Other PPVs EVOLVE 8: STYLE BATTLE ROUNDTABLE REVIEWS 5/20: Radican, Leahy, Comer rate & review Internet PPV
May 29, 2011 - 9:05:44 PM
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EVOLVE 8: STYLE BATTLE iPPV ROUNDTABLE REVIEWS
Union City, N.J.
Sean Radican, Torch columnist (7.0)
This felt like a show that was put together at the last minute and didn’t really feel like an EVOLVE show. Instead of having a regular show, EVOLVE put together a one night tournament based on each entrant having a different in-ring style that they represented. I really enjoy the formula of backstage documentary segments and interviews that this promotion uses on DVD releases, but they simply can’t include those on iPPV given their limitations when it comes to putting together and editing video packages on the fly.
I have to say that there were a lot of good matches on the show, although it was easier to buy into the in-ring action than it was the classification of styles. I really enjoyed seeing A.R. Fox, Sami Callihan, and Bobby Fish perform throughout the night. The Fish-Aries match was a really good spotlight singles match on the undercard.
I didn’t think the Larry Dallas and Reby Sky segment came off well. Sky didn’t carry herself as well as she usually does in DGUSA and it was difficult to hear them on the mic during this segment. It was also odd that Lenny Leonard suddenly had authority to eject them from the ring.
Jon Davis continues to show potential as a singles competitor and if he continues to improve, he could get a look from one of the major promotions in the near future. His power moves look really good and he had a good match against A.R. Fox.
I wasn’t into the FRAY match at times, but there was some good action. Dallas’s mystery entrant, Ahtu, looked green, but if his look is any indication of what will come in the future, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the WWE at some point in the near future.
The finals of the Style Battle tournament featured another really good match with Callihan and Fox holding down the main event spot well. Fox’s springboard Spanish fly finish on Callihan was an incredible move that will likely get a lot of people talking once they see it.
I didn’t think Fox delivered a very good promo after winning the tournament, but part of the problem was the mic, which was difficult to hear at times.
Based on the match quality, I would recommend this show. There aren’t any MOTYC’s here, but the tournament itself goes by like a breeze. Hopefully some backstage documentary footage and some interviews are added to the DVD to round out exactly what it meant to each wrestler to be in the tournament.
Wes Comer PWTorch Specialist (7.0)
This was an interesting show to rate because Evolve has spent their entire existence getting over the importance of wins and losses, if you can get that out of your head, this is an enjoyable show with a unique concept.
AR Fox and Rich Swann was disappointing, only in the sense that it was short. AR Fox is quickly cementing himself as someone that you can build around and if TNA got serious about rebuilding the X division, he would be a perfect candidate. Tony Nese and Jon Davis was a solid match. Wonderful nearfall when Davis hit the lariat. I continue to be pleasantly surprised with Jon Davis as a singles wrestler and he has enough power offense and skill to keep things interesting. Lee vs. Callahan was a great showcase for both wrestlers. Nice to see Evolve stick to the storyline suspension of Lee for attacking Moxley a few shows back. Callihan was good especially when he started making his comeback and having great nearfalls toward the end.
Aries and Fish was 20-plus-minutes of excellence that just flew by. Both men carry themselves like stars better than anyone currently on the roster and it showed. Great psychology with Aries injured legs, good highspots, no matter what style of wrestling you like, this was the match of the night. Jon Davis and AR Fox had a short but solid match. I was surprised that Bobby Fish and Sami Callihan went less than five minutes. With the match that both wrestlers had earlier in the show, I think there was a missed opportunity to have another showcase match here. The Mystery Tag Team match was not good. Removing this match from the show would have had no impact and no one would have noticed. The Maximos are a bland team other than the Spanish Fly and Ricky Reyes is the epitome of boring, a nothing match that can be skipped.
The eight-man Fray I can't factor fully into my review because my stream cut out toward the end, but it was okay for what I saw. I can't believe Brian XL is still wrestling. I have bad memories watching early ROH shows on VHS with all of the missed spots he had. He was very sloppy back then, and apparently not much has changed. The finals with AR Fox and Sami Callihan was good but they threw way too many spots out there and couldn't be bothered to sell much of anything. I understand why they did it because they are trying to get over the advertised styles, but it still hurt the match. I like that AR Fox won the tournament because I think it is time to emphasis good high flying wrestlers and treat them as more then undercard wow the crowd types.
