Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Beyond Wrestling: Americanrana 2014 Review

Michael Elgin battles Chris Dickinson while The Juicy Product clash with The Young Bucks!

Beyond Wrestling: Americanrana 2014
Providence, Rhode Island 7/27/14

1.) Tag Team Battle Royal: **1/2

We start off the show with a Tag Team Battle Royal, and there are a lot of teams in this match. If one member of a team is eliminated, then the whole team is eliminated. There are so many teams in here that I'm not going to ever try to list them. This was a pretty fun battle royal, with some pretty entertaining spots. In the end, Da Hoodz would last eliminate Flawless & Lawless to win the Battle Royal.

Afterwords, Da Hoodz are interviewed by the host of the evening, Dick Justice, and they demanded that Tournament For Tomorrow 3 should be a tag team tournament. Drew Cordeiro agrees, and the tournament is set!

2.) Sex & Candy (Sugar Dunkerton & Pinkie Sanchez) vs. Fear & Loathing In New England (Aaron Epic & Dave Cole): **3/4

This is a match that had been building for a long time, after Dunkerton & Epic broke up their tag team the previous year. A pretty solid match here. Everyone got the chance to hit there stuff, and everyone looked good. Eventually, Fear & Loathing would get the win after Cole low blowed Dunkerton, and Epic rolled him up.

Following the match, while being interviewed with Dick Justice, Dunkerton & Sanchez challenge Cole & Epic (respectively) to singles matches at the next show.

3.) Throw In The Towel Match - Loser Must Retire - Nicholas Kaye (with Myke Quest) vs. Anthony Stone (with Natalia Stone): ***1/4

After almost a year of feuding, these two are finally going to settle it. The only way one person can win is if their opponent's corner person throws in the towel for their wrestler. I believe Natalia Stone is Anthony Stone's sister, and is apparently also a pro-wrestler. This was a pretty good match to end the feud between Stone & Kaye. There was a lot brawling, a lot of weapons, and a lot of blood split. It was pretty violent. Both Myke Quest & Natalia Stone got involved and they both took their fair share of spots. After a brutal match, Stone would eventually get the win after Myke Quest threw in the towel when Stone came after Nicholas Kaye with a chainsaw when Kaye was tied to the turnbuckle. That finish looked a bit ridiculous with the chainsaw, but the rest of the match was still good.

After recovering from his beating, Kaye flips off the crowds and leaves.

4.) Biff Busick vs. "Die Hard" Eddie Edwards: ****1/4

Now I should note that this match was not included on the DVD of the show (presumably due to Edwards' contract with TNA). It was part of the RAWlternative put together by Beyond Wrestling, and was included as the "Main Event" of that streaming event. Apparently Busick was supposed to face Michael Bennett but Bennett had to pull out for an unknown reason. There was an open challenge on the table, and Eddie Edwards answered it. These two once again put together another fantastic match. Lots of back & forth action between these two. Edwards would eventually pick up the win after a series of quick pinfall exchanges. They shake hands after the match.

The DVD picks up following this match, as Dick Justice is interviewing Biff Busick. All of a sudden, Michael Bennett (Busick's original opponent) comes out of nowhere and spears Busick twice, and finishes him off with a piledriver. He then cuts a promo saying that the people in Providence were stupid if they though he wasn't going to show up. Bennett tells Busick that it's nothing personal, but it's just business. He says that all of these fans are below him, and says that no matter what the fans say about him, he is God.

5.) Brian Myers vs. Ryan Rush: ***1/2

Rush picked up a win in an Eight Man Tag the previous month at Uncomfortable, and now he's facing Brian Myers, who made his Beyond Wrestling debut at Uncomfortable following his WWE release. This was a pretty good match. These two seemed to work well together, and it produced a solid match. Myers would pick up the win, but Rush came out of it looking good. 

6.) Best Friends (Chuck Taylor & Trent Baretta) vs. Team Tremendous (Dan Barry & Bill Carr): ***

Team Tremendous has faced various teams over the last few months. Now they're facing off against a team that gained notoriety in PWG over the last year in the form of Best Friends. The action in this one was good, though unfortunately, just as things were starting to pick up, Trent Baretta appeared to injure one of his knees on a dive, and the match ended shortly thereafter with Team Tremendous getting the win. Baretta takes the mic and says that he fucked up his knee pretty bad, but still thanks the fans for coming out, and is helped to the back by Team Tremendous.

