Saturday, March 31, 2018

WWNLive SuperShow: Mercury Rising 2017 Review

A WWN Champion is crowned!!

WWN Supershow: Mercury Rising 2017
Orlando, Florida 4/1/17

Drew Galloway interrupted Lenny Leonard’s usual introduction at the start of the show. He mentioned an inspirational quote he found (“all it takes is all that you got”, or something like that), and said that guys like Ricochet & Timothy Thatcher were great, but the company needed eyeballs on it. Galloway brought the eyes to this product. Galloway said that he built Evolve into what it is today, before declaring that he had an epiphany. He didn’t just need to save Evolve, but WWN as a whole. He wanted to build up WWN as a brand, and the only way he could do that is if he won the WWN Title. If anyone tried to take his spot from him, he’d do to you what he did to Matt Riddle at Evolve 80. This brings out Riddle, who started brawling with Galloway almost immediately. Galloway got the upper hand until the rest of Catch Point made the save.

Galloway took the mic again, and says that he didn’t care what the fans thought of him. He tried to make his exit, but Keith Lee stopped him. Galloway said that this has nothing to do with him, but Lee backed him up towards the ring. Once he got in the ring, Galloway then proclaimed that Keith Lee was a guy he could get behind as the future of WWN. He told Lee to trust him, and asked him to stand by his side. There’s a long pause from Keith Lee, but he decides to give the former Evolve Champion a thumbs down. Galloway attacked, but Lee quickly responded, and took out Galloway with all of his finishers. Lee stood triumphant as Galloway rolled to the floor. Lee then took the mic, and said that WWN is his company now, and that the world belongs to him. Evolve is his home, and he had to dethrone the supposed king (Galloway) to claim the throne. He then calls out his opponents for the Four-Way Freestyle, which was a late addition to the card.

Timothy Thatcher was originally scheduled to be in this match, but when it was time for him to come out, Stokely Hathaway came out instead. He announced that Thatcher’s Night of Appreciation had been cancelled, but then proclaimed that Thatcher is now in the Battle of the Champions WWN Title Match. Darby Allin came out next, and said that despite not being medically cleared, he was going to wrestle anyway. Allin then got attacked by Ethan Page & The Gatekeepers, and afterwards, allowed one of The Gatekeepers (Blaster McMassive) to enter the match.

Well it was certainly very odd to see this show start out with a really long segment. However, there’s a reason why all of this happened. Apparently, Drew Galloway got a call from WWE, who wanted him to appear at ringside during the NXT TakeOver: Orlando event. Unfortunately, that show started shortly after this whole segment, which meant that Galloway had to miss his scheduled match on this show (he was going to be in the Six-Way Elimination Match for the WWN Title) so he could get to the Amway Center (in the horrible Orlando traffic) in time to make his appearance. Galloway would come back for a few more appearances on the next set of shows, but this pretty much signaled that he was done with Evolve. The story is that Galloway got this call just hours before this show started, so that forced a number of things to be changed.

1.) Four-Way Freestyle - Keith Lee vs. Jason Kincaid vs. Austin Theory vs. Blaster McMassive: ***

Even though it came about as a result of some last minute changes, I actually really liked the lineup of guys in this match. They all have unique qualities, and I was intrigued to see how they would mesh together in this situation. This only went about six minutes or so, but it ended up being a pretty entertaining opener. It was primarily a showcase for Keith Lee, who ultimately won, but the other three had one or two moments to shine as well. Nothing outstanding, but perfectly fine. The only other thing of note was that Priscilla Kelly came out to observe the match for a bit. They were obviously building up to something with her, but we didn’t quite know (at the time) where it was going.

After the match, Keith Lee took the mic again, and reminded everyone that WWN was his company, and that Evolve was his home. He then turned his attention to Kyle O’Reilly, and said that when they do face off (O’Reilly was coming in for the next set of shows), he’ll make sure that he basks in his glory.

