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RADICAN'S EVOLVE 12 iPPV REPORT - live coverage of Charlotte debut

May 11, 2012 - 10:38:15 PM
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By Sean Radican, Torch columnist

RADICAN’S EVOLVE 12 iPPV REPORT
MAY 11, 2012
CHARLOTTE, N.C.
AIRED LIVE ON WWNLIVE.COM
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Lenny Leonard introduced the show. Adam Paige, Jake Manning, and Caleb Konley made their way down to the ring. Leonard mentioned that Jonny Fairplay was in Conley’s corner instead of Larry Dallas.

1 - - JAKE MANNING vs. ADAM PAIGE vs. CALEB KONLEY (w/Jonny Fairplay & Amanda)

They did several three-way spots during the early stages of the match. Konley ended up getting tossed to the outside by Manning. Paige then took control of the action and went to work on Manning. Paige hit a moonsault off the apron to the outside a short time later to take out Manning and Konley. Paige missed a cross-body and Manning nailed him with a running kick to the gut. Manning tossed Konley outside and went to work on Paige. Konley recovered and took out both of his opponents. Konley isolated Paige and the crowd tried to rally behind him. Manning ran in and hit a STO/DDT combination to take out Paige and Konley.

Paige hit a superkick on Konley and a standing SSP on Manning for a nearfall. They continued to do three-way spots. Manning hit a backbreaker/face plant combination on Paige for the win.

Winner: Jake Manning – There were some good spots here, but the match was short and the crowd only got into it from time-to-time.

The quality of the feed is a notch below the normal quality from WWNLive.com.

2 - - MIKE CRUZ vs. ALEX REYNOLDS

The action was fast-paced during the early stages of the match. Cruz sent Reynolds to the outside and nailed him with a dive through the ropes. Reynolds fired back and sent Cruz into the ringpost back-first on the apron. Reynolds continued to work over Cruz back inside the ring. He caught Cruz with a knee to the gut as he came off the ropes. Reynolds continued to work over Cruz’s mid-section. The crowd tried to rally behind Cruz, but Reynolds nailed him with several blows while holding onto an abdominal stretch. Cruz fired back with a series of chops and a diving forearm off the ropes. Cruz continued to run wild on Reynolds and finished the sequence with a springboard blockbuster for a nearfall.

Reynolds tossed Cruz up and drove him down across his knees for a nearfall and the crowd chanted for Cruz. Both men exchanged pinning combinations and Reynolds finally leveraged his feet over Cruz’s arms to get the pin.

Winner: Alex Reynolds

Star rating: (**3/4) – A very good back and forth match with Cruz doing a good job of selling and making big comebacks. Cruz definitely has some potential and is exciting to watch.

The crowd looks to be small tonight, which has to be a disappointment given how stacked this card is on paper.

3 - - JIGSAW vs. LOW KI

Ki went after Jigsaw’s leg, but he managed to escape. Ki backed Jigsaw into the ropes and Jigsaw was expecting a clean break, but ended up taking a huge chop from Ki. Ki went after Jigsaw’s arm, but he got to the ropes. Ki offered a clean break this time. They continued to feel each other out with neither man gaining the advantage up to this point in the match. Ki went after Jigsaw’s arm. Ki trapped Jigsaw’s arm while applying a crossface, but Jigsaw got his foot under the ropes. Ki went after Jigsaw’s leg this time and grounded him. He slammed Jigsaw’s head into the matt when he tried to free himself, but ended up forcing Ki into the ropes to break the hold. Jigsaw managed to roll up Ki out of a sunset flip for a nearfall. Ki crab walked around the ring after Jigsaw, which would make for a funny gif. Jigsaw grabbed Ki’s leg and locked him in a submission.

