Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

EVOLVE 63 6/11/16

1. Cedric Alexander vs. Fred Yehi

ER: Some good stuff here although with some almost expected cracks. Cedric is not a guy who does a lot of the fast Catch Point stuff, but does his own brand of fast indy work, so the speed gels well but the styles don't always. There were some moments of one guy arriving at his mark slightly ahead of the other. Cedric in his matches - every one of them so far - always finds a way to pleasantly surprise me, and another way to kind of make me curl my lip in mild annoyance. But I love Yehi as the underdog who gives every guy he faces their toughest win. If there is another CWC I have to imagine Yehi is a lock for the final 4. Some of the build to his stomps came off a little silly, and I'd rather he keep the limb stomps to a brutal part of his game. Here he missed several stops that then signaled a stop to the match, while he grinned at Cedric. It came off almost like Kamala slapping his belly. Although now thinking about it, Yehi in a racist savage gimmick with crazed stomps would probably be something that I love. Yehi going for the Koji clutch always leads to wonderful twisty moments, and here it lead to an early bit of fun slippery mat exchanges, and later Cedric using his strength to lift out of the clutch into a backcracker. Both guys land elbows with a thud, all strikes in general looked good, and Yehi matches always seem to end at the right point. Nice start to the evening.

2. Jason Cade & Darby Allin vs. The Bravado Brothers

ER: This probably would have been more effective as an extended squash for the Bravados, but it's nice they gave the local boys some time. Bravados have certainly improved some since their goofy early ROH days, they've beefed up a bit and hit harder, but still have some pacing issues. Cade and Allin looked impressive at times and too light other times. Allin broke out a pretty nice headbutt a couple times, but then had real light dropkicks. Cade's stuff was hit and miss but the hits were fun, most notably his insane leap from the ring apron to a basketball hoop into a rana on Harlem. Evolve filmed it really well, so you could really see that it wasn't just a simple hop from the apron to the hoop, it was a real leap. Awesome spot. Bravados need to stick to more simple elbows and beatdown offense, more ring cut off less feeding cute spots. But still this as a whole wasn't bad.

3. Trevor Lee vs. Matt Riddle

PAS: Really fun Riddle match which was built around him taking big bumps. Lee is at his best when he is super aggressive and he is constantly coming forward in this match. Riddle eats a couple of rail rides really nastily on his ribs and goes really high and lands really hard on a beal throw. Lee also grabs and snaps Riddle's toes which is a really nasty variation of the finger break spot which we are seeing a bunch of. Riddle working from the bottom isn't something he has done a ton of, and it really makes for an interesting contrast to his other stuff. I really loved the nasty stomp which Lee uses to take over on offense, just brutal looking as was his signature double stomp. Finish was great with Lee fighting his way into a Twister in a really cool way. Great match, and a great performance by both guys. Lee is a bit of a conundrum, I have seen some stuff I have loved, and other stuff which left me flat, feels like a guy I need to dig into a bit.

ER: I loved this, might actually be my favorite performance from each guy, which is exciting. There was really only one moment that I disliked, which was Lee having to run all the way across the apron just to get kicked/kneed by Riddle. Seemed a little silly compared to the rest of the stuff they broke out, but my god the rest of the stuff. Riddle was like a spider monkey in there, just pouncing and hanging on to Lee, and Lee was great tossing him around and beating him down. Riddle is an insane bumper (and wearing no shoes makes it even more insane, keep waiting for a toe to get caught or an ankle to roll), just insane. He gets launched practically out of the ring on a beal, takes out half the guardrails in the building in some of the most brutal rail rides I've seen, leans hard into all of Lee's kicks and punches, and is so great at return spots. I love the way Riddle sells, love the way he staggers after being walloped, love his best ever Pele kick, and loved the way he kept feeding into Lee. Both guys looked so great here. I loved that beal throw so much, and when Lee went for another one and Riddle turned it into a  backpack choke? I flipped out. Such a great spot. I actually would have loved the match had it ended right there, thought the ending would have been perfect. But I also love that we got gifted another 5 minutes of awesome.

4. Tracy Williams vs. Timothy Thatcher

ER: This was odd as the ring work was excellent, but the layout and build was lacking and disjointed. It's a tough kind of criticism, where both guys look great doing the stuff they do, and you wonder why you're not quite digging it as much as the work makes you think you should. God that was a mouthful. I just thought the build was sometimes nonexistent and it felt like it went too long. Evolve has manufactured its own brand of overkill by having so many effective 10 minute matches. They've kind of perfected the full story 8-10 minute match in the last year especially. So now two guys going out and having the same match, but for 17 minutes, almost feels ridiculous. We've seen all of these guys be put away by all of the same things, in 10 minutes, but now we're supposed to think they can each take an additional 7 minutes of it? It's a psychology that hinges on flipping a "toughness" switch for "big" matches. Turning it on for a "big" match. But the problem is they treat EVERY match like a big match. They're almost TOO good at bringing up each wrestler's history. So even a non-title match is "an important match, both men are coming off losses and each desperately needs a win to get back into contention". A non-title match with men fighting for relevance is treated as much of a worthy endeavor as a a man actually fighting for the title. So since they're ALL big matches you start wondering WHY they're now suddenly able to somehow withstand twice as much punishment.