Up next, we were originally scheduled to get Su Yung challenging LuFisto for the SHINE Title, but she wasn’t in the building. LuFisto came out and took the mic. She cut a promo noting that while Su Yung made a big scene at the last SHINE show, she didn’t even bother to show up tonight, and called her scared. LuFisto said nobody in the world could beat her, and this comment brought out Toni Storm. Looks like we have a new title match!

2.) SHINE Title - LuFisto vs. Toni Storm: ***1/4

Even though I enjoy Su Yung (mainly this “undead bride” character she has going), Toni Storm is a much better wrestler, and thus, she made an excellent replacement. The match itself was pretty good, though it suffered a bit because it was happening on short notice. If these two had time to fully prepare, this could’ve been even better. Alas, what we got was still very sold, and LuFisto eventually retained after hitting Storm with a Burning Hammer.

Up next, Trevin Adams (from WWN) & Jim Smallman (from PROGRESS Wrestling) came out to hype up the EVOLVE vs. PROGRESS Series that was happening on this show. Smallman did a shorter version of his usual intro speech on PROGRESS shows before the series officially began. Adams & Smallman would do the introductions for the representatives from their respective promotions.

3.) EVOLVE vs. PROGRESS: Match #1 - “All Ego” Ethan Page (with Flex RumbleCrunch) vs. Jimmy Havoc: **3/4

Out of the four matches in this EVOLVE vs. PROGRESS Series, this was probably the weakest of the bunch on paper. When the dust settled, it pretty much met those expectations. The early portions of the match featured some decent brawling through the crowd, and once they got back to the ring, we saw some….decent wrestling. Towards the end of the bout, Blaster McMassive came back out after falling to Keith Lee in the Four-Way Freestyle, and joined Flex RumbleCrunch in distracting Jimmy Havoc. This allowed Page to hit the Spinning Dwayne for the win. This was a fine match, but relatively flat as a whole. Evolve leads the series 1-0.

After the match, Ethan Page reminded everyone that if he didn’t get what he wanted, he would bring more chaos to Evolve. He then decided that he and The Gatekeepers were going to prematurely end Evolve’s relationship with PROGRESS right now. They go to beat up Havoc some more, but Darby Allin ran out to make the save. He cleaned house, and Havoc ended up hitting the Acid Rainmaker on Page.

4.) EVOLVE vs. PROGRESS: Match #2 - Catch Point (Chris Dickinson & Jaka) vs. The South Pacific Power Trip (Travis Banks & TK Cooper with Dahlia Black): ****1/4

It’s fair to say that The South Pacific Power Trip made a massive impression on wrestling fans in the United States with an incredible match at PROGRESS: Orlando the day before against Sami Callihan & Shane Strickland. Now, they’re taking on one of Evolve’s top tag teams in the form of Catch Point. While this wasn’t quite as awesome as the aforementioned JML/SPPT bout from PROGRESS: Orlando, it was still pretty fantastic!! It went about fifteen minutes, and featured some incredible action from start to finish. All four competitors involved worked very hard, and their efforts resulted in this being the match of the night (on this card, at least). The South Pacific Power Trip came off like absolute superstars, while Chris Dickinson & Jaka had (arguably) one of their best outings as a team. Travis Banks & TK Cooper would ultimately emerge victorious in what was an incredible tag team encounter. PROGRESS Wrestling tied the series at 1-1.

5.) EVOLVE vs. PROGRESS: Match #3 - PROGRESS World Title - Pete Dunne vs. ACH: ****

This was a match that I was really looking forward to seeing. Where else are you going to see Pete Dunne take on ACH? Even though it didn’t quite reach the quality of the awesome tag team bout that came before it, this was still a great singles encounter. I know some were down on it, but honestly, I thoroughly enjoyed this one. A few minutes could’ve been shaved off, but as a whole, it still featured some really good action throughout. The last portion of the bout was particularly cool to watch, and definitely the best part of this title match. Even though the outcome was never really in question (Dunne wasn’t losing the PROGRESS World Title to ACH), they still managed to put together a very strong match. Again, I might be high person on this particular match, but I thought it was great. PROGRESS Wrestling takes a 2-1 lead in the series.

