wrestling / TV Reports

411’s EVOLVE 16 Review 6.30.12

July 6, 2012 | Posted by TJ Hawke

June 30th, 2012
Jacksonville, Florida

Commentators: Lenny Leonard

Lenny Leonard says Johnny Gargano has to come out to deliver bad news. Gargano says that the doctors won’t clear him to wrestle on the show because of the damage done to his back on the last two nights. The crowd does not like this. Neither apparently does Tony Nese, who came out with a mean look on his face. They trade some barbs, and it leads to Gargano saying he will ignore the doctors. Their match is back on. This segment was fine, and at the very least, it should put some extra heat on their match tonight (which is a good thing).

The Scene (Caleb Konley & Scott Reed with a young lady) [3-0] vs. Kennedy Kendrick & Damian Angel [0-0]
Kendrick and Angel are both newcomers to Evolve. Kendrick was apparently trained by Lance Storm. Damian Angel has the least clever name ever.

Haha, Lenny Leonard called her a “young lady” too! This is progress! He says he made finger quotes though when he said “young lady.” I’ll take what I can get though! When making the ring announcements, Leonard called her by a name (sounded like Catty). This is also progress! I mentioned this on Twitter and Lenny Leonard responded “[you] should consider when i say stuff about the girls in the scene it is because I AM TOLD TO ACT THAT WAY TOWARDS THEM.” Fair enough. I apologize to Lenny Leonard for focusing my frustration with this issue on him. While this issue with Lenny for me is not personal, I did place the blame on him in writing here and on Twitter. From now on, I will address this issue much like I address my frustration with the Scene, where I will focus on the promotion for putting talent in a poor position. And I do mean talent. Lenny Leonard gets a lot of crap from people I respect, but he has generally been very good at his job for a while when there are a lot of people in this business who suck at it. Now, we can move on from this “controversy” and focus on the product. If DGUSA and Evolve continue to have their lead play-by-play man address the valets of the Scene (who are often the only women on a DGUSA or Evolve broadcast) in derogatory means, I will still point it out. I want wrestling to be better. I want it to thrive.

The newcomers had some brief success at the start of the match, but the Scene quickly cut off Kendrick. Kennedy Kendrick is YOUR face in peril. Kendrick hit a superkick to escape some damage. Angel tagged in, but he didn’t have much success. The Scene hit Angel with It’s Obscene: 1…2…3.

Lenny Leonard went into the ring. The Scene apparently did a Lenny Leonard impression, because he refused to speak. I don’t know what happened. I don’t want to know.

A squash match. It was fine. The Scene is not working at all as an act despite the talent of both men. But everyone reading this already knows that. I don’t know how to salvage it so I won’t bother to make any suggestions. I hope they at least get bigger opportunities to prove themselves, especially given their kayfabe success.
Match Rating: Squash

Style Battle Round Robin Tournament
AR Fox [4-3] vs. Tommy Taylor [0-2]
Both men got great reactions. This match is for third place in the 2012 Style Battle Tournament.

Fox went for a springboard move early, but Taylor shoved him to the floor. Taylor started to work him over after that. Fox got a sort of crucifix bomb for a nearfall, but Taylor cut him right off and went back to work on him. Fox finally came back with a springboard dropkick and a My Dick Explodes. Fox hit an enzuigiri and went for a springboard 450, but Taylor avoided it. Taylor killed Fox with a half-nelson suplex and a TKO variation: 1…2…NO! Taylor went to the middle rope, but Fox, out of nowhere, hit a springboard sunset flip: 1…2…3!

Another solid match from Tommy Taylor, but I am definitely glad that AR Fox picked up the win. Taylor had a solid trio of comeback matches here. He seems to have more in the tank if wrestling is something he wants to keep doing. Him vs. Doug Williams sounds like great fun.
Match Rating: **3/4

AR Fox called himself one of the best high fliers in the world, which caused Lince Dorado to come out. He challenged him to a match any place at any time. The crowd wanted it now. Fox says he wants it now. The crowd approves. This should be awesome.

