EVOLVE 10: A Tribute to the Arena

Philadelphia, PA – 1.14.2012

Commentary is provided by Lenny Leonard.

The show opens up with an official announcement that EVOLVE and Dragon Gate USA are officially paired up. The rosters, factions, titles and websites have merged. What happens in one company affects the other. With that said, I will now include a “Championship Rundown” on both EVOLVE and DGUSA reviews.

Championship Rundown
Open The Freedom Gate Champion: Johnny Gargano
Open The United Gate Champions: CIMA & Ricochet

Larry Dallas comes out to the ring with Ahtu. Ahtu has an open contract to face anyone. Low Ki of all people is the one to answer the challenge!

Low Ki (0-0) vs. Ahtu (0-0)

The bell rings and Ki immediately knocks out Ahtu with a Koppu Kick. Dallas’ attempts to revive him are futile. When Ahtu makes it to his feet, Ki gives him the Tidal Crush. Ki then hits the Warrior’s Way for the pin at 1:52. I don’t love how Ki legitimately knocked Ahtu out, or the PR surrounding it afterwards, but it certainly was a heck of a way for him to debut. ½*

Ki gets on the microphone. He says he’s been sitting on the sidelines and watching as professional wrestling dies from complacency and delusions of grandeur. He wants his profession back and has returned to bring back integrity and respect into wrestling. He claims he’s here to stay and that we will see him at DGUSA in Miami and EVOLVE in Toronto.

Cheech Hernandez (0-0) vs. Cloudy (0-0)

This match came about due to a fallout these two had as a team at EVOLVE 9. Cheech paint brushes the back of Cloudy’s head after taking him to the mat. Cloudy throws some punches as he takes the mount. Cheech blocks his oncoming charge and throws him onto his chest and stomach. Cloudy flips up into a quesadora armdrag. He sends Cheech to the floor with a Déjà vu. He comes back in and strings two neckbreaker variations together on Cloudy. He arrogantly puts on a sharpshooter. Cloudy escapes and again headscissors Cheech to the floor. He completely crashes and burns on a twisting suicide dive. He recovers and throws Cheech into the guardrails. Cheech does the same to Cloudy. Cheech drops him in a Gory Bomb across the ring apron. He misses a corner attack in the ring, but kicks the ropes when Cloudy tries to go up top. Cloudy spikes him with a tornado DDT. He follows up with an Ace Crusher for two. Cheech blocks a reverse huracanrana the first time but ends up taking it on the second try. Cheech picks up Cloudy in a powerbomb position and turns it into a facebuster for two. He Superman spears Cloudy into a facewash dropkick and a 619 from the floor. He hits the Deluxe and has Cloudy pinned, but picks him up after the count of two. Cloudy counters a second Deluxe with a Yoshi Tonic. Cloudy comes charging and eats the Deluxe again for the pin at 10:13. This went a little long and had a silent crowd, but some solid action nonetheless. It was a good way to blow off the feud and I see potential in Cheech as a singles competitor. **1/2

A trailer for “EVOLVE 8: Style Battle” is shown. You can read my review of the show here and purchase the show here.

Alex Reynolds & Jon Silver (0-0) vs. The Scene (Scott Reed & Caleb Konley) (1-0)

Larry Dallas is in The Scene’s corner. Silver puts Konley in a Rings of Saturn until he gets the ropes. Konley tries coming out of the corner and is caught with an uppercut. Konley blocks a superkick. He and Silver knock each other down with clotheslines and kip-up into a stalemate. Silver forearms Konley before tagging in Reynolds. They double drop toe hold Konley into stereo dropkicks to the head. He knees Reynolds in the stomach and tags in Reed. Reynolds hip tosses him. Reed knee lifts him into a clothesline. Reynolds dropkicks him for one. He knees Reed in the chest. The Scene botch a Hot Shot/gamengiri combo, but it’s enough for them to take control of Reynolds in their corner. He stomps Konley into the mat from the corner but Reed stops him from tagging out. Reynolds however boots Reed and sends Konley to the floor. He then hits Reed with a back handspring Pele kick. Silver tags in and throws a couple of clotheslines. He drives his knees into Reed’s chest. Konley breaks his pin. Reynolds comes in and gets thrown to the floor. Silver and Reynolds give Konley a tandem Ace Crusher off the second rope. Reed hip tosses Reynolds into Silver. Konley slingshots Silver into Reed for a powerslam. Silver kicks out. Silver and Reynolds string together some offense on Reed, ending with Silver giving him a German suplex. Konley breaks the pin. Silver is sent out. Reynolds tries for his back handspring kick again but gets caught with the Ob-Scene. That gives The Scene the victory at 9:46. Reynolds and Silver had a really good showing. I’m kind of curious as to why they aren’t used as a team rather than as singles competitors. The Scene are decent but are in desperate need of charisma and interesting personalities. **3/4

