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EVOLVE 1: Ibushi vs. Richards
by SamoaRowe

January 16, 2010

-From Rahway, NJ. Our hosts are Chikarason and Lenny Leonard.

-Kyle O’Reilly is training with Tony Kozina backstage, while Davey Richards lingers about. Richards is annoyed that a documentary crew has arrived to tape them. Richards argues with the nice blond lady, but Kozina is more reasonable.

-Kota Ibushi and Munenori Sawa are hanging out, having a lively conversation in Japanese. I bet they’d like to win their matches.

-We’re treated to highlights of recent Full Impact Pro and Dragon Gate USA events. EVOLVE is joining the World Wrestling Network family of promotions.

-We’re treated to a montage of EVOLVE wrestlers explaining why they wrestle. This is a pretty good way to reintroduce a lot of familiar talent and put over their motivations.

Kyle O’Reilly (with Tony Kozina) vs. Bobby Fish

They waste no time getting right into the action, quickly countering each other’s holds. Fish scores with a drop-kick but O’Reilly answers with an enziguri. Fish sends Kyle to ringside for a senton! Exploder suplex by Fish and a diving head butt! Kyle shakes it off (no-sells) and unleashes some kicks. O’Reilly counters into his rolling butterfly suplexes. They trade hard kicks. Fish goes for a cross arm breaker but Kyle gets the ropes. Kyle catches the leg for a nasty cradle suplex. Fish no-sells and delivers a backbreaker. O’Reilly nails a clothesline and they both go down. Tornado DDT by Kyle but Fish responds with a Falcon Arrow. Buckle Bomb by Fish but O’Reilly nails a second Tornado DDT. This time Kyle hits the Brainbuster for the win at 6:30. This match encompasses just what a typical indie spot-fest looks like, **.
Winner: Kyle O’Reilly

Chuck Taylor vs. Cheech

This is a qualifying match, as neither man has been signed for the singles division. They sprint through an acrobatic sequence of counters. Taylor begins to build steam with a backbreaker. Taylor continues to shine with a belly to belly suplex and a senton for 2. Cheech delivers a standing moonsault for 2. Taylor bounces back with a drop-kick, this match doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Cheech blocks the Awful Waffle and administers a series of pinning predicaments. Cheech does a cartwheel on the ropes to escape an attack, which is admittedly pretty cool. Running drop-kick slide by Cheech and a kick from the floor! Cheech cuts Taylor off with a spear. Sole Food by Taylor and a DDT for 2! Taylor counters with the Awful Waffle for the win at 6:27! Same formula as the opener, but more fun, **½.
Winner: Chuck Taylor

-Lenny Leonard asks Chuck Taylor for his thoughts on the match. Taylor is upset that guys like Kyle O’Reilly and Ricochet were automatically invited to be part of EVOLVE, yet he had to win a qualifying match. Taylor plans on winning all his matches, just to make the rest of the roster miserable.

Ricochet vs. Arik Cannon

They trade wrist holds until Cannon nails a shoulder tackle. Ricochet sends Cannon to the floor with a head scissors and then cartwheels into the air! Cannon rebounds with an exploder suplex into the turnbuckles! Ricochet no-sells and looks for a cover. Neckbreaker by Cannon gets 2. Ricochet flips around for no apparent reason and Cannon nails him in the face. Cannon counters Ricochet’s fancy dragon sleeper set up and plants him. Ricochet reverses an Alabama Slam in spectacular fashion! 630 splash by Ricochet gets the win at 4:00! Quick, surprising win here, and another spot-fest, *½.
Winner: Ricochet

-Chuck Taylor shows up at ringside. Taylor says where he’s come from, they don’t believe in evolution, he’s more of a creationist type. Therefore, he challenges Ricochet to a match at EVOLVE 2. Ricochet wants to fight now, but Taylor thinks that notion is ridiculous.

-Silas Young is hanging out with Jimmy Jacobs backstage. Adam Cole shows up and they stop talking right away. Cole mentions to Jacobs that his match is next, so he might want to get ready. Jacobs takes exception to this and sarcastically blows him off.

-Elsewhere, Brad Allen solemnly writes “MOM” on his wrist tape.

