*** EVOLVE Wrestling DVD Reviews by Brad Dykens ***
January 16, 2010 – Rahway, New Jersey
EVOLVE 1: IBUSHI VS. RICHARDS
INTRODUCTION: After reviewing hundreds of wrestling DVD’s over the years, I find that one of the very few things that truly impresses me is when a wrestling promotion comes up with a brand new interesting concept. It’s rare, but it does happen sometimes in this crazy industry. Ring of Honor did it when they started up with their “code of honor,” and Dragon Gate USA did it by mixing American and Japanese style wrestling. Those are two examples of using a smart unique concept to attract fans to watch a show that has been around for over a century. I might remind you that Gabe Sapolsky was part of the group behind each of these three concepts. EVOLVE developed a whole new perception of professional wrestling, and challenged the fans to evolve with them by adapting to a new innovation. EVOLVE pushes the concept of pro-wrestling a little bit closer to the realm of reality. The matches are still obviously pre-determined, but the product is based on wins and loses – like a real sport. They actually keep track of wins and losses. What a concept!
SINGLES MATCH “The Infamous” Bobby Fish vs. Kyle O’Reilly w/Tony Kozina: Kyle O’Reilly is from British Columbia, and was accompanied to the ring by BC trainer Tony Kozina. I know Bobby Fish has a lot of experience in the Northeast and Japan (for NOAH), so I was shocked to see O’Reilly, a basic rookie, come out of this contest with a victory!
QUALIFYING MATCH Chuck Taylor vs. Cheech: They called this a qualifying match, citing that neither wrestler is an official member of the EVOLVE roster, but are fighting for their spot. The announcers pointed out that it would not count on their win-loss record. I had a hard time understanding that, because shouldn’t all of the matches be qualifying matches if this was the debut show? Cheech has really come a long way since I last saw him as a member of Special K in ROH. Chuck Taylor has gotten a lot of exposure in several high profile indy groups, sharpening his skills and preparing himself for bigger and better things. He does look very green, but oozes potential. I was quietly cheering for Taylor. Taylor made me proud by winning with a sick looking cart-wheel Pile-driver! The voice of EVOLVE, Lenny Leonard, interviewed Chuck Taylor after the match. He complained that guys like Kyle O’Reilly and Ricochet get automatic invites into EVOLVE, but he had to win a qualifying match. Taylor proclaimed that he had a feeling someone in the EVOLVE office didn’t like him. Taylor said he was going to win all of his matches just to make their lives miserable!
SINGLES MATCH Arik Cannon vs. Ricochet: This would be my first exposure to Ricochet. He is a skinny black guy with a bit of an afro, who reminds me of TNA alumni D-Ray3000 (except serious). Arik Cannon is internationally known, having been apart of MTV’s Wrestling Society X a few years ago, but has failed to break through in my humble opinion. Ricochet was not fooling around, and hit lots of high-flying offense early on. Cannon fought back using his power to regain the advantage. Cannon destroyed Ricochet with several finishers but the lightweight kept kicking out. Ricochet recovered and miraculously won the match with a 630 Senton-bomb off the top rope! Chuck Taylor came out again and Lenny Leonard ran over to stick a microphone in his face. Taylor said he did not come here to “evolve” but he came here to create his own spot. Taylor challenged Ricochet to a match tonight. Ricochet accepted the challenge, but Taylor said it would happen at EVOLVE 2.
TAG TEAM MATCH The Dark City Fight Club (Kory Chavis & Jon Davis) vs. Aeroform (Louis Lyndon & Flip Kendrick): Jon Davis has grown a creepy looking beard; I guess so stupid mark DVD reviewers like me would stop comparing him to WWE Superstar Montel Vontavious Porter. Kory Chavis is still the same old giant thug he has always been. Aeroform is an exciting new tag team with high-flying capabilities. Louis Lyndon has a cool Karate Kid gimmick and Flip Kendrick has one of the coolest names in wrestling. It’s interesting no note that there were no good guys and bad guys established at this point. The Fight Club guys bumped a lot for the acrobats, but used their power and experience to walk out with a 1-0 record in the tag team division.
