Drew Gulak vs Timothy Thatcher
This was another great example of the style being popularized by these two and Busick. The use of mat-wrestling and limb-work was raised to an art-form. Gulak interspersed a German suplex by Gulak into a cross armbreaker. Gulak had great little touches in the match such as slapping Thatcher on the back when he had him in a submission or slapping away at him to get out of one. Thatcher took Gulak to the mat with a judo throw and then stomped on his wrist and transitioned into a kimura. Thatcher hit a snap suplex and they trade cross armbreakers. Thatcher hit Gulak was an impressive side salto suplex. Thatcher goes for the Tower of McGuinness but Gulak knocks him off and then hits a big lariat from the top rope. On the finishing stretch they both get ankle-locks sunk in deeper than any other point in the match but they both transition our with arm-locks and Gulak does a simple roll-up for the three-count and the win. These matches are the type that wrestling fans should be studying for the next ten years.
Biff Busick vs Tommy End
This was a good hybrid between some catch style wrestling and more common pro wrestling and it was done well. It started off with some mat-wrestling and End hit Busick with a dropkick to the side of the head. Busick did hit a nice suplex. They traded a lot of strikes in the match including uppercuts and End hit a sick knee-strike. Busick rolled him into a rear naked choke Minoru Suzuki-style and sank it in deep with the referee stopping the match. Another really fun match and Lenny Leonard is doing a great job going solo on commentary.
Chris Hero vs Ethan Page
This felt like it similar to the recent AJ Styles vs ACH match with the veteran vs upstart, and although it wasn’t quite at that level it was quite good. It was weird to see Page as a face but I assume that might change with some exchange with Gargano. Page did a nice tope and played to the crowd well. Hero had some stiff offense including his usual kicks and the decisive win with the elbow was nice.
Ricochet, Rich Swann & Uhaa Nation vs. The Premier Athlete Brand of Caleb Konley, TJ Perkins & Brian Cage
Fun match with power moves from Uhaa and Cage, high-flying from Ricochet, Swann, Perkins and Nation, and Konley being the glue that hold the match together. It was never boring and the finishing stretch with Uhaa and Ricochet over Konley was fun. Cage should be going to WWE with Uhaa as he moves well and has good execution.
DGUSA Open the Freedom Gate Title: Johnny Gargano vs AR Fox
Fun title match. The interchange on the stairs where they were fighting for the advantage and using the staircase for aerial offense was cool. Fox was really on with working his way around the ropes and turnbuckles, whether hitting offense or getting cut off. Gargano kept a strong pace. The tope onto Fox through the guardrails was crazy. There was probably too many near-falls at the end but the submission finish was good.
EVOLVE Title: Drew Galloway vs PJ Black
This had a really solid big match feel. It is mind-numbing to think how WWE couldn’t use Galloway as he comes off great in the champion role here. They had some great brawling on the floor. They didn’t really feel like they were trying to do indy-style too much other than Black doing the four three tope’s followed by the tope con giro but it fit into the match. Drew got the knees up into Black’s quebrada and then hit a piledriver with Black kicking out. Galloway then hit an air raid crash off the second rope for a two-count. He then hits a double-underhook DDT for the pinfall and the win. It’s great to see decisive victories by both champions to build to the title vs title match on Saturday. I haven’t watched Evolve in a while, but in watching this show it feels like they are really in touch with their audience. Galloway cut a good promo putting over the product and then had a good confrontation leading to Saturday’s show. Galloway started headbutting and pie-facing Gargano and Ethan Page and Rich Swann pulled them apart.
Click on page 2 for a recap of Evolve 40