Monday, October 31, 2016

WWNLive SuperShow: Mercury Rising 2016 Review

Johnny Gargano, TJP, & Kota Ibushi team up to take on Tommy End, Marty Scurll, & Will Ospreay in a HUGE Six-Man Tag Team Main Event!!

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.

Overall: 8.25/10

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.

SHIMMER 80 Review

SHIMMER holds a one-day tournament to crown the first-ever Heart of SHIMMER Champion!!

Last year in San Jose during WrestleMania Weekend, SHIMMER held the ChickFight Tournament, with the winner getting a future shot at the SHIMMER Title. This year in Dallas, they decided to hold another tournament, but this time, it would be for a newly created title called the Heart of SHIMMER Title, which is essentially a mid-card title for the SHIMMER roster. I thought this was a good idea on multiple fronts. As I mentioned in my review of SHIMMER 71: The ChickFight Tournament, I think having a single-show tournament is a very smart move for a big weekend like this. For people who don’t follow SHIMMER regularly (both fans in attendance and those who order the iPPV), it’s easy show to digest because you really don’t need to know anything about what’s going on in the promotion from a storyline perspective. You can just jump right in a get into the tournament. I’m also like the idea that they’re creating a secondary title. I don’t follow SHIMMER regularly, but I do notice that whenever they have one of their DVD Tapings, they use a TON of talent. I think adding a secondary title like this gives more of those talents in the mid-card, who aren’t necessarily in contention for the SHIMMER Title or the SHIMMER Tag Team Titles, something to do.

Dallas, Texas 4/2/16

1.) Heart of SHIMMER Title Tournament – First Round – Cheerleader Melissa vs. Leva Bates: **1/4

The first match of the opening round saw Cheerleader Melissa, a SHIMMER original, taking on Leva Bates, who came out dressed like Sora from Kingdom Hearts (I think she even had a Keyblade!). For the most part, I thought the match was fine. It wasn’t spectacular by any means, but as an opener, it was perfectly solid. The match felt a little slow at certain points, but that’s my only real complaint. Cheerleader Melissa gets the win here to advance to the next round.

2.) Heart of SHIMMER Title Tournament – First Round – Candice LeRae vs. SHIMMER Tag Team Champion Cherry Bomb: ***

Candice LeRae appeared in the ChickFight Tournament last year at SHIMMER 71, but was shockingly eliminated in the first round by Nicole Savoy. This year, she was successfully able to avoid a repeat, as she defeated Cherry Bomb, one-half of the SHIMMER Tag Team Champions, to advance to the next round. I thought this was a much better match, compared to the opener. It had a quicker pace, and as a whole, was a little more entertaining. Candice LeRae is just so good, but I think credit has to go to Cherry Bomb here as well. Her heel persona is great (including her high-pitched screaming), and I think she played a good opposite to LeRae’s babyface role. The finish was actually pretty interesting, as Cherry Bomb went for a cover after hitting a Death Valley Driver, but LeRae reversed it into a cradle pin for the victory.

3.) Heart of SHIMMER Title Tournament – First Round – LuFisto vs. Nicole Savoy: ***3/4

LuFisto is easily one of the biggest names in the tournament, while Savoy has seemingly been on the rise since having an impressive outing in the ChickFight Tournament at SHIMMER 71. This match was totally different than the two matches that preceded it. These two went at each other right from the opening bell, and from start to finish, this was a pretty aggressive match. It was a really good match that had a ton of action. It was easily the best match of the first round, without question. Savoy would end up getting the victory after getting LuFisto to tap out. She moves on to the next round.

