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By Stuart Carapola on 2013-07-18 08:41:06
After a long and arduous weekend, the Style Battle Tournament comes to a close at EVOLVE 16 as it's down to two men, Bobby Fish and Jon Davis, who had each gone 2-0 with wins over AR Fox and Tommy Taylor in the earlier rounds of the tournament. Both men have said how much this win means to them, with Davis even going so far as to say he'd hang up his tights if he doesn't come away from EVOLVE 16 as the Style Battle Tournament Champion. Fresh off his loss to Johnny Gargano the night before, Chuck Taylor looks to get back to his winning ways against Samuray Del Sol, who has had a big weekend himself as he split a pair of matches with El Generico. Speaking oh Gargano, he accepted an open challenge from Tony Nese, who is 2-0 on the weekend coming into EVOLVE 16 and wants a piece of the champion. Well, at least that was the plan...

The show opens with Lenny Leonard introducing Open The Freedom Gate Champion Johnny Gargano, who has a bit of bad news to deliver: his back has been giving him trouble all weekend and the doctors won't clear him to wrestle tonight. Tony Nese comes out and says that Gargano's been milking that back injury for months, and if he was the Open The Freedom Gate Champion, he'd man up and accept all challenges, but he guesses that's why he's the Premiere Athlete and Gargano's just Johnny Gargano. This really sets Gargano off, and he says that his back is hurt, but his fists are fine and he'll see Nese in the ring tonight.

The Scene vs Kennedy Kendrick & Damien Angel

Pretty standard opener, Kendrick and Angel get in some early offense before falling victim to double teaming from the Scene out on the floor. The Scene works Angel over for some time before he makes the hot tag out to Kendrick, who falls victim to a double superkick before the Scene drills him with Double Penetration for the win.

Winners: The Scene

Lenny finally breaks down and does his first postmatch interview with the Scene, who show why they've needed a mouthpiece all this time by doing a really not funny impersonation of Lenny and not really saying anything important.

Style Battle Tournament Third Round: AR Fox vs Tommy Taylor

Since it's mathematically impossible for either man to win the tournament at this point, this match is effectively for third place. Taylor controls Fox early by bringing him down to the mat and working him on the ground, Fox tries a springboard move but Taylor simply shoves him off and to the floor where Fox seems to jam his wrist. Taylor works Fox over hard with forearms and wear down holds, Fox tries to flippy dip him, but Taylor catches Fox with an Ace Crusher/neckbreaker combo and then puts him in the Rings of Saturn. Fox comes back with a flurry of the usual while avoiding Taylor's clutches, but misses a 450 splash and Taylor flattens him with a half nelson suplex. Taylor goes up for a moonsault, but Fox pops up, leaps to the top rope, and twists into a top rope sunset bomb for the win.

Winner: AR Fox

Fox says he's happy he rebounded tonight and showed why he's one of the best high flyers in the world, but Lince Dorado comes out to the ring and says that he's been here since DGUSA and EVOLVE started, but he hasn't gotten the opportunities Fox has gotten. Fox isn't the best high flyer in the world because he is, and Dorado challenges him to a match anyplace and anytime. Fox says they should go right now, so it looks like we've got an impromptu challenge match...

Lince Dorado vs AR Fox

Dorado catches Fox with a superkick and tiger suplex as soon as the bell rings, but Fox catches Dorado with a pair of stunners and bicycle kicks him out to the floor and follows him out with a sweet dive. Fox puts Dorado on the ring apron and connects with the Weapon of Ass Destruction, but Dorado kicks Fox's leg out from under him when they come back in and connects with a moonsault for 2. Dorado sends Fox back to the outside and hits a corkscrew dive, then comes back in and launches himself through the ropes at Fox with such velocity that he must have dove ten feet out even after hitting Fox. They go back in where Fox hits a Death Valley driver, but a swanton attempt deposits Fox right on top of Dorado's knees. Dorado nearly catches Fox with a top rope Frankensteiner and a rolling DDT, then he goes for a shooting star legdrop and completely blows the move, so he goes back up and hits a moonsault that actually connects for 2. It really looks like amateur hour when all you can do is spots and you miss one, then the other guy has to lay there and wait for you to go back up and try again. Dorado goes back up top, Fox shakes the ropes to trip him, then he zips in for Lo Mein Pain, runs into Dorado's boot, but comes back with a superkick and a leaping enziguiri before hitting Lo Mein Pain on the second try.

