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RADICAN'S EVOLVE REVIEW SERIES: EVOLVE 23 9/21 - Style Battle, Gargano & Trent vs. Swann & Ricochet, Fox-Nese main

Nov 10, 2013 - 12:39:51 PM

By Sean Radican, Torch columnist


SEPT. 21, 2013

Matt Jackson came out first and the crowd chanted superkick. Nick threw some superkicks and played his guitar with the Open the United Gate belt. Matt said he was the biggest thing on the show. He said he was happy to introduce EVOLVE 38. Matt said this was the first Young Bucks Tag Team Invitational. He said they spared no expense to bring in the best teams. He said Nick didn’t want to be here because he was busy. Matt said he was excited to face Caleb Konley later tonight.

(1) The Gentleman’s Club (Chuck Taylor & Orange Cassidy) beat Dos Ben Dejos (Cruz & Rios) in a Young Bucks Tag Team Invitational match. Cruz and Rios dominated the action during the early stages of the match. Taylor and Cassidy mounted a comeback after Cassidy took a sustained beating from Cruz and Rios. Cassidy and Taylor took turns chopping Cruz in the corner. Cassidy and Taylor hit a double stomp into a brainbuster on Cruz, but Rios broke up the pin. Cruz and Rios hit a pair of dives to the outside. Matt Jackson was in on commentary and said he wasn’t impressed because he had seen the MCMG do that before. The pace picked up with both teams going back and forth. Taylor hit a slam on Cruz. Cassidy went up top and hit a splash, but Rios broke it up. The action really picked up down the stretch and Taylor finished off Cruz with the awful waffle for the win. The action was solid throughout, but the fans didn’t provide much of an atmosphere. (**3/4)

Matt got on the mic and said there wasn’t a single superkick thrown, so he only rated the match at **1/2. He told Cruz & Rios to get lost because they didn’t do a single superkick. Taylor went up to Matt and Matt told him he disappointed him and one of the fans in the crowd. He asked Taylor and Cassidy where the superkicks were. Taylor told him he could take his ratings and shove them up his a--. Taylor told Matt they were coming for the title belts.

Caleb Konley came down to the ring and called Matt Jackson into the ring to start their match.

(2) Matt Jackson beat Caleb Konley. Konley managed to fend off Jackson’s superkick attempts during the early stages of the match. Konley blocked another superkick attempt and nailed Jackson with a kick to the head a short time later. The fans seemed to favor Konley at this stage of the match. Konley hit an awkward looking springboard elbow where it appeared Nick bumped too early. Jackson fired back and tossed Konley into the guardrail outside the ring. Jackson snuck outside and surprised Konley with a superkick on the floor a short time later. The camera is missing a lot of shots during this match. Jackson hit a dropkick through the ropes and rolled Konley back into the ring for a 2 count. Konley ducked an elbow drop and mounted a comeback. He hit a big dive through the ropes to the outside on Jackson. Konley hit a big variation of the code breaker on Matt back inside the ring for a 2 count. They went back and forth. Jackson hit a superkick and a springboard blockbuster for a nearfall. Jackson jumped off the top, landed on his feet, and hit a superkick on Konley. He went back up top and hit an elbow drop for a nearfall. Konley and Jackson began trading blows in the middle of the ring. Konley hit a big clothesline and got a nearfall with a sit down slam on Matt. They battled up top and Konley hit a sit down Michinoku driver on Matt for a nearfall and the fans heckled the ref for not counting to three. Konley ate a superkick, but blocked a second superkick before locking in the o face submission for the win. This was good down the stretch, but the crowd was dead for most of the action. (**3/4)

Larry Dallas came out after the match and cheered Konley. He told Konley he forgives him for everything. Konley blew Dallas off and stormed to the back.

The Bravados came out and got on the mic. Harlem introduced himself and his brother. He told Matt they had traveled around the world to wrestle. He said they had come back to win the Young Bucks Invitational and take their titles. Matt told them they looked ridiculous. He said they’re good, but can’t hold his jock strap. Jackson brought out their oppoenents for the match.

