Long Island, NY – 5.31.2015
EVOLVE Champion: Drew Galloway
Open the Freedom Gate Champion: Drew Galloway
Commentary is provided by Lenny Leonard and Ron Niemi.
Johnny Gargano makes his way to the ring and welcomes the fans to EVOLVE Wrestling. He reminds them that he and Rich Swann retired the DGUSA Open the United Gate titles last night in order to help clean up the WWN Universe. Tonight he cleans up WWN a different way by getting rid of Ethan Page for good. Since he’s in his gear and Ethan Page belongs in an opening match, he tells Page to come out right now for their scheduled bout.
Johnny Gargano vs. Ethan Page
If Gargano wins, Page is out of EVOLVE. If Page wins, Gargano has to shake his hand. Gargano establishes dominance by taking Page to the mat in the early going, even getting a quick lateral press pin. Page knocks Gargano down with a running shoulder block. He catches Gargano on his shoulders. Gargano rides Page down and goes for the Garga-No Escape. Page gets to his feet and grabs the top rope. When Gargano releases, Page cracks him with a right hand. He shoulder blocks Gargano in the corner multiple times. Out of the corner, Gargano rolls Page into a low enzuigiri and follows up with a neckbreaker. Ringside he chops Page into a seat and dishes out a series of left hand punches before hitting a running chop. Page pulls the referee into his trajectory to stop Gargano, allowing Page to recover and hit a superkick. He launches Gargano face first into the ring post. In the ring Page chokes Gargano on the middle rope. He kicks the ropes into Gargano’s face and then kicks him in the kidneys. Page gives him a backdrop for one. He stomps away at Gargano’s lower back. Page mocks Gargano’s “all heart” moniker. Gargano throws some punches, but Page stops him with a fallaway slam. Gargano stops a corner attack and comes off the middle rope with a swinging Complete Shot. Page is able to catch Gargano coming off the ropes with a gutwrench throw. Page goes for the Hurts Donut. Gargano swings out, superkicks Page, and turns him inside out with a clothesline. Page bandera’s Gargano to the apron, but Gargano comes back in with a slingshot spear for two. Page blocks an enzuigiri, but succumbs to a slingshot DDT for two. Gargano attempts the Lawn Dart. Page slides off of his shoulders and tries it himself. Gargano counters, but Page swings him out into a Black Tornado Slam for two. Page follows up with a Buckle Bomb and RK-Ego for two. A strike and boot exchange sees Gargano superkick Page outside and follow with a suicide dive. Page catches his second slingshot spear. Page tries the Black Tornado Slam again, but Gargano swings down into the Garga-No Escape! Page rolls Gargano onto his shoulders to escape. Gargano also escapes the Spinning Dwayne. He goes for the Hurts Donut. Page swings Gargano around and Gargano’s legs clip referee Brandon Tolle. While Brandon is down, Page kicks Gargano in the groin. He pulls a string out of his tights and chokes Gargano with it in the Garga-No Escape! This is how Gargano defeated Shingo two years prior. Gargano passes out at 15:39. Page using Gargano’s past to haunt his present is a really unique and intriguing way to tell this story and so far they’re doing it well. Page is tailor made to be a heel, and between the finish and his obnoxious handshake at the end, he executed his role perfectly. ***¼
Page tells Gargano that he cemented himself in the company. He demands Gargano shake his hand, as promised. Since Gargano is passed out, he flips over his lifeless body and shakes his hand, making sure all the cameras see it.