7.) First Blood Match - Jimmy Jacobs vs. Eric Corvis: **3/4

These two have had issues in the past, which included Jacobs hitting Corvis with his trademark Railroad Spike. This was a relatively decent First Blood Match. They brawled in the ring and on the floor, utilizing whatever they could get their hands on, including chairs. Towards the end of the match, The Crusade For Change (Darius Carter & TJ Marconi) come out, and distract Corvis. This allows a masked man to come out from behind Corvis & attack him. He uses a spike to bust Corvis open, causing him to lose. The masked man is revealed to be Danny Only. He cuts a promo running down Eric Corvis, saying he's been waiting for two years to get revenge on Eric Corvis. Danny Only then stabs Corvis again. The match itself was going fine until the interference, which I think hurt it to a degree. The fact that Jimmy Jacobs winning the match was treated as an afterthought hurt the match as well.

8.) European Rounds Rules Match - Drew Gulak (with Oleg The Usurper) vs. "Sicilian Psychopath" Tommaso Ciampa (with John Silver): ***1/2

For those of you who are unaware, a European Rounds Rules Match involves Ten Rounds, each lasting three minutes. To win the match, you must score two pinfalls, two submissions, or a knockout. Closed Fists are no allowed, and you cannot advance on a downed opponent. Violations of these rules will result in a public warning. Three public warning would result in a DQ. Both Gulak & Ciampa had Oleg The Usurper & John Silver (respectively) as their corner men. You got all of that?

I didn't know how this match would play out (as I have never seen this match type before), but it turned out to be a really good match. These two worked really well together. I believe both men each received two public warning throughout the match. Gulak scored a pinfall on Ciampa in the 3rd Round, but Ciampa knocked out Gulak in the 7th Round to win the match.

Immediately after the match, Ciampa cuts a promo saying he came to prove that he was a better wrestler than Gulak and that he could beat him in his game, and that he did exactly that. Ciampa low blows Oleg, and flips off Gulak. 

9.) Silver Ant vs. Kimber Lee: ***1/4

Once again, we have Kimber Lee taking on the challenge of inter-gender (or as the ring announcer puts it, in this case, inter-species) competition. This time she's wrestling CHIKARA regular Silver Ant (formerly Green Ant), who is out in his classic Red, White & Blue attire. A pretty solid match between these two. Lots of great wrestling & exchanges. Eventually Kimber Lee is able to score the win over Silver Ant.

10.) The Young Bucks vs. The Juicy Product: ****1/4

This match was set up back at UnBreakable, when The Juicy Product attacked The Young Bucks following the Main Event, and challenged them to this match. As you would expect, this was a pretty awesome match! We all know how great & wonderful The Young Bucks are, but The Juicy Product certainly held their own. Aside from one rare botched spot from The Young Bucks, the match was great. The Young Bucks would pick up the win with More Bang For Your Buck.

Afterwords, The Young Bucks look to show The Juicy Product respect for their efforts, but The Juicy Product flips them off, and are promptly superkicked by The Young Bucks.

11.) "Unbreakable" Michael Elgin vs. Chris Dickinson: ***3/4

The Main Event is a match that had been building for quite some time, as Dickinson has had his issues with the likes of Elgin, coming into Beyond Wrestling from places like ROH when he himself had been in Beyond Wrestling from the beginning. As you would expect, this was a really hard hitting affair. Lots of really good, back & forth action between these two. Towards the end of the match, Jaka interfered (taking out a referee and helping Dickinson) and several tables became involved. Jaka put Elgin through a table with a top rope splash, but Elgin would overcome the odds, putting Dickinson through a table (that Jaka was laying on) with a top rope powerbomb. Elgin is finally able to get Dickinson to tap out to a crossface for the win. The match had to the potential to be really awesome, and most of it was, but the interference by Jaka and the double teaming of Elgin put a damper on it, in my opinion. They honestly could have done without it.

After the match, after making fun of a lady at ringside for calling him out, Elgin calls Beyond Wrestling his home away from home (ROH). He puts over guys like Chris Dickinson for putting Beyond Wrestling on the map. Elgin says Dickinson was the first person to ever kick his shoulder out of place, and that no matter what he thinks, he has Elgin's respect. They shake hands. He then runs through all the guys he faced at Beyond Wrestling, but he hasn't faced Biff Busick. Elgin says he'll face Busick "anytime, anyplace" to close the show.

Overall: 8.0/10

Excluding the Eddie Edwards/Biff Busick match, which wasn't on the DVD, this was a really good show from Beyond Wrestling. All the storylines that they had been building to came together well (for the most part) and put together some great matches. Obviously the highlight of the night was the Juicy Product/Young Bucks match. Elgin vs. Dickinson had a very good Main Event that was hampered slightly from interference. There were also a bunch of really good matches on the undercard (Myers/Rush, Ciampa/Gulak & Kimber Lee/Silver Ant) that helped make the show really enjoyable. Despite minor issues with some of the booking (Elgin/Dickinson, Corvis/Jacobs & Stone/Kaye), this was still a really enjoyable show from Beyond Wrestling.

