REVOLT! on February 22nd, 2014 in Queens, New York
Opening Match: Tim Donst vs. Chris Dickinson
This looks a lot like a New Talent Initiative. Well, that’s because it is! Of course, everyone remembers Dickinson’s promos from the early EVOLVE shows so the “New” part is up for debate. They trade control on the mat and neither man can gain the advantage. Donst creates an opening with a clothesline and takes control. Dickinson doesn’t take kindly to a purple nurple and fights back with a series of strikes. Donst hits a belly to belly suplex, bringing Dickinson from the apron into the ring. Dickinson rolls through a cradle and hits a wheelbarrow suplex. Both men are down. Dickinson connects with a spin kick and hits a falcon arrow. Donst withstands a few more kicks and hits an ace crusher. They battle up top and Donst hits a death valley driver from the middle rope for a nearfall. Dickinson fights off a second ace crusher, lays in an enzuigiri, and hits splash mountain for a two count. Donst responds with spinning neckbreaker for the win at 13:54. This was a competitive opener and a decent showing for both men. They were never able to have an exchange to really captivate the crowd and the lack of a clear face/heel dynamic hurt the crowd response, but this was a fine back and forth contest nonetheless. **Â¾
Larry Dallas comes out after the match to recruit both men for a new Scene. Donst tells him to get lost and Dickinson gives him the DX chop.
Match #2: Su Yung vs. Ivelisse
Ivelisse lays in a few kicks. Bryce Remsburg reminds us that this is a rematch from EVOLVE 24, which is a fact that maybe ten people on earth knew. Ivelisse runs up the ropes and snaps off an armdrag. Yung eats a stiff kick and takes some time to check her teeth. They stare each other down and Yung botches an armdrag. This is not going well. Ivelisse kind of hits a crossbody. She connects with a superkick and comes off the middle rope with a hurricanrana. Anthony Nese and Mr. A corner Ivelisse on the floor, allowing Yung to take her out with a senton from the apron. In the ring, Yung hits a side slam and takes over. Yung misses a charge and Ivelisse comes back with a series of kicks. Yung immediately answers with kicks of her own. They start slapping each other and throwing punches. Headbutts! They have a pretty insane strike exchange, ending with Ivelisse wildly throwing a knockout kick. Yung hits a michinoku driver for a nearfall. Ivelisse responds with a belly-to-belly suplex but misses Distain. Yung hits a rope-assisted DDT. Ivelisse anticipates a charge and hits code red for the victory at 15:49. This match was a near-disaster for the first five minutes, but once they let go of the technical wrestling and the match broke down into a brawl, it was unique and energetic. While I don’t think this contest needed to last sixteen minutes, I certainly wasn’t bored. I’m not sure that even the general idea of what they were going for worked, but in order for these SHINE matches to have an impact, they need to take chances like this match did. **Â½
Match #3: Caleb Konley vs. Yosuke Santa Maria
Yosuke has Konley sufficiently freaked out before the match even starts. Yosuke has won over the crowd about two minutes into the match after getting Konley into some sexual positions. Konley lands a dive to the floor. He drops Yosuke onto the apron and takes control in the ring. Yosuke tries to fight back but pretty easily loses a chop contest. He recovers with a springboard dropkick. They exchange forearms and Konley hits a german suplex for a nearfall. Yosuke runs up the ropes and hurricanranas Konley from the middle rope. He kisses Konley and hits a leg-liner for a two count. Konley lands a double-jump moonsault for a nearfall. Yosuke goes low and tries a rollup to no avail. Konley blocks a hurricanrana and hits a michinoku driver for a nearfall. Konley follows with a gory slam and applies the O-Face for the win at 12:27. To no one’s surprise, the new talent from Dragon Gate Japan was entertaining and very solid in the ring. I also expect Konley’s stock to rise rapidly in 2014, as he’s developing more personality in DGUSA and his offense looks excellent. They didn’t let the antics overwhelm the action, which featured a lot of solid exchanges that the crowd was receptive towards. You couldn’t ask for much more here. ***
Match #4: Open the United Gate Titles: Harlem and Lance Bravado Â© vs. Chuck Taylor and Orange Cassidy