(3) The Bravado Brothers (Lancelot &Harlem) beat Pieces of Hate (Jigsaw & The Shard) in a Young Bucks Tag Team Invitational match. They did a weird deal where the match was held under Lucha rules because Pieces of Hate are the CHIKARA tag champions and they always defend those titles under Lucha rules. What does that have to do with EVOLVE? Leonard mentioned the Bravados had wrestled 50 matches in 53 days. Jackson stood in the aisle to watch the match. The Bravados isolated the Shard during the early stages of the match. The Shard cut off Harlem and tagged in Jigsaw, who was quickly cut off by Lancelot. Harlem went up top and hit a dive to the outside to wipe out Pieces of Hate. Jigsaw tripped Harlem as he tried to get back into the ring. He tied up his ankle in the guardrail and went to work on it. Jigsaw and Shard worked over Harlem’s leg. He tried to fight his way out to make a tag, but was continually cut off. Harlem finally tagged in Lancelot, who ran wild on Shard. Jigsaw tried to run in, but he ate an inverted TKO. Lancelot got cut off and Jigsaw put him up in the Razor’s edge position. Shard then came off the top with a double knee strike to the stomach for a nearfall. Lancelot managed to tag out and Harlem ran wild on Jigsaw and Shard hitting an exploder on Shard that sent him into Jigsaw and the crowd woke up. Harlem sent Shard off the apron arm-first over the barricade off the apron. Harlem got a cross-arm breaker, but Shard countered it into an ankle lock. Harlem struggled, but got the ropes. They went to a big sequence with all four men hitting moves capped by a lariat from Lancelot to Jigsaw. They went to some good sequences down the stretch with both teams having pinfall attempts broken up at the last second. Harlem kicked out of a superkick/brainbuster combination and the fans chanted that was 3. Harlem countered another double maneuver. The Bravados isolated Jigsaw and hit the gentleman’s agreement for the win. This was a really good match that deserved more of a response from the crowd. (***1/2)

After the match, Matt complained about the Bravados not using a single superkick. He then declared the Shard & Jigsaw the winners because they hit multiple superkicks. The crowd applauded. Harlem got on the mic and told Matt to hold on to his belts tight because the Bravado band wagon was going to roll right over him. The fans chanted for the Bravados.

(4) Brian XL beat Earl Cooter. Cooter jumped XL as he got into the ring. Leonard said these two men were local guys looking for an opportunity for future EVOLVE opportunities. XL hit a dive through the ropes on Cooter and then nailed him with some huge chops that had the crowd gasping. Cooter fired back and hit a clothesline off the second rope. Cooter then hit a neck breaker over his knee out of the suplex position. Cooter lifted XL over his shoulders and dumped him neck-first over the top rope. He tossed XL back into the ring and covered him for a 2 count. XL surprised Cooter with a rolling tackle against the ropes. He followed up with a springboard splash for a 2 count. Cooter hit a combination of moves capped by a bulldog for a 2 count. The fans tried to rally behind XL. XL fired back and hit a sick springboard swinging DDT to for the win. I was surprised Cooter got in as much offense as he did, but this was a fun little match. (**)

Grandpa Larry Dallas came down to the ring. Dallas got on the mic and introduced Mike Rollins as his latest acquisition. He said he would be Caleb Konley’s new partner. He told Rollins to take out XL. He promised to pay Rollins’s fine. Rollins hesitated, but hit a suplex on XL when Dallas urged him on. Dallas and Rollins finally went to the back.

(5) Drew Gulak beat Mr. Touchdown and Shane Strickland and Lince Dorado in a 2013 Style Battle Semi-Final Elimination match. Strickland and Dorado had a fast-paced exchange that looked choreographed during the early stages of the match. The crowd was into Dorado, who got a nearfall on Strickland with a reverse hurricanrana. Touchdown tagged in and continuing to work over Strickland. Strickland got his knees up on a splash attempt from Touchdown, but Touchdown cut him off and eventually hit him with a dropkick. Dorado tagged himself in and hit a big senton on Strickland for a 2 count. Strickland finally cut off Dorado with something the cameras didn’t catch, but Touchdown tagged in and continued to work him over. Dorado sent Touchdown to the outside with a kick and hit a head scissors takedown to the outside. Dorado then wiped out Gulak with a dive to the floor. Strickland took a combination of moves capped by a SSP from Dorado and he was pinned.

