EVOLVE 58 4/1/16 Review
1. Drew Galloway & Johnny Gargano vs. Caleb Konley & Anthony Nese
ER: This is one of those tags where guys run in random directions for the sole purpose of setting up somebody's offense. After awhile you find yourself asking for the 10th time, "what was Konley's plan if Gargano hadn't been there to cut him off with a kick?" Galloway is wasted in stuff like this, which is a shame. Nese takes a nice bump to the floor and I love how he takes a DDT. But this match was victim to some poor move set up, with again, guys going where they shouldn't go just to take offense. On top of that the promotion appears to have totally lost their ring bell. I noticed it at the beginning when the ref called for the bell multiple times, and when it didn't come Gargano just started the match. Well the big finish comes and Konley taps and the Premier Athlete Brand is forced to break up...except there's no ring bell, and half the wrestlers don't know what's going on, and the crowd doesn't know what's going on. Galloway is confused, gets in and immediately repeats the finish and now he makes Konley tap. And the ref says the match is already over. But there's no ring bell. And the fans, being shitheads, all chant "This ref sucks" even though somehow a major promotion started a show with no ring bell. Really embarrassing stuff all around. Post-match Galloway does a decent job saving things by doing a reenactment of what the dramatic climactic finish was supposed to be like, calling in some bearded goober who's trying to ape the legendary style of Dylan Hales. Match wasn't good, but Galloway at least got the fans to stop being assholes.
2. Matt Riddle vs. Timothy Thatcher
ER: Awesome stuff from these two, which shouldn't be too surprising. There are some moments where you see a couple seams in their style with split seconds of waiting for one another, but I'm stunned that type of thing doesn't happen more with these guys. Thatcher dominated most of this and was really mean, throwing big strikes to Riddle's ribs and neck and ear, tossing him with gut wrenches, making his ankle bend at a disgusting angle with an ankle lock, locking on a brutal sub where he yanks Riddle's leg back while pushing into his knee with his boot. Damn that should be a finisher. Riddle doesn't overdo the selling, but he doesn't no sell either. Watch him lift his ankle after nailing Thatcher with a fisherman's buster. I'm sure many will hate the finish, which I get, but I liked Riddle hyperextending the arm after Thatcher thinks the ref broke the hold. It's a nice Gerard Gordeau dick move that adds another wrinkle to the Thatcher/Catch Point feud.
PAS: I really loved all of the infighting in this match, both guys laid in some vicious shot to the ribs and stomach and I am shocked that non of the shots to the ear popped an eardrum. Both guys come off as naturally tough dudes and parts of this felt like they took it a bit far. I thought the multiple arm bar reversals at the end might have been a bit much, although I did love how each guy found a different way to reverse and counter. Finish was pretty cool, although I think both the ref and Riddle needed to be a bit more demonstrative. I can totally see how it would have come off confusing to the crowd, Riddle need to wait a beat before torquing the arm, so it was obvious he wasn't breaking clean, and the ref really need to over emphasize that he needed to break the hold.
3. Fred Yehi vs. Marty Scurll
ER: Another awesome Yehi performance. Truly one of the must see workers today. This match had plenty of his weird, quick grappling and odd movements that you don't see from others. He finds cool ways to do spots we might not think much about. The way he slides into an ankle pick while Scurll is running, or grabs a single leg off a go behind, it's unexpected and almost foreign and so awesome. I loved all of Yehi's stomps here, loved him stomping hands Finlay style. And I love how him stomping Scurll's hands eventually leads to Scurll finally being villainous and going after Yehi's fingers. Yehi has shown he's a great salesman, and he puts over a finger break really excellently. And then Scurll finds amusing ways to work that hand and finger, even throwing in a thigh slap off a finger break, and then wedging Yehi's finger in between his boots before kicking. I love the trend in Yehi matches of limb work or body work not leading to the finish you expect, but instead leading to someone's focus being drawn away so that they don't see the real finish coming. Yehi is dealing with his hand injury which allows Scurll to leap on him for a nasty falcon arrow into chickenwing submission. Really cool stuff, really awesome finish.