Jigsaw (0-0) vs. AR Fox (2-0)

Although Jigsaw has been in EVOLVE multiple times, this is his first singles match. Before the match, he thinks the crowd for making CHIKARA a success in the Arena. Fox controls Jigsaw by his arms. Jigsaw trips Fox and puts him in a surfboard stretch. Fox claps his arms against Jigsaw’s head to escape. Jigsaw puts Fox in a Gory Special. Fox forearms Jigsaw when he’s released. Jigsaw delivers a toreador before armdragging Fox into a dropkick. Fox leapfrogs Jigsaw and hits a dropkick of his own for two. Fox clotheslines and double stomps Jigsaw in the corner. Fox gets two after a split-legged senton splash. Jigsaw slams Fox on his face. He knee strikes Fox to the floor and suicide dives onto him. Jigsaw gets two back in the ring. Jigsaw dropkicks Fox’s neck for two. Fox blocks an Irish whip. Jigsaw sole butts Fox to finally move him. Fox hits a stunner, then kips up into an Ace Crusher. Jigsaw sends Fox to the apron. Fox snaps Jigsaw’s throat on the top rope and springboard dropkicks him to the corner. Fox hits a modified cannonball senton in the corner for two. Fox trips Jigsaw on the second rope. He hits a Death Valley Driver and swanton bomb for two. Jigsaw bicycle kicks Fox to block a brainbuster. Jigsaw gives Fox a brainbuster of his own for two. Jigsaw evades a spring-back Ace Crusher. Jigsaw superkicks Fox for another two count. Fox dropkicks Jigsaw to the floor to stop his top rope attack. Fox follows with a springboard 450 plash. He places Jigsaw on the ring apron and delivers a dropkick from the top rope. Fox brings Jigsaw back in for a two count. Jigsaw small packages Fox for two. He enzuigiri’s and German suplexes Fox for two. Fox enzuigiri’s Jigsaw after placing him on the top rope. Jigsaw counters the Lo Mein Pain by suplexing Jigsaw off the ropes. Jigsaw superkicks Fox for the pin at 11:11. That was an awesome finish to a very fun, athletic contest. I really do think Jigsaw has grown over this past year and no one has really noticed. The fact that he got a win over an undefeated guy who’s on the rise and won the Style Battle says a lot about Jigsaw’s potential future in EVOLVE. ***

Lenny Leonard congratulates Jigsaw on his big win. Jigsaw thanks all the fans for coming out to support wrestling’s final night in the ECW Arena. Jigsaw says the fans haven’t seen everything Jigsaw has and they can expect to see a lot of him in 2012. Fox then gets interviewed and reminds us that the last time he was in a DGUSA ring that Sami Callihan broke a beer bottle over his head. This brings out Callihan who is clanking beer bottles together ala “The Warriors.” He eggs Fox on to come out and hit him. The referee reminds him that attacking Callihan would be a violation of the rules and could result in a fine or suspension. Fox is tempted to attack, especially with Callihan spitting in his face, but ultimately he resists.

A trailer for “EVOLVE 9: Gargano vs. Taylor” is shown. You can read my review of the show here and purchase the show here.

Uhaa Nation (0-0) vs. Pinkie Sanchez (1-0)

Ricochet is in Nation’s corner, as they are both members of the Blood Warriors faction. Sanchez does a little showboating while taking off his shirt. He slaps Nation in the face and then bails to the floor. He dropkicks Nation when he has his back turned. He then sends Nation out with a springboard tornado DDT. Sanchez follows with a springboard tope con hilo. He tries a springboard splash but gets caught with a fallaway slam. Nation tosses Sanchez to the corner. He kicks Nation’s legs out and hits the Shining. He tries Bootiez 4 Breakfast. Nation catches him with three consecutive powerbombs instead. He then hits the Uhaa Combination for the pin at 4:00. Nation is the man and seeing him kill Sanchez was a good time. *

Lenny Leonard gets a word with Nation. He says that he crowd just saw what he can do. Ricochet says he and Nation are used to working the finest buildings in Japan and now have to come back to America to work in dumps like the Arena. Ricochet says that the history of the building does not matter. What does matter is that he will walk out the Freedom Gate champion. This brings Ronin members Chuck Taylor and Rich Swann out. Swann puts down Ricochet in a rap. Taylor says some stuff to the crowd before their match.

