Ybor City, FL – 4.17.2015
EVOLVE Champion: Drew Galloway
Open the Freedom Gate Champion: Drew Galloway
Open The United Gate Champions: The Premier Athlete Brand (Tony Nese & Caleb Konley)
Commentary is provided by Lenny Leonard and Ron Niemi.
The show opens with the Premier Athlete Brand (Tony Nese, Caleb Konley, So Cal Val, Andrea & Su Yung, who I thought was no longer with the group?) being introduced by Heather Lynn. Nese blames Su Yung for things going wrong for the PAB in Santa Clara, stating she purposely screwed them over from afar. Nese says it’s okay, because he and Konley are refocused and Andrea will keep Su Yung in check. He gives Yung one more chance or else she’ll be fired. Nese says he and Konley are going to knock off some newcomers tonight and build some momentum going into their tag title defense tomorrow against Ronin. With that, Nese calls out his opponent, Martin Stone.
Martin Stone vs. Tony Nese
Nese wastes a couple minutes on the floor after the bell. Stone muscles Nese to the corner, but nese gets in the ropes to back him off. Nese turns Stone’s wristlock into a pinfall attempt. Stone controls Nese on the mat in a side headlock. Stone knocks him down with a running shoulder block. Stone blocks a hip toss and gives Nese on of his own, following up with a back elbow for two. Andrea grabs Stone’s foot. The momentary distraction angers Stone who gets in Andrea’s face. Nese comes off the apron but eats a right hand from Stone. However, Nese cracks him with a superkick once Stone goes back to jaw jacking with Andrea. Nese suplexes Stone back in the ring for two. Nese yanks Stone off the second rope, causing Stone to crash into the mat for two. Stone fights back with chops. Nese lands on his feet out of a German suplex and double stomps Stone’s stomach for two. Andrea chokes Stone on the middle rope behind the referee’s back. Nese chokes Stone himself. Stone blocks a corner attack and comes off the middle rope with a shotgun dropkick. Stone pummels Nese after landing a Thesz Press. Nese evades a corner splash but takes an enzuigiri. Stone strings two clotheslines together. Nese trips Stone and hits a quebrada for two. He throws kicks at Stone’s left leg before dropkicking the knee. Stone escapes a half crab attempt and drops Nese with an Ace Crusher for two. Nese rolls up Stone for two, then muscles him into a one-armed buckle bomb. A running knee to the face follows. Stone grabs the ropes to escape another half crab attempt. Stone strings a flurry of punches and uppercuts together. Nese ducks a clothesline and delivers a variety of kicks to the head. Stone tosses him out of a German suplex and nails the clothesline for two. Nese is able to knock Stone down from the apron but misses the 450 splash. Stone locks on a crossface. So Cal Val distracts the referee who doesn’t see Nese tapping out. Stone releases the hold. Nese drops Stone with the Dudebuster (Trent Baretta’s old finisher) for two, then turns Stone over into a Lion Tamer. Stone taps out at 15:48. As a fan of both competitors, this was a let down. They wasted a lot of time before telling the story of Nese working over Stone’s leg, which was barely fleshed out all. The PAB’s interjections also disrupted the flow of the contest once or twice. It was fine for an opening match and accomplished it’s goal, but you know these two are capable of producing something much more high-caliber. **¼
Konley wants to keep the PAB train rolling and calls out his opponent for the night, Rey Horus, who impressed during the King of the Indies tournament during the WWN Experience in Santa Clara.
