EVOLVE 9: Gargano vs. Taylor

Manhattan, NY – 7.26.2011

Commentary is provided by Lenny Leonard, Rob Naylor and a special appearance by Kevin Steen.

The show opens with Chuck Taylor and Johnny Gargano backstage. Taylor reminds Gargano that Reby Sky threw in a towel the last time they met in EVOLVE. He assures Gargano that won’t happen again. Gargano says he’s going to bring it in the ring and expects Taylor to do the same. Taylor smiles as he tells Gargano that he will bring it tonight.

Eric Ryan (0-0) vs. Bobby Beverly (0-0)

Ryan goes for a quick roll-up. He Japanese armdrags Beverly and Beverly delivers his own armdrag. Beverly gets two with an enzuigiri. Ryan dropkicks Beverly for two. Ryan forearms Beverly in the corner. Beverly responds with a yakuza kick and clothesline for two. Beverly superkicks Ryan as he hits the ropes. He gives Ryan a uranage backbreaker. Ryan superkicks Beverly and hits a corner dropkick. Ryan follows with a coast-to-coast dropkick, sending Beverly to the floor. Ryan suicide dives after him. Ryan goes for a second but gets met with a kick from Beverly. Beverly hits a bicycle kick after a forearm exchange. Both men knock each other down with simultaneous clotheslines. During another forearm exchange, Kevin Steen enters the ring to a great ovation. He clotheslines both men for a No Contest decision at 3:43. That was going along pretty well before the finish. I really like both guys, and I hope they get a chance again in EVOLVE some day. N/R

Steen gives Ryan a neckbreaker over his knee and Beverly a Package Piledriver. He then gives Ryan a Package Piledriver on top of Beverly. Steen talks to the commentators, telling them if he hears either of them talk during his promo when he watches the replay, he will rape their mouths. Steen reminds us that the last time he was in New York City, he told “Ring of Horse Shit” to go fuck themselves. Steen says he wishes he could have taken Jim Cornette’s tennis racket and shoved it up Cornette’s ass that night, but it was already up Davey Richards’. He reminds us that Davey dropped EVOLVE (even though he was the poster child) to stay with ROH. Steen says his feud with ROH started when the EVOLVE staff forced him to team with El Generico in 2007. For that, Steen plays to destroy EVOLVE since the people on the ROH staff then are apart of EVOLVE now. He runs down pro wrestling and the EVOLVE guidelines, leading to Bobby Fish making his way out. Fish says he’s not here to cut off Steen’s open mic time, but does tell Steen that many wrestlers have been busting their ass to make EVOLVE relevant. Fish suggests that Steen finds a way to “color inside the lines”, or he will be the one to sort Steen out. Fish leaves Steen in the ring. Steen seems more subdued as he also heads backstage.

The Super Smash Bros. (Player Uno & Player Dos) (0-1) vs. Jason Gory & Façade (0-1)

Gory turns a quesadora into a sunset flip on Dos. Dos spin kicks Gory and tags in Uno. Uno trips Gory into a knee drop from Dos. Gory blocks Uno’s punch. He runs the ropes, tagging Façade in the process. Façade crossbody’s Uno, and Uno rolls through for two. Uno and Dos hit a side slam/springboard reverse DDT for two. Façade sends Dos to the floor. He trips Uno on the middle rope. He slingshot into a knee strike on Uno and Gory drives his bodyweight onto Uno’s back. Façade hits a springboard bulldog on Uno. He then rolls out to give Dos a headscissors on the floor. Gory hits a springboard legdrop on Uno for two. Gory and Façade isolate Uno in their corner. Uno is able to drop them with a reverse STO/DDT combo. Dos tags in and clotheslines Gory multiple times. He springboards into a reverse DDT, then dives onto Façade on the floor. Dos gets two with a flying leg drop. Gory aids Façade with a headscissors to Dos. Gory missile dropkicks Uno to the floor. Gory and Façade hit a tandem moonsault on Dos. Uno breaks the pin. Façade misses a corner attack on Uno. Uno powerbombs Gory into Façade in the corner. Dos superkicks Gory. Uno pushes Gory onto Dos’ shoulders. Dos gives Gory a Death Valley Driver to Façade in the corner. Dos and Uno give Façade a Gory Bomb/diving reverse blockbuster combo for the pin at 6:15. Its sprints like this that make me wonder just why the Super Smash Bros. aren’t used more often. I’d assume its location, but these guys are so good that it pains me to not see them used more often. Gory and Façade were much more concise then their EVOLVE 7 debut and I wouldn’t mind seeing them again either. **1/2

