As I mentioned in my review of Evolve 56, “Speedball” Mike Bailey missed these shows due to travel issues. Tommaso Ciampa will be taking his place against TJ Perkins on this particular show.
Brooklyn, New York 3/20/16
1.) “All Ego” Ethan Page vs. Fred Yehi: **3/4
Yehi is still searching for that elusive first victory in Evolve, while Page is still trying to prove to everyone in Evolve (Johnny Gargano in particular) that he has changed. I thought this was a fine match, but it was relatively short (lasting around five minutes or so). There were some good exchanges, but it was expecting this to be a little better than it ended up being. Page would end up scoring the victory here with the Package Piledriver.
After the match, Anthony Nese came out and attacked Ethan Page with a chair. He cut an angry promo where he complained about “fat guys” like Ethan Page in pro-wrestling. Caleb Konley then came out and said that he was going to win the Evolve Title tonight, and that The Premiere Athlete Brand would be the next Evolve Tag Team Champions.
2.) TJ Perkins vs. “Sicilian Psychopath” Tommaso Ciampa: ***1/2
As I mentioned at the start of this review, Ciampa is taking the place of “Speedball” Mike Bailey in this match. I feel like TJ Perkins & Tommaso Ciampa have wrestled each other in ROH before, but I honestly can’t remember. As far as this match is concerned, I thought it was pretty good. It’s really awesome to see Ciampa making appearances in Evolve. I think he fits in pretty well. There was some nice back & forth action between these two throughout the match, including a few great near falls towards the end. Eventually, TJ Perkins locked in the knee bar on Ciampa, and got him to tap out to score the submission victory. A very good weekend for TJ Perkins, as a whole. Two really good matches, and more importantly, two victories.
3.) Chris Hero vs. Matt Riddle: ****1/4
I think it’s fair to say that Chris Hero was going to be one of Matt Riddle’s toughest opponents to date. Going into this match, I was really intrigued to see how well Riddle meshed with Hero, but by the time it ended, I had my answer. These two had an awesome match! Both guys worked very hard, and it resulted in a match that was an easy contender for MOTN. I thought it was pretty cool that Hero actually targeted Riddle’s feet (since Riddle wrestles barefoot). There was some great stuff between these two, and in the end, Riddle shocked the world when he got Chris Hero to tap out!! This was easily the biggest win of Matt Riddle’s career, up to this point. A great match between these two that’s definitely worth checking out.
Up next, we were originally scheduled to get Johnny Gargano & Drew Galloway defending the Evolve Tag Team Titles against Team Tremendous, but Gargano came out and announced that Galloway hadn’t arrived to the building yet (Galloway had worked a TNA TV Taping the night before in Orlando). This was basically the reverse of what happened at Evolve 53, when Galloway was waiting for Gargano to make it to the show after doing a NXT TV Taping. He said that Galloway was airborne, as asked for the Evolve Tag Team Title match to be delayed. Caleb Konley then came out and attacked Gargano! He demanded that his match for the Evolve Title take place right now! Thatcher comes out, but gets attacked from behind by Sami Callihan before the match could begin, leaving the Evolve Champion as easy pickings for Konley.
4.) Evolve Title – Timothy Thatcher vs. Caleb Konley: **1/4
So they’ve actually been building up to this title match for awhile, as Konley had been highly ranked in the Top 5 Standings for quite some time, but had yet to receive a title shot until now. Honestly, this match wasn’t that good. I wouldn’t call it “horrible”, but as an Evolve Title match, I thought it was incredibly disappointing and pretty boring. I think a number of factors led to this match turning out the way it did. Firstly, the match was WAAAY too long. It went just over 25 Minutes, but it felt like it went on forever. I’m sure part of that was due to the fact that they had to stall for time so Galloway could get there in time for the Main Event, but still, these two in particular didn’t need to go this long. Then, these two guys just didn’t mesh well together, and that also took away from the match. Throw in some ref bumps, interference from Andrea, and a crowd that just didn’t care at all, and you have a match that just didn’t work. Thatcher eventually scored the win to retain the Evolve Title in a really boring and disappointing match.
