Sunday, May 15, 2016

EVOLVE 58 Review

Evolve 58 - April 1st, 2016
Larry Dallas and Rob Naylor start the show with the announcement that this is the highest attended Evolve show ever. They introduce the Evolve Tag Team Champions Johnny Gargano & Drew Galloway who bring out Kota Ibushi who will be in their corner tonight.

1) Johnny Gargano & Drew Galloway (w/ Kota Ibushi) vs. Anthony Nese & Caleb Konley (w/ So Cal Val) - EVOLVE Tag Team Championship Match
HOT match to start the show off. With it being a title match, the stakes felt high so this was really good. Lots of crazy sequences with superkicks, counters & such. Most I've enjoyed a Johnny Gargano match in ages, to be honest. It was good seeing Tony Nese again as well, not being a regular viewer of EVOLVE, I haven't seen him since his PWG stint in 2013-2014, but he hasn't lost a step. This match was on it's way to being a high end three star affair until the botched finish thanks to the bellboy not ringing the bell when the ref called for it. This was a still damn fine opener though, just disregard the finish which was screwed up, but not due to the fault of anyone in the ring.

Match rating - ***1/2

2) Timothy Thatcher (c) vs. Matt Riddle - EVOLVE Championship Match
Another title match to keep the show going which really surprised me. Matt Riddle doesn't even allow introductions to be made before he storms out saying that he's right here if Tim Thatcher wants him. Thatcher charges to the ring and these two proceed to have a really unique, enjoyable match. It felt almost like a UFC fight or something of the like, at some points. I wasn't sure how this would go since I either really love Thatcher matches or they fall flat, depending on how it's done, this was the latter and a success. Riddle impressed me in my first time seeing him, a scrawny, but fiery competitor. I also liked the no contest finish with Thatcher selling a major elbow injury as a result of a cringeworthy submission from Riddle.

Match rating - ***1/4

3) Marty Scurll vs. Fred Yehi
It's Scurll's debut in EVOLVE here. I'm way more familiar with he than Yehi, though, as this is my first time seeing the young athlete from Georgia. He put forth an extremely solid effort here and Scurll reciprocated with a great performance per usual so this was good stuff. There was a lot of work on the arms/hands which made for a number of cringeworthy moments. Scurll trapped Yehi's finger in between his boots at one point and popped it in a way that will make you turn away from the screen. JOINT MANIPULATION ran rampant in this match. Scurll wins with a chicken wing out of nowhere.

Match rating - ***

4) Sami Callihan vs. Ethan Page
Solid little sprint although it may have went slightly too long, but it's nothing to complain about. I'm a big Ethan Page guy so I'm stoked has been working EVOLVE steady for a year now whereas PWG quit using once Monster Mafia disbanded. None the less, he & Callihan go through stuff here for a few minutes and the crowd is pretty receptive to it. Callihan wins with a running elbow despite Page hitting a Spinning Dwayne earlier in the match, among other things.

Match rating - **1/2

5) Ricochet vs. TJ Perkins
Ricochet is back in EVOLVE for the first time in a while. I figure this will be his last weekend here and he starts it off against a fellow veteran in TJP. The Future of Flight shows off a lot in the first few minutes before TJP targets the leg/knee and starts gaining some ground. Ricochet starts mounting a comeback from Perkins' ground & pound and goes for the 630. TJP moves so Ricochet lands on his feet only for his leg to buckle underneath him. This allows TJP to lock Ricochet in a submission and force him to tap out in the center of the ring. Big win for Perkins and the crowd is shocked.

Match rating - ***1/2

Stokely Hathaway walks down to the ring after the match with a contract. TJP signs it and Hathaway announces their partnership as "The Dream Team" then he proceeds to call out Triple H and says that TJP is the best candidate in EVOLVE to be in WWE's upcoming Cruserweight tourney.

6) Zack Sabre Jr vs. Will Ospreay
This is my first time seeing these two meet and being big fans of both, the hype was unreal. I can say right off the bat that lived up to all the expectations I had. Ospreay and Sabre are such one of a kind, next level athletes that there's no way this could be anything short of awesome. The crowd created a special atmosphere and Ospreay & Sabre did the rest. Sabre targeted the neck after catching Ospreay in a full nelson position in mid air and throwing him back with a dragon suplex. The vast submission arsenal of Sabre then opened up and he tortured Ospreay in a number of ways. Ospreay found his first escape by rolling out of a submission into a back hand spring into the ropes into a kick to the face of ZSJ. The back & forth battle in the closing sequence saw both men bust out all the marbles. Ospreay hit his standing spanish fly in the center of the ring for a nearfall. Sabre nailed Ospreay with a swinging DDT out of the corner only for Ospreay to spring up and go for a standing shoot star press, BUT SABRE CATCHES HIM IN A TRIANGLE CHOKE! In the end, it was Sabre going back to the neck he had worked on before and trapping Ospreay in an agonizing looking submission hold that I can't even describe. Great stuff here all around. Match of the night.

Match rating - ****1/4

After the match, Chris Hero & Tommy End come out and Hero tells Sabre that he may have beaten Ospreay and everyone else in the Best in the World series, but he's never beaten him. Sabre slaps him on the face and says that changes tomorrow. A lot of good hype was built for their match tomorrow off that little exchange. Tommy End also gets on the mic and says he's gonna knock out Kota Ibushi tomorrow night.