Lenny Leonard welcomes back the SSB after congratulating them on their first win. Uno says they won’t be content until they get a million wins under their belt.

Backstage, Finlay is shouting at Jon Davis and Up In Smoke to make the most of the opportunities they’re given. He wants them to make an impression. He wants them to prove to him that they’re worthy of being inside of a wrestling ring.

Silas Young (2-1) vs. Sugar Dunkerton (0-0)

Young brings a basketball to the ring with him, calling Dunkerton a joke. Dunkerton will have none of it, saying he’s here to wrestle. He throws the ball at Young’s head to start the match. He gives Young an armdrag. Young twists on Dunkerton’s arm while yelling at “make me laugh” at him. Dunkerton is able to get the better of Young with a headlock. Dunkerton peppers Young with right hands. He takes out Young’s knees and gets a two count. Dunkerton knee strikes Young in the side of his head. Young slams Dunkerton face first to block a headscissors. Dunkerton dropkicks Young to the floor to avoid the Pee Gee Waja Plunge. Dunkerton follows with a suicide dive. Dunkerton tries to bring Young back in the ring, but Young shoves Dunkerton shoulder first into the ring post. Young batters Dunkerton with forearms in the face. Young suplexes him for two. He also gets two with a fisherman’s variation. Dunkerton elbows Young multiple times in the face. Dunkerton nails the Bow Chicka Wow Wow lariat for two. Dunkerton’s Northern Lights suplex also gets him two. Young slams Dunkerton back first in the corner. Dunkerton comes out of the corner with a diving reverse STO. He then puts Young in a Koji Clutch. Young gets the ropes to break free. Young catches Dunkerton with a backbreaker for two. Young talks more trash to Dunkerton, leading to Dunkerton smacking Young across the face. Young shows up Dunkerton by hitting the Pee Gee Waja Plunge for the pin at 8:54. I really like how this match went. Dunkerton worked his butt off trying to prove that he’s not a “joke” wrestler and got the crowd behind him. Young was a relentless jerk, causing Dunkerton to get too hot headed which proved to be his downfall. This match made me want to see two things: the first being more Dunkerton in EVOLVE, as he proved he is much more than a joke wrestler. The second is a match between Bobby Fish and Silas Young as I think they stand out in my mind as two of EVOLVE’s top prospects. Now that Young seems to be a full blown Rudo, that match would work out well. ***

Young admits to Lenny Leonard that he may have overlooked Dunkerton, but he still got the win. He says he’s one step closer to getting his hands on Johnny Gargano. Gargano makes his way to the ring. Gargano admits that he almost got Young spiraling down his alcoholic past before, but says he had no idea of Young’s past and what one drink would do to him. Gargano apologizes and extends his hand. Young walks away, refusing to shake Gargano’s hand.

Backstage, Sami Callihan is hyping himself up for his match with Finlay later tonight.

Lince Dorado (0-0) vs. Pinkie Sanchez (0-0)

