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Union City, New Jersey – May 20, 2011
Which Style is the Best?
The opening video highlights the different styles that will be on display in the tournament tonight. It would be nice if the winner of the tournament actually got something besides bragging rights.
Lenny Leonard and Rob Naylor are on commentary. Win/loss records are not in play tonight.
MATCH #1: First Round Tournament Match – Rich Swann (Rich Swann Style) vs. AR Fox (High-Flying)
This is a rematch from EVOLVE 7: Aries vs. Moxley. This one should be fast and furious. They waste no time in proving me right. Fox hits a twisting suplex for a two-count. He follows with a spilt-legged moonsault for two. Fox tries an Ace Crusher but Swann lands on his hands again, so Fox hits one off the second rope instead for a near-fall. Swann comes back with a leg sweep and hits a standing Shooting Swann Press for two. He follows with his version of Rolling Thunder for another two-count. Fox cuts him off with a step-up enziguiri. He goes up top and hits the guillotine legdrop landing on the apron, which is an impressive bump to take on every show. Back in the ring Fox hits a Flatliner off the second rope. Fox goes up top for a Swanton Bomb and gets two. He knocks Swann to the floor and over the guardrail. Impressively Swann is able to jump from the guardrail to the ring apron and comes back in with a sunset flip for two. Swann hits a superkick and a package side piledriver for another two-count. He hits the standing 450 Splash for two and then Swann rolls him into a crucifix for another two-count. Fox hits a bodyslam and goes up top but Swann kicks him in the head. Swann goes up top but Fox shoves him down and follows with a super Codebreaker to get the pin at 5:24. That was brief but pretty effective as a showcase. They could do more, obviously.
Leonard gets a word with AR Fox, who gives props to Swann and is ready for the second round. Swann looks to shake Fox’s hand, but then pulls away at the last second. Fox does not appreciate that.
MATCH #2: First Round Tournament Match – Tony Nese (Standing Combat) vs. Jon Davis (Power)
I’m not sure exactly what “standing combat” is but whatever. Nese attacks with strikes, while Davis counters with his power. They go back and forth a bit until Nese hits a legsweep and a springboard quebrada for two. A running knee strike gets a one-count. Davis comes back with a huge powerslam. Now Davis works Nese over, wearing him down with power moves. Nese fights back with kicks but Davis cuts him off. Davis hits a back suplex for two. Nese then hits a leg lariat on a charging Davis, and goes to the second rope. He tries (I think) a Thesz Press but Davis catches him in a bearhug. Nese breaks out of it and hits a spinning heel kick. He follows with more strikes but can’t put Davis away yet. Nese goes up top and hits Davis with a super hurricanrana. Davis fights back with a hard clothesline for a two-count. Nese comes back with kicks and a bridging German Suplex for a close near-fall. He tires another leap off the second rope but Davis catches him with a spinebuster. Davis follows with a buckle bomb and 3 Seconds Around the World to get the pin at 10:02. These two had good chemistry and everything flowed really nicely in this match. I wouldn’t mind seeing them again.
Leonard gets a quick word with Davis, who promises the fans he won’t disappoint them. Davis then tells AR Fox to get ready.
MATCH #3: First Round Tournament Match – Brodie Lee (Super Heavyweight) vs. Sami Callihan (Hard-Hitting)
Callihan charges right away and Lee clubs him down. They continue slugging at each other, as Callihan won’t back down from his much larger opponent. Lee hits a belly-to-belly suplex for two. Callihan tries a sleeper but Lee powers out of it and hits a pumphandle fallaway slam for two. They trade chops as the sound echoes throughout the building. Callihan throws some kicks in there and appears to be building momentum but Lee cuts him off with a big boot. Lee then hits a running Yakuza Kick in the corner. He follows up with another one and Callihan is in trouble. Lee tries a third but Callihan moves and Lee tumbles to the floor. Callihan follows him out with a suicide dive and then unleashes some hard chops. Lee ducks one and Callihan chops the ring post. That sounded painful. Lee backdrop suplexes Callihan on the apron twice, and then throws him into the crowd. He goes into the ring to wait for the countout. Callihan makes it back to the ring at 19, and Lee hits him with the Truck Stop but it only gets two! Lee hits another one but again Callihan kicks out. Callihan hits a back drop driver from out of nowhere. He follows with a couple of clotheslines and a diving forearm for a two-count. Callihan goes for the Stretch Muffler but Lee kicks out of it. Lee hits a superkick and a Liger Bomb but it only gets two! Callihan is able to muscle Lee up for a Death Valley Driver and that gets a near-fall. Lee comes back with a Chokeslam. He goes for another one but Callihan counters to a victory roll for two. Callihan lands a kick to the head and then puts on the Stretch Muffler with kicks to the face and Lee taps out at 12:37! I would have enjoyed it more if Lee had looked a little more dominant during the middle portion of the match before Callihan came back for the win, but like the previous match these two worked well together.
