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CHRIS HERO'S FINAL INDEPENDENT WRESTLING APPEARANCE & MORE: COMPLETE EVOLVE 77 COVERAGE

By Mike Johnson on 2017-01-28 17:22:00

Welcome to PWInsider.com's live, ongoing coverage of EVOLVE 77 in San Antonio, Texas!

I am starting a few minutes late as the original plan was to try and cover, via a Slingbox the Five Star Wrestling on Spike UK but technology was not with us.  I want to thank Jim Globe for trying to help though.

I am starting a few minutes in.  The crowd is bigger than last night and it's a new ring.  Yay!

Ethan Page & Gatekeepers vs. Darby Allen & Brown & ?

This was apparently a handicap match but as I turned on the stream Zack Sabre Jr. hit the ring to join Allen's side and help him.  Page gave Brown a Border Toss over the top to the floor on everyone.  They all battled on the floor.  Allen scrambled up a pole and dve off background onto Page and The Gatekeepers.  That looked cool.  The crowd chanted for him as he rolled Page back into the ring.  Page tried to beg off and rolled back out to the floor.  Page nailed a discus lariat and wiped out Brown.  Sabre slapped him and locked on a triangle choke but was powerbombed.

One of the Gatekeepers caught Allen with a sidewalk slam.    Sabre drilled him with forearms.    He climbed the Gatekeeper and cinched in a triangle choke, then slipped on a Kimura as well  The Gatekeeper tapped, as would anyone.

Your winner, Allen & Sabre & Brown!

Tracy William vs. Laredo Kid

My stream died in between matches, so I have switched to a different, older Roku.  

When the stream returned, they were working each other over in the corner and Williams nailed a brainbuster for a two count.   Williams continued to work over Kid, who backed into the ropes to avoid being pinned.  Kid nailed a series of kicks but was nailed with a sit-down Michinoku Driver for a two count.  The fans are absolutely louder and more into the show today as compared to last night.  Williams sent him to the corner but Kid slipped through the ropes to the outside, nailed him and came off with springboard move.  Kid realized Williams moved and rolled through but was caught with a lariat for a two count.

Williams continued to work on the mid-section and went for a suplex but Kid reversed and drove him down in a package position for a two count.  Kid slammed Williams and went for a Phoenix Splash but missed.  Williams drilled him with a forearm and locked on a Crossface for the submission.

Your winner, Tracy Williams!

From what I saw, a solid competitive bout.

Sammy Guevera & Jason Kincaid vs. Jaka & Chris Dickinson

Guevera is a local and this is his EVOLVE debut.    Jaka and Kincaid had some nice back and forth wrestling before they tagged in their partners.    Guevera is controlled for a long time as Jaka and Dickinson tagged in and out and methodically worked over Guevara.    Guevera finally caught them with a double Sliced Bread #2 and went to make the tag.  Dickinson caught him but was kicked off.

Kincaid made the hot tag and nailed a head scissors on Dickinson.  He nailed a dive to the outside.  Jaka tried to hit a dive but was nailed and hit with a sunset flip powerbomb to the floor.  Little crazy to do these spots with no railing between ringside and the front row.  Guevera nailed a great shooting star press to the floor.  Kincaid tossed Jaka in and went to the top but Jaka rolled away to his corner.  Kincaid walked the ropes and nailed a missile dropkick Coast to Coast style.  Guevera nailed an insane spinning back senton.  Kincaid covered Jaka but Dickinson interfered.

Jaka nailed a bridged suplex but wasn't the legal man.  The referee forced them to tag and they double teamed Kincaid.  Guevera came off with a middle dropkick off the ropes for both.   Guevera and Kincaid missed stereo top rope moves.  Kincaid got caught and placed held on Dicksinson's shoulders as Jaka came off the ropes and drove him down to the mat for the pin.

Your winners, Jaka & Chris Dickinson!

Good solid match with some nice highspots and some good tag team psychology from Catchpoint.

Tracy Williams praised them for their win and said aerial wrestling is about taking risks and losing.

Larry Dallas came out and said that he was an outsider.  No kidding.  He said he was an investigate journalist.  Well, you can't get them all right.  He said that he wanted to talk to Williams and asked whether, as EVOLVE Tag Team champion, Jaka and Dickinson now deserved a title shot.  So, he's stirring up issues within Catchpoint.  Kincaid took the mic and said that today, snakes ate the birds but one day the birds will eat the snakes.  Nothing really got accomplished except the idea of an issue between Catchpoint and showing that Kincaid is sorta out there.