Sanchez was originally set to face Shiima Xion, but Xion signed with Impact Wrestling shortly before this show. Dorado gains an early lead with some kicks and chops. Dorado corkscrew armdrags Sanchez to the floor. Dorado fakes a dive then delivers a corkscrew pescado. Dorado connects with a springboard crossbody back in the ring. Sanchez dropkicks Dorado as Dorado goes for a quebrada. Sanchez butterfly suplexes him for two. Dorado kicks Sanchez in the side of the head to block a sunset flip. Sanchez gives him a dragonscrew leg whip. Sanchez targets his attack on Dorado’s leg. Kevin Steen joins commentary during this match. Meanwhile, Sanchez gives Dorado another dragonscrew leg whip. Dorado crawls to the ropes to break a single leg crab. Dorado enzuigiri’s Sanchez when he goes for another dragonscrew. He snaps off a huracanrana and deliver a chop. A handspring back elbow leads to a spinwheel kick, giving Dorado a two count. Sanchez catches Dorado with a gut buster. Sanchez misses a moonsault. Dorado dropkicks Sanchez to the corner. Dorado takes him off the top with a huracanrana. Dorado hits a shooting star press for two. Sanchez back kicks Dorado in the head. He hits a springboard DDT for two. Sanchez locks on a figure four leg lock, not letting go right as Dorado taps, but still getting the victory at 8:44. Sanchez’s demeanor really kicked up the energy of the show. The match was all about him and he got over big time. Dorado was certainly a suitable replacement and I would not mind him getting another chance either. **3/4

Sanchez tells Lenny Leonard that it took him a decade to crawl to the top, but now that he’s made it, he is in EVOLVE solely to wrestle. Backstage, we see Davis mulling over Finlay’s words from earlier. He has clearly taken that advice to heart.

Leonard introduces Larry Dallas, since Dallas has purchased interview time. He is accompanied by Ahtu. He tells the fans that Chuck Taylor and Johnny Gargano will not compete in the main event (though he’s obviously bluffing). He then introduces his newest tag team, The Scene, which consists of Scott Reed and Caleb Konley who have been making a name for themselves in multi-man matches in both EVOLVE and Dragon Gate USA.

Up In Smoke (Cheech & Cloudy) (4-0) vs. The Scene (Caleb Konley & Scott Reed) (0-0)

Reed punches Cheech to break a wristlock. Konley tags in and helps Reed with a double shoulder tackle. Cheech gives Konley a chin breaker and kick to the chest. He tags in Cloudy after a dropkick. Cloudy and Cheech knee Konley in the corner. Cheech hits a slingshot senton for two. They lock Konley in a double Bosotn Crab. Reed breaks the hold but takes a Brocken Arrow. They hit Konley with Partly Cloudy with a chance of Cheech. Reed prevents them from delivering the Tidal Wave. Reed whips Cheech to Konley, who hip tosses Cheech into the top turnbuckle. The Scene team up on Cheech while Cloudy recovers. Cheech powerslams Konley and tags in Cheech. Reed immediately attacks Cloudy as he enters. Cloudy pitches Konley to the floor and follows with a corkscrew suicida. Cloudy sunset flips Reed. Reed picks him up for a crucifix powerbomb. The Scene now inflict damage upon Cloudy while keeping Cheech at bay. Cloudy comes back with a missile dropkick to Konley. Cheech tags in, taking out both Konley and Reed. Cheech suplexes Konley onto Reed for two. Up In Smoke hit Reed with an enzuigiri/superkick combo. Cloudy DDT’s Konley with help from Cheech. Cheech Superman spears Reed and delivers a sliding dropkick. Cloudy knee strikes Reed. Konley breaks his pin. He drop Cloudy with a Gory Bomb, then turning him into a human pretzel out of it. Konley gets up his knees to block the Tidal Wave. Reed gives Cloudy a Falcon Arrow for two. Cheech kicks Reed in the stomach and sends Konley to the floor. Up In Smoke go for Death By Knee. Konley suplexes Cheech on the ropes to stop him. The Scene hit a DDT/wheelbarrow suplex combo for the pin at 11:45. I’m thrilled that Reed and Konley now have a purpose in the WWN Universe, as they both have talent and weren’t moving forward in random multi-mans. I think once they get into the groove of teaming and become a more well oiled machine they will begin to thrive. There’s no better way for them to kick things off than getting a win over the team wins leader (Up In Smoke), who also did a great job. I was pleasantly surprised. ***

Larry Dallas is joyous. Surprisingly, Dallas leaves Lenny Leonard without saying anything about The Scene’s victory. Lenny then decides to interview Cheech. Instead of Cheech saying anything, he gives Cloudy the Deluxe (a version of his Go 2 Cheech finisher). He tells Lenny that’s his statement, leaving Cloudy laying in the ring.

