WWNLive SuperShow: Mercury Rising 2016
Dallas, Texas 4/2/16
1.) Best In The World Challenge Series – Match # 5 - Chris Hero vs. Zack Sabre Jr.: ****1/2
Zack Sabre Jr. came out and said that he wanted his match with Chris Hero to take place right now, and that’s exactly what we got. This match had a number of different tags on it, so to speak. Not only was it the fifth and final match in Zack Sabre Jr.’s Best In The World Challenge Series, but it’s also the tiebreaker match in the “USA vs. Europe Series”. I thought this was an awesome match! While I think it did go a little long (and that’s certainly a complaint one could have towards the match, and I really don’t disagree with that particular complaint), this was still a great back & forth match. These guys are two of the best wrestlers in the world, and this match was further proof of that. It mixed in a lot of different elements as well, from hard striking, to grappling, to submissions. Eventually, after a series of elbows, Chris Hero is able to put away Zack Sabre Jr. for the victory. This means that Zack Sabre Jr. ends his Best In The World Challenge Series with a 3-2 record, and that Hero gives the win in the “USA vs. Europe Series” to Team USA. The result also means that Chris Hero remains undefeated against Zack Sabre Jr. in Evolve, as he previously had beaten him in singles match at Evolve 48 and again in the opening round of the Evolve Tag Team Tournament at Evolve 53. I really like that story they’re telling with Zack Sabre Jr., despite being as great as he is, not being able to beat Chris Hero.
After the match, Chris Hero cut a promo mentioning that he has to get to another show in town, and added that he’s not the “Best In The World”; he’s the “Greatest of All Time”.
2.) Drew Gulak (with Catch Point) vs. Fred Yehi: ***1/2
These two had a match back at Evolve 56, which was one by Gulak. After that match, Gulak refused to shake Yehi’s hand, he hadn’t earned it yet. I thought this match was easily an improvement over that first encounter. This was pretty good. It was much shorter compared to the opener, clocking in at just under ten minutes, but they managed to pack in a good amount of action in here. Gulak looked solid, as he always does, and Yehi was impressive once again. In the end, however, Gulak would once again get the win over Yehi with a Dragon Sleeper.
After the match, Drew Gulak took the mic, and once again said that Yehi had great potential. Then, in a surprise, Gulak offered Yehi a spot in Catch Point! After mulling it over for a bit, Yehi accepts his offer, and officially becomes the newest member of Catch Point! I’m a fan of this move for Fred Yehi. It puts him in a prominent stable in Evolve, and gives him some direction, which was nice to see, because he’s really talented. The only complaint I have with this is that, if having Fred Yehi joining Catch Point was the ultimate goal, then I think he should have gotten a win over the course of this weekend, against either Chris Hero on Evolve 59 (which I know sounds crazy, but I think it could’ve worked) or here against Drew Gulak. I think that would’ve worked a little better with this whole situation.
3.) Matt Riddle vs. Tracy Williams: ****
Following that previous segment, Catch Point remained at ringside, as they a battle between two of their own members. I think the story here is that Tracy Williams requested this match, after having lost to Riddle on two previous occasions (at Evolve 52 and at Evolve 55 in the Finals of the 2016 Style Battle Tournament). I thought this was a great match! It wasn’t as amazing as their match from Evolve 55, but it was better than their first match at Evolve 52. It was sort of in the middle. These two have really good chemistry, and there was some very solid back & forth action throughout this match. As a whole, it was a lot of fun to watch from start to finish. In a bit of an upset, Tracy Williams was able to score the submission victory here over Riddle, giving the former UFC fighter his first clean loss in Evolve. The two shook hands after the match, which was very cool to see.
4.) Anything Goes Match – Anthony Nese vs. “All Ego” Ethan Page: ***1/2
So basically this match (and this whole feud) came about when Anthony Nese called Ethan Page “fat”. I noticed that some people didn’t like this match as much, but honestly, I really enjoyed it. Maybe it’s because these kinds of plunder matches can be a guilty pleasure of mine at times, but I found this match to be really entertaining. It was certainly a little better than I was initially expecting, going into it. They brawled in the ring and around ringside, while chairs and a ladder were the main foreign objects used here. Eventually, Ethan Page got the win after a powerbomb of a ladder lying across two chairs, followed by a Package Piledriver. This was a very good win for Ethan Page.
This show was also billed as “Terry Funk Appreciation Night” (of something to that degree), so we got a segment where Terry Funk came out for an interview. It was basically a “lifetime achievement” sort of thing. Sabu and a girl who was dressed up as a genie came out to honor Funk as well. Then, in a big surprise, Mick Foley came out to present his longtime friend Terry Funk with some sort of Lifetime Achievement Award. This was really cool. Apparently he got permission from WWE to miss their Hall of Fame Ceremony so he could be here to pay tribute to his friend. This whole things was interrupted by Earl Cooter and LARRY FUCKING DALLAS (why is this guy still here?!) and, of course, this eventually led to a beat down of Earl Cooter & Larry Dallas by the legends. Terry Funk & Sabu got to beat them up a little bit, and both got a taste of Mr. Socko from Foley. This was a very long segment. It was nice to see Terry Funk getting honored like this, and it was cool that Mick Foley showed up, but having those two geeks made this segment longer than it needed to be.
Our next two matches are showcasing some of the other promotions under the WWNLive banner. First up, we were originally going to see Ivelisse challenging Taylor Made for the SHINE Title here, but she got injured. SoCal Val (who leads a stable in SHINE called “Valifornia”, which Taylor Made & Andrea are part of) then comes out with the aforementioned with SHINE Champion Taylor Made & Andrea, and says that the title match is off, because of the injury to Ivelisse. She’s interrupted by….Luscious Latasha, who is apparently undefeated in SHINE. I’ll be honest here….I had no idea who she was, and I don’t think the crowd knew either, as she came out to crickets. Andrea then quickly took her out, and SoCal Val continued her promo. Nicole Matthews then stepped up to the plate and it looks like we’ve got a title match.
