Submitted by Alex Keeling from Ybor City, FL
Rob Naylor introduces So Cal Val and the Premiere Athlete Brand. Gary Jay comes out to challenge Caleb Konley,
Caleb Konley defeated Gary Jay
The first three contests flowed seamlessly into each other, with the Premier Athlete Brand’s opponents coming out one after another; a cool way to transition between opening matches. The first match saw debuting Gary Jay take on Caleb Konley. I had never seen Jay before, but he played a good babyface. By the end, Jay had the crowd behind him but it wasn’t enough as Konley finished with a moonsault. Fun opener.
Trent Baretta defeated Rich Swann
Baretta as a heel is a lot of fun to watch and a nice change of pace from what he usually does in PWG. With his mannerisms and antics intensified, Baretta was in control for the majority of the match. High point was when Baretta gave Swann a half nelson suplex on the apron, eliciting “holy shit” chants. This was the best of the first three contests, with both guys on their A game. Swann makes a couple comebacks throughout the match but eventually falls to the Dudebuster. Premiere Athlete Brand up 2-0.
Andrew Everett beat Anthony Nese
I was expecting more out of Everett here. This may have worked better had it been switched with the previous match. That being said, solid effort by both guys, just nothing remarkable. Nese worked on Everett’s bad knee for the majority of the match. Everett hit a shooting star press for the 3, giving the Premier Athlete Brand it’s first loss of the night. After the match, Everett challenged Konley for the FIP title the next night at Evolve 46.
Chris Hero beat Trevor Lee
These two had no problem just tearing into one another. If you liked either of their previous encounters (one in PWG, one at Evolve 43), you’ll be into this one. Stiff match. Lee took several cringe-inducing elbows and kicks to the face courtesy of the Knockout Kid. Lee hit a powerbomb for a near fall. Hero finished with multiple elbows. They told a story of Lee coming close again but still not being able to beat Hero. One would expect them to do a third match with Lee getting one last chance, given how close he came here. Great match. Afterwards, Hero heels it up on the mic, saying he’s the best. If not him, who is the best, he asks. Someone in the crowd says Zach Sabre Jr and Hero talks some smack, saying he’s beat Sabre multiple times in the past, in NOAH and elsewhere. Hero and Sabre will meet at Evolve 48.
Zach Sabre Jr. submits Roderick Strong
Fans were in for a treat here, as the card had to be changed that morning when Davey Richards (scheduled to face Sabre) couldn’t compete. Instead, we got Roddy/ZSJ II, a rematch from PWG’s April show. Words can’t do this one justice. Gabe’s tweets and emails indicated that he was “hotshotting” matches tonight for the sake of the fans, and he wasn’t kidding. Incredible, incredible match. Chain wrestling at the opening reminded me of Malenko/Guerrero in 95. Sabre won most of the exchanges, staying a step ahead of Roddy at every turn. Sabre worked Roddy’s arm most of the match with lots of inventive offensive. Every little thing meant something here. Roddy went for Sabre’s legs, building to his Stronghold boston crab. The match only got better and better, with finishing sequences that reminded you of the closing minutes of AJ/Okada. Eventually, Strong succumbed to an armbar, bringing the series between these two to one fall a piece. One can only hope there’s a rubber match in the works. Just terrific stuff here.
Timothy Thatcher defeats Drew Galloway to win the Evolve and DG USA World Heavyweight Championships
There was no way anything could follow that last match, so these two had their work cut out for them. Thatcher asked that the match be a title match, and Galloway agreed to put both belts (Evolve and DGUSA World Heavyweight Title) on the line. Thatcher looked really great here, but Galloway was no slouch. A great wrestling match, nothing at all like the brawls Galloway had been having with Roddy. Crowd was seemingly dead after the last two matches. Thatcher wins in a shocker with an armbar! I felt bad for both guys as they looked to be trying to make it a big moment but the atmosphere just wasn’t there. Galloway is hesitant to give up his belts at the end of the match, but he eventually does so. With Thatcher taking on Hero the next night in a rematch of their classic from Mania weekend, one would assume that becomes a title match.
All in all, an amazing show from Evolve. Hero/Lee and Strong/ZSJ are both worth going out of your way to see. If Sabre wasn’t stuck doing multi-man matches in NOAH, one would think he’d be a contender for wrestler of the year, given the quality of his performances in the US. The kid is incredible.