RADICAN'S TAKE RADICAN'S "EVOLVE 8: STYLE BATTLE" DVD REVIEW 5/20: One-night tournament of wrestling styles, Fox-Swann, Callihan-Lee
Mar 5, 2012 - 3:22:58 PM
PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT TO BOOKMARK US & VISIT US DAILY
RADICAN’S EVOLVE 8: STYLE BATTLE DVD REVIEW
MAY 20, 2011
UNION CITY, N.J.
BY SEAN RADICAN, TORCH COLUMNIST
The show began with a cool name previewing the participants in the tournament and their respective styles. This is an eight man single elimination tournament. Your announcers are the returning Lenny Leonard and Rob Naylor. A.R. Fox got a nice pop coming out for the opening match. Swann also got an ovation from the crowd.
Right off the bat, it’s easy to see that the sound and picture have been improved from when this show aired on iPPV. The announcers said the matches on the card won’t count towards the records in EVOLVE.
(1) A.R. Fox (High-Flying) beat Rich Swann (Rich Swann Style) in a First Round Style Battle Tournament match. Swann got a near fall with the rolling thunder. Swann fired back and hit a big legdrop on the apron. The crowd clapped as both men were slow to recover from the spot. Fox hit a big swanton for a nearfall. Swann fired back with a springboard sunset flip for a 2 count. Fox kicked out of the standing 450 from Swann and hit a kick on Swann. Fox hit a slam and went up top. Swann cut him off with a kick up top. He climbed the ropes, but Fox shoved him to the mat and won with a leaping code breaker. (**1/4)
The crowd chanted for Fox after the match ended. Lenny Leonard talked to Fox at ringside after the match. Fox said Swann was one of his favorite opponents. Fox said he was going to sit back and see who his next opponent was. Swann ducked a handshake from Fox after the match.
Leonard and Naylor touched on the animosity between Fox and Swann after their first round match. Leonard sent out condolences to the family of Randy Savage since he had just passed when the show aired.
(2) Jon Davis (Power) beat Tony Nese (Standing Combat) in a First Round Style Battle Tournament match. Nese tried to use kicks during the early stages of the match to ground Davis, but wasn’t very successful. Nese tripped Davis and hit a nice springboard moonsault for a 2 count. The crowd began to rally behind Davis, but Nese nailed him with a running kick for another 2 count.
Naylor quote: “Jon Davis is one bad powerful dude.”
Davis hit an insane powerslam early that popped the crowd. Davis followed up with a big chop. The fans tried to rally behind Nese. A short time later, Nese hit a leg lariat and both men were down. Naylor just made a bad joke about eating. Nese hit a top-rope hurricanrana, but Davis fired back with a sick clothesline for a nearfall. Davis won with a combination of power moves capped by a sit down slam. (**3/4)
Leonard interviewed Davis afterward. Davis said he had plenty left. He said he wouldn't disappoint the fans tonight. Davis said Fox would be his second round opponent. He warned Fox to get ready for their match.
(3) Sami Callihan (Hard-Hitting) beat Brodie Lee (Super Hvt.) in a First Round Style Battle Tournament match. Both men beat the crap out of each other during the early stages of the match. Sami lit up Lee with some brutal strikes. Lee hit some sick chops on Callihan. Lee missed a boot and Callihan nailed him with a dive through the ropes to pop the crowd. Callihan kicked out of two Truck Stops. Callihan ran wild with a Saito suplex and a falling flying burrito, but Lee got the ropes. Lee hit a Liger bomb, but Sami kicked out! Sami fired back and hit a DVD for a nearfall. Callihan caught Lee in the brock lock while hitting axe kicks on the ground forcing Lee to tap. This match felt like a war. The crowd was hot for this match for the duration. (***1/2)
After the match Leonard interviewed Callihan. Callihan said he felt like he had just been hit by truck. He said he had made the baddest man in the tournament tap out. Callihan said he was just getting started and he was the scariest dog in the fight. Good post-match promo.
Naylor quote: “Sami “The Scary Dog” Callihan we’ll call him!”
(4) Bobby Fish (Puroresu Jr. Hvt.) beat Austin Aries (Hybrid) in a First Round Style Battle Tournament match. Fish looks a lot leaner than I remember. Good back-and-forth action between Aries and Fish. These two are real pros in the ring and it’s showing during this match. Aries worked over Fish’s arm, but Fish fired back a short time later and grabbed a knee bar, but Aries screamed and quickly grabbed the ropes. Aries knocked Fish off the ropes and nailed Fish with a Macho Man axe handle to the floor. Aries snapped Fish's neck over the middle rope and locked in the last chancery, but Fish got the ropes! Aries pointed to the sky and hit Macho Man's elbow drop, but Fish kicked out!
