Dallas, Texas 4/2/16
The show opened up with Lenny Leonard in the ring, who announced that this was the highest attended show in Evolve’s history, beating the record that had been set the night prior at Evolve 58. It’s really awesome to see Evolve draw these huge crowds for consecutive shows. Leonard also announces that the Evolve Tag Team Titles will once again be on the line in the opening match, since Johnny Gargano was booked for the NXT TV Tapings later that day at WWE WrestleMania Axxess.
1.) Evolve Tag Team Titles – Drew Galloway & Johnny Gargano vs. Catch Point (Drew Gulak & Tracy Williams): ****
Galloway & Gargano successfully retained their Evolve Tag Team Titles the night before against The Premiere Athlete Brand, while Drew Gulak & Tracy Williams are coming off a huge victory over Chris Hero & Tommy End. This match had a lot of similarities with the opening match from Evolve 58, bot good and bad. The bad similarity was that both matches suffered from streaming issues during the live iPPV broadcast. On the good side, however, when you watch this match back, you’ll see that, much like the opener from Evolve 58, this was a really good match. In fact, I would venture to say that this was great. I’ve said this before, but Gargano & Galloway really got better & better as a team with each outing. Catch Point looked very good here as well. Solid back & forth action between both teams. Towards the end of the match, Gargano went for a dive to the outside onto one of the members of Catch Point, but he ended up accidently hitting Galloway. This would lead to Catch Point getting the advantage, and Tracy Williams eventually got Gargano to tap out, giving Catch Point the Evolve Tag Team Titles!! I’d say this was a bit of an upset, but as we would see after the match, the result made sense, as it would be the start of a storyline that’s still going on as a I type this review.
After the match, Galloway congratulated Catch Point on their victory, but told them to leave (which they did), as he had something to say. He talked about his history in Evolve, which included positive things, like winning the Evolve Title and putting Evolve on the map, but also negative events that had occurred the year prior, such as losing the Evolve Title to Timothy Thatcher at Evolve 45, and being suspended following his actions at Evolve 46. He then brought up how WWE & NXT got involved with Evolve during his suspension, and said that he didn’t want them to destroy all of his hard work. Then, out of nowhere, he kicked Johnny Gargano low, and said that, essentially, everyone in Evolve working with WWE & NXT was like a kick in the nuts to him. Galloway locked Gargano in his own submission hold, the GargaNo Escape, until Ethan Page ran out, in an attempt to help Gargano. However, his attempt was futile, as Galloway hit him with a low blow and a Future Shock DDT. Galloway then said that he was independent wrestling, and added that not only was he “best for business”, but that he was this business, before leaving.
This was one of the biggest developments to come out of this huge weekend of shows for Evolve. Galloway was now firmly a heel, and seemed to be on an “Anti-WWE/NXT” crusade. What made this storyline so interesting was that, at the time these shows took place, Galloway was the TNA World Heavyweight Champion, and I think that just shows what an interesting place Evolve really is. It also continued Ethan Page’s redemption storyline, as he came out in an attempt to save Gargano. Also, in an interesting little noe with that storyline, after the two men recovered from Galloway’s attack, Gargano left without Page.
2.) Chris Hero vs. Fred Yehi: ****
Yehi had a solid outing the night before against Marty Scurll, but here, he’s facing his toughest challenge to date in the form of Chris Hero. I was expecting this match to be good, but it completely exceeded my expectations. The wrestling was very solid, as you would expect, but they told a really good story, with Chris Hero playing the bully, and Yehi fighting back as the underdog. They played their roles well, and that just added so much to the in-ring action. Despite Yehi’s best efforts, Hero would, in the end, score the victory.
3.) Anthony Nese (with SoCal Val & Andrea) vs. Sami Callihan: ***3/4
So even though The Premiere Athlete Brand is no more, Nese still has SoCal Val & Andrea coming out with him for this match. His opponent, Sami Callihan, is getting a shot at the Evolve Title later that day at the WWN SuperShow: Mercury Rising 2016. I actually really enjoyed this match. It was a total sprint, going only about five or so minutes. As I mentioned briefly in my review of Evolve 59, I think that Callihan thrives in matches that are relatively short and have a very quick pace. These two just went at each other right from the opening bell, and didn’t let up. Again, Callihan’s loogies are just gross, but other than that, this was honestly a ton of fun. Callihan would pick up the win here, continuing to build momentum towards his match with Timothy Thatcher for the Evolve Title.