EVOLVE Tag Team Champion Fred Yehi vs. ACH

They went back and forth and got aggressive with each other, shoving.  Yehi nailed a series of shoulderblocks to take ACH down and cinched in a headscissor.    Yehi drills ACH's feet and swept his legs.  He tied up ACH on the mat and continued working over his legs, crossing them and bending him backwards on the mat.  ACH was able to make it to the ropes, but was caught with a neckbreaker for a two count.

ACH was sent into the corner and nailed with a German suplex for a two count.   ACH made a comeback and nailed a series of chops, a shot to the face that had to hurt and a kneedrop for a two count.   He beat Yehi over the back but Yehi fired back with a chop.  ACH nailed a dropkick to the jaw.  Yehi was sent to the floor.  ACH drilled him with a running kick from the apron outside but acted as if he hurt his foot, grabbing at his boot.  Given Yehi's penchant for working over legs and feet, that could be a storyline point in the bout.

Yehi and ACH went face to face and slapped each other over and over. They exchanged punches until Yehi hit a shoulder tackle.  They went back and forth with a nice series of back and forth moves.  The crowd began doing dueling chants.  Yehi missed a stomp and got a taste of his own medicine as ACH stomped his foot.  Yehi caught him wih a dropkick and a powerbomb for a two count.

Yehi began talking trash and slapping away at ACH who was on the mat trying to get away.  ACH made it to his feet and fired away with chops.   Yehi was caught with a fisherman's buster into a package for the pin.

Your winner, ACH!

Good match.  I felt like they were missing that hot back and forth sequence with near falls but everything was solid from bell to bell.  Yehi's offense is different and that makes him stand out.  Bit of a surprise they didn't have some insane ACH dive to the floor, but given it was an undercard match that may be why.

No DQ Match: Matt Riddle vs. DUSTIN

DUSTIN came out with a chair but Riddle caught him and took him down.  Riddle nailed a back senton splash.  DUSTIN went to the floor.  Riddle went to do a baseball slide to the outside but missed and DUSTIN nailed him on the floor with the chair.  He yelled at fans to move and tossed Riddle into the empty seats.  I liked that.  He did it again on the other side of the ring. He attempted to do it again but Riddle reversed the whip and it was DUSTIN who took a flip bump into the chairs.  Riddle worked him over with right hands and forearms on the floor.  Riddle had fans hold a chair and then hit a running kick to it on DUSTIN. 

They continued to brawl and ended up at the merchandise tables.  They brawed onto one of the tables and DUSTIN suplexed Riddle across one of them.  DUSTIN brought Riddle back to ringside and sent him into the ringpost.  DUSTIN pulled a table out from under the ring and placed it against a ringpost.  He worked over Riddle and placed him on the table outside.  DUSTIN nailed an awesome running tope con hilo out of the ring through the table.  He tossed Riddle back in and nailed a double stomp off the top for a two count.

Riddle began psyching himself up but was DDT'd onto a chair for another two count.  DUSTIN began setting up chairs facing each other and placed additional chairs across them.  He slammed one at Riddle and then stacked a second level of chairs.  He went to the top but Riddle caught him and nailed a series of fast strikes, then set up for a superplex through the two tiers of chairs.

Riddle stomped the hell out of DUSTIN's face (while barefoot!) and covered him for the pin.

Your winner, Matt Riddle!

An entertaining brawl.    DUSTIN is just great and honestly should have been signed by a larger company a long time ago.  Riddle did a great job pretty much playing the Tommy Dreamer role here.  His charisma is great.

EVOLVE champion Timothy Thatcher with Stokely Hathaway vs. Jeff Cobb

Some good back and forth wrestling as you might imagine.  Cobb was able to bring Thatcher down to the mat and worked him over.  Thatcher made his way to his feet and went for a hammerlock but ate an elbow to the face.  Cobb grabbed a front facelock but Thatcher was able to transition it around and went for the Crossface Chickenwing, only to be thrown off.

