The show opened with Bobby Fish cutting a promo against a black background. He said February was a big month for him. He was in the first Evolve match and he won an MMA fight. He said he was sick of the taste of losing that he tasted at Evolve 1. He said he had to win.
Aeroform cut a promo backstage. Lyndon said they hated losing and would take down Up In Smoke.
Chuck Taylor said tonight his match would count towards his official. He promised to keep winning to shove it in management's face.
A nice opening package aired narrated by Lenny Leonard. Leonard talked about wins and losses being everything in Evolve and talked about each of the divisions in Evolve. Leonard said a documentary crew was backstage to bring us up close and personal with the wrestlers.
Chris Hero was backstage talking to Claudio Castagnoli. He said Allen had no right to challenge him. Castagnoli told him to focus on the match. The cameras then showed Hidaka pacing around backstage.
(1) Brad Allen beat Chris Dickinson. Allen hit a big lariat early to gain the upper hand. Dickinson caught Allen with a kick to the gut that looked snug and went on the attack. Dickinson nailed Allen with a couple of hard kicks to the back and dropped an elbow for a two count. Dickinson caught Allen in a cross arm breaker, but Allen dead-lifted him into a powerbomb to break the hold. Dickinson got his knees up on Allen's senton attempt and nailed Allen with several hard kicks. Dickinson followed up with a half-nelson suplex and followed up with a great springboard elbow across the ring. Dickinson grabbed the ref and argued. The announcers teased he could be suspended for his action. Allen recovered while Dickinson argued with the ref and took him down. Allen eventually hit a TKO for the win. This was short, but good while it lasted. (**3/4)
Leonard interviewed Allen after the match. Allen said he still had his eye on Hero. Allen said he's working his way up to facing Hero with his 2-0 record.
Sugar Sean was backstage with Gargano. Sean said he had turned around Silas Young after the last show. Sean said they hadn't seen him since they partied after the last show. Sean is hilarious. Jacobs walked into the locker room and told Gargano he wanted to talk to him. Jacobs told Gargano they aren't on the same level. He said he didn't like Gargano's online that mocked him. Gargano goofed around, but Jacobs said he was serious and said he had been wrestling for a long time.
(2) Gran Akuma beat Brodie Lee. Lee hit a fallaway slam on Akuma and followed up with a big chop in the corner. Lee continued to dominate the action with power moves and hard strikes. Akuma fired back and hit the cheetah swipe for a 2 count. Lee fired back and nailed Akuma with a release German. Lee hit a half-nelson suplex moments later for a nearfall. Akuma countered the tiger bomb into a huracanrana. Akuma then lifted up Lee and nailed him with an impressive DVD before finishing him off with the Border City stretch. (**)
(3) Cheech & Cloudy beat Aeroform. They showed a graphic featuring the record of both teams prior to the match. Cheech and Cloudy took turns beating on Kendrick, but he rolled out of the ring, which counts as a tag. Lyndon got the upper hand on both of his opponents. Kendrick and Lyndon then hit stereo dives to the outside on Cheexh and Cloudy. Kendrick hit a spiral tap 540 on Cheech, but Cloudy broke it up. Cheech and Cloudy finished off Kendrick with "death by knee" for the win. (**3/4)
Tony Kozina was shown talking backstage with Kyle O'Reilly. O'Reilly seemed upset about Richards's departure from Evolve. Kozina told him to stay focused.
(4) Ken Doane beat Caleb Konley. Doane slammed Konley to the mat and went for his top rope legdrop finish, but Lonley quickly rolled away. Konley got in a flurry of offense, but Doane cut him off and agressively slammed his head into the ring post. Doane grabbed a side head lock on the mat. The crowd got all over Doane for the chin lock. Konley nearly fought out, but Doane applied the hold again.
Konley escaped again, but Doane took him right back down to the mat. Konley tried to get to his feet yet again and this time he freed himself with a suplex. Koney fired up and ran wild on Doane, but Doane cut him off with a spine buster. Doane then hit his top rope leg drop for the pin. This match told a nice story and the crowd got behind Konley. (***)
Doane cut a promo after the match with Leonard holding the mic. Doane said he had proven himself here in Evolve. Doane moves to 1-1 with the win.
