Queens, NY – 5.30.2015
EVOLVE Champion: Drew Galloway
Open the Freedom Gate Champion: Drew Galloway
Open The United Gate Champions: Ronin (Johnny Gargano & Rich Swann)
Commentary is provided by Lenny Leonard and Ron Niemi.
The Premier Athlete Brand of Tony Nese, Caleb Konley, and So Cal Val come to the ring. Val says they were robbed of the United Gate titles last show, and because of it, the PAB name was disgraced. Val addresses Roderick Strong, stating she wants to talk business with him. She also says the PAB have a new attitude and will get their frustrations out tonight. With that, Nese calls out his opponent Rey Horus.
Rey Horus vs. Tony Nese
Nese attacks Horus as he’s posing, stomping him down before tossing him to the floor. Nese gets in some shots before bringing Horus back inside. He chokes Horus with his boot in the corner. Nese holds him up with one arm for a delayed vertical suplex. Horus slips to the apron when Nese tries to charge at him in the corner, and comes back in with a swinging Frankensteiner. Horus runs the ropes into a corkscrew wristdrag, sending Nese to the floor. Horus looks to dive, but Nese re-enters the ring and nails him with a leg lariat. Nese cartwheels off the apron. Horus catches him with a superkick, then lands a tope con hilo. In the ring Horus takes out Nese’s legs before hitting an enzuigiri. Nese pops Horus up, dropping him hard onto the mat. Nese follows up with a clothesline. He goes for the mask. Although Horus fights him off, Nese takes him down quickly with a dropkick. He puts Horus in a bodyscissors. Horus is able to maneuver himself to the ropes. Nese sends him to the apron. Horus kicks him from the apron, coming in with another swinging Frankensteiner and a dropkick for two. Nese goes for a powerbomb. Horus rolls out and kicks Nese in the chest for two. After exchanging waistlocks, Nese flips out of Horus’ German suplex attempt and double stomps Horus’ chest for a nearfall. After a forearm exchange, Horus blocks Nese’s superkick and spikes him with a reverse Frankensteiner. Nese cracks Horus with a superkick as Horus comes off the ropes, rendering both men on the mat. They end up in the corner where Horus brings down Nese with a high-speed prawn hold off the top turnbuckle! Nese kicks out at the last second. He rolls Horus into a one-arm buckle bomb. The Dudebuster gets Nese the closest nearfall of the match thus far. Nese climbs the ropes. Horus crotches him and follows Nese to the second rope. They go up top where Horus brings down Nese with an avalanche Frankensteiner for the pin at 15:39. I found parts of this tedious, but the ending stretch with all the nearfalls was really awesome and did a tremendous job of picking up the energy. Major kudos to them for the recovery. Horus needs wins if we’re supposed to see him as an entity in the company, and going over a former tag champion will do just that. ***
Konley tries to attack Horus, but Horus ducks and slides to the floor. This frustrates Konley who gets in a shoving match with Nese. Nese tells Konley to win his own match and heads to the back. Konley calls out his opponent, Davey Richards.
Davey Richards vs. Caleb Konley
A heated Richards enters and takes down Konley right away. Konley slides outside, angry. Drew Gulak is on commentary, scouting Richards for tomorrow night. They reach a stalemate when neither man can get a hold on the mat. In a double knuckle lock, both men take each over with Northern Lights suplexes. Konley Judo throws Richards into a cross armbreaker. Richards converts into an ankle lock. Konley tries reversing but Richards grabs an sharpshooter. Konley gets the ropes. A forearm strike exchange leads to Richards taking Konley to the ropes and the corner with chest and rib kicks. He finishes with a sole butt kick. A leapfrog and drop down lead to Richards sending Konley out with a dropkick. Richards hits a PK from the apron. He wants to suplex Konley from inside the ring to the floor. Konley sweeps out Richards’ legs to counter. He crotches Richards on the guardrail and gives him a chop. In the ring Konley whips Richards chest first to the corner and puts on a bodyscissors. Richards turns it into a seated parachute stretch. Konley is close enough to grab the ropes. He bites Richards in the corner. He tries bringing Richards out with a hip toss. Richards blocks. Konley spins Richards out of a waistlock and into an enzuigiri for two. After some shots to the stomach and back, Konley drives Richards down with a side Russian legsweep for two. He chokes Richards on the ropes, as does Val behind the referee’s back. Richards gets Konley in a position where he can give him a double stomp. He comes out of the corners with clotheslines. He hits the Damage Reflex for two. He also gets two with a German suplex. Richards goes for Creeping Death. Konley catches the leg. He tries a suplex but Richards knees him in the head. Konley blocks Richards charge with two feet. He misses a moonsault but lands on his feet. He gives Richards a Regalplex for two. Konley tries to bring Richards up top. Richards gamengiri’s Konley to stop him. He then brings down Konley with a super sunset flip. A PK follows. He misses a top rope double stomp. Konley pops him into the Cradle Shock for two. Konley