Opening Match: Biff Busick vs. Drew Gulak
We have a crowd about 2-3 rows deep on each side of the ring. Let’s hope they’re into the action or this is going to be a long night. They circle around the ring and throw a few punches. Gulak hesitantly offers a clean break in the corner. Busick holds onto a side headlock but quickly escapes to the ropes when Gulak attempts an ankle lock. Busick applies a bearhug but Gulak reverses the hold into a belly-to-belly suplex. Busick breaks the action open with a series of chops. Gulak responds with a straight punch to the face. They exchange chops and slaps. Busick connects with a mule kick. Gulak suplexes him into the turnbuckles and both men are down. Gulak connects with a northern lariat for a two count. He follows with a discus lariat for another nearfall. Busick recovers by synching in a sleeper hold. He transitions into a half nelson suplex. Busick connects with a huge lariat but Gulak kicks out at one! Busick adds yet another lariat for a nearfall. Gulak applies the Gu-Lock out of nowhere. Busick reverses into a quick pin attempt for a nearfall and then locks in a choke for the win at 16:00. This was certainly an ambitious opener in a lot of ways. They stuck to their successful formula of starting the match in an intense but methodical way and then transitioned into a very back and forth finishing stretch. They did a lot here and though I have some concern that it might have been too much, this contest perhaps made a statement about how seriously EVOLVE is taking this weekend. ***Â¼
There is a pause as WWNlive works out some streaming issues.
Match #2: Maxwell Chicago vs. Green Ant
The crowd goes absolutely crazy for Green Antâ€™s entrance. Makes me wonder why heâ€™s wrestling Maxwell Chicago in a comedy match. Green Ant charges at the opening bell with a dropkick and suplexes Chicago from the apron into the ring. Green Ant connects with a shotgun dropkick in the corner and Chicago huddles across the bottom rope to buy himself some time. Chicago asks Green Ant if he can put him into a hold. Green Ant quickly shrugs off a side headlock. Comedy ensues. Apparently. Green Ant hits a backbreaker and a senton. Chicago outsmarts him and hits a butterfly suplex. Green Ant quickly takes him down. Green Ant connects with a gamengiri but misses a middle-rope senton. Both men are down. Chicago hits a rolling neckbreaker. He does his usual spot where he teases a dive. Green Ant connects with a lariat and sets Chicago up on the top rope. Chicago accidentally crotches himself or something. I donâ€™t know. Green Ant connects with a superkick and hits a michinoku driver. Green Ant applies a cloverleaf for the victory at 11:00. This match did not need to be this long. The fans went from liking Green Ant for finding creative ways to thwart Chicagoâ€™s tactics to heavily booing him because they eventually came to like Chicago so much. This was your usual Chicago match, which in my book means merely average. The crowd’s involvement did wonders. **
Match #3: Caleb Konley vs. AR Fox
Fox goes for a rollup about a minute into the match. So at this point Iâ€™m not sure if there is an actual feud here or not. Fox out-quicks Konley early on and frustrates him as a result. Konley connects with a well-timed forearm but Fox answers with a dropkick. Fox connects with a corner lariat and then skins the cat into a hesitation dropkick. Fox jumps from rope to rope about five times before hitting a wheelbarrow bulldog. He lands his kick-flip moonsault to the floor. Konley responds with a dive and hits a back suplex onto the apron. He takes control in the ring. Fox comes back with a twisting brainbuster and dropkicks Konley off the apron. Fox lands Lo Mein Rain to the floor. He follows with a guillotine leg drop on the apron. In the ring, Konley gets his knees up to block a swantan. He hits a german suplex for a two count. Fox dazes him on the top rope with a bicycle kick. Konley blocks Lo Mein Pain and lands a top-rope moonsault. Konley hits a gory slam and transitions into the O-Face. Fox reverses into a sunset flip. Konley muscles him up into a michinoku driver for a nearfall. Fox hits a stunner and lands Lo Mein Rain in the corner. Konley counters Lo Mein Pain into a death valley driver onto the apron. The crowd is losing it. In the ring, Fox sneaks in a rollup for the win at 18:00. What was that finish. This was well on its way to being a terrific, memorable match until that mind-numbing finish that made Konley look stupid. I should still mention how good the first seventeen minutes of this match were and this was probably Konleyâ€™s best outing in DGUSA or EVOLVE. Still, though, that finish is going to take some time to get over. ***Â¼
The Premiere Athlete Brand attack Fox after the match to soften Fox for his match against Mr. A tomorrow.
