Arena Reports 4/13 DGUSA in Toronto, Canada: In-person perspective on Finlay brutalizing Callihan, Low Ki vs. Generico, crowd reactions, post-show conversations
Apr 16, 2012 - 10:22:22 AM
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EVOLVE 11 iPPV Live Report
April 13, 2012
Report by Ian Jalbert, PWTorch reader
This show was at the same hotel as WrestleReunion, so immediately upon entering the building, we met El Generico, who was selling merchandise. He was really nice and immediately saw that my son was wearing an El Generico t-shirt, so he took the time for a pic and an autograph. We also saw J.J. Dillon just hanging around with people around him.
When we entered the arena, Lenny Leonard and Roderick Strong were just hanging around chatting before the show. Roderick was there for a show on Saturday, so he hung around for most of the night.
Attendance for the show was somewhere around 180 people. There were three rows of ringside seats that were mostly full. This was definitely a mixed crowd, partially there as independent wrestling fans and partially more old-school WrestleReunion fans.
The card ended up being much different than advertised because of Scott Reed and A.R. Fox not getting across the border into Canada. What they didn’t mention is that Cheech and Bobby Fish also did not show up, so the card was completely re-done with only three of eight matches surviving. A lot of local independent talent got a chance on the Evolve stage thanks to this.
(1) Super Smash Bros. defeated Gentleman’s Club. Good match to start off the show. The Super Smash Bros. have been to Toronto many times and always put on a good show regardless of which company they represent. In this case they announced that their goal was to collect One Million Points in Evolve and they were going to start off with two points tonight!
(2) Josh Alexander defeated M.K. McKinnan. I’ve seen Josh Alexander on local shows before and he’s a pretty intense guy. He seemed to fit into the whole Evolve thing and the match was over pretty quickly. Hopefully he'll be seen in Evolve again.
(3) “Psycho" Mike Rollins defeated Ashley Sixx. Another couple of local Toronto guys. Mike Rollins is halfway between Bruiser Brody and the Bushwhackers. He’s got good size and presence, and I think if he steers a bit more on the Bruiser Brody side, he could have a good future. As it was, he didn’t really seem to fit in the more serious tone of Evolve, although I’d like to see him again in a few months as he continues to develop his persona. I definitely see something there.
(4) Alex Reynolds defeated Josh Silver. With this being the third match in a row where mostly unknowns were being showcased, you could see that the fans were getting a little quiet. Josh Silver was a really intense guy, although as a still developing talent it seemed to be a bit misdirected, as it went into comedy territory. He was really good, although he almost broke his neck at one point taking crazy bumps. Necks aren’t meant to bend that much. I really liked Silver and could see a lot of Davey Richards in him.
(5) Chuck Taylor defeated Samuray Del Sol and Johnny Gargano in a three-way elimination match. Del Sol was eliminated first, then Gargano. This match was definitely playing up the break-up of Ronin, and the injury that occurred to Gargano back at Evolve 10. The crowd quickly got into this one, and it felt like the show was back on track. Del Sol was really good for someone I had never heard of before, and these guys pulled the crowd into their performance. Del Sol was the first guy out, leaving Gargano and Taylor. The match ended up going back and forth for a while and Taylor won when Gargano passed out due to injury. Obviously not the last match in their feud; they really needed something to get all these guys involved without giving away too much. This match wasn’t meant to happen at this show.
Side Note: Taylor is a great heel. My son, who has been to every ROH/DGUSA show in Toronto since 2009 reacted to him unlike any other heel. My son has been kicked at by Austin Aries, stared down by heels, landed on by diving wrestlers, etc., but he’s always thought it was cool. This time, he was mad at Chuck Taylor. Really mad. When Chuck came out at intermission to sell merch, my son wouldn’t go. I ended up going by myself and bought him a signed 8x10 picture. What happened was Chuck Taylor ended up being the bad guy who stole his Sharpie! It was one of the funniest things and kept me laughing all night.
(6) Caleb Konley defeated Adam Page. Konley came out with Larry Dallas and a few women. I think he had more make-up on than the women. Larry Dallas and the woman actually held more of the crowd’s attention than the actual match at a few points; they really needed to tone it down.
(7) Low Ki defeated El Generico. This was the first main event and really felt like a huge match. The crowd was completely split and you could feel the big match atmosphere, which you couldn’t feel in any previous match. This was a really hard-hitting match and I think Generico took a lot of damage to his legs, as he sold it well after the show was over when almost all the fans had left and it was mostly wrestlers and crew remaining. Ki got out of the Yakuza Kick, which almost never happens, then won with the Warrior’s Way, but did it when Generico's back was halfway sitting up. Usually, he only does that move to the chest, so it was strange.
After the match, Low Ki told Generico that he wasn’t as good as he thought he was and the crowd instantly turned on Ki. That was a bit strange, but maybe an indication that Ki will be more heelish in the future. Definitely until that moment, it was completely 50/50.
(8) Dave "Fit" Finlay defeated Sami Callihan. Wow, what an awesome match. These guys sold not liking each other, and from the first moment, they played off that. It was incredibly intense and incredibly hard-hitting. Finlay did a surprise headbutt to Callihan and I believe cut him open hard-way. If he bladed, he was REALLY fast. Overall, I was so impressed with this match; out of the hundreds and hundreds of live matches that I’ve seen, this is the most intense by far. They pulled the crowd into it so deeply - as Finlay punished Sami, several people in the crowd kept yelling, “Stay Down!” to Sami. It was like watching a man take a true beating. Callihan was amazing at conveying this to the audience. He was bleeding all over the place, stumbling around, collapsing into the ropes, and spit just hanging out of his mouth and going all over him. The crowd respected Sami for taking this beating and continuing to get up over and over again, and Finlay also doing a great job at selling the accumulation of damage. Finally, Finlay won.
Afterward, Finlay gave Sami a pep talk and a dressing down at the same time, saying that he was a great wrestler, but needed to get over all of the things that were holding him back. The fans were ready to embrace Sami as a hero for his performance, but when the mic was given to him, he just said that he had nothing to say because he just lost and walked out. Obviously, this is a long storyline build for Sami, and I do believe that when it reaches its conclusion, he’ll be the biggest star in DGUSA.
Overall, this was pretty much a four-match card with some local talent filling out of the rest of the show, but it was well worth the money and time to see the show put on by the more established stars. Definitely worth watching the WWNLive.com replay for the unique match-up that was El Generico vs. Low Ki and the amazingly brutal Finlay vs. Callihan match. The show also had the beginning of a Taylor-Gargano feud, which will be built up a lot more in the future.
After the show, I spoke with Gabe Sapolsky, who mentioned how good Sami was at selling the damage from Finlay and he mentioned that he was looking pretty much the same backstage as well. Obviously, when you hit each other that hard over and over again there is a ton of damage that occurs. Johnny Gargano also stopped by after the show and spoke with us for a LONG time. He took a picture with my son and let him hold the Open The Freedom Gate Title. It was a great ending to a fun night. While the crowd was small, they were pretty loud during the matches that had been advertised and I hope DGUSA will come back up to Canada again some time in the future.
[Torch art credit Marco D'Alfonso (c) PWTorch.com]
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