AR Fox [5-3] vs. Lince Dorado [0-1]
Fox went for a Brogue Kick, but Dorado avoided it and hit a superkick. Lince hit a Tiger Suplex for a quick nearfall. Fox sent him to the floor and hit his running no-hands plancha. Kick flip moonsault from Fox. The crowd is super into Fox by the way. Fox then hit the diving guillotine legdrop on the apron. Crowd is already chanting “This is Awesome!” Back in the ring, Lince hit a moonsault to a standing Fox for a nearfall. Lince sent Fox to the floor and hit an Asai Corkscrew Moonsault. Holy shit indeed. Lince went back into the ring and hit a TOPE CON HELLO on Fox (who was seated in a chair). Back in the ring, Fox came back with a rolling DVD. Fox went for a senton atomico, but Lince got his knees up. Both men struggled to their feet. Lince ended up in the corner, where Fox hit the My Dick Explodes. Fox then hit a shooting star cannonball splash in the corner. Fox put Lince on the top rope where he seemed to be trying for a super Ace Crusher. Lince reversed it into a super reverse hurricanrana: 1…2…NO! Lince peppered him with kicks and then hit a flipping DDT: 1…2…NO! What the fuck was that??? This match rules. Lince went to the top rope and went for a shooting star something but he fucked it up. Lince then hit a middle rope moonsault: 1…2…NO! Lince went to the rope, but Fox hit a series of kicks. LO MEIN PAIN: 1…2…3!!! The crowd filled the arena with “YES!” chants after that match.

All the moves. These two guys have the same basic strategy for winning a match: go for as many big moves as possible, because it’s what they do best. Put them in a match together and you have a batshit crazy match. I’m sure there will be people who will look down as this match, but I loved the insanity of it. I’m a huge supporter of AR Fox, and Lince Dorado is quickly becoming another favorite on this roster (also, props to Lince to working six matches on these three shows as he also worked the FUW undercards). Wrestling should always be fun, and this was exactly that. I may have underrated it.
Match Rating: ***1/2

Cheech and Mike Cruz [0-1] vs. Alex Reynolds & John Silver [0-1]
I like Cheech and Cruz as a tag team going forward in Evolve. I am having trouble caring about Silver and Reynolds though.

Silver was in full “annoying personality” mode here. It doesn’t entertain me, but the crowd seems into it more, so good for him. Silver and Cruz started the match. It looked like Cruz was going to be worked over, but he managed to tag out to Cheech who had much success on Reynolds. Cheech hit a running knee press off the apron onto Reynolds on the floor. Silver then hit a somersault plancha on Cheech. Cruz then hit diving senton plancha onto Silver. Cruz and Cheech then worked over Reynolds in the ring. Cruz hit a diving cross-body on Reynolds. Cheech then simultaneously locked Silver in a Gory Special and Reynolds with a Pendulum swing. Awesome. Silver and Reynolds then came back with a series of strikes to cut off Cheech. Cheech is your babyface in peril. This went on for too long. Silver went for a hurricanrana, but Cheech reversed it into cool facebuster that woke up the crowd that seemed to be getting restless. Cheech tagged out to the Cruz, but the crowd no longer seemed to care. Cruz hit an awesome Tidal Wave though to wake them up again. Reynolds hit Cruz with a chinbreaker for a nearfall. Cheech hit Silver with a pumphandle slam. Reynolds hit Cheech with a double stomp. Cheech hit Reynolds with a diving facewash and a 619 from the floor. Cruz hit Reynolds with a springboard 450, but Silver made the save. Silver hit Cruz with a half-nelson suplex, and then he and Reynolds hit a double kneeling superkick. They then hit Cruz with a double piledriver type move: 1…2…3. I didn’t do that finisher justice. It looked cool.

This started out good, but the crowd really lost interest after Reynolds and Silver took over the match, and the crowd (and myself) never really got back into the match. I don’t know how someone can watch these two teams and think Reynolds/Silver should be the team pushed. Oh well. Match was fine. You main enjoy it more than me.
Match Rating: **1/2

Jake Manning (w/ Chuck Taylor) [1-3] vs. Blaine Rage [0-0]
Rage was actually on Evolve 8, where he competed in a Fray! Lenny Leonard did mention this, which made me happy. It is his singles debut though, which is why he has no record.

Rage hit a seated dropkick early. Manning retreated to the floor to consult Taylor and the Manscout book. The crowd called Manning a “cub scout.” I laughed. Back in the ring, Manning avoided a charging Rage who crashed into the turnbuckle. Manning then hit a big high-angle back suplex. Manning started to work over Rage. Rage made a comeback with a lariat, an enzuigiri, and boot to the chest. That got a nearfall. Rage hit a super hurricanrana. Rage went to the top rope and hit a missile dropkick: 1…2…NO! Manning then rolled him up with a handful of tights: 1…2…3.

Kind of a nothing match sadly. I’ve been hoping to see Manning show off more of his physical skills in Evolve, but it hasn’t really happened yet. Rage has a good look (picture a mini-Davey Richards right down to the color schemes), but he either didn’t get to show off his skills properly here or he doesn’t have much to offer Evolve going forward. I understand the mentality of booking cool-down matches, but each one during this trio of Evolve shows has made me less interested in the participants going forward. That is not good.
Match Rating: **

Johnny Gargano [6-4] vs. Tony Nese [2-3]
This is a non-title match. I am very much looking forward to this.

