The influence of independent promotions on the modern wrestling scene cannot be overstated. The indies are the new developing ground for the hopefuls of tomorrow, and have taken a life of their own for performers to make a mark on the industry outside of the major promotions. The EVOLVE promotion has emerged as a top destinations for aspiring indy stars, as evidenced by the recent visits from HHH and William Regal to EVOLVE events.
I had the opportunity to check out the most recent EVOLVE show, EVOLVE 57. The shows are heavily focused on the wrestling action, without the over-the-top characters seen on WWE. But over the past six years, the EVOLVE brand has developed enough characters to provide some compelling story lines to spice up the in-ring action. Today's blog will focus on three things I really liked, and one thing I didn't like about EVOLVE 57.
Thumbs up: Ethan Page
Ethan Page: This veteran Canadian performer, known as "All Ego", has ten years in the business although he is only 26 years old. Page opened the show with a win over Fred Yehi with the Package Piledriver. Page has been playing the role of the heel trying to change his ways. As part of his penance, he has been wrestling the opening match for the past several shows. I watched Page in a couple of live matches last summer in Cleveland, which I greatly enjoyed. He doesn't have a WWE-style physique, but he is a solid worker and a very engaging personality.
Thumbs up: Matt Riddle
Matt Riddle: Also 26 years old, Riddle is a rookie in the ranks of wrestling. He is well known for his MMA success on the Ultimate Fighter. His rise through the ranks of the UFC ended prematurely with a pair of positive drug tests for marijuana, but Riddle has the size, the look, and the athletic credentials to become a star in the wrestling business. Riddle submitted Chris Hero after a solid match at EVOLVE 57, and has issued a challenge to Evolve champion Timothy Thatcher on April 1 in Dallas. Initially courted by Drew Gulak for training, Riddle instead chose his own path as an arrogant heel. His cocky smirk and his reputation as a rebel make the heel role a natural fit. The sky is the ceiling for this guy.
Thumbs up: Timothy Thatcher
Timothy Thatcher: Another ring veteran, Thatcher is an amazing technical wrestler who holds the EVOLVE championship. At EVOLVE 57, Thatcher won by submission over Caleb Konley, but the big news is that Thatcher is facing a double whammy on Wrestlemania weekend. Thatcher will face Matt Riddle on April 1, and Sami Callihan on April 2. Both these matches should be tremendous! Thatcher is a bit generic by WWE standards, but his work in the ring is second to none.
Thumbs down: Chris Hero
Chris Hero: How the mighty have fallen! Hero is one of the best workers on the planet, and has a terrific mind for the business. Unfortunately, his lack of commitment to physical fitness cost him his shot at a career in WWE. Since his release, things have gone from bad to worse. Until he gets control of his weight, Hero is more likely to achieve success as a sumo wrestler than a sports entertainer.
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