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The Brooklyn Lyceum – Brooklyn, NY – Sunday, September 14, 2014
Lenny Leonard and Ron Niemi are on commentary.
Johnny Gargano defeats Drew Gulak at 17:05 in a “Climb the Rankings” match. It’s a feeling-out process to start, with both men showing off their technical skills in the opening minutes. I would expect Gulak to have the advantage on the mat, but Gargano is more than able to keep up with him. Gargano scores the first big blow with a superplex, but it’s not enough to keep Gulak down. The resilient Gulak focuses his efforts on Gargano’s leg, attempting an Ankle Lock on multiple occasions. Gargano counters one Ankle Lock by rolling through and sending Gulak to the floor. He follows him out with a suicide dive, and then tries the Superman Spear back into the ring but Gulak catches him and puts on the Ankle Lock! A series of reversals ends with Gargano putting on a Regal Stretch and Gulak is forced to tap out. That was a terrific opener, with two outstanding wrestlers going back and forth trying to pull off a win. No shenanigans, just quality work across the board.
After the match, Su Yung and Mr. A of the Premier Athlete Brand make their way out to confront Gargano. Yung threatens Gargano about helping Rich Swann again, and then sics Mr. A on him, which does no good. Anthony Nese and Caleb Konley come out to make the save but Gargano scampers off before they can get to him.
Timothy Thatcher defeats Tracy Williams at 9:18 in a Newcomers Showcase. Williams is making his EVOLVE debut here. Both of these men are specialists in the mat wrestling game, so they’re well-matched here. Thatcher and Williams grapple with each other, both going after the arm and showing off their unique skills in the process. Williams throws in some strikes, and Thatcher counteracts him with some suplexes and throws. Thatcher is able to catch Williams in a Fujiwara Armbar and that’s enough to get the win. That was a nice display of wrestling from both men; a good win for Thatcher and a solid debut for Williams.
EVOLVE Champion Drew Galloway defeats Roderick Strong in a non-title match at 17:19. Galloway tries to make it a title match but the referee says no. What a dick. The crowd is not pleased, to say the least. The referee goes on to say that if Strong wins, he’ll be closer to a title shot. Who gave the referee this much booking power? Strong doesn’t like it either, and he tells Galloway he’ll prove him to be a failure in EVOLVE just like he was in WWE! #Burn. Strong hits Galloway with the microphone and the fight is on. They brawl in and out of the ring, and the intensity is coming through from both men. This is an intense battle, as both men are angry at this not being a title match, and are wrestling with something to prove. Things get especially intense down the stretch, as Strong busts out his signature moves, including two Gibson Drivers, but it’s not enough to put the Champ away. Galloway connects on a Sick Kick and then hits Future Shock to get the pin. The intensity here did not feel the slightest bit manufactured, and that made for a really hot match. This easily could have been a main event, but as a mid-card match it’s an even bigger treat.
After the match, Strong comes back and attacks Galloway with the EVOLVE Title belt. I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of this feud.
Biff Busick defeats Zack Sabre Jr. at 18:34 in a Technical Challenge. They start off with some grappling, which is certainly no surprise. It doesn’t take too long for the fans to chant “This Is Wrestling.” Busick and Sabre pepper in some strikes to keep things interesting. Sabre is vicious in his attacks on Busick’s arm, making me legitimately wonder how they pull some of this stuff off without causing serious injury. Busick fires back with strikes and a couple of suplexes, showing impressive variety in his attacks. After a tremendous back and forth encounter, Busick traps Sabre in a Rear Naked Choke and tenaciously fights off Sabre’s reversal attempts, eventually choking him out to get the win. What a great battle between two expert technical wrestlers. When EVOLVE says they want to emphasize wrestling over sports entertainment, they prove it by sending out guys like these two to do what they do.
The Premier Athlete Brand (Anthony Nese & Caleb Konley) (w/ Mr. A & Su Yung) defeat AR Fox & Rich Swann and Open the United Gate Champions The Bravado Brothers (Harlem Bravado & Lancelot Bravado) (w/ Moose) at 17:01 in an Elimination Match to win the titles. The Bravados have been the Champions since 11.16.13, and this is their eighth defense. This was originally scheduled as a regular tag team match between the PAB and the Bravados, but before the match can begin, AR Fox makes his way out and inserts himself and his tag team partner Rich Swann into the fray.
With six men involved, plus Moose on the floor, the action is non-stop both in and out of the ring right from the get-go. After a flurry of exciting action, the Bravados try the Gentlemen’s Agreement on Swann, but Fox sneaks in and rolls Harlem up to eliminate the Champions at 11:16! The former Champs are not happy, and they attack Fox and hit him with the Gentlemen’s Agreement. The Premier Athlete Brand takes Swann out, and then go face to face with the Bravados and Moose. Mr. A levels Moose with a leg lariat! The former champs exit and we’re down to two-on-two. It looks like easy pickings for Nese and Konley here. Fox and Swann won’t go down without a fight. Su Yung gets up on the apron to distract Swann, and she gets accidentally blasted with an enziguiri! Fox tries Lo Mein Pain on Konley, but it gets blocked and Konley hits a Super Death Valley Driver on the apron! Nese hits Swann with a 450 Splash to get the pin and bring the Open the United Gate Titles to the Premier Athlete Brand. That was terrific tag team action, with all three teams going 100mph the whole way and hitting everything right on. Nese and Konley were definitely the right call to make Champions here.
Open the Freedom Gate Champion Ricochet defeats Uhaa Nation at 22:50 to retain the title. Ricochet has been the Champion since 4.4.14, and this is his second defense. Ricochet and Nation are best friends, so this should be an interesting matchup with the title on the line. They exchange some pleasantries to start and then get down to business. Nation controls the early parts of the match until Ricochet is able to send him to the floor and follow him out with a springboard shooting star press. That gives Ricochet the advantage and he focuses on the big man’s legs. Nation uses his incredible power to counteract the Champion’s attacks. Momentum swings back and forth as these two friends give each other everything they’ve got for the right to be the Open the Freedom Gate Champion. The action gets intense down the stretch, with both men pulling out big maneuvers to try and put the other away. Finally, Ricochet gets Nation in position to hit the 630o senton and get the pin. These two really do know each other well and it showed. They did a lot of traditional big man v little man stuff, but got past that when they went into the home stretch and just had a killer match. Great win for Ricochet here.
Of the five shows from 2014 EVOLVE has released on DVD/Blu-Ray, this is easily the strongest of them all, and arguably the best EVOLVE show ever. With three of six matches at four stars and nothing under three stars, the quality up and down the card is unmatched. Both Champions looked awesome, the new Tag Team Champions had a tremendous match, and the new talent was allowed to shine as well. Highest recommendation to this show. You can purchase it from the DGUSA.TV Store.
Tags: drew galloway, evolve, Ricochet, Roderick Strong, Uhaa Nation