Winner: AR Cena

Okay, I know DGUSA/EVOLVE really likes Fox, but was all this really necessary? We get it, he's a top guy, but would it kill us to have him drop two matches in a row without doing something like this to prove how superior he is? I really don't mean to come off like I'm just busting on the guy for the hell of it, but if I can digress a bit, I think it's ridiculous that he's the Chosen One in this company. Yeah, he's athletic and all, but for one he's a string bean who shouldn't last five seconds with a guy like Tommy Taylor, much less beat him before going on to beat another guy right after, and while he's shown that he can have good wrestling matches when he's in there with the right guy, he always defaults back to SPOTSPOTSPOTSPOTSPOTSPOTSPOTSPOTSPOTSPOTSPOTSPOTSPOTSPOTSPOTSPOTSPOTSPOT when left to his own devices, almost always screws something big up at some point in every match, and most of his big fancy spots either look like they don't hurt, are way too complex to be believable, or are just done for the sake of doing them. Why does he land on his feet when he does a dive to the floor? Wouldn't it make sense to land on the guy instead of tapping him like he's going "tag you're it!" on his way down? Why does he need to roll backward when hitting his cannonball in the corner when rolling forward would deliver more momentum to the opponent? Why does he hit that stupid legdrop on the apron in every match if it hurts his ass whether he hits it or not? Don't get me wrong, he's gotten better and I've given him credit for that, but he needs someone to lead him or he'll fall back on this nonsensical, indyriffic spotfest crap 100% of the time. I wouldn't even mind so much if he were a middle of the card guy, but he's been given a push like he's got blackmail on somebody, and the fact that he has to come out of every weekend doing something amazing like winning Style Battle, beating two guys in one night, winning the EVOLVE Title tournament, winning the Peterson Cup, and beating a guy like Sami Callihan in hardcore matches makes everyone else in the company look like a bunch of jackasses because they have to sell for this guy like they got shot when he taps them on the shoulder on his way down from a 720 twisting corkscrew ass legdrop. It makes the company look stupid that he's presented like the very best they've got, especially when we're beaten over the head with him being the King of the High Flyers in a business where 99% of the real cream of the crop guys have not been high flyers. Seriously, name me one flippy dippy guy who has had a real sustained run at the top of any company? Rey Mysterio got the title a couple of times, but he was treated like a fluke champion like he should have been and almost always got his ass handed to him when wrestling quality bigger guys. Mikey Whipwreck got the ECW Title for like thirty seconds, but he was clearly marked as a fluke champion. AR FOX IS NOT A FRANCHISE GUY, and I really wish he'd stop being presented like he's superhuman because that's what makes John Cena very not fun to watch, and it got to that same point a long time ago with AR Fox.

John Silver & Alex Reynolds vs Mike Cruz & Cheech Hernandez

I thought this was just going to be a typical, post-intermission tag match between two prelim teams, but this turned out to be super competitive. I haven't seen Reynolds and Silver team up much, but they have terrific chemsitry and work a very intense style that gives them a bit of an intimidation factor. I don't like Silver's "crazy man" schtick he was doing tonight because it makes it look like he's not taking things seriously, but he was his usual intense self as he hammered Cheech and Cruz with hard shots, suplexes, and even showed AR Fox the right way to do a dive when he went over the top and landed on his opponent. This was also Cruz's first chance to do more than be on the receiving end of a three minute squash, and he showed a lot of intensity as well. Silver and Reynolds nail Cruz with a double superkick and then hit a double Here It Is driver for the win.

Winners: John Silver & Alex Reynolds

Good match, I thought all four worked hard and did a good job. Everyone showed a lot of intensity here and were wrestling to impress.

Open The Freedom Gate Champion Johnny Gargano vs Tony Nese

Gargano is selling the back injury even during his entrance and wrestles like he wants to try and end it quickly, catching Nese in the Gargano Escape within the first minute of the match and keeping up the pressure. He clotheslines Nese to the floor, but goes out to the apron and Nese sweeps his legs and causes Gargano to land square on his back on the hard ring apron. Nese rolls Gargano inside and starts methodically picking Gargano's back apart with heavy blows and backbreakers. Gargano gets dumped to the apron, but comes back in with the slingshot spear through the ropes and Nese, now on the defensive, starts to make mistakes like allowing Gargano to counter a headscissors to a powerbomb and then missing a Lionsault that set Gargano up to drill him with a DDT. Gargano connects with an IED and lawn dart. Nese returns the favor by flattening Gargano with a deadlift German suplex and a spider suplex off the top rope, but he goes for the 450 splash and lands on Gargano's knees. Gargano quickly hits Hertz Donut and gets the Gargano Escape to force Nese to tap.