Fish fired back, but overshot on a moonsault attempt. This is really good so far and Aries just killed Fish with the HSM in the corner. Fish hit a huge diving headbutt for a nearfall. Aries missed a 450 and couldn't apply his last chancery effectively. Fish finally ended up catching Aries with a heel hook and he had to tap. This was a really solid match that was given time to build to an exciting finish. (***1/2)
Leonard interviewed Fish after the match. Fish said it was his biggest win ever. He said the heel hook was something he had been caught in by Bryan Danielson. He said he had learned from that loss. He said the move is called the Fish hook. He thanked Bryan Danielson for making him aware of the move. Fish said he would take it to the finals whether fans liked it or not. Fish got a mixed reaction. Leonard said he didn’t have a lot of time before his next match. Fish said, “F--- it. Let’s go!”
Lenny Leonard then introduced Larry Dallas and Reby Sky, who had purchased promo time on the show.
Naylor quote: “Not this guy!”
Leonard said as a result of Dallas's involvement at EVOLVE 7, they both had to be certified to be managers at ringside. Leonard said if Dallas and Sky involve themselves in a match again, they will be ejected from the building. Sky heeled on the fans. She told the fans she’s perfect. Sky said she’s a superstar. The fans chanted “shut the f--- up” at Sky. She was hard to hear over the fans.
Dallas said that didn't matter. Dallas said he a VIP lounge he could sit in. Dallas said his wrestler would tear through the FRAY! and go to DGUSA. Dallas said his wrestler would be the last man entered into the match. Leonard told Sky and Dallas they had to be inside the guardrail or they would be kicked out. Leonard told them they had ten second to get out of the ring. Dallas and Sky ran to the back after Leonard got close to finishing a ten count.
Davis was out first for the next match. Fox came out second and the crowd chanted his name. Davis got a good reaction when Leonard did the formal introductions. Fox got another pop and the crowd chanted his name when he was introduced.
(5) A.R. Fox (High Flying) beat Jon Davis (Power) in a Semi-Final Style Battle match.
Naylor quote: We’ve got the classic high-flying vs. power here, Lenny Leonard. Cat vs. Mouse if you will.”
Davis hit a blue thunder powerbomb early after Fox had gotten in some high-flying offense. Davis continued to dominate the action with a big suplex. Fox hit an insane dive running up the post off the apron and nailing Davis on the floor. Davis hit the pounce, but couldn’t immediately cover Fox, who kicked out. That was sick. Fox fired back and hit the code breaker out of nowhere for the pin. Fox advances to the finals. (***)
The fans chanted for Fox after the victory. Leonard got into the ring to interview Fox. He told Fox that a lot of people would classify that win as an upset. Some of the fans shouted in disagreement. Davis interrupted Fox's post-match promo. Davis said he was man enough to admit he had been beaten and told Fox to win the finals. Fox and Davis shook hands before Davis left. Fox said beating Davis had been difficult. Leonard told Fox he would meet the winner of the Callihan-Fish match.
(6) Sami Callihan (Hard-Hitting) beat Bobby Fish (Puroresu Jr. Hvt.) in a Semi-Final Style Battle match. Callihan appeared to favor his ribs before engaging in a battle of kicks with Fish. Leonard noted that Fish had much less time to rest compared to Callihan after their respective first round matches. Callihan mounted Fish and landed a series of blows, but Fish ended up grabbing the Fish hook a short time later. Sami struggled, but ended up getting the ropes. Leonard said both men were capable of finishing the match quickly with submissions.
Naylor quote: “Sami Callihan just said it’s going to take a lot more than that to put me down.”
Callihan hit a series of big strikes and chops on Fish. Fish fired back with several big kicks. Callihan ducked a kick and nailed Fish with several more strikes. Callihan grounded Fish with a diving forearm, but only got a 1 count. Callihan hit another diving forearm, but only got a 2 count. Callihan eventually ended up mounting Fish and finishing him with forearms for the ref stoppage win. It’s too bad this match was so short, as these two could have a heck of a match given more time, but Fish being worse for wear made sense since he had less time to rest (*1/2)
Fish stayed down for a long period of time after the finish. Leonard interviewed Callihan. He said he was out of breath from going to war with Bobby Fish. Callihan asked Fish if he was alright. Fish apologized once he recovered. Fish said he'd like to do wrestle Callihan again. They shook hands. Fish said he wasn’t going to make any excuses. Callihan said he would face Fish again anytime. Callihan said the only thing on his mind now was winning the tournament.
