Ybor City, FL – 7.10.2015
EVOLVE Champion: Drew Galloway
Open the Freedom Gate Champion: Drew Galloway
Commentary is provided by Lenny Leonard and Ron Niemi.
Rob Naylor introduces the Premier Athlete Brand of Trent Baretta, Tony Nese, Caleb Konley, So Cal Val, and Andrea. So Cal Val introduces Caleb Konley as the new FIP World Champion, as he defeated Rich Swann the week before for the title. She says Andrea will be taking home SHINE tag team gold soon and tomorrow night Trent Baretta will win the EVOLVE championship. “The PAB is on fire.” Gary Jay then makes his way into the ring. He wants to face his scheduled opponent, Caleb Konley, right now. Konley obliges.
Caleb Konley vs. Gary Jay
Konley scores a quick nearfall in a sunset roll. Jay gets shoved, so he angrily responds with hard chops. He schoolyard trips Konley and low bridges the top rope to send him outside. Jay follows with a triumvirate of suicide dives. Jay chops Konley around ringside until he chops a support beam accident. Konley then sends him into the beam with a Razor’s Edge. Konley does further damage to Jay’s hurt hand back inside the ring. Jay goes for a swinging Complete Shot. Konley avoids it, blocks a chop, and smashes Jay with a forearm strike. Jay is sent to the apron. He kicks out Konley’s legs and climbs the ropes. Andrea slows his ascent to the top rope, allowing Konley to catch Jay coming off the top with a dropkick. He stomps on Jay’s hand before twisting it up while Jay lays on the mat. Konley hits him with a leg sweep. Jay throws a flurry of open handed shots to Konley’s face. He takes himself and Konley outside with a crossbody against the ropes. Back inside, Jay pops Konley up into a knee to the face for two. Jay climbs to the top. Konley takes his legs out, bringing Jay into a tree of woe. Jay, from the tree of woe position, swings out into a stunner. Konley avoids a knee strike. He muscles Jay up into a Regalplex for two. Jay counters a German suplex with a jackknife cradle for two. He tries a sunset flip. Konley rolls through and powers Jay up into a Cradle Shock for two. He puts Jay in the O-Face. Jay frees one leg and kicks Konley away. Konley weaves him into a back elbow. Jay escapes a back suplex and hits a swinging Complete Shot. A shotgun dropkick leads to Jay putting Konley on the top rope. Konley throws him off and hits the double jump moonsault for the pin at 10:58. The love of the Ybor City crowd for Jay, a regular in FIP, translated well into this match. He was a resilient, persistent, fighting challenger who ultimately fell to those dirty cheaters in the PAB. It was simple, yet very effective, and a fun way to open the show. **¾
So Cal Val celebrates Konley’s win. Rich Swann in a white mask dances his way around ringside before making his way into the ring (now maskless). Swann reminds them that the last time EVOLVE was in Orlando, Swann and Gargano whooped the PAB’s butts. He still has some unfinished business with Trent Baretta, so he challenges Baretta to a match.
Rich Swann vs. Trent Baretta
Baretta shoulder blocks Swann after Swann breaks Baretta’s side headlock. Baretta withstands Swann’s shoulder block attempts and takes Swann back down with one of his own. Swann shoots Baretta away to escape a side headlock. He takes down Baretta with a swinging Frankensteiner and a dropkick. He punches Baretta multiple times in the corner, ending with a Tozawa-esque jab. Swann tries a Cerebro Lock, but ends up rolling Baretta into a seated stretch instead. Baretta puts his foot against the rope to break. Swann jumps off the middle turnbuckle, only for Baretta to cut him off in mid-air with a dropkick. He chokes Swann on the middle rope before giving him a belly-to-back suplex for two. Swann fights out of a chinlock. They trade strikes before colliding mid-air, both attempting a crossbody, or something similar. Baretta misses a corner splash upon recovering. Swann takes him off the top turnbuckle with a leaping Frankensteiner. Swann swings him into a neckbreaker and kicks him in the back of the head. Swann’s frog splash gets him a two count. Baretta rolls across the ring when he notices Swann on the top turnbuckle. Swann runs after him, only for Baretta to halt him by driving him into the mat with a double stomp. Swann escapes a running knee and hits an enzuigiri. Baretta responds with a German suplex. Baretta elbows Swann in the corner and uses the ropes for a DDT. Swann back handsprings off the ropes into an Ace Crusher for two. Swann tries a shoulder block through the ropes. Baretta moves and legdrops the back of his neck in the ropes. They trade chops on the apron. Swann fires up with punches and an enzuigiri. Baretta ducks a punch and deposits Swann on the apron with a half-nelson suplex! Swann calls back into the ring right before the twenty count. Baretta picks up Swann. Swann grabs the ropes, then swings Baretta out into a Destroyer! He uses one arm to pin Baretta for a two count. Swann climbs to the top turnbuckle. Baretta throws him off with a release belly-to-belly suplex. He hits the Gobstopper. Swann kicks out. He wants the Dudebuster but Swann turns it into a backslide. When Baretta kicks out, he kicks Baretta in the side of the head. A top rope frog splash gets Swann another nearfall. A strike exchange ends with another Gobstopper from Baretta. The Dudebuster gets Baretta the pin at 16:30. This followed a similar pattern to the first match, where Swann withstood a lot of offense but eventually was put away. This match was better executed, a little more exciting, and they got the crowd into even more of a frenzy before the end. No interference helps too. Good stuff. ***¼
Val has the PAB take a group picture. Andrew Everett comes out, ready to face Nese.
