Evolve came to Joppa, Maryland, on Friday night May 6th for Evolve 60 and what a night it was! Over 300 fans packed the MCW arena to see the best talent on the indy scene today. I was front row for the event, and was very happy when it was immediately announced that Evolve would return in August. The fans were loud, and knowledgeable about the Evolve roster, which made the event all the better. A crowd like that gives me hope for the future. Of course Gabe Sapolsky is no dummy, and began the card with hometown favorite Lio Rush, who got the crowd going as he took on TNA’s newest signee in Caleb Konley. Konley is also an Evolve staple, and one of the best wrestlers on the scene today (no pun intended) but nothing seems able to stop the Rush on Lio’s career (pun fully intended). This match was a perfect opener that set the tone for the rest of the night. Both men showed tremendous heart, and even more skill, but Rush used the crowd’s excitement to get the win. –Rush is on fire for some of the greatest companies in the world, and I cannot wait to see what TNA does with Konley.
Matt Riddle, a guy that seems to be everywhere that’s anywhere as of late, and is insanely hot at Evolve, would face Tony Nese, who came in as a special challenger for the former UFC star. Nese, one of the most well-known names in all of indy wrestling, and an Evolve staple, gave Riddle everything he could handle, but Riddle’s offense, and constant set up moves for his dreaded arm bar submission, was just a little too much for Nese, who wound up tapping out to Riddle. –Riddle is fun loving, and looks like David Von Erich. He’s become a great pro wrestler quickly, after leaving UFC, and getting win after win over guys like Nese just cement how important he is today on the indy scene.
The Villain, Marty Scurll came to Evolve to challenge Johnny Wrestling Gargano. For me, this match stole the show, as both guys chain wrestled, and battled back and forth for over 20 minutes! Scurll is one of the best character wrestlers on the indy scene today, as he manages to not overly ham it up, while also not being overly serious. Gargano is Gargano, much deserving of his “Wrestling” moniker. After near fall after near fall, and a disgusting spot where the crowd actually heard Scurll “pop” one of Gargano’s fingers, Gargano still managed to lock in the GargaNO Escape for the submission victory. After the match Gargano got on the house mic and praised the fans, the venue, and indy wrestling in general today. He then called out his former tag partner, Drew Galloway. Galloway turned on Gargano after they lost their Evolve tag titles to Catch Point, during the Wrestlemania weekend shows, and said WWE was compromising Evolve, by getting involved with them. Galloway obliged, and came out to listen to Gargano scold him, but eventually attacked him, and beat him down pretty badly. Ethan Page came out for the save, followed by a referee, and the next match was on! –Gargano has been amazing for years, and Scurll is the next Gargano imo.
Page has been trying to endear himself to the Evolve crowd after turning on Gargano a few months back and attacking him unmercifully. He sacrificed himself here greatly as Galloway was in no mood to mess around and pounded Page badly, most of the match. To his credit, Page fought hard, and on several occasions took it to the current TNA World champion, but to no avail. Galloway took out Page, and said he is “Professional Wrestling’s Chosen One,” and will prove that on Saturday night, when he takes on Gargano at Evolve 61. –Page is much better as a heel imo. He’s too bland, and vanilla as a face. Galloway is loved by the fans, but I understand his anti-WWE angle and wonder why Chris Hero wouldn’t eventually join in on that?
The Devastation Corporation came to Evolve from Chikara to challenge the Bravado Brothers, and they impressed the Joppa crowd with power and high flying abilities. The Bravado’s were prepared and got the victory, but I would be surprised to see TDC back in Evolve. –The Bravado’s are great, and should be seen in Evolve more often. TDC were impressive and I hope to see more from them.
