Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Failing to EVOLVE

BREAKING* EVOLVE Wrestling Ceasing Operations Due To Pandemic ...
To many, EVOLVE was an unofficial arm of Vince's empire for a while now. Now, WWE owns the brand and honestly no one is certain what happens next. Does it become their 6th brand? Does it just dissolve quietly and the catalog get slowly added to the Network? Time will tell, but as I quickly ran to the WWNLive shop to finish my collection of DGUSA DVD's, I realized the company deserved a look back. I have no intentions of holding back or pulling punches and my distaste for Gabe is well known, but I hope this comes off as fair and I promise to call out the good just as much as the bad.

Now, I could rant and ramble endlessly on DGUSA but I am working my way through my large collection and posting reviews for the shows so let's keep this to EVOLVE.

Starting up in 2010, EVOLVE spent much of the early years trying to find a footing. They were uneven, showcasing many ideas that largely faltered, and most considered them a less attractive brother of Dragon Gate USA. The style they showcased changed a lot over the years, too. The idea of EVOLVE was formed between Gabe and The American Dragon, Bryan Danielson, with hopes of bringing technical wizardry to a more prominent standing in the states. Too bad Bryan ran off to Vince's empire and never got a chance to take on the role that was suggested for him. He had a chance to work EVOLVE 4 and 5 thanks to the infamous tie incident, but that was it.

Instead of Bryan, Davey Richards took over as a top dog to be pushed. You can see this alluded to on the early DGUSA shows. Davey didn't last long, though. These early days featured a ranking system that they never really embraced for long and the debut of the Style Battle which was more thud than anything else.

Despite all of this, it's worth noting that the shows did tend to always have at least one great match and it was certainly different if nothing else.

In 2011, Gabe officially announced that EVOLVE and Dragon Gate USA would share a universe, which was a decent idea but the way it worked out just further showcased that EVOLVE was largely just a secondary brand. It didn't help that they had frequent streaming issues.

We went through this era and then on to the grapplefuck saga which saw Thatcher polarize crowds while the shows continued to change more and more. Once DGUSA was closed up, EVOLVE finally had a fighting chance to be a big player but they tended to botch things often enough that only diehard fans truly tuned in regularly. Even Csonka, who watched nearly everything of note stateside tended to skip a lot of the shows.

The lowest points are arguably the FloSlam drama and the WWE era, though.

FloSlam was supposed to be the game changer that put the WWNLive brands on par with ROH and all the other non-WWE US companies, but the entire thing fizzled out and turned into a giant, ugly mess. FloSlam not only turned to shit, but EVOLVE had a stench on them after that didn't rub off easily.

Then, Gabe sold his soul.

Now, I get that it's been said without working with WWE, EVOLVE would've died. I understand. But, after making the deal that eventually saw most of the EVOLVE shows turn into what felt like NXTVOLVE and saw the bigger names of the company falling to WWE names, Gabe grew an ego that more and more turned away fans that had supported him since day one. The company began to rely on people that were WWE fans instead of diehards and they pissed away good will left and right.

I have complained a lot about them, but I should note that I still consider myself a fan of the brand despite the many issues. I sincerely loved them at times, while sincerely hating them at others. I loved the roster most of these ten years even though I grew to strongly dislike Gabe. I appreciate them being a launching point for many great talents, even if those talents didn't get paid well enough nor treated well enough while there. I guess it's fair to say, I appreciate them but not enough to ignore the flaws, of which there were many.

Alas, EVOLVE is...EVOLVE. They evolved many times over the ten year run, sometimes for the better, sometimes not, but they evolved nonetheless. And, then they didn't. I regret that this is how it ends for the brand; swallowed up by the WWE and into the abyss. But, that's what happens when you sell your soul. I'd blame COVID, which is one of the worst things to ever happen in world history, but I think this was inevitable.

Thanks for the memories.

No comments:

Post a Comment