Finlay is lacing up his boots backstage, pondering his match with Sami Callihan later on.

Bobby Fish (1-4) vs. Jon Davis (0-1)

Davis and Fish exchange wristlocks. Fish snapmares Davis into a headlock. Kevin Steen hits the ring and attacks Fish, causing referee Brett Lauderdale to throw the match out at 0:40. Steen mocks the fact that he broke the rules. Fish says he didn’t come to the show to fight for a few seconds and invites Steen to come to the ring for an Unsanctioned match. Davis says he wants to kick both their asses and proposes to make the match a three way. Referee Brett Lauderdale agrees to officiate.

Unsanctioned Street Fight
Bobby Fish vs. Jon Davis vs. Kevin Steen

Davis immediately clotheslines the referee. Fish and Steen fight on the floor. Davis joins the fray. Davis and Fish kick each other in the chest. Steen rakes both of their faces. Davis forearms Steen into the ring. Steen gives Davis a Code Breaker and a cannonball senton in the corner. Fish dropkicks Steen back to the floor. Steen picks Fish off the apron and powerbombs him against the ring apron. Davis boots Steen on the ring apron and gives him an inverted DDT. Fish tope con hilo’s onto Davis. Fish gives Steen a dragonscrew leg whip in the ring. He locks in the Fish Hook but there’s no referee. Mike Kehner makes his way out. Davis clobbers Fish with a right hand. He powerbombs Fish for two. Steen brings in Davis from the apron with a DDT for two. Steen goes for the Package Piledriver. Fish kicks his legs and gives him a Saito suplex instead. Steen superkicks Davis. Fish spin kicks Steen. Davis lariats Fish, which leaves all three men laying on the mat. Fish overhead suplexes Davis. Steen kicks Davis to stop the count. Steen powerbombs Fish, transitioning into a Sharpshooter. Davis kicks Steen to break it. He gives him a Jackhammer for two. Fish pushes Davis to the floor. Steen goes for the Package Piledriver. Fish flips out of it. Fish sunset flips Steen into the Fish Hook. Davis comes in causing Fish to break it. Steen kicks Fish in the balls. Davis pounces Steen, then gives Fish the 3 Seconds Around the World for the pin at 7:20. These guys got to showcase all of their best offense which actually made everyone look strong. This was a nice way to include Steen, and for Davis to gain redemption for his debut loss in front of the same crowd who saw him fall to Gargano a few months back. ***

Steen and Davis continue to brawl post match. Steen is carried out of the building by a few security types.

Tony Nese (0-2) vs. John Silver (0-0)

Nese ends a wristlock exchange by kicking away Silver’s arm and armdragging him to the mat. Silver blasts him with a running uppercut. Nese and Silver each go for some quick pins to no avail. They reach a stand-off after evading each others’ offense for awhile. Silver applies pressure to Nese’s arms and shoulders. Nese picks up Silver and powerbombs him into the corner. Nese throws Silver to avoid a headscissors, then boots him to the mat for two. Nese trips Silver as he begins to gain momentum. Silver evades a quebrada. It takes some maneuvering, but Nese does successfully land a quebrada for two. Silver enzuigiri’s Nese after a series of strikes. Silver blasts Nese with his knee for two. Nese goes for a sunset flip, so Silver drives his knee into Nese’s chest. Nese lariats Silver to cut off his dive attempt. Nese kicks Silver in the chest multiple times. Silver tornado DDT’s Nese for two. Nese blocks a superkick, throwing Silver down on his face. A deadlift German suplex gets Nese a two count. Silver goes up top after throwing some kicks. Nese crotches Silver and German suplexes him to the canvas. Nese sits up to the top rope. Silver puts Nese in the tree of woe position. Silver drives his knees into Nese’s chest for two. Nese gives Silver a running knee strike in the corner for two. Nese picks up Silver. Silver tries for a reverse huracanrana. Nese powers him up and slams him face first into the corner. He follows up with a German suplex for two again. Nese kicks Silver into a Falcon Arrow variation for two. Silver seems out after two kicks from Nese to the head. Silver fires up after being pinned and suplexes Nese on his head. He Falcon punches Nese for two. Silver and Nese fight on the ropes. Nese kicks Silver to the mat. Nese misses a 450 splash. Silver gives him a back cracker for the pin at 13:32. This match came out of absolutely nowhere. Silver got over so easily with his never say die attitude and charisma. It’s easy to see that these guys trained at the same school because they complimented one another so well in the ring. Some no-selling silliness got in the way of this being better, but it was still quite the spectacle. This was Nese’s best match in the WWN Universe and a tremendous debut for Silver. ***1/4

