RADICAN’S Evolve 49 iPPV Report – Gargano I Quit match

By Sean Radican, PWTorch columnist


WWNLive returned to New York for EVOLVE 49 with Johnny Gargano putting his WWNLive career on the line against Ethan Page in an I Quit main event match…

OCTOBER 17, 2015

Lenny Leonard introduced EVOLVE 49.

(1) Matt Cage vs. Andrew Everett vs. Peter Kassa vs. Antony Nese (w/So Cal Val) in a Four-way Freestyle match. One of the things I liked about the relaunch of EVOLVE was that matches like this were done away with, but I can tolerate them every so often. Kassa is not very tall, but he is jacked. He appears to be someone that is very much on WWE’s radar. The action started hot and heavy with Kassa and Nese in the ring and Cage and Nese on the floor. Cage cut off Kassa from hitting a dive and then wiped out Everett with a tope con hilo. Nese then hit a big dive over the top to the floor and the fans fired up. Kassa then hit a sick Saske special and the fans went nuts. Nese and Everett went at it and Nese ended up hitting a one-armed powerbomb on Everett to the floor to take out Kassa and Cage.

The action continued at a rapid pace. Cage finally caught Nese with a diving elbow off the turnbuckles. He followed up with a falcon arrow, but Kassa broke up the pin before a 1 count. Kassa walked the ropes and hit a tornado DDT on Cage, but Everett wiped him out right after with a missile dropkick. The fans fired back up after the match had hit a short lull. Everett went up top and hit a sick SSP to the floor to wipe out everyone and the fans fired up. Kassa and Nese hit stereo powerbombs on Cage and Everett, who were going at it up top. Everyone hit big moves and Kassa capped the sequence with a one arm powerbomb, but Cage managed to break up the pin.

Kassa tried to go under Cage when he floated over in the corner, but Cage nailed him with a double stomp. Nese broke up the pin and the action continued hot and heavy. Cage avoided a swanton from Kassa and laughed at him, which allowed Everett to hit a SSP press on Cage for the win. Nese decided not to break up the pin and Leonard said he wanted no part of him. Everett and Kassa went face-to-face before separating.

WINNER: Andrew Everett.

Star rating: (***1/4) – This was a hot start to the show with all four men delivering some impressive spots. I wasn’t a big fan of the finish, but overall this was a fun start to the show.

(2) Matt Riddle vs. Jonathan Gresham. Riddle took a long time to come out and Leonard said he was playing mind games. Riddle, making his EVOLVE debut, was dressed like he was about to fight in the octagon with shorts and no boots or knee pads. Riddle has a huge size advantage on Gresham. They went back and forth on the mat and Gresham got a head scissors. Riddle tried to free himself and finally kipped up out of the out. Leonard ran down Riddle’s highlight reel knockout on Ultimate Fighter and his UFC record. They went back and forth a short time later. Riddle rolled through on a hurricanrana and they went back and forth exchanging pinfalls. Riddle ducked an enzuguri and got a heel hook. Gresham tried to go after Riddle’s toes before tapping out.

WINNER: Riddle via submission. Riddle looks a bit slow in the ring, but that’s to be expected given his level of experience. They put together a good match to highlight Riddle’s strengths here and Gresham made him look good.

Riddle shook hands with Gresham after the match. Chris Dickinson then ran down to the ring and got on the mic. Dickinson said he was on the first EVOLVE show in 2009. He said Riddle had 20 matches under his belt and thought he could just take an opportunity from someone that had been doing this for years. Dickinson got in Riddle’s face and mocked his MMA background. Riddle got on the mic and said Dickinson and the others in the back were just a stepping stone for him. Riddle told him there’s nothing he or anyone else in the back can do to stop him. Dickinson shoved Riddle and he told him he doesn’t fight for free. He then told Dickinson he could fight one of the pieces of trash in the crowd. Dickinson then cracked Riddle with a huge slap.

Larry Dallas came down to the ring and tried to get Riddle to sign a contract for his services, but Dickinson nailed him with a huge kick. Several wrestlers and officials then ran in to keep Dickinson away from Riddle. Tracy Williams was trying to keep them away from each other. Riddle taunted Dickinson before heading to the back. Dickinson got mad at Williams and began drawing with him leading to a match between them next.

