Evolve 58 and Mercury Rising 2016 Reviews Apr 6, 2016 9:16:33 GMT -5
Post by The Kevstaaa on Apr 6, 2016 9:16:33 GMT -5
April 1st, 2016 | Dallas, Texas
They got right into things as Lenny Leonard and Rob Naylor introduced the show. They brought out the first and only Evolve Tag Team Champions, Drew Galloway and Johnny Gargano. Gargano’s shirt said his name though it was stylized to look like it does on NXT. According to Galloway, they set an attendance record here and he thanked the fans for putting him and Evolve on the map. They call this “wrestling week”, not “Mania week”. Gargano brings out a special corner man for them and it’s Kota Ibushi, who was on the first ever Evolve show.
Evolve Tag Team Championship: Drew Galloway and Johnny Gargano (c) w/ Kota Ibushi def. The Premiere Athlete Brand w/ Andrea and So Cal Val in 12:07
If the Premiere Athlete Brand, Caleb Konley and Anthony Nese, lost they would be forced to never team again. With high stakes like that, it made sense for the Premiere Athlete Brand to attack early. I saw the official call for the opening bell twice but never heard it. Everybody bawled outside for a while but once inside, Gargano started to take the heat. Galloway came in hot, hitting everything that moved. The Premiere Athlete Brand overcame that to bust out some cool double team moves. The heels tried to cheat but good guy Ethan Page showed up to stop them. That set up the finishing sequence, where Galloway hit a wheelbarrow slam into the Gargano Escape. Konley tapped out but the referee didn’t call the match. There was confusion so Galloway put Konley in the hold and he tapped again. More confusion as the official didn’t call for it again, only to raise Gargano’s hand anyway. Kudos to Galloway and Gargano, who tried to save it by playing out a version of what could have been a “dramatic finish” to make the fans happy. The match itself was good but got hurt by the bad finish. ***
Commentary discussed the current top five in the rankings for Evolve right now. I wasn’t able to hear much of this unfortunately. That lasted a while though it may have been to stall for some tech issues. I heard there were a fair few. Matt Riddle came out and called out Evolve Champion Timothy Thatcher, leading to a match.
Evolve Championship: Timothy Thatcher (c) vs. Matt Riddle went to a no contest in 15:51
Timothy Thatcher handed Matt Riddle his first loss in an Evolve Title match a few weeks earlier at Evolve 56. I didn’t see it but I hear disappointing things about that match. There was a good story being told by commentary here. They said that Riddle wants to be signed by the WWE but was told by William Regal that he needs to win the Evolve Championship first. These two wrestled the kind of match you’d expect from them as we saw a ton of grappling. By the way, leg submissions look great on Riddle since he competes barefoot. They traded holds and strikes but none of it really seemed to get the crowd into it. It fell flat for the most part. Then, to make matters worse, we got another confusing finish. Riddle seemed to injure Thatcher’s arm when he should have broken the hold. Riddle grabbed the title as the bell was called but the referee deemed it a no contest. A disappointing match with a bad finish. **
Marty Scurll def. Fred Yehi in 10:01
Both of these guys were involved in some great matches already this year (Scurll/Ospreay from RPW and Yehi/Williams from Evolve 53). Scurll started hot and did some of his signature stuff. He seemed to be the more aggressive competitor until Yehi laid into him with relentless stomps. It was a nice turnaround in the match. Yehi had the chicken wing well scouted early and tried to do it to Marty at one point. I’ve mentioned before that I like the fact that you can hear a lot during Evolve matches and it came into play again as it sounded like Marty broke Fred’s wrist and fingers on two occasions. Shortly after that, Scurll locked in the chicken wing and Fred tapped. This was a good match that I wanted to like a bit more. Both guys did well though and it was my favorite thing on the show to this point. ***¼
Sami Callihan def. Ethan Page in 10:39
For those unaware, Ethan Page is in the midst of an angle where he is trying to win back the fans’ support after a heel turn a while back. His character work in this time from what I’ve seen has been really good. Callihan started quickly, aggressively attacking from the start. In a flat out disgusting moment, he spit on his hand, showed the fans and then chopped Page. Surprisingly, things slowed down when the babyface took over, which you don’t see often. I liked it here for that reason. They picked it back up as they neared the conclusion. Callihan survived the Spinning Dwayne and won with the cinder block. Solid enough match. I keep enjoying the Page angle but also not really enjoying much of Callihan’s post Solomon Crowe run. Something about this pairing was off. **½
TJ Perkins def. Ricochet in 14:32
Perkins used to wrestle as Puma, while Ricochet wrestlers for Lucha Underground as Prince Puma. Ricochet got his named chanted in the style of “New Day rocks” and did a little gyrating himself. Commentary hyped Ricochet as a big deal, saying they took him for granted a while back and considered themselves lucky for having him on early shows. He used his athleticism to his advantage before paying homage to the Rock and Steve Austin. Perkins wasn’t amused and decided to ground Ricochet. Going after the legs of a high flyer is always a great strategy. The leg work was well done and Ricochet sold well at times. At other times, he still hit big offensive moves. However, the leg work played into the finish as Ricochet’s knee buckled after coming off the top and Perkins made him tap to a heel hook. The crowd (and myself) was surprised at the outcome and I thought it was great. ****
Stokely Hathaway of Ring of Honor fame showed up. He handed TJ Perkins a contract, which TJ instantly signed. Hathaway had a message for Triple H, saying that if he wanted the best cruiserweights for the Global Cruiserweight Series, he needs to call TJP (which he seemed to now be rebranded to). He told HHH to call soon because they have options.
