1/23 EVOLVE 54 iPPV – RADICAN’s Report on Chris Hero & End vs. RPG Vice, more

By Sean Radican, PWTorch columnist


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RadicanSean_profileEVOLVE 54 iPPV REPORT
JANUARY 23, 2016
ORLANDO, FLA.
AIRED LIVE ON WWNLIVE.COM

Lenny Leonard and Rob Naylor introduced the show in front of a larger than usual crowd in Orlando, although it was clear that they didn’t fill the big section of bleachers on the side where the hard cam was set up. Still, it’s impressive to see a building that EVOLVE didn’t draw well in at all in the past get filled.

(1) The PAB (Anthony Nese & Caleb Konley w/Andrea & So Cal Val) vs. Team Tremendous (Bill Carr & Dan Barry) in a Second Chance Tag Team Tournament match. The fans were behind Team Tremendous during the early going. Nese wiped out car and flexed as the fans booed. Carr tagged in a short time later and flexed his muscle, as he wiped out Konley and Nese with a double shoulder tackle as they charged at him. They did a spot where everyone ended up with their legs locked. They ended up letting each other go and backed away for a clear break. PAB tried to jump Team Tremendous, but Carr sent Nese to the floor. Konley then took a series of moves capped by a quebrada for a 2 count. PAB used some cheap tactics to get the upper hand on Barry. Nese worked him over on the floor as Konley distracted the ref. Barry ended up back in the ring, as the PAB tagged in and out to work him over. Barry fired back, but the PAB caught him with an elevated assisted dropkick for a 2 count. Barry, wearing a sweet Hawaiian shirt, continued to take a beating. Barry fired back and hit a top rope hurricanrana.

Carr finally got the hot tag and ran wild. They went to a wild sequence that ended with Barry hitting an insane Fosbury flop to the floor to wipe out everyone and the fans fired up. Carr and Barry went for a double team, but Konley dragged Barry to the floor. Carr fired back on Nese and nearly decapitated him with a clothesline. Carr then hit a sidewalk slam on Nese. He tossed Nese into a jumping STO from Barry, but Konley made the save and the fans booed. Andrea and Val got up on the apron. Val had the ref’s attention. Andrea distracted Carr and allowed Konley to nail him with a knee strike that sent him to the floor. The PAB nailed Barry with a big combination move for a near fall and the fans fired up. Barry fought off Konley up top. Carr and Barry then hit book em Danno on Nese. The fans gasped and Barry made the cover for the win.

After the match, Konley and Nese put a beating on Team Tremendous as Val got on the mic and urged them on. Konley said screw this tag match, it means nothing. He said he was here for the EVOLVE Championship and he stormed out. Nese then continued to put the boots to Carr and Barry. Val and Andrea chased after Konley, as Nese continued to work over Team Tremendous by himself. Peter Kassa then ran down to make the save.

WINNER: Dan Barry & Bill Carr to advance to the Finals of the Second Chance Tag Team Tournament.

Star rating: (***1/4) – This was a fun opener that was made better by a hot crowd in Orlando. The fans were into the back and forth action. The post-match angle with Konley walking out on the PAB was interesting as well.

(2) Fred Yehi (0-1) vs. Matt Riddle (1-0) in a 2016 Style Battle Round Robin Tournament match. I love how Riddle comes out to a “Regulators” remix. Riddle tried to get the upper hand on the mat during the early going, but Yehi was having none of it and they came to a stalemate. They continued to go to the mat and Yehi caught Riddle with a pinning combination, but his shoulders weren’t down apparently and the ref didn’t count. Riddle went for a kimura, but Yehi nailed him with a German suplex. Yehi then hit two huge German’s and smiled as the fans applauded. Riddle fired back and hit a couple of kicks, but Yehi blocked a kick and stomped on Riddle’s bare foot. Yehi got a pump-handle and hit a big slam on Riddle and the fans fired up. Riddle fought off a leg bar with a kick to the jaw, but he couldn’t get to his feet due to the damage Yehi had done. Yehi hit a big powerbomb and went after Riddle’s leg again, but Riddle kicked him several times in the face. Yehi then fell right into a triangle from Riddle. Yehi tried to roll on top of Riddle. He then tried to lift him up. Riddle blocked a slam. Yehi then went for a German, but Riddle blocked it. Riddle finally shook Yehi off. He then rolled around Yehi and grabbed an ankle lock. Yehi tried to break it with his hands and screamed in pain before tapping.