Match #4: Open the United Gate Titles: Harlem and Lance Bravado Â© vs. Chuck Taylor and Orange Cassidy
If the Gentlemenâ€™s Club lose, they will not receive another shot at the titles for as long as the Bravados are champions. The Bravados cut a promo before the match about using the tag rope. Moose then has an impromptu squash match where he destroys some guy. This is awkward because I donâ€™t know the guyâ€™s name. The Gentlemenâ€™s Club then come out for the match. Both teams start brawling before the opening bell. Cassidy hits a senton on Lance. Cassidy tries a dive to the floor but Moose catches him and throws him back into the ring. Harlem hits a neckbreaker on Cassidy and the Bravados isolate him. He avoids a splash from Harlem and makes the tag. Taylor cleans house with a series of clotheslines. Taylor connects with a missile dropkick on Lance and hits an overhead suplex on Harlem. The Gentlemen’s Club hit a double team neckbreaker on Harlem for a nearfall. The Bravados send Cassidy into Taylor with an exploder. Everyone connects with a strike. Cassidy spits orange juice into Harlem’s face. Taylor connects with a flying double stomp for a nearfall. Taylor takes out Lance with Sole Food and the Gentlemen’s Club follow with a double stomp-DDT combination. Cassidy plants Lance with a leaping DDT but Harlem pulls the referee out of the ring. People start interfering. At some point the Bravados hit the Gentlemen’s Agreement on Taylor to retain their titles at 12:00. This match was doomed to fail. The three matches that came before this one took a lot out of the crowd and the inevitability of Moose’s interference loomed over the action. Taylor cannot catch a break despite looking extremely motivated in the ring. The Bravados have not gained any momentum as champions and matches like this do absolutely nothing to help them. I am not looking forward to the Bravados’ match against the Premiere Athlete Brand tomorrow because I cannot help but think overbooking with commence once again. *Â½
Orange Cassidy walks out on the Gentlemenâ€™s Club after the match. We now head to intermission.
After a forty-five minute intermission, Larry Dallas comes out for an interview. Lenny Leonard gives him a hard time as usual. Iâ€™m having a hard time hearing what theyâ€™re saying. Apparently Dallas is celebrating the greatest year in his professional career. Leonard explains to him why this wasnâ€™t a great year for him. Dallas mocks the fans and continues to waste time. Dallas says that tomorrow night, heâ€™s going to turn DGUSA and EVOLVE onto their head.
Match #5: Ricochet vs. Anthony Nese
Johnny Gargano is on commentary. Nese stalls at ringside for a bit. They trade control on the mat. Ricochet kips up from a headscissors. They have a fast-paced exchange ending with Ricochet snapping off a headscissors. He teases a dive and does a series of backflips. Mr. A attacks Ricochet behind the refereeâ€™s back and throws him into the ringpost. In the ring, Nese connects with a missile dropkick and takes control. Ricochet fights back with a series of kicks. Ricochet lands a springboard crossbody and hits an ace crusher. He follows with a standing shooting star press. Nese blocks a reverse hurricanrana and hits a german suplex. Ricochet hurricanranas out of a pumphandle slam and hits a regalplex for a nearfall. Ricochet blocks a springboard attempt by Nese with a dropkick and lands an insane dive to the floor over the ringpost. In the ring, Nese dead-lifts him into a bucklebomb. Nese connects with a running knee and hits a pumphandle sit-out powerbomb for a two count. Ricochet connects with an enzuigiri and hits rolling suplexes. Both men are down. They exchange strikes on their knees. Nese blocks a tornado DDT and slips on a springboard attempt. Ricochet comes off the top with double knees and connects with the Benadryller for the win at 18:00. You can tell that the length of this show has taken its toll on the crowd. I thought that this was the best wrestling on the card thus far but it seemed to me that the crowd was more into Maxwell Chicagoâ€™s match. Ricochet and Nese strung together some excellent exchanges. Although Nese tripped up at the end, it was impressive how they naturally transitioned into the finish. There might not have been much reason for this match to happen, but it certainly delivered. ***Â½
Johnny Gargano comes out to confront Ricochet after the match. Gargano tells everyone about his accolades as champion. Ricochet responds but I canâ€™t hear him. Gargano attacks Ricochet and Rich Swann makes the save, leading to…
Match #6: Johnny Gargano vs. Rich Swann