4.) Heart of SHIMMER Title Tournament – First Round – Jessicka Havok vs. SHIMMER Tag Team Champion Kimber Lee: **

Jessicka Havok was arguably the low point of the ChickFight Tournament at SHIMMER 71, having some less-than-stellar matches, while also being involved in a botched-interference attempt. Here’s she taking on Kimber Lee, who is the other half of the SHIMMER Tag Team Champions alongside Cherry Bomb. Kimber Lee has been making some headlines over the last year, particular in December 2015, when she won the CHIKARA Grand Championship. This wasn’t one of her best outings, however. I’d say this was the worst match of the first round, and probably the worst match of the tournament. That’s not to say it was necessarily a “stinker”. The match was ok, but pretty forgettable. There was also a bit of weird dynamic to this one as, with regards to size, you had a monster babyface in Havoc taking on a smaller heel in Kimber Lee. In the end, interference from Cherry Bomb would lead to Kimber Lee getting the win to advance the next round.

5.) Heart of SHIMMER Title Tournament – First Round – Heidi Lovelace vs. Veda Scott: ***1/4

I believe Heidi Lovelace missed the ChickFight Tournament at SHIMMER 71 because she was still on her several month long tour of Japan. Here, she defeated Veda Scott (a regular for ROH in their women’s division) to advance to the next round in a relatively good match. Heidi Lovelace is so great that it’s hard to imagine her being involved in anything less than a good match. As far as Veda Scott goes, I know she tends to get a lot slack for not being very good, but she more than held her own here against Lovelace. I think this one of the best Veda Scott matches I’ve seen in recent memory (certainly better than most of her ROH work). She definitely over-delivered here. It wasn’t the best of the match of the first round, but it was certainly one of the better ones.

6.) Heart of SHIMMER Title Tournament – First Round – Nicole Matthews vs. “Crazy” Mary Dobson: **1/2

A lot has changed for Nicole Matthews in the last year. For starters, she wasn’t even in the ChickFight Tournament at SHIMMER 71, as she was in a non-tournament match defending her SHIMMER Title against Tomoka Nakagawa. Since then, not only has she lost the SHIMMER Title (to Madison Eagles at the SHIMMER Tapings in October 2015), but she also lost her longtime Canadian Ninjas tag team partner Portia Perez, who had to retire due to a number of different injuries. Here, she defeated “Crazy” Mary Dobson in the final match of the first round. This was a relatively decent match. It wasn’t the worst match of the first round, but it was nowhere near some of the best matches in the first round.

7.) Heart of SHIMMER Title Tournament – Semi-Finals – Cheerleader Melissa vs. Candice LeRae: ***3/4

The opening match of the second round, or essentially the Semi-Finals, saw Candice LaRae picking up a bit of an upset over the SHIMMER stalwart Cheerleader Melissa to advance to the Finals. I really liked this match. There was some really solid action between these two. It was right on par with Nicole Savoy/LuFisto from earlier in the night, but it had to pick, I would say that this match was a tad bit below that first round encounter. Both are really good performers, so nobody should be surprised that this was really good. LeRae getting the win here was certainly a nice surprise.

8.) Heart of SHIMMER Title Tournament – Semi-Finals – Nicole Savoy vs. SHIMMER Tag Team Champion Kimber Lee: ***1/4

Cherry Bomb came down to the ring with Kimber Lee, but thankfully, the referee quickly sent her to the back. As for the match, it was pretty good. It wasn’t nearly as good as the match that preceded it, but it was still very enjoyable. Both women are incredibly talented workers, and we certainly got to see why in this match, which had some nice back & forth action throughout. In the end, Nicole Savoy would get the win, once again via submission, to advance the Finals.

9.) Heart of SHIMMER Title Tournament – Semi-Finals – Heidi Lovelace vs. Nicole Matthews: ****

The winner of this match would join Candice LeRae & Nicole Savoy in the Finals. I thought this match was great! It was first match on the card, for me at least, to crack the **** mark. While the match was a little slow to get going, it definitely picked up. Not only was the action really good for most of the match, but they also had a great face vs. heel dynamic, with Matthews being the heel, while Lovelace was awesome as the babyface who kept fighting and just wouldn’t quit. Eventually, Lovelace was able to put away Matthews to secure the victory, advancing to the Finals. Awesome stuff from these two.

