September 10, 2016 in Deer Park, NY
Big night for Evolve with Johnny Gargano’s last singles match with the company as he wraps up on his way to WWE.
The show opens with Fred Yehi vs Jigsaw. Crowds pretty fired up for both. Yehi’s been a staple in Evolve recently and Jigsaw made a well received surprise return to the company on Evolve 64. Lenny establishes a background story of Yehi needed a win to stay in Catch Point’s good graces.
Jigsaw looked sharp here again, using a variety of strike combinations to nice effect. Yehi was trying to show more personality, which is good, but his repeated “you’re in trouble” taunting is annoying, not entertaining.
Yehi kept going back to the Koji clutch as he was able, and eventually got it dead center to force Jigsaw to tap for the win. Ok opener, but I personally don’t tend to care for Yehi’s ring style and as usual couldn’t really get into this.
Dan Barry is a little bit of a step up from the debuting talent All Ego Ethan Page has been destroying as of late, and they went a different direction with the match. Barry outwrestled Page for a bit until Page loudly “confessed” he can’t do the counter wrestling, leading to Barry giving him a lesson. Barry talked Page through reversing an arm wringer then said “now put me in a hammerlock” only to have a smiling Page respond “what the hell is that?” They continued in that vein a bit. Well done and just silly enough.
Also was an interesting approach showing that Page was having some fun with wrestling again before the match fully kicked into gear. Good back and forth contest from there on, which ended with Page continuing his roll by hitting the package piledriver for the win. Barry sold the move like molten death and Page had to help him to the back. Page mentions he’ll be extending his hand to Gargano tomorrow, hoping to finally be forgiven before Johnny leaves Evolve.
Darby Allin is out to face TJP, who is crazy over with the crowd after his CWC appearances. Story is Allin needs a win this weekend to continue to be booked at Evolve, and as such he wisely ambushes TJP to jump start the match. It’s getting to the point where I don’t want to watch Allin, as while I understand he’s trying to make an impression he takes bumps on the outside that seem way too dangerous and I feel like I’m inevitably going to see him cripple himself someday. Here he tries an attack off the entry way and TJP moves, leaving Allin to crash leg first into the ringpost in midair. Rest of match was decent enough, with TJP mostly dominating and Allin showing resiliency. TJP gets the expected win with the kneebar, likely setting up Allin upsetting Nese tomorrow to earn a job.
Like Yehi earlier, Tracy Williams has also apparently been directed to step up by Gulak, which is somewhat ironic given Gulak’s recent failures. Here Williams is facing DUSTIN in a grudge match. Williams starts hot and is dominating DUSTIN, but Drew Galloway runs right out to hit Williams with a chair. Gulak and Yehi come out to help. Joey Styles makes his first appearance as “totally not a commissioner” to restart the match under extreme rules, sending everyone but Williams and DUSTIN to the back on penalty of being sent home without pay if they come back out. Good brawl with the general story of each man being able to turn most of the other’s weapon attempts against him, including a bag of thumbtacks DUSTIN brought out late. DUSTIN dominated most of the action, as appropriate to try to continue to elevate him as a heel, but Williams held in and eventually locks in the rear naked choke for the win. Bit of a surprise, and a nice one at that as Williams needed it.
Matt Riddle‘s out to a hero’s ovation, as I continue to boggle at Evolve’s insistence at keeping him estranged from the rest of Catch Point and as a heel. Tony Nese gets a similar reaction, but then the crowd erupts even more for the return of Ricochet. Was looking forward to Riddle vs Nese in the first place, but was beyond thrilled to have Ricochet inserted when his schedule freed up. Can’t wait to see him mix it up with Riddle in particular. But wait, Johnny Gargano’s out too. He heaps praise on all three, and suggests Nese and Riddle go out and take the huge spot that will be opening up in the company tomorrow. Nese shakes hands with Gargano, but Riddle refuses and gets booed. Nicely done, but those boos won’t last long.
Fun stuff early with Riddle using his strikes until Nese and Ricochet get annoyed and team up on him, but then end up arguing over who gets to torture Riddle and the latter takes over again. Riddle is just AMAZING for his experience, and totally kept up with his significantly more seasoned opponents. All three competitors were hitting on all cylinders, and this match was fantastic. This and the main were what I was most excited about coming in, and this delivered BIG TIME.
Match ends with Ricochet in dire straights in the Bro-mission, but Riddle sees Nese going up and releases to try and move, but gets hit with the 450 to give Nese a HUGE upset, becoming only the second man to cleanly pin Riddle in Evolve. This makes things interesting for the Allin match tomorrow, as Nese losing there after this win is unthinkable, but if Allin doesn’t win he’s gone.
After Nese and Ricochet exit Galloway comes out to try to pull Riddle to cause again. After his pitch finishes but before Riddle responds Gulak jumps Galloway from behind. Gulak and Riddle have a bit of a stare down, then Gulak sends Riddle to the back and the battle of the Drews begins. Galloway’s ribs are taped and Gulak targets them. Fairly intense match, as appropriate for this type of feud. Slowed down in the middle as they brawled outside, rolling in and out to break the count. I really enjoy Galloway in this dominating heel role, but Gulak isn’t the right type of face to get the crowd behind him as completely as they should be.
Strong match overall though that ends when Galloway hits a tombstone followed by the Future Shock for the win. Galloway needed the win, or his revolution group starts to look like a bunch of non-threatening losers. Odd dynamic for Catch Point though, who essentially just turned face as a group and yet has their leader calling out his members to step up but then losing himself. We’ll see where it goes.
Johnny Gargano’s last singles match in Evolve is the main event in the form of the Battle of the Aces against Zack Sabre Jr. This should be incredible. Joey Styles joins Lenny on commentary. “Thank you Johnny” chant goes up during the intros. I’ll be amazed in Sabre doesn’t win here. Commentary brings up the sweltering heat in the venue, and I have to say the wrestlers have done a great job all night not letting it affect their performances in any obvious way.
A LOT of phenomenal counter wrestling early on leading to several stalemates. They kept the back and forth going all match. Zack’s precision is such a joy to watch. This just built and built and intensity and was everything it was promised to be. Zack eventually trapped Johnny and bent all his limbs in ways they aren’t supposed to go until Johnny was forced to tap.
Zack said some words of praise to Gargano, then Ricochet come out and did the same (and also plugged his match with Sabre tomorrow). Gabe came in and embraced Johnny then Johnny went outside to greet fans as his music played to end the night.
Great show made particularly by a couple of big matches, with the expected excellent action throughout as well as interesting developments and some definite points of intrigue set up for tomorrow’s farewell show for Johnny.