Surprisingly there was no intermission as we went straight into the first of two main events of the evening. It was Catch Point vs Catch Point, as tag champions Drew Gulak and Hot Sause Tracy Williams took on stable mates TJP and Fred Yehi for the belts. Gulak not only wore his tag title to the ring, but held the Evolve world title over his shoulder as well, after champion Tim Thatcher left it lay in the ring at Evolve 59, when he said he would carry it again after he takes out Catch Point. The presence of Stokley Hathaway for this match was interesting, as he’s become the manager of TJP, and says Triple H is very pleased with Perkins, as often as he can get his hands on the house mic. Stokley was a bit of a distraction, but Gulak and Wiliams picked up the win after a very solid tag match. Afterword’s, Gulak held the world title aloft, and challenged Thatcher to return and defeat all of catch Point in order to get it back. This brought out matt riddle, who told Gulak, and the Joppa crowd that he feels that he’s the number one contender. Stokley Hathaway then offered to help Riddle be the next champion, and it appeared that Riddle accepted his offer. Hathaway has inserted himself right in the midst of Catch Point, and I can’t imagine that not leading to issues amongst the members of that faction. Hathaway left with Riddle and TJP, as Gulak, Williams, and Yehi shook hands and left together as a unit. –I love Catch Point, but I also love Hathaway’s involvement here too. This stuff can only get better.
The main event was the hottest feud on the indy scene today as Zack Sabre Jr. took on Chris Hero. The Joppa crowd was evenly split between the two, as this match was brutal! Hero used his size, and strength to pick Sabre apart and beat him down. Sabre is relentless though, and used submission, after submission to wear down the large limbs of Hero, who gets clearly shaken with the Brits methods. While the match was everything I expected, evenly paced, both guys doing everything they do best, and mostly grounded action, I believe I see the mistake Sabre made, and that was letting the match become more of a fight than a wrestling match. While Sabre is one of the most difficult guys in all of wrestling to get a three count on, if anyone has the power, and stamina to do so it’s Chris Hero. While Sabre used all of his transitions, and submission skills, he stood and traded blows far too often with Hero. This lead to Sabre getting piledriven three times! While ZSJ is one of, if not the best wrestlers in the world, no one can overcome that, especially from a guy like Hero, who won the match after that third crushing piledriver. Hero then got on the house mic, thanked the crowd, praised Sabre, but insisted that he is the greatest wrestler in the world, and the number one contender to the Evolve title. –Hero and sabre are legit two of the best in the world today. Hero is killing it in Evolve, and I would be shocked to see the title on him again soon. Just how I wouldn’t be shocked to see ZSJ in the WWE before long.
This show was top notch, and I loved being there live. Evolve is getting bigger, better, and more important. With Joppa now being a regular stop for them, I am thrilled to be close enough to be in attendance regularly for those shows. If you love pure wrestling, you need to be there too for Wrestling Done Right!
Johnny Gargano made his entrance to kick the show off, and the crowd went crazy. Gargano, an indy sensation for many years now, having recently signed with WWE’s NXT, was excited to be at Legacy, and couldn’t wait to take on Eddie Smooth. Hollywood’s Finest interrupted Gargano, which lead to a confrontation between Gargano and Smooth. As is often the case when two huge egos collide in wrestling, both men wanted to “do it right now,” but in this instance a referee actually came to the ring, and started the match. Gargano, still in street clothes, and Smooth in an expensive suit (until Gargano tore it from his body) had a wild brawl that saw Gargano pin Smooth to become the new Legacy Champion! General Manager, and leader of Hollywood’s Finest, Kevin Murphy promised that Eddie Smooth would get his rematch tonight for the title, however Phil Stamper announced from the commentary booth that the Board Of Directors had called, and added a stipulation, that being that every member of Hollywood’s Finest would be handcuffed to the ring posts, in order to prevent them from interfering in such an important match. While Murphy is the GM, and often runs roughshod over Legacy, as of late the mysterious board of directors have been trying to bring some stability to the cards. This was a total shocker, and makes me think that Smooth needs to get his hot headedness under control, it cost him his title tonight!
