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EVOLVE 15 DVD REVIEW: GARGANO AND TAYLOR FINALLY FACE OFF FOR THE OPEN THE FREEDOM GATE TITLE, THE STYLE BATTLE TOURNAMENT CONTINUES, GENERICO-DEL SOL: THE REMATCH, AND MORE

By Stuart Carapola on 2013-07-17 10:00:00
The party continues at EVOLVE 15, the second of three nights of EVOLVE's swing through Florida that featured the second annual edition of the Style Battle Tournament. Just to bring you up to speed, Jon Davis and Bobby Fish both won their matches in the first round of this year's tournament and come in tonight with two points apiece, while AR Fox and Tommy Taylor are both a point below zero. El Generico defeated Samuray Del Sol in a killer main event at EVOLVE 14, but Del Sol challenged him to an immediate rematch, and he'll get his chance to even the odds with Generico tonight. As if that wasn't enough, Chuck Taylor will challenge his former friend and partner Johnny Gargano for the Open The Freedom Gate Title in a match nearly two years in the making. Speaking of Gargano, the show opens with another guy who has an eye on his title...

Tony Nese vs Mike Cruz

Nese is one night removed from his first win in EVOLVE, and since that win came in a four way match that also included Open The Freedom Gate Champion Johnny Gargano, Nese decided to take Gargano's open contract for EVOLVE 16 and will challenge him for the title if he makes it by Chuck Taylor tonight. Cruz has yet to pick up a win in EVOLVE, and I have a funny feeling that first win won't come here. He manages to get some high flying offense in early on, but Nese quickly turns the tide and shows why he calls himself the premiere athlete by alternating between hammering him with thick forearms, drilling him with a leaping enziguiri and a springboard dropkick, and then hitting a picture perfect bridging German suplex for 2. This guy really can do it all, I really hope he gets the chance to do big things in DGUSA/EVOLVE this year. Cruz makes a bit of a comeback, but the outcome of this was never really in doubt and Nese disrupts a moonsault attempt, delivers a spider German suplex, then comes off the top rope with a 450 splash for the win.

Winner: Tony Nese

Two down, one to go, and all that's left this weekend for Nese is (hopefully) challenging Johnny Gargano for the Open The Freedom Gate Title. Gargano still hasn't actually accepted, something Nese points out in his postmatch promo, but says that he will get his acceptance out of Gargano before the end of the night.

Style Battle Tournament Round Two: Tommy Taylor vs Bobby Fish

Just to remind you of how the scoring works, a win earns you two points, a loss subtracts one point from your overall score, a double DQ, double countout, or draw gets both men nothing, and there are no time limits in Style Battle Tournament matches. Lenny talks about the tough roads both men have fought back from on their way to this tournament, as Taylor retired due to an ACL injury and spent two years out of the business before deciding to make another go at it, while Fish started his EVOLVE career with an 0-4 record that he's been fighting back from since EVOLVE 6. Very slow pace to this one, as neither man wants to make a mistake, but they quickly go to the mat where Taylor has the advantage. Fish starts dishing out kicks and suplexes, but Taylor nails Fish with a tornado DDT for 2and then comes back with a series of offense to Fish's neck. Fish nearly gets the win after nailing Taylor with a series of kicks, but misses a swandive headbutt and Taylor drills him with a shotgun dropkick and a twisting TKO for 2. Fish tries to lift Taylor up but loses his balance and winds up underneath Taylor and on the receiving end of a series of right hands. An undeterred Fish quickly recovers, rolls Taylor into the Fishhook, and forces him to tap out.

Winner: Bobby Fish

Lenny tells Fish that he's finally on the right side of .500 and, more importantly, is now guaranteed a spot in the finals of the Style Battle Tournament. Lenny asks Fish if he has any thoughts, and Fish pauses to ponder on that for a moment, but leaves without saying anything because he's 100% focused on winning this tournament.