Ronin (Chuck Taylor & Rich Swann) (0-0) vs. The Super Smash Bros. (Player Uno & Player Dos) (1-0)

Uno and Swann trade wristlocks. Swann wins the exchange but is chopped so hard that he tags out. Taylor requests that Dos tags in. He obliges. Dos wins a Lucha sequence with a huracanrana. Uno drop toe holds Taylor into Dos’ knee drop for two. Dos hits a slingshot senton and boots Taylor in the back of the head. The Smash Bros. get two with a side slam/slingshot reverse DDT combo. Taylor elbows Uno and tags in Swann. He clotheslines Uno, then gives him a legdrop. Taylor hits his beautiful dropkick. Ronin team up on Uno in their half of the ring until he swings Swann into a Boss Man Slam. Dos tags in with a frogsplash crossbody to Taylor. He dropkicks Swann to the floor, DDT’s Taylor, then dives out onto Swann. He comes back in with a diving legdrop to Taylor for two. Taylor counters an Irish Whip with Sole Food. Uno however gives Taylor a standing Shiranui, causing him to DDT Swann simultaneously. Taylor avoids Uno’s corner splash. He powerbombs Dos into Uno. He uranage slams Uno and gives him a superkick. Swann hits Rolling Thunder for two. Taylor superkicks Dos. Uno punches Taylor. Taylor superkicks him and Swann nails a tornado kick. Dos backflip kicks both Taylor and Swann. Taylor superkicks Dos on the top rope. Uno takes him out with a Complete Shot. Swann gives Uno a back handspring Ace Crusher, but takes Dos’ frog splash immediately upon landing. Taylor sends Uno to the floor and puts Dos on his shoulders. Swann dives over them to tope con hilo onto Swann. Taylor then gives Dos a Death Valley Driver on the ring apron. In the ring, Taylor enzuigiri’s Uno into a Complete Shot from Swann. Swann then hits a standing shooting star press for two. Dos splashes Taylor in the corner. Uno kicks Swann into a suplex from Dos, sending Swann into Taylor. Uno waterwheel slams Swann into Dos’ back cracker. Swann kicks out. They hit Swann with Fatality. Taylor comes in to break up the pin. He sends Uno shoulder first into the ring post. Dos misses a corner attack. He gets dropped with the Awful Waffle and Taylor pins him at 15:08. That was awesome, state of the art tag team wrestling. It goes to show just how terrific these four guys are. I could not be more happy that the Smash Bros. are in the WWN Universe and Swann and Taylor are of course great as well. ***3/4

Lenny Leonard comes in the ring to speak with Ronin. Taylor says that he and Swann have shown that they are more than ready to take the United Gate titles. Swann adds a “RONIN BABY” on top of that.

Jon Davis (0-1) vs. Kyle Matthews (0-0)

Matthews puts on a side headlock and quickly gets suplexed. Matthews throws some chops only to be knocked down by some of Davis’ own chops. Davis forcefully whips him to the corner. Matthews jumps on Davis’ back for a sleeper. Davis rams him into the corner multiple times and gives him a powerslam. Matthews takes two more slams. Davis pops him up for an Ace Crusher. Matthews enzuigiri’s him from the apron and dropkicks him to the corner. He puts Davis in an Octopus Stretch. Davis powers out but gets headscissored to the corner. Davis slams him on his stomach and nails the Pounce. He puts him away with 3 Seconds Around The World for the pin at 4:31. Davis should be killing guys like this. He’s got the type of demeanor that commands attention and I think he could go far. *1/2

Lenny Leonard asks Davis about his win. Davis says he is supposed to be beating guys like that. He feels like he should be past wrestlers like Matthews. He says at EVOLVE 9, Finlay got in his face and tried to motivate him. He gives Finlay an Open Challenge to face him the next time he comes to EVOLVE so he can continue to Establish Dominance.