Ki finally managed to escape with an elbow. He followed up with a kick to the ribs. Ki hit another big kick to Jigsaw’s back for a 2 count. Ki worked a submission, but Jigsaw escaped and rolled Ki up for another 2 count. Ki went back after Jigsaw’s ribs and applied a body scissors submission on the mat. Ki talked junk to Jigsaw while applying the submission, but he eventually got the ropes. Ki put the boots to Jigsaw in the corner and he screamed in pain. The crowd applauded as Jigsaw tried to get to his feet. Ki nailed Jigsaw with an incredibly hard chop in the corner and he crumpled to the mat. Jigsaw tried to duck a chop and ate it on his face instead of his chest. Low Ki ran into Jigsaw’s crotch in the corner when he tried to jump over him and both men were slow to recover. Ki went right back after Jigsaw with chops and big forearms.

Jigsaw tried to fire back and connected with a dropkick. The fans fired up as Jigsaw hit a cross body off the top. Both men rolled through and ended up in the ropes. Jigsaw cut off Ki up top and took him down to the mat with a leaping hurricanrana. Ki kicked at Jigsaw’s leg when he went for a superkick. Jigsaw countered a Ki crusher with a small package for a nearfall. Jigsaw got another rollup for a 2 count. He went for a sunset flip, but Ki nailed him with a doublestomp and the crowd applauded. Ki then hit the Ki crusher for the win.

Winner: Low Ki

Star rating: (***1/2) – This was a really good back and forth match with Jigsaw making several comebacks and nearly pulling out the match a couple of times.

Ki got on the mic and told the crowd to give it up for Jigsaw. Ki asked when Jigsaw was going to stop pretending to be a luchador and become a real professional wrestler. Ki said if Jigsaw wanted to get noticed, he needed to be a man in this ring. I’ll take that over the old that kid is a future champion speech.

Davis got a good reaction coming out. Finlay got a bigger reaction and a standing ovation from many fans.

4 - - JON DAVIS vs. FIT FINLAY

They had an early feeling out period. Finlay teased going after Davis’s leg, but backed off. Leonard said before the show Davis and Finlay had a backstage altercation that is available on DGUSA’s YouTube page. The feed went out, but came back on quickly. Finlay backed off from Davis, as something happened to his eye. Finlay took Davis down with a punch and continued to favor his eye. Both men backed off before locking up again. Davis took Finlay down and stomped on his elbow. They backed off and then locked up again. Finlay went after Davis’s nose and used the opportunity to go after Davis’s arm. Davis went after Finlay’s arm. Finlay tried to free himself with a big forearm, but Davis took him down to the mat. Finlay pushed Davis into the ropes to break the hold. He didn’t offer a clean break this time and went right on the attack. Davis fired back and went after Finlay’s arm in the corner.

Both men continued to go back and forth on the mat. Finlay finally got Davis by the leg and grounded him. Finlay locked in a leg submission on the mat as the crowd applauded. Davis finally managed to break the hold, but sold his leg before locking up with Finlay again. Finlay got the upper hand on Davis again and went after his knee. Davis tried to kick himself free, but Finlay wouldn’t release the hold. Finlay finally let go of the hold and mounted Davis. Finlay hit several punches on Davis before tossing him to the outside. Finlay tossed Davis’s leg into the ringpost. Davis was slow to get back into the ring and sold his leg on the outside. Finlay blocked Davis from getting back in the ring, but he finally backed off.

Davis hit a big punch to the head, but Finlay took him down with a trip and went back to work on his leg. Davis managed to counter Finlay on the mat. He locked in a kimura and Finlay screamed. The crowd tried to rally behind Finlay, but Davis nailed his arm with a kick. Davis continued to aggressively attack Finlay’s arm. Finlay fired back with a kick to Davis’s leg. Finlay rode Davis from behind before locking in the leg submission again. The crowd tried to rally behind Davis, as Finlay modified the hold into an Indian death lock variation. Davis managed to kick Finlay off, but Finlay dragged him to the apron and drove his leg into the apron. Finlay then drove Davis’s leg into the ringpost and the crowd applauded. Back inside the ring, Finlay went right back after Davis’s leg.