Both men shook hands after the match.

WINNNER: Matt Riddle (2-0)

Star rating: (***) – This was short, but fantastic. Yehi hit all sorts of power moves and even worked over Riddle’s exposed foot, but Yehi got caught in a submission in the end.

Tomasso Ciampa was out next to a good ovation to face Ethan Page.

(3) Tomasso Ciampa vs. Ethan Page. The fans chanted for both men as they went face-to-face during the early going. Ciampa caught Page with a big dropkick as he came off the ropes to get the upper hand. Page followed up with a big dive to the floor a short time later. Ciampa nailed Page on the outside with a huge running knee as he was draped over the barricade. Ciampa set up Page on the guardrail again and the fans really fired up. Ciampa went for a huge running start and went all the way around the ring to nail Page with another running knee and the fans went nuts. Ciampa tossed Page back into the ring and continued to work him over. The fans tried to rally behind Page, who finally mounted a comeback and tagged Ciampa with a pair of stiff shots. Ciampa then caught Page with a huge kick to the head. He then mounted Page and hit several punches. Page finally hit an enzuguri and both men were down. Page went on the attack with a tilt-a-whirl slam for a 2 count. The fans fired up as Page dragged himself to his feet. He caught Ciampa with a big spinebuster a short time later for a 2 count. The pace picked up and Ciampa lifted Page’s feet onto the ropes and hit a draping DDT variation for a near fall. Page got Ciampa up for a powerbomb a short time later, but Ciampa fought out of it. He then hit a DDT for a 2 count.

They battled on the turnbuckles and Ciampa tied up Page and nailed him with a big running knee. He then lifted Page off the turnbuckles and nailed him with project Ciampa for a near fall. Ciampa set up in the corner and the fans fired up. He charged at Page, who caught him with an ace crusher and a Liger bomb for a near fall. Wow! Page dragged Ciampa up top. Ciampa fired back with some punches. They continued to battle up top. Page hit several elbows to Ciampa’s head. He set up for a top rope spinning Dwayne, but Ciampa fought out of it. Ciampa lifted Page up and hit an air raid crash off the top. Ciampa then fell backwards over Page and the ref counted, but Page kicked out at the very last second. Ciampa nailed Page with a wicked chop to the chest. Ciampa then hit several overhand chops. Page fired back with a bicycle kick. He went for a slingshot ace crusher, but Ciampa nailed him with a jumping knee strike. Ciampa then hit another running knee strike for the win.

Page stopped Ciampa from leaving and asked him to get back into the ring. Page glared at Ciampa before offering him a handshake. Ciampa accepted and Page raised his hand. Ciampa looked at Page skeptically as he rolled out of the ring.

WINNER: Tomasso Ciampa

Star rating: (***1/2) – Ciampa can have some really good indie matches and this was no exception. The crowd ate up his debut and he dominated the early part of the match before they began going back and forth before building to some really good near falls down the stretch. This was a really good match between these two.

(4) Catch Point (T.J. Perkins & Drew Gulak w/Matt Riddle & “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams) vs. Sami Callihan & Zack Sabre Jr. in a Second Chance Tag Team Tournament match. Perkins caught Callihan in an octopus stretch. Callihan countered it into a stretch muffler. Perkins then rolled up Callihan for a super close near fall and they came to a stalemate. Wow! Perkins and Sabre then went at it. Perkins dabbed after hitting a corkscrew head scissors takedown. He dabbed better than Moose did at “Final Battle 2015.” Sabre countered and went for an arm bar, but Perkins kipped out of it. Sabre took Perkins right back down and went after his arm again. Perkins tried to bridge out of it and eventually escaped. Sabre took Perkins right back down and worked a head scissors. Perkins kept escaping the head scissors, but Sabre would put him right back in it and the fans ate it up. Sabre and Riddle jawed as Sabre worked over Perkins. Perkins did a head stand out of the head scissors and hit a dropkick to finally break free. Gulak then went to work on Sabre with some rolling knee holds. Sabre fired back on Gulak and the fans fired up. Naylor said that Sabre is a magician on the mat. Sabre went after Gulak’s leg. Gulak tried to escape. Sabre nearly had a bow and arrow, but Gulak escaped. They came to stalemate and the fans applauded and shouted “Wrestling, yay!” Callihan tagged in and took Gulak down. Sabre and Callihan began tagging in and out to work over Gulak. Sabre locked in a crazy leg submission and smiled at Gulak as he used a free leg to stretch his groin. Sabre then got a bridging leg submission on Gulak. He got a kimura, but Gulak quickly got the ropes.

