Melrose, Massachusetts 7/17/16
1.) WWE Cruiserweight Classic Spotlight Series – Cedric Alexander vs. Tommaso Ciampa: ***3/4
This is the first of two matches on the card spotlights participants in the WWE Crusierweight Classic. By this point, the first episode had already aired on the WWE Network, and Alexander had already advances to the second round. These two were also in ROH together, and actually had some very good matches with each other. This was a continuation of that series of matches, as I thought this was a really good opener. There was a fair amount of comedy in the beginning, and while I can see some being a little turned off by it (since they did comedy for several minutes), I don’t think it hurt the match that much. Once they did get going, however, the action really picked up a good deal. These two are so good. They always deliver very good matches when they go up against each other. In the end, Cedric Alexander would pick up the win.
2.) “All Ego” Ethan Page vs. Travis “Flip” Gordon: N/R
Travis Gordon is making his Evolve debut here, but he didn’t last very long in this one. The match lasted only about two minutes or so, and while he did get a brief showcase, he was pretty much dominated by Ethan Page, who won the match after a Package Piledriver. I find it very interesting that Page has been doing a lot of these quick squashes against new talent. I mean, it is a nice way for Page to get wins without having someone who is important take a loss.
After the match, Ethan Page takes the mic and announced that Evolve would be returning to Melrose, Massachusetts in December. He says that he can’t wait for Johnny Gargano to destroy Drew Galloway in the Main Event, but then Galloway attacks him from behind, and takes the mic. He says that he’s the only sane one in the company, and that he’s looking to save Evolve. Galloway says that the winner of tonight’s Main Event will dictate the company’s future, and that he plans to rip out Evolve’s heart by beating Gargano.
3.) Matt Riddle vs. Marty Scurll: ***3/4
I’m pretty sure this is a first-time ever match. Riddle (who is still in possession of the Evolve Title, despite not being the Evolve Champion) scored a huge victory over Roderick Strong the night before, while Scurll just felt short of capturing the Evolve Title from Timothy Thatcher. I thought this was a really good match. Of course, there was some solid back & forth action between throughout, but it was also cool to see these two unique personalities clash. Even though the match went only ten or eleven minutes, there were plenty of cool moments, including Scurll doing his usual finger break spot….but to Riddle’s toes!! Ultimately, Riddle scored the victory after getting “The Villain” to submit to the Bromission.
4.) Six-Man Tag - Catch Point (Drew Gulak, Tracy Williams, & Fred Yehi) vs. Chris Dickinson, Jonathan Gresham, & Darby Allin: ***1/4
This match was billed as a “Catch Point Open Tryout”. Essentially, if the team of Dickinson, Gresham, & Allin win the match, then whoever scores the fall will get an invitation to be a member of Catch Point. While this was probably the weakest non-squash match on the show, it was still a pretty entertaining Six-Man Tag. The trio from Catch Point worked well together, while Dickinson, Gresham, & Allin each had a chance to shine at one point or another. The story was that Catch Point was able to control things for most of the match, but when the other team started to mount a comeback, we saw a little bit of dissention (mainly involving Dickinson) which led to Catch Point getting the win. The match went longer than it needed to (going around seventeen minutes or so), but other than that, the match was mostly good. It should be noted that their was a scary moment towards the end of the match. When Tracy Williams went for a dive to the outside, he either hit his head on the floor, or on the guardrail, pretty hard, and got busted open badly. Fortunately, Williams got up, and was able to walk to the back.