Winner: Johnny Gargano

Great match and a hell of a weekend for Nese, who proved in three nights, and especially this match, that he's good enough to hang at the top. Gargano puts him over as well in a postmatch promo, then sends a message to Akira Tozawa, whom he'll face for the Open The Freedom Gate Title when DGUSA returns in July.

Chuck Taylor vs Samuray Del Sol

Taylor's been very clear about his hatred of luchadores, but as Lenny points out on commentary, he has quite a well developed lucha arsenal of his own. He tries using that lucha arsenal to play Del Sol's game, but Del Sol gets the advantage until Taylor switches back to his normal game plan and waits for Del Sol to use his momentum against himself. That opportunity arrives when Taylor dodges a charge in the corner, but his advantage only lasts a few minutes before Del Sol is back in charge hitting a flying headscissors and a leg lariat to turn the tide. Taylor manages to ground Del Sol again with a modified version of Sol Naciente, but Del Sol quickly gets out, hits a tornado DDT that sends Taylor out to the floor, then wipes him out with a dive. Taylor counters a Frankensteiner attempt into a sitout powerbomb for 2, then he goes for the Awful Waffle but Del Sol escapes and hits Taylor with a Code Red for 2. Del Sol goes up top, Taylor pops up and suplexes him off, and makes a cover that Del Sol kicks out of at 2. Taylor stops to mouth off the the crowd before going up for a moonsault, but Del Sol rolls out of the way and hits Taylor with the Rising Sun for the win.

Winner: Samuray Del Sol

Huge win to cap off a very good weekend for Samuray Del Sol. Between splitting the matches with Generico and beating the guy who is, statistically, the best wrestler in EVOLVE definitely gave him a very big and important bump. Taylor goes after another pain in the ass kid at ringside who was messing with him, and I don't know what it is that makes kids hate him so much, but they really don't seem to like him for some reason.

Style Battle Tournament Third Round: Bobby Fish vs Jon Davis

After a long and arduous weekend that saw both these guys defeat AR Fox and Tommy Taylor over the course of the first two rounds, it all comes down to this. They do some mat wrestling to start without either man able to get much of an advantage, but Fish puts Davis down with some martial arts kicks and suplexes. Davis turns the tide in the blink of an eye by powering Fish up for a powerslam, then starts dishing out the heavy hitting, with forearms, kicks, and shoulderblocks to the back in the corner on the menu. Davis leaps to the top rope and does a moonsault I did not see coming, but Fish moves out of the way, drills Davis with a knockout kick that sends him crumpling to the mat, and goes for a moonsault of his own. Davis sees it coming as well and rolls to the floor, but Fish lands on his feet and takes Davis out with a dive through the ropes. They go back in where Davis kills Fish with a deathblow and a roaring clothesline, then hammers Fish until he catches him in a Boston crab. Fish counters out of it and gets Davis in the Fishhook. Fish has him right in the middle of the ring, but Davis is able to use his power to drag himself to the ropes. Fish kicks out of Three Seconds Around The World and then catches Davis with an exploder suplex into the corner before setting him on the top rope and superplexing him for 2. Davis suddenly hits the Pounce out of nowhere, Fish does a fighting spirit fire up, but Davis turns him inside out with a clothesline and hits Three Seconds Around The World a second time to win the tournament.

Winner: Jon Davis

Crowd was going nuts at the end there, and with good reason since both men were fighting like their lives depended on it. THIS is a wrestling main event. Lenny gets in the ring and tells Davis that after the tough losses to Finlay and Low Ki, he fought back and is now the 2012 Style Battle Champion. Davis says that's right and that the emphasis should be on champion, and he tells Gabe that they need an EVOLVE Title and it needs to be around his waist. He thanks the fans, EVOLVE, and mostly his family for believing in him. Nice ending, though on a side note, I believe this turned out to be Bobby Fish's last match in DGUSA and EVOLVE before he went to ROH to form his team with Kyle O'Reilly who, in an interesting twist of fate, was the guy he had two of his best matches in DGUSA/EVOLVE with, including losing to O'Reilly in the first match in EVOLVE history.

Other than Fox channeling the spirit of John Cena, this was a killer show to cap off a terrific weekend for EVOLVE. The Style Battle Tournament came off beautifully, Johnny Gargano came out looking like the fightingest champion in the world, and some key newcomers like Samuray Del Sol and Tony Nese worked their butts off to earn their spots and they did it in my eyes. This was my pick for the best show of the three, easy thumbs up, and you can order the DVD at or the iPPV replay at

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