They exchange punches. Swann connects with corner punches and hurricanranas Gargano on the floor. Swann lays in more strikes around ringside. Gargano elevates him and Swann crashes down on the apron. Gargano takes over in the ring, biting Swannâ€™s fingers at one point. Gargano avoids a middle-rope hurricanrana and hits a suplex into the ropes. Weâ€™ve hit midnight in Pittsburgh. Rob Nemy on commentary asserts that Gargano can brag about his accomplishments as heâ€™s held the EVOLVE Title for so long. Itâ€™s late. Swann comes back with an implant DDT. They trade punches and Swann hits a neckbreaker. Gargano slows him down with a sit-out powerbomb. They trade strikes again and both men fall to the canvas after some superkicks. Swann connects with kawada kicks and another superkick. He hits a handspring ace crusher for a nearfall. Gargano crotches him on the top rope but Swann fights him off. Swann misses a frog splash and Gargano applies the Gargano Escape. Swann is able to reach the bottom rope. The action goes to the apron where Swann connects with a superkick. Gargano trips him up on the apron and lawn darts him into the ringpost. Back in, Gargano lawn darts him into the turnbuckles for a nearfall. Gargano grabs his title and hits Swann with it behind the refereeâ€™s back. Gargano covers for the win at 15:00. Thrilling. This show is actively trying to frustrate anyone who cares about this promotion. Sure, there have been decent matches, but some of these finishes are actually the worst possible option. Why couldnâ€™t this match have just been a ten-minute brawl with Gargano picking up at least a semi-clean win? Why do we need to put over these fringe storylines so much? While the last match could ignore the quieter crowd to some extent, this contest relied on the crowd energy much more and it just wasnâ€™t there at times. I honestly donâ€™t blame them. **Â½
Gargano attacks Swann after the match. Ricochet reappears and connects with the Benadryller on Gargano. My stream dies for a second.
Match #7: EVOLVE Title: Chris Hero Â© vs. Trent Baretta
Please don’t screw this one up. Hero forgot to bring the belt to the event. Hero gets the better of an early mat exchange. Baretta quickly escapes an early Hero’s Welcome attempt. Hero continues to maintain control on the mat with various stretches. Baretta creates an opening by blocking a senton with knees. Hero boots away a leapfrog and lays in some strikes. Baretta slides to the floor but Hero gives chase. Baretta surprises the champion with a punch. Hero fires back with a series of chops around ringside. Baretta connects with a superkick and sends Hero shoulder-first into the ringpost. In the ring, Baretta connects with a double stomp out of the corner and takes control. Hero fights back with a lariat and follows with more strikes. Baretta retreats to the floor again. Hero tries to flip to the apron but gets really caught up in the ropes. Hero might be hurt. He seems to be okay as the match continues. Baretta hits a german suplex and a tornado DDT. Hero connects with a dropkick and hits a cravate suplex. They both try quick rollups to no avail. Hero applies the Hangman’s Clutch out of nowhere and adds knees to the head. Baretta reaches the bottom rope. Hero connects with two mafia kicks. Baretta catches him with a guillotine leg drop. They battle on the apron. Baretta climbs to the top rope and connects with a flying double stomp. Baretta starts talking about Claudio’s success. Hero punches him in the face for a nearfall. They exchange shots and stare each other down. Baretta hits the Dudebuster for a nearfall. Hero rolls through a hurricanrana and connects with a roaring elbow. Hero accidentally elbows the referee. Baretta low blows Hero. The Premiere Athlete Brand come out and attack Hero. HOW IS THIS HAPPENING?!?!? Mr. A misses a top-rope splash and Hero fights off everyone. Baretta connects with a running knee strike for a nearfall. Baretta now grabs brass knuckles. Hero boots Baretta and connects with the Deathblow for a two count. The crowd actually chants this is awesome. I am at a loss. Baretta connects with two knees for another nearfall. He had a loaded kneepad and it’s a nearfall? This is getting to be absurd. Hero connects with a roaring mafia kick and a deathblow to retain his title at 30:00. IT’S OVER. THIS SHOW IS OVER!! From the countless nearfalls to the unnecessary overbooking, this was the last thing I wanted to see on a show that was approaching four hours in length. I’m in no state to analyze this match in any meaningful way. All I know is that this show was absolutely exhausting and this match felt like an eternity. There were clearly some smart exchanges and such, but I just don’t know. Oh, and Baretta looks like the biggest idiot in pro wrestling right now. He had three capable men interfere and used brass knuckles and still couldn’t win. This was a disaster and it’s a shame because I was really looking forward to this match. **Â½
Overall: The match ratings couldn’t mean less. This was a low point in EVOLVE’s history and I’ll remember the frustration I felt while watching this show for a long time. Recommendation to avoid.