Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Evolve 54 Review

The Evolve Tag Team Title Tournament & The 2016 Style Battle Tournament continue, while the #1 Contender's Tournament begins!!

Evolve 54
Orlando, Florida 1/23/16

1.) Second Chance Tag Team Title Tournament – Team Tremendous vs. The Premiere Athlete Brand (Anthony Nese & Caleb Konley with SoCal Val & Andrea): ***1/2

The show opened up with the first match in the #1 Contender’s Tournament, which is basically a “Loser’s Bracket”. Both of these teams were eliminated from the actual Evolve Tag Team Title Tournament the night before at Evolve 53, with The Premiere Athlete Brand losing to the returning Bravado Brothers, while Team Tremendous lost a hard-fought match with Roppongi Vice. As far as this match goes, I thought it was a really good opening match. I’ve always enjoyed watching Team Tremendous, and the crowd here in Orlando (one of Evolve’s largest crowds at the time with around 400-500, a record that would soon be shattered a few months later) was really into them. I think Konley & Nese worked very well with them, and I guess the fact that they’d been teasing a PAB breakup made their matches a little more enjoyable because I knew the team was ending soon (that sounds weird, but I don’t know, I just liked them a little more in these final months of the act). In the end, Team Tremendous would get the victory.

After the match, The Premiere Athlete Brand immediately attacked Dan Barry & Bill Carr. Caleb Konley took the mic and basically blew off The Premiere Athlete Brand, saying that he didn’t need this tag team, and demands a match with Timothy Thatcher for the Evolve Title. Nese continues to attack Team Tremendous by himself until Peter Kaasa comes out to make the save.

I should note that Triple H was backstage for this show, and he sent out this tweet....

2.) 2016 Style Battle Tournament – Matt Riddle vs. Fred Yehi: ***1/4

Matt Riddle is 1-0 after his victory at Evolve 53 over Peter Kaasa, while Fred Yehi is 0-1 after falling to Tracy Williams on that very same show. This was a pretty solid match, in my opinion. I was definitely a better outing for Riddle this time out. It wasn’t a very long match (it was around six minutes or so), but it was a lot of fun while it lasted. Both guys were grappling and hitting some nice suplexes on each other. For the time they were given, they did a very good job here. Eventually, Riddle would get the submission victory over Yehi to move to 2-0 in the Style Battle Tournament.

3.) “All Ego” Ethan Page vs. “Sicilian Psychopath” Tommaso Ciampa: ***1/2

I believe this is the Evolve debut for Tommaso Ciampa (who now used “Psycho Killer” by Talking Heads as him theme, which is actually quite awesome!). He spent a number of years in ROH before deciding to explore other options, which eventually led him to NXT, where he formed a tag team with Johnny Gargano. Speaking of “Johnny Wrestling”, Ethan Page is continuing here on his “Trial Series” of sorts to prove to Johnny Gargano that he has changed his ways. Despite the fact that this match went much longer than it needed to go (definitely a criticism of the match), I still thought it was really good. Ironically enough, these two had a pretty enjoyable match on ROH Road To “Best In The World ‘14”: Night 1 in June 2014 (back when Page was briefly known in ROH as Ethan Gabriel Owens), and they definitely better than effort with this match. There was some very good action throughout, but again, the match was just a little too long. However, I think the fact that this match continued the Ethan Page storyline pretty well (with Ethan Page fighting valiantly, but losing) balances out that aforementioned negative. Tommaso Ciampa would get the win here in his Evolve debut.

4.) Second Chance Tag Team Tournament – Catch Point (Drew Gulak & TJ Perkins with Matt Riddle & Tracy Williamps) vs. Sami Callihan & Zack Sabre Jr.: ***3/4

Catch Point are coming off a loss to Drew Galloway & Johnny Gargano the night before at Evolve 53, while the makeshift team of Sami Callihan & Zack Sabre Jr. fell to Heroes Eventually Die in a legitimate MOTYC. I forgot to mention this in my review of Evolve 53, but Callihan wrestled in his orange hoodie for most of the match (for some reason), and is doing so again in this match (for reasons unknown). Hoodie complaints aside, this was still a very good match. There was some good action throughout, and I think these two teams worked well together (Zack Sabre Jr. in particular worked very well with both Drew Gulak & TJ Perkins). They also told a good story with Callihan & Sabre Jr. having a ton of miscommunications, and that eventually cost them the match, as Catch Point picked up the win.

