Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over ten years now and have reviewed over 5,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?

Evolve #1
Date: January 16, 2010
Location: Rahway Events Center, Rahway, New Jersey
Attendance: 500
Commentators: Leonard F. Chikarason, Lenny Leonard

So a good chunk of the Evolve library has been put up on the Network and since the whole thing is being blown up for the sake of Peacock sooner than later, I figured I would take a look at one of their shows. This is the promotion’s debut event so there is not likely to be much in the way of storylines. Let’s get to it.

Kyle O’Reilly is warming up when Davey Richards gets annoyed at the cameras. They’re here to film everything for a documentary but Davey and manager Tony Kozina throw them out anyway. Davey Richards being really serious? Stunning indeed.

Akira Tozawa and Kota Ibushi have a chat that I can’t understand.

Opening sequence, mainly featuring clips from Full Impact Pro.

Various people talk about why they wrestle, with one of them saying he would be dead if he didn’t.

Kyle O’Reilly vs. Bobby Fish

O’Reilly has Tony Kozina with him. They trade kicks to the legs to start and then fight over the wrist, which the fans appreciate. Back up and Fish nails a dropkick and avoids a charge to send O’Reilly shoulder first into the rope. The big dive takes him down and it’s back inside for a t-bone suplex to send O’Reilly flying again. A top rope headbutt gives Fish two but O’Reilly knees his way to freedom. O’Reilly is back with the rolling butterfly suplexes for two of his own and it’s time to trade the hard kicks.

Fish kicks him down into a cross armbreaker, sending O’Reilly straight into the ropes. More big kicks rock O’Reilly but he counters one into a reverse fisherman’s suplex for two of his own. Fish hits a superkick but walks into a discus lariat for the double knockdown. O’Reilly is back up with a tornado DDT for no cover so Fish grabs a Falcon Arrow for his own two. Back up and O’Reilly hits another tornado DDT into a brainbuster for the pin at 6:35.

Rating: C+. This was a good way to start things off as it was all action and the kind of match that an audience like this would appreciate. If nothing else, it was bizarre to see these two looking so young but that’s the point of an opener like this. It was a hard hitting indy style match and that’s what it should have been in this spot.

Chuck Taylor vs. Cheech

No transition between the match and no entrances, which makes the show move a lot faster. Cheech was a regular on the independent scene around this time and Taylor would get more famous later on. This is an official qualifying match for the Evolve singles division. They start fast with Cheech hitting a shoulder but Taylor sidesteps a dropkick.

Cheech takes him down without much trouble and grabs something like a Sharpshooter where he sits down on the leg rather than pulling it back. That lets him get in some posing until Taylor makes the rope and comes back with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. A headscissors has Cheech in trouble and an overhead belly to belly sends him flying. Cheech is right back up with a moonsault press for two but Taylor hits a dropkick for the same.

The Awful Waffle is broken up and Cheech grabs some rollups for two each. Cheech superkicks him into the corner and hits a running kick to the face, followed by a 619 from the floor. Back in and Chuck hits his own kicks to the face, only to get caught with a spear. A running elbow in the corner drops Cheech for two and the Awful Waffle finishes Cheech at 6:29.

Rating: C-. It was energetic but this was every stereotype of an indy match you can find. They were doing everything they could all match with no selling and one spot after another. I know that’s the style that they want to have around here but it would be nice to see someone stop for a few seconds just to let something sink in for a change.

Post match Chuck is asked about his win and doesn’t like the idea of having to win a qualifying match. Vengeance is coming.

Ricochet vs. Arik Cannon

Cannon is an indy mainstay and RICOCHET HAS HAIR! LIKE SHOULDER LENGTH HAIR!!! Ricochet flips out of a wristlock to start so the bigger Cannon runs him over with a shoulder. A headscissors sends Cannon to the floor and Ricochet hits the cartwheel flip dive. Back in and Cannon nails a suplex into the corner but Ricochet takes him down for two off a quick rollup.

They trade strikes in the corner until Cannon drops him with a right hand into a brainbuster for two. Ricochet can’t hit a tornado DDT as Cannon reverses into a swinging brainbuster for another near fall. Back up and Ricochet kicks him in the face, setting up a 630 for the pin at 4:01.

Rating: C. Ricochet got to showcase himself a bit here but Cannon was dominating most of the match. That being said, Ricochet wasn’t exactly intimidating with the hair and not exactly filled out physique. Then again he was in his early 20s here and had a long way to go. Not a bad match, but they were flying through it so fast that it could only go so far.