Davis made his way to his feet, but Finlay took him down and went back to work on his leg. Finlay worked his elbow across Davis’s shoulder before applying a brutal looking STF. Davis struggled for the ropes, but Finlay went for a cover. Davis countered it into a Fujiwara arm bar. Finlay screamed in pain. That was a hell of a counter. Davis dragged Finlay to the apron a short time later and slammed Finlay’s arm into the ringpost. Back inside the ring, Davis continued to go after Finlay’s arm aggressively. Davis worked over Finlay’s arm on the mat and carefully slid it into position for a nasty looking submission. Finlay tried to fight free of the submission with knee strikes, but Davis wouldn’t let go. A third knee finally forced Davis to let go and the fans applauded. Davis shoved Finlay shoulder-first into the corner before hitting a suplex. Davis followed up with a second rope moonsault for a 2 count and the crowd popped.

Finlay slipped out of a slam attempt and grabbed a sleeper. Davis finally managed to get his leg under the ropes to break the hold. Davis got up and hit a huge spinebuster and the crowd gasped before Finlay kicked out. Davis took down Finlay with a big kick to the head as the crowd applauded. Both men battled up top. Finlay slipped under Davis and kicked his legs out from under him. Finlay lifted Davis and hit a tombstone for the pin.

Winner: Fit Finlay

Star rating: (****) – A heck of a match with some great submission wrestling. I’m talking elite level stuff from both men. The crowd was quiet and watched in appreciation. Davis’s power moves were awesome down the stretch. The tombstone finish came out of nowhere.

After the match, Leonard interviewed Finlay. Finlay said the guys get tougher and tougher. Finlay said Davis is an awesome kid with a bright future. Finlay told the fans to applaud Davis. Finlay then addressed Sami Callihan. He said he needs to get his head together. Finlay said Callihan can be a champion anywhere in the world. Callihan ran out and told Finlay to mind his own business. Callihan bailed and Finlay said Callihan is wasting his time by letting his head get in the way. The fans applauded for Finlay as the show went to intermission.

5 - - CHUCK TAYLOR & SILAS YOUNG (w/The Gentleman’s Club) vs. JOHNNY GARGANO & SAMURAY DEL SOL

Gargano hit a neck breaker on Young. Taylor ran in and distracted Gargano. Young nailed Gargano from behind. Del Sol ran in and ran wild on Taylor and Young. Del Sol hit an old school video game headscissors takedown on Taylor. Taylor fired back on Del Sol a short time later and went on the attack. Young worked over Del Sol’s back. Taylor and Young tagged in and out to work over Del Sol. Young hit a bubba bomb on Del Sol and applied a full-nelson, but Gargano kicked him off. Taylor tagged in and continued to work over Del Sol. Del Sol finally caught Taylor with a multiple rotation DDT. Del Sol struggled, but finally managed to tag in Gargano. Taylor also tagged out to Young, who ate a clothesline from Gargano. Gargano sent Young to the floor. He ended up catching Young with a slingshot spear before running across the ring and wiping out Taylor with a dive through the ropes.

Gargano hit a slingshot DDT on Young back inside the ring for a nearfall. The crowd popped as Gargano set up for another move. Gargano and Del Sol ended up hitting stereo sliced bread #2 on Taylor and Young for stereo nearfalls. Taylor got rid of Del Sol and Young caught Gargano with a backbreaker lariat combination for a 2 count. Taylor planted Del Sol with a chokeslam and applied a half crab. Gargano got rid of Young before saving Del Sol. Gargano slammed Taylor down and locked in the Gargano escape. Young finally ran and broke it up. Young chopped Gargano and told make him tap. Gargano hit a dropkick on Young in the corner before following up with the lawn dart. After a flurry of exchanges, Young went for a headstand in the corner, but Gargano nailed him with a superkick. Del Sol hit an incredible twisting dive to the outside and the crowd got to their feet. Gargano went up top, but Taylor caught hit the awful waffle.

