Ybor City, Florida 6/10/16
The show kicks off with Lenny Leonard & Rob Naylor in the ring running down the card. I always enjoy this little blurbs at the start of Evolve events. It helps to get you hyped up for the show.
1.) Fred Yehi vs. Anthony Nese: ***1/2
The last time we saw Yehi, he came up just short in a WWE Cruiserweight Classic Qualifier against TJP. Now, he’s taking on Anthony Nese, who really hasn’t had the best of luck, as of late. I thought this was a really good opening match. It’s easy to forget, after he spent years as part of The Premiere Athlete Brand, that Anthony Nese is an incredibly talented performer, and this match was a good showcase for him. Yehi also looked very solid here as well. It was a nice clash of styles as well, with the more technical style of Yehi going against Nese, who is much more of a high-flyer/power guy. This was a really entertaining match, and it culminated with a cool finish, as Yehi avoided a 450 Splash and locked in the Koji Clutch for the victory! For Yehi, this was his first major victory in Evolve. After being in the promotion for months, it was nice to see Yehi FINALLY getting some wins, especially since he’s now part of Catch Point.
After the match, Anthony Nese asked for the mic, and talked about he wanted The Premiere Athlete Brand to be a group of the best athletes in the world, but they turned into a bunch of assholes. He says that he wants to revitalize his career, and the best way to do that was to be part of the WWE Cruiserweight Classic. Nese would ask to be included in the Cruiserweight Classic Flashpoint Match the next night at Evolve 63, and he was, on the condition that he had to win the match to qualify for the WWE Cruiserweight Classic.
2.) “All Ego” Ethan Page vs. Darby Allin: ***
Darby Allin made his debut back at Evolve 59 in Dallas, Texas during WrestleMania Weekend, and he got absolutely destroyed by Ethan Page. Now, Allin is getting another shot against “All Ego”. This was a much more competitive match than their original encounter, and for the most part, it was pretty enjoyable. Their was a point in the match where Page just tossed Allin to the floor, and he had a really hard landing (I think he might have hit one of the pillars next to the ring on the way down, but I can’t definitely remember), but Allin somehow managed to keep fighting. Ultimately, Ethan Page got the victory with a package piledriver, but again, it was fun for what it was, and it was cool that we got to see more from Darby Allin.
After the match, Ethan Page shakes hands with Darby Allin, and the fans cheered him on as he left the ring.
3.) Cedric Alexander vs. Matt Riddle: ****
This is the Evolve debut for Cedric Alexander, who had recently left ROH to participate in the WWE Cruiserweight Classic (I’m not sure if it had been confirmed yet by this time, but it was pretty much a lock, if I recall). He had a big task ahead of him coming into this match, as he was taking on Matt Riddle. I thought this was a great match!! Both guys are awesome, but I honestly didn’t expect this to be as good as it ended up being. There was some very solid back & forth action throughout, and as a whole, it was just so much fun to watch. Riddle was great, as he always is, and Alexander looked good in his debut. When you get a match between two talents like this, how could you not enjoy it? In the end, Riddle got the win with his “Bromission” submission hold.
After the match, the two men shook hands, and the fans chanted “Thank You, Cedric!”. It was really cool that we got to see Cedric Alexander a couple of times in Evolve before he ultimately signed with WWE.
4.) Evolve Tag Team Titles – Catch Point (Drew Gulak & Tracy Williams with TJP & Fred Yehi) vs. The Bravado Brothers: ***
The Bravado Brothers returned during the Evolve Tag Team Title Tournament earlier in the year, and in the time since, have turned heel. Now they’re getting a match against Catch Point for the Evolve Tag Team Titles. While the match wasn’t necessarily bad, the big issue with it was its length. This match went just over twenty-seven (27) minutes. Why? WHY?! This had no right to go as long as it did. The first two-thirds of the match were incredibly boring, to the point where I was dozing off at times when I first watched it. The match just felt like it went on and on and on. Part of me thinks that these two teams just aren’t a good pairing, but then again, the last third of the match really saved it from being a total disaster. If this match was just those last ten minutes, I probably would have rated it higher, but as I’ve said already, the sheer length really hurt this match. Eventually, Catch Point scored the victory to retain their Evolve Tag Team Titles.
