Brooklyn, New York 8/20/16
Before the first match of the night, Lenny Leonard was in the ring, and he welcomed Joey Styles (who had just gotten released from WWE) to Evolve. Styles was going to be on commentary for the Evolve Title Match later in the night between Timothy Thacher & Drew Gulak. He thanked Lenny Leonard & Evolve for the opportunity.
1.) "All Ego" Ethan Page vs. Kobe Durst: *1/4
Since WrestleMania Weekend in Dallas, Ethan Page has spending half of his time in Evolve wrestling squash matches against younger talents who are getting their first opportunity in Evolve. This match continued that trend, as Page defeated Kobe Durst in relatively quick fashion. Durst had one or two moments to shine, but Page mostly dominated on his way to victory. It was fine for what it was, but I wouldn’t have placed it as the opening match.
After the match, Page takes the mic and mentions how the next set of Evolve shows in September were going to Johnny Gargano’s last shows in Evolve. He reiterates that he wants Gargano to forgive him, and that he would do anything to get his forgiveness.
2.) Peter Kaasa vs. Tony Nese: ***1/4
So this was a battle between two guys who are very similar (powerful guys who can fly around the ring), and I was actually really excited for it going into this show. If I recall correctly, these two had a little mini-feud towards the end of 2015, when Kaasa made his first appearances in Evolve. While this particular match fell just below my expectations, it was still a pretty solid. There was some fun back & forth action throughout, but there were a few rough points that took it down a little bit for me. I also think that a minute or two could’ve been shaved off at the end, but despite those minor complaints, I might’ve liked this match a little bit more that most. There’s just something about two power guys flying around like they do that just excites me, so there. Tony Nese got the win in this (mostly) entertaining match.
It should be noted that, at some point during the second match, Cesaro, Daniel Bryan, & Tyler Breeze came into the venue to watch some of the matches on the show. That did impact the Peter Kaasa/Tony Nese match a little bit, as the crowd became distracted by the arrival of these WWE superstars.
3.) Matt Riddle vs. Tommy End: ****1/4
Tommy End was making his final appearance for Evolve before heading to NXT, but thankfully, he’s going up against Matt Riddle in what might have been the most anticipated match of the entire weekend, considering the background both have in MMA, Kickboxing, and other combat sports/martial arts variations. This was a fantastic match!! In my view it was one of the best matches (possibly the best match) on the entire show. They really incorporated both of their MMA backgrounds very well, and it resulted in a match that felt like a fight. End had the edge over Riddle (who was still feeling the effects of his match with Timothy Thatcher from the night before), but the “King of Bros” never quit, and fought back hard. There was a ton of great hard-hitting action in this one, and the fans were really into it. Ultimately, Riddle managed to get the submission victory over Tommy End. I thought Matt Riddle was a perfect choice for Tommy End’s final opponent in Evolve, and it resulted in an awesome match.
4.) WWE Cruiserweight Classic Spotlight Series - Cedric Alexander vs. Zack Sabre Jr.: ****1/4
This was the final match in the WWE Cruiserweight Classic Spotlight Series. Both men actually suffered losses the night before at Evolve 66, so one is looking to bounce back at the expense of the other. I thought this match was incredible!! It’s honestly a tossup between this match and Matt Riddle vs. Tommy End for Match Of The Night. What was so cool about this match is that it was just as great as the match that came before it, but it was completely different from a stylistic standpoint. Even though the match did get off the to a somewhat slow start, but one it got going, it was awesome! The action was incredible, and some of the spots and counters that they pulled of were very cool. Zack Sabre Jr. was great, as he always is, but Alexander was fantastic here. The last portion of his run in Ring of Honor was far from stellar, but once he showed up in Evolve, he really turned in up. Alexander put on some amazing performances in his short Evolve tenure, and he showed that he was ready to move on to WWE. The bottom line is that this match was awesome, and if you’ve haven’t seen it already, you’re missing out. Zack Sabre Jr. eventually gets the submission victory over Alexander to finish off the Cruiserweight Classic Spotlight Series.
After the match, we got an unusually heelish promo from Zack Sabre Jr., who talked down to the crowd in Brooklyn, and proclaimed that he was coming for the Evolve Title.
5.) Chris Hero vs. Cody Rhodes: ***1/2
5.) Chris Hero vs. Cody Rhodes: ***1/2
Cody Rhodes had a pretty big first weekend in Evolve. After earning a huge victory over Zack Sabre Jr. the night before, Rhodes was going up again quite possibly the greatest independent wrestler of all time in the form of Chris Hero. I thought the match was pretty good. It was right at the same level as his match with Zack Sabre Jr. at Evolve 66. If anyone was going to get the best out of Cody Rhodes, it was Chris Hero, and for the most part, they did a solid job. There was some good wrestling in the ring, and some brawling on this outside (which included Hero smacking his head when the two were brawling on a bar in the venue). The match also featured an appearance from a large Dusty Rhodes head, which Hero actually used on Cody. There was a distraction towards the end of the match, when Drew Galloway came out (I believe a cowbell was involved somehow). This led to the finish, where Hero hit Rhodes with a series of brutal elbows for the victory. Again, this was probably about as good as it was going to be. The distraction from Galloway took away from it a little bit, but as a whole, this was another solid outing for Cody Rhodes.
