Deer Park, New York 8/16/15
1.) Anthony Nese (with SoCal Val) vs. “All Ego” Ethan Page (with Rich Swann): **3/4
We kick off the show with a rare heel vs. heel match, though since Nese is from Long Island, I guess he could be considered a face for this particular match. Page comes out with the Open The Freedom Gate Title that he stole from Johnny Gargano the previous night, and also is accompanied by Rich Swann, who turned on Gargano to help Page beat him. As far as this match goes, it was fine, but I wasn’t into it that match. The heel vs. heel dynamic really didn’t interest me. Nese would get the win here over Page, which I think was a mistake. You have Page have a huge moment over Gargano the night before at Evolve 47, and then he lost in the opener on this show? Didn’t really like that.
After the match, Page cuts a promo, pretending to be a sad Johnny Gargano, saying how he let everyone down. This brings out Gargano, but Swann blocks him before he can get to Page. Gargano didn’t want to fight his former best friend, but Swann punched him in the face, leading to the next match…
2.) Johnny Gargano vs. Rich Swann (with “All Ego” Ethan Page”): **1/2
So the story here was that Gargano was reluctant to fight Swann. Also, Gargano had to fight against Ethan Page on the outside. The action was fine, but the storyline stuff and the outside interference hurt the match, in my eyes. Probably the worst match (match quality wise) these two have had. In the end, Swann gets the win over Gargano. Interestingly enough, this would be Swann’s last match for Evolve before signing with NXT.
Afterwords, Page cuts a promo standing over Gargano declaring that Dragon Gate USA was dead.
3.) Caleb Konley (with SoCal Val) vs. Trent Barreta: ***1/4
Trent Barreta broke away from The Premiere Athlete Brand following the events of Evolve 46. At Evolve 47 the previous night, Anthony Nese & Caleb Konley defeated Trent Barreta & Rey Horus in tag team action, so on this show, Barreta looks to get back at The P.A.B. as he takes on Caleb Konley in singles action. This was a pretty solid match. The first half was fine (the crowd wasn’t into it that much), but they picked things up in the closing stretch and it ended being a good match. A distraction from SoCal Val allowed Konley to pick up the win over Barreta.
After the match, SoCal Val berated Barreta on the mic, but Barreta (also a native of Long Island), got a standing ovation on his way to the back.
4.) Drew Gulak & Tracy Williams vs. “Speedball” Mike Bailey & Rey Horus: **1/4
I think this match had the potential to be really good, but it ended up being the worst match of the weekend. The main issue was that this was just WAY too long. It went close to 20 Minutes, and it had no right to go that long (especially since one side is a duo that’s teaming for the first time). If this had been 10 Minutes, I would’ve had no issues with it, but the length made it incredibly boring. The last portion of the match was ok, but it was, on the whole, uninteresting.
5.) Chris Hero vs. Zack Sabre Jr.: ****1/4
When Evolve was in Florida the month before, and on one of those shows (I think Evolve 45), Chris Hero took offense to a fan who said that Zack Sabre Jr. was better than him. Now, these two clash here in Deer Park, and they had a great match! I’ve said this regarding Zack Sabre Jr., but he’s just so good and so entertaining to watch. You can’t take your eyes away from the screen when he’s in the right. I though he worked really well with Hero here as well. Hero showed off his technical skills, but also bullied Zack Sabre Jr. around with size (including a nasty looking piledriver). In the end, Hero was just too much for the Zack Sabre Jr., and put him away with a Rolling Elbow.
6.) Non-Title No Holds Barred Match – Evolve World Champion Timothy Thatcher vs. Biff Busick: ****
Here we have the culmination of the Biff Busick/Timothy Thatcher. Interestingly enough, Thatcher’s Evolve World Title is not on the line in this match. Of course, you would expect these two to deliver in a Main Event spot, and that’s exactly what they did. This wasn’t like your usual No Holds Barred Match, in the sense that there weren’t a lot of weapons (or foreign objects) used here. These two just beat the crap out of each other from start to finish, with Busick targeting Thatcher’s previously injured ear, while Thatcher went out Busick’s injured thumb. There was blood (I believe Thatcher was bleeding from the ear, but I don’t recall), and eventually, Busick tapped out, and Thatcher scored the win!
Busick quickly went to the back after the match (This would also be Busick’s last appearance before heading to NXT). Thatcher cut a promo after the match, calling out Davey Richards, who has been undefeated in Evolve in 2015. This brings out Drew Gulak & Tracy Williams, and Gulak reminds the Evolve World Champion that he’s never beaten him, and deserves a shot at the title. Then, Chris Hero comes out (with a bag of ice tied to his elbow, after Zack Sabre Jr. worked over it in their match), and knocks out all three of them with deadly Ice Pack Rolling Elbows (though it took two shots to take Thatcher down) to close the show.
I have to say that this was probably one of Evolve’s weakest shows in 2015. That’s not to say that there weren’t any good matches on this show, as Chris Hero vs. Zack Sabre Jr. & Timothy Thatcher vs. Biff Busick are well worth checking out. Many of the issues came with the undercard. Some of the stuff they did in the first two matches really didn’t appeal to me, and the Gulak/Williams vs. Mike Bailey/Rey Horus Tag Team Match went much longer that it should have. Despite those issues, the two Main Events, like are said earlier, are definitely bright spots.