EVOLVE 43 was another stellar show for the flagship promotion of the WWNLive family. The second half of the double shot featured another great card. Drew Galloway and Roderick Strong were poised to end their hot feud in the main event with Galloway’s EVOVLE World Championship on the line. Johnny Gargano looked to send his former charge Ethan Page packing from EVOLVE in another high profile matchup. The rest of the undercard looked solid as well and the potential was there for EVOLVE to end the weekend on yet another high.

EVOLVE 44
May 31, 2015
Ronkonkoma Fire Department Hall
Ronkonkoma, New York
Watch: WWNLive.com

Cleveland’s favorite son Johnny Gargano opened the show by telling the audience that he and Rich Swann retired the Open the United Gate Championships to try to help clean up WWNLive. Gargano said that tonight he would clean up the company in a different way, by defeating Ethan Page.

Johnny Gargano vs. Ethan Page: Gargano tried for the submission win early but Page made it to the ropes. That was the end of the technical wrestling. Two cheap shots by “All Ego” turned the contest into a brawl. The contest spilled to the outside and Page took control with a Bicycle Kick followed by launching Gargano face first into the ring post.

Page may not do “moves” but his combination of trash talk and punishing power maneuvers build natural sympathy for a babyface like Gargano. The crowd was primed for Gargano’s comeback thanks to the portion of the contest where Page was in control.

During the tense closing stretch Gargano desperately looked for his ace in the hold — the Garga-NO-Escape. Page fought him off at every turn and in the tussle the referee went down. In a nice homage to Gargano’s shady past Page kicked him in the balls, super-kicked him and then used a rope assisted Garga-NO-Escape to win. An absolute perfect ending to the match that fit within the storyline. ****

After the bell, Page continued his magnificent heel work by mockingly shaking the hand of the still unconscious Gargano.

Trevor Lee vs. Rich Swann: Mr. Trevor Lee is a freak athlete. His opponent is no slouch in the athletics department as well. Which is why there decision to dedicate a prolonged stretch of the match to grappling puzzling. Once the temp quickened and the moves became flashier the quality of the match greatly improved as both men looked more comfortable working their preferred style. Two botches late in the match, combined with the slow start, drug down the match quality but that happens once every so often. I am confident a rematch between these two will be much better. **1/2

Rey Horus vs. Tracy Williams: I really hate how short this went. Horus and Williams have obvious chemistry and are two young guys who deserve a chance to hone their skills in a singles match. Horus got a flash pin win and was jumped by the Premiere Athlete Brand post-match. TJ Perkins made the save and impromptu tag match broke out. This kind of booking is what really hurt EVOLVE over the last few years and I hope it an aberration and not a trend. *1/2

Rey Horus & TJ Perkins vs. The Premiere Athlete Brand: I can complain all I want about how this match came into being but it was good. The PAB bullied Rey Horus early before TJP got to play hero of the day. So Cal Val got tried to get involved and ended up getting pantsed by Perkins. Listen, I am not complaining about the view but that stuff belongs on Main Event not EVOLVE. The PAB got the win and bought Val the time to pull her skirt up. **

Biff Busick vs. Mike Bailey: After the previous three matches I really wanted this one to deliver. It did.

What I loved about this match was that everything that worked for Bailey against TJ Perkins was countered by Busick with relative ease. Bailey returned the favor by sliding out every early attempt by Busick. After some more give and take, Bailey started to use his speed to seize control. Some of the aerial artistry Bailey displayed was straight up early 2000’s Jack Evans level of awesome.

Biff Busick is not a man to be outdone. Oh no, he upped his game by flat out murdering Canada’s answer to Daniel Larusso with wicked Half and Half Suplex on the ring apron. Following a few european uppercuts that made me yell “Holy Fuck” at the top of my lungs and another Half and Half Busick finally got his choke and Bailey gave up. Buy this show just to see this match. ****1/4

Davey Richards vs. Drew Gulak: After Bailey and Busick’s match pumped my adrenaline levels to record highs I needed a cool down match. Grapplin’ time with Davey and Drew was just the right fight for the job.

Folks, remember six years ago when Richards was thought by some to be the heir apparent to Bryan Danielson? Well this match is a reminder of how gifted a technician he is. Richards and Gulak traded holds and thankfully avoided an abundance of rehearsed grappling. Gulak looked just as good as Richards and had me thinking he would get Davey to tap to his Ankle Lock. Then Davey snapped me back to reality and rolled the “Legal Eagle” up for the win. ***3/4

EVOLVE World Championship Match – Roderick Strong vs. Drew Galloway ©: Strong and Galloway’s feud has been sneaky good and red hot all year. I had high hopes that there final match would be a worthy book end to their rivalry.

By no means was this match a classic but it was a darn good main event. The two rivals made sure to punish each other all over the venue. Towards the end they broke out the big moves and traded kick outs. As annoying as the formula can be when one sees it sixty times on Monday Night Raw it worked well here.

The body of the match may not have screamed classic but it did create a great moment to end the feud. After losing against Strong in February Galloway vowed to end his rival. He did that just that by obliterating Roddy with five Future Shock DDTs. ***1/2

Galloway gave Strong his due after the match and said that Strong was the best in the world. The PAB interrupted Galloway and beat him down. So Cal Val announced that Trent Barretta would face Galloway for the title on July 11. Strong made the save but said he did not respect Galloway quite yet.

Final Thoughts: After the fabulous opener I thought the show was heading downhill fast, then the final three matches just blew me away with their quality and diversity. Match of the Night goes to Bailey vs. Busick and no one deserves more adulation than Mike Bailey. “Speedball” had  a star making weekend and I cannot wait to see him on future shows.

Coming out of the weekend it looks like Page vs. Gargano will continue their feud. Drew Galloway and his titles are firmly in the sites of the PAB. The undefeated Davey Richards looms over the Scotsmen’s head as well.

It has been a bumpy road for EVOLVE the last few years but there ring work and creative direction are finally gelling at the right time. Buy this show, it is awesome. Hell, go to WWNLive.com and buy all of EVOLVE’s 2015 offerings, they are all damn good.