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EVOLVE 25
by SamoaRowe

Januaru 10, 2014

-From Ybor City, FL. Our hosts are Lenny Leonard and Rob Naylor. WWNLive.com has upgraded their video equipment to HD and the feed looks wonderful (here’s to hoping it doesn’t crash). I would guess there’s around 80 fans in the building.

FIP Heavyweight Championship:
Trent Baretta © vs. Anthony Nese (with Su Yung)

They begin with an even back and forth exchange. Baretta counters a wristlock with a hurricanrana. Nese scores a powerful chop to take control. Nese creatively stretches the legs and head, and displays a grounded strategy. Baretta counters with a mid-air drop-kick and makes the plucky baby face comeback. Nese survives an overhead suplex and delivers a series of quick attacks. Nese catches Baretta with a Codebreaker for only 2. Baretta surprises with a guillotine leg drop on the apron, leading to a running dive into the seating area. Tornado DDT by Baretta gets a 2 count. Nese rebounds with stiff kicks, leading to a Death Valley Driver on the apron! German suplex by Nese only gets 2, so they trade stiff shots. Nese dead lifts with one arm to nail the buckle bomb, immediately followed by a power bomb for a damn convincing near fall. Baretta struggles to hit a German superplex! Running knee gets a near fall for Baretta. Nese looks for a winning combination, but misses a 450 splash. Nese counters with a head scissors takedown onto Baretta’s head. Baretta counters an O’Connor roll for the win at 23:03! Lenny Leonard immediately declares this the best FIP title match in history. They definitely set out to steal the show, the 80 fans in attendance loved it, and Nese’s fire helped elevate this over some of your typical indy spot-fest fare, ***¾.
Winner and still FIP Heavyweight Champion: Trent Baretta

-Baretta puts Nese over in a short promo, but suggests that Nese hasn’t reached his full potential yet.

EVOLVE FRAY!
Chuck Taylor vs. Lince Dorado vs. Jon Davis vs. Caleb Konley vs. Uhaa Nation

Two men start, another man enters every two minutes. The winner faces Johnny Gargano for the DGUSA title on EVOLVE 27. Taylor and Dorado are out first, and Dorado seems to threaten to neuter Taylor with his mouth. They lock up and Dorado continues to utilize a biting strategy. Dorado leaps off the top rope for an arm drag but Taylor prevents a dive. Davis joins the match and drops a knee on Taylor, stuck in a Dorado stretch. Davis delivers a fun DDT/neck breaker combo on both opponents. Davis dominates with his power arsenal.. Konley rushes in for the sunset flip/superplex combo spot. Dorado kicks off of Davis to score a moonsault on Taylor and Konley at ringside. Davis catches Dorado with a spinebuster for 2. Davis tosses Dorado onto the entering Nation, who gently sets Dorado down in the front row. Everyone gangs up on Davis until Dorado pins him with a SSP at 7:37. Dorado shines until Taylor hits him with the Awful Waffle for the pin at 9:10. Konley looks for an upset against Taylor, but Nation catches him with a Samoan Drop. Nation’s “Uhaa Combination” finishes Konley at 10:29. Taylor catches Uhaa with a Uranage but Nation counters with multiple power bombs for the win at 11:23. Fun spot-fest here, I like all the participants a little more now, ***.
Winner: Uhaa Nation

Chris Hero vs. Ricochet

They shake hands and start off wrestling a clean contest. Hero gets to show off his technical chops, keeping Ricochet on the defense. Ricochet makes a statement by quickly kipping up after shoulder blocks. Hero’s headlock takedown is countered into a head scissors, but Hero kips out as well. Ricochet mocks with quick kip-ups, prompting Hero to punch him in the face. The pace quickens and they narrowly avoid dives, resulting in a surprise big boot by Hero. Things get ugly as they exchange strikes. Ax kick to the head by Ricochet earns a near fall, but he leap frogs into a Hero big boot. Hero dominates this portion with methodical attacks, telling Ricochet he’s still the “16 year old bitch” he was when they last wrestled. Ricochet fires back with a chin breaker and enziguri. Springboard clothesline by Ricochet, but Hero counters with a cravat suplex! Hero pushes Ricochet off the top rope into a steel pole holding up the roof! Hero comes back with a running dive over the ropes. Ricochet enjoys an “adult beverage” before colliding with Hero in the ring. Hero repeatedly attacks the head. They exchange reversals until Ricochet nails a suplex, setting up a springboard 450 splash. Ricochet’s SSP only gets a 2 count, but his 630 splash ends it at 22:40. Ricochet playing underdog against Hero made for a good story and the sometimes quiet EVOLVE fans got into it, ***¾.
Winner: Ricochet

-Ricochet puts Chris Hero over in a post-match promo. Ricochet throws his name into the hat to challenge Johnny Gargano for the DGUSA title in New Orleans. Hero says he feels like he just wrestled Yokozuna and Ricochet is the best athlete he’s ever been in the ring with. Hero believes Ricochet can and will beat Gargano if he gets another chance. Hero continues to sincerely put over the EVOLVE locker-room in a nice attempt to build some brand loyalty. Trent Barreta interrupts, apparently feeling slighted that Hero didn’t mention him. Strong segment here that makes the promotion look good.