After the match, Matt Riddle came out. He congratulated Thatcher (or “Trashy Tim”, as Riddle likes to call him) on not cheating to win, and says that he wants a rematch for the Evolve Title in Dallas, Texas at the WWNLive Experience. Thatcher agreed to the rematch, but then was blindsided by a jumping knee strike from Riddle.
5.) Sami Callihan vs. Tracy Williams: ***1/4
This match came about after an altercation between Callihan and Catch Point at Evolve 55, followed by a confrontation between Callihan and Tracy Williams the night before at Evolve 56. Their was some good stuff in the match, and two definitely brought some intensity, but I think this was another match that suffered because it just went too long. Thankfully, the length of time the match went didn’t hurt it nearly as much as it did in the Evolve Title match, because these two were able to keep things interesting. In the end, Callihan was able to pick up the win over Williams.
6.) Best In The World Challenge Series – Match #2 – Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Drew Gulak: ****1/4
This is the second match in Zack Sabre Jr.’s Best In The World Challenge Series. What I really like about this whole thing is that Zack Sabre Jr. is wrestling five totally different opponents, which I think adds a lot of intrigue to each match, as he has to overcome a different set of challenges with each opponent. Here, he’s facing another grappler in the form of Drew Gulak. I thought this match was great! For me, it’s right up there with Hero vs. Riddle in the MOTN discussion. This was another match that went really long, but I don’t think the length affected this match nearly as much as the other two. Maybe that’s because I was sort of expecting this match to go long, considering the guys involved. Anyway, there was obviously a lot of really solid wrestling here, with lots of holds and counters exchanged throughout. Even though it was long, they managed to keep me engaged from start to finish. Eventually, Zack Sabre Jr. would get the submission victory over Gulak to go to 2-0 in his Best In The World Challenge Series!
After the match, Chris Hero came out. He cut a promo saying that he’s beaten some of the best wrestlers in the world (name-dropping Bryan Danielson & CM Punk), and that he wants to be known as the Greatest Of All Time. Hero, who is the 5th and final opponent in the Best In The World Challenge Series, reminds Zack Sabre Jr. that he’s knocked him out, and beaten him, on two occasions (Evolve 48 & Evolve 53). Drew Gulak takes the mic, and then reminds Hero (who he called a “350 pound kung fu turkey) that he needs to worry about Catch Point.
7.) Evolve Tag Team Titles – Drew Galloway & Johnny Gargano vs. Team Tremendous: ***3/4
I know this might not have been the intended Main Event, due to Galloway trying to make it from the TNA TV Tapings in Orlando, Florida, but I think it was the right Main Event anyway, considering that these shows (in the NYC area) give Team Tremendous a home field advantage. Unlike what happened at Evolve 53, the absent party (Galloway, in this case) was able to make it to the venue before the match started. Galloway cut a funny promo about having to change into his gear in a taxi, and mentions that he & Gargano are even now. He then waists no time and jumps Team Tremendous to get things going. I thought this match was actually pretty good. Both teams looked very solid, and in general, it was just an entertaining Main Event. It was really nice to see Team Tremendous get such a big opportunity in a Main Event spot, while Gargano & Galloway have improved as a team with each outing. After a hard fought contest, Gargano & Galloway ended up retaining their Evolve Tag Team Titles to close the show.
While this wasn’t quite as good as Evolve 56, I still thought Evolve 57 was a pretty solid show, as a whole. It actually had a lot in common with Evolve 56, as it had two awesome matches (in this case, Chris Hero vs. Matt Riddle & Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Drew Gulak), and a really disappointing Evolve Title defense from Timothy Thatcher. The show dragged a lot in the middle, with Thatcher vs. Caleb Konley for the Evolve Title and Sami Callihan vs. Tracy Williams both going much longer than they needed to. I don’t totally put the blame on them, though, as they had to stretch things out so Drew Galloway could actually make it to the show. Speaking of which, Galloway & Johnny Gargano vs. Team Tremendous ended up being a really solid Main Event, and there was also a very good undercard match in the form of TJ Perkins vs. Tommaso Ciampa. Again, while Evolve 56 was the better of the two shows on this weekend, Evolve 57 was still a very solid show with a number of matches that are worth checking out.