|Image credit: MoreThanMania.com.|
The show opened with another match in an ongoing feud between Zack Sabre Jr. and Chris Hero. Sabre is a world class cruiserweight, The two had an epic battle that used much of both men's love for traditional British wrestling, though Hero focused far more on his elbow and knee strikes against Sabre. Hero has fallen seriously out of shape in the last few months, but he put on a hell of a match at Mercury Rising.
I finally got my first view of internet darling Fred Yehi in the second match as he battled Drew Gulak. The two men put on a stellar technical match in a company already known for stellar technical wrestling. Gulak proved to be slightly better, but Yehi earned another opportunity to join Gulak's stable Catch Point. This time he shook Gulak's hand and accepted the title offer.
Again, I see a pair of wrestlers for the first time as two Catch Point wrestlers duke it out yet again. Matt Riddle has tons of buzz around him, but I was excited to see Tracy Williams in action. Williams may be known under a different masked identity, but he put on stellar work against the far better known Riddle. He picked up the win as well, clearly a sign that Catch Point (already tag team champions) will continue to be pushed at upcoming EVOLVE events.
I am not a particular fan of either Ethan Page or Anthony Nese, but both men tried to prove me wrong in a brutal collision. Their Anything Goes match actually featured more carnage than the Street Fight at Wrestlemania and it ended with a sign of respect from Nese after his loss to Page, perhaps a sign of a face turn coming.
A simple segment has Sabu and Mick Foley help celebrate Terry Funk, the man that serves as the special guest for the weekend's EVOLVE and WWN shows. It was nothing spectacular, but was a fun commemoration of a bygone wrestling era.
Post-intermission, the SHINE champion Taylor Made takes the ring. I'm not much of a fan of Taylor and unfortunately they put her up against Nicole Matthews, another wrestler I don't have much to say about. They put on a decent affair, but even the crowd felt they were missing out on star power.
Next, the FIP World title was on the line. Caleb Konley both held and maintained the title, but the real winner here in my opinion is Gary Jay, who I saw in action for the first time as a human rather than an owl. He's a stellar competitor that deserves way more attention than he's getting on the indie scene.
The final title match of the night featured Timothy Thatcher as he defended his EVOLVE title against Sami Callihan. Callihan has put on some stellar matches since he returned to the indie scene and this was no exception. They tore the house down in a brutal competition that Thatcher won. But I can't help but think EVOLVE isn't the place for a talent like Callihan. His character doesn't quite get to show all his unbridled fury in a technical wrestling based promotion. He has signed for Lucha Underground season three however, which might fit his style a bit more readily.
The night closed with an epic six person tag team match, a tradition for Gabe Sapolsky at Wrestlemania weekend since his days at ROH. With no Dragon Gate stars available, this one featured three men that wrestled at the first EVOLVE show: TJ Perkins, Johnny Gargano and Kota Ibushi (hours removed from his Takeover: Dallas cameo) as they took on Team Europe of Tommy End, Will Ospreay and Marty Scurll.
And the six men showed why this tradition lives on. They put on a hell of a match wrestling all over the arena and hitting crazy spots as they sought out the win. Ultimately Ibushi picks up the win in what could be his final indie appearance as rumors of a WWE contract loom.
EVOLVE features a ton of names not familiar to most wrestling fans, but I highly recommend folks give it and the WWN branded shows a try after this one. They put on a stellar show well worth it for any long time fan of stellar wrestling.