Style Battle Tournament Round Two: Jon Davis vs AR Fox

Davis is 100% focused and goes right after Fox, overwhelming him with heavy shots and dumping him out to the floor. Davis continues the assault on the outside, but Fox recovers from a press slam by landing on his feet on the apron and drills Davis with a kick to the chest and another couple of high flying moves. Fox hits two of those stupid legdrops on the apron I've decided to call the Weapon of Ass Destruction due to the fact that he seems to hurt his own ass whether he hits his opponent or not. Fox goes for a tornado DDT and converts in mid-move to a small package for 2, but an infuriated Davis flattens Fox with a chokeslam, then starts hammering him with forearms and clotheslines. Fox hits a stunner, but Davis blocks a second one and reverses momentum to drill Fox with an invertical suplex. Very impressive power. Fox tries to brawl with Davis, but that ends the way you would think it would, and he winds up on the receiving end of several bodyslams as Davis tries to bruise or break every bone in Fox's abdomen. Nothing Fox throws at Davis seems to be working, but Davis isn't having much trouble handling Fox until Fox hits a springboard Ace Crusher out of nowhere. Fox hits a missile dropkick and a cannonball in the corner, then follows up with a diving clothesline and a charging forearm. He sits Davis on the second rope and gets knocked off by Davis, Fox goes for Lo Mein Pain but can't even budge Davis, who dums him out to the apron, drills him with a huge right hand to the face, then suplexes him from the apron and hits a super jackhammer. Fox is somehow able to kick out at 2, then hits a Codebreaker and heads up top for a swanton, but Davis powers out at 1, so Fox dropkicks him out to the floor and takes him out with a dive, then rolls Davis back in and hits a springboard 450, but Davis still somehow kicks out at 2. Fox desperately tries to maneuver around Davis as he swings at Fox and tries to get ahold of him, but Fox's luck runs out when Davis counters a victory roll to a buckle bomb and then hits Three Seconds Around The World for the win.

Winner: Jon Davis

The fans are on their feet chanting "that was awesome" and I can't help but agree, best match of the weekend so far. Davis now has 4 points and moves up to a 3-3 record, and now he and Bobby Fish are the only men still mathematically able to win the tournament. Speaking of Fish, he comes into the ring and says they've both been in EVOLVE since the beginning, but while Davis says he has to win this tournament, Fish needs to win and that'll be the difference. Davis responds by saying that it's not about being a tough guy for him, he has a family to feed and he will win the Style Battle Tournament. Fish and Davis have a tense "I mean business" staredown before being separated by EVOLVE officials.

Six Way Freestyle: Alex Reynolds vs John Silver vs Caleb Konley vs Jake Manning vs Lince Dorado vs Scott Reed

Just like last night, only the winner and loser of the fall will see their record affected by this match, and also like last night, no tags are needed and another man can come in as soon as someone leaves the ring. I could just copy and paste what I wrote for last night's Freestyle, but I'll just say that I feel the same way about these as I do about the three way X Division Title matches in TNA, they're nothing but spots, make it impossible for anyone involved to stand out in any way, and are impossible to try and recap, so I'm not going to kill myself trying. They take turns coming in, hitting spots, then leaving so someone else can come in and do spots, they take turns hitting spots to the floor, then they come back in so they can hit more spots on each other in rapid succession, and then Dorado hits Manning with a shooting star press for the win.

Winner: Lince Dorado

Flippy Dippy Masked Guy #237 finally earns his first EVOLVE win to go 1-1, and we're on to the next match.

Colt Cabana vs Cheech Hernandez

Cabana's matches are also impossible to try and recap, but for a good reason, his stuff is so clever and creative that I have trouble coming up with words to describe what he does in there. Suffice it to say that he pulls a lot of his usual shenanigans to get in Cheech's head and wrestle circles around him. Cheech is finally able to get a bit of offense in after hitting a flapjack, but Cabana gets back in the driver's seat by pulling more tricks to not be where Cheech expects him to be when going for moves. Cheech tries a top rope Frankensteiner, but Cabana picks him up in a fireman's carry and drops him chest first on the top turnbuckle. Cheech is out and Cabana easily covers for the win.

Winner: Colt Cabana

Short but fun match to lead into the two main events. Cabana's been a lot of fun to watch this weekend, I hope they can work something out to bring him in on a more regular basis.

El Generico vs Samuray Del Sol

Del Sol asked for this rematch immediately after Generico defeated him in last night's main event, and now we'll see if they can follow up on the awesome match they had the first time around. Generico comes in with the same basic game plan of turning the match into a brawl to prevent Del Sol from getting off too much lucha offense, but this time Del Sol is prepared to brawl and actually hangs in there with Generico until Generico dumps him to the apron and drills him with a Yakuza kick that sends him to the floor. Generico maintains control until Del Sol gets him out to the floor and wipes him out with a corkscrew dive. It's all out from this point on, as both men throw everything they can muster at the other to come away the victor. Generico nearly puts Del Sol away with a sweet blue thunder driver, Del Sol nearly catches Generico with the Rising Sun, but both men are able to kick out and keep going. Generico drills Del Sol with the runningYakuza kick in the corner and goes for the top rope brainbuster he beat Del Sol with last night, but Del Sol shifts his weight and DRILLS Generico with a Rising Sun off the top rope to score the win.

