Join Pro Wrestling Ponderings at 8 pm eastern for live coverage of EVOLVE 12. With five potential main events, this looks to be one of the better cards that EVOLVE has put on.
Opening Match: Caleb Konley (1-1) vs. Jake Manning (0-0) vs. Adam Page (0-1)
Johnny Fairplay accompanies Konley to the ring. Everyone tries a few quick rollups. Page monkey flips Manning and connects with a dropkick. Konley trips up Manning on the apron. Page lands a moonsault off the apron onto them. In the ring, Page catches Konley coming off the top rope with a spin kick. Manning avoids a crossbody from Page and kicks him in the stomach. Konley interrupts a delayed vertical suplex attempt by Manning and catches him with a senton. Manning hits an STO on Konley, inadvertently causing him to DDT Page. Manning hits a butterfly suplex on Page, who responds with an enzuigiri. Page superkicks Konley and lands a standing shooting star press onto Manning. Konley hits a side slam on Manning but misses a moonsault. Page connects with a missile dropkick on Konley. Manning surprises Page with a backbreaker-flatliner combination for the win in 8 minutes. This was a nice win for Manning, who is now apart of a stable in EVOLVE. The crowd couldn’t really get behind Page as he fought off the two heels, but this was a pretty harmless opener with fine action.
Match #2: Alex Reynolds (1-0) vs. Mike Cruz (0-0)
They trade control of a wristlock. Cruz monkey flips Reynolds and lands a crossbody from the middle rope. He follows with a nice dropkick and a dive to the floor. Reynolds sends him into the ringpost and takes over in the ring. Reynolds hits a nice slingshot suplex and applies a seated abdominal stretch. Cruz fights back with a flying hip attack and an enzuigiri. He connects with a facewash dropkick and hits a springboard blockbuster. Reynolds elevates him into a gutbuster. They trade pin attempts and Reynolds catches Cruz off-guard for the victory in 8 minutes. Much like the opener, the crowd wasn’t sure who to get behind, but this was a nice showcase for both men. Gabe obviously sees something in Reynolds and I’m curious to see how he performs against tougher competition.
Match #3: Low Ki (2-0) vs. Jigsaw (1-0)
Low Ki doesn’t give a clean break and lays in a chop. A pretty tentative first couple of minutes ensue as per usual with Low Ki’s matches. Jigsaw snapmares out of a hammerlock and we’re at a stalemate. Low Ki controls on the mat as Jigsaw plays defense. Jigsaw surprises Low Ki by turning the tide. Low Ki connects with a few kicks. Jigsaw tries a quick rollup to no avail and gets trapped in a body scissors. Low Ki continues to control. Jigsaw blocks a charge but that only makes Low Ki angry. Jigsaw creates an opening with a nice dropkick and lands a flying crossbody. He hurricanranas Low Ki off the middle rope. Low Ki kicks out Jigsaw’s leg during a superkick attempt. Jigsaw reverses the Ki Krusher into a small package for a nearfall. Low Ki connects with a double stomp and hits the Ki Krusher for the win in 15 minutes. Say what you want about Low Ki’s style, but it works in EVOLVE. He treated Jigsaw as his equal and although the result was never in doubt, this match most likely elevated Jigsaw in the fans’ minds. This match ended up working better than I expected and a slow start was balanced by a hot final few minutes.
After the match, Low Ki asks when Jigsaw is going to stop pretending to be a luchador and start being a real wrestler. Low Ki is tired of kids thinking that pro wrestling is easy – he wants them to start acting like men in the ring.