Post match here’s Chuck Taylor to say that he’s from the south where they don’t believe in evolution. He’s into creationism so he’s here to create. The challenge is on, with Ricochet saying let’s do it now but Taylor walking off.

Silas Young is with Jimmy Jacobs and talks about what they want to do around here. Another wrestler (who might have been a very young Adam Cole) comes in to tell Jimmy that his match is coming up, which Jimmy does not seem to appreciate.

Brad Allen writes MOM on one set of wrist tape and MAC on the other, both with some crosses surrounding the names.

Dark City Fight Club vs. Aeroform

The Club is Jon Davis/Cory Chavis and were around the indies for years without ever making it to the big time. Aeroform is Louis Lyndon/Flip Kendrick, another team who would hang around for years. The smaller Aeroform starts fast and hits a double dropkick for two on Chavis. Back up and Chavis blasts Kendrick for two, setting up a modified Hart Attack (side kick instead of a clothesline, which Harlem Heat called the Big Apple Blast). Lyndon gets double teamed down as tags just seem to be a suggestion here.

Davis misses a charge in the corner and Lyndon gets over for the hot tag to Kendrick to clean house. Everything breaks down (Was it ever together in the first place?) and Lyndon has to avoid a brainbuster onto the apron. A springboard DDT Plants Davis and a 540 Spiral Tap gets two with Chavis making the save. Back up and Davis Pounces Kendrick, leaving Lyndon to take Project Mayhem (double hiptoss into a sitout powerbomb/neckbreaker combination) for the pin at 6:25.

Rating: C-. I really wasn’t feeling this one as it was just a mess with a bunch of flips vs. a bunch of power stuff. That isn’t quite thrilling stuff but it’s a basic formula that can work in most cases. I know tag team wrestling has basically devolved into two on two matches with tags just kind of being a detail but a little lip service to the idea that they still matter would be nice every now and then.

Mercedes Martinez vs. Niya

Mercedes is introduces as the WSU (Women Superstars Uncensored) World Champion but this seems to be non-title. Niya didn’t seem to wrestle very long and Martinez chops her into the corner to start. Some rolling suplexes set up a fisherman’s buster to finish Niya at 1:11. Yep Martinez is still awesome.

Post match, Martinez says she is here to fight men and women because she is here to evolve.

Brad Allen vs. Silas Young

Allen starts fast with a dropkick to knock Young into the ropes, setting up the big dive to the floor. Back in and Allen misses a high crossbody out of the corner and it’s time to chop it out. Allen gets the better of it and hits a springboard flip dive for two, followed by a gator roll to send Young outside. That means a DDT on the floor to drop Allen for a change, followed by a knee drop for two back inside.

A rolling elbow into a basement clothesline gives Young two more and frustration is setting in early. Allen uses the delay to grab a neckbreaker, followed by a slingshot Swanton for two more. Young gets flipped backwards onto the apron and then the floor, setting up a big moonsault from the top. That sounds good in theory, but Young dropkicking him out of the air made it a bit worse.

That’s good for a nineteen count and then two more for Young back inside. Young is even more frustrated and starts kicking Allen in the head. A hard clothesline gets two but Young misses a springboard moonsault, allowing Allen to hit a springboard spinning high crossbody for two of his own. Allen catches him in the corner and hits a swinging Downward Spiral for the pin at 10:23.

Rating: C+. I liked this a bit better as they had some more time and even sold a thing or two. This was a good deal slower than the previous matches and that’s a smart change after everything else has been so fast paced. It’s no classic or anything but Allen made a bit of an impression and you could see the potential in Young, even if he had to change a lot to become a star. Now why did Allen not have the writing on his wrist tape?

Post match, Allen says he has been fighting for this chance for his entire career and thanks Evolve for the chance. And his mom too. Allen goes to leave but comes back to say he wants Chris Hero at the next show.

Jimmy Jacobs vs. Ken Doane

That would be Kenny from the Spirit Squad. The much bigger Doane shoves him down with ease to start and unloads in the corner but Jacobs is right back up with some stomping of his own. A small package gives Jacobs two but his guillotine choke is broken up in a hurry. Doane ties him up in the ring skirt and hammers away for two back inside. Jacobs’ shoulder being up earns him another beating and we hit the chinlock. Back up and Doane trips him down again with a slingshot elbow getting two.

The chinlock goes on again and the fans think this is awesome. As I try to figure out if that is sarcasm, Jacobs breaks out and hits a quick clothesline. Doane’s slam and running forearm can’t keep Jacobs down so he whips Doane hard into the corner. Some stomps to the ribs get two but Doane is back up with a heck of a spinebuster for two.

