EVOLVE 53 Review

Air Date: 22/1/16

This was the first in a triple shot of shows to crown the first ever EVOLVE tag team champions. This show features the first round, with the next being the semi-finals, and the day after being the finals. Also on these shows will be a four man round robin styles battle featuring Matt Riddle.

The show starts with EVOLVE champion Timothy Thatcher talking about how he has had to pull out of the tournament due to a staph infection. He is interrupted by Caleb Konley and the rest of the Premier Athlete Brand. The rest of PAB were talking about the tag tournament but the highlight of this whole segment was Timothy Thatcher and Andrea standing nose to nose for basically the whole segment that was hilarious.

Premier Athlete Brand (Caleb Konley and Anthony Nese w/SoCal Val and Andrea) vs. The Bravados (Harlem and Lancelot Bravado) (EVOLVE Tag Team Championship Tournament First Round)

I’ve enjoyed some of The Bravados’ recent outings in AML wrestling and have really liked what little of Nese I have seen so I was excited for this match going in. I wasn’t disappointed, this match started off hot and the pace stayed relatively high. Not a lot to say other than it was a fun opener. The Bravados advance *** ¼

Joe Coleman vs. Jason Cade

This was a match between two guys who impressed at the seminar earlier in the day. These guys didn’t get a huge amount of time but worked hard and impressed the hell out of me, Cade especially. He’s very high energy and worked really hard here, pulling off a couple dives and the crowd seemed to love him. Good stuff. Jason Cade pins Coleman with a frogsplash ** ½

Peter Kaasa vs. Matt Riddle (w/Drew Gulak) (Style Battle Round Robin Tournament)

Cool match, it’s no surprise given his background that Riddle was doing a lot of grappling that looked great. Kaasa looked good here too, but this was largely a showcase of Riddle who is clearly going to be a big star in EVOLVE going forward. Riddle gets the first win in the tournament with a heel hook ** ¾

Ethan Page vs. PJ Black

This is a story heavy match with Page looking for redemption after his year-long feud with Johnny Gargano in 2015. This was a well worked match but I honestly couldn’t get into it. Page gets the win even though PJ’s foot was under the ropes. He asks for the match to be restarted because that’s what Johnny Gargano would want or something and then immediately gets rolled up. PJ Black pins Ethan Page with a roll up ** ½

Team Tremendous (Dan Barry and Bill Carr) vs. Roppongi Vice (Trent Baretta and Rocky Romero) (EVOLVE Tag Team Championship Tournament First Round)

Another solid match that felt like it went a little too long for what it was. The two teams started out being pretty playful and then started getting a little more serious and going after each other. Like most of this show so far this was well worked but something about it just didn’t feel like it connected. Roppongi Vice advance after pinning Dan Barry with Final Zero ***

We go to intermission. 

Fred Yehi vs. Tracy Williams (Style Battle Round Robin Tournament)

This wasn’t good. These guys were clearly trying very hard to build an epic match but the crowd wasn’t into it at all, instead we just got a boring match between two very boring seeming guys. There were some decent moments and I appreciated how hard hitting a match it was, and I think if this was cut down to half the time it could’ve been great but that’s not what we got. Tracy Williams makes Yehi tap **

Drew Galloway comes out and tells the crowd that Johnny Gargano has not arrived at EVOLVE yet, he was working the NXT show on the same night. He calls Gargano to try and get him to hurry up. Weird segment but Drew is charismatic enough to make it work.

Heroes. Eventually. Die. (Chris Hero and Tommy End) vs. Zack Sabre Jr. and Sami Callihan (EVOLVE Tag Team Championship Tournament First Round)

Sami is taking the place of Thatcher who was Zack’s original partner. What an incredible match this was, it started off with some really good grappling between Sabre and Hero and built to an amazing climax with some of the stiffest looking strikes I’ve ever seen. This had everything, great mat wrestling, hard hitting action, and even some flippy shit with End hitting a beautiful moonsault to the outside. Zack especially sold very well and made Hero and End look like absolute monsters, one thing that is amazing to note is how well Hero and End worked together as a team. Sami, for me, was very much the fourth man in this match but he didn’t drag it down in any way. Had this match had a little more story going for it I would’ve given it the full ***** but I can’t justify it. Hero pins End with a rolling elbow **** ¾

Catch Point (Drew Gulak and TJ Perkins w/Matt Riddle and Tracy Williams) vs. Drew Galloway and Johnny Gargano (EVOLVE Tag Team Championship Tournament First Round)

Gargano still wasn’t here for the start of this match so Drew started on his own. Gargano ran in towards the end of the match to get the hot tag and win the match for his team. Fine match that was largely just an angle. Drew Galloway pins Drew Gulak with a Futureshock DDT ** ¾

Overall: 6.0

This was a mixed bag of a show. Hero/End vs Sabre/Sami was far and away the match of the night and is a strong contender for Match of the Year, but apart from that everything else was just kind of there. The show worked fine as the first in a triple shot but isn’t a great show to watch on its own.


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