Tony Nese vs. Andrew Everett
Nese brings down Everett with a shoulder block. A leapfrog from Everett doesn’t go up high enough, causing Everett to hurt his left leg somewhat. Everett escapes a side headlock and dropkicks Nese to the corner. He hobbles to Nese where he delivers a chop. Everett flips about until landing a top rope dropkick which sends Nese to the floor. He walks up the ropes and takes out both Nese and Konley with a somersault senton. In the ring, Everett backflips into a headscissors. He gets two with a standing moonsault. Nese rolls outside to create distance. Andrea grabs Everett’s leg as he hits the ropes. Nese comes back in and turns Everett inside out with a clothesline. After a dropkick, he stands on Everett’s leg just to be a pest. He kicks the inside of Everett’s bad leg before landing a legdrop. Nese slams Everett into another legdrop for two. Everett is able to get in a chinlock, but right after Nese takes out his legs. Everett avoids a slingshot quebrada. He takes Nese over with a Frankensteiner and gets two with a German suplex. Nese rolls up with an uppercut to Everett once Everett gets to the top turnbuckle. Everett O’Connor rolls Nese for two. Nese lands on his feet out of a German suplex and double stomps Everett for two. Nese strings some kicks together. Everett ducks a superkick, but Nese rolls him up. Everett fights out of the one-armed powerbomb and enzuigiri’s Nese. Nese stops a Frankensteiner and superkicks Everett for two. Nese hops off the top when he sees Everett coming. Everett spikes him with a reverse Frankensteiner, but Nese kicks out. Nese blocks a second reverse Frankensteiner. He goes for a half crab. Everett fights it, so Nese picks him up into the one-armed Buckle Bomb. He applies a half crab. Everett is close enough to the ropes to escape. Some slaps from Nese wake Everett up, but Nese is still able to go through his legs and pump handle him into a sit-out reverse piledriver. Everett kicks out just in time. Nese brings Everett to the top turnbuckle. Everett throws him down and comes off the top with a huge shooting star press for the win at 15:06. This started out pretty rough. The leapfrog flub where Everett landed awkwardly on his leg seemed to have shaken up both men, and even though Everett’s flips proved he wasn’t hurt, the match’s flow was halted right at the start. That said, they picked things up by the end with a really strong ending and a victory for Everett that felt earned. Everett hasn’t had a match to show his full potential in EVOLVE as of yet, but this was still a good showing for him. ***
With the win, Everett thinks Caleb Konley should make their singles match tomorrow for the FIP World Heavyweight championship match. Konley becomes fired up when Everett challenges his manhood and accepts the terms.
Trevor Lee vs. Chris Hero
This is a rematch from “EVOLVE 43.” Hero ducks a high kick from Lee and drops him out of a waistlock. An armdrag to the corner frustrates Lee. Lee tries a schoolboy, but Hero grasps his arm and brings him up in a wristlock. Lee snapmares Hero into a chinlock. Hero turns it into a cravate which Lee escapes. Lee reverses a whip and dropkicks Hero as Hero comes off the ropes. Lee is sent to the apron and then booted to the floor. Hero gets in some shots before bringing Lee back inside. Hero goes for a piledriver but Lee holds onto his leg to resist. Hero rolls him into a sunset cradle for two. Lee grabs the leg again, but Hero kicks him in the face with his other leg. He whips Lee hard into the corner for a two count. Lee kicks Hero in the face. Hero rebounds with his own boot. Lee fights out of another piledriver however, and lands a moonsault block for two. Hero again sends Lee to the apron. This time Lee catches him with a gamengiri, but Hero boots him to the floor again anyways. Hero flips to the apron. Lee trips Hero so that Hero is caught in the ring skirt. This allows Lee to hit five consecutive penalty kicks from the apron. In the ring Hero is able to cover up from Lee’s strikes, but Lee catches him with a kick to the head for two. Lee tries a crossbody. Hero ducks and brings Lee down into an Ace Crusher for two. Hero responds to a kick from Lee with one of his own. Lee rolls through a pin attempt and muscles Hero up for a powerbomb. A Superman punch gets Lee another two count. Hero hits a rolling elbow. Lee escapes the Death Blow. He kicks Hero twice in the head before giving him a bridging German suplex for two. Lee tries the Orange Crush. Hero counters with a rolling elbow to the back of the head for two. As Hero comes off the ropes, Lee takes him over with the Collision Course for two. Lee strings open hand strikes and chest kicks together. A jab from Hero reels Lee, but Lee kicks him in the side of the head. He goes for another moonsault block. Hero evades. Lee lands on his feet. Hero hits three rolling elbows and the Ripcord elbow for the pin at 13;47. This was a beautiful follow up to their prior match. Lee was a valiant fighter who had the piledriver scouted (since that’s how he lost the first time around), but got caught in the end with more elbows than he could handle after taking so much abuse already. If Lee wasn’t already a star in the fans’ eyes, this changed that. What a match. ****
Hero said Lee was good tonight, but not good enough. He named two other guys who fit that very same billing: Drew Gulak and Biff Busick. He wants EVOLVE to keep sending him the best to take out, then turns to fans for suggestions. One fan tells him that Zack Sabre, Jr. is better than him, which gets under Hero’s skin. He tells the fan that he kicked his ass in England and Japan, so what makes the fan thinks he’s good enough to beat him now? The fan has no response. Hero tells the fans he’ll see them tomorrow in Orlando.