Beyond Wrestling: Uncomfortable Review

JT Dunn gets his rematch with Chris Hero!

Beyond Wrestling: Uncomfortable
Providence, Rhode Island 6/22/14

1.) Fatal Four-Way Match - Pat Buck vs. VSK vs. Dorian Graves vs. Anthony Bowens: **1/4

Pat Buck (from what I can gather) is a veteran of the independents who owns Pro Wrestling Syndicate. The other three are guys from the Create-A-Pro Wrestling Academy, which is owned & run by Pat Buck & Brian Myers. A decent opening match, but nothing much else. Anthony Bowens would win this one.

2.) Anthony Stone vs. Dave Cole: ***1/4

These are two guys who are mainstays in Beyond Wrestling and the New England Area in general. They put on a pretty solid match here. I've seen enough of Anthony Stone to know that he's pretty good, and I'm just starting to find out more about Dave Cole. Good match on the whole. Anthony Stone scored the win in this one.

After the match, Aaron Epic (who was at ringside with Dave Cole) gets into a shouting match with Sugar Dunkerton & Pinkie Sanchez. While Cole & Epic leave, The Contingent of Nicholas Kaye & Myke Quest sneak up from behind and attack Sex & Candy, leading to our next match! 

3.) Sex & Candy (Sugar Dunkerton & Pinkie Sanchez) vs. The Contingent (Nicholas Kaye & Myke Quest): **3/4

I have to say that the team of Dunkerton & Sanchez is so entertaining. Their name, their antics, it's all so much fun. That being said, this was another pretty solid match. Some decent action throughout, with some brawling on the outside. Eventually, Kaye & Quest would get the win after some interference from Aaron Epic.

Afterwords, Nicholas Kaye takes the mic and runs down Anthony Stone & the tag team division. He calls out Anthony Stone and says the feud between them must end. A challenge was put out for a Throw In The Towel, Loser Must Retire Match for Americanrana 2014 (the former stipulation was proposed by Kaye, while the latter was proposed by Stone).

4.) Eight-Man Tag - Ryan Rush, Francis Kip Stevens & Milk Chocolate (Brandon Watts & Randy Summers) vs. Stockade, Blake Morris, Rex Lawless & Jesse Vane: **1/2

This is a match that features a bunch of guys from NYWC (New York Wrestling Connection), based out of Long Island. It was a relatively solid eight man tag. The action was fine, and everyone got the change to showcase what they had. Ryan Rush would eventually get the win for his team.

5.) XWA Heavyweight Title - David Starr vs. Brian Fury: **1/2

Up next we have more interaction between Beyond Wrestling and some more local independents. In this case, it's XWA (Xtreme Wrestling Alliance). David Starr, the XWA Champion and one-half of The Juicy Product, is defending his title against Brian Fury. Another decent match. It was relatively short, but it was fine for what it was. David Starr gets the win and retains his title.

6.) Team Tremendous (Dan Barry & Bill Carr) vs. "Officer" Colt Cabana & "SuperCop" Dick Justice:  ***

This is an intriguing match, as well have two detectives up against two officers. "Officer" Colt Cabana is one of Cabana's alter egos (which I believe he uses in The Insane Clown Posse's Juggalo Championship Wrestling). His entrance is just hilarious, and he cuts a promo beforehand, saying that he is "all for police brutality". He continues by saying that he will arrest all of these "juggalos" and "anally rape them with pleasure". This whole match was just hilarious. We got pat downs (where "marijuana" & "cocaine" were found on both sides), Team Tremendous interrogating Cabana about CM Punk's whereabouts, both teams threatening each other with finger guns, Dick Justice breaking out some lucha, it was just a lot of fun. Team Tremendous would get the win after Dick Justice threatened them with a "real" gun. Cabana was not happy with Dick Justice, but Justice celebrated with Team Tremendous after the match.

7.) CZW World Title - Fans Bring The Weapons Match - Biff Busick vs. Matt Tremont: **1/2

Next up we have a CZW World Title Match, and it's a Fans Bring The Weapons Match. Yep, we're getting this type of match on here. Now if you're a fan of CZW, you might enjoy this a lot more than I did. There were some entertaining spots in here, but for the most part, I wasn't a fan of this. A bunch of weapons (as you would expect) were involved, and in the end, Busick retains his CZW World Title. Again, if you're into this type of match, then good for you. Me? Not so much...

