EVOLVE 11: Callihan vs. Finlay

Toronto, Canada – 4.13.2012

Commentary is provided by Lenny Leonard and Arda Ocal.

Due to border issues, AR Fox, Bobby Fish, Scott Reed, and Cheech Hernandez will not be here. Therefore, the card will have some re-shuffling as well as some competitors who were not originally scheduled to compete.

Lenny Leonard welcomes the Toronto crowd. Canada’s own Super Smash bros. make their way out to the ring. Player Uno says they are still on the quest to one million points. They only way they can do that is to wrestle, so he demand Chuck Taylor bring his mystery team out. Taylor makes his way out with Drew Gulak and “Manscout” Jake Manning in tow. He introduces them as The Gentleman’s Club. Taylor became tired of being forced to hang out with Rich Swann and Johnny Gargano, so now he’s only hanging out with people he does wish to be associated with.

The Super Smash Bros. (Player Uno & Player Dos) (1-2) vs. The Gentleman’s Club (Drew Gulak & Jake Manning) (0-0)

Uno knocks Manning down with a couple shoulder blocks. Gulak and Dos tag in. Dos snapmares Gulak after being put in a hammerlock. He nails a dropkick so Gulak headbutts him in the stomach. The Gentleman’s Club drop Dos onto his stomach. Dos sends them out with a huracanrana. Dos and Uno fake a dive and then hit the Smash Bros. pose. Manning slaps Uno in the face. Uno chases him to the floor. Gulak tags in and forearms Uno from behind. The Club stomp Uno down and isolate him in their corner. Uno elbows Gulak and tosses Manning to the floor. Manning has the wherewithal to pull Dos off the apron so that Uno can’t tag out. Gulak puts on an STF which Uno breaks by getting the ropes. Uno hits Gulak in the chest and tags out. Dos comes in with a high crossbody to Manning and a quebrada press to Gulak. He springboard DDT’s Gulak onto the ring apron! Uno Falcon Punches Manning, then waterwheel slams him into a backcracker from Dos. Gulak breaks the pin. Uno misses a chop and hits the ring post. Manning gives Dos a backbreaker/Complete Shot combo for two. Gulak belly-to-belly suplexs Dos into a modified Rings of Saturn. Uno shoves Manning onto them to break the hold. He Cactus clotheslines Gulak to the floor. Manning ends up on the floor where Uno cannonball sentons onto him and Gulak. Uno assists Dos with a suplex to Gulak in the corner. The Smash Bros. put him away with Fatality for the win at 10:45. The Smash Bros. have already become the top team in the WWN Universe. It seems silly for the Gentleman’s Club to lose in their debut encounter, but given the immense quality of their opponents and their somewhat silly nature I’m OK with it. Besides, it was a nice win for the home team. Not a bad way to kick off the show. ***

Player Uno plans for him and Dos to ascend not only to the top of EVOLVE, but Dragon Gate USA as well. Chuck Taylor says they (the Gentleman’s Club) don’t even care if they win. It’s funny because he’s angry and lying.

A promo video for “EVOLVE 10: A Tribute to the Arena” is shown. You can buy the show here and read my review of the show here.

MK McKinnan (0-0) vs. Josh Alexander (0-0)

McKinnan cartwheels out of a wristlock. He gets chopped but then throws some kicks to Alexander’s chest. He rolls up Alexander’s shoulders for an armdrag. McKinnan enzuigiri’s him to the corner. He hits a gamengiri but then flubs a slingshot quebrada attempt. Alexander takes advantage by throwing some punches and strikes. He gets two with a Northern Lights suplex. He gets two with a delayed vertical suplex also. McKinnan escapes a double underhook position. He trips Alexander and superkicks him to the floor. McKinnan tope con hilo’s after him. In the ring he hits a rolling knee strike. Alexander comes back with a forearm and a double underhook piledriver for the pin at 4:03. Considering both guys were fill ins and McKinnan had a pretty blatant botch, it was probably best for the hometown guy (Alexander) to go over. He’s impressed in AIW recently and I wouldn’t mind seeing him back. *

Sami Callihan is sitting backstage. He’s not happy because Finlay has defeated in the United States (New York City at EVOLVE 9) and in Germany. He plans to redeem himself tonight in Canada. He respects Finlay but will do whatever it takes to defeat him, not even if he has to break his leg with the Stretch Muffler. He then shoves the camera guy away.