(3) Tracy Williams (w/Drew Gulak) vs. Chris Dickinson. They went back and forth and Williams hit a high angle suplex. Dickinson rolled to the floor and Williams tried to follow him, but Dickinson tripped him to the apron. Dickinson grabbed a chair from a fan and set up Williams on it. Dickinson then nailed Williams’s leg with a big running kick. Dickinson tried to work over Williams’s leg. Williams tried to counter, but Dickinson stayed a step ahead of him and locked in another leg submission. Williams countered a leg submission into an arm bar, but he had to let go of it because he was in the ropes. The fan got his chair back and the fans popped big. Williams finally mounted a comeback and hit a clothesline and a big jumping piledriver for a 2 count.

Williams took control and went to work on Dickinson. Dickinson finally fired back with a high angle suplex. Williams quickly regained the advantage and got a chin lock on the mat. Dickinson got a bridging headlock and got a pair of 2 counts on Dickinson. He then got a standing cravat. They went back and forth and Dickinson finally dead lifted Williams into a powerbomb and both men were down. Dickinson hit some big chops in the corner and followed up with a lariat. He set up for the pazuzu bomb, but Williams slipped out of it. They went back and forth trading pinfalls until Dickinson applied the Figure-Four leglock. Williams eventually rolled over and managed to get to the ropes.

Dickinson went back to work on Williams’s leg. He then hung up Williams in the ropes to do more damage to his leg. They went up top and Williams drove Dickinson into the turnbuckle. He then dumped Dickinson on his head again for a 2 count. Williams applied a crossface and blocked Dickinson from getting to the ropes. Dickinson finally rolled Williams up for a 2 count. Dickinson hit a 360 enzuguri, but Williams kicked out. Dickinson then applied a trailer hitch submission. Williams screamed in pain and tapped out.

WINNER: Chris Dickinson.

Star rating: (***) – This started off slow, but picked up late with Dickinson working over Williams’s leg the entire match before eventually getting him to submit. The final stretch of this match was really good, although I was surprised to see Williams take the loss here given the momentum he had coming into the match.

Gulak sold disappointment with Williams after the match. Gulak got on the mic and yelled at Williams for losing to Dickinson. Gulak said he could do better. He then said he would show him how it’s done and called out Trevor Lee.

(4) Drew Gulak (w/Tracy Williams) vs. Trevor Lee – Winner receives an EVOLVE Title shot at EVOLVE 50. Leonard mentioned that after doing the Top 10 EVOLVE Rankings the #1 contender spot was left empty in favor of a match between these two to determine who would face Thatcher on the following night. Gulak got a nasty double arm submission during the early going, but Lee managed to flip out of it. He eventually tripped Gulak and hit a standing moonsault for a 1 count. They went back and forth before coming to a stalemate. Leonard mentioned that Gulak and Williams had confronted Thatcher at the end of EVOLVE 48 before Hero knocked them all out. Hero is not in action this weekend with international commitments. He’s currently ranked #3.

They went back and forth on the mat, but Gulak escaped an arm submission and backed off instead of going after Lee. The fans fired up and chanted back and forth for both men. Gulak rolled through on Lee a short time later and got a leg submission, but Lee got to the ropes. Lee ended up getting a hold of Gulak’s hand and he went after his fingers before snapping them apart. Lee went after Gulak’s fingers again, but Gulak rolled him up for a 2 count. Lee went back after Gulak’s arm again. They went back and forth and Lee dumped Gulak to the floor and nailed him with a running kick to the chest from the apron. The fans chanted for Lee to take the chair from the fan and Lee obliged and used it to get to the top rope. Gulak ducked a dive off the top from Lee. He eventually ended up tying Lee’s up around the middle rope before nailing it with a kick. Lee spilled to the floor and sold his leg big time.

Gulak went to the floor and tied up Lee’s leg in the guardrail before nailing it with a kick. Gulak got a leg submission with a bridge on Lee back inside the ring a short time later. Gulak continued to target Lee’s leg as the fans tried to rally behind him. Lee tried to mount a comeback, but Gulak ducked a kick and hit a dragon screw. Lee finally fired back and caught Gulak with a double stomp as he came off the ropes. Lee sold his leg before covering Gulak for a 2 count. Gulak fired back and got a bridging leg lock. Gulak went for a leg sweep, but Lee avoided it.

They went back and forth and Lee hit a Rock bottom and a superkick for a near fall. Somewhere The Rock and HBK are crying. They went up top and Gulak hit a snap superplex. Both men were slow to get up and began exchanging blows from their knees. They got to their feet and continued to go back and forth until Gulak hit a big slam for a 2 count. Gulak measured Lee and nailed him with a big kick to the head, but Lee managed to kick out. Lee caught Gulak with his twisting power slam off the ropes for a 2 count. He then hit a German with a bridge for another 2 count and the fans fired up. Gulak fired back and went for a Gulak’s knee, but Lee countered it into God’s last gift for the win.