After intermission, Darius Carter comes out to cut a promo. He calls Eric Corvis down to the ring, and talks about how he's let all of these ROH & CZW "carpetbaggers" come into Beyond Wrestling, but says that Corvis can redeem himself. Carter basically offers Corvis a spot in the Crusade For Change. Corvis rejects by punching Carter in the face, and it looks like we have a match!

8.) Eric Corvis vs. Darius Carter: **3/4

There's a lot of brawling around the ring to start. Carter is forced to compete in his "business casual" attire, which was pretty funny. This was actually pretty solid for it being an "impromptu" match. Eventually, Eric Corvis would get the win.

Afterwords, Corvis takes the mic, and challenges Jimmy Jacobs to a First Blood Match at Americanrana 2014.

9.) Brian Cage vs. Chris Dickinson: ***3/4

This is the Beyond Wrestling debut for Brian Cage, and he's got a really tough opponent in the form of Chris Dickinson. A really good match here. As you would expect, these two kicked the crap out of each other. Cage brought the power, and Dickinson returned the favor. Lots of really hard hitting action in this one. Dickinson would eventually get a big win over Brian Cage.

Following the match, Dickinson takes the mic, and gives credit to Brian Cage for taking him to the limit, and shakes his hand. He then turns his attention to Americanrana 2014, and "Unbreakable" Michael Elgin, saying that Elgin will lose, and that he has no respect for him.

10.) AR Fox vs. Brian Myers: ***1/2

Brian Myers was formerly known as Curt Hawkins in the WWE, and had recently been released. So Beyond Wrestling gave him a change against one of the top stars of the independent scenes. This was another really good match. At one point, Fox hits a big move on the outside, and lands awkwardly on his wrist (and this would end up being the wrist injury that took him out of action for a few months). Despite the injury, AR Fox would pull out the win. Even though he lost, Brian Myers looked pretty good in this one.

11.) Last Man Standing Match - Evolve Champion Chris Hero vs. JT Dunn (with David Starr & Shelly Martinez): ****1/4

This match came about after Chris Hero attacked JT Dunn following their match at CRITICAL! Acclaim, which ended in a double knockout. Now they're fighting in a Last Man Standing Match. This was a long and brutal war that went just over a half hour. Of course there was a lot of usage of elbows and knockout shots. They seemed tell a good story here, with Hero being a bit of a dick to Dunn. At one point, Hero even kicked Shelly Martinez in the face! This enraged Dunn, who fought back, and after a serious of KO elbows, knocks out Hero to win the match! These two work really well together, and they produced another awesome match. The crowd was really into it as well. Hero played his role well, and Dunn got a very big win after a fiery comeback.

After the match, JT Dunn cuts a promo to close the show.

Overall: 7.5/10

Out of all of the Beyond Wrestling Shows I've seen thus far, this one is probably the weakest. The fact that it was the same day as the ROH's Best In The World PPV meant that guys like Elgin, Bennett  & Ciampa couldn't be there, and I'm sure it affected attendance. The top three matches (Cage/Dickinson, Fox/Myers & Hero/Dunn) are really good to great, but as fas as the rest of the card goes, it was pretty average. Aside from a few entertaining things here & there (particularly the Team Tremendous vs. Colt Cabana & Dick Justice match), as well as some set up for Americanrana 2014, there really isn't much to see on the undercard. Now I'm not saying anything on the undercard was bad, because nothing really was, but nothing really stood out either.

Beyond Wrestling: UnBreakable Review

Mount Rushmore invades Beyond Wrestling!

Beyond Wrestling: UnBreakable
Providence, Rhode Island 5/18/14

1.) Fatal Four-Way Match - John Silver vs. Stockade vs. Latin Dragon vs. Buxx Belmar: **3/4

It seems like the opening Fatal Four-Way Match has become a staple on Beyond Wrestling Shows, and this one is no different. A pretty solid little Four-Way Match here. Silver would pick up the win in this entertaining opener.

2.) Kevin Steen vs. Biff Busick: N/A

Kind of strange to see this opening the show, but we understand why as, almost immediately after the match begins, The Young Bucks come out and attack Busick! It's Mount Rushmore in PWG! The three of them beat up Busick until Team Tremendous comes out to run them off. Dan Barry takes the mic and challenges Mount Rushmore

3.) Drew Gulak vs. Kimber Lee: ***3/4

There is an interesting backstory to this match, as Gulak had a hand in training Kimber Lee. This was actually a really good match. You can always expect technically solid matches with Gulak, but Kimber Lee looked very impressive against her teacher. Lots of great back & forth wrestling in this one, and it told a really good story. Kimber Lee would get a roll-up and score the victory over Gulak!

