EVOLVE 17: Generico vs. Del Sol III on September 8th, 2012
Jon Davis interrupts Lenny Leonard’s introduction to the show. Davis says that it’s time for an EVOLVE Title and the crowd apparently agrees with him. Members of the locker room come out to show their support for the idea. Ricochet and AR Fox argue for a bit as Ricochet starts talking down to him. Fox fakes a punch and Ricochet quickly retreats to the floor. Johnny Gargano makes his way to the ring. He says that he respects Davis’ mission, but EVOLVE already has a champion. Good point. Gargano offers to put the Open the Freedom Gate Title on the line tonight against Davis. Actually, make that right now…
Opening Match: Open the Freedom Gate Title: Johnny Gargano © vs. Jon Davis
Davis impressively blocks a slingshot spear. Gargano hurricanranas out of a powerbomb and lands a dive to the floor. He follows with another dive from the apron. In the ring, Davis swats away a superkick but gets caught by an enzuigiri. Gargano runs into a spinebuster and Davis takes over, working over the back. They do a delayed vertical suplex spot where Gargano actually tries to escape. That’s very much appreciated. Gargano low-bridges Davis to the outside and hits a tornado DDT back in the ring. He catches Davis with three consecutive corner dropkicks. Gargano connects with a basement superkick but it doesn’t phase Davis. Gargano locks in the Gargano Escape but Davis powers out of the hold. The action goes to the outside where Davis military presses Gargano onto the apron. He misses a bicycle kick and Gargano hits Hurts Donut onto the concrete floor. Gargano beats the count and retains his title via countout at 11:19. Taken out of context, this was a solid back and forth encounter between two different yet compatible styles. However, I’m assuming that if Davis didn’t win the title here, he was finished with professional wrestling. The methodical pace in the middle of the match ruined any suspension of disbelief I had of Davis fighting for his career. While that’s a pretty sizeable problem, this contest had a lot of value in regards to advancing certain storylines. **½
Gargano announces that he’s not satisfied with the countout victory. He tells Davis that no one wants him to retire. Davis snaps and takes out Gargano with a lariat. He splash mountains Gargano through a table at ringside and slowly walks away.
Match #2: Jigsaw (1-1) vs. Lince Dorado (1-2)
Jigsaw traps Dorado in a surfboard, which innovatively gets turned into a pin attempt for a nearfall. Dorado snaps off a hurricanrana and they trade quick pin attempts to no avail. Dorado comes off the middle rope with a hurricanrana and lands an asai moonsault to the floor. Back in, Dorado lands a standing moonsault and maintains control. Jigsaw fires back with multiple kicks. He slams Dorado to the canvas, connects with a sliding kick, and lands a dive to the floor. In the ring, Jigsaw connects with a missile dropkick followed by a double stomp to the back of the head. Dorado hurricanranas out of a rack bomb and spikes Jigsaw for a nearfall. Dorado hits a michinoku driver but misses a shooting star press. Jigsaw hits a dead-lift german suplex for a two count. They battle on the top rope and Dorado hits a spanish fly for the win at 9:20. Their lucha style played to their advantage early on, as the constant pin attempts highlighted the importance of records in EVOLVE. The match was structured to be a bit heavy on spots but it served its purpose well. I thought Dorado winning was the right call as he’s looked rejuvenated in EVOLVE recently. **¾
Match #3: Christina Von Eerie (0-0) vs. Marti Belle (0-0)
This is a SHINE showcase match. Von Eerie spits at Belle and they start trading forearms. Von Eerie blocks a headscissors and hits a side slam. Von Eerie connects with a mafia kick and hits the Graveyard Smash for the victory at 1:55. This was a fine squash match for Von Eerie, who will assuredly be playing a meaningful role in future angles due to her alignment with Mad Blankey.
Match #4: Caleb Konley and Scott Reed (4-0) vs. Sami Callihan and Pinkie Sanchez (0-0)
The Scene attack at the opening bell and start working over Callihan. He superkicks Reed off the middle turnbuckle and tags out. Sanchez hits an implant DDT on Konley and catches Reed with a springboard pele kick. He comes off the top with a seated senton on Konley. Reed elevates him into a sit-out slam. The Scene hit a flapjack-gutbuster combination on Sanchez. Callihan clotheslines Konley to the floor and applies the stretch muffler on Reed. Reed turns the hold into a pin attempt for a nearfall. Callihan locks in the CDC (Callihan Death Clutch) on Reed for the win at 5:28. Callihan’s new finisher definitely fits his style and he’ll be able to get a lot of mileage from it. This was an underwhelming way for the Scene to suffer their first loss, although a lot of fans have been unhappy with their push, so maybe it’s a good thing. The match itself was too short to mean much. **
Match #5: Sami Callihan (3-6) vs. Masada (0-0)
They charge at each other at the opening bell. Masada hits a powerslam and dropkicks Callihan to the outside. Callihan gets sent into the barricade, almost breaking it in the process. In the ring, Masada hits a tilt-a-whirl slam and lays in a knee to the midsection. Masada kicks at Callihan’s face to escape the stretch muffler and Callihan starts bleeding from his mouth. He takes some time to regroup on the floor. Masada quickly applies a submission hold in the ring for the victory at 5:17. Callihan was clearly hurt and the match ended suddenly as a result. I was looking forward to this encounter, as they’ve had solid matches over the years in CZW, but the action ended before it could really begin. If anything, Masada looks like a world-beater for running through Callihan. *½
Match #6: Rich Swann, Player Uno, and Stupefied (2-2) vs. Chuck Taylor, Drew Gulak, and Orange Cassidy (0-1)