While there were no non-tournament matches on this show, we thankfully (for Heidi Lovelace’s sake) got a break before the finals, in the form of an in-ring segment with Lenny Leonard & Shayna Baszler. For those who don’t know, Baszler is, or was (I guess she’s not doing MMA anymore?) an MMA fighter who’s best known for being part of Ronda Rousey’s Four Horsewomen. She’s also a big wrestling fan, as she’s been spotted in the front row at several PWG shows, and also made an appearance on a ROH PPV in the corner of reDRagon. She talked about some of her background and training, before announced that she would be making her SHIMMER debut in June.

10.) Heart of SHIMMER Title Tournament – Finals – Triple-Threat Elimination Match – Candice LeRae vs. Nicole Savoy vs. Heidi Lovelace: ****

Much like the ChickFight Tournament at SHIMMER 71 the year prior, the Finals was a Triple Threat Elimination Match. Candice LeRae was eliminated by first by Nicole Savoy, about five or so minutes into the match (also, in a nice bit of continuity, when Savoy make LeRae tap out, she went after the leg that had been targeted by Cheerleader Melissa earlier in the night). This meant the match came down to Nicole Savoy & Heidi Lovelace. They had a great back & forth match, and in the end, Savoy got Lovelace to tap out, becoming the first-ever Heart of SHIMMER Champion in the process. I thought this was a great match. Personally, I’d say it’s a tossup between this one and Heidi Lovelace vs. Nicole Matthews for the best match on the show. I was a little disappointed that Candice LeRae got eliminated so quickly from the match, but obviously she had been weakened from her matches earlier in the night, so that’s understandable. The last portion of that match between Lovelace & Savoy was particularly awesome. I really liked how they were able to kick out and/or escape from finishers that had put other opponents away earlier in the night. They did a really nice job building up those finishers. It’s really cool to see Nicole Savoy get this title on a big weekend like this. She seemingly came from relative obscurity to one of the best women’s prospects on the independent scene.

Overall: 8.25/10

Compared to SHIMMER 71 from the year prior, this year’s WrestleMania Weekend showing from SHIMMER was significantly better. I haven’t watched a lot of SHIMMER, but from start to finish, this was a really enjoyable show. The matches, for the most part, ranged from average to good to great, and most of the matches were in that good to great range. Nicole Savoy/LuFisto, Cheerleader Melissa/Candice LeRae, Heidi Lovelace/Nicole Matthews, and the Triple Threat Elimination Finals are all worth checking out. The booking of this tournament was also really good as well. Pretty much everyone who should have won their matches, did so, and I think the three women who made the Finals were the perfect picks to go with. Like I said earlier, Nicole Savoy came out of this looking like a new star for SHIMMER, and was a great pick to be the first-ever Heart of SHIMMER Champion. As a whole, this was an incredibly easy show to watch, and I would definitely recommend checking it out.

Evolve 59 Review

Ricochet & Will Ospreay collide in a Dream Match!!

Evolve 59
Dallas, Texas 4/2/16

The show opened up with Lenny Leonard in the ring, who announced that this was the highest attended show in Evolve’s history, beating the record that had been set the night prior at Evolve 58. It’s really awesome to see Evolve draw these huge crowds for consecutive shows. Leonard also announces that the Evolve Tag Team Titles will once again be on the line in the opening match, since Johnny Gargano was booked for the NXT TV Tapings later that day at WWE WrestleMania Axxess.

