The Small Package: EVOLVE 41 Review

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EVOLVE 41 – 4/17/2015

Premier Athlete Brand consisting of Anthony Neese and Caleb Konley comes out with So Cal Val, Su Yung and Andrea.

1) Anthony Neese vs Martin Stone

Neese stalls early. They’re back and forth trading holds until Stone hits a shoulder-block and a hiptoss. Stone hits the ropes and Andrea grabs his leg but Stone fights off Neese, including avoiding a dropkick to the floor. Stone continues arguing with Andrea until Neese hits a superkick on the floor. Neese gets a vertical suplex inside. Stone goes to the top rope but Neese drops him to the mat.  Stone goes for a German suplex but Neese flips over and lands on his feet and takes out Stone. Neese is in control but Stone fights back and hits a missile dropkick. They trade strikes and Stone does a Thesz Press. Stone hits an enzuiguri and a lariat in the corner followed by a short-arm clothesline. Neese takes out Stone’s feet and hits a quebrada. They both struggle for a suplex position and then square off and Neese hits dropkicks to Stone’s knee. Stone gets an Ace Crusher. Neese gives Stone a buckle bomb and a knee-strike. They trade chops and strikes. Stone gets a German suplex and a clothesline for a near-fall. Stone takes Neese to the apron but Neese hits an enzuiguri. Neese goes up top and misses a 450 splash. Stone puts Neese in a crossface but So Cal Val distracts the referee. Stone hits an elbow and gets a roll-up. Neese hits a dude-buster and applies a single-leg crab for the submission win.

2) Caleb Konley vs Rey Horus

Horus looked really good on the KOI tournament shows so it is good to see him in Evolve. Konley slaps him and starts roughing him up with chops and forearms.  Horus springboards into an armdrag and hits a back elbow with Konley going outside. Konley returns inside and wears down Horus who comes back and gets a rana. Konley goes outside and Horus gives him a rana on the floor. Horus goes for a springboard into the ring but Konley shoves him and knocks him to the floor. Konley slams Horus on the apron and goes inside and hits a running knee as Horus comes back in. Konley hits a clothesline and applies a body-scissors. Horus gets outside and Konley hits a leg-sweep and a diving lariat. Horus comes back and again springboards into an armdrag. They criss-cross with Konley going outside and Horus hits a tope con giro. Horus hits Konley with a chair on the floor. Konley rolls inside and Horus gets a lateral press off the top and then hits a spinning DDT. Horus hits a back elbow but Konley gets a backfist and a powerbomb. Konley goes for the O-Face submission but Horus muscles out and does a rana and a spin-kick. Horus puts Konley on the top rope and hits an enzuiguri. Horus goes up top and gets a standing hurracanrana off the top on Konley for a near-fall. Horus goes up top but Konley gets a palm-strike and gives him a driver off the top for the win.

Su Yung takes the mic and says she will be facing SHINE Champion Santana Garrett for the title tomorrow. So Cal Val tells her that Andrea will be getting the title shot and then makes fun of Yung’s physique.

3) Biff Busick vs TJ Perkins

They work the mat early on and Busick starts working Perkins’ leg. Perkins gets a head-scissors and corkscrews Busick’s neck. Perkins applies an octopus hold into a roll-up. Busick charges and goes to the floor. Perkins goes to the apron for a dive but Busick drops him face-first on the apron. Busick applies a cravate and Perkins slams him. Busick holds the cravate through snapmares from Perkins who finally shakes him. Busick goes up top and hits a diving uppercut and applies a surfboard. Busick buries his head into Perkins’ shoulders and Perkins eventually gets out with a mule-kick. Perkins gives him a pop-up and gets his boots into Busick’s face. Perkins gets an inverted atomic drop, a neckbreaker and a springboard cross-body. Perkins transitions into a cross armbreaker but Busick gets the ropes. Busick applies a rear naked choke but Perkins gives him a double-underhook into a knee-strike. Perkins comes off the top but Busick gives him a big uppercut and then a blockbuster. Perkins gets another cross armbreaker and does some hard scissor-kicks on Busick’s head for the win. Busick is arguing with the referee that he did not submit.