Dorado managed to fend off a double team attempt from Gulak and Touchdown. Dorado sent Gulak to the floor and hit a splash off the top on Touchdown for a 2 count. Gulak cut Dorado off and began working him over. Dorado hit a kick on Gulak and tried to go up top. He fended off Touchdown and came off the top, but Gulak caught him and hit a tombstone to Eliminate Dorado. The match came down to Gulak and Touchdown. Gulak tried to come off the second turnbuckle, but Touchdown nailed him with a dropkick for a 2 count. Gulak got a dragon sleeper, but Touchdown eventually countered it into a big slam for a 2 count. Touchdown went for a splash off the top, but Gulak got his knees up. Gulak then locked in a single leg crab. Gulak appeared to be hitting kicks while applying the leg submission, but it was hard to tell because of the camera work. Touchdown fired back and hit some huge chops on Gulak in the corner. He went up top, but Gulak hit a leaping headbutt. Gulak hit a big superplex and both men were down. They got up and exchanged blows. Gulak then caught Touchdown with the dragon sleeper for the win. The action was alright, but there wasn’t much of a story to follow in the match and the crowd was mostly dead. (**)

(6) Biff Busick beat Maxwell Chicago and Josh Alexander and Green Ant in a 2013 Style Battle Semi-Final Elimination match. Green Ant was the clear crowd favorite at the beginning of the match. Maxwell made a blind tag on Alexander, but he let Busick and Alexander continue to go at it during the early stages of the match. They finally realized he had tagged in, so Alexander and Busick took him down. Maxwell quickly tagged in Green Ant. Busick took a big Samoan drop from Green Ant. He then tagged in Maxwell by slapping him across the face. Maxwell fired back on Green Ant and hit a running neck breaker. Busick made a blind tag and tied up Maxwell in a camel clutch million dollar dream combination to eliminate Maxwell. The fans didn’t seem happy to see him go. Alexander jumped Busick and put the boots to him. Green Ant then ran in and went at it with Alexander. Green Ant sent Alexander to the floor and set up for a springboard, but Busick cut him off. Green Ant fired back and sent Busick to the outside. He then wiped out Alexander with a falcon arrow. Green Ant went up top and hit a big splash to the outside to take out Alexander and Busick.

Green Ant went up top again and hit a double missile dropkick on Busick and Alexander. He then tied them in in a double single leg crab, but they got the ropes. The fans chanted for Green Ant. He booted Alexander, who ended up hung over the middle rope. He then nailed Alexander with a double stomp. Alexander spilled to the outside and Green Ant went for a dive, but Busick caught him with a superkick. Busick went for a suplex, but Alexander caught Green Ant and hit a tombstone for the win. The fans booed once Green Ant was eliminated. The match came down to Busick and Alexander. They traded chops in the middle of the ring. Busick tried to land on his feet after taking a slingshot suplex, but he lost his balance. Busick hit a neck breaker on Alexander as the crowd chanted for Green Ant to get back in the match. Busick and Alexander exchanged counters on the mat. Alexander eventually hit a big discus punch and a dragon suplex for a 2 count. Both guys began trading big shots. Alexander hit a barrage of slaps and chops, but Busick nailed him with a dragon suplex that sent Alexander staggering into the corner. Alexander tried to fire back, but Busick hit another half and half suplex on Alexander. He then grabbed the camel clutch, million dollar dream combination for the win. The match was a little slow at the beginning, but the second half of the match was really good, especially the final minutes with Busick and Alexander. (***1/4)

Ricochet and Rich Swann came out dancing to “All Night Long.” Their opponents, Johnny Gargano and Trent Baretta.

(7) Rich Swann & Ricochet beat DGUSA Champion Johnny Gargano & Trent Baretta. Leonard said the winning team got to decide the stipulation for Gargano-Swann tomorrow. If Swann & Ricochet win, Swann gets a shot at Gargano’s title. If Gargano & Baretta win, Swann’s career is on the line against Gargano at EVOLVE 24. Gargano wouldn’t face Swann to start the match and said Swann is his best friend, so he tagged in Baretta. Leonard mentioned that Gargano had cut a side deal to bring Baretta in as his partner for this match. Swann sent Trent to the outside with a superkick, but Gargano jumped him from behind. Lenny said tags weren’t necessary when the legal man leaves the ring. When was this change made? Trent got cut off and Ricochet and Swann nailed him with a tandem dropkick. Leonard mentioned Ricochet still has a shot at any title after winning the six man during WrestleMania weekend. Gargano ran in and Ricochet went after him and grabbed a submission, but Baretta broke it up. Gargano ended up making a blind tag a short time later and hit a slingshot spear from the apron on Ricochet for a nearfall broken up by Swann. Ricochet took a sustained beating from Gargano and Trent with the crowd sitting on their hands. Ricochet cut off Gargano and tried to tag out, but Trent got the tag and knocked Swann off the apron. Ricochet tried to tag out again, but Baretta dragged him off the apron from the floor. The fans tried to rally behind Ricochet. Ricochet ended up sending Gargano into Trent and he hit a neck breaker on Trent, which forced him to DDT his partner Gargano. I hate those spots.