Match #4: Fit Finlay (2-0) vs. Jon Davis (1-1)
They lock up and stare each other down. Finlay looks for a dragon screw leg whip but Davis blocks it. Finlay controls on the mat but Davis fights him off. Finlay seems to be having some difficulty with his eye. He elbows Davis across his nose. Still, Davis is once again able to take the fight to Finlay. Davis starts targeting the left arm. Finlay tries to ground him and work over his left leg. They circle around the ring, showing the effects of each other’s limb work. Finlay wrenches on Davis’ left leg and throws him to the floor. He slams Davis’ hurt leg into the ringpost. In the ring, Finlay once again takes down Davis and attacks the left leg. Davis is able to apply a keylock on Finlay’s left arm. I apologize if the play by play hasn’t been in-depth but this has literally been fifteen minutes of these two targeting a body part. Finlay slams Davis’ leg into the ringpost again and controls on the mat. Davis traps him in a fujiwara armbar but Finlay reaches the bottom rope. Davis returns the favor by slamming Finlay’s arm into the ringpost. Davis hits a back suplex and lands a springboard moonsault. Finlay didn’t just spend fifteen minutes working over your leg or anything. Finlay locks in a sleeper hold but Davis gets his foot under the bottom rope. Davis hits a spinebuster out of nowhere and connects with a boot. They battle on the middle rope and Davis gets sent down to the canvas. Finlay hits a tombstone for the victory in 24 minutes. This was incredibly frustrating. They devoted a lot of time to the limb work and Davis showed no ill effects down the stretch. The finish was also very abrupt and this match could have accomplished what it needed to in almost half the time. I can appreciate that this match was extremely different from Finlay’s matches against Sami Callihan, but I just don’t think the execution was there.
Lenny Leonard interviews Finlay after the match. Finlay talks about Davis’ toughness and says that he has a bright future. Finlay then addresses Sami Callihan. He says that Callihan could be a champion anywhere. Callihan runs to the ring and tells Finlay to mind his own business. Finlay still asserts that he knows that Callihan has what it takes and walks away frustrated.
Match #5: Johnny Gargano and Samuray Del Sol vs. Chuck Taylor and Silas Young
This match is not counting towards EVOLVE win-loss records. Jake Manning and a “swamp man” accompany Taylor to the ring. Gargano connects with a basement dropkick on Young and hits a neckbreaker. Del Sol snaps off a headscissors on Taylor. Gargano keeps trying to go after Taylor but gets attacked from behind by Young. Young hits a nice backbreaker on Del Sol and the heels isolate him. He plants Taylor with a tornado DDT and makes the tag. Gargano catches Young with a kick to the side of the head and follows with his slingshot spear. He lands a dive to the floor onto Taylor and hits a slingshot DDT on Young. Gargano and Del Sol connect with stereo superkicks and hit stereo sliced breads. Young hits a backbreaker on Gargano then lariats him. Taylor plants Del Sol with a uranagi and applies a half crab. Gargano is able to break up the hold. Gargano synchs in the Gargano Escape on Taylor. Young breaks up the submission. Gargano lawn darts Young into the corner but runs into a superkick from Taylor. Young boots Del Sol. Gargano superkicks Young to block the PeeGee Waja Plunge. Del Sol takes out Young with a dive. Taylor crotches Gargano on the top rope and hits the Awful Waffle for the win in 11 minutes. Now we’re talking. This was sprint but still a very good match that featured well-built action. Young had a great performance and should be brought back to EVOLVE, perhaps as apart of the Gentlemen’s Club. Everyone came out of this match for the better and I think Taylor is coming off as a real threat to take the title from Gargano.
Lenny Leonard interviews Chuck Taylor after the match. Taylor says that at the next DGUSA shows, he wants a shot at the Open the Freedom Gate Title.
Match #6: Ricochet (3-2) vs. El Generico (0-1)
Low Ki is on commentary. Yay. They exchange control of a wristlock and Ricochet kicks away at Generico’s arm. Generico snaps off an armdrag but Ricochet quickly returns the favor. They have a fast-paced exchange ending with Generico connecting with a leg lariat. Generico stares at Low Ki on commentary as he lays in a chop. Ricochet snaps off a headscissors followed by a slingshot hurricanrana. He takes control until Generico catches him with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Ricochet blocks a yakuza kick and connects with an enzuigiri. He follows with a corkscrew dive to the floor. In the ring, Ricochet connects with a springboard lariat. Generico responds with a tornado DDT and a blue thunder bomb. Ricochet blocks a charge and hits a beautiful reverse hurricanrana for a nearfall. He runs into a michinoku driver and Generico connects with a corner yakuza kick. Ricochet escapes a turnbuckle brainbuster and connects with a pele kick. He adds a tiger feint kick and lands a phoenix splash for a close two count. Ricochet goes back up top but Generico follows him up. Ricochet kicks him to the canvas and lands a 630 for the victory in 17 minutes. I have a hard time remembering much of their PWG match, but I’d have to think that this contest was on par with that one. This match progressed exactly how you would imagine and that’s not a bad thing. I’m surprised that Generico lost again and I’m curious to see where he goes in EVOLVE. If you can tolerate Low Ki on commentary, you’ll probably find that this was the best match of the show up to this point.
