Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Evolve 60 Review

Chris Hero battles Zack Sabre Jr. in the Main Event!

Evolve 60
Joppa, Maryland 5/6/16

It should be noted, before I go into the actual matches, that Evolve has undergone on a bit of an upgrade, in terms of presentation. The most noticeable thing is the ring canvas, which now has Evolve & WWN logos on it. As a whole, the entire setting (including the entrance way, lighting, and so on) looks much better.

1.) Lio Rush vs. Caleb Konley: ***3/4

So this match has some interesting notes behind it, as far as the participants are concerned. Lio Rush was listed as appearing, then removed, and then added again. Around this time (or a month or two prior, I can’t quite remember), Lio Rush signed a contract with ROH, which would basically prevent him from wrestling in Evolve. I’m guessing he was allowed to do this weekend for Evolve, maybe because he had been announced before he signed that contract with ROH? Again, that’s just me making a guess. Additionally, Caleb Konley had signed a deal with TNA around this time, so we’re getting a ROH vs. TNA match in Evolve, who has a relationship with WWE. Go figure.

Anyway, as far as the match is concerned, this was actually really, really good. It’s amazing to think that Lio Rush is such a solid wrestler this early into his career. He’s quickly becoming a favorite of mine. Caleb Konley, meanwhile, is someone that I’ve always enjoyed watching in the ring. The match was (admittedly) sloppy at certain points, and I think Lio Rush injured his shoulder after being hit with either a powerbomb on the ring apron or a buckle bomb, but still, this was pretty fun to watch. In the end, Lio Rush would pick up the win here. Again, this was an amazing opening match.

2.) The Bravado Brothers vs. The Devastation Corporation (Blaster McMassive & Flex Rumblecrunch): ***1/2

I believe this is the first time we’ve seen The Bravado Brothers since the Evolve Tag Team Title Tournament in January. Here, they’re taking on The Devastation Corporation, who are probably known mostly for their work in CHIKARA. Specifically, the iteration of that stable we’re getting here is Blaster McMassive & Flex Rumblecrunch. I really wasn’t expecting much from this match, but it exceeded my expectations. This was actually a very good tag team match. I don’t know what it was, but these two teams just worked well together. They had some cool exchanges, and in my eyes, it was honestly a lot of fun to watch. The Bravado Brothers scored the victory here, in a tag team match that was definitely better than I was initially anticipating.

3.) Matt Riddle vs. Anthony Nese: ***3/4

For Anthony Nese, this was a very interesting weekend for him, with the benefit of hindsight. He had just come off the dissolution of The Premiere Athlete Brand, but this was before he got himself into the WWE Cruiserweight Classic. Here, he’s taking on Matt Riddle, who has been incredible in Evolve during the first few months of this year. This was another match where I wasn’t sure how things would turn out, just because I was unsure of how the styles of these two would mix, but again, this match exceeded my expectations, and ended up being really good. Riddle is just awesome, and it feels like Nese has a new lease on life after leaving The Premiere Athlete Brand behind him. Both guys looked solid, and the action was entertaining to watch as well. Riddle eventually got the submission victory over Nese.

4.) Johnny Gargano vs. Marty Scurll: ****

Marty Scurll made his debut for Evolve and WWN during the WWNLive Experience during WrestleMania Weekend in Dallas. Here, he’s taking on Johnny Gargano who, on that same weekend of shows, lost the Evolve Tag Team Titles to Catch Point, and was attacked afterwards by his former tag team partner Drew Galloway. Now, unlike the previous matches on this card, I expected this match to be great going into it, and that was exactly what we got here. Both guys are awesome, so it should be no surprise that we got a great match here. It’s really cool to see Marty Scurll getting booked by a major promotion in the US. The match itself could have been a little shorter, but that’s only a minor complaint. After some great back & forth action, Gargano managed to get Scurll to tap out to the GargaNo Escape for the victory.

After the match, Gargano cut a promo where he announced that Evolve would be returning to Joppa, Maryland on August 19th. He then called out Drew Galloway, and the former Evolve Champion made his way out to ringside. Gargano then basically gave a response to the promo that Galloway cut during Evolve 59 in Dallas. He says that the relationship between Evolve & WWE isn’t a bad thing, and points to the large crowds that Evolve has been drawing recently. Gargano brought up how he was wrestling in front of less than a hundred people on some of the very early Evolve shows while Galloway was on WrestleMania. He said it’s about time people realize how awesome Evolve is, and adds that Galloway is upset because he was the “Chosen One” in WWE and blew it. Galloway then attacks Gargano, and puts the boots to him until Ethan Page runs out to make the save. This leads us right into the next match…

5.) Drew Galloway vs. "All Ego" Ethan Page: ***1/4

Back at Evolve 59, when Galloway was attacking Gargano, Ethan Page tried to save Gargano, but was taken out by Galloway. For the most part, I thought it was solid, though it was far from the best match on the card. There’s really not much else to say about it, honestly. It was by no means a bad match, and it had some fine stuff in it, but it just lacked any real energy. Galloway eventually got the win after a low blow behind the referee’s back, followed by the Future Shock DDT.

