing match. Whenever you start a new promotion, you want to start things off on the right foot, and I think they certainly did that.