Facade was set to face a “mystery opponent, and to his credit he agreed. Making his debut, as that mystery opponent, was a man that has Faced Façade across the Country in major brawls. Jason Gory, made his Legacy debut as the mystery opponent. Gory, a scary man that seeks not just to win his matches, but maim his opponents pulled out all the stops, but Facade finally put the monster down with a huge fall away slam from the top rope! Façade is a he fan favorite in central Pennsylvania and uses that to feed his energy in the ring. Gory was well received though, and I could see these two having a serious feud all over the region.
The man in the burgundy hoodie, that attacked Lio Rush at Empire Pro Wrestling, Joe Keys, came out and issued an open challenge to anyone willing to face him since it was obvious that Lio Rush wasn’t there. To the pleasure of the Legacy fans, that challenge was answered by Tony Deppen! Deppen, an angry young man was just looking for a fight, and he got one from Keys. This match was excellent, as we saw two young up and coming stars pull out all they had to prove themselves to the Legacy crowd. Deppen reached down just a little bit more, and Keys may have been too preoccupied with Rush, as Tony Deppen got a major win. These two made me smile. Both have tons of intensity and skills to match. Deppen and Keys are the future, and it’s bright one!
Travis "Flip" Gordon made his Legacy Wrestling debut facing off against Dezmond Xavier. Xavier came in expecting to face Shynron, and had to adjust his game plan, and he did exactly that. This match was the match of the night to many in attendance, as these two high flyers worked a solid game plan. Each man tried to control the other as they set them up for an aerial assault, both are known for. The most amazing thing about this match up was that strategy, as you could actually see each man thinking, you understood their plotting. Too many high flying matches can be fairly dubbed “spot fests,” but not here, not at all. This was a thinking man’s match with high flying tactics sprinkled in. My thoughts on this match up…one of the best I’ve ever seen in Legacy, and that’s a huge, huge, statement for me to make. Wow.
The Beast from Budapest, your Hungarian hero, Laszlo Arpad hit the ring all fired up and angry after seeing his friend, and partner, Eddie Smooth lose the Legacy title to Johnny Gargano earlier, and he took that anger and disgust out on hometown boy, the Total Alpha, TJ Mathis. Mathis however has improved dramatically over this past year and took everything Laszlo could dish out, and gave it right back. Arpad desperately took to the top rope, something he never does, and nailed his dreaded “Sword of Attila” clothesline finisher to win the match up. Arpad, and the rest of Hollywood’s Finest (Vineberg, Smooth, and Murphy) proceeded to beat Mathis down, and choke him out with a leather strap. Arpad told the crowd in Hungarian, and in English that he’s ready for CZW owner DJ Hyde on the next Legacy show, Summer Stampede, July 23rd, where they will face off in a match where fans can purchase tickets for $3 each to be lumberjacks armed with leather straps! What I loved about this match is the vast improvement seen in both Arpad and Mathis. Arpad’s intensity has increased greatly, and Mathis’s total dedication to his craft shines through in his remarkable improvement. I love this feud.
Phil Stamper then left me alone at the commentary table so he could oversee the coronation of the Legacy Tag Team Champions, The Bloodbound Warriors. After awarding the titles to Red Scorpion and Greywolfe, they were interrupted by JT Davidson and Dave Crist! Davidson wanted someone, anyone, to team with Crist to face The Bloodbound Warrior’s in an exhibition match. After some pleading, and searching, Davidson finds a fan named Chris Silver. Silver was the man from Legacy’s last show that got in the face of Eddie Smooth, and stood his ground when fists started to fly, until Hollywood’s Finest took him out. Silver told Davidson he wrestled in high school and wanted a shot. Amazingly Crist agreed, and the match was on. As expected, Silver struggled in just about every way. He foolishly tried to kick, punch, and chop Greywolf and Scorpion, both whom simply laughed. Crist tagged in and went toe to toe with the two big men, and held his ground very well, until Silver tagged himself back in, and got destroyed. The BBW nailed their finisher “Blood Eagle” and pinned Silver for the win. Crist then turned on Silver, beat him down, and announced that he is tag team wrestling and came to Legacy to prove that.I’m assuming that might mean Dave will bring in his brother Jake? But possibly, maybe, Dave brings in former OI4K partner…Sami Callihan? No matter what the BBW’s have a serious challenge coming to Legacy wrestling, and the tag scene desperately needs it.