Cobb missed a charge into the corner and was nailed with Divorce Court on the shoulder.  Thatcher began working over his arm.  They went back and forth with reversals.  Thatcher drilled his shoulder and pulled him to the apron outside.  Thatcher smashed him back against the apron.  He smashed Cobb across the chest with forearms.  They returned to the ring, where Thatcher drilled him with knees.  Very slow going so far.  It may have been smarter to put this on before the crazy brawl with chairs and tables.

Back on the mat, Thatcher cinched in triangle while locking in an armbar.  Cobb made it to the ropes.  They battled back and forth with forearm.  Cobb got the better of the exchange.  Stokely Hathaway's facial expressions are great.  They continued to battle back and forth.  Very subdued crowd.   You can tell they are appreciative but it's not like they are energized.

Cobb gained control and nailed a big shot across the chest.  That is a man that scares me.  Thatcher takes him down and mounts Cobb.  He nails several right hands and locks on a cross arm breaker.  Cobb tries to make it to the ropes but he's too far.  Thatcher tries to go for a butterfly suplex but Cobb is too large and he can't lock it.  Cobb reverses it and backdrops Thatcher over for a two count. 

Cobb is nailed with a forearm.  He tells Thatcher to do it again but suckers Thatcher and drilled him down .  He nailed a nice back suplex but missed a standing moonsault and is cinched in a Fujiawara armbar.    Cobb floats over and nailed a gutwrench suplex.  He goes for another but Thatcher grabs him in an armbar.  Cobb get to his feet and nails a German suplex with a bridge for a two count.  Thatcher grabs the Kimura and turns it into a crucifix style pinfall for the win.

Your winner and still EVOLVE champion, Timothy Thatcher!

You could hear people booing before the music hit.

From a technical standpoint, it was fine but you could feel the energy level of the show drop considerably compared to the last few matches.  This likely would have been better placed earlier in the show.  As a match, it was just OK.

The crowd gave a respectful round of applause to Cobb after. 

Chris Hero's Final Match: Chris Hero vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

Completely pro-Hero crowd, as you might imagine.

Sabre tried to go for a submission early.  Hero went to the floor.  ZSJ followed him and they battled on the floor.  Sabre tried to cinch Hero in a submission on the floor.  Hero slammed him down into the crowd.  Sabre was grabbing at his shoulder after coming up.  Lots of back and forth brawling and battling.  Really good and stiff stuff early.

Hero nailed a big boot off, knocking ZSJ off the apron to the floor.  Sabre returned to the apron but was kicked off again and again.    He worked over Sabre for a long time and placed him on the top, trying to go for a piledriver.  Sabre pushed him off.  Hero rocked him with a right hand.  Sabre caught Hero on the ropes with an Octopus.  Sabre tried to charge but was drilled with a forearm.

Hero continued to work over Sabre with big bombs.   Hero went for a short arm clothesline but was caught with a backslide.  They battled back and forth with stiff shots.  Sabre maneuvered him into several pinfall combinations but Hero kept kicking up.  Hero snatched him and drilled Sabre with a piledriver.  The crowd is loving this.

Hero went for his forearm but Sabre caught him and tried to grab him in a pinning combination.  Hero kicked up and drilled Sabre with a roaring elbow to the back of the head for a close near fall.   Hero pulled up a dazed Sabre and slowly locked him in and nailed a Pedigree.  Sabre kicked up at one and exploded with forearms and offense, only to be rocked with a running knee and drilled with a trio of piledrivers. 

On the third, Sabre maneuvered him into a submission and began kicking him in the face.  Trapped, Hero submitted.

Your winner, Zack Sabre Jr.!

Really good match to close out Hero's run in EVOLVE.  They had a great big man-little man chemistry with Hero pretty much playing a dominant All Japan style heavyweight with all sort of big shots and Sabre as the smaller Junior with all the technical wizardry and smooth finesse.  Very entertaining stuff.

Hero took the mic.  A fan yelled "I love you Hero!" and Hero said, "I'm pretty sure I love you too."

Hero said you don't go 18 years as a pro wrestler without a hell of a lot of help and said he thanks and appreciates everyone.  He said he wanted to give a personal and heartfelt thank you to Sabre.  He said that he's wrestled Sabre more in the last three years in more places all over the world and said he's really kicked the sh** out of Zack a lot.  He said Sabre brings the best out of him.  They wrestled in 2008 for a company that no longer exists, 1PW.  He said that was one of the first promotions that flew international talents in and he was lucky enough to be brought in and he wrestled Sabre.  He said he asked who was Sabre Sr. and he still doesn't know but whoever he is, wherever he is, he's a proud man.