After the match, Drew Gulak takes the mic and starts talking about Catch Point. He mentions how the Evolve Title is sitting with their stuff in the back, and says that if Timothy Thatcher was a real champion, he wouldn’t have allowed this to happen. He demands that Thatcher give every member of Catch Point a shot at the Evolve Title. Thatcher then comes out, and says that they’d all get their title shots, but right now, he had a match with Chris Hero coming up, and tells Catch Point to leave his ring. Hero then comes out, and takes the mic, saying that it was time to put the “kids” (Catch Point) to bed, while the men handled business. Gulak then said that, in the spirit of competition, they would allow the match to occur.
5.) Evolve World Title – Timothy Thatcher vs. Chris Hero: ****1/4
These two had a couple of encounters in 2015, which were both won by Thatcher. I thought this was an awesome match! For me, it just beats out the Alexander/Riddle match from earlier, with regards to Match of the Night. When comparing this match to previous Hero/Thatcher matches, I would say this was better than their match from Evolve 46 (which was their second encounter), but it wasn’t quite as good as their match from Mercury Rising 2015 (which was their first match). I don’t know what it is, but Chris Hero really seems to bring out the best in Timothy Thatcher. This was a physical, hard-hitting battle from start to finish, and it was great to watch. Thatcher was someone who really needed this match to be great, because up to this point, his 2016 in Evolve had been less than stellar, to say the least. I think it’s fair to say that, up to this point, this was Thatcher’s best match of 2016 in Evolve, and it should be no surprise that it came against Chris Hero. In the end, Thatcher was able to get the submission win over Hero to retain his Evolve Title.
After the match, Catch Point comes out to confront Thatcher. Tracy Williams takes the mic and says that Catch Point aren’t thieves, noting that he likes to be face to face when he takes something from you (namely, a championship). Williams demands a shot at the Evolve Title the next night at Evolve 63, and Thatcher accepts, adding that he would hurt anyone who touched or disrespected his Evolve Title. This included Stokely Hathaway, who quickly dropped the title as soon as he heard this. Matt Riddle then takes the mic, saying that he beat Thatcher twice, and calls him “trash”. The two then faced off with Riddle holding the Evolve Title. I thought this was a nice continuation of the Catch Point/Timothy Thatcher story.
6.) Unsanctioned Street Fight – Drew Galloway & Ethan Carter III vs. Johnny Gargano & TJP (with Stokely Hathaway): ***1/2
This match came about after Ethan Carter III from TNA showed up at the end of Evolve 61, attacking Johnny Gargano, and aligning himself with Drew Galloway in this crusade against Evolve’s relationship with WWE. From start to finish, this was just a wild, out-of-control brawl, and honestly, it was a ton of fun! They brawled in the ring, around the bar, an even in the streets of Ybor City, Florida. This really felt like an unsanctioned match (EC3 even took out the referee as soon as the match began), and again, it was incredibly entertaining, even though it wasn’t necessarily the best match on the show. My descriptions can’t do this match justice. You should definitely check it out, if you haven’t already. Towards the end, TJP got put through a table, and when Drew Gulak came out to check on him, Chris Hero shows up and attacks him! He then got in the ring and attacked Gargano & TJP! This eventually led to Ethan Carter III & Drew Galloway getting the win in this super fun street fight.
After the match, EC3 takes out another referee, while Galloway takes the mic. He says that they’re right, and that Evolve is wrong. They wanted to show that they didn’t need the backing of “the machine”, and proclaimed that Chris Hero was now with them, making them unstoppable. Galloway said that their numbers were growing, and hinted that Cody Rhodes would be joining them, specifically mentioning a match between Johnny Gargano & Cody Rhodes at the Evolve 66 on August 19th. He then passed the mic off to EC3. Ethan Page tried to intervene, but he was quickly taken out. EC3 said that he was going to drop the most controversial statement in the history of wrestling, and starts plugging TNA Slammiversary with Lenny Leonard screaming for the iPPV feed (and for EC3’s mic) to be cut as the show quickly concluded.
For the most part, I thought this was a very good show from Evolve. Timothy Thatcher vs. Chris Hero for the Evolve Title and Cedric Alexander vs. Matt Riddle were easily the best matches on the show, with the former being slightly better than the latter. You then had a really fun opening match, and a extremely fun Main Event that continued the “Pro-WWE vs. Anti-WWE” story. Ethan Page vs. Darby Allin was also entertaining for what it was. The only true disappointment was Catch Point vs. The Bravado Brothers for the Evolve Tag Team Titles, which went waaaaay too long. As a whole, while this wasn’t the best Evolve show of 2016, it was still very entertaining to watch from beginning to end.