March 26, 2015
Santa Clara Fairgrounds
San Jose, CA
Timothy Thatcher vs. Drew Gulak: The grappling revolution taking place in EVOLVE is polarizing for a fan base used to the frantic style popular on the American independent scene. A viewer’s preference will definitely determine their stance on the opening bout.
I am an unabashed supporter of technical wrestling and thought Thatcher/Gulak was a treat. “The Brit” and the “Legal Eagle” engaged in a series of scientific holds and counters, with both workers choosing to focus on the arm for majority of the match. Surprisingly, the slower paced bout ended with a quick victory for Gulak via a school boy.
If grappling is your niche this is the match for you. If not, skip ahead. ***½
Tommy End vs. Biff Busick: I was giddy to see these two lock up, but was disappointed they did not get much time. Regardless, the two stuck to their bread and butter: a fight centered on knocking or choking the other man out. In the end, Busick continued his hot streak compliments of a beautiful Rear Naked Choke.
Short but sweet. ***
Ethan Page vs. Chris Hero: A wrestler like Ethan Page adds much needed color to the EVOLVE roster. See his celebration of a successful application of a cravat on Chris Hero for a nice laugh.
Hero did not come to California to laugh. Hero came to knock fools out. Hero’s elbows and knees sent the message that he would get the last laugh. Page could not overcome the former EVOLVE Champion’s blows to the head despite a valiant effort, and fell in defeat.
A spirited contest between two fantastic talents. ***¼
The Premiere Athlete Brand (Kaleb Conley, Brian Cage & T.J. Perkins) w/So Cal Val vs. Uhaa Nation, Ricochet & Rich Swann: Rich Swann and friends’ energetic entrance to “All Night Long” set the tone for a very fun match. Brian Cage and Nation had a nice dynamic going during the contest. At one point both men tried to outlast the other in a test of strength.
The number of good flyers in this match ensured plenty of flips and dives. In a nice tribute to Lucha Underground, Ricochet bounced off Cage several times. Uhaa Nation capped off the contest with his Nation Combination.
A fun indie spot fest. ***½
Open the Freedom Gate Championship Match – Johnny Gargano © (w/ Ethan Page) vs. AR Fox: The scheduled main event of Mercury Rising this Sunday foreshadowed Gargano’s eventual win, so the key to a quality contest was making the audience believe Fox could win the title. At no point, though, did Gargano’s reign feel in danger.
Don’t get me wrong, this was a solid title match. Fox and Gargano each got in their usual spots in, with a couple of nice reversals thrown. The challenger got his customary near falls, but the champ persevered. The highlight of the bout was a Garagno dive that sent the combatants through the barricade. Shortly after his play of the day, Johnny Wrestling made Fox tap to retain his belt in anticlimactic fashion.
A good title match hurt by a foregone conclusion. ***¼
EVOLVE Championship Match – Drew Galloway © vs. PJ Black: PJ Black’s limited experience working the indie style really could have hampered the match. Thankfully, the match was structured in a way that masked Black’s weaknesses. Galloway dominated the majority of the match before Black made two very nice babyface comebacks. The champ had to throw the proverbial kitchen sink at PJ to win, so he came out of the match looking very strong.
A very well laid out match that played to the strengths of both wrestlers in an excellent main event. *** ½
Final Thoughts: WWN Live’s past two WrestleMania weekend offerings were a literal house of horrors. Awful live streams and subpar shows soured quite a few fans on the brand. I am happy to report that the stream and show were of superior quality. As has become their calling card, WWNLive’s EVOVLE 39 did not feature a lone stand out match, but rather displayed a balanced group effort. Not one match fell below the *** threshold. The opening contest and the main event tied for match of the night and are worth seeking out. Kudos to Gabe and crew for their fourth good show in a row.