Leonard gets a word with Callihan, who as usual yells a lot and brags about making the big nasty trucker tap out.
MATCH #4: First Round Tournament Match – Austin Aries (Hybrid) vs. Bobby Fish (Puroresu Jr. Heavyweight)
They start with some mat wrestling and trade holds back-and-forth. Aries works a headlock and Fish responds with a headscissors. They continue to go back and forth, both men trying to establish dominance in the early going. Aries goes to work n the leg, even using the Stump Puller briefly. Fish comes back with a series of kicks. Neither man has stayed in control for very long so far, as momentum has shifted multiple times. Aries hits a nice Northern Lights Suplex for two. Fish comes back and puts on an abdominal stretch. Aries reverses it and Fish hiptosses his way out of it. Fish goes for a move off the ropes but Aries dumps him to the floor. Aries goes to the top rope and hits the double axe handle a la Macho Man Randy Savage, who passed away earlier that day. They take it to the apron Aries hits a neckbreaker off the second rope. He hits the slingshot senton to the back and locks on the Last Chancery. Fish reaches the ropes to break the hold. Aries hits gutbuster and then an STO. He signals for the Power Drive Elbow, but instead goes up to the top rope for a Macho Man Elbow. Amazingly that only gets two. Fish comes back with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and then misses a moonsault but Aries sells it anyway. Aries goes up and misses a Frog Splash. Fish charges into the corner but Aries moves out of the way and Fish hits nothing but post and falls to the floor. Aries hits the Heat Seeking Missile and takes out a guardrail. Back in the ring Aries puts the miss in missile dropkick. Fish hits a dragon screw leg whip and then an exploder, because those two moves always go together. He then goes up top and hits a diving headbutt for two. Aries comes back with the Shinbreaker/Belly-to-Back Suplex combination. He goes for the IED but Fish catches him and hits a big gutbuster. Fish lands some kicks and then gets a jackknife cradle for two. Aries gets an O’Connor Roll for two, and then Japanese Armdrags Fish into the buckles. He hits the IED and then another one. Aries follows up with the Brainbuster but it only gets two! He goes up for the 450 but misses and lands on his injured knee. Fish then hits a neckbreaker and goes for a suplex but Aries reverses to the Brainbuster for another two-count. Aries locks on the Last Chancery but can only bridge with one leg. Fish powers out lands a kneelift. Aries comes back with a rolling elbow and a kick to the head. He tries the Brainbuster but Fish knees his way out of it. Fish then puts on a heel hook and Aries taps out at 22:30. That seemed a little long and there were a few awkward spots but for the most part these two worked hard and Aries did a great job making Fish look good. Not that Fish isn’t good (he is), but Aries as the bigger star putting Fish over like that is great.
Leonard gets a word with Fish, who names his finisher the Fish Hook. Fish also says this was the biggest win of his career, and he thanks Bryan Danielson for teaching him something in the match he lost to him back at EVOLVE 4: Danielson vs. Fish. He drops an unnecessary F-bomb that leaves a sour taste in my mouth.
Back at EVOLVE 5: Danielson vs. Sawa, Bryan Danielson faced Munenori Sawa in the main event, plus there were matches with Chuck Taylor, Jimmy Jacobs, Sami Callihan, Johnny Gargano, Kyle O’Reilly, Awesome Kong, and more!
