SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
SEAN RADICAN’S “EVOLVE 66” REPORT
AUGUST 19, 2016
AIRED LIVE ON WWNLIVE.COM
Lenny Leonard introduced the show inside the ring and ran down the big matches on the card. He said Thatcher-Riddle and Rhodes-Sabre was a double main event. He then threw things to Joanna Rose to introduce the first match.
(1) Cedric Alexander vs. T.J. Perkins (w/Stokely Hathaway) in a WWE CWC Spotlight match. Cedric got a big pop coming out for the match. Alexander sent Perkins to the floor and faked him out with a dive. Alexander then dabbed, but Perkins got mad and ran into the ring. The pace really picked up as they went back and forth. Perkins grabbed a standing submission before putting the boots to Alexander. Alexander fired back and caught Perkins with a dropkick for a 2 count. Perkins sent Alexander into the corner with a head scissors out of the corner. He then hit kneeDT.
Perkins then began working over Cedric’s leg with a knee bar. Perkins hit a Dab before applying a Muta lock, but Alexander managed to elbow his way out of it. Alexander ducked a slingshot senton. He then hit a slingshot ace crusher through the ropes. They went back and forth and Alexander eventually hit a springboard lariat for a 2 count. Perkins escaped a brainbuster. They went back and forth and Perkins got an ankle lock with a grapevine, but Alexander was near the ropes. They went at it trading blows.
Alexander hit a 360 enziguiri and both men were down as the fans fired up. Perkins hit a springboard DDT. He then popped Alexander up into a kick, but he managed to kick out at 2. Alexander hit a running boot and a brainbuster, but Perkins kicked out at 2! Perkins avoided a pair of kicks, but Perkins avoided them and grabbed an ankle lock with a grapevine. Alexander fought to the ropes and then tapped.
WINNER: T.J. Perkins
Star rating: (***1/2) – This was a good opener. It got going fairly quickly after a feeling-out period. Perkins worked over Alexander’s leg throughout the match before finally tapping him out.
After the match, Hathaway got on the mic. He said TJP is the greatest cruiserweight of all time. He said on April 1 he called out Triple H. He said TJP had proved him right time after time. He said TJP would prove him right again next week on the WWE Network. The fans started chanting “$9.99.” Hathaway said he’s heard the cruiserweight division is coming to Raw. Hathaway said Stephanie McMahon needs to get his number from her husband. Perkins asked Stephanie to have a conversation with Mick Foley and think about the cruiserweight division. Hathaway said each day, week, and month, Perkins’s price goes up. Hathaway said they wanted to make money. Perkins then raised Alexander’s hand and shook it. They both raised each other’s hands.
Leonard plugged Gabe Sapolsky’s Next Evolution with Johnny Gargano from KayfabeCommentaries.com.
(2) Jigsaw & Peter Kassa vs. Catch Point (Tracy Williams & Fred Yehi). Kassa is back after spending several months touring with Dragon Gate in Japan. Jigsaw worked over Williams and hit a big backbreaker. Yehi made a blind tag and Williams tossed him into a belly-to-belly for a 2 count. Yehi and Williams began tagging in and out to work over Jigsaw. Jigsaw took a sustained beating as Yehi and Williams tagged in and out to work him over.
Yehi hit a foot punch and several other unorthodox moves to cut off a Jigsaw comeback attempt. Jigsaw finally hit a missile dropkick and tagged in Kassa, who ran wild. Jigsaw then wiped out Yehi with a sick dive through the ropes as the pace picked up. Kassa hit a sick twisting space flying tiger driver to wipe out everyone and the fans went nuts. Holy s—! Kassa went to work on Williams inside the ring. He went for a moonsault off the second turnbuckle, but missed.
Williams grabbed a choke. Williams let it go and turned Kassa inside out with a clothesline. He then grabbed a crossface, but Jigsaw made the save. They went to a big exchange of moves and Williams ended the sequence with a shotgun dropkick on Kassa that left everyone down on the mat. Yehi stomped on Jigsaw’s Achilles tendon and hit a pair of German suplexes for a 2 count. Yehi said Jigsaw was in bigger trouble now. Jigsaw blocked a suplex and hit an enzuguri. He then hit a big double stomp and a brainbuster for the win!
WINNERS; Jigsaw & Peter Kassa.
Star rating: (**3/4) – This match was good at times, but it seemed like something was missing. The finish felt flat, as it seemed like they could have gone another 5 minutes or so and told more of a story building to the finish.
After the match, Williams helped Yehi to his feet and slapped him across the face. Yehi nailed Jigsaw with a rolling elbow. He then slapped Williams across the face as hard as he could. Yehi and Williams went face to face. Williams then smiled and both men held up the Catch Point hand gesture. Williams and Yehi then shook hands. That was different. Yehi got a big ovation after Williams left the ring first.