After the match, SoCal Val took the mic and scolded Anthony Nese a little bit for losing. She says that even though The Premiere Athlete Brand is no more, both Anthony Nese & Caleb Konley are still under contract to her, but now as part of “Valifornia” (I guess Nese & Konley just can’t team together anymore). SoCal Val says that she intends to get Nese into the WWE Global Cruiserweight Series/Cruiserweight Classic, but then Nese takes the mic. He tells her to shut up, and says that he’ll take care of things later that night (referencing his Anything Goes Match against Ethan Page at Mercury Rising 2016)
4.) “All Ego” Ethan Page vs. Darby Allin: N/R
Darby Allin was selected from a WWNLive Seminar that took place before the shows took place. This was really a nothing match, to be honest. Allin might have gotten one or two moves in, but this was just a quick squash for Page, who won with the Package Piledriver.
After the match, Page cut a promo where he basically said that he was going to channel all of his recent frustrations (being called “fat” by Anthony Nese & SoCal Val, getting kicked in the nuts by Drew Galloway, and still being shunned by Johnny Gargano, despite his efforts to help him) into his Anything Goes Match with Anthony Nese later that night at Mercury Rising. He promised to kick Nese’s ass, and then challenged Galloway to a match at the next Evolve show in Joppa, Maryland.
5.) TJP (with Stokely Hathaway) vs. Tommy End: ***1/2
This is the first match in the “USA vs. Europe Series”, which is filling out the rest of this card. It basically consists of four singles matches featured American talents against European talents. As we saw at Evolve 58, TJ Perkins joined up with Stokely Hathaway to form The Dream Team, and is now being referred to as TJP. He’s representing the USA against Tommy End here, and what’s interesting about this particular match is that it’s serving as a mini-preview for the huge Days of Future Past Six-Man Tag Team Match at Mercury Rising 2016. I thought the match was pretty good as a whole, but honestly, I was expecting a little bit more from this one. There was some solid action in here for sure, and both guys looked good, but it just didn’t seem like they got to that next level that would have made the match even better. That being said, I still thought it was, for the most part, an enjoyable match, going about twelve minutes or so. Tommy End would take the win here to give Europe a 1-0 lead. There were a few other minor quarrels I had with this match. Firstly, we had another match on this weekend of shows that saw someone get the win out of nowhere with one move. It made the ending seem a bit flat. Secondly, I’m not sure if it was the best idea TJP to lose here, since not only was this his first match with Stokely Hathaway as his manager, but he also had been on a win streak coming into this match. Other than those minor issues, I liked this match.
After the match, Tommy End got on the mic and called out Kota Ibushi, who will be one of TJP’s teammates in that aforementioned Six-Man Tag at Mercury Rising 2016.
6.) Best In The World Challenge Series – Match #4 – Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Matt Riddle: ****
Not only is this this second match in the “USA vs. Europe Series”, but it is also the fourth match in Zack Sabre Jr.’s Best In The World Challenge Series. Here, he’s taking on Matt Riddle, who has still yet to lose a match that didn’t end in controversial fashion. I thought this was a great match! I would put it slightly above the opener for the best match on the show, up to this point. I was really looking forward to seeing how Riddle would mesh with Zack Sabre Jr. from a stylistic standpoint. They certainly didn’t disappoint here. The action was pretty awesome from start to finish, but what I really liked about this match is that it flew by. It only went about ten minutes or so, but I enjoyed every second of it. Of course, the big shocker was that Riddle beat Zack Sabre Jr. clean, making him tap out to the Bro-mission, which caused the crowd inside Eddie Deen’s Ranch to erupt!! Beating a guy like Zack Sabre Jr. in such a manner is obviously a big moment in Riddle’s career in Evolve, up to this point. It’s honestly a tossup between this win and his win over Chris Hero at Evolve 57, in terms of which one was bigger. Anyway, Riddle’s victory ties the “USA vs. Europe Series” at 1-1, while also giving Zack Sabre Jr. his first loss in the Best In The World Challenge Series. The two shook hands after the match.