4) Rich Swann vs Ethan Page

Swann attacks Page right away. Page runs outside and cuts off a dive from Swann. Page drapes Swann on the apron and flips him over into a backbreaker. Page slams him back-first into the apron and takes him inside. Page gives him a back suplex. Swann handsprings into an attempted ace crusher but Page grabs him and hits a tilt-a-whirl. Page knees Swann in the ribs and gives him a fall-away slam. Swann is on the floor and Page slaps him around the ring. Page takes Swann through the crowd and gives him a Gotch Piledriver on the stage. Page returns inside as Swann crawls to the ring to beat the referee’s count. Page lays into him with punches. They trade chops and Swann hits a rolling neckbreaker and a back heel-kick. Page goes to the top and Swann gives him a rana. They both go to the top rope and Page goes for an Ace Crusher but Swann gets out.  Page drapes Swann off the top rope and gets an Ace Crusher. Page goes for a piledriver on the apron but Swann stops him and hits an enzuiguri. Page backdrops him into the ring and goes for an Ace Crusher that Swann blocks. They trade kicks and Page lawn-darts Swann into the corner. Page hits his Ace Crusher for a two-count. Page goes for his Spinning Dwayne (STO) but Swann avoids it and hits a handspring Ace Crusher. Swann goes for a frog splash but Page gets his knees up into Swann’s ribs. Page hits a Spinning Dwayne and pins Swann for the win.

5) Davey Richards vs Johnny Gargano

Richards gets an inverted Indian Deathlock early and Gargano gets the ropes. Gargano gets Richards in a crossface but Richards escapes outside. Gargano offers a handshake and Richards goes for it but hits a forearm. They’re back and forth and trade submissions.  Richards applies a modified cloverleaf. Richards hits a nice dropkick. Gargano rolls outside and Richards tries a big kick on the apron. Gargano avoids and dropkicks him to the floor. Gargano goes for a pescado and Richards avoids but Gargano spears him into the ring. Gargano unloads punches and hits a seated dropkick to the back of Richards’ head. They trade strikes and Richards slams him to the mat. Richards gives Gargano a snap suplex. Richards works over Gargano’s knee with an inverted figure four and a dragon-screw. Richards tries to Irish Whip Gargano who falls to the mat clutching his knee. Richards gives Gargano a dropkick to the knee. Gargano fights back with elbows. Richards does a handspring and Gargano catches him in a neckbreaker. Gargano hits a head-kick and slingshots from the apron into a DDT. Gargano slaps Richards on the top rope and goes for a lawn dart but Richards escapes and hits a jumping knee and a running kick. Richards misses a double stomp off the top rope but hits a kick and applies the stretch muffler. Gargano escapes and applies a crossface with Richards getting the ropes. They trade kicks and Gargano gives Richards a lawn dart into the corner followed by a running kick and a Gargano Escape. Richards rolls out and applies the stretch muffler. They trade a number of pin attempts and then kicks and Richards does a backdrop driver. Richards hits the double stomp off the top rope. Richards then hits a spinning kick and gets the three-count for the win.

6) 2/3 Falls- Roderick Strong vs Timothy Thatcher

First fall: Strong stalls and taunts the fans to start. Thatcher takes him to the mat and owns him until Strong rolls outside. Strong returns inside and grabs a headlock and holds it while Thatcher works away at his arm. Strong is outside briefly and returns with Thatcher picking apart his arm. Thatcher goes for a cross armbreaker but Strong gets out and drops some knees and starts working Thatcher with stomps. They’re on their feet trading chops and uppercuts. Thatcher gives Strong a vertical suplex and gets a hammerlock. They trade forearms on the apron and Strong kicks Thatcher’s knee out. Strong dropkicks a prone Thatcher in the face. Thatcher hits some uppercuts but takes a dropkick. Thatcher fights out of a half-nelson by Strong and hits an uppercut and a double-underhook suplex. Thatcher goes for a Fujiwara Armbar but Strong rolls him and gets a pin to win the first fall.

Second fall: Stong immediately takes Thatcher outside and attacks him but Thatcher runs Strong into a pole on the floor. Strong grabs Thatcher and runs him into a steel lighting pole and then chops away at him, with Thatcher moving and Strong chopping the pole. Thatcher attacks Strong’s arm. Thatcher bends Strong’s hand but takes a kick to the head. Strong sits Thatcher on the top rope but Thatcher knocks him down and stomps him to the mat. Thatcher hits more uppercuts but takes a knee to the head. Strong kicks him in the jaw. Strong punches away at him but Thatcher fights back and goes for the armbar that Strong kicks his way out of. Strong goes for a Gibson Driver but Thatcher stops him and gets the cross armbreaker. Strong taps out and Thatcher wins the second fall.

Third fall: Thatcher goes for the Tower of McGuinness but Strong blocks it, gets outside and does a back suplex on the apron. Strong works him over with chops inside. Strong starts throwing elbows but Thatcher headbutts him to the mat. Strong hits an enzuiguri and puts Thatcher on the top rope. Thatcher knocks him off with elbows but Strong hits an enzuiguri and gives Thatcher a superplex. They trade chops and uppercuts and Strong hits a knee-strike. Thatcher blocks a suplex and does some muay thai knee-strikes. Thatcher gets the Tower of McGuinness and goes for a Fujiwara Armbar. Strong gets out and hits a sick-kick and a Gibson Driver for the pinfall win.