(3) Ethan Page vs. EVOLVE Tag Team champion DUSTIN (Chuck Taylor). They battled to the floor right away. They brawled near the timekeepers table. Page slipped delivering a kick, but got on the mic and announced that he was ok. Page actually slipped and knocked over the table in the process of hitting a kick on DUSTIN. Both men continued to go back and forth on the floor. Page hit a big backdrop on the floor and DUSTIN crawled back into the ring. Page then clotheslined him back to the floor and nailed him with a dive through the ropes. DUSTIN fired back and tripped Page into the turnbuckles. They went back and forth and DUSTIN hit a pair of kicks and then a dropkick to Page’s leg.
They went back and forth trading blows. DUSTIN went for a leap frog, but Page turned it into a sit-out powerbomb and both men were down as the fans fired up. Page caught DUSTIN with a big spinning slam off the ropes. DUSTIN tripped Page into the apron and hit a piledriver on the floor. WOW! Page struggled and made it back into the ring at 19. DUSTIN hit a superkick, but Page managed to kick out. DUSTIN hit sole food and Page rolled to the apron.
Page finally hit the RKEgo. DUSTIN fired back and hit a DDT for a 2 count. He hit another DDT, but Page managed to kick out at 2 again. DUSTIN applied the Gargano escape and DUSTIN asked Page where his boy was. Page got to his feet and hit a lawn dart! He followed up with a bicycle kick, but DUSTIN kicked out at 2! DUSTIN got a backslide, but Page kicked out and hit the package piledriver for the win!
WINNER: Ethan Page
Star rating: (***3/4) – This was a really good back and forth match. I wasn’t sure who would go over here as both guys sort of need to be protected right now, but Page winning was the right choice. He got to defend Gargano and beat a heel, so it makes sense.
(4) Tony Nese vs. Drew Gulak in a WWE CWC Spotlight match. Gulak came to the ring with the EVOLVE Championship. They went back and forth on the mat and Nese rolled into the ropes. The fans went back and forth chanting for both men. They had a big exchange of counters. Both men went down to the mat and Gulak had control, but Nese got on top. Gulak managed to fend off Nese and they came to a stalemate. Leonard mentioned Gulak might be looking past Nese given that he’s got Thatcher tomorrow in Brooklyn. Nese had the upper hand, but Gulak caught him by surprise with a huge running dropkick. Gulak then got a trailer hitch variation on Nese. Nese escaped and they went back and forth.
Nese hit a summersault uppercut on Gulak, who was up top. Gulak went for an arm submission, but Nese escaped. He then lifted Gulak and drove him into the turnbuckles on the opposite side of the ring! Nese hit an outside in moonsault for a 2 count. Gulak ended up catching Nese with a suicide dive and the fans fired up! Gulak grabbed a guillotine choke. Nese nearly fought out of it and hit a suplex on Gulak, but he got the hold again. Nese then dumped Gulak over the top rope and nailed him with a running knee to the head and both men were down. Nese hit a leg sweep on Gulak, who was on the apron. Gulak went to the floor and Nese nailed him with the FOSBURY FLOP! Nese then went right up top for a 450, but missed. Gulak went for a dragon sleeper, but Nese countered it and hit a tombstone variation for a near fall. WOW!
Nese got up and hit a big right hand. They went back and forth and Gulak grabbed Nese’s beard and began slapping him. He then hit an electric chair with a bridge for a 2 count! Gulak dragged Nese up top. Gulak wanted a superplex and he hit it. Nese then bridged forward with his legs and got a 2 count! Gulak went up top again and hit a big clothesline off the top. He made the cover, but Nese kicked out at 2! They went back and forth and Gulak surprised Nese with a sunset flip off the ropes for the win! WOW!
Nese shook Gulak’s hand after the match. Gulak was then announced as the winner as the fans applauded. Gulak wanted another handshake and Nese obliged. Nese slammed the mat in frustration leaving the ring.
WINNER: Drew Gulak
Star rating: (****) – This was just a fantastic back and forth match. They brought some hard-hitting action mixed with some nice counter wrestling leading to the finish with Gulak getting a nice roll-up win.
Gulak got on the mic and said Thatcher would face Riddle in a No Holds Barred match tonight. He then picked up the EVOLVE Championship. A fan said something Gulak didn’t like and he asked them to throw him out if he says another word. Gulak said Thatcher is not fit to hold the title. Gulak said he was carrying it out of respect. Gulak said that Thatcher had pledged to hurt whoever touches the title. He said Riddle had held it and he’s holding it right now. Gulak said he hadn’t seen Thatcher anywhere. Thatcher’s music then played. Thatcher came out, but Riddle attacked him from behind. The bell rang and the match was on!