After the match, Drew Gulak takes the mic and talks about how Kimber Lee had moved from Seattle to Philadelphia to pursue her dream of being a dancer, and that her dance instructor said she doesn't have what it takes to be a dancer. Gulak says that she ended up at the CZW Academy and trained to be a pro-wrestler. Gulak tells Kimber Lee that she is not a failure. He says that she got lucky with this win, but that she would be a great example for the business. They shook hands and Kimber Lee's arm was raised in victory. Pretty emotional stuff.

4.) Atomicos Incredibles - Team Epic (Aaron Epic, Sugar Dunkerton, Chris Pyro, Tommy Trainwreck & Angel Ortiz) vs. Team Cole (Dave Cole, Davey Cash, Devin Blaze, Mike Dratzik & Pinkie Sanchez): **3/4

This is a match that Beyond Wrestling is borrowing from CHIKARA (and I'm assuming other Lucha Libre Promotions). It essentially takes a bunch of tag teams and splits them up in one big tag team match, having partners going up against each other. One of the stories here is that Aaron Epic & Sugar Dunkerton, former partners in the tag team know as the Kings of the Armory (K.O.A.), are on the same team. They had been feuding since their breakup last year, so there was obviously tension between those two. As far as the match goes, it was a solid match. Of course, with 10 guys in here, it was bound to break down and get out of control. We also got some pretty interesting spots involving everyone. In the end, Aaron Epic's team got the win after Epic stole the pin from Sugar Dunkerton. This led to the two getting into an argument after the match. 

Shorty after this, The Contingent (Nicholas Kaye & Myke Quest) come out. Kaye says he wants to take back the tag team division, but Anthony Stone quickly comes out with a chair and goes after Kaye & Quest. The two sides eventually need to be pulled apart.

5.) "Sicilian Psychopath" Tommaso Ciampa vs. Jaka: ***1/2

You know things were going to get wild with these two involved. Turns out, a wild brawl is pretty much what we got. This was a pretty entertaining match. These two just beat the crap out of each other and brawled in the ring & on the floor. Lots of solid action throughout this match. Eventually, Ciampa would hit Project Ciampa on Jaka to score the win.

After the match, it looked like Ciampa was going to show Jaka some respect, but instead, he knees Jaka in the face and flips him off.

6.) The Colony (Fire Ant & Green Ant) vs. The Juicy Product (JT Dunn & David Starr with Shelly Martinez): ***3/4

I'm a big fan of The Colony, so it's nice to see them getting shots in Beyond Wrestling. Here, they're facing two Beyond Wrestling mainstays in The Juicy Product. This was a really good tag team match.  There was a lot of really solid tag team wrestling here. Things especially got intense in the latter stages of the match. I love the fact that Fire Ant & Green Ant are getting this type of opportunity, and they showed just how good of a team they are. Dunn & Starr would eventually get the win, but both teams looked really good.

Afterwords, JT Dunn takes the mic and says he has some unfinished business with Chris Hero, and challenges him to a match at the next show.

Before the next match, Crusade For Change (Darius Carter & TJ Marconi) are out to cut a promo. They say that Beyond Wrestling has "betrayed itself" and that they are here to change thinks. Carter & Marconi call for "real" competition, and their challenge is quickly answer by Tabarnak De Team!

7.) Tabarnak De Team (Mathieu St. Jacques & Thomas DuBois) vs. Crusade For Change (Darius Carter & TJ Marconi): **1/2

This was a fine match. Nothing really good or bad to say about it. An average tag team match that sees Crusade For Change scoring a (relatively) big won over Tabarnak De Team.

Michael Bennett tries to cut a promo in the ring before his match with Michael Elgin (whom the show is named after), but Elgin interrupts him. Bennett says that when he beats Elgin, he's actually going to get paid. Elgin says he's here to change perceptions. He says that he wasn't told to cut this promo, feels at home in the ring, and that there isn't anyone who can lace his boots. Elgin concludes by saying that Bennett's going to be looking up at the ceiling after he beats him in this match.

8.) "Unbreakable" Michael Elgin vs. Michael Bennett: ***1/2

It's interesting that we have a singles match between two ROH guys. Bennett does get some "Tanahashi" Chants (in reference to his match with Tanahashi the night before at ROH War of the Worlds.). Bennett has been attacking Beyond Wrestling verbally, but Elgin was coming to their defense, setting up this match. This was actually a pretty good match. We all know how good Michael Elgin is, but Michael Bennett certainly held his own. The match itself went just over 20 Minutes. Now I know some might dread the idea of Michael Bennett being in a singles match that went over 20 Minutes, but again, he & Elgin did a really good job, and put together a really solid match. The crowd was into it as well. Elgin would eventually get the win over Bennett.