So I thought both guys looked awesome, especially Thatcher. Thatcher has been a long favorite of mine and broke out huge in 2015. For some reason he feels like almost a back step in 2016. The matches just haven't been there. His work in this one felt like a strong mini-return. Him kicking away at Williams' arm was brutal, his rolling Karelin lifts were amazing, and all the grappling and sub stuff looked killer. I really loved the first 3 minutes of grappling especially. It was a little choppy, a little uneven, lock ups weren't square, it put off a dangerous vibe from the bell. That's the disappointing finality of the match, though. Everything looked great. The order and memory was off, but everything looked great. There was just a lot of it, and the whole match kind of felt lost in itself. It's a very tough match to rank. I could see my opinion shifting on it with every viewing. So it feels polarizing, but still feels good. I think I'm thumbs up...for now.

PAS: I enjoyed this, I admit we are getting a little filled up from this kind of match. I would have freaked out if this match had happened in 2014, but it got a little lost in the shuffle in 2016. I loved Williams in this, he had some very cool counters to counters. Thatcher would try an escape and Williams was really cool at blocking his first attempt. That is a sign of a really nifty mat wrestler. This did feel like it should have been Williams match, it built to a big win for him, so it was a bit deflating to have Thatcher go over. Still I really dug this.

5. Anthony Nese vs. TJ Perkins vs. Lince Dorado vs. Johnny Gargano vs. Drew Gulak

PAS: This was kind of a mess. All of the faults of four and five ways, lots of cutesy double teams and goofy I hit you so you suplex him spots. Not sure if anyone came out of this looking good. Lince Dorado had some nice dives but outside of that, not sure if there is anything to recommend. Neese qualified for the CWC tournament by winning this, but I didn't want to see more of him. He had some especially bad punches, and his long singles section with TJP was a PWG wankathon at its worst.

ER: I think Phil is being a little harsh on this, even if it wasn't overall that good. For example I only counted one "cutesy double team" spot, and it wasn't until 12 minutes into an 18 minute match (there were 2 if you count Dorado's armdrag/headscissor combo, but that's a pretty common lucha spot). Phil IS right about nobody coming out of this looking very good though. We're used to seeing these guys in actual matches, so it always rings hollow when 4 guys get separately eliminated over 18 minutes. Serious question: Is the "Johnny Wrestling" chant meant to mock Gargano? Is the wink implied? Because it would always start immediately after he would do something really terrible. We know fans chant "you can't wrestle" at Roman Reigns because they're ashamed of their penises, but why do they chant "Johnny Wrestling" after Gargano raises his hand hiiiiiiigh about his head to bring it down into a thigh slap (you've never seen thigh slaps with less misdirection), or after he overshoots and whiffs on a somersault senton? What joke am I not a part of? I thought individual guys looked good in individual moments of this, depending on their dance partner. Dorado doesn't do much for me with his imitation lucha spots, TJP easily gets a bit too vacant in the eyes thinking about what spot to do next in matches like these, Gulak is one of my 3 favorite guys in the world but I actually really dislike him in these multi man matches. I'd just rather see him in a singles. Gargano had a terrible showing. He's not a favorite of mine but he usually looks better than this. And Nese, the man meant to be featured, had some really nice left hands, great chops, great short left forearms, but would get too in the "strike combo" zone where guys would have to stand still while he went through his rehearsed strike dance. 1-2-knee 3-4 legsweep 5-6 soccer kick. The final 6 minutes where Gulak and TJP essentially had to work a handicap match, setting up a Nese offense exhibition? Brutal. The layout of this match blew. But I actually enjoyed most of it up until the EC3 interruption/restart. I thought Gulak worked around Gargano's signature offense nicely, thought TJP came up with some nice offense teases to set up others' offense, thought Nese looked fine until he became the featured "fighting for his dream" worker of the match. But yeah, you've seen all these guys in better stuff - WAY better in some cases - than this.

6. Anything Goes: Ethan Page vs. Drew Galloway

ER: Another Evolve show, another long ass Ethan Page match. And this was okay, even if I thought there were way too many "why'd the girl run upstairs!?" horror movie spots. Page would climb a ladder to get powerbombed off it, he'd climb up stairs to tease getting thrown down them, he'd sprint headlong at Drew to get alleyooped into an Exit sign. There was wandering, but bumps on a gym floor are hard as hell and both guys took their share, so no doubt there was pain involved. We get some pretty rough chair spots, with Galloway taking a Russian leg sweep with one held under his chin, Page getting tossed throw one after a blocked cutter, Drew taking a backdrop across set up chairs, and some fun teases around Galloway piledriving him through a set up chair. So, overall it was good enough. It had moments.

7. Last Man Standing: ECIII vs. Johnny Gargano

ER: This was another one of those Gargano matches that seemed like it may have worked for the live crowd, but didn't interest me a whole lot. EC3 heels it up by going for a bunch of WWE spots, hits an Angle Slam, goes for a Pedigree (even though those are moves also done by indy favorites at one point, so....) and they try to do these weird comedy type spots while also trying to work a violent last man standing match. Gargano makes a Brother Nero joke but then also takes a pretty violent bump through a guardrail. But even the violent stuff didn't add up right. Gargano hits Carter with a bunch of chairshots but not until the ref is down, even though it's a Last Man Standing match and that shouldn't matter. And Carter doesn't ever bother to sell the chairshots anyway, so who knows. We get a series of run ins, a referee hits a stunner, so yeah. This is the way they wanted to work it, the fans seemed into it, nothing for me to see here.

Kind of a low end Evolve show based on all of the ones I've watched, but at the same time one that I didn't walk away bummed out from watching. Riddle/Lee was pretty classic, and nothing was flat out bad, so I overall had a good time. Riddle/Lee ended up landing at #16 on our 2016 MOTY List, linked below.


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