Tuesday 17 March 2015

EVOLVEing Teams

EVOLVE 38 featured one tag team match. Team Tremendous, consisting of Dan Barry and Bill Carr, took on Earl Cooter and Jody Kristofferson, managed by Larry Dallas. Both teams were new to EVOLVE. During the match the commentators made a point of referencing the current slenderness of the promotion's doubles scene, albeit with the euphemistic "transitional phase" line to imply that fresh teams are coming.

The low number of teams in EVOLVE has been an issue for a while. At the start of 2014 the Young Bucks made their final appearance for the company, bringing their rivalry with the Bravado brothers to an abrupt close. Lancelot and Harlem inherited the spot of top team by default. There were simply no other tandems available. They spent the majority of the rest of the year working with The Colony and fellow heels the Premier Athlete Brand.

I thought (still think, in fact) the Bravados were underrated in EVOLVE. They weren't the best tag team ever but they were reliable and had a good range of double team moves. Their losing effort against Uhaa Nation and AR Fox at EVOLVE 36 was a good example of the level they could perform at (and how far they've come since their days as perennial losers in Ring of Honor). They were also clearly dedicated to being a unit. With so many guys thrown together to work as teams these days that was particularly nice to see.

Sadly it seems that the Bravados are gone from EVOLVE. They and Moose lost a Losing Faction Must Split match to the reformed Ronin at EVOLVE 37 and were neither booked for or mentioned at EVOLVE 38. They haven't been announced for any of the WWN shows over WrestleMania weekend either. Which leaves EVOLVE without their most consistent team.

Finding relevant pictures of EVOLVE performers is tough.
In fact if we discount the two teams that debuted at the most recent show EVOLVE has exactly one tag team: the Premier Athlete Brand combo of Anthony Nese and Caleb Konley. They're a good pairing who work well together, complement one another's styles, and who seem to be keener on becoming a proper team than I would have guessed when they first won the Open the United Gate straps back in September of last year. But they can't make a division by themselves. They need opponents. Even if Team Tremendous join Kristofferson and Cooter in getting regular EVOLVE gigs three teams are not enough to make a compelling, layered division. Last year taught us that.  

The good news is that there are teams available to EVOLVE. Davey Richards' short notice appearance and Austin Aries' upcoming WWN Supershow match tell us TNA talent are able to appear on the company's iPPVs. Roderick Strong's work with the group tells us that select ROH guys are able to negotiate more flexible contracts should they have the desire (although this is presumably something only open to those who are considered important enough to be kept happy). Plus there are notable teams that work elsewhere who don't work for EVOLVE at all.

The Colony would be ideal, for example. They proved reliable and popular during their appearances last year. The Super Smash Brothers were semi-regulars in the early years of the promotion. They wouldn't make the worst additions in the world. For that matter Ethan Page and Josh Alexander's Monster Mafia were enjoyable in their appearances for the promotion last year. And all three teams have the added bonus of being babyfaces. That makes them ever so slightly easier to utilise than heel pairings.

There's potential on the current roster too. Rich Swann and Chuck Taylor could be used as a regular pairing as part of Ronin's comeback. Alternatively Swann could be teamed with Ricochet as the Inner City Machine Guns. Their styles mesh better but there's the problem of 'ochet being pulled from shows at short notice by Lucha Underground (they get priority on Ricochet's booking and can pull him in at short notice for television tapings). It's a pity that Uhaa Nation's NXT bound, he and Fox have worked well together in their sporadic appearances as a team.

Biff Busick and Drew Gulak have potential as a tag team (as noted in my EVOLVE 38 review). Having them form a team would be another way to raise their profiles and their style would make for a different sort of tag team match. It would be interesting to see how they work together and what they could do in a tag environment. There are even two obvious portmanteau names for them: Team Bulak and Team Gusick. That in itself is reason enough to pair them up!

The financial boat could really be pushed out and The Wolves could be pencilled in for a stretch of shows. Richards went down well as a singles performer on March 8, there's nothing to indicate he'd be any less popular alongside Eddie Edwards. Having them win the Open the United Gate championship, even for a couple of weeks or months, could really elevate the titles. The same goes for bringing in Austin Aries to work more frequently as Generation Next with Roderick Strong.

The potential is there for EVOLVE to have a good tag team division. If they're going to bother having tag team titles they might as well aspire to having a good division too. Some of the fixes are cheaper and easier than others but whichever approach was chosen the result would almost certainly be worthwhile. Creating a decent tag division would make the seemingly inevitable renaming of the Open the United Gate championship to the EVOLVE tag team championship have a greater chance of meaning something.

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