The Dark City Fight Club vs. Aeroform

The DCFC is Jon Davis and Kory Chavis, Aeroform are a couple of spot-monkeys consisting of Flip Kendrick and Louis Lyndon. I can’t help but notice that their last names are awfully similar to “London and Kendrick.” Aeroform have to rely on their speed to balance the size and strength of the DCFC. Kendrick dives onto Davis on the floor, leaving Lyndon to try and put Chavis away with a kick. Lyndon runs into a nasty, nasty clothesline. The DCFC set Lyndon up for a leg drop double team. The match becomes a slaughter as the DCFC dismantle their smaller opponents. Lyndon makes a somewhat hot tag to Kendrick, who enters with a flying cross body. Lyndon returns and sends Chavis crashing to the floor, but Davis prevents a suicide dive. Lyndon runs up Davis to nail a moonsault on Chavis! Kendrick sets Davis up and nails the Spiral Tap! Chavis nails a sit-out power bomb for two and dodges a flying Lyndon. Davis nails the pounce and the DCFC delivers Project Mayhem for the victory at 6:23! I really liked the chemistry between these two teams, I would welcome more of this, **¾.
Winners: The Dark City Fight Club

WSU World Champion Mercedes Martinez vs. Niya

Martinez is aggressive and goes right to work dismantling Niya with kicks and hard shots. Martinez dishes out the Three Amigos! The Fishermen buster ends it at 1:13. Holy crap, a squash match.
Winner: Mercedes Martinez

-Lenny Leonard interviews Mercedes Martinez in the ring. Martinez says she’s here to show that EVOLVE isn’t just a men’s promotion. She’s here to fight and evolve. This angle would be dropped after a few shows.

Brad Allen vs. Silas Young

A wild slug-fest kicks off the match. Young gets caught in the ropes and Allen boots him to the floor. Allen dives and lands in the front row! Slingshot leg drop by Allen but Young answers with a chin breaker. Allen misses with a flying cross body. They trade chops and Allen hits a springboard senton. Young sets up a DDT to the floor! The brawl continues in the ring, with Young using his aggression to build sympathy for Allen. Neck breaker by Allen and they both go down. Allen desperately unloads some hard offense but can’t get the cover. Young gets spun into the ropes in an awkward way. Allen goes for a moonsault off the turnbuckle to the floor but Young counters with a drop-kick! That was DISGUSTING! Seriously, Allen took an unprotected head bump to the floor. Allen barely gets to the ring before the 20 count. Young ruthlessly slaps the face and demands that he quit. Allen throws some wild shots but Young nails a backbreaker/lariat combo. Young misses a splash and Allen takes advantage with a corkscrew cross body. Allen has found his second wind, but he eats a Finlay Roll. Allen plants Young for the win at 10:19! Heckuva brawl, with some added drama due to the scary bump, ***.
Winner: Brad Allen

-Lenny Leonard asks Brad Allen for his thoughts on the match. Allen says he had been waiting for an opportunity like this for his entire career and thanks the fans. He could never evolve with guys like Silas Young to push him. Finally, Allen thanks his late mother. Allen wants to face the best so he issues a challenge to Chris Hero for EVOLVE 2. Too bad the match wouldn’t happen.

-Jimmy Jacobs comes to the ring for his match and takes a mic. Jacobs is happy to be back after losing some time dealing with injuries and personal issues. Jacobs some still sense some hate from certain fans in attendance. He’s not going to sweat it, if you love him he’ll die for you, otherwise haters gonna hate. Jacobs calls out his opponent, Kenn Doane, claiming that Doane was given everything he’d ever had in this business. By the time he’s finished, Doane will wish he was still playing dress-up in a cheerleader outfit. Considering the size of his paycheck, Doane’s probably already one step ahead of you, Jimmy.

Jimmy Jacobs vs. Kenn Doane

Doane towers over Jacobs and uses this to his advantage. Jacobs has speed (and talent) on his side and stomps a mud hole on Doane. Jacobs shakes off a clothesline and nails a lariat. Jacobs sends Doane crashing to ringside but he misses the baseball slide when Doane pulls back the apron. Doane then applies a chinlock and refuses to let go of it. Power slam by Doane, but his elbow drop misses. Jacobs gets tripped and suffers a slingshot forearm. Doane grabs the arm for a pair of short-arm lariats. Doane goes back to the chinlock, mainly to spite some smart-ass fans in attendance. Doane seems to be making eye contact with a heckler while a sarcastic “This is awesome” chant breaks out. Jacobs mounts a comeback as he absorbs the punishment Doane keeps dishing out. Jacobs repeatedly stomps the chest and gets a 2 count. Doane counters with a spinebuster for 2. Doane misses a running big boot and gets caught in the ropes. Jacobs nails a DDT out of the corner for another near fall. Doane blocks the Contra Code and nails a German suplex. Jacobs meets Doane on the ropes but gets knocked down. Sky high leg drop by Doane! That’s enough for the win, even though Jacobs had a foot under the ropes. Tommy Dreamer shows up and orders the match to be restarted! Jacobs catches a flustered Doane with the guillotine choke and gets the win at 10:17! Highly entertaining match here, well worked, and I got invested in the final stretch, ***.
Winner: Jimmy Jacobs