Mike Rollins (0-0) vs. Ashley Sixx (0-0)

Rollins shoulder blocks Sixx to the corner. Sixx comes out with some forearms and a back rake. Rollins airplane spins him and then knocks him down with a right hand. He throws some punches in the corner. Sixx slips out but then gets tossed to the floor. Sixx sends Rollins into the ring frame with a side Russian leg sweep. That gets him a two count. Sixx slides through an Irish Whip and delivers a knee strike to the face. Rollins fires up from his chops. He knocks down Sixx with some of his own chops. He drops Sixx with a Rydeen Bomb for two. Rollins goes up top. Sixx gives him a palm strike and huracanrana’s him down for two. Sixx throws some kicks to try and keep Rollins down. When it appears he’s down he goes for a legdrop. Rollins sits up to evade it. Sixx slaps him in the face. Rollins knocks him down with a Cyclone Kick. A sit-out piledriver gets him the victory at 7:02. Both guys showed a lot of personality which a lot of the EVOLVE mid-carders could use some work on. Just like Alexander, these two returning wouldn’t be a bad thing. It’s just too bad that they weren’t originally on the card because I think the crowd would have been more receptive of them were they anticipating the bout. **1/4

Finlay says the fans voting his and Callihan’s match last year as the Match of the Year means nothing to him. He serves as a roadblock for Callihan and says he needs to step his game up if he wants to beat him. He has not forgotten about Jon Davis either who he plans to be a roadblock for as well.

Alex Reynolds (0-0) vs. Jon Silver (1-0)

Reynolds cleanly breaks a lock-up in the corner. Reynolds courting hold Silver into a roll-up. Silver counters. Reynolds then Judo throws him into a shoulder block. A Lucha exchange ends with a stand-off. Silver throws some punches and delivers a basement dropkick for two. Reynolds hops over Silver as he charges in the corner. He goes for a crossbody from the second rope and misses. Silver misses a boot and gets rolled up for two. Silver stomps Reynolds’ face into the mat. He follows up with a running knee strike for two. Reynolds elbow strikes him in the corner and nails him with a bicycle knee. He drop toe holds Silver onto the middle rope. From the floor he boots Silver in the side of the head. He slingshots back in with an elbow drop for two. Reynolds strings a back breaker and Northern lariat together for two. Silver throws a knee and clotheslines Reynolds. A standing frogsplash only gets him two. He throws a flurry of strikes before Reynolds elbows him in the face. Silver lands on his feet when being suplexes and stomps on Reynolds’ chest. With a little fighting, Silver locks Reynolds’ own arm around his throat and pulls back. Reynolds gets his feet to the ropes. He tosses Silver off the top rope. Silver rolls through, so Reynolds O’Conner Rolls him for two. He pops Silver up for a knee strike. Reynolds then hits a standing shooting star press for two. He misses a moonsault. Silver knees him in the face and snapmares him into the corner. A wheelbarrow suplex is only good for two. Reynolds blocks a superkick. Silver kicks him in the side of the head anyways. Reynolds hot shots Silver on the top rope and gives him a fisherman’s neckbreaker across his knee for the pin at 12:20. I take back what I said about the crowd being dead in the previous match due to lack of familiarity; they just suck. These two busted their humps for crickets. I was really impressed with both guys. I would use them on as many EVOLVE and DGUSA shows possible. ***1/4

Alex Reynolds tells Lenny Leonard that it stinks that he had to beat his buddy, but he’s here in EVOLVE to make a mark.

Caleb Konley is backstage with Larry Dallas and Leah Von Dutch. Dallas says Scott Reed missed the show because he partied too hard the night before. Clever. Dallas has no idea who Konley’s opponent is, but knows that once Konley wins that they will all go partying.

Samuray Del Sol and Chuck Taylor come out for their scheduled singles match. Johnny Gargano makes his way out. Taylor puts the referee in between them. He reminds the fans that Taylor turned his back on him and Rich Swann two weeks ago. Gargano resented that because he stuck up for Chuck Taylor on multiple occasions, both to the guys in the locker room and the Dragon Gate office. He can’t wait to get his hands on Taylor, so he proposes that since his opponent AR Fox is not here tonight, that he joins the match to make it a triple threat elimination match.

Elimination Match
Johnny Gargano (6-3) vs. Chuck Taylor (6-3) vs. Samuray Del Sol (0-0)

