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Csonka’s Evolve 55 Review 1.24.16

January 24, 2016 | Posted by Larry Csonka
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Csonka’s Evolve 55 Review 1.24.16  

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Csonka’s Evolve 55 Review 1.24.16

– Anthony Nese defeated Ethan Page, Fred Yehi and Jason Cade @ 7:06 via pin [***]
– Caleb Konley defeated Tomasso Ciampa @ 16:10 via pin [**¾]
– Sami Callihan defeated Zack Sabre Jr. @ 20:30 via pin [***½]
Style Battle Tournament Finals: Matt Riddle defeated Tracy Williams @ 14:05 via submission [****¼]
EVOLVE 2nd Chance Tag Tournament Four Way Elimination Match Finals: Team Tremendous won @ 21:58 via pin to receive a future shot at the tag titles [***½]
EVOLVE Tag Team Title Tournament Finals: Drew Galloway and Johnny Gargano defeated Chris Hero and Tommy End @ 25:54 via submission to become the first ever Evolve tag team champions [****]

– The show started at 2:05 PM ET. Lenny Leonard and Rob Naylor welcomed us to the show.

Anthony Nese vs. Ethan Page vs. Fred Yehi vs. Jason Cade: Cade impressed during Friday’s seminar and even scored a short match at Evolve 53, Yehi was in the Style Battle tournament, and Ethan Page is still looking for redemption. Nese is replacing Kaasa, who was originally announced for the match. I suspect that Kaasa gets the Ciampa match later in the show. Fun back and forth early, as they are trying to keep it to one on one, but also using spots with all four guys. Cade eventually sent Page to the floor and then hit dives onto everyone. He tried another, but Page caught him and slammed him to the barricade and then hit an apron powerbomb. Nese wiped Page out with a dive, and then worked with Yehi. Nice work from both, leading to Nese hitting a Gotch lift into the buckle bomb for a near fall. Page returned with the outside in cutter, but as he looked to take control Cade returned with a flying knee off of the top. Yehi and Cade quickened the pace, with Yehi destroying him with an XPLODER into the buckles. Page went to elbow Yehi, but caught the ref. He then hit the spinning Dwayne on Yehi, but went to check on the referee. Nese returned and hit a pump handle piledriver for the win. That was a fun and spirited little opener there, continuing the Page story and getting Nese a victory. The finish came off a bit flat, but it was overall enjoyable. Yehi and Cade were fun, and I hope to see more of them in Evolve.

– Caleb Konley then called out “real competition” and Tomasso Ciampa answered.

Tomasso Ciampa vs. Caleb Konley: So no Kaasa, ok. Lots of back and forth to begin, with Ciampa sending Konley to the floor. He avoided Andrea, but when he went to the floor Konley slammed him to the guardrail and then hit a running knee strike. Back in and Konley works the body scissors, Ciampa escaped but Konley maintained control and choked him out in the ropes. Konley worked a slow and methodical heat here, it was fine. He started to lay in kicks to Ciampa, who then called on Konley for more and then started to light up Konley. Hangman’s flatliner by Ciampa allowed him to score a near fall. They went into a series of counters, and then Ciampa hits an air raid crash for a near fall. They traded strikes; Ciampa delivered elbows to counter, but ate a sit out powerbomb for a near fall. They battled up top, superplex by Konley but Ciampa locked up a roll up for 2. To their feet and they went into the slow striking exchange, knees by Ciampa but then Konley hit a powerbomb and then a buckle bomb. A Michinoku driver followed, and Ciampa managed to survive. Konley to the corner, climbs and Ciampa avoids the Merosault and then hits a lariat. He tried for an arm bar style submission; Konley escaped and then took a suplex into the corner. Val checked on Konley as Ciampa joins him on the apron and delivered chops. Ciampa then trapped the leg in the ropes and delivered a running knee strike. Back to the apron and another knee lift. Project Ciampa connects, but Konley kicked out. Crowd into Ciampa big time here, as Ciampa sets Konley up top. Konley counters the try at an air raid crash, sends Ciampa to the mat and hits the Merosault and that was that. The first two matches were repair projects for the PAB, as they dropped their tag matches this weekend. Konley has been discussing a possible title shot, so the win made sense. Maybe a bit long as it had some drag, it felt like they wanted it to feel very important, but it never quite got there. It was enjoyable.

Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Sami Callihan : This was set up as these two lost their tag matches this weekend, leading to Callihan getting pissed and challenging ZSJ at last night’s show. No hoodie for Callihan today, so he is serious. They attacked right away, with both getting near falls, leading to them backing off and staring down. From there it broke down into a striking battle, with both guys unloading and then ZSJ going for a submission, but Callihan got the ropes and took a powder. When he returned, ZSJ went right after the arms and started to break down Callihan. ZSJ worked him over; Callihan called him a bitch so ZSJ kicked him in the shoulder. Callihan foolishly kept challenging ZSJ, who was showing a more aggressive streak and brutalizing the arm. He then missed an attack off the ropes, was sent to the floor and that allowed Callihan to score with a dive. They brawled on the floor, with Callihan slamming the knee of ZSJ to the barricade. Callihan kept it on the floor, targeting the knee of ZSJ. This led to a countout tease, but ZSJ made it in and countered the piledriver into a pinning combo. Callihan got pissed and just laid in the ground and pound. Callihan then went right back to working the knee, working a version of the Indian death lock. Callihan slowed things down, talking trash and calling ZSJ a bitch. They trades head butts, strikes and kicks as they worked to their feet but Callihan cut him off again targeting the knee of ZSJ. Callihan missed a charge and posted himself on the shoulder that ZSJ had been working, and spilled to the floor. Back in and ZSJ hit a powerbomb and wacky double arm submission. ZSJ started to charge around a bit too much considering the work on the knee that was previously done. They worked up top, with ZSJ head butting the shoulder of Callihan. Callihan dropped down and took out the knee and hit a sit out powerbomb and into the stretch muffler. Counter by ZSJ into the arm submission, but Callihan got the ropes. ZSJ looked to go up top, and jumped off with the double stomp to the shoulder of Callihan, but it also hurt his knee. Callihan may have just thrown up onto the floor, dude was heaving loudly. ZSJ kept control, landing uppercuts, but Callihan hit a hangman’s neck breaker for 2. ZSJ countered a powerbomb, tried for a submission but they scrambled and Callihan had the stretch muffler. ZSJ escaped, hit a half nelson suplex and spike suplex. The soccer kick followed, he got two and then locked in the kimura. Callihan worked up to his feet, and then picked ZSJ up into the trap piledriver and then hit another that looked to kill ZSJ, but he kicked out. Callihan then hit the running forearm strike and that was that. This was the best thing on the show, but again felt as if they were working for something really special, but it fell short. I liked a lot of the work and the vibe (playing off of the set up for this) but some of the issues with selling, and the portion in the middle where things just sort of happened to make this one go long (the Callihan control portion really) hold things back from being great.

Style Battle Tournament Finals: Matt Riddle vs. Tracy Williams: Catchpoint explodes here. Williams lost to Riddle prior to him joining Catchpoint. Gulak cuts a pre-match promo about his boys going to war for the Style Battle crown. He told them to make him proud and may the best man win. They slapped the shit out of each other to begin, and then Riddle went for an arm bar, and Williams had to get the ropes. Riddle then worked leg kicks, but when he got overly aggressing he missed a charge and spilled to the floor. Williams then hit a high cross from the top all the way to the floor, and almost ate the barricade. Back in and Williams jumped off, and ate a knee strike and Riddle hit a German with the bridge for 2. Deadlift gut wrench by Riddle followed that and he again laid in the kicks. Williams fired up as they slapped each other, big takedown by Riddle who then talked some trash. This allowed Williams to fight back and lock in his crossface but Riddle made the ropes. Williams ran wild with kicks and shotgun dropkicks, showing great fire. The pacing was good, as they worked a methodical style but never slowed it to a crawl. Riddle’s selling has also noticeable improved, partially because he’s had to do more, but also because he’s doing it well. They again were just beating the hell out of each other, and then Williams scored with the octopus hold. They dropped to the mat, with Williams keeping the hold, and Riddle finally getting the ropes. Riddle finally countered a German, dropped down and got a heel hook, but Williams countered into a heel hook of his own, which hasn’t been done to Riddle so far in Evolve. Williams again landed big strikes, including some brutal looking forearms, but it was not enough to defeat Riddle. They traded strikes, Riddle with a takedown and into a kimura try followed. Riddle on the ropes here, but Williams picked him up and hit the shoulder breaker for a near fall. Riddle then went all Memphis and hit a JUMPING TOMBSTONE and both men were down. They fought to their feet, and Williams hit a piledriver that riddle sold so well, almost RVD pop up style. Williams then worked into the crossface; Riddle fought to survive and as he almost had the ropes Williams just stomped on his head. Riddle fought back, slammed Williams to the corner and landed strikes as they worked up top and Riddle looked for the Fisherman’s buster. Williams countered, but then Riddle hit the dragon screw leg whip off the ropes and into the knee bar. Williams then started to kick Riddle in the face, but he wrenched in the hold even more and Williams had to tap. That was an excellent match, working the style perfectly and also serving as a star making performance for Riddle who has been rapidly improving. He went into deeper waters, showed that he can sell, that he can mix in the pro wrestling more and is becoming a more complete performer each time out. Williams has been great in the past and deserves a ton of credit for his work here, but Riddle has constantly improved and has even more importantly booked smartly and put in a position to succeed.