The Bravados address the Young Bucks’ suspension before the match. The champions also announce that they will no longer be using Dragon Gate tag rules in their matches. Taylor snaps off a few armdrags on Lance and connects with a dropkick. Cassidy outsmarts Harlem and Taylor is able to land his slow-motion senton. Cassidy snaps off a satellite headscissors on Harlem and comes off the middle rope with a hurricanrana. Lance attacks Cassidy from behind and the Bravados isolate him. Cassidy seems to have made the tag at one point, but the referee notices that Taylor was not holding the tag rope. Cassidy is able to take advantage of some miscommunication and make the tag. The Gentleman’s Club hit a back suplex-neckbreaker combination on Lance. Harlem hits a slingshot chinbreaker on Cassidy and Lance adds a german suplex. Cassidy spits orange juice into Lance’s face and hits a michinoku driver. Taylor sends Harlem into Lance with an overhead suplex. Cassidy lands a dive to the floor onto the Bravados. Taylor looks to dive but Moose comes out and spears him. That draws a disqualification at 13:40. The Bravados reveal their alliance with Moose after the match. Here we go. If Moose was going to interfere in order to not let the Bravados get hurt again, why didn’t he interfere at the opening bell? Why let this contest last fourteen minutes and get me hopeful because the match was going well only to let it end in a non-finish? In a promotion where Jon Davis exists, Moose seems pretty ordinary. Once again, Chuck Taylor is an afterthought. **Â½
Match #5: Anthony Nese vs. Rich Swann
Nese takes a seat in the corner as Swann dances. They begin with some chain wrestling. Swann impressively turns a half crab into a small package for a two count. Swann dropkicks Nese to the floor and starts hitting on Su Yung. The distraction allows Nese to attack from behind and take over. Swann comes back with an axe kick and lands a dive to the floor. Back in, Swann lands a flying crossbody and hits a handspring ace crusher. Nese avoids a frog splash and hits a pumphandle powerbomb. Swann responds with an inverted slam and transitions into a stretch plum. Nese is able to reach the bottom rope. He connects with a corner dropkick and a charging knee strike. The action goes to the floor where Nese sends Swann HEAD FIRST INTO THE APRON! An absolutely sick visual. Swann somehow makes it back into the ring, where Nese hits a dead-lift german suplex. Swann answers with a DDT and goes back to the stretch plum. Nese powers out of the hold and hits a piledriver for a nearfall. They exchange slaps and strikes. Nese hits a single-armed bucklebomb. He goes up top but Swann hurricanranas him to the canvas. Swann lands a phoenix splash for the victory at 20:28. That was an absolute war. As usual, when scary spots happen in a match and the wrestlers are okay, the spot somehow takes the match to another level. I have no idea how Swann was able to continue the match after landing awkwardly on the apron, but what followed was a pretty great finishing stretch. Nese has been on a tear since his matches quit revolving around interference and this was a great showcase leading into intermission. ***Â½
Match #6: Elimination: Fire Ant vs. Shane Strickland vs. Mr. A
Strickland snaps off a headscissors on Fire Ant and they stare each other down. Mr. A takes them out with a double clothesline. Mr. A hits a double chokeslam and covers both opponents for a nearfall. I actually bought that as the finish. Fire Ant and Strickland superkick Mr. A and follow with more kicks. They knock him down with stereo dives. In the ring, Fire Ant hits a chinbreaker on Strickland and hits a brainbuster for a two count. Strickland fights back with some offense. He rolls through a hurricanrana and pins Fire Ant to eliminate him at 5:50. Mr. A reenters the ring and plants Strickland with a spinebuster. He connects with a spin kick, which everyone seems to think is impressive. Strickland hits a sunset bomb and connects with a corner yakuza kick. He follows with an implant DDT. Strickland comes off the top with a double stomp. Anthony Nese jumps onto the apron. The distraction allows Mr. A to hit a side slam and land a top-rope splash for the win at 10:30. Now Mr. A needs help winning matches? Is this some kind of vicious cycle? This certainly could have been Mr. A squashing someone random in two minutes. At least that way he would’ve gotten a clean win and Fire Ant wouldn’t have to look weak going into a grudge match tomorrow night. **Â¼
Match #7: EVOLVE Title: AR Fox Â© vs. Drew Gulak
