Review - EVOLVE 11
The show took place on Friday the 13th of April in Toronto. You can read the full results HERE.
Warning: Spoilers ahead!
Sami Callihan vs Finlay 2
These two had a very good, painfully stiff fight. I never cease to be amazed at how brutal Finlay’s bodyslams look, that move looks so normal when anyone else does it! Sami looked like a warrior for surviving so much of the Irishman’s offence, including multiple Celtic Crosses and a tombstone, before he tapped to the cross armbreaker.
Finlay winning was a shocker, I was certain that this story would conclude with Sami avenging his EVOLVE 9 loss. After the match, Finlay told Sami that he basically needs to drop his shenanigans and focus on his wrestling if he wants to improve, but Sami just shot him down and stormed off. With Sami’s losses to Sabu and Finlay, I think they may be going for an angle where he has hit rock bottom, perhaps leading to a babyface turn. If not, his loss to Finlay is a puzzling decision.
I’d say that their original match (at EVOLVE 9) was better than this one. Perhaps I’d think differently if I watched them both again though.
Low Ki vs El Generico
This was very good, but as seems to be becoming tradition with Low Ki matches, it finished just before it reached greatness. Just like his match with PAC, it built perfectly, then when it was almost time to kick it into high gear, he ended it with the Warrior’s Way. Mind you, it was a particularly sick double stomp, onto Generico’s back while he was huddled over himself.
Heel Low Ki?
Following Low Ki’s match, he took to the mic and declared “You aren’t as good as you think.” to Generico. The crowd boo’d as you would expect. I’m all for Low Ki turning heel, his “quest to make wrestling serious” or whatever he’s doing would make much more sense with a heel persona. I thought he was a heel when he debuted in EVOLVE, but then he was babyface in DGUSA (they share the same continuity now).
It’s time for Low Ki to move from the dream matches into proper feuds, and there are many more babyfaces than heels for him to feud with in DGUSA right now, so him turning to the dark side makes sense.
Johnny Gargano vs Chuck Taylor vs Samuray Del Sol
Del Sol was impressive in the early going, then we were left with the Gargano/Taylor grudge match after his elimination. This didn’t reach the heights of their great Evolve 9 match, but it was good. I didn’t like the finish, as the Open The Freedom Gate champion Gargano passed out in Taylor’s half boston crab. It didn’t come off like Austin/Hart at WrestleMania 13, I thought it just made the champion look weak, especially since Taylor has never been booked like a top guy in DGUSA (though I suppose he has in EVOLVE…this merger can be confusing). I guess they didn’t want Taylor to lose so soon after his heel turn, but then why put Gargano in the match at all? He could have faced Caleb Konley or someone.
Josh Alexander vs MK McKinnan
These two had a good little match. I felt sorry for McKinnan when he botched some moves in the early going (most notably a springboard moonsault), but he made up for it with an impressive dive and some other cool moves later on. Alexander displayed some good power.
Arda Ocal did a good job on colour commentary in the first half. I’d like to see him become a permanent fixture, but I’m not sure how likely that is since he’s based in Canada.
In EVOLVE, wrestlers all enter to generic ambient music, with no differentiation between opponents. It’s really bad. Take Samuray Del Sol for example. At the DGUSA shows in Miami, his entrance, with the “Lu-cha! Lu-cha!” song and his fist pumping immediately got him over. Here he couldn’t do it. Then El Generico’s “Ole!” song was also absent, so the energy that his entrances usually bring was non existent. People even tried to do the “Ole!” chant over the EVOLVE music.
It didn’t help matters lower down the card either, as the guys who nobody had heard of didn’t get the chance to get their personalities over with their entrances.
Low Ki was the only guy who got to come out to his actual music, and he came across as a much bigger star because of it.
Bobby Fish, AR Fox, Scott Reed, couldn’t make it into Canada, so Gargano vs Fox and the Fish match were cancelled. This did have quite an impact on the card, as no real replacement was made for the Fox match (Gargano was just added to Taylor vs Del Sol), and a solid Bobby Fish match could have improved the forgettable undercard a lot.
The opening tag match (Super Smash Brothers vs Drew Gulak and “The Manscout” Jake Manning) was forgettable aside from a few cool spots near the end, and the other matches (that I didn’t list in “The good” section) were even more lacklustre. They were mostly random indy guys who most of the IPPV customers and the live crowd didn’t know, and few of them did anything memorable. I wouldn’t say their matches were bad, but they weren’t up to the standard that the audiences for Gabe Sapolsky’s promotions demand.
Wins and losses
I always liked the wins and losses system in EVOLVE, but it’s really jumped the shark. The Style Battle didn’t factor into it, triple threats don’t factor into it and now apparently Open The Freedom Gate title matches don’t factor into it? Gargano became the clear wins leader when he retained his title against Ricochet at EVOLVE 10, but apparently that didn’t count for some reason, so now Taylor is the wins leader, despite their match being a triple threat and despite him having no more wins than Gargano? It’s so complicated, and doesn’t even make sense.
If EVOLVE was set up like a league with seasons, certain matches being non-league, with the results not factoring into the wrestler’s records, would make sense. But it isn’t, the wins and losses are just an eternal statistic, like in MMA, so it makes no sense to have matches off the record.
The top guy?
So Johnny Gargano is the DGUSA champion, while Chuck Taylor is the undisputed official EVOLVE wins leader, somehow. Did either of them look like the company’s top guy on this show? No, Low Ki was the man who seemed to be the face of EVOLVE. Let’s compare his presentation to that of Gargano:
* Low Ki was on the poster and the graphics (in between the matches), and he was in one of the main events. Gargano was not.
* Low Ki was the only guy on the show who got his real entrance music, allowing him to do his proper entrance. Gargano randomly wandered to ringside to randomly join a match.
* Low Ki said one line that made him sound like a bad dude while also furthering a story with his potential heel turn. Gargano talked at some length about the impact Taylor’s betrayal had had on him. That was necessary, but Low Ki’s one line was delivered better.
* Low Ki pinned one of the most popular indy wrestlers in the world after crushing him with a brutal double stomp. Gargano passed out in Chuck Taylor’s half boston crab.
The situation is very similar to the current CM Punk/John Cena dynamic; Punk holds the WWE championship, but Cena is still clearly “the man” in that company. This is the only show I’ve made this judgement on so far, we’ll see how it pans out in the future.
Low Ki and Bobby Fish both mentioned their desire for the creation of an EVOLVE championship at the last DGUSA shows, which kind of made the DGUSA title look like an afterthought. It wouldn’t have been as bad if it was mentioned at the EVOLVE show, but no one uttered a word about it.
The two main events were good, but they didn’t quite reach my admittedly high expectations. This was my least favourite show out of the four I’ve watched from DGUSA/EVOLVE this year (that’s all but EVOLVE 10). I preferred the Finlay vs Callihan and Gargano vs Taylor matches at EVOLVE 9 to their matches on this card. It wasn’t a bad show, but it’s not one that I would strongly recommend. If you really want to see the main events or the triple threat, or if you’re just an EVOLVE die hard, you can order it on demand over at WWNLive.com
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