Things started slow. Nese hit a shoulder block that sent Gargano to the floor. Gargano tried for the Gargano Escape early, but Nese quickly got to the ropes before it was fully locked in. Gargano sent Nese to the floor. Gargano ended up on the apron, where Nese took out his legs, causing Gargano to land on the apron hard, back-first. Nese then went after Gargano’s back. Nese sent Gargano back in the ring and hit a springboard lariat for a nearfall. As soon as Gargano got back into the match, Nese hit a backbreaker to slow Gargano right back down. Gargano stopped another springboard lariat attempt and hit a Mic Check. Nese set up for a tope suicida, but Gargano caught him with the Gotcha Spear! Gargano locked in a submission in the ropes. It looked like a Koji Clucth, but I couldn’t be sure. Gargano hit a sit-out powerbomb for a nearfall. Nese rolled to the floor, and Gargano hit a tope suicida! Gargano went for a another, but Nese took out his legs. Nese went for a slingshot Lionsault, but Gargano avoided it. Gargano hit a slingshot DDT: 1…2…NO! Nese came back with a super hurricanrana: 1…2…NO! They got to their feet and traded some strikes. Nese hit a sole butt and a superkick, but Gargano took him down with a discus lariat. They traded some more moves. Gargano hit the Lawn Dart, but, Nese came back with the one-arm buckle bomb/running knee combo: 1…2…NO! Gargano hit superkick. Nese avoided a reverse hurricanrana and hit a deadlift bridging German suplex: 1…2…NO! Nese then hit an avalanche German suplex. Nese went for the 450, but Gargano got the knees up. Hurts Donut! Gargano Escape! Nese taps out!

Gargano cut a promo after the match putting over Nese. He went on to say that Tozawa will not take the belt from him in July.

I loved this match. It didn’t have the heat that Fox/Dorado had, but they worked a really smart match that kept my interest the entire time. This is definitely one of those matches that made both men more over, at least in my mind. I like Nese going forward, but I’m glad he didn’t get the win here. There are plenty of guys who are ready for Freedom Gate title shots, and Nese getting pushed so hard so soon would have come across as pushing a guy who “failed out of TNA.” I’m not at all saying that would be a fair assessment mind you (as TNA completely dropped the ball with him), but it’s definitely a valid perception concern when guys like Sami Callihan, AR Fox, and Jon Davis have been fighting in the DGUSA/Evolve trenches for a longer time.
Match Rating: ***1/2

Chuck Taylor (w/ The Swamp Monster & Jake Manning) [9-3] vs. Samuray Del Sol [1-3]
Del Sol got his first Evolve win the night before against El Generico. Now that Taylor’s main program with Gargano is over, I expect him to be doing many a jobs in the near future as I don’t think they are going to go right back to him as a viable challenger.

Taylor and his stable of merry men seemed quite down after his Freedom Gate title match loss the night before. Del Sol took him down with a pair of awesome headscissors early. Del Sol is awesome. Del Sol got an armbar shortly thereafter, which resulted in Taylor’s trademark high-pitched screams. Those are always awesome. Lots of awesome so far. Del Sol got an Indian Deathlock, but Taylor made the ropes. Taylor avoided a running knee attempt in the corner, and he then choked Del Sol to slow him down some more. Taylor hit an urinagi and then locked in a figure-four headscissors. Del Sol came back with a standing Sliced Bread #2. Del Sol got a nearfall with a spinning heel kick: 1…2…NO! Taylor blocked a swinging DDT and locked in an arm-trap headscisssors submission. Del Sol made the ropes and then hit a tornado DDT. Taylor fell to the floor, and Del Sol then hit a somersault plancha, a la El Generico. Coincidence? Del Sol went for another springboard move, but Taylor caught him and hit a powerbomb: 1…2…NO! Del Sol hit a Code Red: 1…2…NO! Del Sol went to the rop rope, but Taylor hit a Drunken super belly-to belly suplex: 1…2…NO! Taylor went for a moonsault, but Del Sol avoided it and hit his springboard reverse hurricanrana: 1…2…3!!! Awesome finish.

It wasn’t especially exciting for most of the match, but the finish and the result were perfect. As far as I am concerned, Del Sol is absolutely the one to push out of these two going forward. I enjoy Taylor, his antics, and his merry men, but I rather he and Drew Gulak form a tag team or something at this point.
Match Rating: ***

Style Battle Round Robin Finals
Jon Davis [3-3] vs. Bobby Fish [4-4]
Both men won both of their previous matches in the 2012 Style Battle. Davis has a self-imposed retirement stipulation for this tournament.

