When I was granted the opportunity to review some Evolve shows from the last year or so, I jumped at the opportunity. I’m always looking to review wrestling from all promotions around the world, especially from ones I haven’t seen. While I have usually read the results from each Evolve show, I haven’t actually seen one live. What I do know about the promotion is that it’s been the stomping ground for many wrestlers that have made their way to other promotions, most notably WWE, as you’ll see in these results. These shows that I’ll be reviewing for the next few weeks are far enough in the past that it’ll be interesting to see who competed on these shows and where they are now.
Some notes on the blu ray itself before I start on the show. I can say that the blu ray I was given for review was very well produced. The disc and art cover looks great, and the show looked excellent in high definition. I wish the audio was a bit better, but it wasn’t bad. Very well produced blu ray in terms of presentation and production.
This is Evolve 34, which took place on September 13, 2014 in Elmhurst, New York.
Johnny Gargano comes out to start Evolve 34. Apparently, Caleb Konley beat him and told him that he wasn’t that man that he used to be. He also mentioned that he doesn’t like Rich Swann due to their past, but when Konley and Nese jumped Swann he knew that he had to prove to himself that he was still the man around here, so he wanted to wrestle tonight in order to prove to himself that he’s the Johnny Gargano of old. He finishes off by saying the road to the Evolve title begins now.
Johnny Gargano vs. Anthony Nese
Su Yung, Trent Baretta and Mr. A accompanied Nese, as they’re all a part ofa group along with Caleb Konley called the Premiere Athlete Brand. Mr. A looks like a bigger Big Bubba, if you can imagine that. At one point Nese had Gargano on the ropes and Baretta took the opportunity to take a selfie for all his Snapchat buddies. This is a very 2015 show here. These two had good chemistry, with some great back and forth towards the end. Nese dodged a swipe off the apron by doing a cartwheel. That’s new! Nese went for a one arm powerbomb but Gargano countered with a roll up for the win. Good opener.
Mr. A laid out Gargano after the match, but Rich Swann ran in and laid him out with a lariat. He also took out Beretta, who was injured with his knee in a cast, and then went for Su Yung but Nese recovered and laid him out, posting him. Gargano took care of the heels with a suicide dive off the top rope, but the damage was done. This would play into Swann’s title match against Drew Galloway later in the night.
Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Timothy Thatcher
This is my first time seeing Zack Sabre Jr. after hearing a ton of good things about him. These two had a really cool technical style match. Just a ton of mat work throughout, including working on body parts, which was really well done by both men. Bending the fingers always gets a pop out of me as well. Wonder if they saw the AJ/Suzuki match from a few months before this. Thatcher eventually got tired of mat work and laid out Sabre with a trio of gutwrench suplexes. Sabre countered back, applied an armbar/hammerlock combo and started stomping on his head for the submission. Very good, unique match and the best of the entire show.
Uhaa Nation vs. Roderick Strong
The future Apollo Crews really stands out as a very unique wrestler. He is not only physically opposing, but the finesse he has in the ring is extraordinary given his frame. Guys his size could probably do what he does, but he makes it look effortless which isn’t always easy to pull off. Uhaa got the control until Roderick Strong used the referee to push him out to the floor. Strong tied for his boston crab submission after Uhaa tried for his gorilla press/standing shooting star press combo but Uhaa escaped then hit the combo for the win. A good, solid match.
Ricochet vs. Caleb Konley
Ricochet’s Open the Freedom Gate title was not on the line here. In fact, Ricochet made sure to have the announcer repeat this before the match started, which Konley did not like at all. Konley has a weird highlight pattern in his hair. It's distracting, but hey, he’s a heel. Ricochet is so beyond the talent level of anyone on the indy scene it’s really amazing WWE passed on him. It’s not only he does high flying stuff, he has the charisma to boot and has an amazing confidence level not many people in the industry have. Again, he’s such a special talent. Konley looked good here, even hitting a Regalplex at one point. Ricochet was going for a springboard hurricanrana, but Konley cut him off and countered with a falcon arrow off the top rope for the surprise win. Hey, after all that talk about a non title match, maybe he’s in line for one now! Good stuff here as well. Konley looked good and I’ve already said my thing on Ricochet.
AR Fox comes out for an interview. He says he wants an Open the Freedom Gate title match. This brings out the Bravado Brothers, whose gimmick is that they are Grandma’s boys while wearing nice sweaters. They say they take offense to him saying that he and Cima were the greatest tag team in the company, because they are. Fox disagrees, saying that they’re the most boring. They don’t like that, saying that they have a surprise for Fox, and it’s none other than Moose.
AR Fox vs. Moose
I liked this match. It wasn’t a great back and forth match like others on this show, but it told a good, solid story. AR Fox used his high flying abilities to take out Moose, but when Moose countered he’d use nothing but big power moves. Fox went for a senton at one point but Moose grabbed him and powerbombed him into the ropes. Ouch! Fox also hit what I think was a springboard inverted moonsault. I’d never really seen a move like that before, but it worked. All of this was good stuff until the Bravado Brothers ran in for the DQ. This protects both guys, but the finish was still kinda lame.
The Colony, consisting of Fire Ant and Silver Ant, ran in, leading to the next match…
Open the United Gate tag champions The Bravado Brothers vs. The Colony
This was ok. Nothing wrong with it, but never really got going. They worked on Fire Ant for the heat. Silver Ant got the hot tag, and from there it devolved into a four way. Silver Ant had Harlem Bravado in the Chikara Special, but Harlem grabbed his mask. Lance came in and grabbed it as well, distracting Silver Ant long enough for Harlem to low blow him and pin him.
Evolve Champion Drew Galloway vs. Rich Swann
The injured Swann, who came out here not in the best condition due to the attack early in the show, jumped Galloway at the bell. Galloway countered, and they ended up having a fine back and forth match. Not awesome, but very competent and both guys looked good. Galloway tried for the Future Shock DDT at one point but as they fell Swann countered into a pin for a nearfall. That was cool. The Premiere Athlete Brand all came out again to interfere, but Galloway wiped them out with a senton. Swann went for a springboard off the ropes but Galloway grabbed him and put him in a sleeper choke. Swann tried valiantly to escape, but Drew got him to the floor and Swann submitted. Nice match that told a good story.
Drew grabs a mic after the bout and gave Swann props, saying that he fought like a man and he’ll get his rematch. He put over Evolve, saying that he’ll defend the title anywhere, anytime. He won’t lead you, but he asks to walk by his side for this revolution.
Not a knockdown, drag out awesome show, but a good show highlighted by some great athleticism and good storytelling. I like the concept of having two shows per weekend as you use one show to build to the other, and that’s what this was here while also having some good wrestling on the card as well. This was my first Evolve show, and I’m looking forward to watching more, as I’ll review Evolve 35 in the near future. Stay tuned!