Rich Swann vs. Trevor Lee
They begin with a wristlock exchange and armlocks on the canvas. Lee switches Swann out into a cravate. Swann flips out of a snapmare. They pick up the pace with some Lucha rolls. Swann snaps off a headscissors and lands a dropkick. Lee holds onto a front facelock. Swann shoulder blocks his way out of it. Swann delivers some punches in the corner. Lee rolls him away and drops Swann with a uranage slam for two. Lee backdrops Swann, causing him to crash chest and face first into the mat. He digs his knee into Swann’s back while applying a crossface. Swann grabs the bottom rope to escape. Lee whips him chest first into the corner twice. Lee misses a corner attack. Swann enzuigiri’s Lee on the top and brings him down with leaping Frankensteiner. Lee gets his knees up to block a rolling frog splash. Swann leaps off of Lee’s back into an axe kick for two. Lee moves away to avoid the standing 450 splash. They exchange strikes, ending with a leaping double stomp from Lee for two. Swann counters Lee’s offense with a spike reverse Frankensteiner. A back handspring Ace Crusher gets a two count. Swann misses a top rope frog splash. He’s able to cut off Lee’s corner attack with a boot. Lee catches Swann’s rolling DDT and flips him up into the Orange Crush for two. Lee gets the pin with his moonsault crossbody at 10:50. I can’t help but feel this was a let down. They eventually got to their crazier stuff down the stretch, but since the set-up for a lot of the craziness felt contrived or wasn’t smooth, most of it didn’t garner a reaction. Despite the hard work, there was little cohesion and the crowd reacted accordingly. **¼
Rey Horus vs. “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams
Like the last match, this starts in a wristlock exchange. Williams converts into a hammerlock, then a Stretch Muffler variant when Horus grabs a side headlock. Horus grabs the ropes. He grabs a courting hold. Williams trips him into a grapevine with a leg scissors. Horus tries to strike his way free. He ends up getting to his feet, and Williams drives him back first out of a spinebuster. Horus rolls Williams into his own Stretch Muffler variation but is too close to the ropes. Williams tosses Horus down in a waistlock. Horus armdrags Williams to the corner from the apron. He bandera’s to the apron. Williams catches Horus coming in with an arm capture brainbuster. Horus comes off the middle rope with an armdrag, but Williams resists and goes for a cross armbreaker. He chops Horus when Horus comes to his feet. Williams places him on the top rope. Horus hops off the middle rope, converting an alita into a tornado clutch for two. Hours hops onto Williams’ shoulders and brings him down into a huracanrana for the pin at 5:11. This was a fun sprint with some good reversals and the feeling that both guys really wanted to win. **
The Premier Athlete Brand of Tony Nese & Caleb Konley attack Horus from behind! They put the boots to him inside the ring. So Cal Val says this serves as a warning to TJ Perkins that this is what will happen to him later tonight. Perkins then runs out to clear the ring of the PAB. Referees hold him and Nese back. Perkins wants to wrestle now, and with Horus there, it’s made a tag team match.
Rey Horus & TJ Perkins vs. Premier Athlete Brand (Tony Nese & Caleb Konley)
The PAB pummel Perkins. Perkins pulls Nese into the trajectory of a double axe handle from Konley. He then headscissors up onto Nese from the apron. He runs the ropes to take down the PAB with a London Bridge. He low bridges Konley to the floor and puts Nese in Cristo. He turns it into a mouse trap pin for two. Horus comes in with a high crossbody to Nese. He rolls up into a back elbow strike to Konley. Nese breaks the cover. Konley accidentally dropkicks Nese to the floor. Horus dives over Konley onto Nese outside. Konley looks to dive but is cut off with a knee strike from Perkins. Val grabs Perkins’ legs when Perkins hits the ropes. Perkins chases Val away, allowing the PAB to yank Horus down by his mask and isolate him in their corner. Horus dropkicks Nese away after being popped up and tags in Perkins. He takes out Nese and gives Konley a double stomp. A tandem headscissors sends Nese out and takes down Konley. Perkins rolls him into a cross armbreaker. Nese jumps in to break the hold. Perkins yanks Nese by the arm to the floor. Perkins drives Konley face first into the middle turnbuckle. He assists Horus with a high speed prawn hold off the top rope for two. Nese strings together kicks on Perkins back inside the ring. Nese holds up Horus in a wheelbarrow. Konley superkicks him into into a gutwrench powerbomb/neckbreaker for two. Perkins ducks a slap from Val and pulls down her skirt! Nese lifts Perkins up by one arm and powerbombs him in the corner. Horus catches Nese coming off the ropes with a running Spanish Fly. Horus drop holds Konley into the corner. Nese however grabs him and hits the Dudebuster. Konley hits a double jump moonsault for the pin at 9:49. Despite the dreadful skirt yanking moment from Perkins, this was a fun, fast-paced tag match. It wasn’t remarkable or memorable, but solid. **½
Biff Busick vs. Mike Bailey