Hero said when he asked about Sabre, all he was told was armbars.   He said that the first time you saw him, you probably thought this guy did some crazy armbars.  He covered their history and said that his heart was Pro Wrestling NOAH and praised them for bringing him in and letting him in the ring with Misawa, Kobashi and Taue.  Zack worked a tryout with NOAH and that week for NOAH in the UK, Sabre earned himself a shot in the dojo and worked his way up to being Junior Tag Team champion.  He said that you don't do that without heart and passion and Zack is a hell of a lot better than armbars.

Hero said he started with EVOLVE on the second show after working with Gabe Sapolsky in Ring of Honor.  He said that he's probably worked more EVOLVE show than anyone except Johnny Gargano and they gave him this platform but Sabre is the best in that locker room.  He said there are a lot of guys who do amazing things but no one better than Zack.  He said Zack deserves to be champion and asked the fans if they wanted to see him get a title shot.  The place popped.  He asked the fans if they wanted to see someone actually hold the belt as opposed to his valet.  The crowd went oooooh.

ACH came out and paid tribute to Hero, saying he was the reason that he packed up and moved to St. Louis to train and become a pro wrestler.  He said that when someone asks who his hero is, he'll always say Chris Hero.  ACH said there is no one better than Sabre when it comes to being a great technical wrestler, but tonight, ACH beat Fred Yehi, who holds the FIP and the EVOLVE Tag titles, so if they are handing out title shots, his name needs to be in the hat.

Stokely Hathaway came to the ring and they all refused to let him have the mic at first.  When  they finally let him have it, they had turned it off.  That was pretty funny.  He said that no one gets a title shot unless they go through him, because he dictates who gets the shots.  He said he was a fair man and he would consult with his baby.  He started talking to the EVOLVE title belt.    He said "Hell no" to Sabre or ACH getting a title shot.

EVOLVE champ Timothy Thatcher came to the ring and point at Sabre, then walked off.

Sabre told ACH when he gets the belt, ACH can have the first title shot.  Sabre then addressed Hero, saying that the last three years of his career have been synonymous with him.  He said that what inspires him the most about traveling and working with Hero is that Hero was never miserable about what they were doing.  He said that they all choose to do this and you'd be surprised how many people have been miserable about what they are doing.  He said he's never seen one time that Hero was miserable about what they are doing.

He praised Hero for trying to help people and said that years ago, people would be scared for their spots but Hero set the standard in trying to help others and will always represent independent wrestling.  Sabre said that they've held up Hero long enough and it's time that he showed the rest of the world what he can do.  They embraced.  Sabre bowed before him and left the ring, leaving Hero alone.

Hero said that in November 2013 he got released and felt it was coming a few weeks before that.  He said that when you can see a big ship is coming and you aren't scared but you don't know how you are going to handle it.  The amount of response he received the first weekend after he was released was staggering.  He said he had so many people who told him they were sorry.  He said that he never tried to focus on the negative because one door opens when another closes, so he attacked the sh** out of the independents.  He said it's been an emotional time.  There are two pretty strong opinions on Chris Hero, but the fans showed him so much love.  He said he feels like he can do no wrong thanks to the fans.  He said there's another opinion of people that don't like him and think he's a big fatass.  He said opinions are opinions and there's nothing wrong with that but there's a hell of a lot more people who want to see him.

Hero said that the opportunity to go back to WWE and give it a second, "old college try" is because not because of his work over the last three years but because his support has gotten stronger and stronger.  He said guys like Kenny Omega and AJ Styles have had great years but some people say that he had the best year.  He said that it's all subjective and he didn't get the job himself.  He said that the fans helped him get that second chance.  He said that his co-workers in all the locker rooms helped him get his second chance.  He said to never underestimate how much that support can help, financially and emotional. 

He told everyone he would see them down the road.

Hero spent a lot of time going around the ring saying goodbye to fans to close the show.  He made his way up the aisle, embracing members of the roster as the show went off the air.

Some real emotion here and a really nice farewell from someone who earned his return to WWE.

 

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