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EVOLVE 10: A Tribute to the Arena
by SamoaRowe

January 14, 2012

-From Philadelphia, PA. This event was the last wrestling show to be held at the infamous ECW Arena. Don’t you worry though, crappy ECW nostalgia shows will continue despite this set-back.

-We get an official announcement that Dragon Gate USA and EVOLVE are being combined into one super promotion. It always had been, but now they’re going to stop pretending.

AHTU (with Larry Dallas) vs. Low Ki

I have no idea why AHTU keeps getting booked. He’s green, even by NXT standards. Low Ki was a surprise participant and he just kicks AHTU in the head as hard as can be, knocking him out in the process. The crowd chants “one more time” as a dazed AHTU stumbles around. A handspring knee strike and the double stomp finishes it at 1:51. Just a squash to reintroduce Low Ki.
Winner: Low Ki

-Low Ki takes the microphone. He spent a year sitting on the sidelines, watching his sport suffer a slow death. Low Ki wants his profession back and he’s here to be the catalyst for change. I guess as long as he can get along with Gabe Sapolsky, that’s all well and good. Low Ki puts the EVOLVE locker room on notice that he’s here to stay.

Cheech Hernandez vs. Cloudy

These two used to be a tag team but had a falling out months and months ago at EVOLVE 9. They trade holds in the early going, with Cheech scoring with a takedown. Cloudy gets aggressive but gets launched into the air by his larger opponent. The pace quickens, which favors Cloudy. Cheech destroys the back with a combination of power moves. Cheech poses while applying a sharpshooter. Cloudy counters a spear and delivers a hurricanrana. Cloudy totally misses a dive through the ropes and wipes out on the floor! The fans dish out an inappropriate “you fucked up” chant, Cloudy could have been severely hurt there. They battle on the floor, with Cheech countering the Code Red with the ring frame. I don’t think Cloudy is going to survive this match. Cloudy gets countered several times on the way to hitting a tornado DDT. Cloudy manages a desperate Ace Crusher, but a reverse hurricanrana is blocked. Cloudy tries again and gets a near fall. Cheech counters with a nasty looking face buster for 2. Series of kicks by Cheech and the “Go to Cheech” would have won it but Cheech voluntarily breaks the cover. Cloudy counters with a power bomb. A second Go To Cheech finishes it at 10:12. Really sloppy outing here, they were better off as a tag team, **.
Winner: Cheech

-We’re treated to a commercial for EVOLVE 8: Style Battle on DVD. A lot of guys hit a lot of cool looking moves in front of a crowd of about 50 people.

Jon Silver and Alex Reynolds vs. Scott Reed and Caleb Konley (with Larry Dallas and some random broad)

Silver kicks things off against Konley. They trade holds in a back and forth contest. Silver delivers an awesome uppercut counter and they sprint through a series of counters before coming to a stalemate. Reynolds tags in and Konley suffers some double team attacks. Reed tags but runs into a hip toss. Reed delivers a hard clothesline. Reynolds absorbs the abuse and delivers a series of attacks. Reed botches a spot and drops Reynolds on the ropes awkwardly. Reynolds gets isolated as Reed and Konley quicken their tags. Reynolds powers out of enemy territory and dumps Konley to the floor. Handspring kick by Reynolds gives him the opening for a hot tag. Silver cleans house! Reynolds and Silver team up to hit some sort of top rope chin breaker. Reed and Konley make a comeback. Reed gets overwhelmed with finishers and would have been pinned if Konley hadn’t made the save. Reynolds suffers a DDT/German suplex combo for the loss at 9:43. They worked hard to overcome a hostile crowd, but was still sloppy, **.
Winners: Scott Reed and Caleb Konley

-Jigsaw and AR Fox come to the ring and the crowd actually likes these guys. Jigsaw takes the mic and puts over CHIKARA.