Leonard introduces Larry Dallas and Reby Sky, who talk about EVOLVE 7: Aries vs. Moxley, when they determined the outcome of the Gargano versus Taylor match by throwing in the towel. EVOLVE officials have determined that in the future, anyone past the guardrails must be a licensed manager or trainer. Sky scoffs at that and says some stuff about being perfect. Dallas announces that his new client will be in FRAY! tonight and has drawn the last number. That man will also make his presence known in DGUSA in the future.
MATCH #5: Semi-Final Tournament Match – AR Fox vs. Jon Davis
Davis immediately uses his power to take the first advantage. Fox fights back with some high-flying antics, including a quebrada for a two-count. Davis fights back with his power and throws Fox around. He hits the Oklahoma Stampede for a two-count. Fox shows spunk by fighting back but Davis muscles him into a big vertical suplex. Davis charges into the corner but misses and hits nothing but ring post and falls to the floor. Fox hits a nice Kickflip dive. Back in the ring Fox hits a springboard 450 Splash but only gets two. Davis comes back with the Pounce from out of nowhere but it only gets a two-count. Fox comes back with a Codebreaker off the second rope to get the pin at 7:17. That’s certainly an upset. The match was brief but it was a fun match while it lasted.
Leonard gets a word with Davis and Fox. Davis shows respect for beating him and wishes him luck. Fox says he’ll take that energy into the finals and gain a victory.
MATCH #6: Semi-Final Tournament Match – Sami Callihan vs. Bobby Fish
They both strike each other really hard from the get-go. Callihan lands a solid headbutt. Fish comes back and tries the Fish Hook but Callihan reaches the ropes. He hits a Falcon Arrow instead and then an exploder. Fish goes up top and hits the diving headbutt for two. Callihan comes back with a Saito Suplex. Fish lands a couple of kicks to the head. They trade chops and kicks and Callihan gets the better of it. Callihan hits a diving forearm for a one-count. He hits another one band this time gets two. Callihan traps Fish’s arms behind his back and unloads with forearm shots to the head and the referee calls for the bell at 4:09. That was curiously short but certainly spirited.
Leonard gets in the ring again and Fish shakes Callihan’s hand and asks for a rematch. Callihan says anytime, and then that he will beat AR Fox in the finals.
WWN Live is the new home of iPPV for Dragon Gate USA, EVOLVE, and Full Impact Pro. Remember FIP?
MATCH #7: The New Havana Pitbulls vs. The SAT
The New Havana Pitbulls are Ricky Reyes and Alex Colon (replacing Rocky Romero). The SAT in this case is Joel & Wil Maximo, who I learned existed just now. Joel and Colon start it off with some fast paced back-and-forth and they quickly take it to the floor. Reyes and Wil take their place in the ring, but they quickly find their way to the floor as well. Back in the ring Reyes taes control and keeps Wil down. Colon tags in and continues the beating. Wil comes back with a nice bridging German Suplex for two. Back on their feet Colon just resumes control. Reyes tags in and Wil is able to hit him with a sick springboard swinging DDT. Joel gets the hot tag and is a house afire. He hits a snap powerslam on Colon and then Reyes caches him with an enziguiri. Reyes hits a swinging neckbreaker but when he goes for another one Joel counters it and blasts him with a superkick. Colon hits Joel with a helicopter Go 2 Sleep. The Pitbulls then hit Joel with a decapitation knee drop for two. Wil pulls Reyes to the floor and then knocks Colon down. The SAT go up and hit the Spanish Fly on Colon to get the pin at 5:30. That was a fine exhibition and a nice break from the tournament action.
