12/8 Evolve 18 iPPV review: Johnny Gargano vs. Sami Callihan for the Open The Freedom Gate Title, A.R. Fox vs. Tony Nese, Chuck Taylor vs. Jon Davis, Masada vs. Papadon, Jigsaw vs. Rich Swann
Evolve iPPV review
Voorhees, N.J. at the Flyers Skate Zone
Report by Dot Net Member Zim
Arda Ocal introduced the show and was on play-by-play all show. He was joined by guest color commentator Colt Cabana for the first three matches and Cabana revealed that he had just finished recording a Art of Wrestling podcast and would be doing another once he got backstage. He did not announce with whom, however.
The show kicked off promptly with the four qualifying matches for the "Freestyle 4-way" later in the show. At stake in this mini tournament were quite simply 2 wins for the victor, as they are putting a lot of focus on the wrestlers' records with the upcoming Evolve title tournament.
1. A.R. Fox defeated Tony Nese with Lo Mein Pain. A 12-minute opener with some solid mat work from Nese and exciting high spots from the super-talented AR Fox.
2. Masada defeated Papadon after a Regal-plex and brainbuster. Worst match of the show. It wasn't awful, but compared to the usual pace of these shows, it felt slow-mo. Masada is the current CZW champion and works a rather stiff and ugly style. I continue to not be very impressed with Papadon either.
Post-match, Larry Dallas came out with a contract for a match with (female) Marty Belle, who has had ongoing beef with Dallas throughout EVOLVE/DGUSA. They both signed it but Papadon powerbombed Belle and Dallas made a horribly suggestive cover for the pinfall. This was absolutely unnecessary and dismal, and should be publicly shamed.
I am a backer of Gabe Sapolsky's booking, but I simply cannot see how on earth he thinks there is place in modern wrestling for a woman taking a stiff powerbomb from a man and being pinned via simulated rape. Scott Reed and Caleb Konley did the exact same thing to her at the Tripleshot earlier this year. It is shameful and it should not happen again!
3. Rich Swann defeated Jigsaw with a Trouble in Paradise Kick. Very good match from these two. Jigsaw continued to play up his new heel role, after turning on long-time friend and mentor Mike Quakenbush. I'll be interested to see where he ends up with this new darker, cockier character. Swann was very impressive as usual and showed some good charisma. He is certainly a rising star.
Exit Colt Cabana, enter Freedom Gate Champion Johnny Gargano on commentary for the next match
4. Jon Davis defeated Chuck Taylor (w/The Gentleman's Club) after two lariats. While the upcoming tag match and main event proved to be the best two matches on the show, this was my personal favorite match. Jon Davis plays a silent badass character who stares holes through opponents and Chucky T is a cocky, hilariously pompous, and always entertaining heel who played the underdog babyface tonight, so the dynamic was very entertaining. Chucky, who is the current Evolve wins leader, got in a surprising amount of offense by utilizing Swamp Monster and Drew Goulak on the outside as distractions. Davis got the win, continued his dominant story, and Chucky managed to look strong in defeat.
Post-match Davis cut a promo, but iI don't know what he said, because I was so taken back by his meek voice that by the time I began listening the promo was over. I had never heard him speak before, it was a 20 second promo which simply showed that he plays the *silent* badass character for a reason.
Arda Ocal got into the ring and announced that the Young Bucks and John Morrison are Evolve/DGUSA bound in 2013. The Bucks will be at all of the shows through WrestleCon weekend. Morrison will be at the January show from California. He has announced an open challenge to any Japanese talent. Christina Von Eerie, the American valet for the Japanese stable Mad Blankey, came out and said that JoMo doesn't belong in DGUSA because DGUSA belongs to Mad Blankey. I assume this means his challenge will be answered by a member of Blankey, Akira Tozawa or BxB Hulk, both extremely popular among DGUSA faithful.
5. El Generico and Samuray Del Sol defeated the Super Smash Bros when Del Sol pinned Dos following a top rope victory roll. Stellar match. SSB had a great standout 2012, having fantastic matches in DGUSA/Evolve and winning the PWG tag titles. Generico and Del Sol are one of the most exciting new teams to form this year, having memorable matches with some of DGUSA's top teams. I'm still not sold on Del Sol all around, but he performs some of the most spectacular moves I've ever seen and continues to innovate super impressive spots. Generico is just a delight to watch, I'll be at the Hammerstein Ballroom for Ladder War IV and i don't know that I've ever been more excited to see a match live, besides maybe Punk vs. Cena from Night of Champions.
6. Rich Swann won the 4-way Freestyle match over Masada, AR Fox, and Jon Davis after a Trouble in Paradise kick. A surprisingly short match, essentially five minutes of trading finishers. Not inexplicable however, as all of the men in the match had worked the qualifying matches earlier and would also be wrestling in another match for CZW later in the evening.
Both men in the main event made their entrances. Callihan out first to a great response. Gargano is losing steam with the DGUSA faithful, but still has his supporters. They were followed by Jon Davis however, who jumped on the apron and tried to swing at Gargano before eating a stiff boot from Sami Callihan. Sami grabbed a mic and tapped it repeatedly against his head as the crowd claps along with the beat, a small thing he does before promos, but something that really gets the crowd attentive and invested. He essentially said that Davis' name wasn't on the marquee tonight, that its Sami Callihan's night, so get the hell out.
7. Johnny Gargano defeated Sami Callihan to retain the Freedom Gate Championship. Gargano had Callihan locked in the Garga-No Escape and hit repeated knee strikes to the face until the ref called for the bell. This match was one of the best matches in 2012, and I have no hesitation in saying that. They told a story, focused on body parts that makes sense for their respective finishers, and showed that they are two of the top talents in the world.
Sami has an intangible charisma and style that makes his fans rabid for him and Gargano has been the champ for over a year for a reason, he can go. The fans weren't very happy with the finish, but I think that was mainly because they wanted to see Sami take the title. As the show was going off air, Sami came to and appeared angry with the ref before heading into back to applause from the crowd for a stand-out match.
Notes: Gargano retaining sets up the inevitable match with Jon Davis, as well as a plausible and deserved rematch from tonight for Sami Callihan. It'll be interesting to see if Davis faces Gargano in January or if they hold off until WrestleCon weekend.
I've been to DGUSA shows live and seen how tough the atmosphere can be with some of these smaller crowds. So while its easy to critique, the fans who know the product go all out for it and should be commended for trying, everyone else just seems to be in for a night of local wrestling and aren't invested enough to help the atmosphere or give the matches that extra kick to the next gear.
Overall though, I would recommend for any fan of pro wrestling who feels disappointed or ripped off by the quality of most products today to go out of your way to see this show. Particularly the Generico-Del Sol vs. SSB and the Gargano vs Callihan title match. You will certainly not be disappointed.
I'll be sending in spoilers from Smackdown this Tuesday as well as live reports from ROH Final Battle and WWE TLC in New York next Sunday. Until then...
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