1.) Evolve Tag Team Titles – Drew Galloway & Johnny Gargano vs. Catch Point (Drew Gulak & Tracy Williams): ****

Galloway & Gargano successfully retained their Evolve Tag Team Titles the night before against The Premiere Athlete Brand, while Drew Gulak & Tracy Williams are coming off a huge victory over Chris Hero & Tommy End. This match had a lot of similarities with the opening match from Evolve 58, bot good and bad. The bad similarity was that both matches suffered from streaming issues during the live iPPV broadcast. On the good side, however, when you watch this match back, you’ll see that, much like the opener from Evolve 58, this was a really good match. In fact, I would venture to say that this was great. I’ve said this before, but Gargano & Galloway really got better & better as a team with each outing. Catch Point looked very good here as well. Solid back & forth action between both teams. Towards the end of the match, Gargano went for a dive to the outside onto one of the members of Catch Point, but he ended up accidently hitting Galloway. This would lead to Catch Point getting the advantage, and Tracy Williams eventually got Gargano to tap out, giving Catch Point the Evolve Tag Team Titles!! I’d say this was a bit of an upset, but as we would see after the match, the result made sense, as it would be the start of a storyline that’s still going on as a I type this review.

After the match, Galloway congratulated Catch Point on their victory, but told them to leave (which they did), as he had something to say. He talked about his history in Evolve, which included positive things, like winning the Evolve Title and putting Evolve on the map, but also negative events that had occurred the year prior, such as losing the Evolve Title to Timothy Thatcher at Evolve 45, and being suspended following his actions at Evolve 46. He then brought up how WWE & NXT got involved with Evolve during his suspension, and said that he didn’t want them to destroy all of his hard work. Then, out of nowhere, he kicked Johnny Gargano low, and said that, essentially, everyone in Evolve working with WWE & NXT was like a kick in the nuts to him. Galloway locked Gargano in his own submission hold, the GargaNo Escape, until Ethan Page ran out, in an attempt to help Gargano. However, his attempt was futile, as Galloway hit him with a low blow and a Future Shock DDT. Galloway then said that he was independent wrestling, and added that not only was he “best for business”, but that he was this business, before leaving.

This was one of the biggest developments to come out of this huge weekend of shows for Evolve. Galloway was now firmly a heel, and seemed to be on an “Anti-WWE/NXT” crusade. What made this storyline so interesting was that, at the time these shows took place, Galloway was the TNA World Heavyweight Champion, and I think that just shows what an interesting place Evolve really is. It also continued Ethan Page’s redemption storyline, as he came out in an attempt to save Gargano. Also, in an interesting little noe with that storyline, after the two men recovered from Galloway’s attack, Gargano left without Page.

2.) Chris Hero vs. Fred Yehi: ****

Yehi had a solid outing the night before against Marty Scurll, but here, he’s facing his toughest challenge to date in the form of Chris Hero. I was expecting this match to be good, but it completely exceeded my expectations. The wrestling was very solid, as you would expect, but they told a really good story, with Chris Hero playing the bully, and Yehi fighting back as the underdog. They played their roles well, and that just added so much to the in-ring action. Despite Yehi’s best efforts, Hero would, in the end, score the victory.

3.) Anthony Nese (with SoCal Val & Andrea) vs. Sami Callihan: ***3/4

So even though The Premiere Athlete Brand is no more, Nese still has SoCal Val & Andrea coming out with him for this match. His opponent, Sami Callihan, is getting a shot at the Evolve Title later that day at the WWN SuperShow: Mercury Rising 2016. I actually really enjoyed this match. It was a total sprint, going only about five or so minutes. As I mentioned briefly in my review of Evolve 59, I think that Callihan thrives in matches that are relatively short and have a very quick pace. These two just went at each other right from the opening bell, and didn’t let up. Again, Callihan’s loogies are just gross, but other than that, this was honestly a ton of fun. Callihan would pick up the win here, continuing to build momentum towards his match with Timothy Thatcher for the Evolve Title.