(5) Kyle O'Reilly (w/Tony Kozina) beat Hallowicked. Hallowicked got a nearfall with a rollup early, but O'Reilly cut him off with a series of kicks. O'Reilly caught Hallowicked with a cross arm breaker, but Hallowicked got the ropes. O'Reilly caught Hallowicked with a rear naked choke, but Hallowicked drove him into the turnbuckles to break the hold. O'Reilly got an ankle lock moments later, but Hallowicked pushed him into the turnbuckles and caught him with a superkick. O'Reilly got the ankle lock again moments later, but Hallowicked got the ropes. O'Reilly countered go to sleepy hallow into a suplex with a bridge for a nearfall. O'Reilly finally finished Hallowicked off with a brainbuster. This was a one-sided affair for the most part. O'Reilly looked good here. (***1/4)
Jimmy Jacobs was shown backstage with Sugar Sean and Johnny Gargano. He argued with Gargano and told him he had beaten guys that would make Gargano piss his pants. Jacobs looked focused while Gargano goofed around.
(6) Chuck Taylor beat Ricochet. They did some nice chain wrestling early and came to a stalemate. Taylor got the upper hand and worked over Ricochet on the mat with a headscissors. Ricochet mounted a comeback and nailed Taylor with an armdrag on the floor using the ropes for extra leverage. They went at it on the outside and Taylor powerbombed Ricochet onto the apron. Ricochet fired back and nailed Taylor with a cannonball in the corner. Ricochet did some sweet high-flying maneuvers and capped them off with a standing SSP for a nearfall. Ricochet ended up missing a 630 splash and Taylor finished him off with the awful waful. This was a good match and the crowd gave both men a standing ovation after it was over. (***1/2)
Leonard interviewed Taylor after the match. He asked Taylor his thoughts on the match. Taylor said he was the classic Cinderella story. Taylor said he was going to build on his victory.
(7) Claudio Castagnoli (w/Chris Hero) beat Bobby Fish. Castagnoli nailed Fish with a big boot and worked over his back with a submission on the mat. Fish fired back and went for a senton, but Castagnoli got out of the way. Castagnoli nailed Fish with a German with a bridge for a nearfall. Castagnoli locked in a variation of the Brock lock, but Fish got the ropes. Castagnoli hit the airplane spin and locked in a Boston crab, but Fish got the ropes. Fish fired back and nailed Castagnoli with a falcon arrow for a two count. Fish hit a big moonsault on Castagnoli for a two count moments later. Castagnoli fired back with a big boot while using the ropes to gain momentum before slamming Fish to the mat. Castagnoli then nailed Fish with the UFO, but Fish kicked out at one. Castagnoli hit the Ricola bomb, but Fish kicked out.
Fish hit a leapong knee strike. Fish then nailed Castagnoli with several knee strikes to the head, but Castagnoli kicked out at the last second. Fish hit a kick to Castagnoli's head and the ref administered a ten count. Castagnoli got to his feet and Fish went for a kick off the ropes, but caught with an uppercut. Castagnoli hit a series of European uppercuts and finished off Fish with a diving European uppercut for the win. This was a very good match. (***1/2)
The fans chanted for Fish after the match and both men shook hands. Leonard was about to interview Claudio, but Taylor interrupted. Taylor said he wanted to make an impression and he challenged Castagnoli to a match on May 1. Castagnoli told Taylor he wasn't in his weight class, but if he wanted to suffer his first loss, he would accept the match. Taylor offered a handshake, but pulled away.
Allen was backstage with Hidaka. They showed Allen in front of the black screen. He said he would be in the corner for Hidaka since Hero hadn't accepted his challenge for Evolve 2.
Chris Dickinson tried to apologize for actions earlier in the evening, but Sugar Sean and his posse heckled him. Sean called him a curtain jerker. Kozina came down to the ring and stopped Dickinson from going after Sean.
