A2Z Analysiz & 100% Fordified: EVOLVE Wrestling Year End Awards

Yes I know the end of the year was three months ago, but the esteemed Kevin Ford and I didn’t get around to finishing all five Evolve shows until somewhat recently, so here we are. Please note that EVOLVE 6: Aries vs. Taylor was not included since the DVD wasn’t released in 2010.

Best Card:

JZ says: EVOLVE 3: Rise or Fall was the most consistent card from top to bottom. Johnny Gargano versus Ricochet, Chris Hero versus Bobby Fish, Jimmy Jacobs versus Brad Allen, and Chuck Taylor versus Claudio Castagnoli were the standouts. I was most impressed with Fish and Taylor, who I had heard so much about and I finally started to believe in after this show.

Runner Up: EVOLVE 5: Danielson vs. Sawa

KF says: EVOLVE 3: Rise or Fall to me was the best EVOLVE show, for a few reasons. This was the only conceptual show EVOLVE put on, rather than having the core interest be based on the main event match. The concept allowed for more than just one match to stick out, which benefited the majority of the roster. To me, this is the show where you got to see the guys who would cultivate EVOLVE and emphasize its core meaning (or the antithesis of it): Bobby Fish, Jimmy Jacobs, and Chuck Taylor. Jacobs and Taylor rose to the top of EVOLVE with impressive victories over Brad Allen and Claudio Castagnoli (respectively) while Bobby Fish put in a heroic effort against Chris Hero. Other matches like TJP vs. Kyle O’Reilly, Adam Cole vs. Sami Callihan, and triple threat tag team match between Up In Smoke, Aeroform, and Team Beyond provided the unique flavor that EVOLVE has prided itself on providing. To me, EVOLVE 3 sticks out at what the company is all about.

Runner Up: EVOLVE 1: Richards vs. Ibushi

Match of the Year:

JZ says: It was a tough call between the two Danielson matches, but I liked the match with Bobby Fish from EVOLVE 4 just a little bit more than the Sawa match from EVOLVE 5. Fish wrestled like he had something to prove that night and he certainly did, plus seeing Danielson in an EVOLVE ring for the first time is a really memorable moment.

Runner Up: Bryan Danielson vs. Munenori Sawa, EVOLVE 5: Danielson vs. Sawa

KF says: You could truly pick the main event off of every EVOLVE show and argue it to be the match of the year, so it really comes down to preference. I think my favorite of all the matches in EVOLVE was Bryan Danielson and Munenori Sawa’s match from EVOLVE 5. These two guys went full bore for 13 exciting, action-packed minutes that had the entire Rahway Rec Center buzzing. Little things like their facial expressions conveyed more than most people’s promos do. The match to me defined what the EVOLVE style is all about; technique and skill over glitz and glam. If you haven’t checked this match out, I highly recommend doing so.

Runner Up: Bryan Danielson vs. Bobby Fish, EVOLVE 4: Danielson vs. Fish

EVOLVE MVP:

JZ says: Jimmy Jacobs has been there since day one, and he has already helped bring others up to his level, which is why he gets my vote. He led former World Tag Team Champion Kenn Doane to a solid match on the first show; started a feud with Johnny Gargano after defeating him on EVOLVE 2: Hero vs. Hidaka; beat Brad Allen in a terrific match on EVOLVE 3: Rise or Fall; dropped a close one to Chuck Taylor on EVOLVE 4: Danielson vs. Fish; and had a tremendous match with Adam Cole on EVOLVE 5: Danielson vs. Sawa. Gargano and Cole in particular have benefitted from working with the 12-year veteran, who is consistently one of the most underrated guys in the business.

Runner Up: Chuck Taylor

KF says: In my mind, the MVP is the guy who springs to mind when you think of a company. For me, Bobby Fish is that guy for EVOLVE. Every EVOLVE show opens with a video explaining the concept, including this line: “EVOLVE focuses on win-loss records. It is all about records. Every match has a consequence, and results are never forgotten.” Bobby Fish’s entire EVOLVE career has been about that. Fish has put in a great performance every time out, whether it is with a rookie like Kyle O’Reilly, or a veteran like Bryan Danielson. Up until EVOLVE 6, Fish had never won a match and was visibly frustrated because of it. When he finally did win a match, it came across as being very important. That’s the one thing I love about EVOLVE: you can have as many fantastic matches as you want, but if you don’t win, it means nothing. With independent wrestling companies focusing so much on having “good matches” rather than what they mean for storyline progression, the story of Bobby Fish was a welcome breath of fresh air. This was the easiest category for me to choose a winner for.

Runner Up: Jimmy Jacobs

Breakout Star:

JZ says: I knew of Chuck Taylor but I don’t follow much wrestling beyond WWE, TNA, ROH, FIP, EVOLVE, and DGUSA so I wasn’t too familiar with him. His first match was a qualifying match, as he had to defeat Cheech to even earn a spot on the roster. Being doubted lit a fire under Taylor and he quickly became the biggest heel in the company. It’s reminiscent of Christopher Daniels in early ROH, and if all the cards are played right, Taylor could turn into a major player.

Runner Up: Johnny Gargano

KF says: Most people may be surprised when they hear my answer for this category is Chuck Taylor. After all, Chuck’s been around the independent wrestling scene for roughly six years. While he may have been known to fans of IWA Mid-South or CHIKARA before EVOLVE came to fruition, EVOLVE in my mind is where he broke out. After becoming part of the roster after the fans voted him in, Chuck immediately made an impact by racking up four wins straight against the likes of his career-rival Ricochet, and independent stars Claudio Castagnoli and Jimmy Jacobs. Chuck’s performance in EVOLVE scored him a full-time spot in Dragon Gate USA, which has led to be part of the uber-popular Ronin stable and compete on a tour with Dragon Gate in Japan for a month. Chuck Taylor’s career has grown immensely, and it can all be traced back to his EVOLVE debut.

Runner Up: Johnny Gargano

Breakout Match:

JZ says: Chuck Taylor started developing his character right away on the first show, but the main event of EVOLVE 3 against Claudio Castagnoli was his first chance to really grab a piece of the spotlight. Working with a guy as amazing as Claudio is a great way to shine.

Runner Up: Bryan Danielson vs. Bobby Fish, EVOLVE 4: Danielson vs. Fish

KF says: A match that gets little love, but to me was a breakout moment for both guys involved was Chuck Taylor vs. Jimmy Jacobs from EVOLVE 4. Not only did these guys put on a very good match, but Taylor’s victory over Jacobs was a defining moment for both guys. It was the night after this show in DGUSA that Taylor’s career began to take off while Jimmy Jacobs’ status as an “independent veteran” came to pass. It wasn’t until this match that a lot of people started viewing Jacobs as such, but the importance of Taylor’s win really began a shift for Jacobs’ career both in EVOLVE and DGUSA. This match led to two divergent, yet successful paths for both men and left the fans eager to see what both guys had in store for the future.

Runner Up: Claudio Castagnoli vs. Chuck Taylor, EVOLVE 3: Rise or Fall

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