Woodside, New York 8/15/15
1.) Biff Busick vs. Tracy Williams (with Drew Gulak): ***3/4
Busick missed the last set of Evolve shows in Florida due to injury. He returns here in the opening match against Tracy Williams, the protégé of Drew Gulak. The two of them have now started calling themselves “Catch Point”, with the idea that they focus on going for the win in matches, and not listening to critics. As far as this match goes, it was actually really, really good. It was just shy of being great. This was probably the best match I’ve seen Williams in, and while he is a very good wrestler, Biff Busick had a big role in this match being really good as well. Some cool stuff between these two guys. In the end, Williams scored a HUGE upset win when he forced Busick to tap out to a crossface!
Afterwords, Williams offers Busick a handshake, but Busick turns it down and leaves. Drew Gulak then takes the mic to congratulate his protégé, but is then interrupted by Rich Swann, setting up the next match…
2.) Drew Gulak (with Tracy Williams) vs. Rich Swann: ***
Williams stayed at ringside to cheer on his mentor for this match. It was a solid match, but nowhere near the quality of the opener. That being said, I thought it was still enjoyable to watch. Gulak can be hit or miss for some, but I think he worked well here with Swann. The match ended in a cool spot where Gulak countered Swann’s Standing 450 Splash by booting him the face! I really liked the sudden finish to this match. It did a good job putting over the whole Catch Point gimmick.
After the match, Gulak took the mic once again, but this time he called out Johnny Gargano. This brings out the man known as “Johnny Wrestling”, who says that their will be a time for him to fight Catch Point, but tonight, he’s here to fight Ethan Page.
As Gulak & Williams were leaving, Timothy Thatcher made his way out. Gulak had some words with Thatcher before the Evolve World Champion & Open The Freedom Gate Champion got in the ring. Thatcher says that he recalled Gargano’s request from a few shows ago for Drew Galloway to retire the Open The Freedom Gate Title. He mentioned that he never wrestled in Dragon Gate USA (and also noted that CIMA would probably think he was a terrible wrestler), and said that Gargano should be the last one to wear the title. Thatcher says he’s retiring the Open The Freedom Gate Title, and is giving it back to the man who made that title, Johnny Gargano. Rich Swann then helps put the title around his friend’s waist as they go to the back. With this move, the Dragon Gate USA brand is officially done.
3.) Chris Hero vs. “Speedball” Mike Bailey: ****1/4
Mike Bailey had some impressive showing during his Evolve debut the last time the promotion was in the New York area, including an incredible match against Biff Busick. I thought this match was awesome!! Once again, Chris Hero continues to have a very good year in Evolve, seemingly putting out great matches every time. I think he worked really well with Mike Bailey here, who also looked great in this match. The story of the much bigger Hero against the much smaller Bailey was very good, and the crowd was into it, especially in the final minutes of the match. Just awesome stuff from these two guys. Hero would eventually score the win with a Rip Chord Elbow, and I believe the two also shook hands after the match.
Up next, we were supposed to get a singles match between Trent Barreta & Rey Horus (which could have been really good), but they are interrupted by The Premiere Athlete Brand. SoCal Val reminds everyone that she fired Trent Baretta from The Premiere Athlete Brand since the events of Evolve 46. Baretta responds by saying that he quit, and challenges Anthony Nese & Caleb Konley to a tag team match right now! SoCal Val initially refuses, but after being taunted by Baretta, they agree to it, and we have a match!
4.) The Premiere Athlete Brand (Anthony Nese & Caleb Konley with SoCal Val) vs. Trent Barreta & Rey Horus: ***1/4
This was a pretty solid tag team match. I think that The Premiere Athlete Brand is started to get a little less annoying than they have been previously, which is a good sign. The match have some solid action, and the last portion of it was very good. In the end, Nese & Konley would pick up the win after Nese hit a 450 Splash on Rey Horus.
5.) Anything Goes Match – Johnny Gargano vs. “All Ego” Ethan Page: ***3/4
The last time we saw these two was at Evolve 44, when Page used Gargano’s old heel tricks against him to get the victory. Now they’re facing off in an Anything Goes Match, and they’re both actually dressed in street clothes! Very fitting. I really enjoyed this. Even thought Evolve has been shifting the focus more & more to the grappling style, I think it’s important to have these kinds of matches on the card every so often to give the show some variety. These two definitely had a really enjoyable Anything Goes Match. They brawled all over the building, from the bar, to the stage, and everywhere in between. Gargano was a great face here, and Ethan Page continues to be awesome as heel. They eventually get back to the ring, and just when it looks like Gargano is going to win, Rich Swann comes out and attacks Gargano!! He then helped Ethan Page get his second win in a row over Gargano. I thought the turn worked very well, and fits perfectly with the story that this feud has been trying to tell, with Page making Gargano’s life a living hell. What better way to do that then to turn your best friend against you?
After the match, Swann takes the mic and explains why he turned on Gargano. He says that Gargano’s actions during the second half of his first Open The Freedom Gate Title reign (when he turned heel), proved that he was only out for himself. Swann didn’t want to be in Gargano’s shadow any longer, and finally, a call from Ethan Page finally convinced him. To throw salt on the wounds of his former best friend, Swann takes the Open The Freedom Gate Title belt and straps it around the waist of Ethan Page.
6.) Evolve World Title – Timothy Thatcher vs. Zack Sabre Jr.: ****1/2
These two had an incredible match nearly a year prior at Evolve 34, which Zack Sabre Jr. won. Thatcher is not only looking to retain his title, but also wants to avenge that loss. I though this match was awesome! Their styles meshed really well with each other, and it made for a great match. Zack Sabre Jr. continues to be awesome in pretty much everything he’s done in the U.S. in the last year or so, while Thatcher had another quality title defense. Some great back & forth action throughout this one. Both men are known for going after the arms of their opponents, but on this occasion, Thatcher went after one of Zack Sabre Jr.’s legs, and that ended up paying off, as Sabre Jr. eventually tapped out. Thatcher retains the Evolve World Title
Evolve has put on some really good shows in 2015, and this show definitely continued that trend. A very enjoyable show from start to finish. The two best matches of the night were definitely the Timothy Thatcher/Zack Sabre Jr. Evolve World Title Match and the Chris Hero/Mike Bailey match. We also had another good chapter in the Johnny Gargano/Ethan Page rivalry, which included Rich Swann turning heel, as well as a Biff Busick/Tracy Williams opening match that was certainly better than expected. Once again, a very entertaining show.