Gargano charges Taylor who hits the floor right away. Sol and Gargano go at it. Sol takes him over in a Japanese armdrag and puts on an armbar. Gargano gets the ropes. He sends Sol into the turnbuckles with a Complete Shot and then delivers a neckbreaker. Gargano chases Taylor back into the ring. Sol hops off of his back and dropkicks Gargano off the apron. Sol takes down Taylor with a huracanrana and rolls him up for two. Gargano slingshot spears Sol and then suicide dives after Taylor. Gargano slingshots in with a DDT on Sol for two. Sol gives him a standing Shiranui. Taylor attacks Sol from behind. He delivers Sole Food and an uranage slam for two. Taylor stomps on Gargano in the corner. Sol huracanrana’s Taylor from the apron. Gargano pops up Sol who dropkicks Taylor to the corner. Taylor powerbombs Sol into Gargano. He elbows Sol to the floor and dropkicks Gargano from the second rope. Sol flips up from the floor onto Taylor’s shoulders! He huracanrana’s Taylor out and follows with a Fosbury Flop. Gargano tries a suicide dive but gets kicked in the face. Gargano though gives Sol a waterwheel slam. Taylor throws Gargano to the floor and Oklahoma Rolls Sol to eliminate him at 5:49. Gargano stomps Taylor down in the corner. He gets the best of Taylor on the floor until Taylor suplexes Gargano back first onto the ring apron. Taylor smartly continues to target Gargano’s injured back. Gargano rolls Taylor into a front face kick. He pescado’s after Taylor on the floor, then comes off the apron with a somersault senton. He powerbombs Taylor in the ring for two, then puts on the Garga-No Escape. Aylor gets the ropes and then tries to head backstage. Gargano brings him back. Taylor blocks the slingshot spear and gives him a backbreaker. Gargano dropkicks Taylor in the corner. He strings the Lawn Dart and a superkick together for two. He goes for the Garga-No Escape again. Taylor rolls him into the Cross Crab. Gargano makes it to the ropes. Taylor calls him a punk kid from Cleveland and gets slapped in the face for it. They each throw a superkick. Gargano knocks Taylor down with a discuss lariat. His back gives out when going for the Hurts Donut. Taylor trips him back into the Cross Crab. Gargano passes out at 19:13, rendering Taylor the victor. The action was hot and heavy in the beginning, then took a more methodical approach when Del Sol was eliminated. It was perfectly structured, and set up Taylor as both the EVOLVE leader and a challenger for the Open the Freedom Gate champion. Very good stuff. ***1/2

Lenny Leonard interviews Chuck Taylor. He says the Gentleman’s Club loves to win. There you go.

Adam Page (0-0) vs. Caleb Konley (0-1)

Larry Dallas and Leah Von Dutch are in Konley’s corner. Konley and Page vie for control. Konley goes from a side headlock to a shoulder block. Page snaps off a couple of armdrags. Konley smacks Page in the back which makes him angry. He chases him around the ring and clotheslines him back in the ring. Page flips Konley to the floor. He comes off the apron with a running shooting star press headbutt! In the ring, Konley hip tosses Page into the corner for two. Konley also gets two with a wheelbarrow suplex. Page fires back with some chops. He goes up top. Konley catches him and superplexes him down for two. Page slips out of a Regalplex. He powerslams Konley out of the corner. Konley kicks out. Konley comes back with a diving lariat and a senton splash. Page gives Konley a neckbreaker across his knee. Konley responds with a haymaker. Konley gives him a facebuster and locks on the O Face. Page submits at 7:29. Adam Page is excellent and needs to be signed by somebody. Now. I liked Konley a lot when I first saw him in DGUSA. There was no “Scene” nonsense during the match and because of that I was reminded of the time when I enjoyed watching Konley. This was a solid back and forth match that re-affirmed that A) Page needs to find a home and B) The Scene gimmick is tired. **1/2

Johnny Gargano is sitting backstage with a bloody mouth. He says the taste of his own blood makes him want a match with Chuck Taylor even more, especially now that he firmly stands atop the EVOLVE leader board. It hurts more than his mouth and his back does. He says this feud is far from over.

El Generico (0-0) vs. Low Ki (1-0)

Ki backs Generico to the ropes. He teases a chop but then backs away. Generico does the same, but then actually throws a chop. Ki chops Generico after a third lock-up. He powerfully drops an elbow across his chest. Generico backs Ki to the corner and shoves him. Ki throws some slaps to the back of his head on the mat. He goes for a cross armbreaker which Generico will not allow to be fully applied. He also prevents Ki from taking the mount. Generico uses the ropes to hop over him and take him down with a leg lariat. Ki comes back with a brainbuster for two. He applies a headscissors. Ki kicks Generico against the ropes before pitching him outside. Ki Mongolian chops him on his shoulder blades and dropkicks him in the side of the head. Ki keeps control back in the ring. Generico drops down the top rope to send him to the floor. He follows with a tope con hilo. Generico crossbody’s Ki back in the ring for two. Ki misses a Kawada Kick. Generico drops him with a Blue Thunder Bomb. Ki blocks a yakuza kick with a knee strike. He puts on a Dragon Sleeper. Generico grabs the ropes to free himself. Ki goes for a Guillotine. Generico turns that into his own Falcon Arrow. He misses a yakuza kick. Ki throws some kicks. He misses a corner attack, allowing Generico to connect with a yakuza kick. He sets up for the top rope brainbuster. Ki slips off. While Generico recovers, Ki hits the Warrior’s Way for the pin at 17:40. As you would expect, that was really fun but not exactly the killer main event match they’re both capable. The fact that the ending was abrupt had something to do with it. Ki tells Generico he’s not as good as he thinks he is. There’s so much wrong with that, but I just don’t have the time or energy to type it all out. ***1/2