PAS: I thought the beginning of this match was a bit formless, Scrull has never done much for me, his Villain stuff always felt like a big put on, more Chikara then Regal. Yehi is always going to be worth watching, and his weird stomps are some of my favorite things in wrestling. The last couple of minutes were truly excellent though, I loved all of the hand break spots and though Yehi's selling was awesome. I want to second Eric's observation about the coolness of the finish, loved how it came out of nowhere. Yehi really can do no wrong.
4. Ethan Page vs. Sami Callihan
ER: Not bad but below your standard Callihan match. Page isn't really defined enough as an opponent. He does a lot of big moves but tends to be better when he plays up his frat charisma more. This was odd as they seemed to skip several steps to get to the "we're in a war" moments, but they ran really hollow and undeserved once they got there. Callihan screams "QUITTTTT!" at Page, when up to that point at had been a very even match, and the announcers tried putting over the "what is it going to take to put him away!?" when really it was just 8 minutes into the match. I liked Callihan's powerbomb with him already grabbing Page's ankle to set up the stretch muffler, and thought Page's selling of the muffler was impressive. It was just strange and felt like 6 minutes had been clipped out of the middle, suddenly Callihan is lying on the mat begging off Page, one minute after screaming at him to quit. They kept jumping around like that, and everything up to that had essentially been move trading. This felt more like a thigh slap faux epic, even if parts were good.
5. TJ Perkins vs. Ricochet
ER: Sometimes guys like this do so much stuff that it's easy for me to get lost. I prefer Evolve to PWG as they have no problem having matches go 10 minutes. I think an excellent match can happen in 10 minutes. In many cases I think you're asking for trouble if you go too far past 10 for a singles match, as I don't think most workers are capable of filling that much time without things getting at least somewhat problematic. Ricochet is a super talented guy and I'm sure I'm in the minority when I say I don't care about the extraneous goofing around and mugging he does in his matches. It's always the reason I prefer him as Puma to just being himself. Just being himself always adds to much bullshit to matches, matches that I think would be tighter without the bullshit. And that's why I eventually liked this, because Ricochet did his bullshit, and TJP got pissed at the bullshit and wanted to kick his ass. He didn't play along and have a comedy circle jerk (though I guess with two guys it would just be a straight line jerk), he took offense at the jerking around and took it out on Ricochet. These guys both do super fast sequences effortlessly, impossible to keep up with as a viewer. But I loved how TJ kept going after that leg. And how it kept paying off. His grapevined heel hook is a really nasty sub and Ricochet set it up great by doing a show off missed moonsault, landing on his feet, and having that worked over knee buckle. It's a simple formula, take the legs out of the flier, but usually indy guys aren't good enough to pull it off, because they still want to get their shit in. But the match structure was tight enough that it allowed both guys to get their shit in, and still be truthful to the story they were telling. And I appreciate that. I appreciate your wrestling, TJP and Ricochet.
PAS: This was pretty solid, it got a little dancy at times, which is to be expected with these two guys. These are two of the most polished, athletic wrestlers in the world so if we have to watch a dance this is a pretty good dance. Ricochet has one of my favorite kip ups in wrestling, he flies up so fast it ends up looking barely human, like CGI or something. I enjoyed the knee work by TJP it did give the match some structure, although Ricochet really only sold it at the end.
6. Will Ospreay vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
ER: I went into this one expecting to not like it much, assuming that each man would bring out the worst in the other. BUT it actually turned out to be an awesome match (that went on a couple minutes too long). To me this felt like a cool modern twist on classic World of Sport, with both guys (especially Sabre) pulling from a bottomless bag of tricks with fast exchanges and updated WoS transitions. I loved all the slippery headlocks, with one going for a headlock and it seamlessly getting reversed into a wristlock and back into a headlock. We also had reversals based out of snapmares which is something directly lifted from WoS. They would often do a snapmare with a guy handspringing forward onto his feet, here we get Ospreay turning a snapmare into his own handspring elbow, and it was done quick enough that it looked great. Sabre was killer here, dropping Ospreay with a couple of rough suplexes, including a wheelbarrow roll through turned into a tiger suplex. Then he would come up with all sorts of ways to work over Ospreay's neck, legs, arms, whatever. Ospreay worked a lot of flying moves to counter and Sabre was often there to catch him with something. This was incredibly fun, incredibly quick counter based wrestling. It's something that doesn't work but damn did they make it work here. Where I wish it would have ended was when Sabre caught a triangle choke while Ospreay was going for a standing shooting star. Right before that Ospreay had kipped out of a tornado DDT which I think is an exceptionally stupid spot that athletic wrestlers do. All it does is show how a DDT is just rolling through at the right time. "See? My neck wasn't impacted at all! I was able to just hop out of it!" It's needless. But it would have been great if he had done that, tried his SSP and immediately met his doom in a triangle. Buuuuut we get a 80s WWF hulk up as his arm doesn't drop (since when does Evolve even do that spot? Don't they just call submissions as if they were MMA?), and we have to see some Ospreay tropes like trapping Sabre's head against the turnbuckle. The finishing sub by Sabre is absolutely vicious and almost made the match continuing worth it, as Sabre ends up sitting down on Ospreay's head and neck while yanking both of his arms up and behind his back. It's something Negro Navarro would be jealous of. Even with the extra pointless final two minutes, match was still awesome and a great representation of this style.