Lenny Leonard interviews Ricochet after the match. Ricochet calls out Low Ki and challenges him to a match. Low Ki enters the ring and accepts the challenge. Ricochet and Low Ki shake hands. Low Ki also lectures Generico about his loss and reminds him that he’s not as good as he thinks he is. Low Ki names the masked wrestlers that he’s met over the years and tells Generico that he’s becoming a disgrace to the history of masked wrestlers.
Match #7: Evolution’s End: AR Fox (2-1) vs. Sami Callihan (3-4)
Inside the ring, traditional rules apply. However, on the floor, anything goes. Callihan charges at the opening bell and stomps away in the corner. Fox connects with a springboard dropkick and lands a dive to the floor. He follows with a guillotine leg drop from the top rope. Callihan blocks another dive with a chair shot. He continues to attack Fox with chairs. They battle on the apron where Callihan connects with a bicycle kick. He suplexes Fox onto a propped chair and then grabs a barbed wire chair. Fox gets slammed onto the barbed wire chair. Callihan grabs a strand of barbed wire and wraps it around Fox’s head. A ladder now comes into play. Fox dropkicks the ladder into Callihan and lands his kick-flip moonsault to the floor. In the ring, Fox connects with a slingshot dropkick and hits a corner cannonball. Callihan catches him up top with an enzuigiri but gets sent to the canvas. Fox climbs the ladder on the outside. Callihan gets on the middle rope and suplexes Fox into the ring. They trade forearms and Fox hits a rolling death valley driver. He follows with a swantan. Callihan superkicks his left leg. Fox reverses the stretch muffler into a small package for a nearfall. Callihan misses a lariat and falls victim to a springboard ace crusher. Fox sets up a table and a ladder on the outside. In the ring, Fox misses Lo Mein Rain and Callihan connects with a lariat. Callihan blocks Lo Mein Pain and hits a german suplex from the middle rope. That was awesome. Callihan applies the stretch muffler and transitions into a half crab. Fox is able to reach the bottom rope. Fox connects with a superkick and a bicycle kick. He hits Lo Mein Pain for a nearfall. Callihan retreats to the floor. Fox lands a dive to the outside and sends Callihan through the propped table. That worked out incredibly well for them. In the ring, Fox lands a springboard 450 for the win in 19 minutes. This was a terrific way to end their feud and it almost makes up for all of the Sabu matches. These two always work well together and they used the stipulation to their advantage. There wasn’t an overreliance on weapons and the big table spot at the end went off without a hitch. I’ve seen these two wrestle each other a couple of times but they still managed to pull out some spots that I haven’t seen before. This show needed something to put it over the top and the main event delivered.
Lenny Leonard interviews Fox after the match. Fox says that he plans on winning the Open the Freedom Gate Title tomorrow.
Overall: The idea going into EVOLVE 12 was that there were five “potential main events.” The good news is that each of the five matches was treated like a legitimate main event in that they all received enough time to play out. I’ll say this – there are some people that will enjoy the Low Ki/Jigsaw and Finlay/Davis matches much more than me. I have them hovering at or just below three stars. However, I think we can all agree that the tag team match after intermission was a lot of fun, Generico and Ricochet delivered as expected, and the blowoff between Callihan and Fox was almost in the “must see” category if you’re even the slightest fan of either wrestler. In the end, regardless of what I think about the five potential main events, they’re all worth watching and talking about. EVOLVE 12 felt like an important show and I believe there’s enough unarguable quality to warrant a replay or DVD purchase.