Best in the World Series: Zack Sabre Jr. def. Will Ospreay in 16:32
Zack Sabre Jr. is out to prove that he’s the best in the world, so he asked for a series of matches. So far he beat the “icon” Gargano and the “technician” Drew Gulak. This is the “flyer” (his last two are against Riddle and Hero). Ospreay is a prodigy as one of the best flyers in the world at just 22 and already set for a big Jr. Heavyweight Title with NJPW in about a week. Although Sabre is the superior mat worker, Ospreay had the upper hand in that category at times before using his athleticism to take an even bigger advantage. Sabre didn’t stay in trouble for too long and turned it around by twisting Ospreay like a pretzel. Sabre’s confidence when in control was great as he’d taunt Ospreay and to the crowd. Some of the things these guys did would honestly be too tough to explain in detail. I found myself wowed several times as the match progressed. A highlight came when Sabre caught a standing shooting star press into a triangle choke. The finishing stretch was fantastic and saw Sabre nail a Liger Bomb. Ospreay kicked out at one, but Sabre held on for an absurdly badass double arm submission that made Ospreay tap out. An incredible, must see match between my two favorite British pro wrestlers. Up there with Sabre/Strong last year as my favorite Evolve match ever. ****½
Chris Hero and Tommy End came out for their match while Sabre was still in the ring. Hero put Sabre over but said that he still hadn’t beaten him. Sabre tapped him on the cheek and said that he would tomorrow.
Catch Point (Drew Gulak and Tracy Williams) w/ TJP def. Heroes Eventually Die (Chris Hero and Tommy End) in 27:46
After the amazing match that preceded the main event, this had a lot to live up to. Unfortunately, it fell way short. That’s not me saying this was bad, because it was actually a really solid tag team match, it just didn’t come anywhere near the level of the previous two matches. Heroes Eventually Die held serve early with their hard hitting offense. Hero is fantastic in his role as the badass of the indies. Catch Point rallied with their strong suit, going to the mat. That worked to wear down their bigger opponents. The last few minutes were great as both teams utilized their teamwork to go to war. When all seemed lost, Gulak applied a dragon sleeper on End that finished it off. The finish came from out of nowhere and I feel like the match went way too long. It was solid but felt underwhelming as a main event. ***¼
After the match, Hathaway came back out to take TJP away from his Catch Point buddies.
Overall: 7/10. This was a really good show that had some issues to keep it from being great. Right off the bat, the bad and confusing finishes to the first two matches really got things started on the wrong foot. The show turned around and finished with a bang. The last three matches are all good. Sabre/Ospreay is absolutely must see and can’t miss, while Ricochet/Perkins was also great. Most of the show is definitely worth a look.
WWN Mercury Rising 2016
April 2nd, 2016 | Eddie Deen’s Ranch in Dallas, Texas
The World Wrestling Network hosts a slew of wrestling promotions from Evolve to SHIMMER to FIP to SHINE. In 2015 they ran Mercury Rising, a super show that showcased a little bit of everything they had to offer. This was the sequel and it ran the night before WrestleMania 32.
Lenny Leonard and Rob Naylor opened the show again but quickly got to things and brought out Zack Sabre Jr. He got on the microphone and wanted to waste no time in taking on Chris Hero.