A hanging DDT out of the corner gives Jacobs two but the Contra Code is countered into a bridging German suplex to give Doane two more. Doane’s guillotine legdrop (that always looked good) is enough for the pin at 10:07. Hold on though as Jacobs’ foot was on the ropes and TOMMY DREAMER (HOW IS HE ON EVERY SINGLE SHOW EVER???) comes down to point out the referee’s mistake. The match is restarted and Jacobs grabs the guillotine choke for the fast tap at 10:51.

Rating: C+. Doane is someone who was crippled by a horrible gimmick but he was completely watchable once he got away from the nonsense of the Spirit Squad. I’ve never been a Jacobs fan but he was doing a nice underdog deal here, which is more than I would have bet on. Nice match and that’s nice to see.

Post match Dreamer gets in the ring to say he’s back (When did he ever leave?). He walked away from something that he loved but he would never walk away from being in the wrestling ring. He thanks everyone for trying to live their dream and letting him live his. It was his dream to have a midcard match on an indy show restated? Get better dreams. Dreamer goes to leave but Jacobs says hang on a second (it has been a full thirty seconds since Dreamer got some praise).

Jacobs thanks Dreamer for promoting the show but won’t thank him for helping him win his first Evolve match, because Jacobs doesn’t need it. He is choosing to stand alone in Evolve and wants to know why Dreamer is here. Is it because he needs that one more minute in the spotlight? Jacobs wants that look off of Dreamer’s face because he has seen it for the last fifteen years. Dreamer takes his jacket off but Jacobs doesn’t need approval from a washed up has been. Dreamer is just here to have fun though and isn’t even being paid, so he jumps Jacobs. The fight is on with Dreamer getting the better of it because reasons.

Davey Richards is still warming up.

Ken Doane leaves the rest room with his bag over his shoulder and rants about how he is tired of being treated like this everywhere he goes. He storms off.

Chris Dickinson vs. Johnny Gargano

Gargano has long hair for a weird look and has only been wrestling for about five years. Dickinson takes him into the corner to start but Gargano is back with an enziguri into a running clothesline. An Ace Crusher gives Gargano two and it’s time to start trading cradles for two each.

Gargano gets something like the Rings of Saturn but it’s broken up for an exchange of strikes to the face. They’re both knocked to their knees with Gargano blocking a big kick to the ribs. Dickinson is right back with a Falcon Arrow for two and an elbow to the face gets two more. The knee pad comes down but Gargano catches him with a running DDT. There’s the Lawn Dart into a full nelson spun into a faceplant to finish Dickinson at 6:04.

Rating: C. This is one of the best parts about watching a show like this: seeing future stars as absolute nothings who are mainly there to fill in a spot on the card. Gargano looked a little odd with his longer hair but managed to keep his calm against the bigger and more athletic Dickinson. Good enough match here but another short one.

Post match some people show up to the VIP area and Gargano is rather pleased to see them. Again: NAME THESE PEOPLE.

TJP vs. Muneori Sawa

They trade some kicks to start with Sawa taking him to the mat for a quick trip to the rope for a break. A snap German suplex sends TJP flying but he’s right back with a rollup into a standoff and applause. Sawa can’t get the arm so he takes TJP into the corner for a kick to the chest. More rapid fire strikes connect but Sawa misses a running boot. Not that it matters as he takes TJP down by the leg and headbutts away at the knee, followed by an elbow to the ribs.

TJP is right back with a cross armbreaker, sending Sawa straight into the ropes for the break. Some kicks to the arm keep Sawa down but he’s back up for an exchange of strikes to the face. They slug it out from their knees until Sawa pulls him into a kneebar. The rope is grabbed so it’s a dragon screw legwhip, only to have TJP pull him into a cross armbreaker for the break. Back up and TJP’s leg is fine enough to fire off kicks, setting up another cross armbreaker. That’s reversed into a rollup for two and Sawa nails a Shining Wizard for two more. The Octopus goes on and TJP taps at 9:18.

Rating: B-. I’ve always liked TJP and that was the case again here. They were tearing it up with the submissions and holds, which made for a heck of a showcase. That’s the kind of thing you can always go with and it was great to see here. I don’t think I have ever seen Sawa before so it was cool to have someone fresh but still fun to watch. Good stuff here.

Adam Cole narrates his talk with Tommy Dreamer and promises people will remember him. So yeah the guy who looked like Adam Cole earlier was in fact Adam Cole.