Sabre and Callihan continued to tag in and out to work over Gulak’s leg. Callihan went to the floor and kicked Riddle right in the face before allowing Sabre to tag himself back into the match. Gulak finally made a diving tag to Perkins, who wiped out Sabre. Callihan picked up Perkins and Sabre nailed him with a running kick. Callihan then dropped him down with a modified tombstone, but Gulak broke up the pin. Callihan went up top, but Gulak knocked him to the floor. Sabre sent Gulak to the floor with a big uppercut. Sabre hit a kick to Perkins’s elbow. Sabre and Gulak went back and forth and Sabre caught Gulak with a crazy bridging pin for a near fall. Sabre got a kimura with his legs around Gulak’s waist. Gulak tried to roll him off, but Sabre got him on the mat. He then went after Gulak’s other arm for a double arm submission. Perkins tried to break it up, but Callihan got him in a stretch muffler.

Perkins eventually kicked Callihan into Sabre to break up the submission on Gulak. The fans applauded with everyone down on the mat. Gulak fired back on Sabre and slammed him hard into the ropes. He then tagged in Perkins, but Sabre nailed him with an uppercut and tagged in Callihan. Callihan caught Perkins with a jumping knee in the corner. He then hit a big running kick to Perkins’s head. He set up for a second kick and connected. Callihan put his hood on and went for a third kick. Perkins tried to clothesline him, but Callihan kicked it away and hit a powerbomb. He then caught Gulak in the stretch muffler. Sabre then caught Gulak in a kimura. Gulak stood up with Sabre still holding the kimura and slammed him into Callihan to break up the submission. Wow! The fans fired up with all four men down. Everyone got up and began trading moves. Callihan accidentally kicked Sabre and Gulak caught him with a dive on the floor. Perkins caught Callihan with a powerbomb. He followed up with a go to Pele. He finished off the sequence with a cross-arm breaker for the win.

Sabre and Callihan shoved each other after the match. Callihan asked for the mic. Callihan said they had lost two nights in a row. He said the fans wanted it and he challenged Sabre to a match. He hocked a huge loogie on Sabre before leaving the ring. Sabre told Callihan to come back. Sabre caught Callihan with a short right that dripped Callihan. Sabre said he would see Callihan tomorrow.

WINNERS: T.J. Perkins & Drew Gulak to advance to the finals of the Second Chance Tag Team Tournament

Star rating: (****1/4) – This was a fantastic tag match. These four guys put on an insanely great back and forth match. They did a lot of mat wrestling, but they also put together some great rapid-fire sequences. The exchanges down the stretch were great. This was simply fantastic. Can we all agree that spitting is gross?

(intermission)

(5) Peter Kassa (0-1) vs. “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams (w/Drew Gulak) (1-0) in a 2016 Style Battle Round Robin Tournament match. Neither man could get the upper hand during the early going as they went back and forth on the mat. Kassa tried to drive Williams’s shoulders down to the mat, but Williams bridged out of the pin. Williams hit a Finlay roll variation a short time later and made the cover for a 2 count. Williams went to work on Kassa and nailed him with a slap to the back of the head. Kassa tried to fire back, but Williams slapped him right across the face. Kassa fired back and hit a dropkick. He followed up with his version of the Cactus clothesline and the fans went nuts. Kassa then went for a space flying tiger driver and it looked like both men had a bad landing on that spot. Kassa finally got up and tossed Williams into the ring for a 2 count.

Kassa went on the attack and went for a double springboard splash, but Williams ducked it. They went back and forth. Williams went for a German, but Kassa landed on his feet and hit a running SSP for a 2 count. The fans fired up after that spectacular exchange. Kassa hit a jack hammer a short time later, but only got a 2 count. Kassa caught Williams in cattle mutilation a short time later, but Williams got his foot on the ropes to break the hold. Williams countered Kassa and hit a back breaker and German for a 2 count. Williams followed up with several punches from the mount.

Williams put a beating on Kassa in the corner. Kassa fired back and hit some big punches. Williams fired right back and slammed Kassa to the mat for a 2 count. Kassa fired back, but Williams cut him off and hit a stomp to his chest. Kassa then caught Williams off the ropes with a moonsault power slam and both men were down on the mat. Kassa kipped up and hit a German. He held on and hit a second German. Williams tried to block a third and managed to elbow his way out of Kassa’s grip. Williams went for a suplex, but Kassa countered it and hit another German for a near fall. Kassa went up top and the fans applauded. He went for a crazy 630, but Williams got out of the way and made the cover for a near fall.