Busick immediately takes down Bailey in a side headlock. Bailey and Busick duck one another’s kicks and strikes to bring us back to square one. Busick goes for his rear-naked choke. Bailey grabs the ropes. He kicks Busick in the chest until Busick falls down, then he throws palm strikes to his ribs. Bailey knees Busick in the stomach and kicks him in the back. Busick creates distance with a back elbow. Busick avoids a running shooting star press and nails a diving European uppercut to Bailey’s neck for two. After a chin lock, Busick lands a legdrop. Bailey goes chop for uppercut with Busick. Bailey again scouts the choke. He unloads rapid fire kicks. Busick covers up but still feels effects from the impact. Bailey again stops a choke and O’Connor Rolls Busick. When Busick kicks out, Bailey hits Kneecolepsy. Bailey picks up steam in the corner before delivering two running chest kicks in the corner. Busick closes the gap with two running uppercuts. He ducks Bailey’s 540 kick, but Bailey takes him over with the Green Tea Press for two. Busick recovers in the corner, but is knocked down with a roundhouse kick. Bailey comes off the top with shooting star double knees to Busick’s back for two. Both men go to the apron. Bailey gets on Busick’s shoulders. Busick tosses him down and delivers a half-nelson suplex on the ring apron! Inside, he turns Bailey inside out with a lariat for a very close nearfall. Angry, Busick hits a diving European uppercut. Bailey kicks Busick in the chest to stop a second. He comes off the second rope, but in mid-air takes a European uppercut. Bailey responds with a kick to the head. Busick uppercuts him. Bailey fires up, so Busick slaps him in the face, hits a half nelson suplex, then turns him over into the rear-naked choke. Bailey passes out at 10:02. These two have their formula down. Busick goes for the neck, Bailey uses his legs to fight back, and ultimately one of them get the win. They tore it up in Beyond Wrestling, PWG, and now EVOLVE. I could watch these two over and over. ***¾
Davey Richards vs. Drew Gulak
Richards and Gulak end up in a double ankle hold, and shake hands before deciding to let go. Although Richards monkey flops Gulak in a double knuckle lock, Gulak pulls him into a bodyscissors. Richards hoists Gulak to his feet, but Gulak flips Richards to the mat and drops his knee down onto his arm. Gulak goes for Cristo, which Richards converts into a potential stretch muffler. Gulak resists and each man rolls to opposite corners. Gulak elbows and forearms Richards away, which does not make Richards happy. Gulak dragonscrew leg whips Richards and drives his knee into the mat. Richards attempts the Damage Reflex. Gulak catches his leg and applies an ankle lock. Richards grabs the bottom rope quickly. He escapes Gulak’s headlock. Richards goes for a leapfrog and hus his leg upon landing. Gulak snaps the leg before rolling Richards into a grapevine to and ankle. Richards switches out and puts on a Trailer Hitch. Gulak grabs the bottom rope, so Richards falls back to add pressure before releasing. He puts on a sharpshooter in the ropes until the four count. Despite this, Gulak goes back to the grapevine ankle lock, though Richards is able to roll to the ropes. Gulak rolls him into a sunset cradle for two. Richards goes for the Rings of Saturn. Gulak gets his foot on the bottom rope. Richards hobbles to the corner while Gulak creates distance on the floor. Richards turns him over for his own submission. Gulak gets the ankle lock very briefly due to Richards being too close to the ropes. Richards rolls Gulak into a cross armbreaker. Again Gulak gets his foot on the ropes to escape. Richards jams Gulak’s arm across his shoulder. Gulak grabs a sleeper to stop. He O’Connor Rolls Richards into the Gu-Lock. Richards reverses into a seated parachute stretch. Gulak reverses into the same move and tries the Gedo Clutch for two. Gulak uses his leg to outstretch Richards’s arm. He grabs a standing Guillotine Choke. Richards grabs an ankle lock at the same time. Richards let’s go, but is able to drop out and put Gulak into a cross armbreaker. Gulak escapes and reapplies an ankle lock. Richards rolls forward, catching Gulak in a clutch for two. Richards hits the Alarm Clock and a yakuza kick in the corner. He climbs the ropes after a Saito suplex. Richards comes down with a big double stomp for two. He goes for Creeping Death. Gulak stops him and grabs an ankle lock, adding a grapevine for pressure. Richards fights up, turning him into a sharpshooter. Gulak pulls Richards down into a small package for two. Richards kicks Gulak away from a double leg. Gulak tries again and gets kneed in the face. Richards hits Creeping Death for the pin at 19:49. Gulak looked outstanding here, with a focused attack and the ability to diversify and counter when necessary. This would end up being Richards’ final EVOLVE match, and I truly feel as if Gulak should’ve won here. Granted, EVOLVE may not have known this was it for Richards, but just with how the match was structured, it felt like Richards got lucky with his win more than earning it, and Gulak would’ve benefitted greatly with a win here. Still, I enjoyed watching these two wrestle. ***½
Drew Galloway vs. Roderick Strong
Galloway has been champion since 8.8.2014 and this is his twentieth defense. This is billed as the final encounter between Galloway and Strong. So Cal Val before the match wants Roderick to decide whether or not to join the Premier Athlete Brand (she hinted last night that she was in talks with Roderick to join.) Galloway tells Val if she goes away he’ll give one of her PAB members a title match any time, anywhere. Strong grabs the microphone out of his hand. He tells Galloway not to get ahead of himself. They may have hurt each other in their steel cage match in February, but taking away the EVOLVE title from Galloway will hurt him even more.