climbs the ropes. Richards crotches him on the top turnbuckle. He gives Konley repeated headbutts before taking him down with a belly-to-back superplex. Somehow, Konley kicks out. As both men recover, they throw shots to one another. Richards gets in a flurry of forearms against the ropes. Konley hits a spin kick. Richards pops him up into the Alarm kick. A yakuza kick and Saito suplex lead to the top rope double stomp. Konley gets his shoulders up at the last second. Creeping Death gets Richards the pin at 20:58. After being let down by Richards’ matches against Gargano and Trevor Lee, I was ready to write him off. Then, he and Konley tear it up, in a match where Konley, even in a loss, looked absolutely fantastic. Konley looked like Richards’ equal, at times dominating him and kicking out of a bunch of big offense. The crowd got hotter as the match went on, and Richards’ new finisher continues to be built as it claims another victim. It’s clear to me that they’re setting up the PAB for a downward spiral, while still keeping them strong in-ring, and in that respect this was an unexpected success. ***¾
Richards says the hunt will continue until he gets the EVOLVE championship.
TJ Perkins vs. Mike Bailey
This is Bailey’s EVOLVE debut. Both men are cautious to strike. Perkin catches Bailey’s kick attempt and brings him to the mat. Bailey escapes a side headlock and back handsprings into his own side headlock. Perkins tries a submission. Bailey brings Perkins back to the mat and throws a flurry of kicks and palm strikes. Perkins brings him to the corner to stop him. Bailey swipes Perkins in the side of the head with a spinwheel kick. Perkins takes to the corner to regain his bearings. Perkins and Bailey block one another’s offense until Bailey catches Perkins with a kick to the stomach. He takes Perkins over with a Frankensteiner. Perkins fails to lure Bailey to the ropes, as Bailey stops short and stomps on Perkins’ back. Perkins slides in from the apron and puts on a figure four sharpshooter, transitioning to a crossface. Bailey grabs the ropes. Perkins maneuvers Bailey into a kneeDT. He jams Bailey’s knee into his own for two. Bailey sneaks in a small package, but Perkins kicks out and kicks Bailey’s leg out from under him. Bailey avoids a corkscrew splash and delivers Kneecolepsy for two. Perkins blocks a kick. He tries for a powerbomb. Bailey counters with a Frankensteiner and tornado kick. A series of kicks to the shoulders leads to an enzuigiri and standing shiranui for two. Bailey gets a series of chest kicks in the corner. Perkins blocks one and rolls Bailey into a cross armbreaker, coming down with kicks to the head. Perkins switches into another leg submission but is too close to the ropes. Bailey prawn holds Perkins for two. Perkins tries the Detonation Kick, but mid-move Bailey crashes down with double knees to the chest. Bailey places Perkins on the top turnbuckle. Perkins boots him away. He misses a crossbody, allowing Bailey to hit a corkscrew shooting star press for two. He misses a shooting star knee press off the middle rope. Perkins gives him a double underhook lungblower for two. Perkins lands a 450 splash, only for Bailey to catch him in a triangle! Perkins switches out into an ankle lock. Bailey tries countering that, so Perkins back bridges Bailey, pinning Bailey’s shoulders to the mat for a three count at 11:14. Bailey makes a great addition the roster. He has a very unique style and adds a new dynamic to any competitor he steps in the ring with. Perkins was a great first opponent for him, as he too is an agile, strike based competitor who is also proficient on the mat. Bailey got to showcase all his impressive offense and ended up losing only because of Perkins veteran instincts. I’d consider this a successful introduction for Bailey into EVOLVE. ***½
Trevor Lee vs. Chris Hero
Hero takes the opening lock-up with a snapmare. Lee almost gets the better of Hero with a waistlock, but he is backed to the corner. Lee controls Hero by his arms, grabbing a hammerlock on the canvas. Hero maneuvers out and delivers a chop. Lee tries a leapfrog but eats a boot to the mid-section. Angry, Lee pounds on Hero’s back with forearms before whipping him into the ropes for a dropkick. Hero gives him a jab for two after breaking a collar-and-elbow tie-up. He keeps Lee loopy with strikes around ringside. Lee strikes back with a boot, only for Hero to crack him with an elbow strike. In the ring, however, lee catches Hero in the corner with a boot and lands a swinging DDT. He goes for a suplex, but Hero counters with a release vertical suplex for two. Lee uses his legs to roll Hero into a cradle for a nearfall. He blocks a punch from Hero and throws a flurry of his own. Hero remains standing as Lee comes off the ropes with forearm strikes. Lee is able to take him down with a running Frankensteiner. One elbow strike from Hero is all it takes to stop Lee. Lee low bridges the top rope to send Hero outside. They avoid each other’s dives and Lee catches Hero with a running punt from the apron twice. On the third, Hero punches Lee in the knee. Hero snaps Lee’s leg in the ropes with two dragonscrew leg whips. After a senton splash, Hero drives his knee into Lee’s face twice. He flips Lee