Team Frightening vs. Akuma’s Army

That would be Frightmare/Hallowicked/Mike Quackenbush vs. Brodie Lee/Gran Akuma/Icarus and these guys are from Chikara. Mike takes Icarus down by the arm to start and that goes nowhere as commentary tries to explain the story here, which is as much of a downward spiral as you can get. Icarus slips out of an Octopus attempt and it’s quickly off to Hallowicked vs. Lee for an exchange of shoulders.

Hallowicked snaps off a running hurricanrana and brings Akuma back in, with Hallowicked taking him down with a spinning armdrag. It’s back to Icarus so Akuma gets in a cheap shot from the apron but a series of kicks from the ring and apron rock Akuma in a hurry. A victory roll gets two on Icarus and it’s back to Lee for a heck of a powerbomb. Frightmare gets knocked off the top and Lee pulls him back over the top for two.

Akuma comes back in and Frightmare uses him as a launchpad to hurricanrana Lee. The hot tag brings in Hallowicked, who charges into Lee’s swinging Boss Man Slam. The pace picks up and Akuma hits some double knees to the chest for two on Frightmare. Mike comes in for a super hurricanrana into a Swanton with Frightmare adding a standing moonsault for two on Akuma. Frightmare snaps off a tornado DDT to Lee and the Rydeen Bomb (Sky High) finishes Icarus at 11:34.

Rating: C+. This was another fast paced and entertaining match, though egads trying to figure out what the backstories in a Chikara match is harder than something that is very complicated. It was a nice addition on the show from an energy perspective but the costumes and characters do feel completely out of left field here. Pretty high energy match though and that’s all you can ask for out of a showcase.

The documentary filmmaker consoles TJP but then runs away when she realizes she is on camera.

Davey Richards vs. Kota Ibushi

Kyle O’Reilly, Tony Kozina and Michael Nakazawa are here. They waste no time in going with the hard strikes to the face with Ibushi knocking Richards out to the floor. Back in and Ibushi strikes away in the corner until they head to the apron where Richards snaps him down onto the apron. Richards starts in on the arm with a hammerlock suplex into a flipping over hammerlock.

There’s a stomp to the arm, followed by a modified Tequila Sunrise. Richards goes up top but Ibushi is right up there, only to get taken down by a flying armbar. Ibushi fights up with forearms to the face, with Richards seeming to enjoy them as usual. More cranking to the arm ensues and they both go to the apron. A fight over a superplex to the floor is broken up with Ibushi knocking him outside. That means the big moonsault can connect, followed by more rapid fire strikes into a standing moonsault for two.

Richards shrugs them off and hits his own missile dropkick, followed by the handspring kick to the head for two more. A cross armbreaker is broken up in a hurry but Ibushi flips out of a superplex attempt. The rapid fire kicks just wake Ibushi up more and it’s the double moonsault for two. Ibushi goes up but Richards catches him with the release German superplex. Running kicks in the corner rock Ibushi again and a big kick to the face gets two.

Ibushi rolls out of a kimura and snaps off the poisonrana, only to get blasted with a running clothesline. More strikes set up another running clothesline and the DR Driver gets two on Ibushi. They head up top for the exchange of headbutts and Ibushi knocks him down. The Phoenix splash misses and Richards knocks him down for a shooting star press. The Kimura makes Ibushi tap at 18:13.

Rating: B. It was very hard hitting and a very strong style match, but my goodness I had forgotten how annoying Richards could be. The ultra serious and hard hitting/striking stuff gets old fast and it did here again. There is something that seems so ridiculous about being hit in the face and just screaming at someone but that is almost all Richards would do. Good match for the style they were wanting, but I wouldn’t be complaining that this was Richards’ only Evolve match for about three years because of his new deal with ROH.

Brad Allen talks about how he signed with WWE and his mom was killed in a car wreck the next day. Egads that’s rough.

Johnny Gargano, Jimmy Jacobs and the VIP people from earlier try to get Silas Young to go out on the town with them. Young agrees, but gets a phone call as they leave to end the show.

Overall Rating: B-. This is the definition of a promotion where if you like it you’ll like it and if you don’t like it you won’t. That might sound really simplified, but there is not going to be much of a middle ground on this stuff. It was a VERY similar style throughout with a good chunk of the roster using a bunch of kicks to the chest/head and submission holds. You know what you are getting here and if you like that style then you will enjoy it, but if that is not your thing, this is not likely to change your mind. The show is far from bad and nothing is overly terrible, but it very well might not be your style.

Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books.

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