Lenny Leonard interviews Silver after the bout. Silver puts the EVOLVE roster on notice and says that he isn’t going anywhere.

We get a video preview for “EVOLVE 7: Aries vs. Moxley”. You can read my review of that show here.

Fit Finlay (0-0) vs. Sami Callihan (3-1)

Finlay forearms Callihan when he charges at him. Callihan backs off in the corner. Finlay throws Callihan to the mat, and again Callihan retreats to the corner. Callihan shoves Finlay a couple of times, so Finlay boots him in the stomach. Finlay clobbers him with a short-arm lariat. Finlay aggressively controls Callihan by his head on the mat. Finlay brings Callihan to the corner and elbows his leg. Finlay headbutts Callihan when Callihan gets in his face. Callihan fires back, but his headbutt does nothing at all. Finlay controls his arm and neck on the mat. Callihan chops Finlay and shoves him when he gets back to his feet. Finlay withstands the pain and pounds Callihan on the mat. Callihan lights up Finlay with chops. Finlay takes Callihan off his feet to stop the onslaught. Callihan blasts Finlay with a right hand before going back to his chops. Finlay ducks Callihan’s running knee strike. On the floor, Finlay does damage to Callihan’s leg. Callihan kicks Finlay from the apron. Finlay punches Callihan when Callihan slides to the floor. They fight in a booth ringside. Callihan crotches Finlay on the ring apron, an old trick Finlay would do in WWE. Callihan chops Finlay while he’s stuck. Finlay shoves Callihan into the guardrail and Callihan responds with a boot to the face. Finlay kicks Callihan as he’s coming back into the ring. Finlay boots Callihan’s leg before slamming him to the mat. Finlay inflicts more damage to Callihan’s hurt leg. Callihan reaches the ropes to break a modified Indian Death Lock. Callihan gets up to confront Finlay. Finlay uses the referee as a quick distraction so he can kick out Callihan’s bad leg. Callihan recovers and asks Finlay for a strike exchange. Finlay kicks out Callihan’s leg instead. Finlay applies a leg lock, forcing Callihan to get the ropes. Callihan slowly gets up and gives Finlay a bicycle kick. Callihan manages a Death Valley Driver for two. Callihan foolishly goes for a baseball slide, which Finlay catches. He throws Callihan into the guardrail for a two count. Callihan enzuigiri’s Finlay in the corner after Finlay misses a splash. Finlay shoves Callihan out to the floor. Finlay slams Callihan and gets in the ring. Callihan makes it back in the ring just in time. Finlay wastes no time, driving his knee into Callihan’s head for two. Callihan muscles Finlay into a Saito suplex for two. Callihan hits the Forearm 2 Remember. Finlay grabs the ropes to break the count. Callihan bicycle kicks him for one. Callihan goes for a suicide dive and misses, hitting the guardrail instead. Callihan trips Finlay from the floor. Callihan goes up top, but Finlay throws him to the mat for two. Finlay hits the Celtic Cross for two. Callihan gives Finlay a middle finger, so Finlay delivers the Celtic Cross a second time. That too only gets him a two count. Another middle finger from Callihan gets him a Tombstone Piledriver for the pin at 22:58.

