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Queensboro Elks Lodge – Elmhurst, NY – Saturday, September 13, 2014
Lenny Leonard and Ron Niemi are on commentary.
~Johnny Gargano Promo
The former Open the Freedom Gate Champion apologizes for some of his uncouth behavior over the last couple of months. He recalls that after Caleb Konley defeated him at EVOLVE 32, Konley said Gargano was no longer “The Man” in EVOLVE. Gargano wants to change that, and he’ll work opening matches all weekend to start building himself back up. He calls out Anthony Nese to start their match.
Johnny Gargano defeats Anthony Nese (w/ Su Yung, Trent Baretta & Mr. A) in a Special Challenge Match at 9:33. Both men are eager to do battle, but Gargano has the babyface fire he’s been lacking since he turned on SHINGO back in April 2013, so he controls the early parts of the match. Nese makes the comeback and wears Gargano down, not really focusing on anything in particular. They fight both in and out of the ring, keeping the action going at a brisk pace. Into the homestretch both men exchange a series of kicks and strikes, with selling becoming optional. Nese has a rollup and Gargano tries to kick out, but Nese picks him up with a one-arm powerbomb. The resourceful Gargano rolls through into a sunset flip to get the pin. I like that they kept this fast-paced, always good for an opener, but it got a little ridiculous with them kicking each other in the face repeatedly and just shrugging it off. Solid all around though.
The Premier Athlete Brand attacks Gargano after the match. Rich Swann comes out to make the save, but he gets beaten down as well. That was a bad choice, because he has a title shot coming up tonight.
Zack Sabre Jr. defeats Timothy Thatcher in a Special Challenge Match at 17:57. I imagine there will be plenty of mat wrestling here. They feel each other out in the beginning, both men targeting his opponent’s arm. The crowd is very appreciative of both men’s efforts and skills, chanting “This Is Wrestling” early in the bout. Both wrestlers are innovative and aggressive in their attacks. Thatcher appears to have a power advantage, and he mixes in some throws along with his ground game. Sabre responds with kicks, including a Penalty Kick for a two-count. He follows with a brutal armbar aided by kicks to the ribs and head to force the tap out. These are two of the best at what they do, and this was a terrific contest. Both men looked skilled and tough, a good combination for getting over in EVOLVE. This was the proverbial “game of human chess” (surprised Leonard didn’t call it that) and Sabre and Thatcher both showed they are experts.
Uhaa Nation defeats Roderick Strong in a Special Challenge Match at 16:33. They start with a feeling-out process, and both men try to psyche each other out as well. Strong cleverly uses the referee to score the first advantage of the match, and he tries to keep Nation grounded to work over his midsection and back. Nation uses his tremendous power to fight back, mixing in suplexes and strikes to show Strong he means business. They battle back and forth, both men throwing bombs to try and put the other down. Nation tries the Uhaa Combination but Strong grabs the leg to block it. Strong tries the Stronghold but Nation kicks his way out of it and presses Strong to the mat. Nation then completes the Uhaa Combination to get the pin. That gives Nation a ton of momentum for his Open the Freedom Gate Title shot against Ricochet tomorrow night. Strong is insanely good and he sure did everything he could to help make Nation look like a threat to the title. I love the simplicity here – both guys hit their big moves, and Nation won after hitting his finisher. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
Caleb Konley (w/ Su Yung & Mr. A) defeats Open the Freedom Gate Champion Ricochet in a non-title match at 15:04. Ricochet outmaneuvers Konley to start, but then gets flattened with a clothesline. Konley works Ricochet over, and withstands the Champion’s comeback attempts. It’s actually shocking how much Konley controls the match over the Open the Freedom Gate Champion, who has a big title defense tomorrow night. Ricochet does come back and he puts Konley on the top rope. He tries a springboard maneuver but Konley catches him and hits a super Cradle Shock to get the upset pin. I don’t understand the logic of having the Champion lose there, especially to Konley. I certainly mean no offense to Konley, who is good and had a good showing here, but he literally just pinned the Champion clean going into a title defense. I guess they wanted to go with Nation winning and Ricochet losing to really make it look like Nation had the upper hand in the title match, but it’s still a bit of a head scratcher.