This is a clash of Style Battle winners. Fox decides before the match to put his title on the line. Considering he has a defense against Chris Hero on the next show, it makes the outcome here very predictable. They trade control on the mat. Gulak sneaks in a quick rollup and Fox becomes frustrated. Fox counters a military press into a headscissors and sneaks in a quick rollup of his own. Gulak is able to ground Fox and take control on the mat. Fox dropkicks Gulak off the apron and connects with a dropkick through the ropes. He lands his kick-flip moonsault to the floor. Fox follows with a guillotine leg drop on the apron. He lands a split-legged senton and hits a suplex. Gulak is able to take the action back to the mat. He turns up the intensity with a suplex into the turnbuckles. Fox blocks a double axe handle with an atomic drop and lands a swantan. Gulak blocks Lo Mein Pain and comes off the middle rope with a lariat. He blocks a charge from Fox and applies a trailer hitch variant. Fox matrixes to avoid a lariat and connects with an enzuigiri. He follows with a springboard dropkick. Gulak blocks Lo Mein Pain once again and hits a death valley driver from the top rope onto the apron. I’d put that in all capital letters but I already did that once in this review and AR Fox doesn’t have a spine. In the ring, Gulak hits a superplex. Fox responds with a bicycle kick and is finally able to hit Lo Mein Pain to retain his title at 19:33. I’m going to guess that I liked this match a lot less than most people. Both men played to their strengths, which makes sense for Style Battle winners. However, I never got the sense that Gulak was stopping Fox from utilizing any of his offense by merely keeping him grounded. In fact, Gulak was willing to play Fox’s game down the stretch with no apparent consequences. For me, there wasn’t much of a story here and that showed itself when the death valley driver onto the apron was largely ignored and treated as just another spot. I still enjoyed this match but I do not think there was much to sink your teeth into. ***Â¼
Match #8: Open the Freedom Gate Title: Johnny Gargano Â© vs. Trent Baretta
Baretta strikes first with a dive during Gargano’s entrance. Gargano sends Baretta into the guardrail. They trade chops and battle into the crowd. Baretta drapes Gargano across the guardrail and connects with a double stomp from the apron. In the ring, Gargano hits a slingshot DDT and takes control. Baretta finds an opening after blocking a flying crossbody with a dropkick. Baretta hits an overhead suplex but Gargano responds with a suplex into the turnbuckles. Gargano connects with two superkicks but runs into a lariat. Both men are down. They trade strikes on the apron. Baretta counters the slingshot spear into a tornado DDT and connects with a flying double stomp. Gargano hits a piledriver out of the corner and lawn darts Baretta into the turnbuckles. Baretta responds by suplexing Gargano off the middle rope. He connects with a charging knee strike for a nearfall. Gargano responds with Hurts Donut for a two count. He dodges a lariat and locks in the Gargano Escape. Baretta is able to get his foot onto the bottom rope. They battle up top and Baretta hits the Dudebuster! He hurts his knee in the process and can’t immediately make the cover. Gargano reapplies the Gargano Escape to retain his title at 18:37. The match was moving along nicely but that finish came out of nowhere. There’s a chance that Baretta hurt his knee on the middle-rope Dudebuster, but for Gargano to win after taking such a big move was really odd. My thoughts on Fox/Gulak would seem to apply here as well. There was some solid action as you’d expect with a decent crowd response, but no overarching story to bring everything together. ***Â¼
Overall: After the EVOLVE triple shot at the beginning of the year, I was extremely optimistic about WWNlive moving forward. However, we started to see some booking problems seep through on REVOLT!. The Bravados have not been able to gain any traction as Open the United Gate Champions and the DQ finish in their match was certainly the low point of this show. While I’m not thrilled about Mr. A wrestling, the issue was that he still needed help to win, as the Premiere Athlete Band interference is back. The positives are that there was some good wrestling on this show and the match times and structure of the show were constructed in a way to give mostly everyone a chance to stand out. With that said, I thought the final two matches delivered under expectations and there wasn’t really a match with enough wow value or storyline significance to make me excited about giving this show a recommendation. I’m at a thumbs in the middle for REVOLT! but I remain optimistic about the quality of Way of the Ronin.
Look out for the Way of the Ronin 2014 review later this week!