Winners: Chuck Taylor & Silas Young

Star rating: (***) – This was good. It started slowly, but Del really electrified the crowd down the stretch. Much like the Finlay-Davis match, the finish came out of nowhere with Taylor hitting the awful waffle and pinning Gargano, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Leonard interviewed Taylor. He said Taylor could now pick the stipulations for his next match against Gargano. Taylor talked about the swamp monster and Manning being by his side tonight. Taylor said next time DGUSA had a show; he wanted to face Gargano for the Open the Freedom Gate Championship. Taylor left and Gargano finally got to his feet. The crowd applauded as Del Sol pointed at Gargano.

6 - - EL GENERICO vs. RICOCHET

Leonard was finally joined by Low Ki on commentary. They did some chain wrestling early before coming to a stalemate. They touched on Ricochet recently losing a title in Dragon Gate in Japan. Ki ran down Generico for turning his back on Ricochet after a successful flurry of offense. He said Generico is ill-prepared tonight. Leonard tried to put over Jigsaw on commentary. Ki said it was a good effort, but this is not a game. Ki said Jigsaw made way too many mistakes and that helped Ki win. Ki said he’s here to let everyone know the games are done. Ricochet hit an arm drag to get Generico off of him. They talked about bringing an EVOLVE title into the promotion on commentary. Ki said the young wrestlers in EVOVLE will have to prove themselves as men when the bell rings.

Generico took down Ricochet with a dropkick as Ki pointed out that Generico was taking time to play to the crowd. Generico glared at the commentary booth before nailing Ricochet with a big chop. Generico said something to Low Ki before nailing Ricochet with a backbreaker. Ricochet fired back and nailed Generico with some kicks. He caught Generico with a slingshot head scissor takeover a short time later and covered Generico for a 2 count. The crowd began to clap as Ricochet continued to hold the upper hand. Ki talked about how everyone had to compete at a high level in Japan. Ricochet continued to work over Generico with a stretch on the mat. Both men began exchanging strikes. Ricochet appeared to get the better of the exchange. Ricochet finally applied a variation of an abdominal stretch.

Generico fired back with a series of strikes on Ricochet. Ricochet tripped Generico and hit a standing splash with several rotations. He covered Generico for a 2 count. Ricochet ate a big back breaker coming off the ropes for a 2 count. Ricochet caught Ki with a kick and he went to the outside. Ricochet followed up with a big twisting dive over the top to take out Generico on the outside and the crowd applauded. Ricochet caught Generico with a springboard lariat back inside the ring, but he kicked out. The crowd began to chant for Generico, who caught Ricochet with an elbow in the corner. Generico then hit his signature walk-up-the-ropes tornado DDT for a nearfall. Ki said Generico should stop looking out to the crowd and called Generico a young guy, which is just funny to me. Generico caught Ricochet with a blue thunder powerbomb for another nearfall.

Ricochet fired back after avoiding the running kick from Generico. He followed up with a reverse hurricanrana and covered Generico for a nearfall as the crowd applauded. Both men were down after the nearfall. Ricochet went for a backslide, but Generico slipped out. Generico caught Ricochet by surprise with a Michinoku driver for another nearfall. Generico set up for another running kick and connected this time. He set up Ricochet for the top rope brainbuster, but Ricochet fought back. Ricochet hit a headbutt, but Generico lifted him up. Ricochet slipped away and Generico went face-first into the top turnbuckle. Ricochet went up top and hit a phoenix splash and the announcers sold shock that Generico had kicked out. The crowd chanted for Generico. He grabbed Ricochet’s foot as he tried to go up top. Ricochet went up top, but Generico met him there. Ricochet pushed him off and then caught Generico with a kick as he charged at him in the corner. Ricochet finally connected with a 630 for the win.