After the match, SoCal Val took the mic and scolded Anthony Nese a little bit for losing. She says that even though The Premiere Athlete Brand is no more, both Anthony Nese & Caleb Konley are still under contract to her, but now as part of “Valifornia” (I guess Nese & Konley just can’t team together anymore). SoCal Val says that she intends to get Nese into the WWE Global Cruiserweight Series/Cruiserweight Classic, but then Nese takes the mic. He tells her to shut up, and says that he’ll take care of things later that night (referencing his Anything Goes Match against Ethan Page at Mercury Rising 2016)

4.) “All Ego” Ethan Page vs. Darby Allin: N/R

Darby Allin was selected from a WWNLive Seminar that took place before the shows took place. This was really a nothing match, to be honest. Allin might have gotten one or two moves in, but this was just a quick squash for Page, who won with the Package Piledriver.

After the match, Page cut a promo where he basically said that he was going to channel all of his recent frustrations (being called “fat” by Anthony Nese & SoCal Val, getting kicked in the nuts by Drew Galloway, and still being shunned by Johnny Gargano, despite his efforts to help him) into his Anything Goes Match with Anthony Nese later that night at Mercury Rising. He promised to kick Nese’s ass, and then challenged Galloway to a match at the next Evolve show in Joppa, Maryland.

5.) TJP (with Stokely Hathaway) vs. Tommy End: ***1/2

This is the first match in the “USA vs. Europe Series”, which is filling out the rest of this card. It basically consists of four singles matches featured American talents against European talents. As we saw at Evolve 58, TJ Perkins joined up with Stokely Hathaway to form The Dream Team, and is now being referred to as TJP. He’s representing the USA against Tommy End here, and what’s interesting about this particular match is that it’s serving as a mini-preview for the huge Days of Future Past Six-Man Tag Team Match at Mercury Rising 2016. I thought the match was pretty good as a whole, but honestly, I was expecting a little bit more from this one. There was some solid action in here for sure, and both guys looked good, but it just didn’t seem like they got to that next level that would have made the match even better. That being said, I still thought it was, for the most part, an enjoyable match, going about twelve minutes or so. Tommy End would take the win here to give Europe a 1-0 lead. There were a few other minor quarrels I had with this match. Firstly, we had another match on this weekend of shows that saw someone get the win out of nowhere with one move. It made the ending seem a bit flat. Secondly, I’m not sure if it was the best idea TJP to lose here, since not only was this his first match with Stokely Hathaway as his manager, but he also had been on a win streak coming into this match. Other than those minor issues, I liked this match.

After the match, Tommy End got on the mic and called out Kota Ibushi, who will be one of TJP’s teammates in that aforementioned Six-Man Tag at Mercury Rising 2016.

6.) Best In The World Challenge Series – Match #4 – Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Matt Riddle: ****

Not only is this this second match in the “USA vs. Europe Series”, but it is also the fourth match in Zack Sabre Jr.’s Best In The World Challenge Series. Here, he’s taking on Matt Riddle, who has still yet to lose a match that didn’t end in controversial fashion. I thought this was a great match! I would put it slightly above the opener for the best match on the show, up to this point. I was really looking forward to seeing how Riddle would mesh with Zack Sabre Jr. from a stylistic standpoint. They certainly didn’t disappoint here. The action was pretty awesome from start to finish, but what I really liked about this match is that it flew by. It only went about ten minutes or so, but I enjoyed every second of it. Of course, the big shocker was that Riddle beat Zack Sabre Jr. clean, making him tap out to the Bro-mission, which caused the crowd inside Eddie Deen’s Ranch to erupt!! Beating a guy like Zack Sabre Jr. in such a manner is obviously a big moment in Riddle’s career in Evolve, up to this point. It’s honestly a tossup between this win and his win over Chris Hero at Evolve 57, in terms of which one was bigger. Anyway, Riddle’s victory ties the “USA vs. Europe Series” at 1-1, while also giving Zack Sabre Jr. his first loss in the Best In The World Challenge Series. The two shook hands after the match.