– Riddle explained that since he won the Style Battle, and is undefeated, he wants an answer from Thatcher regarding a title shot on March 19th. Thatcher arrived and asked if Thatcher would accept or be a pussy. Thatcher said, “ok” and then Caleb Konley arrived and complained. He demanded a title shot and slapped Thatcher. Sami Callihan then arrived and dropped Thatcher and Andrea. Callihan went face to face with Riddle, but Williams attacked Callihan and choked him out and hit a piledriver. Riddle then grabbed the title and told Thatcher that he’d win it. Gulak said that the message here is that they have created a bond, and that they own each and every one of you. That was a god angle overall to set up the Evolve title scene going forward, especially coming out of a weekend where the focus has been on the tag teams.

EVOLVE 2nd Chance Tag Tournament Four Way Elimination Match Finals: Trent Baretta & Rocky Romero vs. Drew Gulak & TJ Perkins vs. Bravado Brothers vs. Team Tremendous: These are the losing teams from the tag tournament, fighting here to score a future title shot at the new champions. Vice were dicks early, dropping to the floor and refusing to stand on the apron because this is elimination rules. Barry worked a good opening stretch with both Harlem and Gulak. They did a good job of keeping things a bit reserved and not going too wild too early. They did the big multi-man submission spot at around 7-minutes in, and then it broke down to guys in and out, hitting moves and getting the crowd into things. Carr then tossed Baretta to the pile of guys on the floor, and then Barry hit a shooting star press to the pile on the floor. Finally big Bill Carr did an over the top rope dive to wipe out the pile. Gulak tried to take out Carr with an uppercut off the ropes, but that got countered into the Bossman slam. Book ‘Em Danno to Perkins and Catchpoint was eliminated at 11:20. The Bravados and Vice then worked together and beat down Team Tremendous. They worked the heat on Barry, he slowly started to fight back and just as he was about to get the tag Romero pulled Carr to the floor. Things had slowed, but when Carr went to the floor Harlem hit a moonsault onto Carr on the floor and then the hit the doomsday suicide dive on Barry. Romero took out Harlem on the floor, took the ref and Baretta hit the low blow on Lancelot. Strong Zero followed and the Bravados were eliminated at 17:00. Down to Vice and Team Tremendous here, Vice beat them on night one with the low blow spot. Carr finally got the tag and ran wild on Vice for a bit. Romero then fought back and hit some clotheslines, but then ran into the Bossman slam. All four men in now, Vice took out Barry and hit repeated double knees on Carr and finally looked for Strong Zero but Barry made the save and Carr hit a Canadian Destroyer on Trent. Team Tremendous called for Book ‘Em Danno, it connected and that was all. That was a really fun match with some great moments. I loved Team Tremendous getting the win, as they have gotten over with the Evolve crowd, and avenged the loss on night one to Vice, where the only lost due to nefarious means.