Winner: Ricochet

Star rating: (***1/2) – This was a good match with Ki doing a good job on commentary of getting over what both men need to do to get to the next level. It’s a shame the crowd isn’t bigger as the atmosphere for this match would have been insane in front of a different crowd.

Leonard interviewed Ricochet after the match. He said he got his a—kicked. Ricochet said he’s not hear very often in EVOLVE because he’s usually in Japan. Ricochet then turned his attention to Ki and challenged him to a match. Ki came down to the ring and told Ricochet that was a hell of a match. Ki said he’s a man of his word. Ki offered Ricochet a handshake and accepted the challenge as the crowd applauded. Ki then shook his hand at Generico, who was still down in the corner. He asked Generico what he was thinking when he was staring at him while he was on commentary. Ki said Generico isn’t as good as he thinks he is. Ki said Generico can fool the fans, but Ki has been around the world and seen many wrestlers. Ki said he’s come across legendary masked wrestlers like Liger, Tiger Mask, and Rey Mysterio. Ki said if Generico doesn’t change his behavior, he’s going to become a disgrace to the history of asked wrestlers. Generico glared at Low Ki from the corner.

Leonard explained the rules for the Fox-Callihan main event. He said anything goes on the floor, but regular EVOLVE rules apply in the ring. Callihan got a couple of claps when introduced. Fox got a bigger ovation when he was introduced.

7 - - A.R. FOX vs. SAMI CALLIHAN – Evolutions End match

Callihan charged at Fox and put the boots to him in the corner. Fox turned the tables on Callihan and went after him in the corner. Gargano came in on commentary. Fox nailed Callihan with a springboard missile dropkick. He then hit an incredible splash off the top rope to the outside. Fox followed up with a leg drop off the top to the apron a short time later. Fox set up for another dive, but Callihan nailed him with a chair as he came through the ropes. The announcers talked about the fans being able to name the match that goes into the title of this show. Callihan hit some chairshots to Fox’s back before draping a chair over his arm and nailing his arm with a second chair. Callihan missed a chairshot and connected with the ringpost. Fox fired back with a chair to the gut. He then dragged Callihan to the apron. Callihan nailed him with a bicycle kick. Fox pushed him to the mat off the top. He went for a clothesline from the apron, but Callihan ducked and snapped his neck over the top rope. Callihan kicked Fox to the outside.

Callihan set up a chair on the apron and waited for Fox to get up before kicking into his heat. They brawled on the outside and Callihan nailed Fox with the edge of a chair. Callihan continued to assault Fox before wrapping some barbed-wire around his head. Callihan drove Fox into the ringpost as the crowd stood and watched the brawl on the outside. Callihan set up a chair over Fox’s leg and slammed it with another chair. Callihan got the ring bell and rang it over Fox/s head. Callihan went under the ring and got a ladder, but Fox kicked it into his head. Fox then hit a kick-flip off the apron to the outside onto the ladder that Callihan was still holding. Fox rolled Callihan back into the ring before covering him for a 2 count. Fox followed up with a running SSP into the corner, but he only got a 2 count. Leonard named the move Air Fox. Fox went up top, but Callihan nailed him with a kick.

Both men battled up top. Fox shoved Callihan to the mat after a lengthy exchange. Fox set up the ladder on the outside instead of jumping off the top rope. Fox climbed the ladder, but Callihan cut him off. Callihan the suplexed Fox off the ladder back into the ring and the crowd applauded. Both men were down as the crowd really got into the action standing on their feet all over the ring. Both men went face-to-face from their knees. They began exchanging forearms. Callihan got the upper hand, but Fox wouldn’t go down. Callihan taunted Fox and Fox said F--- you. Callihan charged at Fox, but got caught with a DVD. Fox followed up with a huge swanton, but only got a 2 count. The crowd chanted about the match being awesome as Fox went up top. Callihan nailed Fox with a superkick to the legs and he crumpled to the mat. Callihan went for the stretch muffler, but Fox rolled him up for a nearfall. Fox ducked a clothesline and hit a springboard ace crusher for a nearfall.

