The second annual WWN Supershow, much like the previous year, sees a mix of WWN homegrown talent mixing it up with international stars. Last year, it was Ricochet teaming up with Uhaa Nation to take on Austin Aries and Roderick Strong, who reformed Generation Next, and this year, keeping the same old vs. new theme, Japanese sensation Kota Ibushi teams up with fellow EVOLVE originals Johnny Gargano and TJP to battle the hottest European stars in wrestling. Last year, Chris Hero was pushed to the limit by Timothy Thatcher, this year, in the same vein, he’s going to be tested by Zack Sabre Jr. On paper, this is one of the most diverse cards of the year.
Chris Hero def. Zack Sabre Jr.
My goodness, this show started off with a bang. ZSJ has been on fire lately. This year in EVOLVE, he’s racked up a handful of great matches, both in tags and singles, and this is just as good as it gets. These two tore it up at EVOLVE 48 and now at the WWN Supershow. This was physical and stiff, yet scientific and compelling. A blend of strong style and #grapplefuck. Hero is on another planet right now. He has a unique charisma that really shines through in EVOLVE. Can’t say enough good things about this. ****1/2
Drew Gulak def. Fred Yehi
Yehi is one of the fastest rising stars in indie wrestling. He works a grappling-heavy style, one that I typically wouldn’t love, but Yehi is really good at what he does. He does small things. His stomps, for example, are very good. Gulak dominated Yehi, just like he did at EVOLVE 56, and once again, these two put on a perfectly respectable performance. Gulak worked over Yehi’s leg to a point that it became useless, and Yehi, while still being so young, sold it so well. Gulak made him tap in a fine contest. ***1/4
Yehi was offered a spot in Catch Point in between matches and he accepted. Catch Point got a huge pop, which confused me. I thought they were heels.
Tracy Williams def. Matt Riddle
These two put on a clinic at EVOLVE 55 in what felt like a modern day BattleArts-style match. This encounter was a step below that, but both men proved to be wildly entertaining, even when they aren’t at their best. Riddle took more in this match than he has in any other match and he proved to be compelling while not on offense. He’s a crazy bumper. Riddle took a DDT off the top rope and he spiked himself hard. Riddle put up a good fight, but Williams made him tap, a monumental victory for the youngster. The two men embraced at the end of the match. If this is Riddle’s final EVOLVE performance, then my word, he had one hell of a run. ***3/4
Ethan Page def. Anthony Nese: No Disqualifications Match
This had no right to be as good as it was. Both guys have struggled to get me interested in their EVOLVE work as of late, but they went out here and killed it tonight. Page, especially, looked like he was there to win the crowd over and at the very least, he won me over. The two took huge bumps. Some stupid, some really stupid, but all of them were enjoyable. This wasn’t Kevin Steen vs. El Generico or Jimmy Jacobs vs. BJ Whitmer – this was stupid, but it was fun. It didn’t overstay its welcome. There were no overly contrived spots. Roll your eyes all you want, but I thought this match was a lot of fun. ***3/4
The Terry Funk tribute segment was up next and man oh man it was something. Funk is quickly joined by Sabu, and then Mick Foley, who I’m sure will be making a Facebook post soon about how EVOLVE is “real wrestling” and how he’s sticking it to Vince Jr for not showing up at his Hall of Fame. Earl Cooter, joined by Larry Dallas (because it’s WrestleMania weekend and Gabe has to book Sabu and Larry Dallas). Cooter and Dallas talked trash for a moment and made a Dennis Stamp reference before attacking Foley. Funk, who still has one hell of a punch, laid out both Dallas and Cooter. It’s 2016 and yes, Terry Funk is still the man. Really enjoyable segment that should put a smile on everyone’s face.
Taylor Made def. Nicole Mathews: SHINE Championship
This is my first time seeing both ladies. I’ve heard great things about Mathews, most notably from Trevor the Irish Wrestling Fan, and I’ve heard very little about Made. This was solid. Not anything that anyone, even the biggest SHINE fan, needs to out of their way to see, but this didn’t feel remarkably worse than the prior matches on the show. Matthews has really sharp offense. I liked her a lot. Made bumped around well and her group with So Cal Val and Andrea is a nice little gimmick. Fun. **3/4
Caleb Konley def. Gary Jay, Jason Cade, & Maxwell Chicago: FIP World Heavyweight Championship
My thoughts on this actually echo the Ethan Page vs. Anthony Nese match from earlier in the night. I was dreading this coming in, but it overdelivered and ended up being a ton of fun. Maxwell Chicago, bless his heart, has a really funny Twitter, but does nothing for me in the ring. Tonight, luckily, the crowd was into him and his comedy got over. The real story here is Jason Cade. He killed it, just like he did at EVOLVE 55. I would be shocked if he’s not on the next set of EVOLVE shows. Tremendous junior heavyweight in the making. ***1/2
Timothy Thatcher def. Sami Callihan: EVOLVE Championship
A purely masturbatory display of professional wrestling. This reeked of, “Hey, look at how well I can sell my arm!” and obnoxious #grapplefucking. The opener was 30 minutes. We had an intermission. Both the SHINE and FIP matches got time. There was no reason for this match to go long and it felt like it went an hour. I put none of this on Callihan. Callihan was actually pretty good in this match. He came out of the gate charging and because of that, I expected this to be a sprint. It wasn’t. It was Thatcher having a Thatcher match. A boring, plodding, masturbatory Thatcher match. I can’t say I hate his style. Drew Gulak works a very similar style and I like Gulak. Gulak, however, has the ability to adapt. Thatcher isn’t the best in the world. He isn’t close. He’s one dimensional and a charisma void. Gulak, Riddle, Hero, TJP – they’re all better.
This was embarrassing. This sucked. Thatcher’s reign has sucked. He’s had the only two Riddle matches that weren’t good, the worst Chris Hero match in ages at EVOLVE 46, and whether it be with Biff Busick, Trevor Lee, or Zack Sabre Jr – Thatcher has disappointed. He’s been a terrible champion. The luster is finally wearing off. He’s far and away the worst part of an EVOLVE product that I very much enjoy. *1/2
Thatcher dropped the belt after the match. My understanding is that he didn’t vacate the title, but he won’t physically hold the title until he defeats all the members of Catch Point.
Kota Ibushi, Johnny Gargano, & TJP def. Will Ospreay, Tommy End, & Marty Scurll
A special match – one that will be represented in my Match of the Year voting. This was so, so close to being perfect. It was paced perfectly, I can safely say that. It wasn’t balls-to-the-walls from the start, but nothing felt wasted. Gargano did a great job of taking control early and keeping things interesting with End and Scurll.
Any interaction between Ibushi and Ospreay was incredible. The fans wanted them to kill it and they did. These are two unique athletes capable of doing things that ordinary men aren’t capable of doing and they displayed that here. The barn jump was insane. The following in-ring sequence was mind-blowing. Ospreay has completely won me over and he and Ibushi showed why they are two of the very best in the world.
End, TJP, Scurll, and Gargano can’t go without praise. TJP had a stellar weekend and is having an incredible year for EVOLVE. Gargano held things together in the early stages with End and Scurll kept things together as madness ensued. As of now, this is the best match of WrestleMania weekend. It was wrestling at its best. A unique blend of fun, competition, and excitement. I can’t say enough good things about the performers in this match. ****3/4
Final Thoughts: One of the most diverse cards you’ll find this year and a Show of the Year Contender. The main event has to be seen by everyone. Hero and Sabre tore it down in the opener and both Page vs. Nese and the FIP match exceeded expectations. Two thumbs up. Highly recommended.