7) Chris Hero & Tommy End vs. Drew Gulak & Tracy Williams (w/ TJ Perkins)
I forgot this match was even on the card so when it came up, I got kind of excited. Unfortunately, it ended up being one of those contests that went too long for it's own good and went into overkill. It had several good parts, but as a whole it was meh. You had a great Hero/Williams fire up spot that ended with Williams dropping Hero on his head with a saito suplex. You had some superb striking from both Hero & End. But it all meant nothing when this thing went 25+ minutes and the crowd slowly lost interest as time went on, as did I. After a bunch of virtually meaningless near falls, Gulak taps out End to get the win for Catch Point.

Match rating - **1/2

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

EthanPWT Watches NJPW 2016

Just like last year, I'm putting all my New Japan Pro Wrestling match reviews in one place for your reading pleasure. I can't muster to watch every single show however I try my damnest to cover the biggest & best matches plus ones that just stick out to me as worthy of viewing. Each of them will be covered here as the year goes on. I DID begin the year reviewing every show though, but that only lasted two days. Below you can relive that streak with the links to my full reviews of WK10 and New Year Dash. But from there we move forward into sporatic, but detailed coverage of the top wrestling promotion in Japan. Let's do this!

NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 10 Review (1/4/16)
NJPW New Year Dash Review (1/5/16)

Dragon Lee (c) vs. Kamaitachi - CMLL Championship Match - NJPW/CMLL Fantasticmania - 1/24/16
I've heard a lot about the series of matches these two had in 2015, but never got the chance to check any of them out. So, when I heard they had another match to start off this year and that it lived up to their previous encounters, I made it a priority to watch this. Needless to say, it was well worth it. From the time Dragon Lee jumped over the top rope to catch Kamaitachi with a hurricanrana off the apron to the floor, I knew I was in for a ride. You could tell that these two had faced off before due to how flawlessly executed everything was. The majority of the match was fast paced with an array of high flying and lucha esque moves however they did turn to submissions during the final half which created some nice false finishes. They did a good fighting spirit exchange with each man nailing suplexes only to pop right back. A lariat from Lee would finish this battle that left us with another stalemate. The final few minutes were the hottest of all with Lee popping Kamaitachi up for a powerbomb only to receive a flipping piledriver for his troubles. Un-be-lievable. Kamaitachi is your new CMLL Champion.

Match rating - ****

The New Beginning In Osaka Review - February 11th, 2016

Jay White vs. David Finlay - New Beginning In Osaka - 2/11/16
Opening match of the evening between two young lions. It's only a 6-7 minute affair, but it's pretty solid. White fights from underneath for most of the match and has a few good comebacks. Finlay dives into the corner with a flipping senton only to get caught and put to the mat as White locks him in a boston crab. Finlay dives towards the ropes only for White to pull him back and wrench back on the hold with his knee across the neck which forces Finlay to tap out.

Match rating - **

Katsuyori Shibata (c) vs. Tomohiro Ishii - NEVER Openweight Title Match - New Beginning in Osaka - 2/11/16
Ishii & Shibata are at it again. As mentioned in previous reviews, their match at the G1 Climax in 2013 is what got me hooked on NJPW so I'm hooked on their meetings right off the bat. However, I wasn't that blown away by their WK10 match despite it being another EXTREMELY solid effort of strong style and fighting spirit from two guys who do it better than anyone. For that reason, I wasn't overly excited for this, but by the time it got going, Ishii & Shibata completely pulled me into it by doing what they do best. Tearing the house down. Ishii bleeding from the mouth was a great visual that accentuated the fight we were seeing unfold in front of us. One thing I also liked was the more extensive use of submissions here. As opposed to these two just slugging it out, they added some submission offense which was a nice change of pace as seeing Ishii convulse whilst locked in the triangle choke was amazing. It was a "take your breath away" moment that led to a gasp when he finally got to the ropes. But trust me, the strikes were here as well and it got EPIC in the final few minutes. Awesome match here, I enjoyed it much more than their WK10 encounter.

Match rating - ****1/4

The Young Bucks (c) vs. ReDragon vs. Ricochet & Matt Sydal - IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Title Match - New Beginning In Osaka - 2/11/16
These six guys are all amongst my favorite things in wrestling today so I knew this would rule. The Bucks are the champs, but only a month into their reign as they won the titles at WK10 in a four-way match involving ReDragon, Ricochet & Sydal, & RPG Vice. I enjoyed this match even more than that one. These junior tags in NJPW can get repetitive especially when they're multi team so having this trimmed down to three helped it. Everybody got their signature spots in and as always, they delivered some stuff you haven't seen before. There was an awesome sequence where ReDragon tried to hit a double frog splash off the top rope on Ricochet & Sydal which is really similar to their finisher (the double shooting stars), but they moved. So, The Bucks tried for the same and ReDragon moved which gave Ricochet & Sydal the chance to hit the dueling SSP's, but The Bucks moved for them and all three teams are down. Fish gets superkicked on the apron and Nick hits a senton on him to the floor. Cody Hall takes Kyle O'Reilly to the back which effectively eliminates ReDragon from the match since Fish is left on his own. The Bucks and Ricochet & Sydal have the final minute or two to themselves and the dueling Shooting Star Presses are finally nailed. We have new IWGP Junior Tag Champs.

Match rating - ***3/4

New Beginning in Niigata Review - February 14th, 2016