Uno frustrates Taylor early on with some quick offense. Stupefied snaps off a hurricanrana on Cassidy. Swann connects with a dropkick on Gulak. The Gentlemen’s Club have a team meeting on the outside. The Super Smash Brothers take over with some double teaming on Taylor. Swann even accompanies them during their usual pose. Cassidy cuts off Swann with an atomic drop and hits a senton. The Gentlemen’s Club isolate him until he plants Taylor with a DDT and makes the tag. Uno falcon punches Cassidy and hits a huge flatliner. Stupefied lands a flying crossbody onto Taylor and hits a dragon suplex. He follows with a lionsault. The SSB hit a flying elbow drop-side slam combination on Taylor. Cassidy catches Uno with a stunner and adds a DDT. Swann hits a handspring ace crusher on Cassidy but falls victim to a chokebreaker from Gulak. Stupefied connects with a double pele kick on Gulak and Cassidy. Taylor hits Sole Food on Stupefied along with a german suplex. Cassidy adds a lariat for a nearfall. Stupefied overhead suplexes Cassidy into Taylor. Swann lands a frog splash onto Gulak and all six men are down. Cassidy hits a michinoku driver on Swann and applies the Squeeze. Gulak and Taylor lock in submissions as well. Everyone eventually escapes. Stupefied lands a dive to the floor. Swann connects spinning roundhouse kick on Gulak for the win at 18:16. I know it might be “cool” to like the Gentlemen’s Club, but this was the first time the unit appeared in full and they worked together incredibly well. Gulak and Cassidy complement Taylor perfectly and I hope future shows feature the whole stable as well. This match did not feel like eighteen minutes, which is the biggest compliment that I can give to it. The action down the stretch effectively kicked the action into a higher gear and while the match became a bit silly at times, the Gentlemen’s Club made it work. ***½
Match #7: AR Fox (6-3) vs. Ricochet (4-2)
Both men shrug off shoulder tackles. Ricochet sneaks in a kick to the midsection and snaps off a headscissors. Fox answers with a slingshot headscissors and connects with a dropkick. He lands a split-legged senton but misses a guillotine leg drop. Ricochet lands a springboard moonsault to the floor as Lenny Leonard mocks Kevin Kelly on commentary. In the ring, Ricochet takes control until Fox hits a flatliner and connects with a springboard dropkick. Ricochet retreats to the outside, where he gets taken out by Lo Mein Rain. Back in, Ricochet hits a nice springboard DDT and lands a standing shooting star press. Fox avoids a backslide driver and hits a crucifix bomb for a nearfall. Ricochet recovers with a shoulder-capture suplex into the turnbuckles. Fox hits a pumphandle gutbuster and a twisting brainbuster for a two count. They battle on the middle rope and Ricochet gets pushed to the canvas. Fox misses a swantan and they trade enzuigiris. Both men are down. Fox connects with double knees and hits Lo Mein Rain in the corner. Ricochet blocks Lo Mein Pain and hits a nasty backslide driver. Ricochet follows with a reverse hurricanrana and a shooting star press for the victory at 14:31. I was really looking forward to this encounter but came away a bit disappointed. For the most part, the action consisted of these two attempting to “out-do” each other. Unfortunately, the crowd was not responding well to the match, so the action came off like a simple collection of moves. There was some semblance of a story when they transitioned to using less aerial-based offense, but they quickly went back to the high-flying. Fortunately, these two can make trading moves pretty entertaining to watch, but I think they have a better match in them. ***¼
Match #8: El Generico (2-3) vs. Samuray Del Sol (2-3)
This is the third match in their series, which is tied at 1-1. They trade control of a wristlock. Del Sol snaps off a quick headscissors and Generico backs off. Generico snaps off a few armdrags after a quick exchange. He follows with a backbreaker. Del Sol walks on his hands to take Generico over with a headscissors and lands a slingshot splash. Del Sol walks up the ropes and armdrags Generico to the floor. He follows out with a kick-flip corkscrew dive. In the ring, Generico hits an exploder into the turnbuckles. Del Sol blocks a yakuza kick and snaps off an amazing hurricanrana. He flips out of a blue thunder bomb and hits a standing sliced bread. Generico counters Rising Sun into a blue thunder bomb. Del Sol runs into a michinoku driver but recovers with a code red for a two count. Del Sol follows with Rising Sun for another nearfall. Generico blocks Rising Sun from the middle rope and hits snake eyes. Generico connects with a yakuza kick and hits a top-rope brainbuster for the win at 14:08. For a few reasons that are neither participant’s fault, I liked this match the least out of their series. Firstly, as was the case with Ricochet/Fox, the reserved crowd stopped the action from being truly special. Secondly, while these two were able to differentiate their previous two outings despite happening on consecutive nights, there was really nothing here to distinguish this match. That makes me think that the tie-breaking match should have taken place further down the line. Taken out of context (if this is your first time seeing these two wrestle each other), this was an engaging main event that fittingly ended up as the match of the night. Still, I would look at their encounters on EVOLVE 14 and 15 before this one. ***½
Overall: EVOLVE 17 was definitely a show that finished strong, as the two main events and the six-man tag delivered in some way. The undercard wasn’t a chore, though, as it moved at a good pace and there were some interesting storyline advancements with the looming EVOLVE Title and Jon Davis’ heel turn. Unfortunately, I’ve seen both Ricochet/Fox and Generico/Del Sol have better matches in the past and Callihan/Masada never received a chance to get off the ground. While the last three matches add most of the value to this show, the two main events didn’t meet my expectations. However, when stepping back a bit, there’s still enough quality wrestling present for EVOLVE 17 to receive a mild recommendation.
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