~AR Fox Promo~
Apparently back in May, Fox won the right to book himself in any match he wants. Fox goes over his accomplishments (first Style Battle winner, first EVOLVE Champion, Open the United Gate Champion alongside CIMA). That last one brings out Harlem and Lancelot Bravado, who take exception to Fox calling himself and CIMA the greatest Tag Team Champions of all-time. The Bravados beat the Young Bucks for the titles, and the Bucks beat Fox & CIMA, so the Bravados reason that they are the better team. That angers Harlem and Lancelot, who introduce Fox’s opponent for tonight, Moose.
AR Fox defeats Moose (w/ The Bravado Brothers) by disqualification at 7:48. This is a pretty classic speed versus size matchup. Fox tries flying around but Moose is consistently able to catch him and throw him around with a variety of power moves. It’s almost fair to say that Moose dominates the former EVOLVE Champion. Finally, Fox is able to get Moose in position to hit Lo Mein Pain, and when he goes for the cover the Bravado Brothers come in to break it up and cause the disqualification. This was short and the finish was meh, but the bulk of the match made Moose look great, so it certainly served its purpose.
The Colony comes out to make the save and segue right into the next match. Green Ant is now Silver Ant, for reasons Kevin Ford could probably better explain.
Open the United Gate Champions The Bravado Brothers (Harlem Bravado & Lancelot Bravado) (w/ Moose) defeat The Colony (Fire Ant & Silver Ant) at 11:15 to retain the titles. Harlem and Lancelot have been the Champions since 11.16.13, and this is their seventh defense. The action is fast and furious from the start here, with the challengers eager to show that they’re the best team in EVOLVE. Harlem and Lancelot use their shady tactics to control Fire for a bit, but of course the hot tag is made and Silver is a house afire. The referee loses control and all four men are in the ring going back and forth. Silver traps Harlem in the CHIKARA Special, which looks like the least painful submission ever, and Lancelot breaks it up. When the referee turns his back Harlem hits Silver with a low blow and rolls him up for the pin. That was okay tag team formula stuff, but never really kicked into a higher gear. Also the finish was pretty lazy.
EVOLVE Champion Drew Galloway defeats Rich Swann at 13:24 to retain the title. Galloway has been the Champion since 8.8.14, and this is his fifth defense. Swann attacks right away as it would be in his best interest to end this one quickly. Galloway cuts him off quickly, but he’s conflicted because Swann is coming into this match at less than 100%. Swann fights valiantly but Galloway is able to stay one step ahead of him. Galloway mostly controls the match aside from short bursts of offense from Swann. The Champ delivers a Sick Kick that sends Swann to the floor, and the Premier Athlete Brand makes their way out to cause some trouble. Galloway takes them all out with a somersault dive over the top rope. Back in the ring Galloway hits a Cradle Tombstone Piledriver but somehow Swann kicks out! Swann makes one last gasp but Galloway catches him in a Choke Sleeper to get the win. I liked the story of Swann fighting back against the odds and Galloway having the killer instinct to put him away. The Premier Athlete Brand interference was not good though, and added nothing to the overall match.
Galloway cuts his usual promo after the match, putting over Swann, EVOLVE, and the EVOLVE Championship.
This is a good show from top to bottom, with a good main event and a couple of stellar matches on the undercard. Thatcher v Sabre Jr. really stood out, with Strong v Nation right behind them. We also got some good storyline development with Johnny Gargano’s road to redemption and the Premier Athlete Brand going after Rich Swann. Also, this is the first EVOLVE Blu-Ray, and it looks and sounds great so that is a major plus right there. You can order this DVD from the EVOLVE website, and I recommend that you do.
Tags: drew galloway, evolve, Rich Swann, Timothy Thatcher, Zack Sabre Jr.