As the Bloodbound Warriors made their way to the back, Hollywood’s Finest jumped them, and as Red Scorpion and Greywolfe were attempting to fight back, Kevin Murphy took out a pair of brass knuckles and knocked both men out cold! Murphy then took the house mic and promised everyone that Hollywood’s Finest is “Just getting started!” While most know that I am a fan and supporter of Hollywood’s Finest, I think they need to balance their aggression with tactical planning. Just how many men can they anger before they face too many people? Something to consider going forward.
David Starr, a man that has been tearing it up all over the world, including in Legacy wrestling, faced TNA’s newest signee, and Evolve star, Caleb Konley. Both men wrestled like their life depended on it, and had the fans mesmerized. As big as Starr is at Legacy, Konley got half the crowd on his side instantly. Near fall after near fall had the fans excited. Would Starr stand a chance at getting a title shot with a win? Would it hurt Konley to go into TNA with a loss to Starr? These issues helped tell the story of this match, and it was Starr that once again got a major victory at Legacy, in what was also his 300th career match! Starr is a Legacy guy and keeps winning on his way to the top, and Konely will now be a legit TV star, as I am convinced he will do wonders in TNA.
In a women's match up, Candice LeRae came in to face Penelope Ford. Ford has been gaining a solid reputation training at and working for CZW. She’s stepped into the ring with men much larger than her, and held her ground. LeRae, known as one of, if not the greatest woman’s wrestler in the world, came to Legacy to see what Ford had to offer. The match was top notch, with Ford gaining several near falls, but LeRae then realizing that she had a fight on her hands, and turned it up a notch, pinning Ford. There was some confusion between the referee, and the time keeper, confusing fans as to if a pinfall had been counted, but referee Bruce Delany insisted he had counted to three, and held LeRae’s hand aloft. I’ll admit that the referee/time keeper confusion messed with the match, but it didn’t ruin it by any means. Candace is the best, but Penelope is on her way!
It was then time for the main event, the rematch for the Legacy title! Champion, Eddie Smooth hit the ring with Hollywood’s Finest. Laszlo refused to be handcuffed to a ring post until numerous security guards came to assist. Kevin Murphy relented quickly, and referee Bryce Remsberg had to threaten to throw out the match before Andy Vineberg agreed to be handcuffed. Legacy champion, Johnny Gargano hit the ring to thunderous applause, and held his title belt aloft. Smooth was irate, and wanted the belt, but Gargano simply teased him. This match was the five star classic I was expecting it to be. Smooth and Gargano transitioned as good as any two wrestlers I’ve ever seen, and went back and forth to the point that the crowd seemed split between the crazy popular Gargano, and the hated Smooth. After about 25 minutes, Bryce Remsberg got in the way of a superkick and was knocked out cold. At that point Andy Vineberg was able to get the keys to the handcuffs, and set himself free. Once in the ring, Kevin Murphy tossed Vineberg a pair of brass knuckles, which Vineberg used to knock out Gargano, and placed Smooth's arm over Gargano, scampered out of the ring, handcuffed himself, slipped the keys back into remsbergs pocket, and revived him. Amazingly though, Johnny Wrestling was still able to kick out! Kevin Murphy then managed to distract referee Remsberg, and Smooth took advantage, and delivered a low blow to Gargano, laying him prone on the match, in perfect position for Smooth to scale the ropes and hit his “photo finish” to pick up the pin fall victory, and become the two time Legacy Champion! Can anyone stop the reign of Hollywood’s Finest? Who will be the next guy to even try? Summer Stampede on July 23rd will answer that question, and I can’t wait for more “Wrestling Done Right” from Legacy wrestling!