Zack Sabre, Jr. vs. Roderick Strong
Strong replaces Davey Richards who suffered a concussion the night before. During the opening exchanges, Strong takes to the floor to take away the momentum Sabre earned. He becomes frustrated when Sabre grabs three nearfalls in a crucifix pin consecutively. They trade control of a straightjacket choke. Sabre ends it by backing Strong to the corner and rolling him forward. From a double knuckle lock they place their body weight on one another. Strong doesn’t even get one with a lateral press, so he hits the floor again. Strong delivers the first strike with a chop. Sabre pulls him down by his leg when Strong tries a leapfrog. Sabre ties up his legs, but when Strong gets the ropes, he kicks Sabre in the face when Sabre unlaces his legs. Even so, Sabre grabs a kimura with a body vice. Strong drives Sabre into the turnbuckles to free himself. Strong brings him to the top turnbuckle. Sabre grabs a top wristlock. Strong escapes and slips out to the apron. He yanks Sabre’s leg, causing him to crash on the top rope and fall to the floor. Strong drops Sabre back first on the ring apron before heading back into the ring. He goes through the ropes for a dropkick to the floor. He swings Sabre head first into a support beam! Strong hits an Angle Slam back in the ring. Strong is surprised that Sabre is able to kick out. He stomps on his ribs and head. Despite Sabre’s uppercuts, Strong knocks him down with chops and takes him down with a vertical suplex. He mounts Sabre, grabbing a chinlock. When Sabre begins to twist Strong’s elbow, Strong stomps on Sabre’s head. He gives Sabre a low variation of the Sick Kick. Sabre stops a corner attack with an uppercut. He sweeps out Strong’s legs after another uppercut. Sabre batters Strong with multiple running uppercuts in the corner. Strong grabs the ropes to stop a half-nelson suplex. Sabre kicks Strong in the forearm, then bends his hand back on the mat before stomping on his elbow. He does it a second time. On their feet, Strong knees Sabre in the stomach to get him away from his arm. He gets Sabre on the top turnbuckle and hits him with an enzuigiri. Sabre comes off the top with a knee to Strong’s elbow. He gets two with a bridging half-nelson suplex. Strong stops a suplex by dropping Sabre onto his stomach. He hits a knee strike and running forearm in the corner before slamming Sabre out of a waistlock. He tries the Angle Slam. Sabre converts into the European Clutch for two. Strong kicks out and cracks Sabre in the face with a leaping knee strike. Strong brings Sabre off the top with a superplex. Upon landing, Sabre looks for an armbar. Strong muscles him to the corner and propels Sabre’s throat into the middle rope. He grabs the Strong Hold. Sabre turns it over and kicks Strong a few times. When Sabre goes for the armbar, Strong again stomps on Sabre’s head. A strike exchange ends with Strong taking Sabre down with a Doctor Bomb when Sabre tries for a standing Octopus Stretch. Sabre kicks out of the pin. Sabre almost catches Strong in a modified jackknife pin when countering the Strong Hold, but Strong pushes Sabre off before three. Strong peppers Sabre with some strikes. Sabre headbutts Strong in the stomach. He takes him over with a Northern Lights suplex into an armbar, but Strong rolls onto his stomach and places his foot on the ropes. Sabre hits the Penalty Kick for two. Sabre kicks Strong in the shoulder, but Strong follows up with a gutbuster and two Sick Kicks. Sabre kicks out and the crowd loses it. Sabre switches out of the End of Heartache and brings Strong down into the Ode to Breaks. Strong submits at 28:21! How do you follow up a match as excellent as Hero vs. Lee? With this, a match of striker vs. technical wrestler. Strong was aggressive and head hunted while Sabre went after Strong’s arm. Since Strong didn’t damage Sabre’s limbs, instead choosing to try and dominate with power, Sabre was free and clear to use them to his full extent and pay off the arm work with the submission. This would be Strong’s final EVOLVE match for awhile, so him passing the proverbial torch to Sabre was the best outcome. I feel this was one of the best matches in 2015. ****½