Rey Horus vs. Caleb Konley
Konley drops Horus with some right hands with before doing damage in the corner. Horus kicks Konley away before coming off the top with an alita into a tornado clutch. Konley cuts him off with an uppercut, but Horus responds with a rolling back elbow that sends Konley to the floor. Back in, Konley baits Horus into a kick to the stomach and digs his knee into Horus’ neck. He teases pulling off Horus’ mask, but instead brings him down in a side headlock. Konley shoulder blocks him down and blows a snot rocket. Horus rolls under a leapfrog and snaps off a Frankensteiner. Konley retreats but Horus takes him down with a swinging Frankensteiner on the floor. Horus tries to slingshot in but Konley shoves him to the floor where Horus collides head first into the seat of a chair. Konley drops him back first on the apron. He stomps on Horus’ back when in the ring, again pulling at his mask. He drops Horus stomach first on the apron before giving him a clothesline for two. Horus escapes a bodyscissors by leaning back into a pin on Konley, but Konley comes right back with a diving clothesline. Horus escapes a corner attack. He runs the ropes, coming down with a corkscrew wrist drag. Konley slips out, but is met with a tope con hilo from Horus. In the ring Horus lands a high crossbody and spikes Konley with a tornado DDT. Horus sunset flips Konley. Konley rolls through, backfists Horus, and brings him down in a Blue Thunder Bomb for two. Konley locks on the O-Face. Horus counters into a sunset flip. He huracanrana’s Konley into a running enzuigiri. He sets up Konley on the top turnbuckle. Horus brings him down with a super Frankensteiner! Konley kicks out right before three. Horus goes up top. Konley catches him with a palm strike. He then brings down Horus with a second rope Cradle Shock for the pin at 14:07. This was a nice showcase for Horus in his debut, while also giving Konley momentum going into the main event tag team match tomorrow. The PAB were barely involved which was best for the match overall. I’m interested to see what else Horus can produce. **¾
Su Yung says she has a surprise for the PAB. She has secured a SHINE Championship match for herself against Santana tomorrow night and will bring home the gold to the PAB. So Cal Val however says Andrea will be challenging Santana for the title instead, because she can actually win a match. Val calls Yung pathetic and says she will be fired if Yung lays a finger on her. Andrea stops Yung from slapping her. Andrea rips off Yung’s shirt and Val says no man would ever want to be with her due to her small boobs. That was just uncomfortable.
TJ Perkins vs. Biff Busick
They reach a stalemate on the mat. Perkins comes out on a top of a wristlock exchange by dropkicking Busick to the ropes. Perkins holds onto a headscissors. He tries to flip Busick, but Busick releases himself. Perkins however puts on a Royal Octopus, bringing down Busick in a Mouse Trap pin for two. Busick sends Perkins to the ropes out of a headlock of his own. Perkins baits Busick to the floor, but it backfires as Busick pulls him down and causes Perkins’ face to collide with the apron. Busick grabs a cravate in the ring, holding on when Perkins attempts to slam his way free. They trade snapmares until Perkins drops Busick with a reverse DDT. Perkins misses a corner splash. Busick dives off the second turnbuckle with an uppercut for two. He outstretches Perkins arms while digging his head into Perkins’ shoulders. Perkins flip kicks his way free. Busick wants a choke sleeper but Perkins pops him up and drives his feet into Busick’s face. Perkins strings an inverted atomic drop and roundhouse kick together. Out of the corner he plants Busick with a neckbreaker. A springboard crossbody leads to a cross armbreaker attempt. Busick gets his foot on the ropes before it is applied. Perkins blocks a rear naked choke attempt and gives Busick a double underhook gutbuster for two. He gives Busick an uppercut. Busick catches him with an uppercut mid-air. A running blockbuster gets Busick a two count. Perkins blocks a half-nelson suplex and tries a backslide. Busick blocks, so Perkins takes him down into the cross armbreaker while kicking at Busick’s head. The referee calls for the bell at 13:03. Busick insists he didn’t submit, though commentary says he did, and the camera didn’t catch it, so I’m guessing it’s a referee stoppage. This was a very good, sporting contest, and although I felt the finish felt a bit too abrupt, the work put in was good enough that it didn’t bother me. Perkins is getting over the cross armbreaker with wins over Gulak and now Busick, which I always like to see. ***¼
Rich Swann vs. Ethan Page