Sean continued with his behavior and taunted Martinez and Sakai as they made their entrances before leaving.
(8) WSU Women's champion Mercedes Martinez beat Sumie Sakai. Martinez took control of the match quickly and lit up Sakai with chops and forearms in the corner. Sakai fired back and caught Martinez with a flying arm bar, but Martinez got the ropes. Sakai continued to target Martinez's shoulder before nailing her with two missile dropkicks for a 2 count. Sakai went up top, but Martinez nailed her with a release German superplex. Sakai countered Martinez and eventually caught her with a triangle. Sakai switched it to another arm bar, but Martinez escaped and nailed Sakai with a kick. Martinez then hit the fisherman buster for the pin. This was good while it lasted. (**1/2)
Leonard interviewed Martinez after the match. Martinez said Sakai had brought the competition. Martinez said she was ready for the best and told Evolve to bring her someone else. This was a good promo.
(9) Jimmy Jacobs beat Johnny Gargano. Gargano made fun of Jacobs's old Brody gimmick, so Jacobs slapped him across the face. Gargano took control of the match early, but spent too much time playing to the crowd and Jacobs decked him. Jacobs went for the contra code, but Gargano blocked it and the action spilled to the floor. They went at it on the apron. Gargano hit a superkick, but Jacobs fired back with a spear on the apron and the crowd erupted.
Gargano caught Jacobs with a spear through the ropes moments later. Gargano went for another spear through the ropes, but Jacobs caught him with the end time. Gargano got to his feet and tossed Jacobs into the turnbuckles and rolled him up for a nearfall. Both men brawled up top. Jacobs nailed Gargano with a top rope contra code and applied the end time for the submission victory. This was short, but good. (***)
Bobby Fish was shown backstage with his back to the camera. He told someone on the phone that he lost, but things don't happen overnight. He noticed the camera crew was there, so he got upset and walked away.
(10) The Osirian Portal beat Mike Quackenbush & Jigsaw and The Colony and Hallowicked & Frightmare in a four-team elimination match. This match does not count towards the official tag team records for these teams. The action went at a rapid-fire pace right from the start, as tags were allowed once someone left the ring. Everyone ended up on the outside. Ophedian decided to dance around after taking out Quackenbush, which allowed Frightmare to nail him with a big dive to the floor. Green Ant went for a flying headbutt, but Hallowicked caught him with go to sleepy hallow for the first elimination. The match continued at a rapid pace with Quackenbush dishing out some nasty submissions. He nearly had Ophedian tapped out, but Amassis made the save. Frightmare and Hallowicked nearly had the Portal eliminated several times, but they managed to kick out. Jigsaw and Quackenbush managed to nail a double superkick on Frightmare moments later to eliminate his team.
Frightmare's elimination left the Portal taking on Quakenbush & Jigsaw to determine the winner of the match. The Portal got the heat on Quackenbush, who took down Amasis with a vicious clothesline and rolled to the outside to tag in Jigsaw. Quackenbush came in moments later and nailed Amassis with a big spinning powerbomb, but Ophidian broke it up. Ophedian cut off Jigsaw moments later and nailed him with a 450 to win. This was fun while it lasted. (***1/2)
They showed the entranceway and did a picture-in-picture shot of Castagnoli encouraging Hero backstage as they made their way to the ring. Hidaka was also shown making his way to the ring from backstage with Allen.
(11) Ikuta Hidaka (w/Brad Allen) beat Chris Hero (w/Claudio Castagnoli). Hero tried to dictate the pace of the match against the fast Hidaka by grounding him on the mat and working him over with various submissions. Hidaka had some nice counters, but was unable to get away from Hero. Hero began working over Hidaka's arm on the mat with some unique arm submissions. The action is similar to an old school Bryan Danielson match so far with some really methodical submission work.