A very aggressive lock-up is broken in the corner. They fight for control on the mat. Galloway grabs a rear chinlock before standing up into a side headlock. He shoulder blocks Strong, who trips Galloway, but Galloway reapplies the side headlock. This happens a second time. The third time, Galloway stomps Strong before he’s taken down. Strong blocks a hip toss. He goes up and over Galloway in the corner and nails a calf kick for two. Strong attacks Galloway’s taped up left arm. Galloway leapfrogs away and kicks Strong to the mat for a one count. He hoists Strong up into a vertical suplex for another one count. Strong slips out to the apron off of Galloway’s shoulders. He comes off the top, but Galloway catches him with a backbreaker for two. They get on the ropes where Strong yanks Galloway down by his leg and causes him to crash face first into the top turnbuckle. He takes Galloway over in an Angle Slam for two. Strong kicks Galloway’s knee from the apron and jams Galloway’s arm over his shoulder. Galloway rolls to the floor after being outstretched. Strong comes out with a dropkick through the ropes. He throws Galloway shoulder first into the ring post. In the ring Strong stretches out Galloway in the rope. Strong crotches Galloway on the top turnbuckle. Galloway is able to clobber Strong in the back of the head from that position, causing both guys to fall to the mat. After trading blows, Galloway knocks down Strong with a boot. Strong stops his charge with a back elbow. Galloway delivers one of his own and gives Strong a reverse waterwheel slam for two. He dumps Strong chest first across the top turnbuckle, but Strong is able to come down and dropkick Galloway to the apron. Strong comes out to the apron and drops Galloway back first on the apron. In the ring he slams Galloway onto his stomach and ribs for two. Galloway avoids a jumping knee strike and out desperation kicks Strong in the face. They trade chops on the floor for a long while. Galloway goes face first into the ring post. In the ring, Strong attacks Galloway multiple times in the corner. Galloway slips out of a gut buster. He tries a backslide but Strong backslides him back. Galloway flips out of it and hits the Future Shock DDT for two. Strong stops Galloway on the top turnbuckle with a kick to the shoulder. He brings down Galloway with a superplex. The Gut Buster and Sick Kick get him a nearfall. Strong goes for End of Heartache. Galloway reverses into a leaping tombstone piledriver for two. Five Future Shock DDT’s get Galloway the pin at 22:55. As the blow off for a long feud, this was disappointing. All their other matches were more intense and felt like a heated fight, while this was became repetitive and lasted too long. The ending showed Galloway’s fire and that Strong is resilient as hell, but many times it felt like the match got a bit off it’s trajectory. I give them credit for course correcting, but it wasn’t the smoothest ride to get to the end. ***
Galloway gives a speech about his love for professional wrestling and how much respect Strong has earned from him. Tony Nese and Caleb Konley attack Galloway. So Cal Val makes Galloway live up to his promise and tells him that Trent Baretta will be returning on July 11th in Orlando to challenge Galloway for the EVOLVE title. Val tries to sick Strong on Galloway, but instead Strong attacks the PAB and sends them packing. Strong informs Galloway that he made the save for himself, not Galloway. Nobody has told Strong what to do in his entire wrestling career and that isn’t changing. He’s not ready to shake Galloway’s hand just yet. He leaves, allowing a hurt Galloway to celebrate his title victory.