The crowd at Melrose Memorial Hall looked a little bit less than 75% full with floor seating totally occupied except for a few sold tickets that didn’t make it. The general admission seating had more seats taken than were empty.
– Cedric Alexander defeated Tommaso Ciampa
The untold story of this match was that these are two guys that Ring of Honor really mishandled and missed out on. Tommaso Ciampa bet on himself when he left ROH in 2015 and it proved to be the right decision for him. He has since traveled the world having some incredible matches and is now finishing up his final indie dates before becoming a full member of the NXT roster.
Cedric Alexander left ROH earlier this year and it already seems to be paying off. He, along with Ciampa, is a participant in the WWE’s Cruiserweight Classic and caught a lot of people’s attention even on the debut episode.
This was a CWC Spotlight match and it used the same presentation as that tournament. Both guys had the rules of the match explained to them and shook hands before it started. And both guys met in the center of the ring after it ended with the winner having his hand raised.
The match started off with a lot of comedy, largely based around their appearances in the CWC. They joked about being television stars and working the hard cam. The comedy probably went on for a bit too long, but the crowd was into it throughout.
Both guys were really over and this was the right choice for the opener. Alexander might have gotten the bigger reaction. He is noticeably in the best shape of his life after having to cut weight for the CWC.
Ciampa’s strikes looked devastating and he hit a couple of big knees on the outside. The match went for nearly 20 minutes and really started to pick up near the end. Both men got big near falls with Alexander kicking out of Project Ciampa and Ciampa kicking out of a brainbuster.
There was some excellent back and forth near the end with both guys going for pins. Alexander eventually won with the lumbar check.
– Ethan Page defeated Travis “Flip” Gordon
Ethan Page destroyed Travis Gordon in a short squash match, eventually getting the win with a powerbomb followed by a package piledriver.
Page got on the microphone and said that EVOLVE will be returning to New England. He started talking about the show’s Johnny Gargano vs. Drew Galloway main event. Page has been trying to regain Gargano’s trust after previously turning on him, but Gargano has been reluctant to accept the idea that Page has changed.
Galloway hit the ring to attack Page and cut a promo. It was noteworthy that Gargano didn’t make the save.
– Matthew Riddle defeated Marty Scurll
Getting to see both of these guys live for the first time was one of the main reasons I was convinced to attend this show.
It was pretty incredible to see how over both Marty Scurll and Zack Sabre Jr. were with the crowd.
And it really speaks to the global nature of wrestling in 2016 when guys can walk into unfamiliar buildings and get treated like they’re the biggest stars in the world. Sabre Jr. has done some work in Massachusetts for Beyond Wrestling (who ran a show earlier in the day) but Scurll has never worked in the state before.
It is impossible to undersell just how smoothly Matthew Riddle has transitioned from mixed martial arts to professional wrestling. And it’s frightening to think of how good Riddle already is with room for even more improvement.
Riddle only made his professional debut in 2015 after training with the Monster Factory, and few wrestlers have ever become as good as he is in such a short period of time.
If Riddle were only good inside of the ring it wouldn’t be that surprising. He’s from a combat sports background and is an incredible athlete. But the adeptness he already has for the performance side of the business is mind-blowing. He already has a defined character that works for him and gets a great reaction from the crowd.
The actual match was really good, though the dynamic didn’t totally work. The crowd desperately wanted to cheer Scurll and boo Riddle, but Scurll did a lot of heel crowd work messing with the fans.
There was a really good sequence that ended with Riddle hitting his fisherman’s buster. Scurll kept trying to lock in the chickenwing with Riddle able to escape. They traded piledrivers with Scurll hitting a traditional one and Riddle hitting a jumping Tombstone. Riddle was able to get Scurll to tap to the Bromission for the win.
– Catch Point (Drew Gulak, “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams, & Fred Yehi) defeated Chris Dickinson, Jonathan Gresham, & Darby Allin
This was a Catch Point tryout match and whoever got the win for the opposing team would earn a spot in the group. This led to tension on the other team, especially between Chris Dickinson and Jonathan Gresham. Darby Allin went for a tag but Gresham stole it from Dickinson. The two later went at it and Dickinson took out Gresham.