(5) EVOLVE champion Timothy Thatcher vs. Matthew Riddle in a No Holds Barred match. Both men went at it on the floor trading blows. Thatcher hit a big knee to the chest after getting the upper hand on the floor. Thatcher got an ankle lock on the floor and Riddle got to the guardrail and pushed Thatcher off. Riddle comes into the match having beat Roderick Strong and Marty Scurll on the last two EVOLVE shows. Both men slugged it out in the middle of the ring as the fans fired up. Thatcher hit some big slaps to the face, but Riddle fired back with a slap and then kick to the back of the head.
Riddle went for an armbar and Thatcher nearly rolled on top of him for a three count. Riddle held on and continued to go for the hold. Thatcher got free and got on Riddle’s back. He kept going for a choke, but Riddle broke free with some elbows to the ribs. Riddle had Thatcher’s back, but Thatcher grabbed an ankle submission. There are no rope breaks, so grabbing the ropes didn’t help him.
Thatcher really went to work on Riddle’s ankle, but he managed to elbow his way out of the hold. Riddle fired back with a suplex and the fans started a “Bro” chant behind Riddle. Riddle hit some big elbows and got on top of Thatcher’s back. Thatcher tried to roll through, but Riddle got a cross-arm breaker. Thatcher got to the ropes and eventually freed himself by using the ropes to get to the floor!
They ended up on the floor and Thatcher dragged Riddle shoulder-first into the ringpost. Thatcher lifted Riddle off the apron and brought him back into the ring with a vertical suplex for a 2 count. Thatcher got a hammerlock and then began nailing him with some big bombs to the chest. Riddle fired back and hit a springboard knee strike, but he only got a 2 count. Riddle then held Thatcher’s arm and began stomping on his chest a la Danielson. He then rolled through into a triangle. Riddle hit several elbows from the back. Thatcher went towards the ropes and lifted Riddle towards the second rope and choked him! Riddle managed to fend Thatcher off! WOW!
Both men began tagging each other with bombs in the middle of the ring. Riddle went for the legs, but Thatcher grabbed him and hit a gut wrench suplex. He made the cover, but it was only good for 2. Riddle went to the apron, but Thatcher grabbed a choke and dragged him into the ring. Riddle finally hit a Saito suplex and both men were down! The fans chanted for Riddle, who got up first and hit a huge running knee to Thatcher’s ribs. HE set up for the bro clutch, but Thatcher got a knee bar. Thatcher rolled through and Riddle managed to escape. He then walked right into a dragon screw.
Thatcher grabbed a kneebar and Riddle screamed in pain. Riddle kicked his way free and got an ankle submission. He screamed at Thatcher to tap. Both men began tagging each other with strikes. They rolled into the ropes. Both men continued to hold onto their submissions. Both men then went crashing to the floor. WOW!
Thatcher tossed Riddle back into the ring and hit a butterfly suplex for a 2 count. Thatcher then grabbed a Fujiwara arm bar. Thatcher screamed for Riddle to tap. Riddle escaped and hit a big kick to the head. He then hit a fisherman buster. Riddle hit a jumping tombstone, but Thatcher kicked out and grabbed an arm bar. He then transitioned into a cross-arm breaker. Riddle dragged himself to the floor and Thatcher held on! Riddle was hung in the air and he was forced to tap!
Thatcher refused to let go of the cross-arm breaker. The fans booed and Gulak got into the ring. He kicked Thatcher a couple of times and Thatcher let go of Riddle. Gulak came back with a wrench and the EVOLVE Championship. Both men went face-to-face. Thatcher went for a headbutt, but Gulak dropped him with a spinning backfist! HOLY S—! Gulak gave Thatcher the title back. He then said he expects Thatcher to hand it to him after he beats him! Thatcher recovered and glared at Gulak. Thatcher then grabbed the EVOLVE Championship. He dropped the title and left it inside the ring.
WINNER: Timothy Thatcher to retain the EVOLVE Championship
Star rating: (****1/4) – This was an excellent hard-hitting war. I had high expectations for this and they delivered given the stipulations. They had a really good hard-hitting mat based war. The strikes and submissions, especially with the ropes in play, were fantastic.
(6) Zack Sabre, Jr. vs. Cody Rhodes. Sabre got a big pop coming out. Cody Rhodes got a huge ovation. The fans are fired up for this one! Sabre offered a handshake and Rhodes agreed. This is Rhodes’s first ever indie match.