Overall, I would say that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts for this show, but still worth the $15 dollars. Nothing was bad other than the Mystery Tag and the hopefully only appearance of Brian XL. Curious as to why some of the matches were so short, but Aries and Fish made up for some of that. Thumbs up.
Brian Leahy, PWTorch Specialist (6.0)
For me, The EVOLVE “Style Tournament” gets very mild thumbs up. It featured a handful of matches in the 3 to 3 1/2 star range, but was ultimately felt of little substance as they raced through the tournament, with none of EVOLVE’s customary focus on wins and losses as usual, the premise of the style tournament made no sense and ended up making some of the matches very one dimensional. Add in a miniscule and quiet New Jersey crowd and you have what amounts to one of the weakest shows in EVOLVE’s short history.
The opener, AR Fox vs. Rich Swann was, in comparison to their clash at Evolve 7 far too short to amount to anything that stuck in the mind. The fish came as Swann hit a package brainbuster and standing 450 for nearfalls, before Fox scored the win with a diving codebreaker from the top. Considering what these men can do with each other, and that Fox wouldn’t be wrestling again till much later in the night, this was borderline criminal in not delivering what they could have.
The second match was a step up in substance as Tony Nese took on Jon Davis in a striker vs. power wrestler match. It was in the early goings of this, where the style battle showed it’s weakness as the two worked very one-dimensionally to their assigned style classes. As shallow as the action may have been, Davis’ shows of strength throughout the bout were impressive, and his finishing sequence of a spinebuster, bucklebomb, and rackbomb elicited a rare pop from the NJ crowd. For his far, Nese looked decent here, but without a character and a win, the future doesn’t look to bright for him in EVOLVE.
Sami Callihan and Brodie Lee didn’t seem try to work to any particular style, and instead relied on their usual hard hitting, high impact wrestling. Sami Callihan usually looks great in EVOLVE, and he came across as the toughest guy in the world after this bout as he look everything that the huge Lee threw at him and kept coming back for more, eventually scoring the victory with a Strech Muffler submission.
Fish vs. Aries was for me the match of the night. Fish looks remarkably different from his previous EVOLVE appearances, as he now sports a smaller frame and a clean shaved head. The match was fought as an evenly matched, back-and-forth affair and was given more time to develop than everything else on the card. Fish managed to absorb practically all of Aries trademark offence before coming out victorious with his new Fish Hook (heel hook) submission. Post-match, Fish’s promo was a great little MMA style in-ring interview and showed Fish as a likeable everyman who plays the cards that are dealt to him.
Somehow, EVOLVE managed to cram the two semi-finals in before intermission. AR Fox took on Jon Davis in the top bracket, in a sweet but criminally short bout. Fox used his speed to hit and run, with Davis hit some big power moves including an impressive dead-lift suplex and murderous Pounce which nearly completely annihilated Fox. Seemingly rushing to the finish, Fox used his flying code breaker to put away Davis and advanced to the tournament finals.
While I felt like the Fox/Davis match was too short, the Callihan/Fish match was justifiably quick as Fish had wrestled through the longest match of the night only 15 minutes previous. Callihan took the fight to Fish with his usual angst, and scored a satisfying victory with mounted strikes to the back of Fish’s head.
The two post-intermission non-tourney matches were a nice change to the nights format. The (New) SAT vs. The New Havana Pitbulls was a perfect popcorn match, and it was the non-original members of both teams (Wil Maximo & Alex Colon) who carried the workload and proved most impressive in the fun bout.
The eight-man “Fray” match was fun as well, and half the enjoyment was in the seemingly random nature of the participant selection. Cory Chavis was the standout act for the majority of the match, but it was Pinkie Sanchez who eventually overcame the monstrous Atu for the victory, much to the relief of the small crowd. I’m still somewhat confused about how a Fray match on an EVOLVE card can be used as a springboard for one of an apparently arbitrary group of wrestlers to get onto a DGUSA card, but at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter.
The final of the Style Tournament was a good clash, with both Callihan and Fox going all-out in their third match of the evening. Fox came out of the gates with some unbelievable high-flying moves, to which Callihan responded in typical “New Horror” style with chops and suplexes. Fox’s win with the springboard Spanish Fly was a fittingly spectacular finish to a not-exactly spectacular night, but this seemed like the right result, and EVOLVE may well have succeeded in elevating Fox to the upper card literally over-night.
Overall, E8 was an okay card, but probably the least recommendable of the EVOLVE series and your $15 could probably be better spent elsewhere in wwnlive.com.
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