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The Orpheum – Ybor City, FL – Friday, August 8, 2014
Lenny Leonard and Ron Niemi are on commentary.
Drew Gulak defeats Timothy Thatcher in a Style Battle Round-Robin Tournament Match at 15:27. Thatcher and Gulak are both “old school” type grapplers, as both go with the no-kneepad look. These two put on a clinic of mat wrestling, exchanging holds and counters, both trying to establish their dominance. Gulak scores the first big high spot late in the match with a piledriver for a two-count. Thatcher brushes off the piledriver in pretty short order. Thatcher spends a majority of his time working the arm, and Gulak counters by working the leg. That strategy pays off for Gulak when he’s able to trap Thatcher in an Ankle Lock to score the tap-out victory. These two are great at the old-school mat-based style, and this was a good example of that. It never got too exciting, but it’s fun to watch something so different.
Biff Busick defeats James Raideen by referee stoppage in a Style Battle Round-Robin Tournament Match at 8:30. Raideen is here all the way from New Zealand, and he’s making his WWN debut. He’s a pretty big dude, and he looks to use his size and strength advantage here. Busick is pretty tough in his own right though, and he refuses to let himself be intimidated. After a hard fought back and forth battle, Busick traps Raideen in a sleeper and executes a Judo throw to take him down to the mat and choke him out. The referee stops the match and awards it to Busick. I like how different this was compared to the opener, and how they made it believable that the smaller guy could choke out the bigger guy. Good stuff.
Dos Ben Dejos (Eddie Rios & Jay Cruz) & Lince Dorado defeat Jesus De Leon & The Juicy Product (David Starr & JT Dunn) at 10:50. Starr and Dunn have bunches of gold, including the FIP Tag Team Championship and the CZW Tag Team Championship, plus two more. This match operates like a scramble in the early going, with all six men coming in and out of the ring and battling each other at great speeds. Juicy Product and De Leon isolate Cruz for a short while but it’s soon back to the fast and furious scramble pace. Eventually some heel miscommunication allows Dorado to catch De Leon with a springboard reverse rana to get the pin. That was a nice chance of pace from the first two matches, and it gave the card some variety, which I always think is a plus. There were a few awkward spots, but when you’re pulling off the kind of moves they were going for that’s just inevitable. I’d like to see more from the Juicy Product that’s for sure.
Matt Sydal defeats Johnny Gargano at 20:57. This is Sydal’s first appearance in the WWN Universe. Gargano immediately sets out to show that this is his ring by proving superiority over the former WWE Superstar. Sydal doesn’t look to have much if any ring rust in the early going, but as the match wears on Gargano is able to control the pace and wear Sydal down, cutting off all of his comeback attempts. Gargano uses every weapon in his arsenal, but Sydal is wrestling with something to prove so he won’t give in. Sydal’s perseverance pays off when he’s able to avoid a Gargano charge in the corner and then bring him down with a snap hurricanrana. He then goes up top and lands the Shooting Star Press to get the pin. This serves two purposes: to build Sydal up as a major player leading into his match with Ricochet, and to continue Gargano’s downward spiral after losing the Open the Freedom Gate Championship back in April. Sydal looked great in his return, and Gargano was a perfect opponent to put him against given both men’s angles. This was a well done back and forth match that really felt like a battle, the kind of match EVOLVE sells itself on and it worked.
The Premier Athlete Brand (Anthony Nese & Caleb Konley, w/ Su Yung) defeat The Inner City Machine Guns (Rich Swann & Ricochet, w/ Ivelisse) at 21:44. Ricochet is the current Open the Freedom Gate Champion. Gargano hangs around and tries to attack Swann. That distraction allows the P.A.B. to attack before the bell and get this grudge match underway. Both teams work well together and tare able to control the match for extended periods of time. Konley and Nese isolate Swann for quite a while, and Yung does what she can to help keep it that way. The resilient Swann is able to eventually make the hot tag and Ricochet is a house afire, flying around both in and out of the ring and whipping the crowd into a frenzy. The pace picks up quite a bit as the other three wrestlers try to catch up to Ricochet, and all four men take each other out and need a breather. They all rise and get right back to it, with action coming from all over the place. Konley is able to take Ricochet out by hurling him through some ringside chairs. Back in the ring Konley hits a Buckle Bomb on Swann right into an enziguiri from Nese. Konley then hits a sit-out Death Valley Driver and Nese follows with a perfect 450 Splash to get the pin. That was a hot tag team match, using the formula to perfection and letting all four men shine. Nese and Konley going over clean was a good choice, since they were on their way to a tag title shot. Ricochet and Swann in particular are so much fun to watch, but Nese and Konley have really jelled into a good team.
Drew Galloway defeats EVOLVE Champion Chris Hero to win the title at 17:22. Hero has been the Champion since 2.23.14, and this is his third defense. This was originally scheduled to be a non-title match, since this is Galloway’s debut with WWN. Hero gets on the mic and says that he’s proud the EVOLVE Title and wants to change this to a title match. Galloway quickly agrees and here we go. Both men seem fired up by the change to a title match, but then they settle in to a somewhat deliberate pace to start the match. They go back and forth, with neither man establishing dominance, showing how evenly matched they are. The brawl spills to the floor, where Hero removes the elbow pad and goes for a knockout shot but Galloway moves and Hero hits the steel post instead. Back in the ring Galloway tries to follow up But Hero boots him in the face and then hits the rolling forearm, further injuring himself in the process. Hero tries the Death Blow but Galloway counters it and hits the Future Shock to get the pin and win the EVOLVE Title! That’s a big moment for Galloway, as he becomes the third-ever EVOLVE Champion in his first attempt. The match itself was okay, but it seemed to lack spark, like they just didn’t click as opponents. Both are still good enough to have a solid match despite that, and despite the out-of-nowhere finish, but especially compared to the previous two matches this one fell a bit flat.
Tags: Chris Hero, drew galloway, evolve, Matt Sydal, Style Battle