Strong took the mic and said on May 31 he was coming to take Drew Galloway’s Evolve Title. Thatcher then said that he was man enough to say that tonight Strong was the better man but that whoever wins between Strong and Galloway, he would work his way up and stand across the ring from them. Biff Busick came out and sad everyone saw him get screwed by the referee earlier. Strong said they’re supposed to be celebrating him and said he looked more like Baby Busick.

Final thoughts: 

This was a really good show. The two openers were good as Neese is really underrated and Horus seems special. Page vs Swann surpassed my expectations and while Page has been good when I’ve seen him in Ontario over the years, he has really hit his stride now and will likely break out in EVOLVE. Richards vs Gargano was just ok. I was hoping for a MOTY candidate from Strong and Thatcher and instead it was just really, really good. I think it might have been better as a straight match instead of 2/3 falls but is still worth going out of your way to see. It is amazing that wrestlers as good as Strong, Thatcher and Busick are all wrestling on these shows. Perhaps the best EVOLVE roster in a long, long time.

Also, in case anyone is interested, here is the pre-show from ACW Live Pro Wrestling

ACW Live Pro Wrestling Pre-Show

  • Frankie Zane vs Mitch Mitchell vs Bucky Wells

Mitchell and Wells were both solid young indy workers. Zane is rotund with wild hair, mediocre tattoos and ill-fitting pink tights. Bravo, I say! He does the “Thumb In The Bum” move a la Steve Corino. At one point he had both guys thumbed and did a double thumb-in-bum back suplex. Mitchell did something to win but I was still thinking of that move.

  • Kennedy Kendrick vs Rhett Giddens with Dontay Brown

Giddens charged Kendrick early and they went back-and-forth at a good pace considering Rhett seems like a power wrestler. Rhett hits a nice cross-body. Kendrick does a curb-stomp out of the corner. Giddens does a swinging sidewalk slam and a leg-scissor. Giddens starts hitting spinning forearms but Kendrick gets a superkick. Giddens does a spinebuster and a lariat for the win.

  • ACW Light Heavyweight Championship: Aaron Epic vs Jayson Falcone (C)

They note that Epic is a fourteen-year veteran. Falcone is from the New York area. Epic hits a snap suplex into the bottom turnbuckle. Falcone responds to a slap in the face with clotheslines and a spinebuster. Falcone gives Epic some Sole Food. Falcone goes up top where Epic hits him with a palm-strike. Falcone knocks him off and gets a top-rope legdrop. Epic does a Fisherman Buster. Epic hits a big lariat but Falcone rolls him up and pins him for the win.

  • ACW Tag Team Championship: Celtic Sinners- Sideshow and CJ O’Doyle vs First Degree- D’Lo Jordan and Wayne Wonder (C) with Ariyah Blake

Sideshow and O’Doyle control the early part of the match and get dives to the outside. The referee gets distracted and Blake hits a kick from the outside and D’Lo and Wonder take over. They continue with double-teaming and Blake chokes O’Doyle on the ropes. O’Doyle comes back with a belly-to-belly suplex. Blake comes in the ring and hits a flying headscissors behind the referee’s back and Wonder gets a two-count. Sideshow gets the hot tag and hits a leg lariat and a suplex. O’Doyle hits a reverse vertical suplex. An apparent fan is in the ring and O’Doyle restrains him. Blake tries to interfere from the apron but Sideshow kisses her. O’Doyle and Sideshow take over with Sideshow hitting a verta-brekaer. Dontay Brown hits the ring with Sean Swagg and Rhett Giddens and the ref throws out the match. Jeff Boom and Mitch Mitchell hit the ring and the next match starts.

  • ACW Championship: Jeff Boom vs Sean Swagg (C)

Swagg is in control early but Boom hits a high dropkick. Giddens interferes outside and runs Boom into the ringpost. Swagg brings him inside and hits elbows in the corner followed by a vertical suplex. Swagg gives Boom a back suplex. Boom hits a neckbreaker. Swagg goes for a big boot but Boom avoids it and they both hit a cross-body. Boom starts hitting clotheslines and then takes an elbow. Boom gives Swagg a spinebuster. Dontay grabs Boom’s leg to distract him and Swagg hits a superkick. Boom does a small package and then an Ace Crusher. Dontay distracts Boom again and Swaggs schoolboys him and uses the ropes to get the pinfall.