Both men offered clean breaks during the early going. Both Rhodes and Sabre hit some light slaps to the face after offering a clean break. Sabre grabbed a double arm submission, but Rhodes countered it and got the same hold. Sabre freed himself by kicking away Rhodes’s hands and they came to a stalemate. Sabre grabbed a head scissors and Rhodes eventually escaped. Sabre then got an arm submission and Rhodes struggled, but once again managed to shake himself free. Rhodes got Sabre and got a double underhook. He hung him upside down and hung him over his shoulders. He then grabbed Sabre’s legs and the fans applauded.
Sabre escaped and they went to an exchange off the ropes until Rhodes got an arm submission. Sabre struggled, but managed to kick himself free. The fans fired up and chanted for Cody. The other half of the crowd then began chanting for Sabre. Sabre and Rhodes then began chanting back and forth. Rhodes went for a springboard, but Sabre caught him with a kick. Rhodes then went for a kick, but Sabre caught it and sent him crashing into the mat shoulder-first by throwing his leg backwards. Sabre then set Rhodes’s arm up at a bad angle and stomped on it.
Rhodes tried to hang himself and skin the cat, but Sabre kicked his hand away. Sabre then followed him to the floor and set his arm up in the guardrail before nailing it with a kick. Rhodes ducked a running kick from Sabre, who ended up kicking the ring steps. Rhodes then caught Sabre with a dragon screw around the middle rope when he tried to get back into the ring. Rhodes went after Sabre’s leg and began to work it over.
Sabre fired back and went after Rhodes’s arm. He wrapped Rhode’s arm around his leg and twisted it. Rhodes ducked through the ropes and sold his arm. Sabre went after Rhodes’s arm once again. Sabre no-sold some elbows from Rhodes and hit an up kick. Rhodes fired back and slammed Sabre into the mat and both men were down. The fans fired up a short time later and Sabre hit a half and half suplex and a PK for a 2 count.
Rhodes ducked a kick off the turnbuckles. He spun sabre around, but Sabre slipped around him and grabbed an arm submission. Rhodes was still standing while carrying Sabre weight. He finally managed to shove Sabre off. Sabre tried to hit a double stomp on Rhodes’s arm, but he got out of the way. Sabre got a bridging pinning combination. He then hit the cross-Rhodes, but Sabre kicked out at the very last second!
Sabre jumped at Rhodes and grabbed an arm bar. Rhodes lifted Sabre up and powerbombed him to the mat. Rhodes then went after Sabre’s le with a submission. Sabre screamed and tapped out to the trailer hitch variation. The fans chanted you tapped out at Sabre, who went to the floor and sold anguish.
WINNER: Cody Rhodes.
Star rating: (****) – This was excellent. Rhodes held up his end of the match, but it was nicely designed to let Sabre do his thing. I think Rhodes will just get better and better as time goes on. Rhodes did a really good job with the technical aspects of the match. I’m impressed.
After the match, Rhodes called Sabre back into the ring. The fans chanted “2 out of 3.” Rhodes helped Sabre to his feet and they hugged. Both men then shook hands and Sabre left the ring. Rhodes said whatever to Cody Rhodes. Rhodes said that he’s still Dashing. Rhodes said he didn’t take the safe bet. He said he bet on himself and put over the crowd. He said for most of his career he was in a large shadow. He said he loved that shadow. He said when you wake up and there’s no shadow, what do you do? He said he didn’t know what to do until about 20 minutes ago. He said he learned that you kick and punch and then you prove every SOB wrong that said you couldn’t do it.
Rhodes said Drew Galloway had implicated that he was interested in his crusade. Rhodes said he will never be Galloway’s man. He then said goodnight Joppa. Lenny Leonard said Rhodes was going to go alone in EVOLVE. The fans gave Rhodes a big ovation and he fired up around the ring. He then got down and kissed the EVOLVE logo.
Overall Quick Thoughts: (9.0) – Wow! What a show. Matches 4, 5, and 6 just tore down the house. The undercard featured some really good action as well with Alexander-Perkins and Page-Dustin being very good.
Nese-Gulak was excellent and they had one heck of a CWC Spotlight match. Then, Thatcher had an incredible war with Riddle that saw them brawl and exchange strikes all over the building while mixing in some fantastic mat wrestling.
Cody Rhodes did a hell of a job in the main event. He wrestled a really good technical match with Sabre and looked fantastic. Him getting the win with a leg submission was a big surprised, but he looked really good against Sabre. Sabre is so good that he really can make his opponents look great. I’m not sure if that was the case here, but I think having Sabre as his first indie opponent definitely helped Rhodes acclimate to wrestling a style that he’s totally unfamiliar with. This was one of the better EVOLVE shows in 2016. The last three matches just clicked one after another and built towards EVOLVE 67 as well. Go out of your way to see the replay.
Contact Sean at PWTorchSean@Gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @SeanRadican.