Evolve report 9-22 Brooklyn



I see you already have the brief results on your site, but I feel this show deserves a full review.  When it goes up on VOD on the WWN site, people are going to want to see the top matches of this card for sure. Everything after intermission was **** or better.
 
First, some notes on the setup of the show. They started late because the ring was giving them some trouble getting it set up, which came into play later in the show. And in fact, as soon as we got into the building, it became apparent that they need to get a different ring in the future. This one looked mighty old and had a big sag in the middle.
 
They announced that they are hoping to make the Brooklyn Lyceum their new "home base" so to speak, since BB King's is not running wrestling shows anymore.  And if that's the case, they really need to make sure this Lyceum gets renovated, and SOON. The building itself is nice enough, but the interior of the "arena" area is all tarps and plywood and plaster-paint, as if someone started to restore it and then left in the middle.  It also appears that the floor seating is only set up for a couple hundred people, but then again they did have a large merchandise area that could easily be made smaller to accomodate more people if needed.
 
My wife and I were seated across from the hard camera right in front of the curtain between "backstage" and the "arena," which meant we could hear backstage discussions some of the time, and that also came into play a couple of times during the show.
 
Match #1: 4-way one-fall freestyle match, Lince Dorado vs Mr Touchdown vs Green Ant vs Psycho Mike Rollins
 
This match was a really solid opener with a bunch of cool moves. I had not seen Rollins before tonight, and he has a great deal of potential based on this showing.  Green Ant was very over with the crowd, which had a large Chikara contingent.  Lince Dorado won after double-reversing a reversal of a rana.
 
This match also had the first sign that something was wrong with the ring, as Mr Touchdown went to grab the ring apron from the outside and the apron sash fell off, revealing that the ring canvas was not secured to the ring frame. During intermission I mentioned to him outside the building that they were just now getting around to fixing the canvas, and he said "Yeah, if it had been tied properly, I could have broken up that pinfall!" I LOLed and told him to appeal the decision.
 
Matt Jackson came out to talk about the Bucks' invitational tag tournament dealie, winking at the camera and calling it "first annual," then pointing out he'd just essentially booked himself in Evolve a year from now.  He then reiterated that he had an open challenge to anyone in the back.
 
Match #2: Matt Jackson vs Shane Strickland
 
This was an okay match, clunky at times but with good heat. Jackson continued to use his superkick-centered offensive style, while Strickland tried a little flying and had some success. The closeness of the ringside seats to the ring itself got in their way a couple of times. Strickland won with a flying top rope double kick to the top of Jackson's head as Jackson was in a seated position.
 
Match #3: SHINE showcase, Su Yung vs Ivelisse
 
This match had potential but got no time really. Some shenanigans led to Su Yung winning with a rollup.
Yung was accompanied by Mr. A and Anthony Nese, and afterwards Nese issued his own open challenge.
 
Match #4: Anthony Nese vs Josh Alexander
 
Alexander's another guy I've not seen before, though I've heard of him. He worked a mat-based style in this match, while Nese worked his typical flying-based approach. They had a good little match, again nothing incredible, but the finish was good. Nese's goon Mr. A grabbed Alexander's legs, allowing Nese to lay him out and hit the 450 for the pin.
 
Trent Baretta came out, talked about being a big TV star, and demanded a high caliber opponent. Out came my new favorite wrestler, Maxwell Chicago, dressed in a sequined tuxedo onesie, singing the Sinatra song about New York.
 
Match #5: Trent vs Maxwell Chicago
 
This is the best short comedy match one can expect, and the best I've seen live other than a couple of Cabana matches. I just hope the mics on the handheld cameras were able to pick up the talking they did to each other in the ring, as Trent loudly explained to Maxwell how to do an arm wringer properly over the course of about a minute, ending with Maxwell saying "what about if I did this?" and then biting Trent's hand. Trent went over obviously, flattening Maxwell with the Dudebuster (package Omori driver).
 
Out came Caleb Konley immediately to challenge Trent to a real match.
 
Match #6: Trent vs Caleb Konley
 
This was a really good middle of the card match. Solid work from both guys and really good psychology considering how move-heavy it was. Not much to say in specific, but worth watching if you get the chance. Trent won with the Dudebuster here too.
 