(7) SAT (Jose & Will Maximo) beat Ricky Reyes & Alex Colon. Colon with a top rope knee drop on Jose, but Will made the save. SAT's hit the Spanish fly for the win on Colon. This was a fun little tag match to give fans a little bit of a buffer between tournament matches (**1/4)
(8) Pinkie Sanchez won an 8-Man Fray! match. Out first to compete were Scott Reed and Cheech Hernandez. Brian XL came out next! XL hit a crazy dive onto Cheech! The announcers mentioned that the winner of this match gets a DGUSA booking. Blaine Rage came out next. Cory Chavis then came out and eliminated Brian XL. Chavis pinned Rage with a Rock Bottom variation. Next out was Pinkie Sanchez. Reed eliminated Hernandez. Derek Ryze is out next. Davis eliminated Reed with a huge boot. Ryze wiped out Chavis and Sanchez with a blockbuster/DDT combo. Chavis eliminated Ryze with another Rock Bottom variation.
Ahtu is Larry Dallas’s mystery man. He eliminated Chavis with a huge spear. It came down to Ahtu vs. Sanchez. Ahtu dead-lifted Sanchez and tossed him to the floor. Ahtu got a "You can't wrestle" chant from the fans. Ahtu beat down Sanchez for a long period of time. Sanchez eventually mounted a comeback and hit a DDT off the top for the win. Ahtu was hated by this crowd. Sanchez is a good choice to go to DGUSA. (**1/2)
Crowd got a big ovation after the match and chanted for Sanchez. Leonard got into the ring to interview Sanchez. Sanchez said we wouldn't forget his name in the post-match interview and we would see him at the next round of DGUSA events.
Callihan and Fox both came out to good ovations. The crowd chanted for Fox briefly before Leonard did the formal ring introductions. Callihan got a mix reaction when introduced by Leonard. Fox got a small pop from the crowd when Leonard introduced him.
(9) A.R. Fox (High-Flying) beat Sami Callihan (Hard-Hitting) in the Style Battle Tournament Finals. Fox went for a springboard Spanish fly early, but Callihan pushed him to the outside and nailed him with a dive. Fox fired back and hit a springboard 450 to the outside and the crowd went nuts. Fox got back into the ring and hit an incredible flip dive over the top and the crowd went nuts.
Naylor quote:” If there is a greater high flying wrestler in professional wrestling than A.R. Fox, I’m begging you to show him to me!”
Callihan evaded a flip kick and hit an exploder on the floor a short time later.
Naylor quote: “Sickening splatter on the floor!”
Callihan nailed Fox with a series of strikes followed by a suplex. He then grounded Fox with a headlock. Fox tried to fire back, but Callihan hit a big boot and a slingshot splash for a two count. Fox fired back with a springboard ace crusher for a two count. Fox went for a moonsault, but Callihan got his knees up and followed with a sliding clothesline for a two count. Callihan slipped and Fox hit the flying code breaker, but Callihan kicked out.
Callihan with a Saito suplex off the top and then another on the mat. He followed with a running forearm, but Fox kicked out. Fox finally hit an incredible springboard Spanish fly off the top for the win. This was a really good, intense match. (***1/2)
Leonard interviewed Fox after the match. The fox cheered for Fox after he got the win. Fox and Callihan shook hands before Callihan left the ring. Fox said tonight would go down in history and it was very special to him. Leonard said big things were in store for Fox in the future. I was surprised Fox didn’t get some sort of trophy for winning the Style Battle Tournament.
(1) Alternate Angle Highlight Video – This is always a fun future with slow motion and alternate angle shots of the best exchanges from this release.
Overall thoughts: (7.0) This show was very different from most EVOLVE shows. I like tournaments, but some of the style names felt forced, although in the end the show did create a large number of matches between wrestlers of different styles. In a lot of ways, it reminded me of the first UFC shows with different styles of fighters competing throughout the show.
It was noticeable right away that the sound and video quality were greatly improved for the DVD edit of this release. There was no backstage footage included on this release, so it didn’t have the usual vibe of a regular EVOLVE show. Instead of having a regular show, EVOLVE put together a one night tournament based on each entrant having a different in-ring style that they represented.
