Thursday, December 31, 2015

Evolve 44 Review

Drew Galloway & Roderick Strong go to war for the final time!

Evolve 44
Ronkonkoma, New York 5/31/15

Now this has to be one of the most interesting venues that Evolve has used in its history. The show is essentially taking place in a local fire station.

The show kicks off with Johnny Gargano! He talks out how he & Rich Swann retired the Open The United Gate Titles the previous night at Evolve 43, and then talks about his opponent tonight, Ethan Page. Gargano says that he will send Ethan Page packing.

1.) Johnny Gargano vs. "All Ego" Ethan Page: ****

The stipulations here are that if Johnny Gargano wins, then Ethan Page must leave Evolve, but it Page wins, then Gargano must shake Page’s hand. I was actually surprised that this opened the show. Given the fact that this was their first encounter since Page turned on Gargano, I think it was pretty obvious that Page was winning here. Still, this was a great opening match! These two have had really good matches in other promotions (such as AIW), and they continued that trend here in Evolve. The end of the match came when Page kicked Gargano low, and then used a rope to choke him out (much like Gargano did on many occasions during his heel run) for the win. Page, being the cocky heel that he is, shook hands with the unconscious Gargano. A great match with a great ending to keep the feud going.

2.) Trevor Lee vs. Rich Swann: ***

Lee is coming off an incredible effort in a loss to Chris Hero the night before, while Swann retained, and retired, the Open The United Gate Titles. This was a good match, but I was expecting a bit more than we ended up getting here. There were also a number of botched, which definitely hurt the match a good deal. Trevor Lee would pick up the surprise win here over Swann, a veteran of Evolve.

3.) Rey Horus vs. Tracy Williams (with Drew Gulak): **1/4

This was an ok match, but it was very short. Horus would get the win with a flash pin, but got attacked by The Premiere Athlete Brand almost immediately afterword. TJ Perkins came out to make the save, and I guess we have a tag team match on our hands.

4.) The Premiere Athlete Brand (Anthony Nese & Caleb Konley with SoCal Val) vs. TJ Perkins & Rey Horus: **3/4

I thought this match was fine, but it wasn’t anything special. After there was some apparent friction the night before, The Premiere Athlete Brand were able to get their act together and put away Horus & Perkins for the win.

5.) Biff Busick vs. "Speedball" Mike Bailey: ****1/4

These two men are coming off losses at Evolve 43. However, these two men are no strangers to each other, as they have faced off in many other promotions. With that being said, it should come as no surprise that these two had an fantastic match! There was some great back & forth action throughout this match, and both men put forth incredible efforts. After an awesome closing stretch, Busick would score the victory over Mike Bailey. This is definitely a must-see match.

6.) Davey Richards vs. Drew Gulak: ****

I was actually really looking forward to this match coming into this show. This was a great match. Richards showed here that he has the technical skills to hang with the likes of Drew Gulak. There was some really solid action in this match, and both guys looked very good. Eventually, Richards would pick up the win over Gulak, continuing his win streak in Evolve in 2015.

7.) Evolve World Title - Drew Galloway vs. Roderick Strong: ***3/4

These two have had several brutal battles in the months prior, from their first encounter at Evolve 35, to their wild brawl at Evolve 37, to their Steel Cage Match at Evolve 38. Now they’re finally facing off with Evolve World Title on the line. I thought this was a really good Main Event. In terms of quality, I would say this is the 2nd best match of their series. It wasn’t quite as good as their original encounter, but it wasn’t that far off. This just further proves the great chemistry that these two have. In the end, it would take five Future Shock DDT’s for Galloway to finally put Strong away to retain his Evolve World Title.

After the match, Galloway cut a promo praising Strong as one of the best wrestlers in the world. The Premiere Athlete Brand would then interrupt him, with SoCal Val announcing that Trent Baretta would be returning to Evolve in July to face Galloway for the Evolve World Title. They then attacked Galloway, until Roderick Strong made the save! Even though he made the save, Strong said he didn’t fully respect Galloway yet.

Overall: 8.25/10

Evolve closes out the weekend with another really good show. You had three matches reaching **** or better, which included great storyline advancement with Ethan Page vs. Johnny Gargano, as well as a Biff Busick vs. “Speedball” Mike Bailey encounter that was particularly great and is definitely worth checking out. You also had another really good chapter in the Galloway/Strong rivalry. Unfortunately, this show suffered from a lackluster portion of the undercard, which dragged the show down a little bit. Despite those issues, the positives of this show definitely outweigh the negatives, and the end result was another really solid Evolve show in 2015.

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