Bobby Fish (1-4) vs. Sami Callihan (3-2)

AR Fox is in Fish’s corner. Fox wastes no time and throws some kicks in the corner. Callihan responds with a bicycle kick, an enzuigiri and a facewash kick. Fish counters a second facewash kick with a backbreaker. Callihan goes to the floor and Fox follows with a pescado. Fish hits a diving headbutt back in the ring for two. He goes to work on Callihan’s leg. Callihan boots Fish as he comes off the ropes. He goes for a springboard clothesline but gets his legs kicked out. Callihan throws some chops before kicking out Fish’s own leg. Fish kicks his hamstring and puts on a figure four. Callihan reverses it. He and Fish both make it to the ropes. Fish throws some chest kicks. Callihan fires back with a punch. He charges at Fish and gets suplexed into the corner. Fish twists up his legs in the ropes. Callihan manages to powerbomb him out of the corner. He puts on a grapevine stretch. Fish grabs the ropes. Callihan goes for the Stretch Muffler. Fish instead puts on the Fish Hook. Callihan makes it to the ropes. Fox is screaming for Fish to kill Callihan. They throw kicks at each others’ legs. Callihan wins that battle but is able to Saito suplex Fish. He superkicks Fish’s leg and puts on the Stretch Muffler. Fish hangs in there for a bit, so Callihan digs his knee into Fish’s back. Fox slaps Fish in the face to fire him up. It works, as Fish turns the hold into a cradle for two. Fish kicks Callihan in the chest a few times. Callihan blocks a kick and sweeps out Fish’s legs. Fox spits at Callihan which distracts him. This allows Fish to Saito suplex Callihan. He rolls him into the Fish Hook. Callihan tries to fight out but ends up tapping at 15:56. I really liked the story of both guys going for their key submissions and both of them going after the others’ leg. Fish losing so many matches in EVOLVE’s first year made it so all of his matches after the fact seem very important. Fox’s dynamic was interesting, but the fact that it made it seem like Fish needed a distraction to win was slightly irritating. Regardless, this had a lot of good action and made both combatants look sterling. ***1/4

Much like Callihan egged on Fox to hit him earlier, Fox decides to handcuff his own hands behind his back and begs Callihan to hit him. Pinkie Sanchez comes out and presents him with a beer bottle to smash over Fox’s head. Just like the referee did to Fox, he reminds Callihan that the repercussions of his actions will have. Callihan is able to resist and storms off in a bad mood.

Open the Freedom Gate Championshp
Johnny Gargano vs. Ricochet

This match is under Dragon Gate USA rules, meaning EVOLVE records will not be affected by the match’s outcome. This is Gargano’s first defense since winning the belt in November at “Freedom Fight 2011.” Uhaa Nation is in Ricochet’s corner, while Chuck Taylor and Rich Swann are in Gargano’s.

Ricochet does stomps on Gargano’s hand. He kicks Gargano’s arm away to break a wristlock. They evade each others’ offense and stand-off. Ricochet armdrags Gargano and nails him with a dropkick. He Tiger Walks up Gargano in the corner. Gargano sends him into the second rope with a Complete Shot. Ricochet initially avoids a neckbreaker but ends up taking it. Gargano keeps Ricochet grounded. He comes off the second rope and gets caught with a gutbuster and the Rickrack for one. He stretches Gargano out across his back and rams his head into the middle turnbuckle before dropping him in a Black Tornado Slam. Ricochet’s arrogant offense prevents him from getting more than a two count. Gargano escapes a suplex and rolls Ricochet into a head kick. He clotheslines Ricochet to the floor. Gargano tries for a slingshot spear and Ricochet blocks it. Gargano sends him back to the floor and suicide dives after him. Ricochet tries for a cartwheel maneuver and ends up being powerbombed into the guardrails. This gets him a two count. Ricochet delivers an enzuigiri. He goes for a quebrada and gets caught with a dropkick in mid-air. Gargano hits Diced Bread for two. Ricochet comes back with a spring back Ace Crusher for two. Gargano kicks him in the face. Ricochet suplexes him stomach first into the corner! He hits a standing shooting star press for two. Ricochet and Gargano exchange strikes mid-ring. They both deliver enzuigiri’s. Ricochet tries for a satellite headscissors and gets Lawn Darted to the corner. Ricochet rolls back for an enzuigiri. Gargano hits a superkick and both men are down. Both guys dropkick the other in the corner. Gargano puts on the Garga-No Escape. Ricochet rolls out. Gargano catches him with a side Russian leg sweep and reapplies the hold. Ricochet makes it to the ropes. He DDT’s Gargano on the ring apron. He follows that up with a German suplex on the apron. Ricochet hits the Sasuke Special and goes up top. He hits a shooting star press for two. Ricochet goes for a shooting star press and is caught with a superkick. Gargano gets two with the Hurts Donut. Ricochet throws some superkicks. Gargano blocks a headscissors. Ricochet spins out of the corner and dumps Gargano on his head. A reverse huracanrana and a swift kick to Gargano’s head still only get him two. He hits the 630 splash and only gets two with that as well. He goes for it a second time and misses. Gargano hits the Hurts Donut once again, transitioning into the Garga-No Escape right after. Ricochet taps out at 24:22. They did an admirable job considering Gargano getting hurt early on in the contest, but this really should have gone about 10 minutes shorter not only for his health but because the crowd got extremely restless. They powered through, but I do think a rematch between the both of them should happen somewhere down the line. They both have it in them to put on an incredible match and I think they deserve a second chance. ***