Jigsaw vs. AR Fox

They trade holds in the early going, with Jigsaw winning the exchange. Jigsaw administers the Gory Special, which is always cool to see. Jigsaw schools Fox with his lightning quick attacks. Fox is sick of this BS and retaliates with his own fast offense. Jigsaw rebounds, delivering a crisp suicide dive! Jigsaw build some steam by throwing chops. Fox rebounds with a chin breaker/ace crusher sequence. Fox snaps Jigsaw on the ropes and nails a springboard missile drop-kick. Leaping back senton in the corner by Fox gets 2. Death Valley Driver by Fox and a Swanton bomb gets another near fall. Jigsaw counters and nails a big boot and Brainbuster for a near fall of his own. Fox misses a springboard move and eats a super kick. Fox drop-kicks Jigsaw off the ropes to set up a springboard 450 splash to ringside! Guillotine leg drop onto the apron by Fox! Jigsaw surprises with a small package and nails a German suplex for 2. Jigsaw counters with a nasty suplex. Superkick by Jigsaw finishes it at 11:08. This was spotty, yet spectacular, ***.
Winner: Jigsaw

-Lenny Leonard interviews Jigsaw after the match. Jigsaw thanks the fans for coming to the arena to show their support. Jigsaw signals big things for 2012 and takes off. Leonard asks Fox for his thoughts on the loss. Fox no-sells the loss, instead turning his attention to Sami Callihan, who burst a beer bottle over his head at the last DGUSA show. We’re interrupted by the sound of Callihan clanking bottles together over a live microphone. Sami mocks Fox and dares him to attack. The referee threatens to fine Fox if he attacks, since this is EVOLVE and they like pretending it’s a real sport with legitimate rules. Fox is tempted to hit a dive, but the referee stops him and Sami backs off without any further incident.

-We get another commercial, this time for EVOLVE 9 on DVD. This was a star-studded event, as it featured Kevin Steen and the big Finlay/Callihan match.

Uhaa Nation (with Ricochet) vs. Pinkie Sanchez

Nation is a huge, muscular dude who can also fly. Sanchez dodges a clothesline and makes a show out of removing his shirt. Pinkie slaps Nation’s butt and retreats to ringside to avoid any consequences. Nation foolishly turns his back, prompting Sanchez to sneak in and dish out some offense. Pinkie connects with a dive to the floor! Nation drops a spring boarding Sanchez and nails a fall away slam. Sanchez rebounds with a basement drop-kick to the knee. Nation counters with a trio of power bombs. Standing moonsault and shooting star press finishes it at 3:59! Nation is going places, *½.
Winner: Uhaa Nation

-Leonard interviews Nation, who states that 2012 is going to be his year. Ricochet takes a turn and says that he’s become accustomed to performing in the finest arenas in Japan. In America though, he is stuck wrestling in dumps like this arena. I can’t really hear the rest of Ricochet’s rant as the crowd drowns him out, but it didn’t sound like he had anything nice to say about Philadelphia.

Chuck Taylor and Rich Swann vs. The Super Smash Bros.

Rich Swann’s rapping during his entrance is nearly as bad as R-Truth’s. Player Uno and Swann trade headlocks and wristlocks. Swann scores a takedown but eats a chop. Taylor puts his vest back on before entering the match, as he doesn’t want to get chopped. Player Dos tags, so Taylor relaxes. The SSB overwhelm Taylor with their teamwork. Taylor saves himself from isolation with a lariat. Swann and Taylor quicken their tags, keeping Uno in their corner. Uno takes a beating, but fights back with chops and drops Swann with a side slam. Dos tags and wipes Swann out with a cross body. Dos cleans house and finds time to deliver a corkscrew plancha on Taylor at ringside. The diving leg lariat gets 2 for Dos (did I really just type that?). Taylor retaliates with Sole Food, but the SSP arrange a suplex/DDT double team combo on Ronin. The chaos leads to both teams switching corners, which they chuckle about. The match breaks down with all four men in the ring, hitting finishers and breaking covers, the usual formula. Swann suffers an Ace Crusher/moonsault sequence, but the SSB are too slow to follow through. Swann nails a dive, leaping over Taylor who’s busy hitting a DVD onto the ring apron. Ronin overwhelms Player Uno, but can’t get a cover. Dos suplexes Swann into Taylor. The SSB plants Swann again but still only get 2. Doomsday DDT by the SSB, but Taylor breaks the cover! Dos is crafty, but Taylor still manages to put him away with the Awful Waffle at 15:04. The insane number of double teams, counters, and move sequences was off the charts here, ****.
Winners: Chuck Taylor and Rich Swann

-Leonard interviews Ronin after the match. Taylor announces that they’ve proven that they’re ready to challenge Ricochet and CIMA for the DGUSA tag titles. You’re going to have to order more iPPVs, folks.