Fox set up a ladder on the outside. He went back into the ring and went back to work on Callihan. Fox went for an inverted 450, but he missed. Callihan fired back with a big clothesline for a 2 count. Callihan went up top, but Fox nailed him with a kick. Fox went for Low Mein Pain, but Callihan countered it into a top rope German. Oh. My. Gosh. Fox kicked out, but Callihan applied the stretch muffler. Fox finally got the ropes. After another exchange, Fox hit a big superkick. Fox set up Callihan and connected with Low Mein Pain, but Callihan kicked out at the last second. Callihan bailed to the outside, but Fox jumped over the ladder and put Callihan through a table. Wow! Fox went for the cover, but Callihan kicked out. Fox hit a springboard 450 to finally end the match.

Winner: A.R. Fox

Star rating: (***3/4) – The match started as the typical no DQ match, but then it got very good during the last 10 minutes with Fox pulling off some spectacular moves. Some of the chairshots looked brutal, but both guys got their hands up. Both guys deserved a bigger crowd than they got for this match.

Leonard interviewed Fox after the match. He asked him what was next on his plate. Fox said he was going to take the momentum with him into tomorrow and win the Open the Freedom Gate Championship tomorrow. Leonard said if Fox wins the Four-way, he will get a shot at the title.

Leonard thanked the fans to end the show. Fox shook hands with fans at ringside.

Overall thoughts: (7.5) – The live stream quality was a notch below what it usually is. The stream only went out once and overall it was fine, but it just wasn’t as sharp as usual. This was a good show in front of a small crowd. Part of the problem is that EVOLVE is just getting started back up again as a full-time promotion and it hasn’t gotten a chance to gain a lot of momentum yet this year to run a show so far from where EVOLVE usually runs in the northeast. This card would have likely been much better in front of a bigger audience in another market, but I’ll reserve my final judgment on the show until I get the chance to see the DVD.

I can’t say that any of the five advertised main events didn’t deliver. Davis-Finlay stole the show with a brilliant technical clinic that saw both men trade hard strikes while alternating exchanges on the match. I really liked how Davis’s power wasn’t highlighted until the end. The small crowd didn’t generate a lot of noise for those watching at home, but they did enough to show they were quietly engaged in the match while both men were on the mat before gasping for Davis’s power moves. The finish seemed to come out of nowhere, but I don’t mind if one move ends a match.

Low Ki-Jigsaw was another good technical battle with Ki dominating most of the match and Jigsaw nearly getting the win a couple of times with some pinning combinations. I like what EVOLVE booker Gabe Sapolsky is doing with Ki, as he’s using him to try to push guys like Jigsaw, Generico, and Ricochet to be better from a storyline standpoint. Ki-Ricochet was another very good match that would have been better in front of more fans. I was really engaged in that match thanks to Leonard and Ki going back on commentary about both men and although the crowd reacted to what they were doing in the ring, I believe the large size of the venue they were in combined with a small amount of fans hurt the atmosphere.

The main event took some time to engage me, but then A.R. Fox just made my jaw drop with some spectacular high-risk maneuvers in the main event. He’s really a truly gifted athlete and Callihan brought the intensity as well, but the brawling at the beginning of the match just wasn’t very interesting.

I think this show in-particular would have garnered more interest in Charlotte if more hype had been put behind Fox, Callihan, Davis, and Finlay and pushed just those two matches really heavily, instead of presenting fans with five main events. The wrestling on this show was awesome, but I think if EVOLVE begins to get behind a few acts and push them as huge stars instead of putting so much focus on how good the lineup they have is on paper for a particular show, they’ll be better off in the long run. There are some good stories being told during EVOVLE shows recently, they deserve to be a bigger part of the hype for the shows.

Contact Sean at PWTorchSean@gmail.com




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