EVOLVE Tag Team Title Tournament Finals: Chris Hero & Tommy End vs. Johnny Gargano & Drew Galloway: Hero and End jumped the gun and we’re underway as the match went right to the floor. This was an ass kicking session here, beating the hell out of each other and working into the crowd as the match spilled into the crowd. Galloway slammed End through a merch table, the action was a bit hard to follow at times due to the lighting. The good news is that the crowd was reacting well to the action. They went back ringside, with Galloway and Hero in the ring and exchanging forearms and kicks. End and Gargano then entered the battle, and had a big standoff with Hero demanding that they just fight. Hero and Galloway in particular were just opening up on each other with almost reckless abandon. It settled into a regular tag for a few minutes, but then broke down again to all four throwing big time strikes. Hero and End started to work over Gargano, but Galloway made the save and again traded with Hero. Galloway was able to use End as a weapon against Hero, but then ate their version of total elimination for a near fall. Hero and End got the heat on Galloway, working him over in their corner with forearms and kicks. Hero just bitch slapping Gargano to the floor during this amused me greatly. End and Hero did a good job here on the heat, keeping Galloway grounded while also keeping Gargano out of the equation. Galloway finally got the big tag to Gargano at about 14:00 in and he worked over Hero and started to get revenge after the multitude of bitch slaps he ate. Gargano sent Hero and End to the floor, Galloway about killed End with a tilt a whirl on the apron and then Gargano wiped out Hero with a cannonball off thee apron. Hero would counter the slingshot DDT into a dump suplex, End and Galloway back in and all four men battle with Hero and Galloway continuing to make this personal as they try to one up the other by delivering punishment to their opposition. Galloway and Hero teased piledrivers, and connected with them. They both made covers, but after the kick outs they continued their battle. Hero tossed Galloway, and he and End tried to finish Gargano, but Hero and End had miscommunication and they started to kick the shit out of each other! They eventually got on the same page and went back after Galloway and Gargano. We then got a big superkick/running kick/bicycle kick party from all four men, but neither team could keep the momentum. Galloway and Gargano fought back, and went for the lawn darts, and finally got them. Stereo future shock DDTs connected, but Hero and End survived. It got a little sloppy towards the end as they tried to put some double teams together, Hero and End hit their KO combo, but Gargano kicked out. End and hero had miscommunication again, with End kneeing Hero to the floor. Suicide dive into a tornado DDT by Gargano on Hero. Galloway with the Razor’s edge into the superkick in the corner, and then the spike tombstone on End, but he kicked out. Gargano then got the Gargano escape, but End escaped. Gargano and Galloway hit the superkick into the wheelbarrow into the Gargano escape and End had to tap.

* We got the post match show of respect from all four competitors. Gargano then got the mic and cut a promo. He thanks the fans and said he knew that they enjoyed the show. Gargano said that they made history this weekend, he worked NXT on Friday and then almost missed the show, but made it there. That is something that has never been done, and he is lucky. He has a great partner in Galloway, because he held it together and they are only champions because of his performance on Friday. Galloway then said that Hero and End kick hard. He says that Evolve has come a long way in the past year, and says the company has been great since day one. He is fortunate to be here, and is proud to have been the Evolve champion. He prioritizes Evolve over everything, and puts over Gargano. He also thanks the fans.

* You can order Evolve on iPPV or VOD at this link.

* End scene.

* Thanks for reading.

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“Byyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyye Felicia!”

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
Evolve 53 was a good show that set the stage for the weekend; Evolve 54 played off of that show well and was an improvement over the first show and Evolve 55 served as a great culmination of the weekend. Matt Riddle had a star making performance winning the Style Battle Tournament while Team Tremendous had a great weekend, got over and are in position as the top contenders for the tag team titles. They crowned the first Evolve tag team champions, and while Gargano and Galloway feel like the safe choice, they performed well all weekend and are dependable in important spots. From there, they set the table as far as the Evolve title scene, with Riddle set to get a shot and Konley and Callihan also making it known that they want title shots.

The layout of the shows is something to consider going forward. This format, less matches and everything being important is great, but where to put the matches is another thing. While stacking the three big matches at the end plays off of their importance, I do feel that moving the 2nd Chance tag match to earlier in the show to separate it from the finals would have been the better move. You can get a singles match in there to break up the tag matches, and also a shorter match in between would have likely allowed people to get more into the main event. Not everyone can get into two matches ov over 20-minutes back to back. But that’s a small thing.

Evolve peaked at the right time and put on a very good show that plays off of the momentum from the end of 2015. They have a core of reliable performers and are introducing and building new stars well, keeping the product fresh. Make sure to give this one a look when you get the chance. You can order Evolve on iPPV or VOD at this link.