-Tommy Dreamer gets into the ring for a promo. He says he’ll never truly walk away from wrestling as long as long as the fans keep showing their appreciation. Dreamer is on his way out but Jacobs has something to say too. Jacobs could thank Dreamer for all he’s done, but he won’t, because he doesn’t need help from a guy like him. Jacobs is sore because Dreamer used to ignore his phone calls while working for WWE. Jacobs accuses Dreamer of coming to EVOLVE just to get one more moment in the spotlight. There’s all sorts of awful thinks he could do to Dreamer, but he doesn’t want to get barred from EVOLVE on the first show. Dreamer returns to the ring, ready to fight. Jacobs says he doesn’t need the approval from a washed-up has-been. Dreamer responds, saying that the difference between him and other veterans is that he’s not here for a paycheck, he came for free. He’s not on the roster, he just wants to have fun, which he does by attacking Jacobs with the mic. Unfortunately, Jacobs nails a low blow and beats Dreamer down. Dreamer putting Jacobs down with a DDT. I don’t seem to recall this feud heading anywhere, which is sad because this was a good first chapter.

-Backstage, Davey Richards and Kota Ibushi are preparing for the main event.

-Kenn Doane is furious over his loss and is telling off everyone he bumps into on his way out the door.

Chris Dickinson vs. Johnny Gargano

They lock up and Gargano gains an early advantage. Dickinson lights Johnny up with some chops but soon suffers an enziguri. Dickinson shakes it off and delivers a series of stiff blows. Dickinson gets caught off guard with a spear through the ropes. Ace crusher by Gargano gets a trio of near falls. Gargano applies an arm submission but Dickinson fights to his feet and counters with a gut buster. Gargano spits, prompting Dickinson to unload more hard shots. Dickinson absorbs a super kick and nails a hard lariat. Gargano wins an exchange of reversals with knees to the chest. Falcon arrow by Dickinson gets 2. Springboard elbow drop by Dickinson gets yet another near fall. Dickinson misses a flying knee drop, allowing Gargano to launch him into the turnbuckles like a lawn dart. The Hurts Donut finishes it at 6:04! Nice exhibition match that actually means something considering how far Gargano has gone since, **¼.
Winner: Johnny Gargano

-Larry Dallas and some friends show up in the crowd to congratulate Gargano for his victory. They’re going to party later. In retrospect, this seems so beneath Gargano.

TJ Perkins vs. Munenori Sawa

Sawa slaps Perkins before the opening bell, setting the tone for an intense match. Perkins gets into the ropes for protection, but Sawa kicks him anyway. German suplex by Sawa! They exchange lighting fast kicks and we have a stalemate. Perkins grabs the wrist and flips around to set up a headlock. They play a game of quick, unusual chain wrestling. A slugfest erupts! Sawa wins a kicking contest with a dragon screw legsweep! Neither man can gain a clear advantage as they quickly exchange counters. Sawa finally manages to spend some time working Perkin’s leg. Perkins bounces back with a Northern Lights suplex and a cross arm breaker. We’re treated to more FIGHTING SPIRIT!!! as they trade stiff offense until they knock each other out. They sprint back to the action, with Perkins going for another arm breaker. They trade kicks again to the point where it feels kinda silly. Neck breaker by TJP sets up yet another arm breaker. Shining wizard by Sawa gets 2. Perkins taps out to the Octopus at 9:35! This was spirited and intense, **¾.
Winner: Munenori Sawa

-Adam Cole talks about working his way to the top and is grateful that Tommy Dreamer took some time to give him advice. That’s nice.