After the match, Sami Callihan & Zack Sabre Jr. got into an argument. Callihan spit at Sabre Jr. and challenged him to a match the next day at Evolve 55. Sabre Jr. then slapped Callihan before accepting his challenge.

During intermission, NXT General Manager William Regal (who was there signing autographs with American Alpha), made an in-ring appearance (that didn't air on the iPPV) with Evolve Champion Timothy Thatcher. Matt Riddle interrupted them, and challenged Thatcher to an Evolve Title Match. 

5.) 2016 Style Battle Tournament – Tracy Williams (with Drew Gulak) vs. Peter Kaasa: **1/4

Williams enters this match 1-0 after beating Fred Yehi at Evolve 53, while Kassa is 0-1 after losing to Matt Riddle on the same show. This…wasn’t that good, but it wasn’t a bad match either. It was….painfully average. If there was anything resembling a highlight, it was Kaasa hitting his head on the guardrail (or at least it looked like he did) on some kind of corkscrew dive to the floor on Williams. These two just didn’t mesh very well together at all. Also, this match went way too long, which didn’t help matters. Williams would, in the end, get the submission victory over Kaasa. A very forgettable match, in my opinion.

With that result, both Peter Kaasa & Fred Yehi have been eliminated, meaning that Matt Riddle vs. Tracy Williams at Evolve 55 (a battle of Catch Point members), will determine the winner of the 2016 Style Battle Tournament. After his victory, Williams cut a promo saying that he will end Matt Riddle’s undefeated streak and win the Style Battle Tournament.

6.) Evolve Tag Team Title Tournament – Semi-Finals – Drew Galloway & Johnny Gargano vs. The Bravado Brothers: ***1/2

This is the first of two Semi-Final Matches in the Evolve Tag Team Title Tournament. Thankfully, there were no travel issues of any kind with Galloway or Gargano, and we got this match as scheduled. I thought this was pretty good. While I would say that this was yet another match that could have benefited with a few minutes being shaved off, this was still very solid. The Bravado Brothers looked pretty good here, and in general, they just feel like a breath of fresh air compared to year prior, when I think most people were over them in Evolve. Galloway & Gargano also worked well together has a team here, pulling some unique double team moves, including a reverse Alabama Slam by Galloway into the GargaNO Escape, which ended up winning the match for Galloway & Gargano. They advance to the Finals of the Evolve Tag Team Title Tournament.

7.) Evolve Tag Team Title Tournament – Semi-Finals – Heroes Eventually Die (Chris Hero & Tommy End) vs. Roppongi Vice: ****1/4

This was something else that I forget to mention in my review of Evolve 53, but Heroes Eventually Die is an AWESOME tag team name!! One thing that I really like about this match is that it’s between two great teams who really don’t interact with each other at all, since Rocky Romero & Trent Baretta are mainly New Japan/ROH guys at the moment, while Chris Hero & Tommy End were mainly freelancers. I thought this was an awesome Main Event! Obviously it couldn’t possibly match the amazing tag team match from the night before, but still, this was a great match. Roppongi Vice are such an entertaining tag team, and in just two matches, Heroes Eventually Die have become one of the best tag teams in the entire world. There was great back & forth action throughout this match. Easily the best match on the show, in my opinion. In the end, Heroes Eventually Die would pick up the victory.

This means that the Finals of the Evolve Tag Team Tournament will be Heroes Eventually Die vs. Drew Galloway & Johnny Gargano. It also means that the Finals of the #1 Contender’s/“Last Chance” Tournament was set as well. It would be Roppongi Vice vs. The Bravado Brothers vs. Catch Point vs. Team Tremendous in a Four-Way Elimination Match to determine the #1 Contenders to the Evolve Tag Team Titles.

After the match, Chris Hero cuts a promo saying that tomorrow, he & Tommy End are going to knock some people out and win some title belts.

Overall: 8.0/10

While I think this show wasn’t quite as good as Evolve 53 from the night before, this was still a really solid show. Aside from Peter Kaasa vs. Tracy Williams (which was definitely the worst match on the show), I’d say this show was slightly more consistent. Heroes Eventually Die vs. Roppongi Vice was easily the best match of the show (it was also the only match on the show to go over ****, in my opinion). Everything else on the show was in the ***1/4-***3/4 range, with Catch Point vs. Sami Callihan & Zack Sabre Jr. being the best of the rest. As a whole, this was a very solid Part II for the Evolve Tag Team Title Tournament.

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