onto his stomach and chest after blocking a boot from Lee. As Hero comes off the ropes, Lee tries catching with double knees. Hero however catches his leg and puts on a seated half crab. Lee gets the ropes. Hero mauls him in the corner. Lee turns Hero around and with fury throws shots after spitting at him in the face. A jab from Hero stops Lee and both men fall to the mat. Hero ties up Lee’s leg in the corner, throwing a superkick to the thigh. Lee uses his other leg to fight back. He manages a Saito suplex for two. Lee muscles Hero up into a German suplex for two. Hero fires back with a series of boots to the head, but Lee won’t go down. Hero tries a rolling elbow. Lee counters with a moonsault press for a close nearfall! He knees Hero in the face before going to the top turnbuckle. He climbs down when he notices Hero go to the opposite corner. Hero suckers Lee into a rolling elbow for two. The Death Blow is only good for two as well! The Gotch piledriver and a tombstone piledriver get Hero a hard fought win at 18:03. This was a heck of a match, with Hero dominating Lee, and Lee persevering through sheer will and determination from all the damage inflicted on him. If the goal was for the fans to gain an appreciation for Lee, it worked, as they got more behind him as the match progressed and he received a standing ovation despite losing. I like Hero in the role as the guy who helps elevate the new, younger talent. It makes it seem as if defeating him is a major accomplishment, and almost instant justification for a title opportunity, which is exactly how he should be handled. Very good stuff. ****
Open The United Gate Championship
Ronin (Johnny Gargano & Rich Swann) vs. Catch Point (Drew Gulak & “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams)
Ronin have been champions since 4.18.2015 and this is their first defense. Williams throws Swann to the mat. When Swann tries to finesse his way out of a wristlock, Williams goes for an armbar and forces Swann to the ropes. Swann escapes Williams’ left leg hold and tags in Gargano. Back and forth between Gargano and Williams leads to Gargano going for the Garga-No Escape and Williams getting the ropes before it can be applied. Gargano ties up his legs. Williams switches out into a crossface and Gargano uses the ropes again. After Swann escapes a headlock from Gulak, Gulak rolls under Swann’s leapfrog to catch him in a sunset flip for two. Some rolling leads to a dropkick from Swann. Gulak tags out. Swann sends Williams face first into Gargano’s feet. Swann baits Gulak into jumping in the ring and sending him to the floor. Williams eats a series of kicks, ending with a bicycle kick from Swann. Gargano tries a slingshot spear. Williams catches Gargano and drill shim with an elevated DDT for two. Gulak and Williams work over Gargano’s knee in their corner. Gargano is able to backdrop his way out of a piledriver attempt from Williams. Swann dropkicks Gulak off the apron and brings Williams off the top turnbuckle with a leaping Frankensteiner. Swann hits a double back handspring Ace Crusher on Catch Point, pinning Williams for two. Williams grabs the ropes to avoid a double whip from Swann and Gargano. Gulak comes in with a diving clothesline off the top to Swann. Gargano tries a rolling enzuigiri but Gulak grabs his legs and puts on the Trailblazer. Gargano gets the ropes. Gulak is pulled off the middle rope by Gargano and given the Lawn Dart. Williams breaks the pin. Catch Point try a double suplex on Gargano. Swann saves him and Ronin deliver double superkicks to both Gulak and Williams. Gargano wipes out Gulak on the floor with a suicide dive. A strike exchange between Swann and Williams leads to a backbreaker and German suplex from Williams. Gargano superkicks Williams. Williams tries a rolling lariat, but Gargano takes him down in the Garga-No Escape. Williams williams rolls him up for two, then locks on a crossface. Gargano cracks Williams in the face with a knee strike after escaping, spinning Williams back into the Garga-No Escape. Swann stops Gulak from saving him with a tornado kick and a senton off the apron to the floor. Williams taps out at 16:41. Catch Point looked strong in their first outing, especially Williams, who looked very comfortable with the cream of the crop in what is just his second EVOLVE outing. Catch Point are much better at working as a unit now, but at times in this match it felt like Gulak and Williams were working as two separate entities instead of working as a team, except for the isolation segment. The action was very good and they built up the Garga-No Escape wisely. I don’t think the winner was ever truly in doubt, but both teams did a good job attempting to get the crowd to believe it was. ***½
Gargano says Swann is like a brother to him, and he’s watch him grow up into one of the best wrestlers in the world today. Although Dragon Gate USA is the company that made Ronin, it is also a company of the past. He and Swann have decided that now that they have one successful defense under their hats, they are going to vacate and retire the Open the United Gate championships. Swann says that their should be EVOLVE tag team champions. He and Gargano hug and leave the Open the United Gate titles in the ring.