Gran Akuma, Brodie Lee, and Icarus vs. Mike Quackenbush, Hallowicked, and Frightmare

This is a CHIKARA exhibition match. Quackenbush starts things off against Icarus in an evenly fought contest. Akuma gets involved but Quack fights them both off. Hallowicked tags and uses Frightmare as a weapon against Icarus. Brodie Lee storms in but is unable to suplex Hallowicked. They trade several shoulder tackles and Hallowicked wins the exchange with a hurricanrana. Frightmare tags but Gran Akuma meets him in the middle. They flip around until Icarus makes a blind tag and blindsides Frightmare with a clothesline. Hallowicked sneaks in for a cool sunset flip spot that sends Frightmare landing on his feet. Akuma rebounds, tossing Frightmare into a Brodie Lee power bomb. The bad guys have Frightmare isolated and work him over for a bit. Frightmare gets some hope spots until Hallowicked finally gets the hot tag. Lee cuts it off with a Bossman slam, but Quackenbush makes the save. Quack hits an inverted black hole slam on Icarus. Akuma drives his knees into Frightmare’s chest for a close near fall. Hallowicked stops Akuma on the ropes but gets tossed to the floor. Quack sprints and delivers a top rope hurricanrana! Akuma eats a pair of finishers, but Icarus prevents a pinfall. The match breaks down with everyone in the ring hitting finishers. Hallowicked and Icarus are left alone, with Hallowicked nailing a high sit-down power bomb for the win at 11:28. This was the usual entertaining spot-fest you can expect from this crew, ***.
Winners: Mike Quackenbush, Hallowicked, and Frightmare

-Lenny Leonard interviews Mike Quackenbush about coming back from back surgery. Quack admits that he’s only 75% at best right now, but he’s only going to get better. Quack says that he wants to have a 4-way tag at the next EVOLVE event.

-The lady interviewer tries to cheer up TJ Perkins after his loss. It suddenly occurs to her that she needs Silas Young and she storms off. That was strange.

Kota Ibushi vs. Davey Richards (with Tony Kozina and Kyle O’Reilly)

They both charge at one other throwing kicks. Richards scores with a flying kick but then turns his back and eats a missile drop-kick. Ibushi wipes him out at ringside! They trade shots and Richards drives the arm of Ibushi into the ring frame. Davey is sick of getting hit with stiff shots and goes to work on the arm. I’ll bet money that Ibushi no-sells all of it within five minutes. Davey alternates between sick arm attacks and stiff shots to the chest. Davey gets cocky and dares Kota to hit him, absorbing slaps to the face. Like I guessed, Kota sprints into a cartwheel to surprise Richards on the ropes. I guess his arm is all better now. Moonsault to the floor by Ibushi! To his credit, Ibushi is favoring hard kicks, so the no-selling of his arm injury isn’t as blatant as it might otherwise be. Davey bounces back with a missile drop-kick, but he’s also selling rib injuries. They block each other’s strikes and Davey applies a cross arm breaker to the supposedly injured arm. Ibushi absorbs a superplex and they trade hard kicks. German suplex with a bridge by Ibushi gets 2! Richards rolls out of the way of a moonsault but Ibushi bounces and catches him anyway! Sit-out power bomb by Ibushi gets another 2 count. Davey struggles but delivers a German superplex! Back suplex only gets 2! Ibushi kicks out of a knockout kick but gets caught in a kimura! Reverse Frankensteiner by Ibushi but Richards leaps back up for a lariat! A slapfest breaks out. Ibushi dodges one clothesline but eats another. The DR Driver only gets 2! Ibushi misses a Phoenix Splash! Richards missile drop-kicks the injured arm! The shooting star press only gets 2, and this is where my eyes start rolling to the back of my head. Davey repeatedly pounds on the back of the head and applies the kimura for the submission at 18:09! In general, this was a great match, but the no-selling of the arm work and the ridiculous false finishes have overstayed their welcome, ***¾.
Winner: Davey Richards

-Brad Allen explains that his mother died right after signing his WWE contract. That left him working with his head in the wrong place. The good news is that tonight, everything finally came together.

-Larry Dallas and the entourage are read to party! Silas Young is invited, but he doesn’t want to. They talk him into it, but Young is distracted by his cell ringing. I guess that’s a cliffhanger.

Final Thoughts: I have to say, the format of fairly short matches really worked here. It helped make the over-the-top ring style seem a bit more believable, as in theory these guys shouldn’t be able to go nonstop while taking all that punishment. This show provided a good stage for quite a few emerging indie stars, many of whom have gone on to make names for themselves in the couple of years since. I do wish part of EVOLVE’s mission would have been to cut down on the bad habits of the talent that seem to be holding them back (see the Richards/Ibushi nitpicking) but I digress. I would say this was a strong debut show, but within a few months this company would only be drawing a fraction of the fans that were in attendance for night one, so I can’t say this was a success with a straight face.

Thumbs in the middle.

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