After the match, Williams asked Gulak where the catch point was. He said they can’t be losing to guys like that and they can do better. Gulak said Trevor Lee was the catch point. Gulak said he lost. I think he was trying to put over Lee and said he was the reason he lost. Gulak said they are on the same page.

WINNER: Trevor Lee to become the #1 contender to the EVOLVE Championship.

Star rating: (***) – This was a solid match. It wasn’t all that interesting during the early going, but the second half was strong with Gulak working over Lee’s leg. They had some good exchanges down the stretch leading into the finish, but I would have liked to have seen more focus put on the work on Lee’s leg down the stretch.

Anthony Nese with Caleb Konley and So Cal Val made their way down to the ring. Konley got on the mic and said he hadn’t lost a match in a WWN ring in six months. He said the suits hadn’t even given him a match with Lee and Gulak wrestling for the right to be the #1 contender. He said he had beaten Lee when he faced him and he should be the #1 contender. He said EVOLVE was going to give it to him or he would take it.

So Cal Val got on the mic and agreed with him. She said Konley & Nese should be EVOLVE Tag Team Champions. They were interrupted by Mike Chocolate. Watts got on the mic and said it seemed the fans were aware of who they are. He introduced Randy Summers and said he’s Brandon Watts and together they’re Milk Chocolate. He said it was time for them to get the EVOLVE Tag Team Titles.

Nese got on the mic and said he had already wrestled, but unlike the fat slobs in the crowd he can do it all night every day (whatever that means). He called a ref down to the ring.

(5) The PAB (Caleb Konley & Anthony Nese w/So Cal Val) vs. Milk Chocolate (Randy Summers & Brandon Watts). The PAB sent Watts to the floor and then wiped out Summers. Watts ended up taking a tandem back breaker from the PAB a short time later. Summers and Watts mounted a comeback and went to town on Nese in the corner and the fans fired up. Konley held up Watts in the powerbomb position and Nese came through the ropes with a cross-body. Watts got sent into the barricade as the fans went nuts over the big move. Summers then got put away with a 450 from Nese.

Val got on the mic and said The PAB are the best tag team in EVOLVE.

WINNERS: Caleb Konley & Anthony Nese – This was short, but good. Milk Chocolate got in a small flurry of offense, but this was about making The PAB shine and they did. The tandem powerbomb/dive combination on Watts was insane.

Willie Mack got a good pop coming out to face Earl Cooter next.

(6) Earl Cooter vs. Willie Mack. Leonard was joined by Trevin Adams, who plugged the FIP iPPVs the following weekend. He said there would be trios from all over the country on the FIP shows next weekend. Mack hit a standing moonsault on Cooter, but he kicked out at 2. The fans chanted for Mack as he continued to work over Cooter. Cooter fired back and snapped Mack’s neck over the top rope before connecting with a missile dropkick. Cooter went for a top rope knee drop, but Mack got out of the way. Mack hit a big clothesline and went to work on Cooter. Cooter slipped out of the chocolate thunder driver and hit a spinning backslide slam. It looked like Mack had been pinned, but the ref said no. Mack fired back with a big German. He followed up with an exploder. Mack went up top and hit a huge corkscrew senton for the win.

WINNER: Willie Mack – I really enjoy Mack, so to see him nearly get pinned by Earl Cooter in his EVOLVE debut was a letdown. It sure looked like Mack had been pinned at one point when he kicked out extra late, but the ref said no.

(7) RPG Vice (Rocky Romero & Trent Baretta) vs. EVOLVE champion Timothy Thatcher & T.J. Perkins. Romero and Perkins trained in the NJPW Dojo in LA together and made their debuts in Japan together as well. They began this match going at it and went back and forth until Romero poked Perkins in the eye. Perkins fired back and took Romero down with a head scissors. Perkins went for another head scissors, but Romero stayed on his feet. Perkins nailed Romero with a dropkick and he went to the corner and hugged Baretta. Thatcher and Trent went at it. RPG Vice got the upper hand on Thatcher and began working him over. Thatcher ducked a slap from Baretta and nailed him with a headbutt to the chest.