7.) Non-Title Match – Evolve Champion Timothy Thatcher vs. Marty Scurll: ***1/4

It had been mentioned by commentary on Evolve 58 (towards the end of the show) that Timothy Thatcher had refused medical attention after what happened at the end of his Evolve Title defense against Matt Riddle. He’s coming into this match against Marty Scurll, the third in the “USA vs. Europe Series”, favoring one of his arms/elbows. He was clearly wounded, but he still went though with the match anyway. Ultimately, that injured arm would cost him the match in the end, as Marty Scurll got the submission victory over Thatcher to give Europe a 2-1 lead in the “USA vs. Europe Series”. I thought the match was relatively fine. In all honesty, it was probably Thatcher’s best outing in Evolve in 2016, up to this point (and that wouldn’t change after Mercury Rising 2016, but more on that in my review of that show). I thought Marty Scurll looked very solid here, and this win pretty much sets him up for a future shot at the Evolve Title down the road.

After the match was over, Sami Callihan’s music started playing, and he started to cut a promo over the building’s PA system. He said that he’s in Thatcher’s head, and that hearing his music made him worried about getting kicked in the face. Callihan says that he was going to make Thatcher tap out, and that he would leave Mercury Rising 2016 as Evolve Champion.

8.) Ricochet vs. Will Ospreay: ****3/4

The fourth and final match in the “USA vs. Europe Series” is a dream match between two of the best high-flyers in wrestling. I was super-excited for this match. It was easily one of the most anticipated matches of the weekend, in my opinion. When it was all said and done, I thought the match delivered in SPADES. This was absolutely fantastic!!! I loved this match from start to finish. The action was incredible, and these two showed just how great they really are. Both are so smooth, and can pull off some of the most insane stuff you’ll ever see in a wrestling ring. They just make it look so effortless and so easy. I’m sure that some people won’t like this match as much as I did, but honestly, I thought it was one of the best matches in all of 2016, without question. Eventually, Ricochet would pick up the victory, meaning that the “USA vs. Europe Series” finishes in a 2-2 tie.

After the match, the rest of Team Europe (Zack Sabre Jr., Marty Scurll, and Tommy End) came out. Zack Sabre Jr. noted that a series like this couldn’t end in a 2-2 tie, and demanded a tiebreaker right now, calling out any American to come out and face him. TJP and Matt Riddle came out first, but then Chris Hero came out, and got in the face of Zack Sabre Jr. Things got heated, and then Hero took out Zack Sabre Jr. with an elbow. Hero takes the mic, and suggests that his match with Zack Sabre Jr. at Mercury Rising could be the tiebreaker. Ricochet & Will Ospreay get back in the ring, which leads to Ospreay taking out Hero, and End taking out Ricochet. Ospreay & End, who were teammates in the Six-Man Tag Team Match that would be the Main Event of Mercury Rising 2016, had a brief stare down before they were interrupted by Kota Ibushi, who ended up attacking Tommy End. Things finally settled down, as Ibushi shook hands with Ricochet. He tried to shake hands will Ospreay as well, but he just left. The show finally closed with Ricochet cutting a promo about how happy he was to be back in Evolve, and thanked all of the fans. That was a pretty hectic last segment, but it did set up a lot of things nicely for the show later that day.

Overall: 9.25/10

As a whole, I thought this was a fantastic show from Evolve. It was easily one of their best outings in 2016. So many things helped make this show special. It had the biggest crowd in Evolve’s history, shattering the record that had been set the night before at Evolve 58. There was a ton of fantastic wrestling up and down this card. If we take the Ethan Page squash match out of the equation, the worst match on this card was still relatively good. For me, three matches cracked the **** mark, with the Main Event being one of the best matches in all of 2016, and another star-making performance from Will Ospreay. What I also really liked about this show was that we got a lot of interesting angles. Some of them were short term angles that were building matches for Mercury Rising 2016, such as the closing segment, and then you had Drew Galloway’s heel turn early on in the show, which would end up being a long term angle that would be part of Evolve for the rest of 2016. A lot of things came together on this show that really made it seem special. Definitely check this show out, if you haven’t already. Another awesome outing from Evolve.