WSU CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH “Latina Sensation” Mercedes Martinez (c) vs. Niya: I had never seen Niya before, but she’s cute enough that I was happy to check her out. My first impression was that Mercedes Martinez would eat her alive. That’s basically what happened for the 60 seconds they were in the ring together. There’s still hope for Niya if she sticks with it. She didn’t suck too much. Lenny Leonard jumped in the ring and asked for a statement from Mercedes Martinez. She said that EVOLVE is not just a man’s promotion, adding that she was there to fight and she was there to EVOLVE.
SINGLES MATCH Silas Young vs. Brad Allen: Both of these guys are former WWE developmental wrestlers who never got a chance to shine on WWE TV. Personally I think Brad Allen could have been something, but I’ve never been too high on Silas Young. Late in the match, Brad Allen (who is being pushed as a strong fan favorite), took a spill outside the ring and there was fear that an injury had occurred. Allen made it back into the ring, only to get smacked and abused by Young even more. Allen made a comeback, and miraculously hit a flying cross-body off the top rope. Allen fought with a whole lot of heart, and finished off Young with his finisher for an amazing victory! Lenny Leonard asked for comments from Brad Allen after a gutsy performance. Brad thanked the fans and praised Silas Young, and also thanked his mom (to whom he dedicated his career). Allen then issued a challenge to Chris Hero at the EVOLVE 2 event!
SINGLES MATCH Jimmy Jacobs vs. Kenn Doane: Jimmy Jacobs is THE MAN, and if I were in charge of a wrestling promotion, I would want him to be my World champion. Jacobs cut a promo saying for anyone who loved him he would die for them in the ring. Jacobs said Kenn Doane had been given everything he ever achieved in the wrestling business, while he (Jacobs) has scratched and clawed for everything he got. Jacobs said Doane wasn’t ready for a survivor like him! Jacobs said he’s going to make Kenny wish he could dress up like a cheerleader again. Doane was in full heel mode, and seemed to enjoy getting under the skin of the marks. There were some pre-mature “this is awesome!” chants developing early in the match. At that point it was really good, but didn’t qualify as “awesome”… YET! It didn’t really have a chance to reach the point of “awesome,” because Doane pinned Jacobs while Jacobs had his foot on the ropes! Tommy Dreamer, who had recently walked away from the WWE, showed up and told the referee what happened. The referee restarted the match and moments later Doane was taping out to the End Times giving Jacobs the victory. Doane got in Dreamer’s face before making his exit!
IN THE RING Tommy Dreamer + Jimmy Jacobs: Tommy Dreamer got in the ring and said “I’m baaaaaaaaaaack!” Dreamer said that people think he walked away from something that he loves, but he would never walk away from being inside a wrestling ring. Dreamer gave a speech about the wrestlers putting their bodies on the line for the fans. Dreamer thanked the boys in the back for living their dream, and still letting him live his. Tommy Dreamer left the ring, but Jimmy Jacobs stood up and told him to stop. Jacobs said “thank you, Tommy!” Jacobs thanked Tommy for advertising EVOLVE on his Twitter. Jacobs said he should thank Tommy for helping him win his first match in EVOLVE, but he won’t because he doesn’t need Tommy’s help. Jacobs said Tommy used to ignore his phone calls when he worked for the WWE. Jacobs said he used to have a lot of followers, but in EVOLVE he has chosen to stand alone. Jacobs said he didn’t need Tommy, which makes him wonder why he was even there. Jacobs asked if Tommy was there to get one more minute in the spotlight, as if crying on national television wasn’t enough. Jacobs told Tommy to whipe the smile off of his face. Tommy pulled himself back up on the ring apron to get serious. Jacobs said there was a time he would have gouged his eyes out, but this is EVOLVE and they play by the rules of sports. Jacobs said he didn’t want to get barred on the first show, especially for beating up a piece of crap like Tommy. Jacobs asked if Tommy was there to give them his blessing like Hulk Hogan down in Orlando? Tommy entered the ring and went face-to-face with Jacobs, saying he wasn’t on the roster, but he was there to have some fun. A fight broke out, but Jacobs quickly gained the advantage over Dreamer and gave him a beat-down. Dreamer fought back and hit a suplex and a DDT! One portion of the audience was actually booing Dreamer.