MATCH #8: FRAY! Featuring Scott Reed, Cheech Hernandez, Brian XL, Blain Rage, Kory Chavis, Pinkie Sanchez, Derek Ryze, and Ahtu
The winner gets to wrestle on three DGUSA shows coming up in June. Scott Reed is out first, and Hernandez is his first opponent. They go back and forth with Reed using his power and Hernandez using his agility to counter said power. Next up is Brian XL. I didn’t know he still existed. He leaps into the ring and blows a hurricanrana on Reed. XL then badly blows a DDT on Hernandez, and then blows a dive to the floor. That’s three strikes dude. Back in the ring Reed stomps away on XL. Next out is Rage, and he looks like a total Indy wrestler and even has “Winning!” on the back of his tights. Bodies are flying all over the place but the fans don’t care about any of them. Chavis is the fifth man in the match. He uses his impressive power to hit XL with a modified Falcon Arrow to eliminate him at 5:46. Chavis turns his attention to Rage and blasts him with a clothesline and a Box Office Smash for the second elimination at 7:30. Next up is Sanchez, and he takes it to everyone with his unique offense. Sanchez sends Chavis to the floor and wipes him out with a dive. Back in the ring Reed hits Hernandez with the Roll of the Dice for the elimination at 8:14. The crowd isn’t pleased with that for some reason. Ryze, another generic Indy guy, is up next. Chavis blasts Reed with a boot to the face to eliminate him at 9:03. Moments later Chavis hits Ryze with a sitout facebuster for his third elimination at 10:19. The eighth and final man in the match is Ahtu, Larry Dallas’s client. Ahtu is a rather large individual. He hits Chavis with a Spear and eliminates him at 10:53. We’re down to Sanchez and Ahtu now. Sanchez shows no fear but Ahtu just grabs him and press slams him to the floor. Back in the ring Ahtu goes right back to work. The bums in the crowd chant “you can’t wrestle.” You know who else can’t wrestle? Everyone chanting “you can’t wrestle.” Dicks. Anyway, Sanchez perseveres long enough to hit the Snakes Revenge and that’s enough to actually pin the monster Ahtu at 14:55. Sanchez going over was a nice surprise and this was another nice break from the tournament, but the action was pretty sloppy.
Leonard grabs a word with Pinkie Sanchez, who promises that the fans will never forget his name and that he’ll see all of us at Dragon Gate.
At EVOLVE 6: Aries vs. Taylor, Austin Aries wrestled Chuck Taylor in the main event. Plus more with Jimmy Jacobs, Adam Cole, Bobby Fish, Homicide, Johnny Gargano, Jon Moxley, Silas Young, AR Fox, Ricochet, and more!
MATCH #9: Tournament Finals – AR Fox vs. Sami Callihan
Callihan charges but Fox is ready for him, hitting a series of kicks. Fox calls for the Lo Mein Pain but Callihan blocks it and sends Fox to the floor. Callihan follows him out with a dive and then throws Fox back in the ring. Fox responds with a springboard 450 to wipe Callihan out, and then he hits a no-hands dive over the ropes to wipe Callihan out again. Back in the ring Callihan hits a boot and a hard lariat to knock Fox off the apron and back to the floor. Fox comes right back and hits the guillotine legdrop on the apron. That always looks like it hurts. Fox tries the Kickflip dive but Callihan catches him and hits an exploder. Back in the ring Callihan continues the punishment. Callihan hits a Death Valley Driver and the slingshot splash for two. Fox fights back with a couple of chinbreakers and an Ace Crusher off the second rope for two. He goes up top and hits a Swanton Bomb. Fox then tries a moonsault but Callihan gets his knees up and then hits a diving forearm for two. Callihan tries a springboard but slips and Fox hits a super Codebreaker but it only gets two. Fox goes back up top but Callihan catches him with a Super Saito Suplex. Callihan hits another Saito Suplex and then another diving forearm for another two-count. He goes to the top rope and Fox is able to hit a quick Lo Mein Pain to get the pin at 10:13. That could have been longer but they had great energy and good chemistry together and the crowd was with them.
- EVOLVE 8 Hype Video
- Alternative Angle Highlight Video
The Pulse: This was a bit of an odd show for EVOLVE, as win-loss records weren’t in play, and top guys like Johnny Gargano and Chuck Taylor weren’t there. However, on its own EVOLVE 8: Style Battle is a quick and entertaining show with good tournament matches and a star-making performance from AR Fox. You can purchase this show at the EVOLVE Wrestling Shop.