Swann runs in and immediately throws punches to Page, angry for what Page did to his friend Gargano at “Mercury Rising.” He takes him down with a tilt-a-whirl headscissors and dropkicks Page to the floor. Page cuts off Swann dive attempt and gives him a butterfly backbreaker on the floor. He drives Swann’s lower back into the ring frame before taking him back inside. Swann suffered a dislocated rib, so it makes sense for Page to target it. Page drops him with a back suplex and mocks Swann’s dancing. He whips Swann hard to the corner and applies a waistlock. Swann escapes. He tries a back handspring Ace Crusher, but instead is spun out into a front face slam. Swann tries spitting at Page, so Page drives his knee into Swann’s forehead. He gives Swann a fallaway slam, but drives his knees into Swann’s ribs before doing so. Page brings Swann to the stage and gives him a Gotch piledriver! Swann manages to crawl back to the ring, but Page awaits with a barrage of punches. Swann is able to go shot for shot with Page out of sheer anger, even giving him a neckbreaker. He gives Page a back heel kick to the back of his head. Page cuts him off with a boot from the corner, but Swann takes him off the top with a leaping Frankensteiner for two. Swann ascends the ropes. Page hits him with a bicycle kick. Page catches Swann’s crossbody attempt and tries the Lawn Dart. Swann escapes and nails a roundhouse kick. He misses a 450 splash, crashing rib first on the mat. Page hits the Tower of London for two. The two competitors fight on the apron. Page flips Swann back into the ring. He goes for BOOM! Headshot. Swann counters mid-move with a headstand and superkicks Page. Page responds in kind but Swann hits him with a tornado kick after. Page catches Swann rushing out of the corner with a Lawn Dart. BOOM! Headshot connects for two. Swann valiantly fights off the Spinning Dwayne and hits the back handspring Ace Crusher. Page kicks out. After a kick to the head, Swann climbs the ropes once more. Swann tries a frog splash. Page gets his knees up to block. The Spinning Dwayne gets him the pin at 13:50. I loved the story of this match. Page knew Swann’s ribs were messed up and focused the entirety of his offense on that area. Swann was blinded by anger and fought more valiantly than he should have been capable of, but all the work Page put in paid off for him with the victory. Now that Page’s character is firmly established I think he has the tools to go far in WWN. This also leaves Swann vulnerable for tomorrow when he challenges for the United Gate championships. ***¼
Johnny Gargano vs. Davey Richards
After feeling one another out on the mat, Richards locks on the Trailer Hitch. Gargano grabs the bottom rope, and not only does Richards release the hold, but helps Gargano to his feet. Richards resists Gargano’s shoulder blocks. He drops down, but Gargano does two and goes for the Garga-No Escape. Richards hits the floor, visibly frustrated. Richards comes back with a shoulder block and rolls Gargano into a seated parachute stretch. He turns it into a Gedo Clutch, but then Gargano grabs his own parachute stretch. Richards rolls him into a figure four crab. Gargano avoids his shoulders being pinned. Back to their feet, Richards sends Gargano out witha dropkick. He misses a running apron kick. Gargano enzuigiri’s Richards to the floor. He comes back in, but Gargano catches him with a slingshot spear. Gargano throws a few jabs before snapmaring Richards into a dropkick to the back of the head. Richards catches Gargano coming off the ropes with an STO. A snap suplex doesn’t get Richards the count. He knees Gargano in the stomach as Gargano comes off the ropes. He pulls up Gargano’s knee pad to reveal tape, then drives that knee into the canvas. Gargano kicks at Richards’ head to try to get him away, but Richards gives him a dragonscrew leg whip. Richards whips him across the ring, but Gargano falls under his knee crumpling. Richards locks Gargano’s leg around the middle rope and kicks at his knee. He tries doing it in another corner but Gargano uses his elbow to fight Richards’ off. Richards goes for the Damage Reflex but Gargano cuts him off mid-air with a neckbreaker. Gargano rolls Richards into an enzuigiri and hits a slingshot DDT for two. Richards slips out of a lawn dart attempt. Richards brings him down with a knee strike against the rope and a penalty kick for two. Gargano tries to roll him into an enzuigiri. This time Richards stops the foot and grabs the Stretch Muffler. Gargano turns that into the Garga-No Escape. Richards gets his foot on the ropes. They get in an exchange where Gargano hits the shoulder and Richards goes for the leg. Gargano ends up delivering a superkick and lawn darts Richards across the ring. He gives Richards a running kick to the chest for two, then re-applies the Garga-No Escape. Richards tries rolling him into the Stretch Muffler. Gargano counters into the Jackknife cradle, leading to a series of pins. Richards stops him with the Alarm Clock. He takes him down with a Saito suplex and comes off the top turnbuckle with a double stomp for two. Richards nails him with Creeping Death for the pin in 18:19. This was going great until Gargano made his comeback. It was like Richards’ bad habits were transferred to Gargano, as he outright stopped selling his leg, making the work Richards put in meaningless, not even playing a factor in the finish. Richards winning is an odd choice since he’s a special guest more so than a regular on the roster and Gargano has the title match tomorrow. While for me it made total sense for Swann to go into that match weakened and beaten, Gargano losing to me is very questionable. Again, this was good up until a particular point. ***
Rob Naylor talks to Johnny Gargano before he heads to the back. He says both he and Rich Swann lost, and that things look bleak as they go into their EVOLVE tag team title match tomorrow night. Gargano says things are very personal between Ronin and the PAB and that the PAB better be ready for a war. Naylor asks for a comment on Ethan Page. Gargano says he has nothing to say about him.