Kyle Matthews vs. Jon Davis

I don’t know who Kyle Matthews is, but he has a killer beard. I respect men with beards. Davis counters a headlock with a back suplex. Matthews throws a chop, which Davis is more than happy to counter. Davis misses a charge and has to counter a sleeper. Matthews keeps going for the sleeper until Davis nails a power slam. Davis follows up with a couple more power slams, which only seems to fire Matthews up. Davis cuts off Matthew’s flurry of jobber offense with an Ace Crusher. Matthews surprises with a second wind of offense. I can see they don’t want to bury this guy. Despite this, Davis finishes it with Three Seconds Around the World for the win at 4:28. Squash! *.
Winner: Jon Davis

-Leonard interviews Davis about his “big win.” Davis says he outweighs Mathews by 100 pounds, he’s supposed to beat guys like that. Davis has bigger fish to fry, namely Fit Finlay. Next time Finlay comes to EVOLVE, he can expect to meet Jon Davis in the ring.

Bobby Fish (with AR Fox) vs. Sami Callihan

Callihan is outraged by Fox’s presence in Fish’s corner. Fox assures him that he’s not going to put his hands on him. Fish is aggressive in the early going, but Sami returns the intensity. Sami runs into a tirt-a-whirl backbreaker, but Fish misses a moonsault. Fish scores with a slingshot plancha to the floor. Diving head butt by Fish, who then begins targeting the leg. Fish gets annoyed by the crowd’s support of Callihan and dishes out some more punishment. Big boot by Callihan gets him back into the contest. Fish goes back to work on the leg, including using a Figure Four leg lock. Sami is trapped for a while before reversing the Figure Four. Exploder suplex into the turnbuckles by Fish! A prolonged exchange on the turnbuckles results in Sami power bombing Fish off the top. Sami goes for a Figure Four variation, but Fish gets the ropes. The Stretch Muffler is countered! They exchange stiff shots. Callihan surprises with a backdrop driver. Sami super kicks the leg and administers the Stretch Muffler. Fox reaches in to slap Fish’s face to keep him in it long enough to counter the hold. Sami lariats the leg but is distracted by Fox, who spits into the ring. Fish nails a backdrop driver and applies the Fishhook for the submission win at 15:51. They tried so hard but the match just couldn’t get over with this cynical crowd, **½.
Winner: Bobby Fish

-Fox and Callihan get into each other’s face. Fox voluntarily handcuffs his hands behind his back, daring Sami to hit him. Pinkie Sanchez delivers a beer bottle to Callihan, who is seriously tempted to risk suspension by hitting Fox. Sami comes to his senses and takes a hike. I like this feud a lot.

DGUSA Open the Freedom Gate Championship:
Johnny Gargano © (with Chuck Taylor and Rich Swann) vs. Ricochet (with Uhaa Nation)

This match is infamous for Gargano seriously injuring his back 5 minutes into it, working for 20 minutes with the hurt back, and for the crowd being seriously hostile. Let’s see if it lives up to that hype. They start things slowly, trading some wrist work. They sprint through a series of counters and come to a stalemate. They run the ropes and Ricochet wins the exchange with a drop-kick. TKO into the turnbuckles by Gargano, but Ricochet flips through an Ace Crusher. Johnny tries again and scores. Gargano works over the arm. Ricochet reverses with a gut-buster and plants Gargano to turn the tide. Ricochet stretches Johnny over his back and knocks his head into the turnbuckles, which is a nice touch. Gargano comes back, clothes lining Ricochet to ringside. The slingshot move is blocked and Gargano’s spear is countered. Johnny rebounds with a suicide dive! They engage in a dangerous exchange around the apron until Gargano power bombs Ricochet into the guard rail! Back to the ring, Gargano counters a springboard moonsault! Ricochet recovers with a springboard Ace Crusher. Ricochet nails a Buckle Bomb and standing SSP for a near fall. They exchange shots as the crowd sarcastically shouts “booo” and “yaaay.” Gargano lawn darts Ricochet into the turnbuckles, but he no-sells and bounces back with a kick. Johnny blocks a top rope hurricanrana but Ricochet rolls through a sunset flip. Johnny applies the GargaNO Escape. Ricochet leaps over the ropes to DDT Gargano onto the apron. Belly to back suplex on the apron by Ricochet! Big dive by Ricochet to the floor. Shooting star press by Ricochet only gets 2. Remember when that used to be a finisher? Gargano botches a super kick counter on another SSP, but that’s forgivable, all things considered. The Hurts Donut only gets 2. The crowd has pretty much turned on the match by now. Ricochet counters an Alabama Slam and nails a reverse hurricanrana. A knockout kick gets 2.75 for Ricochet. The 630 splash is good for another near fall. Gargano surprises with the Hurts Donut and GargaNO Escape for the submission win at 24:17. Jeez, based on the crowd, you’d think Batista and Big Show were trying to wrestle in the Hammerstein Ballroom or something. Despite the distracting crowd and Gargano’s injury, they busted out every trick they knew to put on a show, ***¼.
Winner and still DGUSA Open the Freedom Gate Champion: Johnny Gargano