After the match, Denver Colorado (the man, not the place) comes out to give Elgin his pay. He talks about that he had taken the place of Eddie Edwards as the next guy who will take Beyond Wrestling to bigger & better things. He gives Elgin an Elgin Bomb Painting (I believe he said it was painted by Dave Cole), but Chris Dickinson comes out. He says that Elgin was nothing in Beyond Wrestling until he meets him. He challenges Elgin to face him at the next show. Elgin says he can't make the next show (due to the fact that ROH's Best In The World PPV was on the same day), but says he has no problem fighting him right now. Dickinson & Elgin need to be separated, and Denver Colorado makes the match for Americanrana 2014. Elgin tells the fans to get their tickets, because he would show that the Dirty Daddy was nothing but a "little bitch".

9.) Mount Rushmore (Kevin Steen & The Young Bucks) vs. Biff Busick & Team Tremendous (Dan Barry & Bill Carr): ****1/2

This is the type of match that you're only going to see in Beyond Wrestling. Kevin Steen came out in his matching attire with The Young Bucks that he's worn in PWG. This was an awesome match!! Just nonstop action from bell to bell. Steen & The Young Bucks are a fantastic trio, and they showed why in this match. Team Tremendous & Biff Busick looked good in here as well, as the two teams brawled in the ring and all over Fete Music Hall. Mount Rushmore would eventually get the win in this awesome trios affair!

After the match, The Young Bucks take the mic. Matt says he & his brother Nick have been hearing about two "marks" who want to be like The Young Bucks, with their Superkicks & Multiple Tag Team Titles. He says that's their thing, and asks The Juicy Product to come down to the ring. JT Dunn & David Starr oblige, and before Matt can say much, they get laid out by Superkicks from Dunn & Starr! The fans go crazy for this. Starr then announces that it'll be The Young Bucks vs. The Juicy Product at Americanrana 2014 to close the show!

Overall: 8.5/10

I'd have to say that this is the best Beyond Wrestling Show that I've seen thus far. Of course you had the awesome Six-Man Tag in the Main Event that was filled with so much great action. You also had a number of really good matches on the undercard, like Elgin/Bennett, Juicy Project/The Colony, Ciampa/Jaka, and an exciting inter-gender match with Drew Gulak vs. Kimber Lee. We also saw a lot of things set up for Americanrana, Beyond Wrestling's biggest event of the year, which added to this show. A really great outing from Beyond Wrestling. Definitely one of their best shows of 2014.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Evolve 35 Review

In one of the best shows of the year, Ricochet defends the Open The Freedom Gate Title against Uhaa Nation in the Main Event!

Evolve 35
Brooklyn, New York 9/14/14

1.) Johnny Gargano vs. Drew Gulak: ***3/4

Once again, Johnny Gargano is in the opening match, trying to work his way back up to challenge for the Evolve Title. He defeated Anthony Nese at Evolve 34 the previous night, and here he's taking on Drew Gulak. This was a really great opener. There was a lot of good action in this one, including a number of near falls & submission attempts. The crowd was into it as well, and that just added to it. Gargano would capture the victory via submission over Gulak.

After the match, the two shook hands, but then Su Yung & Mr. A from The Premiere Athlete Brand come out. Yung says that Gargano's victory was a fluke, and that there will be consequences for him helping Rich Swann. Gargano asks if Su Yung was going to give him herpes. This greatly upsets her, and she sends Mr. A to go after him. Gargano quickly disposes of Mr. A. Nese & Konley come out and belittle Mr. A as Gargano leaves.

2.) Tracy Williams vs. Timothy Thatcher: ***1/4

This is the Evolve Debut for Tracey Williams. While this wasn't as good as the opener, it was still a pretty solid match. Thatcher did all of his usual stuff, but Williams held his own and looked good in here as well. Thatcher would get the win in a pretty solid match.

3.) Non-Title Match - Evolve Champion Drew Galloway vs. Roderick Strong : ****1/4

The ring announcer accidentally announced Galloway as Drew "McIntyre". The fans were all over her on that one. Galloway wanted to put the Evolve Title on the line, but the referee noted that Strong wasn't high enough in the rankings to get a title shot, but he could get a shot if he beats Galloway. Strong then takes the mic. He puts over Galloway and says that he knows he can beat him. He says he would defeat him tonight and then beat him again for the title, proving that he was a failure as Evolve Champion, just like he was a failure in the WWE. He then hits Galloway with the mic and the match is on!