I have to say that there were a lot of good matches on the show, although it was easier to buy into the in-ring action than it was the classification of styles. I really enjoyed seeing A.R. Fox, Sami Callihan, and Bobby Fish perform throughout the night. The Fish-Aries match was a really good spotlight singles match on the undercard. One thing that EVOVLE does well is post-match promos. At times, I thought I was watching a sporting event where the winners and losers of the match showed respect to one another, although that wasn’t always the case. It’s little touches like the post-match interviews that make shows like this worth investing your time in.
I didn’t think the Larry Dallas and Reby Sky segment came off well. Sky didn’t carry herself as well as she usually does in DGUSA and it was difficult to hear them on the mic during this segment. It was also odd that Lenny Leonard suddenly had authority to eject them from the ring. Although, I suppose he was given the authority by EVOLVE management.
Jon Davis continues to show potential as a singles competitor and if he continues to improve, he could get a look from one of the major promotions in the near future. His power moves look really good and he had a good match against A.R. Fox in the second round of the tournament.
I wasn’t into the FRAY match at times, but there was some good action. Dallas’s mystery entrant, Ahtu, looked green, but if his look is any indication of what will come in the future, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the WWE at some point.
The only disappointment on the show was how little time some of the tournament matches got as the Fox-Swann and Callihan-Fish contests had some real potential, but in the case of the Fish contest the short match made sense given that Fish was worn out from his very good match against Aries.
The finals of the Style Battle tournament featured another really good match with Callihan and Fox holding down the main event spot well. Fox’s springboard Spanish fly finish on Callihan was an incredible move. Callihan and Fox held down this show with some very good in-ring performances throughout the show. Callihan comes across like a beast, but on the other hand Fox is so smooth in the ring and has a lot of support from the EVOLVE fans.
I didn’t think Fox delivered a very good promo after winning the tournament, but part of the problem was the mic, which was difficult to hear at times. I think Fox should have done something more impactful to end the show with his post-match mic work to really send the point home that winning this tournament was very important.
Based on the match quality and the sports-like feel, I would recommend this show. There aren’t any MOTYC’s here, but the tournament itself goes by like a breeze and the execution of the tournament was well-done.
You can purchase this release at DGUSA.TV
Please click HERE and click “like” to join the Radican’s Wrestling Community Facebook fan page.
THE TORCH REACHES MORE COMBAT ENTERTAINMENT FANS THAN ANY OTHER SOURCE
PWTorch editor Wade Keller has covered pro wrestling full time since 1987 starting with the Pro Wrestling Torch print newsletter. PWTorch.com launched in 1999 and the PWTorch Apps launched in 2008.
He has conducted "Torch Talk" insider interviews with Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Eric Bischoff, Jesse Ventura, Lou Thesz, Jerry Lawler, Mick Foley, Jim Ross, Paul Heyman, Bruno Sammartino, Goldberg, more.
He has interviewed big-name players in person incluiding Vince McMahon (at WWE Headquarters), Dana White (in Las Vegas), Eric Bischoff (at the first Nitro at Mall of America), Brock Lesnar (after his first UFC win).
He hosted the weekly Pro Wrestling Focus radio show on KFAN in the early 1990s and hosted the Ultimate Insiders DVD series distributed in retail stories internationally in the mid-2000s including interviews filmed in Los Angeles with Vince Russo & Ed Ferrara and Matt & Jeff Hardy. He currently hosts the most listened to pro wrestling audio show in the world, (the PWTorch Livecast, top ranked in iTunes)
REACHING 1 MILLION+ UNIQUE USERS PER MONTH
500 MILLION CLICKS & LISTENS PER YEAR
MILLIONS OF PWTORCH NEWSLETTERS SOLD
PWTorch offers a VIP membership for $10 a month (or less with an annual sub). It includes nearly 25 years worth of archives from our coverage of pro wrestling dating back to PWTorch Newsletters from the late-'80s filled with insider secrets from every era that are available to VIPers in digital PDF format and Keller's radio show from the early 1990s.
Also, new exclusive top-shelf content every day including a new VIP-exclusive weekly 16 page digital magazine-style (PC and iPad compatible) PDF newsletter packed with exclusive articles and news.
The following features come with a VIP membership which tens of thousands of fans worldwide have enjoyed for many years...
-New Digital PWTorch Newsletter every week
-3 New Digital PDF Back Issues from 5, 10, 20 years ago
-Over 60 new VIP Audio Shows each week
-Ad-free access to all PWTorch.com free articles
-VIP Forum access with daily interaction with PWTorch staff and well-informed fellow wrestling fans
-Tons of archived audio and text articles
-Decades of Torch Talk insider interviews in transcript and audio formats with big name stars. **SIGN UP FOR VIP ACCESS HERE**