I have been very hard on Callihan in the past, but he was fantastic here. I think Callihan is so much better suited being a good guy that fights from behind which his DUF persona is not at all. Here in this match though, he was the underdog and earned the cheers from the crowd. It doesn’t hurt when Finlay is your opponent either, who did a tremendous job beating the snot out of Callihan while taking cheap shots when it suited him. This was a fantastic brawl that made sense and raised Callihan’s stock significantly. I would go as far as to say that this is possibly the best match in EVOLVE thus far. ****

Finlay thanks the fans and EVOLVE for inviting him into Manhattan. He tells Lenny that Callihan is one of the toughest he’s ever been in the ring with, which covers a lot of ground. He tells the fans to stick with Sami, then gives him a hug outside of the ring.

Bobby Fish is backstage, and he requested time to talk to the camera. He says his name deserves to be on top of the Winning Streak category in EVOLVE, and says if he can’t make it there then he won’t be around in EVOLVE much longer.

Johnny Gargano (6-2) vs. Chuck Taylor (5-3)

Larry Dallas tries to stop this match from occurring before the bell. Of course, it is to no avail. Gargano huracanrana’s Taylor to the corner. They trade quick pins, then reach a stalemate when they catch each others’ kicks. Larry throws in a towel when Gargano has Taylor in a headlock. Gargano wipes his butt with the towel and rubs it in Larry’s face. Gargano then fires Dallas. Gargano sends Taylor to the apron after a forearm exchange. Taylor sends Gargano out with a springboard dropkick, then into the crowd with an enzuigiri. Taylor stretches out Gargano’s back and arms in the ring. Taylor misses a corner splash. Gargano stomps his back, knees him in the face, and hits a neckbreaker. Gargano suicide dives after him. Gargano jumps over Taylor’s leg sweep and tornado DDT’s him on the floor. After scouting each others’ signature moves, Gargano hits the slingshot spear on his second attempt. Gargano wears down Taylor’s left shoulder. Taylor gives Gargano a stunner/head kick combo to break Gargano’s momentum. Both men fight on the ring apron. Gargano goes for a lawn dart, but Taylor reverses into an inverted DDT. Taylor leaps off of a ledge onto Gargano. Back in the ring, Taylor uranage slams Gargano. A low superkick gets Taylor a two count. Gargano catches Taylor coming off the ropes with a superkick for two. Taylor and Gargano fight on the ropes. Taylor brings Gargano down with a fallaway slam, but Gargano quickly rolls up Taylor for two. Taylor counters a Garga-No Escape attempt with a half crab. Gargano goes back to the Garga-No Escape. Taylor reverses into a crossface. Gargano grabs the ropes to break. Gargano gives Taylor the Sole Food and Diced Bread for two. Taylor counters the lawn dart with one of his own. Gargano counters the Awful Waffle with an Air Raid Crash. Gargano kicks Taylor to the apron once they have both recovered. Gargano kicks Taylor into the fans on the stage. Taylor catches Gargano’s spear and DDT’s him on the stage. Gargano rolls back in the ring just in the nick of time. He small packages Taylor for two. Taylor drops Gargano with Hurts Donut. Gargano kicks out. Frustrated, Taylor goes up top. Gargano shoves Taylor to the floor. Gargano somersault sentons off the ring apron. Back in the ring, Gargano places Taylor on top. He brings him down with the Awful Waffle for two. Gargano then delivers his own Hurts Donut for two. Gargano quickly puts on the Garga-No Escape. Taylor fights up to his feet. He breaks the hold but Gargano superkicks him. Taylor blocks the Hurts Donut by hitting the Awful Waffle for the pin at 20:15. I loved the finishers exchange and the evasion of each others’ signature moves, going to show just how well these guys know each other. It shined through in how well they were able to work together. This felt special, was engaging and exciting throughout the contest and was the best way to cap off the show. Even with a guy like Finlay in town, this being the main event shows that wins mean everything in EVOLVE. ***3/4

Gargano and Taylor make amends after the match as the crowd applauds their effort.

Backstage, Larry Dallas is with The Scene and Ahtu. He’s upset that Gargano left him but says he doesn’t care because he has his new team in tow. Taylor comes to the locker room and also fires Dallas. Dallas tells the Scene he’s going to take them to tag team main events all over the world, which they like the sound of.

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