I really wasn't sure what to expect with this match, but it turned out to be much better than I expected it to be. This was an awesome match! It was filled with hard hitting back & forth action, and the crowd was on fire! I don't know what it was, but these two just clicked and it made for an awesome match. Galloway would eventually defeat Strong to win this incredible match.

Afterwords, Strong attacked Galloway and hit him with the Evolve Title.

4.) Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Biff Busick: ****

This is the 2nd outing of the weekend for Zack Sabre Jr., as he's taking on Biff Busick. Once again, another awesome match from Zack Sabre Jr., who wrestled another opponent that really meshed well with him, though Busick has a bit more of a smash mouth style than Thatcher. Lots of great action in this one. We got a lot of technical wrestling & mat work here, and the crowd was into it. Everything seemed to flow well pretty nicely. It went close to 20 Minutes, but it definitely didn't feel like it, and that's a good thing. Busick would get a submission victory over Zack Sabre Jr., which is a pretty impressive feat.

5.) Open The United Gate Tag Team Titles - Three-Way Elimination Match - The Bravado Brothers (with Moose) vs. The Premiere Athlete Brand (Anthony Nese & Caleb Konley with Su Yung & Mr. A) vs. AR Fox & Rich Swann: ****1/2

Originally, this was supposed to be just The Bravado Brothers vs. The Premiere Athlete Brand in a regular 2-on-2 match, but AR Fox decided to cash in his guaranteed title shot, which he won from The Premiere Athlete Brand back in May, and announced Rich Swann as his new tag team partner. This is now a three-way elimination match for the Open The United Gate Tag Team Titles. Now with all the stuff that has been going on with The Premiere Athlete Brand & The Bravado Brothers (in terms of booking), you think this wouldn't be any good, but boy, they proved us all wrong!! This was amazing!!!! From start to finish, this was just nonstop action. The crowd was on fire for this one, and it had many incredible moments, including AR Fox diving off the balcony onto everyone!! That was insane! The Bravados would end up going out first, meaning that we would be guaranteed new champions. In the end, The Premiere Athlete Brand would defeat Fox & Swann to capture the Open The United Gate Titles. This worked on a number of levels. Adding Fox & Swann definitely added interest to a match that I wasn't looking forward to beforehand. Getting the titles off of The Bravados was a plus, and putting the titles on The Premiere Athlete Brand, who have been having good matches, despite their booking, keeps them something to do. The crowd being super into it was a big factor in this being as great as it was. In addition, it really helped a tag team division that really needed something to get it going again.

6.) Open The Freedom Gate Title - Ricochet vs. Uhaa Nation: ****1/4

I heard that these two had a really great match in Japan for Dragon Gate when Ricochet was Open The Dream Gate Champion. This time, he's defending the Open The Freedom Gate Title. Another fantastic match on this show!! Ricochet has had an amazing 2014 (which continued in this match), and Uhaa Nation's star continues to rise. There was a ton of great action in this one. They are just so much fun to watch and they always deliver. Ricochet is eventually able to put away Uhaa Nation with  the 630 to retain his title. Once again, a great main event that definitely delivered.

Overall: 9.5/10

After everything that Dragon Gate USA & Evolve have been through in 2014, with all the ups and downs, the horrible booking, and the "reboot", you wouldn't have thought that they would be able to put this type of show together. They surpassed all expectations with this show. Everything about it was just so awesome in so many ways. The matches were great and the crowd was on fire. From the opening match, to the Main Event, everyone delivered. This show is definitely one that you need to go out of your way to see. Without a doubt, this show is one of the best that Evolve has put out all year.

Evolve 34 Review

Zack Sabre Jr. comes to Evolve and Rich Swann challenges Drew Galloway for the Evolve Title!

Evolve 34
Queens, New York 9/13/14

Before the first match, Johnny Gargano is out to cut a promo. He talks about his recent slide and that he wants to work his way back up to challenge for the Evolve Title. After what Caleb Konley said at Evolve 32, Gargano said he was ready to prove to himself and to the fans that he wasn't "washed up", as Caleb Konley claimed. He's going to start his rise back to the top by taking on another member on The Premiere Athlete Brand in Anthony Nese.

1.) Johnny Gargano vs. Anthony Nese (with The Premiere Athlete Brand): ***1/4

This was a pretty solid opening match. I like the fact that they've (seemingly) turned Gargano babyface again and are having him wrestle in the opening match and work his way back up. The fact that they had him start off with Nese (after what Konley had set at the last set of shows) also works well. These two had a very solid opener, with lots of good action. Gargano would get the win with a roll-up. 