After the match, Galloway hit Page with another Future Shock DDT, and then proceeded to cut a promo that was basically a response to what Gargano had said earlier. Galloway talked about how he made himself, and that nobody helped him. He said Evolve used to be a bastion for independent wrestling, but criticized them (once again) for cozying up to WWE. Galloway notes that he did “grow up” in WWE, and doesn’t necessarily hate them specifically, but says that he does hates all of the hypocrites in Evolve, and the lack of balls than they had. He teases something big for Evolve 61 the next night, but is then interrupted by Johnny Gargano, who saves Ethan Page from a third Future Shock DDT. After Galloway had been chased off, Page reaches out to Gargano for help getting up, but Gargano just leaves him, forcing Page to head to the back on his own. Some very interesting stuff here. The promos from both Gargano, and then Galloway, were great, and they continued this storyline of Gargano still not accepting the (apparently) changed Ethan Page.

6.) Evolve Tag Team Titles - Drew Gulak & Tracy Williams vs. TJP & Fred Yehi (with Stokely Hathaway): ***3/4

This is a title match that’s also serving as a preview of the WWE Cruiserweight Classic Qualifying Matches that would take place the next night at Evolve 61, with the opponents teaming up (Gulak is facing Williams, while TJP is facing Fred Yehi). It’s basically a match involving all of the members of Catch Point, except Matt Riddle. I think it’s odd that Fred Yehi, at this point, was getting in these big matches, because if you look at his win-loss record (which does matter in Evolve, to an extent), he’s done nothing. He’s essentially a glorified jobber. I’m not at all doubting that he’s really good, because he is. I just think his booking has been very weird in the first six months of 2016.

Anyway, I thought this was a really good match. For me, it was right in the mix for the second best match on the show (there are a few matches in that bunch on this show). Gulak & Williams were so well together as a team, and they definitely meshed well with their opponents here. There were a few rough patches, and you knew that TJP & Fred Yehi had no chance of winning, but as a whole, this was a very solid tag team title match. Gulak made TJP tap out to retain the Evolve Tag Team Titles.

After the match, Gulak (who still has Timothy Thatcher’s Evolve Title following the events of Mercury Rising 2016) cut a promo about how poor of a champion Thatcher was. He says that Thatcher owes all of the members of Catch Point a title match, and mentions that one of them will get a shot at the title when they return to Joppa, Maryland on August 19th. Matt Riddle then comes out and essentially answers the challenge for that show, saying that Thatcher needs to face the real champion. Stokely Hathaway then seemed to make an attempt to recruit Matt Riddle, but nothing came of it (that I can recall).

7.) Chris Hero vs. Zack Sabre Jr.: ****3/4

The story of this feud is that Chris Hero has seemingly gotten the better of Zack Sabre Jr. at every turn, beating him on three separate occasions (Evolve 48 in a singles match, Evolve 53 in the first round of the Evolve Tag Team Title Tournament, and another singles match at Mercury Rising 2016). All of those matches have been awesome, to varying degrees, but as far as singles matches go, I thought this was their best match yet. This was absolutely fantastic!! The action was, of course, awesome, but the story was great as well. Zack Sabre Jr. did change his strategy from their previous outing, relying more on his submission game and pin combinations than trying to match Hero blow for blow, and while he was able to come very close, it just wasn’t enough. Once again, Chris Hero was just too much for Zack Sabre Jr., as he finally puts him away with a series of devastating moves. These two just work so well together. All of their matches this year have been so amazing, and as far as singles matches go, this was clearly their best. It probably won’t get much buzz for Match of the Year in 2016, but it was certainly one of Evolve’s best matches this year, and should at least be in the conversation.

After the match, Zack Sabre Jr. needed to be helped to the back. Hero then cut a promo saying that he came “this close” to beating the greatest of all time, but just came up short. While Hero says that does find Zack Sabre Jr. to be annoying, he does bring the best out of him. He then proclaims himself to be the undisputed #1 Contender as the show comes to a close.

Overall: 9.0/10

This was yet another fantastic show from Evolve. Chris Hero vs. Zack Sabre Jr. put on an incredible Main Event that was one of the best Evolve matches in 2016, and easily the best match in their series. Even though that match was undeniably awesome, the rest of the card was great as well. Johnny Gargano vs. Marty Scurll was the highlight of the undercard, but all of those other matches were good in their own ways. Not a single match (for me, at least) fell below ***1/4, and five out of the seven matches on this card were ***3/4 or higher. On top of all that, we got some great promos from Johnny Gargano & Drew Galloway that continued to develop their feud even further. Evolve has been doing great things in the past two years, and when they hit it out of the park, they do so in a big way, and this show was a perfect example of that. If you haven’t seen this show already, definitely check it out.

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