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1904 Music Hall – Jacksonville, FL – Sunday, August 10, 2014
Lenny Leonard and Ron Niemi are on commentary. It needs to be pointed out that this venue is awesome.
Anthony Nese (w/ Caleb Konley) defeats Lince Dorado at 3:48. This goes about how I expected it to, with Dorado flying around the ring and Nese trying to ground him. After some brief back and forth, Nese catches Dorado in a half crab and gets the tap out win. I did not expect that to be so short, but I certainly don’t mind Nese going over strong.
Chris Hero defeats Caleb Konley (w/ Anthony Nese) at 15:18. I know I’m nothing special to look at, but seeing Hero with his terrible long hair, out-of-shape body, and awful camo tights, I have to wonder what’s going on in his life that makes him think this is a good look. Terrible aesthetics aside, Hero controls the first portion of the match, forcing Konley to fight dirty. This progresses about how one might expect, with Hero controlling the majority of the match and Konley needing interference from Nese to gain control. Konley works the arm, which is smart because in theory it would neutralize Hero’s strikes. Of course that ends up meaning nothing, as Hero finishes Konley with a series of elbow strikes. Hero definitely needed a win there so that’s good, but something about these two just did not click together. Hero didn’t seem to treat Konley like he was on the same level, and that led to no drama whatsoever throughout the match, though it was technically sound.
Timothy Thatcher defeats James Raideen in a Style Battle Tournament Round Robin Challenge Match at 6:43. Both men are 1-1 in the tournament, so this is a pretty important matchup. Raideen asserts himself with his superior size and power, but Thatcher combats him with his expert mat skills. In the end it’s Thatcher trapping Raideen in a brutal armbar to score the quick tapout and go 2-1, and drop Raideen to 1-2. That felt like it was going to go longer but then just ended suddenly; in this case I don’t mind the sudden ending because it puts over Thatcher very strong and as someone who is very good at his unique style.
Biff Busick defeats Drew Gulak in a Style Battle Tournament Round Robin Challenge Match at 16:20. Both men are 1-1, and it’s a rematch of last year’s finals. If Gulak wins tonight, he will be the winner of the tournament since he defeated Thatcher, but if Busick wins then Thatcher would be the winner. That’s just not the way most wrestling tournaments progress, but points for thinking outside the box. This match is nearly all grapping, down on the mat stuff. It’s really cool to see because I don’t see anyone else doing this kind of style in anything I watch. They go back and forth, wearing each other down, punctuating the wrestling with various strikes. Finally after a series of reversals, Busick is able to hold Gulak down in a backslide to get the pin. That was excellent mat wrestling and a breath of fresh air to watch. With the weird structuring of the tournament I think this lacked some drama, but the work was top-notch.
Thatcher and Busick both finish at 2-1, but since Thatcher beat Busick last night he wins the tournament. I’m not sure why they didn’t have Thatcher v Raideen go on after Gulak v Busick – that maybe would have led to a little more drama, but in the end I like Thatcher going over. Thatcher gives an acceptance speech, and namechecks Chris Hero. That doesn’t sit well with Hero, who comes out and insults Thatcher before delivering a big boot to the face. Hero shoves the referee down and then hits Gulak with an elbow to the back of the head. Busick gets in Hero’s face and Hero bails. Three guys were just given a reason to fight Chris Hero in one segment, which is remarkably efficient booking. Great stuff.
Open the Freedom Gate Champion Ricochet defeats EVOLVE Champion Drew Galloway in a non-title match at 13:52. Normally Ricochet would be one for flying around the ring, but with the severe bruise on Galloway’s leg, the Open the Freedom Gate Champ tries a more mat-based attack, going after the injury. That’s just good strategy. Galloway fights back with his superior size and strength, though he is visibly struggling with his leg. He is able to launch a fairly successful attack using the floor and the apron as key parts of his strategy. But, if you live by the sword, well, you know. Ricochet is able to shove Galloway back into the ring post, and then he kicks Galloway back into the ring. He goes up top and comes down with the 630 to get the pin. This was solid stuff, but for a Champion v Champion match it just lacked spark. Presenting a potential money match with no notice and as a semi-main event will do that I guess. After the match, Galloway cuts another promo. Who is he, Davey Richards?
Rich Swann defeats Johnny Gargano in an Evolution’s End Match at 22:17. Evolution’s End means that rules apply inside the ring, but anything goes out on the floor. That’s a good thing, because the two former best friends both wrestle in the ring and fight on the floor during the opening minutes of the match. Both men are aggressive in their pursuit of one another, and trying to use the ringside area to their advantage. Swann introduces a ladder and now things are about to get nuts. The action continues to be brutal, with both men using weapons and big moves on each other. Su Yung comes out to cheer on Swann. Gargano responds by hitting Hurts Donut and then locking in the GargaNo Escape. Swann makes the ropes and rolls to the floor, where the action continues. Gargano tries to sue a cinder block and a chair on Swann, but Swann kicks the chair back in his face, and then hits a double stomp on top of a ladder. Lenny Leonard has by this point broken the record for commentator blasphemies on a wrestling show. Back in the ring Swann hits a beautiful Frog Splash to get the pin. That was brutal, and it was really good. What I appreciated here is that they treated it like a blood feud, none of that chain wrestling or feeling each other out stuff. They knew each other well enough to know what they’d have to do to each other to win, and they set out to do just that. The spots were well built, and Swann went over clean as a whistle.
After the match Swann celebrates with Yung, until she turns on him and punches him right in the sack. Anthony Nese and Caleb Konley come out to attack Swann, and Gargano returns to make the save. But in another smart decision, Gargano and Swann don’t make up right away, they just kind of acknowledge each other.
The main event was suitably brutal and the crowd reacted throughout, so it definitely delivered there. Gulak v Busick was a standout Style Battle match, and the rest of the card was solid or good. EVOLVE 33 runs less than two hours, so it’s a breeze to get through and plenty fun to watch.
Tags: drew galloway, evolve, johnny gargano, Rich Swann, Ricochet