Best in the World Challenge Series: Chris Hero def. Zack Sabre Jr. in 26:51
The fifth and final match of Sabre’s “Best in the World” challenge saw Sabre face one man that has had his number in the past. Hero even beat Sabre at Evolve 48 in a match that ranked 46th in my Top 100 Matches of 2015 list. Sabre was 3-1 entering this in the series, losing to Matt Riddle at Evolve 59 earlier in the day. I found this to be similar to the Evolve 48 match in a good way. Sabre is always in control when he wrestles, but something about Hero and his hard hitting style messes him up. There was a lot of fighting around ringside which helped it be different from their last encounter. We even got to see Sabre get a little hardcore and bring a steel chair into play as he aggressive targeted Hero’s arm. Sabre did everything he could to power up and take the strikes like a man, showing he could hang with Hero. He fought valiantly but a sickening series of elbows to the back of the head put Sabre down for the count. This was a great start to the show, though I’m unsure what this does for Sabre. He still can’t beat Hero and doesn’t really get to call himself the best in the world after it. Maybe Hero wins the Evolve Title down the line and Sabre dethrones him. This was on par with their previous match and not on the level with Sabre/Ospreay from Evolve 58. ****¼
Evolve Tag Team Champion Drew Gulak w/ Catch Point def. Fred Yehi in 9:19
Surprised to see TJP with Catch Point still considering he signed with Stokely Hathaway. Gulak and Tray Williams won the Evolve Tag Team Titles earlier in the day at Evolve 59. I’ve never really gotten into Gulak but I’ve enjoyed just about everything I’ve seen from Yehi. They had a match at Evolve 56, where Gulak refused to shake Yehi’s hand because he had not earned his respect. They spent the entire match grappling on the mat which worked to the strengths of both competitors. The style isn’t for everyone but I liked most of what we got here. Gulak destroyed the leg and Yehi sold it like a champ for the most part. Gulak caught Yehi in a dragon sleeper and made him tap. I wish the finish involved a leg submission but that’s not a huge issue. While it wasn’t stellar, I found this to be a good match that told the story it needed to. ***¼
After the match, Drew Gulak offered Fred Yehi a spot in Catch Point, showing that he seems to have found some respect for him. Yehi accepted to a big pop, though I thought they were heels. Anyway, this sounds cool as it gives Yehi something to do.
Evolve Tag Team Champion Tracy Williams def. Matt Riddle in 12:41
Catch Point stayed at ringside but since both participants are part of the group, I didn’t list them accompanying anyone. Riddle has beaten Tracy before so Tray wanted a shot to beat him. This followed a similar style to their past for the most part, but I really liked Williams going outside of his comfort zone outside of desperation. He did a dive off the top to the outside which is very uncharacteristic for him and showed how much he wanted to win. Things picked up near the end as Riddle hit a badass knee and fisherman buster. Williams and Riddle were competitive throughout and their chemistry is tremendous. Williams scored the huge win by making Riddle submit to a crossface, which was the first clean submission loss for Riddle. A damn good match from two guys that are certainly on my must see list for the rest of the year. ***¾
Williams and Riddle shook hands afterwards because Catch Point is all about competition. I dig friendly rivalries.
Anything Goes Match: Ethan Page def. Anthony Nese in 13:09
Anthony Nese has been a dick and called Ethan Page fat, leading to this. Commentary played up reformed good guy Page working with anti-bullying foundations in Canada. A chair was the main weapon of use in this thing. Nese nearly killed Page when he hit a moonsault that crushed Page’s skull into the chair. The problem here was that there wasn’t much heat for Nese’s offense. They brought a ladder in as Page started to turn things around. I appreciated that they worked their way up to bigger spots as the match advanced. Page powerbombed Nese onto a ladder and then followed with a package piledriver to win. Commentary incorrectly said the move was done onto chairs but it wasn’t. I liked this match. They did good with the stipulation and it turned out better than expected. My main gripe is that the crowd didn’t seem to hate Nese enough. Their lack of care for him led to some of the heat not getting the response they wanted. The two men hugged it out post-match. ***½
Lenny Leonard brought out Terry Funk to a great reaction. They’re paying tribute to him and he’s soon joined by Sabu, Mick Foley and I Dream of Jeanie. Foley said that he could be at the Hall of Fame but decided not to go so he could pay tribute to Terry. Earl Cooter and Larry Dallas showed up and talked some smack. Obviously, it wasn’t going to go well. They attacked Foley and the legends turned it around, though it was mostly Funk. Sabu got to throw a hair and Foley busted out Socko. It was a fun little segment.
They took an intermission here as some of the talents were just arriving after WrestleCon and needed a break.