Ricochet made the hot tag and Swann ran wild. Baretta caught Ricochet with a double stomp out of the corner. Ricochet fired right back and hit a diving ace crusher. The fans woke up a little bit with Swann and Ricochet working over Baretta. They hit a rapid-fire series of maneuvers on Trent, but only got a 2 count. The action broke down and Baretta nailed Ricochet with a big running knee. Baretta went for an inverted piledriver, but Swann nailed him with a running kick that turned it into a code red from Ricochet, but Gargano broke up the pin. That was nuts. The pace picked up with Gargano and Ricochet exchanging counters near the apron. Gargano finally hit a slingshot spiked DDT for a nearfall, but the crowd didn’t react to the nearfall. They went to a big sequence with everyone exchanging moves. Swann finally ended the sequence with a handspring ace crusher on Baretta and everyone was down. The crowd applauded and chanted this is awesome. All four men went to another big exchange. Ricochet got caught going for a springboard. Gargano hit a superkick and Baretta hit an inverted piledriver on him, but Swann broke up the pin. Gargano spit at Swann. Swann fired up on Gargano and nailed him with a series of strikes. Gargano fired back and Baretta nailed Swann with a doomsday knee strike. Gargano then hit the lawn dart on Swann for a 2 count. Swann ended up hitting a Dr. Bomb on Gargano. Ricochet nailed him with a 630. Swann then hit the standing 450 on Gargano to pin him. This was a good match, but it would have been even better in front of a more enthusiastic crowd. They didn’t seem to buy into the Gargano-Swann feud and only got into the action once it really picked up during the second half of the match with some incredible sequences. (***1/2)

Swann got on the mic after the match. He asked the crowd if they liked the match and they applauded. Swann held the DGUSA Championship and said he didn’t want any silly gimmick match. He said the belt meant the world to him and he knew he could take it from Gargano. Swann said he wanted a title match tomorrow. Gargano sold concern from the outside. Gargano got his title back and clutch it to his chest selling concern before heading to the back. Swann and Ricochet then danced to their music.

Nese didn’t get much of a reaction coming out to challenge Fox for the EVOLVE Championship in the main event. Fox got a good reaction coming out. Fox got on the mic before the match. He told Young he would drop her if she tried to interfere. He said he learned his lesson about the numbers game. He said he wasn’t worried about Mr. A. He said he can’t put his hands on Young, but he has someone who can. Ivelisse came out to stand in Fox’s corner. The fans fired up and chanted for Fox prior to the opening bell.

(8) EVOLVE Champion A.R. Fox (w/Ivelisse) beat Anthony Nese (w/Su Young & Mr. A). Leonard mentioned that Nese had 7 straight wins in a variety of matches. Leonard mentioned that Nese had injured his knee a few weeks back. They went to a fast paced exchange trading nearfalls with pinning combinations. Fox appeared to have the upper hand, but Mr. A dragged Nese to the outside. Leonard put over Fox as a fighting champion saying he would put his title on the line in every match even when it wasn’t announced as being on the line. Fox hit his series of topes through the ropes, but Young got on the apron to block his third tope. Fox then got a running start and hit a flip dive over Young to wipe out Nese. Wow! Fox hit a split-legged senton on Nese back inside the ring, but Nese managed to kick out. Fox set up Nese for Lo Mein pain, but Young got back on the apron. Fox sent Nese to the outside and set up for a dive, but Mr. A dragged him to the outside and wiped him out on the floor. Ivelisse then went after Young. Nese worked over Fox as Leonard mentioned Nese had picked up wins over Del Sol and Tozawa in recent months. Fox went for a springboard ace crusher, but Nese caught him and suplexed him into the turnbuckles for a 2 count. That was impressive.