Timothy Thatcher and Drew Galloway come out for their non-title match. Thatcher says last year at “EVOLVE 31”, they debuted on the same show, with Thatcher in the opening match and Galloway in the main event. Thatcher says the slap in the ear that Biff Busick gave him at “EVOLVE 42” cost him five weeks of ring time. That was a sobering moment for Thatcher where he realized that a person’s time in wrestling is fleeting. Since Galloway is Mr. “any time, any place”, Thatcher wants to make this non-title match an EVOLVE championship bout. Galloway remembers the opportunity Hero gave him in his first match outside of WWE where he won the EVOLVE title. He vowed to show the world what EVOLVE was all about. EVOLVE believed in him and he spread the name of EVOLVE around the world because he believes it’s the home of the best wrestlers in the world. He got another opportunity WrestleMania weekend and walked out the face of WWN when he also won the Open the Freedom Gate championship. He recognizes the wrestler and man Thatcher is and decides to put BOTH of his titles on the line!
Open the Freedom Gate Championship & EVOLVE Championship
Drew Galloway vs. Timothy Thatcher
Galloway has been the EVOLVE champion since 8.8.2014 and this is his twenty first defense. Galloway has been the Open the Freedom Gate champion since 3.28.2015 and this is his sixth defense. Thatcher goes for a cross armbreaker early on. Galloway fights free and takes Thatcher to the corner with strikes. Thatcher turns it around with his own flurry. Galloway clasps his hands together to prevent Thatcher bringing him down into the armbreaker. He throws Thatcher down and digs his knee into Thatcher’s chest while outstretching his arm. Thatcher forearms Galloway’s back as they get to their feet. Galloway knees Thatcher in the head and kicks him in the ribs. He stomps on Thatcher’s foot before locking it between his thighs. Thatcher goes for the armbreaker and Galloway maneuvers to the ropes. Thatcher twists up Galloway’s ankle, but again he gets the ropes. Galloway gets the ropes again when Thatcher grabs a kimura lock. Galloway jabs Thatcher and kicks him in the ear. He tosses Thatcher out of a belly-to-belly suplex for barely a two count. Thatcher headbutts Galloway in the neck and chin to stop his forearm strikes. On the floor, Galloway takes hack over when from under the ring, he pulls Thatcher’s shoulder into the frame of the ring. He gives Thatcher a shoulder breaker onto a garbage can. Galloway does more damage to the shoulder inside the ring. Thatcher trips Galloway to the mat and drives his knees into his ribs multiple times. Galloway clasps his hands together to stop the cross armbreaker. He stomps on Thatcher’s ear again. Thatcher uppercuts Galloway to the apron and throws him shoulder first into the ring post. Back inside, Thatcher tries to double underhook Galloway’s arms. Galloway muscles him up and over into a pin attempt, but Thatcher holds onto the double underhook and takes Galloway over in a suplex. He tries for the Fujiwara armbar, but Galloway headbutts his way free. A strike exchange ends with Galloway hitting the Claymore and both men exhausted on the mat. Galloway takes Thatcher to the top turnbuckle. Thatcher knocks Galloway down, but Galloway hits another Claymore and climbs back up. He takes down Thatcher with a second rope Air Raid Crash! Thatcher kicks out. Galloway goes for the Future Shock DDT. Thatcher counters with the Fujiwara armbar. Galloway gets under the ropes, but Thatcher pulls him back to the center of the ring. Galloway taps out at 15:30 when Thatcher adds more pressure, making Thatcher the new EVOLVE and Open the Freedom Gate champion! This match was all about the moment of Thatcher becoming the face of the WWN Universe. They told a good story with Thatcher working over Galloway’s shoulders and Galloway briefly getting his leg under the bottom rope when Thatcher had the Fujiwara armbar on at the end and the referee not seeing it. In the moment he was gracious to pass the torch, but we’ll see how that plays out. This was a fun, hard hitting match, but they had an incredibly difficult task of following two outstanding matches, and yet were able to get the crowd into the action. Kudos. ***¼
Galloway hands over the Freedom Gate title. His stare lingers on the EVOLVE title a little longer, kissing it before passing it on to Thatcher. They shake hands, each dropping to their knees to show respect for one another. Galloway hugs Thatcher before leaving Thatcher to pose with both titles to end the event.