|Drew Galloway with the EVOLVE championship and a leering English face.|
The championship win really wasn't much of a surprise. It had originally been advertised as a non-title affair but the out of the blue defence is one of booker Gabe Sapolsky's favourite tricks. On top of that it seemed completely natural for a new champ to be crowned during what had so openly and frequently been talked about as a reboot weekend. A new figurehead for a new direction. Makes sense.
There was also the Chris Hero problem. After getting himself into the best shape of his life prior to being released from WWE in 2013 Hero has had what's probably best described as a relapse in 2014. He has very clearly put on a large amount of weight, all of it in his gut. A promotion like EVOLVE, built around the concept of wrestling being a sport featuring world class athletes, could not have Hero, in that shape, as their champion. It would have jarred with the league's image. Not everyone can have a six pack, but there's a difference between having a larger body type and letting yourself go. So him losing the strap was to be expected.
Galloway is a fresh name for a fresh era of EVOLVE. Thanks to his time in WWE he stands a chance of attracting fresh eyes but because he's a newcomer every match he can be placed in is something new for the company's established fans. But his title reign is still far from an ideal situation. His post-match, show-closing promo (available in full on YouTube (just click here)) demonstrated why he never rose above the mid-card ranks in WWE. In fairness EVOLVE is less about a wrestler’s ability to talk and more about their ability to, y’know, wrestle. But it’s still not a great idea to have a middling promo guy close the show by attempting a rousing speech. It came across as rambling and directionless more than once.
The addition of Galloway and Matt Sydal (formerly WWE’s Evan Bourne, as you probs know) is not a bad thing. It gives Sapolsky some known quantities to play with and the chance to attract new viewers. Matches pitting the newcomers against company big hitters Ricochet, Johnny Gargano , Trent Barreta and Uhaa Nation should all be worth a watch.
But ultimately Sapolsky’s focus should be on creating his own names because they’re the ones who are going to help his company grow. As good as they are the Galloways, Heros, and Sydals of the world are always going to be former WWE guys. It’s guys like Biff Busick and Drew Gulak, in addition to those mentioned in the last paragraph, who set EVOLVE apart as they’re the ones who’ve never worked for mainstream US wrestling. New names help to make a promotion seem vibrant and interesting. And that’s what wrestling at the EVOLVE level needs.