Williams then locked in the crossface. Kassa struggled, but managed to get to the ropes. The fans fired up with both men slow to resume battle. Williams grabbed a standing front chancery, but Kassa dropped down to his knee when he tried to throw him. Kassa stomped his way out of the hold. Williams fired back with some big strikes and then a couple of chops to the back. Williams hit a clothesline to the back of Kassa’s head a short time later. They battled up top a short time later Williams countered Kassa and missed dropping his head on the turnbuckle. Williams followed through with a DDT and locked in the crossface for the win.

After the match, Williams said he was now 2-0 in Style Battle. He said he and Riddle are both 2-0. He said they are similar in many ways, but tomorrow they will become different when he becomes the first man to defeat Riddle in EVOLVE and become the Style Battle Champion. Tracy Williams needs new theme music.

WINNER: Tracy Williams (2-0)

Star rating: (**1/4) – This match dragged as it went on. Kassa just didn’t look comfortable in a longer form match. They had some good moments and there were some exchanges that weren’t crisp here.

(6) The Bravado Brothers (Lancelot & Harlem) vs. Drew Galloway & Johnny Gargano in a EVOLVE Tag Team Tournament Semi-Final Round match. Gargano and Lancelot kicked things off. Gargano had the upper hand on the mat, but Lancelot managed to roll into the ropes. Harlem tagged in and slapped Galloway across the face, but Galloway fired back with some vicious chops in the corner that sent Harlem scurrying to the floor. Galloway set up Harlem against the guardrail and nailed him with a huge slap. Lancelot ran into attack Galloway and the action broke down on the floor. Harlem interfered with Gargano from the apron, which allowed Harlem to nail him with a running kick. Lancelot then put a beating on Gargano on the floor before tossing him back into the ring. Harlem then continued to work Gargano over. Gargano tried to fight back at one point, but Lancelot knocked Galloway off the apron, which allowed the Bravados to maintain the upper hand. The fans booed as Harlem taunted them while putting the boots to Gargano. Gargano finally hit a combination move on both Bravados. He made the tag to Galloway, who ran wild. Galloway stacked both Bravados in the corner and nailed them with some vicious chops, but the Bravados fired back with their signature enzuguri/German suplex combination for a 2 count.

Gargano got the tag and wiped out Harlem with a big dive to the floor. Lancelot blocked a slingshot spear attempt with a running knee. Harlem then booted Galloway off the apron with a running boot and nailed him with a tope con hilo to the floor and the fans fired up. The Bravados then hit an electric chair lariat through the ropes on Gargano and the fans fired up once again. Holy s—t! The Bravados hit a combination fall-away cutter on Gargano, but Galloway made the save at the second and everyone took a moment to regroup. The Bravados put Gargano up top and then hung Galloway upside down below him in the tree of woe. Galloway suddenly sat up and tossed both Bravados to the mat as they went after Gargano and the fans fired up once again.

They went to a big sequence with both teams going back and forth until Galloway wiped out both Bravados with a shotgun dropkick and all four men were down. Wow! Harlem went at it alone against Gargano and Galloway. Galloway nailed him with hurts don’t it and Gargano hit a future shock DDT, but Harlem kicked out at 2. Gargano signaled for the finish. Galloway tossed Harlem into a kick from Gargano. Gargano hung Harlem upside down and Gargano nailed him with a superkick. Galloway then three Harlem down right into the Gargano escape and Harlem had no choice but to tap!

After the match, both teams shook hands. The Bravados seemed reluctant to shake hands.

WINNERS: Johnny Gargano & Drew Galloway to advance to the Finals of the EVOLVE Tag Team Tournament

Star rating: (***3/4) – This was a really good back and forth contest. The Bravados used some cheap tactics to get the upper hand during the early going before the heat really turned up and both teams went back and forth full bore down the stretch. The Bravados were a blast to watch here as a unit.