Shine Championship: Taylor Made (c) w/ Andrea and SoCal Val def. Nicole Matthews in 8:02
Originally, Ivelisse was scheduled to face Taylor Made for the title but suffered an injury. Latasha, who I’ve never seen before, was going to step in. She’s undefeated in Shine but won most by countout and such according to commentary. Andrea kicked her ass and former SHIMMER Champion Nicole Matthews stepped in to get the shot, which I loved because I truly love Matthews. She’s my favorite female wrestler not signed to the WWE. Matthews attacked right at the start. Her ring gear is certainly odd. She hit a decent looking dive to the outside and I’d say that was the highlight. This never clicked the way that I hoped. Taylor Made didn’t impress me and I wouldn’t consider this one of Matthews’ better outings. Matthews had things in hand with a Liontamer but Andrea and Val got involved, opening the door for Taylor to win with a cutter. Disappointing to say the least. The first thing on the show that really lacked. **
FIP Championship: Caleb Konley (c) w/ Andrea and SoCal Val def. Gary Jay, Jason Cade and FIP Florida Heritage Champion Maxwell Chicago in 13:13
I remember seeing the FIP Title get defended in matches involving Roderick Strong, Erick Stevens, Go Shiozaki and Necro Butcher. Good times. A commentator from FIP took over and constantly pushed that the title is considered a “world” title. It got rather annoying. Like, we get it. I did like them mentioning past champions like Bryan Danielson, to hype the prestige. Chicago is an interesting character who did a lot of comedy throughout. Some of it was good and some of it was lame. The star of this match was Cade. I liked what little I saw of him before this, but he stood out as the clear cut guy to see in this. Konley retained after a second rope Michinoku Driver on Chicago. This worked as a fine little showcase for FIP but isn’t a must see match. **¾
Evolve Championship: Timothy Thatcher (c) def. Sami Callihan in 16:22
I mostly enjoy Timothy Thatcher’s work but Sami Callihan has been rather lackluster since coming back from his NXT run. Commentary reminded us of Thatcher’s arm injury and he was sporting a pad. Proving he’s tough, Thatcher used the bad elbow to lay out Sami at the bell. Sami worked the arm and some of what they did was smart but man, it just dragged on. Hero and Sabre went for 20+ minutes before it started to feel long but this felt that way after about five minutes. It came off as dull, which is really disappointing since I really liked a lot of Thatcher’s stuff usually. He survived the Cuerno Killer and retained with a headbutt in an anti-climactic finish. I wasn’t feeling this and it’s a shame that after a great 2015, Thatcher’s 2016 has lacked. **¼
Catch Point came out and Drew Gulak got on the microphone. Gulak put over the Evolve Title and said that as a champion, Thatcher is a disgrace. Gulak holds several wins over Thatcher. Thatcher said that he will defend the title against each member of Catch Point and laid down the title. It seemed like he dropped the belt but apparently, he just won’t physically hold the belt until he beats them all.
Johnny Gargano, Kota Ibushi and TJP w/ Stokely Hathaway def. Marty Scurll, Tommy End and Will Ospreay in 22:47
Well this was just pure fun. Everyone that worked together put on one hell of a performance but the show was stolen when we got to see Will Ospreay take on Kota Ibushi. The reaction of the commentators, crowd and other wrestlers when they realized it was going to happen was special. Honestly, there was so much going on that it would be too hard to cover everything. Just know that all six guys worked their asses off to produce a spectacular main event. They managed to turn things around after a soft middle of the show. Near the end, things truly picked up and we even got to see Ibushi and Ospreay dive off of a stage near the crowd. The finish came as Gargano had the Gargano Escape locked in while TJP and Ibushi both took out Ospreay. Ibushi finished him off with a powerbomb. This was a great way to end the show and truly defined what a fun match could be. I’ve really missed Kota Ibushi and it’s great to see him back in action in 2016. ****¼
Johnny Gargano closed things with a promo on Drew Galloway turning on him at Evolve 59. He then put over the match and Evolve, saying it was special because he, TJP and Ibushi competed at Evolve 1.
Overall: 7.5/10. The two shows that I ordered from WWN over WrestleMania weekend were both really good shows that fell just short of being great. This one got off to a very hot start as Hero/Sabre and Riddle/Williams were both damn good, while Yehi/Gulak and Page/Nese were good and brought something different to the table. The show hit a rough patch after intermission and headed downhill before ending with a major bang. Well worth a look, especially since the good on the show happens to be really damn good.