I just got home from the debut EVOLVE event in Rahway, New Jersey. I was really impressed with the show, everyone worked really hard and it came off well. It wasn't the most aesthetically pleasing show, however, as the lighting was bad, the microphone kept cutting out on people when they were speaking, and the entrances were unspectacular, as each man would walk to the ring to generic music and be introduced with no hometown or weight. But you couldn't say many bad things about the in-ring product. Here's what happened on the show:
-Kyle O'Reilly defeated Bobby Fish in a stiff opener. O'Reilly is from the same Tony Kozina camp that Davey Richards came from, and when Kyle cut a promo after the match talking about winning the first ever EVOLVE match, Davey came out and told him to get to the back so he could prepare for his main event match.
-Chuck Taylor defeated Cheech in a qualifying match to become a full member of the EVOLVE roster. Taylor cut a promo after the match saying that he thinks it stinks that he had to win a qualifying match to get on the roster while certain other guys were just signed right up, and he plans to keep on winning and making EVOLVE management's life difficult.
-Ricochet defeated Arik Cannon. After the match, Chuck Taylor came out and challenged Ricochet to a match at the second EVOLVE event, which Ricochet accepted.
-The Dark City Fight Club defeated Aeroform. Aeroform was much smaller than the DCFC and the match was a lot more competitive than you might expect it to be, but the DCFC came out on top after hitting the pop-up double powerbomb.
-Mercedes Martinez defeated Niya. This was just a one minute squash in which Niya got no offense. After the match, Mercedes cut a promo saying that EVOLVE is not just a men's promotion, and she's out to prove herself as the top female wrestler around.
-Brad Allen defeated Silas Young. After the match, Allen challenged Chris Hero to a match on the second EVOLVE event.
-Jimmy Jacobs defeated Kenn Doane. Doane originally won the match, but Jacobs had his foot on the ropes. This brought Tommy Dreamer out from the back to tell the ref about the foot on the rope. The match was restarted and Jacobs tapped Doane out to the End Time. Tommy Dreamer cut a promo thanking the fans for supporting him all these years and for coming out to support EVOLVE, then Jacobs took the mic and told Dreamer that he just came here for one more moment in the spotlight, and that he doesn't need Dreamer's help and called him a washed up hasbeen. This led to a brawl between Dreamer and Jacobs.
-Johnny Gargano defeated Chris Dickinson. This was short but fun. Gargano won with a Flatliner.
-Minenori Sawa defeated TJP (aka TJ Perkins). This was a really stiff match with both guys laying into each other with a ton of hard kicks and forearms.
-Team Lighting (Mike Quackenbush, Hallowicked, and Frightmare) defeated Akuma's Army (Gran Akuma, Brodie Lee, and Icarus). This was a pretty standard CHIKARA six man match that featured a lot of cool, innovative moves. It never ceases to amaze me the stuff these CHIKARA guys come up with.
-Davey Richards defeated Kota Ibushi in the main event. This match was off the charts and was easily the best match of the night. Ton of near falls, but Richards finally tapped Ibushi out to the Kimura Lock. After the match, Richards challenged Kyle O'Reilly to a match on the second EVOLVE event, then thanked everybody for coming out and being a part of the first EVOLVE show.
House looked to be in the 300-350 range, which was a lot more than I expected coming in. EVOLVE returns to Rahway for their second event on March 13th.