(7) Heroes Eventually Die (Chris Hero & Tommy End) vs. RPG Vice (Rocky Romero & Trent Baretta) in an EVOLVE Tag Team Title Tournament match. Hero and Romero had a crazy exchange off the ropes during the early going. Romero sent Hero to the floor with a huracanrana, but he managed to get out of the way and Romero had to hold onto the ropes instead of hitting a dive on him. End tagged in next to go at it with Trent. Neither team could get a sustained advantage during the early going. At one point Trent and Hero exchanged big chops. Trent eventually ducked a charge in the corner and hit a tornado DDT that sent Hero to the floor. Romero and End then went at it inside the win after going at it on the floor. End tried to fire back and went for a double stomp on Romero, but he got out of the way and Romero got an arm bar. End finally got to the ropes to break the hold. Trent went after End’s shoulder and sent him shoulder-first into the guardrail several times. Romero got a Fujiwara arm bar and Hero yelled words of encouragement from the outside. End struggled, but once again got to the ropes. End finally mounted a comeback and fended off Romero and Trent. He then made the hot tag to Hero.

Hero ran wild on Trent and took him down with a leaping lariat. Hero hit a release vertical suplex that sent Romero flying into Trent. Hero then made the cover for a 2 count. Trent fired back and went for a dive on Hero, but Hero caught him and End nailed him with a running boot and the fans fired up. Hero and End hit a combination of moves on Trent capped by a big running kick to the head from End for a near fall. The action broke down and everyone hit moves. Hero hit the cyclone kill on Trent, but RPG Vice fired back with a double knee strike to Hero’s head and everyone was down as the fans went nuts. End took a combination of moves capped by a big flying knee from Trent for a near fall. The fans fired up and chanted for End. Hero ran in, but Romero caught him a running sliced bread #2 and the fans fired up. Romero went back and forth across the ring hitting the forever elbows on Hero and End before wiping them up with a double clothesline. They got right up and decked Romero with a pair of double short rights. Trent then wiped them out with a double missile dropkick and everyone was down again.

End countered a Dudebuster and got a leg submission on Trent, but he bridged backwards on top of end for a near fall. Trent then hit a dude buster on End, but he kicked out at the last second. Trent hit a low blow and tried to roll up End, but he managed to kick out at the last second. RPG Vice went for strong zero, but Hero broke it up to save End. He absolutely obliterated Trent with a huge elbow. Hero nailed Romero and Trent with some huge elbows, but they wouldn’t go down. Hero took a pair of double knees to the head before finally going down. He then wiped out End with a dive through the ropes. RPG Vice went for strong zero on Hero, but End made the save. Hero and End hit a double stomp off the top/Gotch piledriver on Trent, but he rolled to the floor.

End and Hero isolated Romero alone in the ring. They nailed Romero with elbows and kicks. Romero fired back and took down both men. End countered Romero with a brainbuster for a 2 count. End then went up top, but Romero cut him off. They fought up top and Romero got a flying cross-arm breaker off the top. The fans fired up as End struggled towards the ropes. End rolled over and got on top of Romero. He lifted Romero up and Hero came in and nailed Romero with a senton to break up the hold. WOW! Hero and End nailed Romero with an elbow/knee strike combination and End rolled up Romero for the win. Holy s—t!

It will be Hero & End vs. Gargano & Galloway to determine the winner of the EVOLVE Tag Team Championship.

Hero got on the mic and said heroes eventually die, but today is not that day. Hero said it’s a metaphor. It means all good things must come to an end. He said there are a lot of good wrestlers in EVOLVE, but they have all met their demise in EVOLVE because he’s knocked them all out. Hero said they had one match to knock out some people and a pair of belts to capture.

WINNERS: Chris Hero & Tommy End to advance to the finals of the EVOLVE Tag Team Tournament

Star rating: (****) – This match had some lulls during the first half, but the second half was really strong with both teams going back and forth with some really great sequences leading into the finish. There was a small lull in the action down the stretch, but they got the crowd back with some great teases, especially Romero’s flying arm bar late off the top on End. Great effort from both teams here.

Overall Thoughts: (8.0) – This was another really good offering from EVOLVE. The first half was particularly strong highlighted by a fantastic match between Zack Sabre Jr. & Sami Callihan vs. Drew Gulak & T.J. Perkins in a Second Chance Tournament match that really set the crowd on fire. This match is worth going out of your way to see.

The second half of the show was really good as well. It featured some excellent tag team wrestling as the finals of the EVOLVE Tag Team Tournament was set with Gargano & Galloway beating The Bravados in a very good match and Hero & End beating RPG Vice in a fantastic main event. When you mix in the quality tag action along with some really good singles action with the Riddle-Yehi match and Page-Ciampa, you have a card well-worth going out of your way to check out. Replay is recommended, which is available at WWNLive.com.

***

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