A Shore Special--Through the Curtain: Pro Wrestling Evo truly presents the Best Show in Town

Posted in: Shore's Blog, MUST-READ LISTING
Sep 12, 2011 - 07:39 PM

By Chris Shore

Through the Curtain is a series that follows Pro Wrestling EVO, an upstart independent promotion in Concord, NC. You will find previous A Shore Special—Through the Curtain articles here. In this article, Evo presents their fourth event, Best Show in Town.

If you would like to read more of my writing, be sure to check out my new book The Following Contest is a Dark Match. It's only 99 cents and available for all eReaders, smartphones, tablets, and PCs. Get your copy here.

Shore's Slant: In the interest of full disclosure, I am the current ring announcer and new play-by-play voice for Evo, but I am not compensated for either.

Coming off of a strong showing in their self-proclaimed “biggest show of the year,” Pro Wrestling Evo returned to the Cabarrus Arena on September 2, 2011 for a show they titled “Best Show in Town.” Evo promoter Patrick Wright told me that the plan was to have just that, the best show available in the Carolinas that night. It would prove to be a prophetic claim.

The show was being driven by the confrontation between Zack Slavation and Marcellus King over King's Evo Championship. It was, of course, the main event of the evening, and the match I was most wanting to see. It was also probably the biggest draw of the show. Though many fans would leave that night impressed with that match, it was not the only thing fans left talking about.

Like most every Evo show since the first in January, there were logistical problems that threatened the very existence of the event. The show had been originally scheduled for later in the month, but a ring booking issue left them with two options. Run on the original date and pull an exhausting day that would have the Evo crew disassemble and reassemble a ring twice in the same day, or take a chance and run on Friday night. A tough road considering the popularity of Friday nigh high school football in the South.

Deciding the extra labor would leave his workers exhausted, Patrick chose to run on Friday. He caught a break in that most of the local schools were all playing away games. Since most fans don't travel to away games around here—unless it's a big rivalry, but it was too early in the season for that—Patrick would have most of his fan base available. There was also the reality that it was Labor Day weekend. And while Monday might be a lazy day around the nation, Friday shouldn't be as bad.

But his biggest break came when WWE chose to run Smackdown the Tuesday of the show. Able to get a good price on TV advertising through his relationship with the arena, Patrick ran two spots on the local Time Warner station. Twitter started talking. Patrick hoped for the best.

What he got was a crowd smaller than the last, but more than one would have expected with everything in play. In total, between 100 and 150 people showed up to see The Best Show in Town. And if the Twitter and Facebook comments are any indication, there will be no lawsuits for false advertising.

The show opened with Arik Royale vs. Trevor Lee. Royale is a rising star who has been the one person I underestimated greatly. He has great presence, and moves exceptionally well for his size. Lee is also a young star in the making. He understands ring psychology, and can play both a serious and comedic heel with ease. The match between these two started slow, but built nicely until Royal put Lee away in an opener that would have stood by itself, but didn't have to.

Marcellus King and his man-pet, Circo, ran in from the crowd and beat down both Royale and Lee. The purpose was to get more heat on both men before their matches later in the show. It worked. Fans booed “The Circus” and set the stage for the last two matches.

Next, Jimmy Jack Funk Jr. returned to Evo to face newcomer Mike Merletti. Merletti has a great look, but I don't know much about him yet. He and Funk wrestled an old school style, with Funk winning, that while gave me some great moments of nostalgia, didn't go over as well with the live crowd. They didn't hate it, but they were not blown away either.

That changed quickly with the next match when Kirby Mack faced the Chivas Kid. Kirby had wrestled with his brother, TJ, as Team MackTion at the previous show. This time, he worked a single's match against a man with a goat mask. Chivas got a lot of laughs when he first made his entrance. The gimmick is certainly better suited for children than a hardcore group of wrestling fans. But the laughter died quickly as the match started.

Barely topping 300 pounds together, these two flew around thew ring in reckless abandon. Hurricanrannas, enziguri kicks, top rope maneuvers, and crashes to the floor came in waves that fans popped big for. Kirby won after hitting a double stomp from the top onto the apron in a sick looking spot that must be seen to believed.

After intermission, the show caught another gear with “The Manscout Merit Challenge.” Jake “The Manscout” Manning has put his Evo career on the line in these matches. Last time, his opponent was not up to the task. This time, he drew Caleb Konley. Caleb, as long time readers know, is a veteran of the ring who most recently has worked with Dragon Gate USA. Manning is synonymous with indy wrestling in the Carolinas. I was looking forward to this match, and was lucky enough to get to call it on play-by-play.

As much fun as it was to call the match, I would have rather just sat back and watched. Jake and Caleb set the stage for the last two matches with a grueling fight that almost had be believing Konley would win. Several near falls brought gasps from the audience, and Manning finally pulled out a victory. Afterward, in what would become a harbinger of later events, Manning took the mic and put over Caleb as the future.

The man who dropped the Evo championship to Marcellus King at the last show, Cedric Alexander, got a chance to extract some revenge on Circus freak Circo in the semi-main event. Circo had helped King win the title, and Cedric, who was recently offered a contract by ROH, was looking for pay back. I was standing in the back when Circo walked up to Cedric and they started to lay out their match. The idea was a simple one: beat the hell out of each other.

There can be no doubt that both men followed that one rule. Circo took a powerbomb to the apron that I'm pretty sure I undersold on commentary because I was horrified by seeing it play out. Circo got some revenge later when he hit a running kick from the apron onto Cedric that sent him crashing through chairs. Cedric won with a brain buster, but Circo established himself as a real threat in Evo.

The main event finally came, and Marcellus King and Zack Salvation didn't disappoint. The match opened with a video package that will be on the DVD, and is worth the price for. WWE has nothing on that package. The stage was set, but those of us in the know were worried. Salvation was wrestling with a hurt neck. And he was hurt bad enough to give me pause as to whether he should perform or not. Ultimately, he decided he could go. And go they did.

King and Salvation gave 30 minutes that any wrestling fan should see. The match had everything, and if you've ever considered buying a DVD, this is the one to buy. Salvation once again laid his body on the line, including busting his head open on a chair as he dove over the top rope onto King. But King once again used Circo and a distraction caused by me and a drunk fan—I kid you not—to retain the Evo championship.

Circo and King attempted a beat down on Salvation, but Manning made the save. The Circus left the area, and Salvation took the microphone like he lad at the end of the last show. He said he was not worthy to be there that night, because in all his years of working the indy scene, that was the best show he had ever been a part of. Several fans in attendance said the same to me as they left, and more have said so on their Twitter and Facebook pages.

When I got to the back after the show, I checked on Zack because of his hardway gash. He was fine. Someone went for supplies and we patched him up backstage. He looked at me while we waited and said, “You know, what I said out there was complete shoot. This is the best show I have ever worked on.” I believe him. I was there, I know what I saw. Some of you may not be convinced. I understand. But I promise you this: the future of professional wrestling, or at least a chunk of it, is working its way through Pro Wrestling Evo. And while it's not always easy to say after watching some of the things we get on TV each week, after this show, it was no problem.

The future looks bright.

Questions and comments to css3238 or on Twitter @TheShoreSlant.

Pro Wrestling Evo returns to action on October 8 with #FollowThis. Check out the latest edition of Evo Underground.

You can learn more about EVO, see the Underground webisodes, and purchase DVDs and tickets for the October 8 #FollowThis on the EVO website.

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