Ok, before we go on, I notice that Fish is being as 5-4 on Evolve, but I think this is incorrect. I missed it at the last two reviews somehow. After looking up Evolve’s history, I see that Fish lost his first four matches, which took place on the first four shows. He took Evolve 5 off. He won at Evolve 6. He won one match and lost one match in the Style Battle of Evolve 8, but those matches didn’t count towards his records. He got pinned in an unsanctioned triple threat match at Evolve 9, which again, didn’t count toward his record. He won at Evolve 10. He didn’t wrestle at Evolves 11-13. So, based on the matches in Evolve that were supposed to count towards Evolve records, he was 2-4 coming into this trio of shows, which would make his record 4-4 coming into this match. If the 2011 Style Battle now counts toward his record, he would be 5-5 going into this match. If the unsanctioned match counted toward his record, he would be 5-6 going into this match. The only possible scenario where he is 5-4 coming into this match would be if his first round match at the 2011 Style Battle counted toward his record, but his second match in that tournament did not. Maybe that is the case. Maybe I am trying not be cynical. Fuck that. Cynical me is back. This is stupid and should be addressed by Evolve since the promotion’s gimmick is that “we are all about wins and losses.” While I’m at it, Tony Nese’s record didn’t make any sense either. He lost his Evolve 7 and Evolve 9 singles matches. He wasn’t pinned at Evolve 6, but he didn’t win that four-way either. He lost his only match at the 2011 Style Battle, but those matches supposedly didn’t count. So, he should have been 0-2 coming into the weekend, but he was billed as 0-3. If I am wrong or missing information about any of these things, please shoot me an email at [email protected] I’m not bitching to bitch. I want everything to be better. Now, back to your regularly scheduled review…

Fish hit a dropkick that took Davis down. Fish hit a slingshot senton for a one count. Davis came back with some strikes, but Fish took him down and went after Davis’s right arm. Davis caught him with a powerslam. Davis followed that up with a pair of scoop slams. Davis then hit a delayed vertical suplex. Davis went for a middle rope moonsault, but Fish avoided it. I love how Davis lost the advantage after going out of his comfort zone. Fish hit a high kick for a nearfall. Davis avoided a moonsault from Fish, but Fish landed on his feet. Davis rolled to the floor, and Fish hit a slingshot plancha. Back in the ring, Fish hit a diving headbutt for a nearfall. Davis hit a big forearm/lariat combo for a nearfall. Fish went for a cross-armbreaker, but Davis made the ropes. Davis immediately hit a deadlift bridging German: 1…2…NO! That was great. Fish went after Davis’s left leg, bit Davis kicked him away and hit a Falcon Arrow variation. Davis locked in a Boston Crab! Fish reversed it into the Fish Hook! Davis just made the ropes before tapping. Davis then just hit Three Seconds Around the World: 1…2…NO! First time I’ve seen someone kick out of that. Fish then hit an exploder into the corner! They went to the top rope. Davis knocked him down, but Fish popped up and kicked Davis’s leg. Fish then hit a superplex!!! That was only a nearfall as Fish took too long to recover. Buckle Bomb from Davis! POUNCE!!! Lariat from Davis!!! Three Seconds Around the World: 1…2…3!!!

Jon Davis says he wants to be the first Evolve champion. Take that Johnny Gargano and your Japan belt.

This was a really strong end to the tournament and the weekend. Davis’s story was predictable (in that he would win the tournament), but sometimes (like now) that is OK. Davis probably didn’t have a match this weekend as good as his match with Low Ki at Evolve 13, but he again proved that he worthy of getting pushed going forward in DGUSA/Evolve. Fish also looked really strong this weekend, and I hope he also is featured prominently.
Match Rating: ***1/2

Overall Thoughts: This show felt very similar to the other two Evolve shows this past weekend where there were three matches that I enjoyed a lot, and the rest was hit or miss. 14 hit more than they missed, but these last two shows had less to be enthusiastic about on the undercard. That being said, the positives I took from the other shows still shined through here. Tony Nese, Jon Davis, AR Fox, Bobby Fish, and Samuray Del Sol continue to look great, and I want them in bigger opportunities going forward. If you mix those guys and Callihan with the most established Evolve/DGUSA main eventers like Gargano, Finlay, Ricochet, El Generico, and yes, even Low Ki (if used appropriately), Evolve should continue to thrive in 2012 from a quality standpoint.

Recommendation: Thumbs up for Evolve 16. Much like 14 and 15, this wasn’t a blowaway show, but it’s fun and worth watching. Order it at WWNLive.com.

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TJ Hawke

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