2 out of 3 Falls
Timothy Thatcher vs. Roderick Strong
The winner of this match earns a future EVOLVE Championship match. Thatcher takes the first few opening exchanges, with Strong going to the floor to diminish the advantage. Thatcher looks for the cross armbreaker early though Strong is able to escape. He blocks a boot from Strong, catching his arm in the process. Thatcher works over Strong’s arm, softening it up for the armbreaker. Strong becomes angry from his fingers being snapped, so he throws some punches and knees Thatcher in the ribs. Thatcher blocks a chop and knocks Strong down with an uppercut. Strong knocks him down with an enzuigiri. Thatcher absorbs a chop and uppercuts Strong to the corner. Thatcher brings him out with a suplex for one. He goes for the arm again and Strong bails to the apron. Strong kicks out Thatcher’s leg to end a forearm exchange. He gets two with a dropkick. Thatcher stops Strong’s charge with an uppercut. He tries to transition a butterfly suplex into a Fujiwara armbar, but Strong rolls Thatcher onto his shoulders and pins him at 11:20! Strong leads 1 fall to 0. Strong pulls Thatcher outside. He tries to throw Thatcher off his shoulders into a support beam, but Thatcher slides off and sends Strong shoulder first into it. Thatcher uppercuts Strong around the building and throws his arm into a bar. Strong sends Thatcher face first into another support beam. Strong misses a chop and hits the beam. Thatcher does more damage to Strong’s hand and wrist back in the ring. Strong fights him off in the corner. Thatcher fights him off the ropes and stomps him down in the opposite corner. Strong pummels Thatcher in the middle of the ring. Thatcher gets on top and goes for the cross armbreaker, but Strong quickly escapes and recovers in the corner. He goes for the Tiger Driver. Thatcher brings him down in the cross armbreaker. Strong taps at 17:47, and the match is now tied 1-1. Thatcher goes for the Tower of London. Strong blocks and brings Thatcher to the apron. After another forearm exchange, Strong drops Thatcher back first onto the ring apron. Strong picks him up off the floor and brings him back into the ring for a close nearfall. Thatcher ends the next forearm exchange with a headbutt. Strong takes Thatcher to the top turnbuckle. He hits him with an enzuigiri before superplexing him to the mat. Thatcher kicks out again. Strong throws chops. When Thatcher blocks, Strong chops him in the forehead and knee strikes him in the face! Strong sets up for a suplex. Thatcher places him on the top rope and brings him down with the Tower of London. He goes for the Fujiwara armbar. Strong fights off. He takes an uppercut but retaliates with a Sick Kick and the Tiger Driver for the pin and the victory at 24:10. Abrupt finish aside I liked this match quite a bit. It didn’t drag, Thatcher told a good story in working over Strong’s arm, Strong adapted to that strategy, and used Thatcher’s propensity for blocking his chops against him. I actually think this could have gone a few more minutes to a build up the finish, but it was a very good match as is. ***¾
Strong says he’s not just looking to embarrass Drew Galloway on May 31st in Long Island, but to take his title as well. Thatcher tells Strong that he’s man enough tonight to admit that tonight Strong was the better man. He wants to work his way back up so he can stand across the ring from whomever leaves Long Island champion. Biff Busick cames out and reminds the crowd that he got screwed by the referee early on. Strong calls him a baby. He says both Thatcher and Busick have to accept the fact that they are losers and he is a winner. He tries to cheap shot them, but they notice and Strong instead bails backstage. Busick leaves Thatcher, who bows to the fans.