5.) SHINE Title – Taylor Made (with SoCal Val & Andrea) vs. Nicole Matthews: **1/4
Having Nicole Matthews filling in here for Ivelisse was very weird. Although she’s a former SHIMMER Champion, Nicole Matthews really isn’t a regular in SHINE. What was even weirder is that they sort of slotted Matthews into this babyface role after she played a heel earlier in the day on SHIMMER 80. To add on to all of that, the match itself wasn’t exactly that good. Interference from SoCal Val & Andrea led to Taylor Made getting the win to retain her title. Easily the worst match of the show, in my opinion.
6.) FIP World Heavyweight Title – Fatal Four-Way Match – Caleb Konley (with SoCal Val & Andrea) vs. Gary Jay vs. Jason Cade vs. Maxwell Chicago: ***1/2
Up next, we have another representative of “Valifornia” defending a title, as Caleb Konley is defending his FIP World Heavyweight Title in a Four-Corner Survival Match. This was very similar to the Anthony Nese/Ethan Page Anything Goes Match from earlier. I wasn’t sure what to expect going in, but it ended up exceeding my expectations. Additionally, this was another match that didn’t get a ton of good reviews, but honestly, I really enjoyed it. The live crowd liked it a lot, and it was pretty entertaining. All four guys had a chance to shine here. Even Maxwell Chicago, who I haven’t liked too much when I’ve seen him in the past, had some bright spots in here that were legitimately funny. Eventually, Caleb Konley got the win, and retained his FIP World Heavyweight Title.
7.) Evolve World Title – Timothy Thatcher vs. Sami Callihan: **
Thatcher came into this match still selling the arm/elbow that got hurt at Evolve 58 against Matt Riddle. Now while there have been a few matches on this card that ended up exceeding my original expectations going into this show, this match completely failed to deliver. This was easily one of Timothy Thatcher’s worst matches in Evolve, and easily his worst match as Evolve Champion, up to this point. The fact that this match took place on such a big weekend further magnifies what a bad match this was. It was a very boring, dull match that the crowd was completely dead for. The match wasn’t the longest match on the show (it went about sixteen or seventeen minutes), but it felt like it just went on forever. Plus, the fact that the finish came out of nowhere didn’t help much either.
After the match, Catch Point came down to the ring. Drew Gulak put over the importance of the Evolve Title, before saying that Timothy Thatcher was a disgrace as champion. Gulak makes it clear that he wants to be Evolve Champion, which is very interesting since Gulak is undefeated against Timothy Thatcher in Evolve. Thatcher then proclaims that he will defend the title against every single member of Catch Point. In a strange move, Thatcher just drops the title in the ring and leaves. It seemed like, in the moment, the title might have been vacated, but it was later made clear that Thatcher wasn’t actually going to hold the physical title until he ran though all of Catch Point. A very strange segment, all things considered.
8.) “Days Of Future Past” Six-Man Tag – Johnny Gargano, Kota Ibushi, & TJP (with Stokely Hathaway) vs. Marty Scurll, Tommy End, & Will Ospreay: ****1/2
So this match is borrowing a tagline from a recent X-Men movie of the same name. Basically the setup for this match is that one team consists of three guys (Johnny Gargano, Kota Ibushi, & TJ Perkins) who were all on the very first Evolve show in January of 2010, while the other team consists of rising/current stars on the independent scene, all of whom are representing the British/European independents. It’s a really cool concept, to be honest. As a whole, I thought this was an incredible match, and it was an excellent continuation of the tradition that has become a staple of WrestleMania Weekend (that, of course, being these crazy Six-Man Tags). This match was just filled with crazy action from start to finish, both inside of the ring and outside of it. One of highlights of the match saw Kota Ibushi & Will Ospreay climb to the top of one of the western-style set pieces inside Eddie Deen’s Ranch, and hit moonsaults to the floor onto the other four guys. That was actually really cool. In the end, Ibushi would end up pinning Ospreay to win the match for his team. Once again, this was an awesome match!
After the match, Ibushi & Ospreay embraced. Then, Johnny Gargano cut a promo talking about Drew Galloway turning on him at Evolve 59, and what Galloway said about Evolve’s relationship with WWE. Gargano defends the relationship that Evolve has with WWE, and mentions that he’s not sure what’s in store for the future. He’s excited to find out, however. Gargano then mentions how it was awesome that he got to team with two guys in the Main Event who were on the very first Evolve show. The show then comes to a close as Gargano celebrates in the ring.
I think it’s fair to say that this show was a rollercoaster from start to finish. The first half had some really good to great matches, with Chris Hero vs. Zack Sabre Jr. and Matt Riddle vs. Tracy Williams being the clear highlights. The show then got into a bit of lull, as we saw a long segment with Terry Funk, an two very disappointing title matches in the form of the Evolve Title Match and the SHINE Title Match. The FIP World Heavyweight Title Match exceeded my expectations, but it was in the middle of that lull. Thankfully, the show closed out on a high note in the form of that incredible Six-Man Tag Team Main Event. The show was also incredibly long, which definitely works against it. As a whole, however, I still think that the negatives, however bad they were, were outweighed by the positives. Even though those negatives did drag down the show a little bit, I simply can't discount all of the good to great stuff that was on this show. There are matches on here that you should absolutely check out, but most of that middle portion of the show can be skipped.