SINGLES MATCH Johnny Gargano vs. Chris Dickenson: Chris Dickenson didn’t impress me at first sight, but he actually ended up wrestling a good match. I think Johnny Gargano has an extremely bright future. Gargano has a lot of personality and I think he will do well in EVOLVE. Gargano got things started with a victory here against the young Dickenson. After the match, a couple of jabronis emerged from the audience to congratulate Gargano on his victory. They were doing the irritating Italian gimmick and my eyes began to roll, until I realized one of the jabronis was Superstar Sean Davis from the Heartbreak Express in Florida. I love that guy! The announcers no-sold it and moved on to the next match.
SINGLES MATCH Munenori Suwa vs. TJP (T.J. Perkins): Don’t ask my why T.J. Perkins is wrestling as “TGP” now. I think it’s kind of stupid. Leave the lame unnecessary names changes to WWE & TNA. For those of you who don’t know, TJP used to wrestle as Puma all over the world – most notably in TNA. Here in EVOLVE, he is unmasked, and is actually a pretty decent looking guy. Munenori Suwa is a seasoned Japanese wrestler brought over to put any American wrestler to the test. Midway through the match, they did a spot where both men exchanged kicks and ended up kicking each other in the head at the same time for a double knockout! They both recovered and the kicking continued. After a few near falls, some kicks/punches, and a little stretching, the Japenese star came out on top for the win!
SINGLES MATCH Team Frightning (Mike Quackenbush & Hallowicked & Frightmare) vs. Akuma’s Army (Gran Akuma & Icarus & Brodie Lee): It was time for six-man-tag-team craziness. Whenever the Chikara guys take the stage they really steal the spotlight. The first half of this match was quite tame, but business picked up for the second half. This was Mike Quackenbush’s first match back after back surgery. Quackenbush is primed to make 2010 his year! Team Frightning were the winners!
MAIN EVENT Kota Ibushi vs. Davey Richards: It was finally time for the main event, and the arena really had an intense atmosphere. I don’t know much about Kota Ibushi, but if he is half as good as I have heard, then we are in for an amazing main event. Lenny Leonard said they were the two most talked about wrestlers in the world for 2009. I found myself hypnotized by this match, gazing at my TV with my jaw hanging. The match was thrilling in every sense of the word. You have to buy this DVD to experience this truly spectacular performance. Davey Richards won with the Kimura Armbar submission. The crowd gave both wrestlers a standing ovation after the match as they each bowed and shook hands to show respect for each other.
CONCLUSION: They also produced some backstage segments, some of which featured a hot female backstage reporter. The reporter and her crew made it known that they were filming scenes for a documentary, and some of those scenes are showcased between matches. It’s actually something old mixed with something new. One thing I did not like was the lack of technical commentary, as the commentators failed to call the moves, specifically the finishers, by name. The DVD ended with the two Italian jabronis leaving the building with Johnny Gargano, Jimmy Jacobs, and Silas Young. I was kind of embarrassed for Sean Davis (calling himself Doc Davis). When you’re done watching the DVD, you can relive the event through the 5:50 highlight reel offered on the main menu. EVOLVE is the real deal, and well worth your money if you want to get back to the business of professional wrestling!
If you would like to purchase this or any other EVOLVE Wrestling DVD, please check out the EVOLVE Wrestling website at EVOLVEWrestling.com