Open The Freedom Gate Championship
Drew Galloway vs. Biff Busick
Galloway has been champion since 3.28.2015 and this is his fifth defense. Galloway goes to the apron when Busick tries a choke sleeper right at the start. Busick rolls him into a half crab, turning it in the rear-naked choke. Galloway gets his foot on the ropes to escape. They trade uppercuts and chops. Busick back elbows Galloway multiple times in the corner. Galloway side steps an attack, sending Busick crashing to the floor. The two men fight into the crowd where Busick attempts a powerbomb onto four chairs, but ends up being backdropped by Galloway onto them. He then tosses Busick shoulder first onto the ring apron. In the ring, Busick hits some desperation uppercuts. He then ducks a clothesline from Galloway and blasts Galloway with a running uppercut for two. A slap from Busick angers Galloway, who throws Busick to the corner and stomps him down. Galloway hits the Claymore for two. He places Busick on the top rope and kicks him in the ribs. Busick escapes a corner attack. He hits another uppercut. Galloway responds with a boot, so Busick hits Galloway with a lariat, rendering both men on the mat. Busick looks for a sleeper. Galloway crawls to the second turnbuckle with Busick on his back. He knocks Busick off, then rakes his eyes from a tree of woe. Galloway jumps off the ropes and is met with an uppercut in mid-air for two. Galloway fights off a headlock. He places Busick on the top turnbuckle. He brings Busick down with a reverse vertical suplex! Busick kicks out. Galloway wants Future Shock. Busick is resistant, so Galloway drops him with a piledriver for two. Busick flips off Galloway as he’s on his knees, so Galloway gives him a running boot for two. Galloway goes for a tombstone. Busick counters into a sleeper choke, attempting to add a bodyscissors. Galloway flips out of the rear-naked choke attempt and hits Future Shock for the pin at 14:50. Even more so than the last match, it didn’t seem as if the crowd felt Busick stood any chance coming out of this match as the champion. If nothing else, he felt like a placeholder challenger until Timothy Thatcher was available. That said, they told an excellent story. Busick’s rear-naked choke had been established as his coup de grace, so it made sense that he focused on cinching it in the entire time, while also teasing Galloway’s Future Shock DDT before it finally finished Busick off. Part of me liked that they skipped the feeling out process and went right into the heavy striking, but I also feel that maybe the feeling out could have made for a more well-rounded bout too. ***¼
Galloway calls Busick a hell of a man and thanks him for the match. Busick shakes his hand, but is clearly disappointed. He says the final chapter in his and Roderick Strong’s feud is happening tomorrow in Long Island, fondly remembering their battle in Long Island from February. Johnny Gargano comes out and encourages Galloway to retire the Open The Freedom Gate championship, just like he and Swann retired the United Gate titles earlier in the evening, for the sake of looking towards the future instead of living in the past. Galloway says winning the Freedom Gate title was what helped establish him as the man in WWN and that the victory over Gargano was his WrestleMania moment. Galloway wonders if Gargano had defeated him in Santa Clara to win the EVOLVE title if Gargano would’ve retired the EVOLVE title had he asked Gargano to do so. Galloway says he will not be retiring the title. If Gargano wants to retire the Open The Freedom Gate championship, Gargano will have to beat him for it. Gargano hypes up the fans for tomorrow’s show where he faces Ethan Page. He talks about the future of EVOLVE, and if Gargano gets his way, Page will not have a future.