Winner: Samuray Del Sol

Del Sol earns his first win in EVOLVE and evens the score with Generico in the process. The two men shake hands and gesture to each other that they want to do it one more time.

Open The Freedom Gate Title Match: Johnny Gargano vs Chuck Taylor

This match is nearly two years in the making, and we see a great video package before the match showing the history of Taylor and Gargano's union as Ronin, their time teaming together, the cracks beginning to form between them as they both set their sights on the Open The Freedom Gate Title, the eventual split when Taylor turned on Gargano, and the two wins Taylor scored over Gargano in non-title matches. In addition to those two previous wins (plus the ones that weren't mentioned which took place in EVOLVE before it was shifted into the same universe as Dragon Gate USA), Taylor also has the best record and most wins in EVOLVE history, so to say the table seems pretty heavily stacked in Taylor's favor would be an understatement, as would the perception that Gargano comes into this with something to prove.

But all that is only window dressing, because Taylor, who comes out for his big match with Jake Manning and the Swamp Monster in tow, still has to beat Gargano with the title on the line, and this is his chance to do so. Gargano had one thing on his mind, and that was destroying Chuck Taylor, which he did by lawn darting him into the corner as soon as the bell rang and then trying to do it again outside on the ring steps. Taylor escapes by sliding back into the ring, but Gargano continued the assault until Taylor went back outside and rammed his face onto the bleachers. He turned around and chased off one of this group of annoying kids who were crowding around the wrestlers all night, and I popped big time as I saw the kid run for her life. Taylor set up a pile of chairs at ringside, but charges Gargano and gets backdropped on them, then they start brawling and Gargano rams Taylor into the ring post. Gargano goes for a superkick, but Taylor moves and Gargano knocks out the timekeeper. Some Wrestlemania 12 for you! Taylor picks up a distracted Gargano and slams him onto the ring steps, and the momentum has just swung in Taylor's favor.

Taylor spends the next several minutes viciously attacking Gargano's bad back with stomps, backbreakers, slams, and everything else he can think to throw at Gargano, but Gargano drills Taylor with a boot to the skull and goes out to the apron to slingshot himself through the ropes with a spear. Gargano catches Taylor in the Gargano Escape, but his back gives out and he has to release the hold, allowing Taylor to regain his feet and suplex Gargano into the corner. Gargano blocks the half crab and the Awful Waffle, and connects with a discus clothesline that sends both men down again. They get to their feet and trade blows, Gargano tries for the Gargano Escape, but Taylor rolls through and catches Gargano in the half crab. Gargano is somehow able to make it to the ropes, and he tries to drill Taylor with an IED in the corner, but Taylor moves and Gargano knocks the referee out cold.

Taylor low blows Gargano and makes a cover, but there's no referee to count. Taylor has Manning hand him the belt, but Gargano ducks, hits Hertz Donut and drops Taylor face first on the belt, and makes a cover. A second referee comes out to count, but Manning pulls the referee out to the floor and they argue until Gargano comes through the ropes with a dive that wipes them both out. He goes back inside and Taylor instantly catches him with the Awful Waffle, but the original referee is slow to recover and Taylor only gets 2. Taylor has the Swamp Monster hold Gargano so he can hit him with the belt, but Gargano moves and Taylor knocks the Swamp Monster out instead. Gargano hits a second Hertz Donut, gets the Gargano Escape, and Taylor taps.

Winner: Johnny Gargano

A little bit overbooked, but a really good match regardless. Gargano tells the fans to say goodbye to Taylor as he slinks to the back, then asks for a chair to sit in because his back is killing him. Gargano takes a seat and says he heard Tony Nese issuing him a challenge earlier, and he accepts the match for tomorrow night, but it'll be non-title because Akira Tozawa is already the #1 contender, and he'll see Tozawa in Michigan on the next DGUSA weekend.

This was an excellent show, I thought the Style Battle Tournament matches were much stronger than the night before, and the two main events were excellent. Easy thumbs up from me, and you can find ordering information for the DVD at www.dgusa.tv, and you can order the iPPV replay at www.wwnlive.com.