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

Finlay grabs at Callihan’s legs after they lock up. Callihan hangs in the ropes and shoves Finlay away. Callihan slaps Finlay after their second lock up is broken. Finlay casually retorts with a headbutt that busts Callihan open. Callihan throws a boot but then gets violently whipped to the canvas. Finlay rams him back first into the ring post. Callihan tries for a chop, but it gets blocked and Finlay hits him in the face. He drops some knees back in the ring. Callihan throws a headbutt which busts Finlay open. Finlay responds by going after Callihan’s leg. Callihan drives his elbow into Finlay’s head. Callihan throws some forearms and a knee to Finlay’s face. He locks up Finlay’s legs and drives them into the mat. Finlay comes back with a hard forearm strike. Callihan is whipped chest first to the corner. Finlay misses a splash. Callihan enzuigiri’s him for two. Callihan clotheslines Finlay to the floor and suicide dives after him. When Callihan ascends the ropes, Finlay shoves him down to the floor so he can recover. He slams Callihan so that his leg hits the ropes on his way down. Finlay throws his legs into the ring post before applying a modified half crab. He steps on the back of Callihan’s head as well. Callihan makes it to the ropes, so Finlay drops a knee on his face. Finlay places him on the top rope and headbutts him in the mouth. Callihan fights back. He goes for a Sunset Bomb. Finlay punches him. Callihan superkicks the back of Finlay’s leg which causes him to collapse. Finlay kicks Callihan to the floor to stop him from applying the Stretch Muffler. Finlay gives him the Celtic Cross and Callihan kicks out before a one count. He gives it to Callihan twice more and only gets a two count. Callihan kicks out of a Tombstone Piledriver. He boots Finlay in the back of the head. They knock each other down with kicks three times. Callihan sets up for the Stretch Muffler. Finlay counters with a cross armbreaker. Callihan taps out at 20:41. I thought this feel somewhere in between the EVOLVE 9 and wXw 16 Carat encounters. The intensity was there, the story was there, but the heat was not. In front of a better crowd this may have been better. They also had a tall task ahead of them trying to top their first encounter. I’d call this a worthy successor. ***1/2

Finlay tells Sami Callihan after the match that he needs to stop messing around with idiots like Sabu and concentrate on his wrestling ability. He says that Callihan has the ability. If he gets his head on straight and works on his wrestling ability, he has the opportunity to really rise up. I hope Callihan takes that to heart. He has no response at the time as he is unhappy with his loss.

The show then ends with a video chronicling the Finlay/Jon Davis rivalry leading up to their match at EVOLVE 12.

Bonus Content

wXw 16 Carat Gold Tournament, Round One
Sami Callihan vs. Fit Finlay

wXw 16 Carat Gold Tournament 2012, Night 1 – Oberhausen, Germany – 3.2.2012

Callihan bicycle kicks Finlay right off the bat. A couple more kicks cause Finlay to roll to the floor. Callihan goes for a suicide dive and is met with a forearm strike. Finlay gets the best of him by the building’s bar and then brings him back into the ring. Callihan is pitched to the floor. Finlay wears him down with a side headlock. Callihan escapes using a chinbreaker. He begins to chop Finlay in the corner but Finlay thrusts him in the throat. Finlay throws him chest first into the ring post. Some more brawling occurs ringside. Callihan puts on a figure four once they’re back in the ring. A simple punch from Finlay gets Callihan to release. He does some damage to Callihan’s legs. Finlay forcefully throws him to the corner a few times. Callihan evades an attack and kick Finlay in the face. He trips Finlay off of the second rope for two. The Forearm 2 Remember only gets him a two count. He puts on the Stretch Muffler whilst kicking Finlay in the head. Finlay gets to the ropes to escape. Callihan sends him to the floor with a dive. Finlay throws Callihan into some fans. He comes back in and drops Finlay with a Saito suplex for two. They both get to their feet at the same time. Callihan throws two middle fingers in Finlay’s face. Pissed off, Finlay drives him into the mat with a DDT. The Celtic Cross only gets Finlay a two count. He gives Callihan two more of them. Callihan fights out of a Tombstone but gets nailed with a lariat. Finlay then hits the Tombstone to put Callihan away at 22:43. Fun and hard hitting, but lacked the specialty their first EVOLVE bout had. It took a long while for the crowd to warm up which made the earlier part of the bout tough to get through. A valiant effort from both guys, but not required viewing. ***1/4

EVOLVE 11 Promo Spot
Callihan Death Machine: One More Chance
Alternate Angle Highlight Reel

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