6.) EVOLVE vs. PROGRESS: Match #4 - EVOLVE Title - Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Mark Haskins: ****

Now this was the one match in the series that was a little….odd, mainly because Zack Sabre Jr. technically wrestles for both companies. Then again, he is the Evolve Champion, so if he had to pick between the two, he’d stand with Evolve. Much like Pete Dunne vs. ACH, the outcome of this particular bout (Zack Sabre Jr. retaining) was never really in question, but the match was still pretty great. It went just under twenty minutes, and there was some great wrestling from start to finish. This was another bout that most were down on, but again (much like the previous bout), I thought it was pretty awesome. There were some really slick submission exchanges, and some hard striking battles. Even though a few minutes could’ve been shaved off, and even though the selling could’ve been a tad better, I still enjoyed this. I’m probably the outlier, but that’s fine. Both guys are fantastic wrestlers, so it was no surprise to me that this ended up being great.

Thus, the EVOLVE vs. PROGRESS Wrestling Series ends in a 2-2 tie.

Afterwards, Zack Sabre Jr. took the mic. He talked about how he and Haskins are really good friends, and said that he’s proud to be a British Wrestler. Sabre then talked about how awesome it was to see Evolve & PROGRESS coming together for this big show, and closed by saying that wrestling is for everyone.

Before the main event, the actual WWN Title was officially revealed. It included side featuring all of the promotions under the WWN banner (Evolve, FIP, Style Battle, ACW).

7.) WWN Title - Battle Of Champions Elimination Match - EVOLVE Tag Team Champion Fred Yehi vs. Jon Davis vs. PROGRESS Matt Riddle vs. Parrow (with Drennen) vs. Timothy Thatcher (with Stokely Hathaway) vs. EVOLVE Tag Team Champion Tracy Williams: ***3/4

So this Six-Way Elimination Match had representatives from all four of the promotions I previously mentioned. While the representatives were pretty clear for EVOLVE (Matt Riddle, Timothy Thatcher, Tracy Williams) & ACW (Parrow), the representatives for FIP & Style Battle weren’t as clear (since Fred Yehi & Jon Davis had wrestled for both). With the changes to the main event that were mentioned at the start of this review, I was curious to see how this would turn out. Not surprisingly, the three members of Catch Point worked really well together to eliminate Parrow, Timothy Thatcher, & Jon Davis, in that order. Then, once it came down to the three Catch Point members, it was every man for himself. At this point, we got some more storyline stuff, particularly with Tracy Williams. He came off as very manipulative at points, and certainly showed signs of an eventual heel turn. This was further foretold when he rolled up Yehi from behind to eliminate him. Thus, it came down to Riddle vs. Williams, and as the match closed in on the thirty minute mark, Riddle locked Williams in the Bromission and forced him to submit to become the first-ever WWN Champion. This was a very long match, but generally, I thought it was a very good main event, though it definitely didn’t top the three bouts that came beforehand. I think everyone would agree that Matt Riddle was the right person to win, since he’d really become Mr. WWN over the previous year. There was very good action throughout, though the first half was dragged down a bit by the guys who you knew weren’t going to win. A few minutes could’ve been shaved off for sure, but again, this was very good as a complete package.

Afterwards, Matt Riddle took the mic and said that if you told him a year ago that he’d be the first WWN Champion, he wouldn’t have believed you. He said that he’s going to take the WWN Title and defend it every WWN promotion and all over the world, in order to make it a true World Title. Riddle proclaimed that he’ll defend it against Timothy Thatcher, his Catch Point brethren, and even Kyle O’Reilly. He thanked everyone as the show came to a close.

Overall: 8.25/10

I know a lot of people were down on this show at the time, with all of the changes that ended up happening, and the wackiness that resulted in the first-half, but as a whole, I genuinely thought that this was a really good show. It certainly wasn’t as great as Evolve 80 or Evolve 81, but it still ended up being a very solid event, despite everything that was working against it (which included going up against NXT & ROH). Once you got through those first few matches, the show really picked in the second half. Catch Point vs. The South Pacific Power Trip was easily the match of the night. From there, I think your enjoyment of this show is really going to depend on what you thought of those final three matches.

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