Rich Swann and The Young Bucks vs. Open the Freedom Gate Champion Johnny Gargano and Open the United Gate Champions The Bravado Brothers

Lancelot Bravado was kind enough to grow a goatee, so now I can finally distinguish the Bravados from one another. The match quickly breaks down with ringside brawling and some dives. Swann becomes the face in peril after flying into a Gargano gut-buster. Gargano finds time to talk some smack towards the injured Roderick Strong in attendance. Swann gets worked over until hitting a double stunner. Nick Jackson gets the hot tag and cleans house. The Young Bucks double team Lancelot, but can’t get the win with an enziguri. Swann gets caught with a tornado DDT from Gargano. Swann suffers attacks from all three opponents, including a lawn dart into the turnbuckle. The Bucks make the save, and Swann nearly pins Harlem with a standing 450 splash! There’s a flurry of super kicks and lariats until everyone is down. Gargano launches himself into a triple super kick! Swann delivers a dangerous looking flip piledriver while Gargano suffers More Bang for Your Buck and gets pinned by Jackson at 19:44! There were a few slip-ups, but otherwise this was an exciting high-flying exhibition that got the crowd going, ***½.
Winners: The Young Bucks and Rich Swann

-The Young Bucks and Bravados brawl to the back after a verbal exchange. Roderick Strong rushes the ring to chase Gargano off of Swann. Gargano backs into Uhaa Nation and rushes back to the ring, where Strong is waiting to light him up with chops. Strong cuts a short generic promo about how he’s better than Gargano.

-AR Fox comes to the ring and calls out Davey Richards, who fortunately didn’t no-show this event!

EVOLVE Championship:
AR Fox © vs. Davey Richards

They start off exchanging forearms, and Davey gains the upper hand with stiff kicks. Davey whips Fox into the ring apron and relentlessly pounds away on him. Fox scores a back heel kick and delivers turnbuckle punches. Split legged moonsault by Fox gets the first 2 count. Fox bounces off the ropes into a bulldog. Fox springboards to the floor, bouncing off Davey and back-first into a chair. Davey counters with an exploder suplex. Fox misses a kick flip off the apron, allowing a “Die, Motherf*cker” kick by Davey. Richards takes control, targeting the legs (and not Fox’s injured back). Richards dishes out a power slam and applies a chinlock. Fox counters with a DDT off the turnbuckle and Davey really sells a facial injury. Davey blocks a kick and stretches the leg around the ring rope. Springboard missile drop-kick and springboard Codebreaker by Fox, followed by a springboard Ace Crusher. I’m as sick of typing “springboard” as you are reading it, no doubt. Davey counters a Swanton Bomb with his knees and almost kicks Fox’s head off. Fox asks for more and catches the leg, but Davey nails a German suplex for 2. They have a ridiculous exchange of strikes and counters, resulting in a twisting neck breaker by Fox. Davey counters into a Tombstone but Fox kicks out (here’s where my eyes start to roll). Richards sells back pain climbing the ropes and misses a double stomp. Fox misses a flying leg drop on the apron! Davey capitalizes with a flying double stomp on the apron! Another double stomp in the ring but Fox kicks out! Fox counters an ankle lock and they both go down. Fox lands on his feet in a German superplex and nails a lariat! Davey kicks out of a 450 splash. Fox serves Lo Mein Pain for the win at 19:15. These guys are amazingly agile and athletic, but they try a little too hard, and overdo it with some of the bumping and kick-outs. This hit **** out of sure force of will.
Winner and still EVOLVE Champion: AR Fox

-Davey takes the microphone and tells the entire EVOLVE roster and former independent legends to kiss his ass, because he’s better than all of them! Excellent. Richards tosses the EVOLVE title to the mat and storms off. Fox lingers to bask in his glory.

Final Thoughts: I love the new format, with only five matches clocking in at about two and a half hours. The show breezed by and really benefited from not being bogged down with filler. There were no bad matches to be found here either, even though this is a roster that seems to think that by going out there and just dishing out every move they know automatically makes a great match. Without some strong in-ring psychology or storylines to build the action around, it makes me only interested in watching so many EVOLVE or DGUSA shows a year, without feeling the need to see every show. EVOLVE 25 is still a Thumb’s Up show, but not one I’ll probably go back to watch again and again.

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