Hidaka managed to escape and went after Hero's ankle. Hero quickly countered and went back to work on Hidaka's arm. Hidaka escaped and went back to work on Hero's leg, but Hero grabbed his arm and countered the hold into another arm submission. Hero got to his feet and tried to avoid Hidaka's kicks, but Hidaka caught him with a series of kicks and locked in another leg submission. Hero managed to escape and went back to work on Hidaka's arm on the mat. Hidaka escaped and tried to speed things up with a wheelbarrow, but Hero caught him with a slick rolling elbow for a two count.
Hero began assaulting Hidaka with his signature elbow shots before going back to work on his arm. Hidaka escaped and went after his leg again, but he couldn't maintain the hold with one good arm at his disposal, so Hero escaped quickly and went back on the attack. Hero began going after Hidaka's mid-section and nailed him with two standing sentons for a two count. Hidaka managed to counter Hero with a DDT. Both men crawled to their corner and had a word with their seconds. Hidaka fired up and nailed Hero with an inverted DDT for a two count.
Hero caught Hidaka with another elbow to the head out of nowhere and followed up with a release suplex for a two count. The crowd came alive as both men were left lying on the mat. Hidaka got another anklelock. Hero tried to kick him off, but Hidaka held on. Hero eventually got to the ropes to break the hold. Hero countered Hidaka and spun him around for a rolling elbow to the back of the head and both men were down again.
Hero caught Hidaka moments later with another rolling elbow off the ropes for a nearfall. Hidaka caught Hero with a dragon screw moments later, but Hero got him with another rolling elbow for a two count. Hidaka fired back and got another ankle lock on Hero. Hidaka then captured the ankle, but Hero got the ropes. Hidaka no sold a running kick from Hero only to eat another rolling elbow for a good nearfall and the crowd erupted. Hero went for a rolling elbow, but Hidaka caught him with a high kick for a nearfall. Hidaka peppered Hero with several strikes and caught him with a high kick to the head for the win. This was awesome. (****1/2)
The fans applauded for both men after the match and Hidaka left the ring with Allen. Hero was helped to the back after the match.
Gargano was shown backstage getting ready to leave. Jacobs was smirking at Gargano and told Sugar Sean he was ready to party. Gargano mocked Jacobs behind his back as they made their way out of the locker room.
Overall thoughts: (7.5 show score). Despite having some key wrestlers miss the show due to a rainstorm, Evolve managed to put on another very enjoyable show. I'm looking forward to see how this promotion grows. There are a lot of good ideas in place with the emphasis put on wins and losses.
The undercard was very enjoyable once again. Some of the backstage segments focused around Bobby Fish's quest for victory in Evolve and the consequences of his loss to Castagnoli were also touched upon as well. Fish's match against Claudio was really good and I'm looking forward to see where his storyline goes.
Brad Allen also continues to impress me with his performances in the ring and on the mic. His storyline chase for a shot at a match againt Hero was well done and him moving up to 2-0 means he's closer to getting that match. I also thought it was a nice touch that he was in Hidaka's corner during the main event.
The Jimmy Jacobs backstage segments with Gargano were also entertaining with Jacobs playing the grizzled veteran role opposed by the goofball Gargano. Jacobs smirking at Gargano backstage after he beat him was fantastic.
The CHIKARA Four-way Elimination match was fun while it lasted. It seemed like one big collection of moves, but there were some spectacular spots here and this was very different from almost everything else on the card, so it didn't seem like overkill.
The main event was awesome. This match between Hero and Hidaka was a throwback of sorts to Bryan Danielson's days as ROH Champion when he would put on technical wrestling clinics. I was blown away by Hero here, as he wreslted a technical match on the mat to ground the smaller Hidaka and prevent him from going for his high-octane offense. Hidaka was great on the mat as well. He went after Hero's leg over and over, but couldn't sustain his attack due to the damage done to his arm by Hero. The submission wrestling was fantastic throughout and the finish with Hidaka lighting up Hero with strikes and a big head kick was fantastic. This was a must-see match and should be on the list for MOTY in December.
I give this show a thumbs up and I'm looking forward to seeing the steps this company takes going forward. There are numerous possibilities here.
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