-With the match over, Gargano can finally just collapse from his back injury. To their credit, the crowd chants “Thank you, Johnny.” I bet everyone feels bad now for booing the match over the past 20 minutes. Gargano would end up taking an ambulance ride after this.

-It’s time for the Tribute to the Arena segment! Lenny Leonard introduces Bob Artese, a ring announcer who means a lot to this building. Artese thanks the fans and introduces Joey Styles! Joey’s smile seems to indicate that he can’t believe he’s still doing this shit in 2012. Styles does his usual shtick and claims being here is more meaningful than being at Madison Square Garden or Wrestlemania. Styles introduces some of the legends in attendance: Pitbull #1 Gary Wolfe, JT Smith, and Tod Gordon. The CZW locker room interrupts, claiming they meant more to the building than ECW ever did. Things are about to get ugly but then Balls Mahoney shows up to make it hideous. Mahoney cleans house on the CZW stooges until getting blindsided by DJ Hyde. New Jack shows up with a can full of weapons to make the save. New Jack is having a blast until Justin Credible runs in and attacks with a kendo stick. Sabu wanders out to confront Credible and we get an impromptu match out of it.

Sabu vs. Justin Credible

Credible continues to use the kendo stick as the crowd chants “Justin Asshole.” Sabu answers with a Tornado DDT. Slingshot leg drop by Sabu gets our first near fall. Cue the camel clutch! Sabu leaps off a chair into a hard cane shot! Credible takes control and they have a miscue setting up a super-kick-to-the-face spot. How come Ricochet gets a “same old shit” chant for his high flying, but all these tired hardcore spots fly? The fans get the table they were chanting for so they start chanting for fire. Doesn’t that just encompass the ECW mutant mentality perfectly? Sabu whips Credible over the guard rail for a sick landing. Both men are bleeding as they battle over control of a table in the ring. Credible attempts a flying elbow drop through the table, but Sabu throws a chair. Sabu carves up Credible’s face with a spike. Sabu gets his weapon taken away and suffers a Tombstone Piledriver. Sabu no-sells and goes right back to using the chair. Sabu puts himself through the table while delivering an Arabian face buster. Sabu mercifully picks up the win at 9:44. I wish these guys would stop killing themselves for the approval of these clowns, *½.
Winner: Sabu

-Joey Styles puts over the match, but Sabu actually wants to speak. Sabu takes the mic and is about to say something when he’s blindsided by Sami Callihan. Sami goes after Sabu’s forehead with a shattered beer bottle. Sami says he’s sick of all the hardcore homecomings and reunion shows, and I couldn’t agree more. Callihan claims the arena for himself and calls Sabu a corpse who just won’t go away. AR Fox rushes in and attacks but Pinkie Sanchez makes the save. Callihan wraps it up by telling the fans to suck not just his dick, but their own as well. The lights go out and the arena is history.

Final Thoughts: This is certainly an interesting show in many ways. It was set up to springboard EVOVLE/DGUSA into 2012 with a lot of hot angles and characters, and it hasn’t quite worked out due to the flat live attendance. The crowd worked against them all night, as most of the fans had sat through a CZW show earlier in the day and were mainly there for the arena tribute. It’s a little scary just how unover a lot of the key EVOLVE guys are, especially considering that many of them are regulars in the Philadelphia area. There were some very good matches, but this show was too much of a mixed bag to really give a solid recommendation. Thumbs in the middle.

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