EVOLVE Wrestling: What Is Next for the Fledgling, Upstart Promotion in 2011?

Ken DrabekCorrespondent IIFebruary 10, 2011

Bryan Danielson traps Munenori Sawa in the LaBell Lock at EVOLVE 5. (Photo courtesy of S. Finkelstein - getlostphotography.smugmug.com)
Bryan Danielson traps Munenori Sawa in the LaBell Lock at EVOLVE 5. (Photo courtesy of S. Finkelstein - getlostphotography.smugmug.com)

As 2010 began, the business of professional wrestling was set to evolve.

Gabe Sapolsky, former booker of Ring of Honor and Full Impact Pro wrestling, along with FIP owner Sal Hamaoui, announced the debut of a brand new independent promotion called EVOLVE.

The concept promised to be unique, focusing heavily on the win-loss records of the participants. Top names from the independent scene, like Bryan Danielson and Davey Richards, were set to take on major roles within this new promotion. Danielson is even credited with coining the EVOLVE name.

Plans changed a bit when Danielson signed on with the WWE, but the EVOLVE brand marched forward and the promotion held their first event on January 16, 2010 in Rahway, NJ.

The first EVOLVE show was main evented by Davey Richards and Kota Ibushi, who put on an outstanding match that might still stand as the very best in the brief history of the company. Unfortunately, neither man has been back since.

Despite losing the more well known names like Danielson and Richards, EVOLVE has succeeded in giving some of wrestling’s top up and coming talent a place to shine.

Guys like Jon Moxley, Sami Callihan, Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, Ricochet, Johnny Gargano and Chuck Taylor have all been featured in EVOLVE and most have turned in some of the best work of their careers thus far.

Veterans of the indy scene, like Jimmy Jacobs, Austin Aries and Mike Quackenbush have added their names into the mix with the up and comers, creating an even larger list of potential match-ups and giving the upstart promotion a bit more credibility as well.

The tag team roster includes Up in Smoke, CHIKARA Sekigun, Aeroform and the Osirian Portal, proving that entertaining and competitive tag team wrestling still exists.

While the names may not be instantly recognizable to the casual fan, these are some of the finest talents from around the independent scene and they have all stepped their game up considerably over the course of 2010, a year that saw EVOLVE produce their first six events.

The man who gave the promotion its name even was able to actually wrestle a few matches during his “summer vacation” from the WWE. Danielson competed in the main events of EVOLVE four and five, putting on great matches against Bobby Fish and Munenori Sawa respectively.

Through 2010, EVOLVE became one of the hottest promotions in independent wrestling despite the fact that the company has yet to run a show outside of New Jersey. DVD sales and word out mouth have been enough to help the company grow into something that has wrestling fans, especially independent wrestling fans, buzzing.

As 2011 begins, unfortunately, there has not been much news from EVOLVE.

The sixth show took place way back in November of last year and has yet to be released on DVD. The event is not even available for pre-order yet.

There also been no word on when the next event will take place. The following statement was posted on the live events section of the EVOLVE web site:

“It is no secret that the same people behind EVOLVE are also involved with Dragon Gate USA. DGUSA has a Northeast tripleshot scheduled for Jan. 28th in Manhattan, Jan. 29th in Philadelphia and Jan. 30th at The ACE Arena in Union City, NJ. This makes it hard for EVOLVE to hold an event within a month of these shows. We are currently working on other possibilities. Please keep checking back for info on when and where EVOLVE 7 will take place. Thank you.”

It seems as if Sapolsky and co. are focusing most of their attention on DGUSA, which has also become one of the hottest promotions on the independent scene and features several of the same talents being featured in EVOLVE.

Unlike EVOLVE, DGUSA has the backing of the Dragon Gate promotion in Japan and has run shows all over the United States. They recently debuted in New York City but have also hit major wrestling markets like Chicago, Boston and their home base, Philadelphia.

DGUSA has also taken their shot at the expanding medium of Internet pay-per-view, offering live streams of their events to fans via gofightlive.tv.

Doing all of the things that Sapolsky is doing with DGUSA obviously takes a lot of time, money and effort. It is understandable that EVOLVE has to take a back seat during this incredibly busy and important time for DGUSA, but the lack of any news from the promotion at all seems like a cause for concern.

By not giving the fan base any updates, EVOLVE faces the possibility of fading out of the spotlight. It would be a shame to see this inactivity stifle what was looking to be one of the most intriguing promotions of 2011 just a few short months ago.

With another huge triple shot weekend coming up in April for DGUSA, and still no word on when EVOLVE 7 will take place, it seems as though we may not be hearing anything from Sapolsky’s other promotion until late Spring at the very earliest.

That is, of course, if we hear anything at all. At this point, news of the closing of EVOLVE would not come as a huge surprise to many fans. While it would be a shame, it would not be a major shock.

All is quiet on the EVOLVE front for now. Here’s hoping that one way or another, it does not stay that way for long.