After the match, Gulak stayed in the ring, and cut a promo putting over their opponents for their efforts, adding that Catch Point was at its peak. He then called out Matt Riddle, demanding to know why he wasn’t there to help Catch Point the night before at Evolve 64. Riddle says that he’s still part of the team, but he’s focused on his upcoming title match with Timothy Thatcher at Evolve 66, but TJP interrupts, saying that he’s going to win the title tonight. Gulak says that it doesn’t matter which one of them dethrones Thatcher, because he would present the title to them. This brings out Timothy Thatcher, as well as Stokely Hathaway, who got some of his fingers broken by Thatcher the night before. Hathaway says that he really wants TJP to win the Evolve Title tonight, because when he does, they will run Thatcher out of the company. TJP then slaps Thatcher
5.) Evolve Title - Timothy Thatcher vs. TJP (with Stokely Hathaway): ***1/4
This match was very similar to Timothy Thatcher vs. Marty Scurll for the Evolve Title from Evolve 64, but as a whole, I thought this match was smoother. Part of that has to do with TJP who, of course, has a technical style that is incredibly smooth and slick. The length of the match also helped, as it only went about eleven or twelve minutes which, at this point, is right at the acceptable length for a Timothy Thatcher match in Evolve. For the most part, this was relatively good, but it continues the trend of Timothy Thatcher having a weak year in Evolve. While he had a strong comeback weekend in Florida the month prior, the two title matches he’s had on this set of shows have been fine, but uninspiring. They haven’t been his best title defenses in 2016, but they haven’t been his worst. Thatcher got the win after a quick crucifix pin on TJP. I like how Thatcher managed to win the match in a different way than were used to. It also protects TJP a little bit, as he didn’t truly get beaten.
After the match, Thatcher points to Drew Gulak, signaling that he’ll be coming for him very soon.
6.) WWE Cruiserweight Classic Spotlight Series – Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Tony Nese: ***3/4
Up next is the second match on this show that is highlighting competitors from the WWE Cruiserweight Classic. I’m pretty sure this is a first-time ever matchup, and it’s a really interesting one, as the technical wizard is going up against a guy who combines strength and speed. I thought this was a very good match. It was right on par with Cedric Alexander vs. Tommaso Ciampa from earlier in the night. What made this match so cool was that Nese presented a type of challenge that Zack Sabre Jr. really hasn’t encountered before in Evolve. Seeing this clash of styles was a lot of fun, and it made for a very entertaining match that featured some very fun action from start to finish. In the end, Zack Sabre Jr. would counter a missed 450 Splash attempt by Nese into a rollup to score the win.
7.) Evolve Tag Team Champion Drew Galloway vs. Johnny Gargano: ****
These two met in the Main Event of Evolve 61, but that match was thrown out when Ethan Carter III got involved. Fortunately, there wasn’t any interference here, and these two managed to have a great match! This was my Match of the Night. This match was packed with action right from the start, and featured a nice combination of brutal moments and storytelling. Both men beat the crap out of each other, and were determined to do everything in their power to put their opponent away. Both of these guys are so good. It was next to impossible for this match to not be good, and when the dust settled, we saw a great match. Eventually, after a series of brutal moves, Galloway was finally able to put away Gargano with a jumping tombstone piledriver for the win. The combination of great action and storytelling worked so well together in this match. I really enjoyed it.
After the match, Galloway celebrated his victory, and then decided to finish Gargano off for good right there. Ethan Page ran out to make the save, and managed to send Galloway packing. He then tried to check on Gargano, but he refused his help. Page said that this wasn’t the Gargano that he used to know, and says that he shouldn’t sent the fans in Melrose, Massachusetts home like this. Gargano takes the mic, and says that he doesn’t know how much longer he can keep up this fight. After apologizing to the fans for letting them down, a sad Johnny Gargano then made his exit. Ethan Page was then left alone in the ring, and he ended up doing Gargano’s usual “Did you enjoy the show?” segment to close the show.
This wasn’t the best show that we’ve seen from Evolve in 2016, but it was still relatively solid from top to bottom. Drew Galloway vs. Johnny Gargano was a great Main Event, and for me, was the standout match on the show. There were several other really good matches on this show, as the two WWE Cruiserweight Classic Spotlight Series matches, and the Matt Riddle vs. Marty Scurll match, all delivered. There were a few low points in the form of the Catch Point Six-Man Tag and Thatcher vs. TJP, but ultimately, both of those matches were still very solid, and were far from bad matches, despite their flaws. Again, this definitely wasn’t the best outing from Evolve in 2016, but the show still featured a number of very good to great matches, along with some really solid storyline advancement.