PAS: I was also not expecting to like this very much, and was looking forward to shitting on Eric for digging it, but I confess it won me over. A match like this is all about doing cool stuff and not wearing out your welcome, and they did a bunch of cool stuff and kept from dragging on. I loved Ospreys shooting star press, it a spot I haven't seen in a while and he added a cool tuck in the middle of it, I also liked a bunch of the quick counter which is something can bug me. Finishing submission was truly awesome, as was the Liger bomb that set it up. I am still not sold on Osprey, some of his stuff is still pretty stupid looking but I think I need to give up the ghost and embrace Sabre.
7. Chris Hero & Tommy End vs. Drew Gulak & Tracy Williams
ER: Great tag between two teams who complement each other wonderfully. Hero at this point is like the big fat king of the indy scene. He worked hard to get to the top, and some that want to dethrone him point to his cosmetic laziness, and so he gamely gets off the throne to demonstrate why it's still good to be the king. And Hero absolutely is king at this point. He and End are a great team and Hero especially makes it his point to pick on Williams as the weak link, as if he were the Kikuchi of Team Catch Point. And damn do they murderize him. I love End/Hero's spin kick/elbow smash double team, and after that at one point Hero is just toying with him; kicks, chops, elbows, and always capped off with his killer roundhouse pump kick. I loved little moments like Williams finally catching a Hero kick, only for Hero to laugh before dropping back and kicking Williams with his other leg. But Williams would keep coming back and fighting and it was awesome. The match was long and because of that they were allowed to stretch out and do some fun stuff. The opening lucha armdrag stuff with Hero and Gulak was a trip. Hero does a sweet 360 armdrag off the top and Gulak follows with a beautiful tilt-a-whirl variation. We get a couple nice cut off the ring sections with both teams, plenty of cool double teams on Williams (loved when Hero kicked him off the apron onto End's shoulders, and then kicked him again), and great apron performances from both Hero and Gulak. Hero was great rooting on End, Gulak was great pleading for Williams and sneaking in for saves when needed. Hero is cocky but he's smart with his cockiness, and it never came across like Catch Point was only making comebacks due to his own cockiness. Catch Point looked strong by making their own comebacks, on their own merit. And that's important. There was plenty here that you could trim and make it a tighter, better match. But you could trim out a good portion of the White Album, too. Part of the fun is in its bloat. And I'm glad we got the extra minutes of bloat.
PAS: I didn't like this as much as Eric, I love Hero and Catch Point, but I thought the bloat was a bit too much. The long section of Hero and End using Gulak and Williams against each other was a bit SATish. End is a guy who looks cool and has awesome looking strikes until they land, if he could hit his stuff cleanly more I would love him, but a lot of his shots look violent as hell on their way and gentle when they get there. I thought Gulak was awesome as usual, his lucha armdrag challenge against Hero was nifty, and I love his out of nowhere dragon sleeper. Still this lost me by then end, which kept it from being great.
Labels: Caleb Konley, Chris Hero, Drew Galloway, Drew Gulak, EVOLVE 58, Fred Yehi, Marty Scurll, Matt Riddle, Ricochet, Sami Callihan, Timothy Thatcher, TJ Perkins, Tommy End, Tracy Williams, Will Ospreay, Zack Sabre Jr.