After the match, Chris Hero took the mic and said that you shouldn’t call out the Greatest of All Time on some silly list, unless they want a beating. Galloway then takes the mic, and calls Rhodes a fool. He thought they were brothers, but says that Rhodes was a fool if he thought he could be something without him. Drew Gulak then make the save, sending Galloway packing. He then called out Timothy Thatcher, and it looks like we’re getting that match next.
6.) Evolve Title - Timothy Thatcher vs. Drew Gulak: *
This whole issue between Catch Point and Timothy Thatcher started back at Evolve 52, but really, the issues between Timothy Thatcher and Drew Gulak date back all the way to the Style Battle Tournament that took place in 2014 during the first three shows of Evolve’s “reboot”. They’ve always been rivals, and now they’re finally facing each other for the Evolve Title. Unfortunately, this match absolutely sucked. This match showcased the grappling/technical style that Evolve is known for at its worst. It was WAAAAY too long, and it was incredibly boring. I’ve always thought that, out of all of the different combinations that Evolve has done involving the grappling/technical guys since their “reboot”, Timothy Thatcher vs. Drew Gulak was the worst. In this case, they were just too stubborn to change things around when the crowd wasn’t reacting, and were determined to do the kind of match they wanted to do, even though anyone could’ve told you that it wasn’t going to end well. Thatcher eventually retained in a very anticlimactic manner. This match was hot garbage, and was probably the worst match in the history of the Evolve Title. When people talk about hating “grapplef*ck”, this will be the match they always bring up. It was one of the worst matches of 2016.
After the match was over, Drew Gulak went to present the Evolve Title to Timothy Thatcher, but instead, Thatcher just attacked Gulak, and choked him out with a sleeper hold while showcasing an evil grin on his face. Tracy Williams came out to make the save, but was attacked by Ethan Carter III & DUSTIN. This brings out Drew Galloway, who calls Joey Styles to the ring. He basically asks Styles to be the “mouthpiece” for his group, but is soon interrupted by TJP & Fred Yehi. It looks like the start of the main event, but Tracy Williams was supposed to be in the match. He’s in no condition to complete, so initially, we have a handicap match on our hands….
7.) Evolve Tag Team Titles - No DQ Six-Man Tag - Drew Galloway, DUSTIN, & EC3 vs. "All Ego" Ethan Page & Catch Point (Fred Yehi & TJP with Stokely Hathaway): *
In a weird move, this match is for the Evolve Tag Team Titles. Essentially, if Catch Point win, then any two members of Catch Point will become the champions. This was a three-on-two handicap for a few minutes, but then Ethan Page showed up, and inserted himself into the match so he could help Catch Point. While the storyline involving Drew Galloway and Evolve’s relationship with WWE has been pretty exciting since it started, this was easily its lowest point. I thought this match sucked. It was a disjointed brawl that wasn’t interesting in any way. I’ve seen people describe this as an ECW-style main event, but without all of the elements that made those matches great. While I haven’t watched a ton of stuff from the original ECW, I totally understand what they’re getting at in this case. The crowd was already dead after Timothy Thatcher vs. Drew Gulak, and these guys failed to bring them back. Normally I’m someone who can get into the occasional wild, multi-man brawls, but this match did absolutely nothing for me. To make matters worse, the referee screwed up (what seemed to be) the finish after DUSTIN hit the Awful Waffle. After a second piledriver from DUSTIN, Galloway’s group of rabble-rousers got the win.
After the main event ended, Cody Rhodes came out and sent the heels scattering. This brought out Joey Styles, who made fun of Galloway & EC3 for being associated with TNA. He then announced that on September 11th at Evolve 69, Cody Rhodes would team up with Johnny Gargano to take on Drew Galloway & Chris Hero. After that announcement was made, Cody Rhodes took the mic. He talked about his wife (specially saying he was going have sex, presumably later that night), and noted that he was born a wrestler and a fan of wrestling. He closed by thanking the fans for coming.
As a whole, I found this to be a very hard show to rate. The show got off to a somewhat shaky start, with (yet another) Ethan Page squash match and a Peter Kaasa/Tony Nese match that was good, but featured a few noticeable rough patches. From there, the show really took off, with two fantastic matches in the form of Matt Riddle vs. Tommy End & Cedric Alexander vs. Zack Sabre Jr., and a pretty good match in the form of Chris Hero vs. Cody Rhodes. After that, however, things just went right off a cliff with the final two matches, which were absolute garbage. This was a show that featuring some incredible highs, along with some agonizing lows. I don’t want to totally trash the show, because of some of the matches I mentioned, but again, those last two matches were just so bad. It would’ve been a little different if those matches were swapped, with the bad stuff occurring in the middle of the show, and the great stuff occurring at the end. However, that’s not what happened. Those final two matches just left such a sour taste in the mouths of every fan that watched this show, and there’s no getting around that. The only thing I could really say is that this was easily the worst Evolve show since their “reboot” in 2014, which was the kickoff to the incredible run that they’re (arguably) still on to this day. Evolve has been so consistent and so awesome over the last two years, but this show is definitely an outlier. Check out the matches in the middle of the card, and avoid the final two matches at all costs.