Allin was taped up after taking a brutal looking unprotected bump to the outside on last night’s show, but it seemed to be him mostly playing up the injuries as he hit another dive in this match.
There was a scary moment in the match when Tracy Williams did a dive to the outside and smashed his head on the guardrail. He was bleeding really badly and EVOLVE officials had to go check on him. He appeared to be fine after, but had a huge gash on the back of his head.
Drew Gulak tapped out Gresham for the win. Catch Point is great when they work aggressively and they did for most of this match. Dickinson also looked good with his usual stiff offense.
After the match, Gulak cut a promo and called Riddle out to the ring. There was some tension between Riddle and the rest of Catch Point with him not in their corner for the last match. All of the members of Catch Point are vying for Timothy Thatcher’s EVOLVE title, but Riddle seems to care more about his individual success than the success of the group.
Thatcher and Stokely Hathaway came out next. This led to a big pull apart brawl and the start of our next match.
– EVOLVE Champion Timothy Thatcher defeated TJ Perkins (w/ Stokely Hathaway, Drew Gulak, & Fred Yehi) to retain his title
This started out pretty hot but ultimately fizzled. Thatcher’s EVOLVE title reign has been a bit of a disappointment, though the current angle with Catch Point is a lot of fun. They did a lot of work on the mat before Thatcher got a surprising pin in a pretty flat finish.
Thatcher set his sights on Catch Point after the match, with Hathaway running away after Thatcher had broken his thumb the night prior.
– Zack Sabre Jr. defeated Tony Nese
This was another CWC Spotlight match that again borrowed the tournament’s presentation. Zack Sabre Jr. got what was likely the biggest reaction since the start of the show and the crowd was totally behind him.
Though this wasn’t close to the best Sabre Jr. match I’ve ever seen, it was the best performance I’ve seen from Tony Nese. They meshed really well and everything Nese did looked really good.
The match started with the standard Sabre Jr. grappling sequences before picking up. Watching Sabre Jr. live is something that has to be seen. Sabre Jr. hit a pair of Penalty Kicks, including one on the floor. He caught Nese in a really cool looking submission after Nese jumped off of the top.
Nese felt his way into the match towards the end. He missed a 450, which allowed Sabre Jr. to get him in a bridging pin for the win. This was the match of the night so far.
– Drew Galloway defeated Johnny Gargano
Tremendous aggression by both men from the start. They worked the grudge match exactly how they should have. Gargano started the match out hot with a series of knee strikes on the apron. He got Galloway wrapped in the apron and teed of on him before Galloway was able to escape. The crowd was behind Gargano big, with a smattering of support for Galloway.
Gargano showed amazing heart in the match. He was able to hit his spear through the ropes and got Galloway in the Gargano Escape, but Galloway was able to stay on offense for most of it. Gargano kicked out of Galloway’s DDT and two tombstone piledrivers before Galloway hit a big jumping tombstone for the win. This felt like it was comfortably the best match of the night by the end of it.
Galloway again got on the microphone after the match. He continued ranting against EVOLVE management for their relationship with WWE. Galloway commended Gargano’s heart but said that he had to end him now.
Page came out for the save and hit the RKEgo on Galloway before chasing him off. Page tried to cheer up Gargano after the match, but Gargano still wouldn’t trust him. Gargano looked totally crushed after losing.
Page tried to get Gargano to send the crowd home happy, but Gargano wasn’t able to. Gargano walked to the back still looking completely dejected as the fans chanted “Johnny Wrestling” at him.
Page did his best Gargano impression after the match asking fans if they enjoyed the show. He said that not only will EVOLVE be returning to New England, but they’ll be returning to the same building in December.
There isn’t a promotion on the planet I enjoy more than EVOLVE right now and this show was only one of many really fun events they’ve produced this year. There wasn’t anything that will be in consideration for Match of the Year, but it was a good card from top to bottom.
EVOLVE really thrives on how complete their shows are and the roster has tremendous depth on their most loaded cards.
There will likely be some roster attrition after some of the talents are fully signed by the WWE after the CWC, and it will be interesting to see how EVOLVE makes up for those losses.