After the match, The Premiere Athlete Brand attacked Gargano, including Mr. A (wasn't he "fired" from the group a few months back?) until Rich Swann made the save! They beat up Swann for a bit until Gargano recovers & runs them off.

2.) Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Timothy Thatcher: ****1/4

After coming off of his performances in the 2014 Battle of Los Angeles for PWG (those reviews will be coming), Zack Sabre Jr. is here in Evolve, and he's taking on Timothy Thatcher. This was a fantastic match! A great technical display between both guys. For those who haven't seen a lot of Zack Sabre Jr., you got a real look at just how great he is. Thatcher was a perfect opponent for him, as their styles meshed extremely well together. Zack Sabre Jr. would pick up the win in this awesome match.

3.) Roderick Strong vs. Uhaa Nation: ***3/4

I think this is a first time ever match, and it was one that I also really enjoyed. While the last match had a battle of technicians, this one was more about power & speed. Lots of really solid action between these two, and would you expect anything less? Uhaa Nation would eventually get the win with the Uhaa Combination. It made sense for Uhaa Nation to get the win here, since he's challenging Ricochet the next night.

4.) Caleb Konley (with The Premiere Athlete Brand) vs. Open The Freedom Gate Champion Ricochet: ***1/2

It's really hard to believe how long Caleb Konley has been in Dragon Gate USA/Evolve. After all that crap with The Scene, and the directionless state of him in 2013 after breaking away from The Scene, he's seeming finally gotten on track in 2014. Here he took on Ricochet, in what was another really good match for Konley (he's had a string of good matches lately). It had some good stuff in it, and both guys looked good. It could have been better, and they could have done a better job building up Konley to a huge win over the current Open The Freedom Gate Champion, but I think the fact that Konley lost to Chris Hero at Evolve 33 hurt the impact of the win a bit, in my opinion. Still, the match was pretty solid.

Up next we have AR Fox coming out to cut a promo. He's making his return after suffering a wrist injury at a Beyond Wrestling's Uncomfortable back in June, and had been on the shelf since. He talks about his return and his goal of winning the Open The Freedom Gate Title. This brings out The Bravado Brothers come out. They took exception to what AR Fox said about being part of the best team to ever hold the Open The United Gate Titles (with CIMA back in 2012-13). They said they were the best tag team in the promotion's history. After some bantering which including AR Fox making fun of The Bravado's Grandmother, they have a surprise for AR Fox in the form of Moose!

5.) AR Fox vs. Moose: **3/4

I'm actually really surprised to see Moose on these shows at all, since he had signed with Ring of Honor a few months prior to this show. Despite that, he's here to wrestle AR Fox. This actually wasn't that bad of a match. It was going along well, and these two seemed to work well together, until The Bravado Brothers interfered and caused a DQ. This led to The Colony coming out to make the save, setting up our next match...

6.) Open The United Gate Titles - The Bravado Brothers vs. The Colony: **1/2

These two teams had a pretty solid title match back at Evolve 30. This was going along fine until the finish came. Basically, The Bravados won after a combination of referee distractions, messing with Silver Ant's mask, and a low blow. It's disappoint because you know these two teams can put on a good match (as they did at Evolve 30) but shenanigans ruined it. The Bravado Brothers' reign as Open The United Gate Champions has been nothing short of disappointing.

7.) Evolve Title - Drew Galloway vs. Rich Swann: ***1/2

The story with the Main Event is that Swann is still feeling the affects of the attack earlier in the night from The Premiere Athlete Brand, and that's he's not 100%. Despite that, the match goes forward. It was actually a pretty solid match. There was a lot happening towards the end, with The Premiere Athlete Brand coming out once again to interfere, Swann not giving up, and Galloway growing frustrated at not being able to put Swann away. Eventually, he is able to do so, and retains the Evolve Title.

After the match, Galloway takes the mic and gives Swann credit for fighting through his injury, saying that he can have a rematch anytime he wants, when he's 100%. He then gives the same rabble-rousing speech he's been giving, but added that he's taking the title all over the world, showing it off on TV in the UK as well as defending the title across the world, to close the show.

Overall: 8.25/10

This was a really good show from Evolve. Zack Sabre Jr. had an amazing match with Timothy Thatcher that is worth going out of your way to see (if you're into that style). Roderick Strong vs. Uhaa Nation also had a very good match. Moose probably had his best singles match to date against AR Fox, despite the match ending in a DQ, and their were a couple of solid matches on the undercard. Other than the rough patch with The Bravado Brothers, it was an enjoyable show. Very little bullshit, which with Evolve, is a good thing.