Match #7: 4-way one-fall tag team freestyle, Los Ben Dejos vs Bravado Brothers vs Jigsaw/Shard vs Chuck Taylor/Orange Cassidy
 
Jigsaw and the Shard insisted on being introduced as Chikara Tag Champions "for all time, forever" due to there not being anyone who can beat them for the belts now that the promotion is closed. We'll see.
This match got a ton of time as the pre-intermission "main event" match. Lots of flying, striking, quick reversals, and interesting dynamics of different guys working together. There was one funny spot that probably nobody but us saw, as Orange got dumped from the ring and crawled near the curtain, and someone stuck their hand out from backstage and wiggled their finger in his ear. He was very sad about this.  The highspots near the end were excellent. The Bravados won with their double team cutter finish deal. I'd give this ***3/4.
The Bravados called out Matt Jackson and said they won the Bucks invitational going 2-0. Jackson blew them off and faked a handshake, and started to leave. Bravados cut a short fiery promo on him, telling him they are not young boys anymore and he needs to go get Nick because they want to "beat that ass." Sets up a DGUSA tag title shot, I expect.
 
We came back from intermission with the finals of the 2013 Style Battle.
 
Match #8: Drew Gulak vs Biff Busick
 
This match was awesome. Started very slowly, with chain grappling and a real sense of a feeling-out process. Both guys took a semi-MMA stance in their posture, so it had the feel of a real combat contest.
When it got going, it got REALLY going. Stiff, brutal and believable. The chops and slaps in this match were a Kobashi fan's wet dream. They worked a strong-style classic incorporating lots of submission work, granted with less time than I expected them to get, but making every second count.  If you are a fan of Japanese wrestling or just want to see two guys leave it all in the ring, this is a must-see match. Gulak won with the body-scissors dragon sleeper. ****1/4
Gulak shook Busick's hand, then demanded a rematch with Jon Davis.
 
Match #9: Johnny Gargano vs Rich Swann for the Open the Freedom Gate title
 
This is where the night got really interesting. After Gargano tried to get out of the match by asking Swann to lay down, they started a fast and furious series of exchanges that included a vertical suplex into the corner/buckle area. The bottom of the ring frame broke on that move, and the post tilted, leaving the ropes saggy and the canvas a little buckled.
There became three stories of this match, the story of the ring crew trying to hold up the ring with their legs, wedged between the post and the barricades; the story of the backstage panic over what to do about the main event coming up between AR Fox and Ricochet; and the story in the ring.
In-ring: The match psychology was excellent, and there were a lot of people in the crowd who expected to see Swann take the belt here. Gargano's smarmy heel fake-babyface persona is amazing to see live ("Just lay down. Do it for the kids with cancer, Rich. They need me as champion." ... -hits 9 punches in the corner- "Do you want to see 10? I always give my fans what they want!" -hits a 10th-).  There was a ref bump and Swann got a visual pin. Gargano ended up winning with the GargaNO Escape after a low blow and using the title belt to hit Swann as Swann tried a flying move. This match would have been probably about ***1/4, maybe ***1/2, but the extra wrinkle of the broken ring and how professionally and coolly they not only dealt with it, but used it in the match, brought it up to **** in my opinion.
The story of the ring crew was a sad one. They kept trying and trying to fix the ring while staying out of sight, and they couldn't do a damn thing about it.
Backstage we could hear Gabe telling Fox and Ricochet that if the ring wasn't fixed, they'd have to "just go out there and do whatever."
 
They took a short break to try to fix the ring. This involved loosening the ropes even more so they could move the post. It didn't work. While they were trying to fix it using a sledgehammer and a bunch of guys holding up the wood/canvas part of the ring, Gabe was backstage telling Fox and Ricochet "don't hit those fucking ropes, do NOT hit the ropes." He also told them not to bump in the ring throughout the match because each bump was going to make the ring collapse more.
 
AR Fox and Ricochet came out and Fox said he had two things to say: 1, Fuck this ring. 2, instead of the stipulation of no rules outside the ring, which was the billed match, let's just make the match No-DQ, falls count anywhere. Ricochet accepted.
 