A Tribute to the Arena

Lenny Leonard introduces Bob Artese, the first ring announcer in Arena history. He brings out Joey Styles. The fans chant “Oh My God”, so he gives the fans one of his own. Styles talks about how important being in the Arena tonight is to him and thanks the fans for coming out. He introduces Pitbull Gary Wolfe, JT Smith, and ECW founder Tod Gordon. Gordon begins to offer a toast to the crowd when a group of guys from CZW comes out. DJ Hyde leads the group and says that they are the ones who should close out the Arena, not some ECW rejects. Kit Osbourne is sent into the ring and gets clotheslined by Gordon. Hyde and the rest of his crew enter the ring and corner Gordon, Smith and Wolfe. Balls Mahoney comes out to save the day. He cracks Matt Tremont with a chair. Hyde attacks him from behind and the other CZW cronies join in. Drew Gulak and Wolfe are fighting on the floor when “Natural Born Killaz” hits the speakers. New Jack comes out with his trashcan full of goodies and cleans house on the CZW goons. Justin Credible runs out and cracks Jack with a kendo stick. Hyde and Tremont attack New Jack on the floor. Sabu comes out and stands off with Credible. Referee Mike Kehner enters the ring and we have ourselves a match.

Sabu vs. Justin Credible

Credible hits Sabu with his kendo stick a few times. Sabu blocks a shot in the corner and hits a tornado DDT. He slingshots in with a legdrop and applies the Camel Clutch. Sabu throws a chair at Credible’s head. He jumps off the chair and gets nailed in the stomach with a kendo stick shot. Credible gets two with a clothesline. He tosses a chair at Sabu. Sabu catches it, but Credible then superkicks it into his face. He sets up a table in between the ring apron and the guardrail. They fight near the table until Credible whips Sabu into the guardrails on the opposite side of the ring. Sabu sends Credible into the front row. He clobbers Credible with a trash can lid. Back in the ring he sets up a table. Credible low blows Sabu. He places Sabu on the table and places a chair on his chest. Credible tries diving onto him but Sabu throws a chair in his face on his way down. Sabu puts on the Camel Clutch and jabs a spike into Credible’s head. He digs it into Credible’s head against the ropes. Credible ends up giving Sabu That’s Incredible. They fight over a chair which Sabu throws at his head. He places Credible on the table and gives him the Arabian Skull Crusher for the pin at 9:47. That was pure hardcore garbage, but it was exactly what the fans wanted and a fitting final match for the Arena. *

Joey Styles comes back out. Sabu tells Styles that he wants to speak. Before that can happen, Sami Callihan attacks Sabu from behind. He digs a broken beer bottle into Sabu’s forehead! The bottle accidentally goes flying into the crowd and thankfully a lawsuit doesn’t occur. He says he’s sick of all the ECW Reunion shows and wonders how many more need to happen before ECW finally dies. Preach! He says over the past few years, the Arena, its ring, and its fans have become him, all the while kicking Sabu anytime he shows signs of life. He invites anybody in the world who thinks they can stop him to come out. Of course, AR Fox runs out to attack. Pinkie Sanchez runs in and hits him with Snakes Revenge. He tells everyone who has supported him over the years to suck their own dicks. He declares the ECW Arena dead and the lights go out. I actually attended this show live and I thought the ending took the wind out of everyone’s sails.In retrospect however, it was the right thing for EVOLVE to do to set up Sami as the top heel for the rest of the year and to add fuel to his and Sabu’s feud.

The Bonus features include:

Alternative Angle Highlight Video
Bobby Fish calls out Sami Callihan
Gargano EVOLVE 10 Hype Video
Ricochet EVOLVE 10 Hype Video

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