Perkins tagged in and began working over Trent. Leonard mentioned that Trent and Perkins had been in The PAB. Perkins and Thatcher went after Trent’s arm. Trent managed to tag in Romero, but Perkins cut him off. Perkins then began working over Romero’s arm. Thatcher set up Romero’s elbow at a bad angle and then stomped on it. Romero and Perkins hung themselves in the ropes, but Trent snuck up from behind him and shoved him back into the ring when Romero said he was going to come at Perkins. Awesome spot. Baretta took the same fans chair again that got it taken during the Lee-Gulak match. That was funny. Romero then began working over Perkins inside the ring. Perkins finally hit a chin breaker on Romero and was very close to making the tag. He dove, but missed the tag. Thatcher finally got the tag and ran wild on RPG Vice. The PAB was shown watching in the crowd.

Perkins made a blind tag and wiped out Trent and Romero. He got cut off with a double jumping knee. Romero wiped out Thatcher with a knee strike over the apron to the floor. Trent hit a big running knee on Perkins to cap a big flurry of moves, but he managed to kick out. Perkins countered Trent and got a Texas Cloverleaf. Thatcher got Romero in a Fujiwara arm bar. Thatcher got rolled into Perkins by Romero. They seemed upset with each other, but managed to take out Trent. Romero hit a big KO kick on Rocky, but Trent managed to get by Thatcher to break up the pin. Thatcher accidentally nailed Perkins with a European uppercut. RPG Vice then hit strong zero on Perkins for the win.

WINNERS: Rocky Romero & Trent Baretta.

Star rating: (***1/2) – This was a fun match. They had some cool spots with Perkins and Romero during the match playing in their history together. Ultimately Thatcher and Perkins not being on the same page cost them the match.

Afterwards, Perkins shoved Thatcher away as he tried to make amends after the match. Perkins ended up walking away from Thatcher as he glared at him. Thatcher shook hands with Trent and Romero before leaving the ring.

RPG Vice called out The PAB, but Val said no on the mic. She said as a woman she knows what it means to be a tease. She said RPG Vice would have to wait until tomorrow to get their match. Trent spit his gum at the PAB and the crowd gasped.

Joanna Rose said we were about to meet a very special individual. Triple H’s music then played. Ethan Page then came out to boos. That was great. Page did Triple H’s water spit routine. Page threw some crotch chops and the fans chanted “assh—.” He called the fans stupid for falling for his Triple H entrance. He told everyone to get their phones out and soak in Gargano’s final EVOLVE match.

Gargano was out next. Gargano attacked Page while he was posing on the turnbuckles and hit a powerbomb during the formal introductions.

(8) Ethan Page vs. Johnny Gargano in an I Quit match – If Gargano loses he leaves WWN. Gargano quickly applied the Gargano escape, but Page got out of it and the fight spilled to the floor. The fans wanted Gargano to take a fan’s chair and he did, which got a big pop. Page took Tolle’s belt, but Gargano got it and began whipping Page with it. Gargano slammed a ton of chairs on top of Page. The ref asked Page if he wanted to quit after Gargano hit a senton on top of the chairs that were on top of Page, but he said no. They brawled further up into the crowd where Leonard couldn’t see them. The cameras seemed to have a hard time keeping up with the action on the outside. Gargano hit a tornado DDT on the floor, but Page wouldn’t quit.

Gargano finally tossed Page back into the ring and the fans chanted his name. Gargano began tossing chairs into the ring as fans handled them to him. Gargano went for a slingshot DDT, but Page blocked it and swung the chair into Gargano head. Holy crap that was brutal. Page wrapped a chair around Gargano’s neck and drove him into the ringpost, but he wouldn’t quit. Gargano told the ref to go to hell and Page said he would take him there. Gargano ducked a charge in the corner and Page went flying shoulder first into a chair in the turnbuckles. Gargano then hit a slingshot spear on Page.

Gargano went under the ring and got a table. Page fired back on Gargano and drove a chair into his gut. They went back and forth and Page eventually hit a fallaway slam into the table, which had been set up in the corner. The fans chanted for a ladder to be introduced into the match. Page slammed Gargano onto a chair, but he wouldn’t quit. The fans wanted the fan with the chair to give his chair to Page, but Page threw a crotch chop at him. Page imitated Zayn and hit a running Yokuza kick in the corner. The fans did the Ole! chant. Page set up for a pedrigree on a chair, but Gargano backdropped him onto a pile of chairs. Page said he didn’t want to quit. They went back and forth and Gargano ended a big sequence of kicks with a KO kick and both men were down.