7.) Non-Title Match – Evolve Champion Timothy Thatcher vs. Marty Scurll: ***1/4
It had been mentioned by commentary on Evolve 58 (towards the end of the show) that Timothy Thatcher had refused medical attention after what happened at the end of his Evolve Title defense against Matt Riddle. He’s coming into this match against Marty Scurll, the third in the “USA vs. Europe Series”, favoring one of his arms/elbows. He was clearly wounded, but he still went though with the match anyway. Ultimately, that injured arm would cost him the match in the end, as Marty Scurll got the submission victory over Thatcher to give Europe a 2-1 lead in the “USA vs. Europe Series”. I thought the match was relatively fine. In all honesty, it was probably Thatcher’s best outing in Evolve in 2016, up to this point (and that wouldn’t change after Mercury Rising 2016, but more on that in my review of that show). I thought Marty Scurll looked very solid here, and this win pretty much sets him up for a future shot at the Evolve Title down the road.
After the match was over, Sami Callihan’s music started playing, and he started to cut a promo over the building’s PA system. He said that he’s in Thatcher’s head, and that hearing his music made him worried about getting kicked in the face. Callihan says that he was going to make Thatcher tap out, and that he would leave Mercury Rising 2016 as Evolve Champion.
8.) Ricochet vs. Will Ospreay: ****3/4
The fourth and final match in the “USA vs. Europe Series” is a dream match between two of the best high-flyers in wrestling. I was super-excited for this match. It was easily one of the most anticipated matches of the weekend, in my opinion. When it was all said and done, I thought the match delivered in SPADES. This was absolutely fantastic!!! I loved this match from start to finish. The action was incredible, and these two showed just how great they really are. Both are so smooth, and can pull off some of the most insane stuff you’ll ever see in a wrestling ring. They just make it look so effortless and so easy. I’m sure that some people won’t like this match as much as I did, but honestly, I thought it was one of the best matches in all of 2016, without question. Eventually, Ricochet would pick up the victory, meaning that the “USA vs. Europe Series” finishes in a 2-2 tie.
After the match, the rest of Team Europe (Zack Sabre Jr., Marty Scurll, and Tommy End) came out. Zack Sabre Jr. noted that a series like this couldn’t end in a 2-2 tie, and demanded a tiebreaker right now, calling out any American to come out and face him. TJP and Matt Riddle came out first, but then Chris Hero came out, and got in the face of Zack Sabre Jr. Things got heated, and then Hero took out Zack Sabre Jr. with an elbow. Hero takes the mic, and suggests that his match with Zack Sabre Jr. at Mercury Rising could be the tiebreaker. Ricochet & Will Ospreay get back in the ring, which leads to Ospreay taking out Hero, and End taking out Ricochet. Ospreay & End, who were teammates in the Six-Man Tag Team Match that would be the Main Event of Mercury Rising 2016, had a brief stare down before they were interrupted by Kota Ibushi, who ended up attacking Tommy End. Things finally settled down, as Ibushi shook hands with Ricochet. He tried to shake hands will Ospreay as well, but he just left. The show finally closed with Ricochet cutting a promo about how happy he was to be back in Evolve, and thanked all of the fans. That was a pretty hectic last segment, but it did set up a lot of things nicely for the show later that day.
As a whole, I thought this was a fantastic show from Evolve. It was easily one of their best outings in 2016. So many things helped make this show special. It had the biggest crowd in Evolve’s history, shattering the record that had been set the night before at Evolve 58. There was a ton of fantastic wrestling up and down this card. If we take the Ethan Page squash match out of the equation, the worst match on this card was still relatively good. For me, three matches cracked the **** mark, with the Main Event being one of the best matches in all of 2016, and another star-making performance from Will Ospreay. What I also really liked about this show was that we got a lot of interesting angles. Some of them were short term angles that were building matches for Mercury Rising 2016, such as the closing segment, and then you had Drew Galloway’s heel turn early on in the show, which would end up being a long term angle that would be part of Evolve for the rest of 2016. A lot of things came together on this show that really made it seem special. Definitely check this show out, if you haven’t already. Another awesome outing from Evolve.