Fox fired back with a twisting brainbuster, but only got a 2 count. Fox went for a leg drop on the apron, but Mr. A dragged him down to the outside with the ref distracted by Young. Young fell down on the outside and the fans chanted “Bad Teacher” at her, which was pretty funny given what she was wearing. The fans tried to rally behind Fox, who began to mount a comeback. Fox hit a springboard dropkick and continued to run wild on Nese. Fox sent Nese to the outside and wiped out Nese and Mr. A with Lo Mein rain. Nese fired back and hit a pump-handle powerbomb for a 2 count. That was impressive. They went back and forth exchanging strikes and kicks in the middle of the ring. Nese finally ended the exchange with a big lariat and both men were down. Nese rolled over and covered Fox, but only got a 2 count. Fox caught Nese with a code breaker off the top. Fox continued to dominate the action, but couldn’t put Nese away. Nese countered Lo Mein pain into a German suplex off the top, but Fox was under the ropes to break up the pin. Fox managed to shove Nese to the mat and he went for a 450, but missed. Nese hit a one-arm bucklebomb a short time later for a nearfall. Fox fired back and cut off Nese up top. Nese blocked Lo Mein pain, but Fox hit a DVD and followed up with a 450. Young ran into the ring. Ivelisse then ran into ring and brawled with Young. Ivelisse ripped off Young’s shirt much to the delight of the crowd and they ran to the back. Mr. A went up top with the ref still distracted, but Mr. A ended up getting crotched. Fox hit Low Mein pain on Nese sending him into Nese and the fans went nuts. Fox then made the cover for the win. The match had a lot of interference, but it worked and got the crowd into the action. There were some impressive exchanges here and Fox looks good coming out of a match like this with a win. (***3/4)

After the match, the fans chanted for Ivelisse to twerk and she did it for a big pop. Fox thanked the fans and said the fans to keep the party going tomorrow. The fans chanted for Fox to end the show.

Overall thoughts: (n/a) – This show had some good matches up and down the card, but a lot of the action fell flat because the crowd was mostly dead. Another thing that hurt this show was the camera work wasn’t very good and there were a lot of missed or out of focus that took away from the viewing experience. Once EVOLVE puts up a different edit of this event, I will post a full score.

The Young Buck Tag Team Invitational was funny with Matt giving star ratings to each match in the tournament after they were over and basing the rating or winner on whether or not they threw enough superkicks in the match. I wasn’t sure exactly what was on the line in these matches, but it seems the winner of the tournament will get a shot at the Young Bucks. The strongest match on the undercard was The Bravado Brothers vs. Pieces of Hate. This was a really good match with Harlem doing a heck of a job selling his leg for most of the match. The storytelling sucked me into the action and the Bravados have improved a ton.

The Style Battle Four Way Eliminations were a mixed bag. Gulak vs. Strickland vs. Touchdown vs. Dorado was a really flat match for the most part. Alexander vs. Busick vs. Green Ant vs. Chicago on the other hand was good. The crowd was flat except for being into Green Ant before he was eliminated. The match came down to Alexander vs. Busick and they had some really good exchanges down the stretch before Busick won. I’m really looking forward to seeing Busick vs. Gulak in the finals of the Style Battle tournament. Both guys have been really good on the independent scene in 2013.

Swann & Ricochet vs. Gargano & Baretta was a very good tag match, but the crowd didn’t seem invested in the Gargano-Swann storyline. The match had high stakes stipulations, but it wasn’t until the action really picked up during the second half of the match that the crowd got into the action. I’m looking forward to seeing Gargano vs. Swann for the DGUSA Championship, but there seems to be a disconnect with the fans in terms of getting them involved in the storyline setting up the match.

The main event was really good and Fox was the most over wrestler on the show. His match against Nese was very good and I really liked how the match had storyline elements that got the fans invested in the match. Nese and his cohorts, Su Young and Mr. A, threw everything they could at Fox, but in the end he looked strong coming out on top in the best match on the show.

You can purchase “EVOLVE 23” on VOD by clicking HERE or by visiting For more information on EVOLVE visit DGUSA.TV.

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