They went out to the apron and went back and forth. Page ended up hitting a slingshot ace crusher onto the chair. Gargano didn’t answer when the ref asked him if he wanted to quit. He finally said no and the fans applauded. Page told a ringside technician to undo the turnbuckle pads and he grabbed him by the head. The ringside technician worked hard to get the bottom rope undone. Page got a sharp piece of the turnbuckle and tried to fishhook Gargano with it, but Gargano fired back. Page then hit a pedrigree on Gargano and told the ref not to ask Gargano if he wanted to quit.

Page went under the ring and got a table. Page jabbed a chair into the side of Gargano’s head and set up a table. He had Gargano on the table and went up top, but Gargano popped up and cut him off. The fans fired up behind Gargano. They battled up top and Page set up Gargano for a spinning Dwayne, but Gargano turned it into a tornado DDT through the table. ! Holy s—t! The ref eventually asked Page to quit, but he said no. Gargano got up and nailed Page with a series of punches. Gargano wouldn’t stop as he continued to nail Page with punches.

Page suddenly grabbed him and hit the spinning Dwayne. The ref asked Gargano if he wanted to quit, but Gargano shoved the mic away. The ref kept asking Gargano, but he shoved the mic away. Page grabbed the mic and told Gargano to quit. Page told Gargano to say I quit. Gargano told Page he would have to kill him and spit in his face. Page nailed him with a sharp piece of the turnbuckle. He then pulled the infamous black rope that Gargano used over and over as a heel. Page tried to use the ring rope to choke Gargano, but Gargano countered and choked him with it. He then transitioned into the Gargano escape with the sharp hook in his mouth and Page quit. This was one heck of a match.

The fans applauded Gargano’s win. Gargano got on the mic and said now that that piece of garbage out of the way, there’s one more piece of business he hasn’t accomplished. He said his path to the EVOLVE Title starts right now. They cut the sound and the show ended.

Winner: Johnny Gargano to stay in WWN.

Star rating: (****) – The chair shot Gargano took early in the match to the side of the head appeared to be brutal with the legs sticking out on the chair during that early going. This was a tremendous conclusion to the feud between Gargano and Page. They wrestled a match that built and built to a satisfying finish. Page’s heel mannerisms were good throughout the match and I really enjoyed the Triple H nods as well.

Overall thoughts: (7.0) – This was a good show. EVOLVE has been really great at times since their reboot in 2014, especially this year. This show isn’t one of the best EVOLVE shows I’ve seen this year, but that’s a testament to how good the company has been.

The undercard was solid for the most part although the show hit a bit of a lull in the middle before ending strong.   Nothing stood out as tremendous during the early going, but Riddle got through his match with Gresham and did well for someone with very little experience on this kind of a stage. His post-match promo on Dickinson was better after a second listen, although he does remind me a lot of RVD with his promo style.

EVOLVE is going to need some new talent to step up to fill the holes left by the departures of Swann and Busick. Mike Bailey and Chris Hero weren’t on this show either and they were missed. That being said the second half of the show closed on a high note.

Lee vs. Gulak was fine, but the match never really hit a high gear before the finish. Gulak did some good work on Lee’s leg at times, but the story of the match didn’t really fully capture my attention down the stretch. The match was good, but I was expecting more out of these two in this spot.

It seems like EVOLVE is heading towards introducing EVOLVE Tag Team Championships and right now they are putting on matches with established teams vs. super teams. The semi-main event saw RPG Vice take on the makeshift team of EVOLVE Champion Timothy Thatcher & T.J. Perkins. This was a good match that had a nice storyline in it playing off Perkins and Romero having history together dating back to their early days in the business. Eventually Perkins and Thatcher and Perkins not being on the same page cost them the match.

The main event I Quit match between Ethan Page and Johnny Gargano with Gargano’s WWN career on the line was a really good presentation all-around. They built the match up with a series of big spots and this really was Page’s night even though he took the loss to Gargano. He did a fantastic troll job on the crowd by coming out to Triple H’s music and then doing his entrance. Page continued to heel it up during the match and the fans really got into the match down the stretch. I thought the finish was perfect and I recommend checking out this match, as it was a really good end to this feud.

This was a good show overall with some good wrestling up and down the card. The main event presentation really stood out on this card and if you’re going to buy the replay, it should be to see Gargano vs. Page. They told a good story and had an excellent match to end their feud. Thumbs up.

You can purchase EVOLVE 49 on VOD at WWNLive.com.


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