Match #10: AR Fox vs Ricochet, No DQ, falls count anywhere
 
This is the most amazing match I ever saw live, entirely due to the unique atmosphere. I can guarantee that fans who loved old-school ECW brawling will adore this match, but everyone should be able to appreciate how hard the guys worked and the excellent results.
They clearly had to change a lot of what they had planned since both guys use the ropes so much. But not only was it cool because of that and all the crowd and balcony brawling, but they also had the fans pointing out cool spots they could do. There was a real collaborative back and forth with the crowd as to how to put the match together, including my wife reminding Ricochet that he had brought a kendo stick (we saw him testing it out before the show) and him saying "oh yeah, I should go get that" which led to a balcony duel of kendo stick vs broom handle. There was a suplex through a legit wooden plank on the floor right next to us (Me: "Are you sure about this?" Ricochet: "Uh, not really."), there was wall-climbing to get to the balcony, there was a fan pointing out a huge construction ladder left over from the renovations, which then got used for a giant moonsault onto the floor. This match was INSANE. I cannot fully describe the atmosphere of this match, but hopefully it will come across on the recorded version.  They exhaustively used everything outside the ring over the course of many minutes of creative brawling, including chairs, brooms, the kendo stick, water bottles, the ladder, the wood plank, and a big plywood sheet (which got caught in Fox's afro when it splintered and Ricochet had to get it loose for him).
They did use the ring too. Ricochet had taken off the top buckle from one corner and they used that a bit, including putting it down on the mat, standing on it, and hitting a "top rope LOL" standing moonsault. Near the end, they did start bumping hard for big moves in the ring, and testing out some stuff off the saggy second rope.
 
I won't go too in-depth on the sequences leading to the finish except to note that right as Ricochet was going to climb to the top of the post and try a big move, he looked around to find a piece of plunder to put on top of Fox, and I yelled "do you want the wood?" "Yeah, maybe the wood," he replied, so I went to get it. (I say this to underline the fan involvement in the match, not to put myself over. It could have been anyone, as people were contributing throughout the match.) While I was doing that, Fox laid out Ricochet, and started piling whatever he could find on top of him, including a chair. I tossed the wooden plank in the ring, Fox put it on top of the pile, and then he climbed to the top of the post, vaulted off with one foot, and hit a double foot stomp that made a loud CRACK sound as he landed on the plank. 1, 2, 3.
 
The post-match was very emotional, as both guys were exhausted and the crowd was giving a huge ovation. Ricochet and Fox gave respect to one another, drank some beers a fan gave them, and hugged. They each led chants for the other guy.
If you include the post-match and the incredible live atmosphere, this was a ***** experience in person. Probably will go down in the records as not quite that good, maybe ****1/4, maybe even less depending on one's preferences, but when you consider that this will inevitably be compared to the Hardcore Heaven 1996 match where RVD and Sabu main evented with the broken ring ropes, this match was every bit as good and maybe better. (In fact, the first thing Gabe said to Fox when he got backstage was "That right there, that was RVD and Sabu all over again.")
PEOPLE. SEE THIS MATCH.
 
There was one final segment as Fox went backstage, and Ricochet cut a promo saying he wanted to focus on getting the Open the Freedom Gate title. Su Yung came out and offered Ricochet a chance to join Anthony Nese as part of the "Premier Athlete brand." Ricochet asked why Nese would want to be the second-best performer in his own brand, effectively turning her down on her offer. Nese and Mr. A came out, and it ended with, ironically, the most painful looking bump of the night for Ricochet, as Mr. A gave him a spinebuster right on the microphone, which he had not made sure to avoid as he hoisted him up. Looked like Ricochet landed tailbone-first right on the top of the mic. Dented it.
 
Overall, a thumbs-up show with a great top of the card, made unforgettable by a unique main event experience. I will be buying whatever versions of this show come out for purchase.
 
Michael Bernstein

Send us a news tip: newstips@wrestlingobserver.com

Note to webmasters/reporters: When recapping news from this site or from our newsletters, please include a link to www.wrestlingobserver.com

For the most in-depth and detailed news and analysis on pro-wrestling and MMA, always turn to Wrestlingobserver.com/Figure Four Weekly Online, the #1 website of its kind on the Internet. Members receive online access to both the Wrestling Observer and Figure Four Weekly newsletters and growing archives, Wrestling Observer Radio with Bryan Alvarez and Dave Meltzer three times per week, the popular Bryan and Vinny Show three times per week, additional radio shows including Figure Four Daily with Alvarez, Mike Coughlin's Five Star Radio, the Dr. Keith Lipinski Show, The Adam and Mike Big Audio Nightmare, Tough Talk and the Karl Stern Wrestling History Show, the infamous BOARD, and more! Members also have full access to the thousands of hours of audio in our radio show archives which date back to 2005. For your convenience, we offer secure online payments using your VISA, Mastercard, American Express, Discover card or PayPal account. Don't miss out on the fun, sign up now! Don't miss out on the fun, sign up now!

Want full access? QUICK AND EASY SIGN-UP, AS LOW AS $9.99 PER MONTH!