Thursday 16 April 2015

The Age of Obsession

I'll start this off by flatly stating my point: Caleb Konley is an underrated wrestler. Over the last year he's become one of the most reliable performers on the EVOLVE roster. He's had a string of enjoyable matches against everyone from Rich Swann to AR Fox to Johnny Gargano to Ricochet. He wasn't a passenger in any of them, he carried his weight and kept the crowd invested. But his talent never gets the praise it deserves.

It's possible that part of the problem stems from the reason he's been pushed. He's very obviously had his profile raised because Gabe Sapolsky knows he can rely on being able to book him. He's not as celebrated as many of the other men on the roster and as such he's in less demand. Neither TNA or ROH seem to have any interest in using him and WWE definitely doesn't. Having someone that can go in the ring that isn't likely to go elsewhere is an attractive thing for a booker. Sapolsky saw that in Konley and started building him up.

But this doesn't mean 'The Obsession' doesn't deserve the position he's in. Since disbanding The Scene and doing the tried and tested "I'm getting serious" routine Konley has displayed a marked improvement. And not just in the matches listed above either, he had better than expected lower profile bouts against The Colony, Timothy Thatcher and the Bravados. He's gotten into better shape too, possibly a side effect of being teamed with gym freak Anthony Nese. Basically, he's proven he can wrestle well and he's started to look like someone who wrestles for a living (even though he's not).

Konley and Cage would have made a good long-term team.
Nese could have gone singles. Disappointing it didn't happen. Pity.
The WrestleMania Weekend shows were not the best advertisement for Konley. He was the designated jobber in the EVOLVE 39 six man tag (review here) because neither of his teammates were in a position to lose: both Brian Cage and TJ Perkins were making their returns to the promotion. Having them lose would have dulled their impact. after years away. Things weren't much better at EVOLVE 40 (review here). Although Konley and Cage got the win in their match against Swann and Gargano the match was cut short.

He was back to losing at Mercury Rising (another review here), falling to Ethan Page in the opener. That seemed like a massive step backwards at the start of the show but Page's turn on Gargano helped put the move in context: Page needed a win in a solid match so that his turn meant more later in the evening. Konley was chosen because it was known he'd give Page the match he needed.

Konley has earned his spot towards the top of EVOLVE. It would be nice if the tag team division was deeper so that he and Nese could have a reign memorable for its good matches instead of a lack of defences. Sadly that doesn't look to be on the cards, which is a disservice to a talented, dedicated wrestler. A disservice to a talented, dedicated roster for that matter. The Open the United Gate titles could mean more with just a couple more teams added to the roster, as I've written before.    

Long term I think it will be interesting to see how far Sapolsky is willing to go with Konley. As a guy who's likely to remain a fixture of EVOLVE for at least the next few years he's probably going to wind up as a headline guy. The ex- and future-WWE guys on the roster are going to need meaningful names to be pitted against and Konley will likely end up joining names like Fox, Swann and Gargano on that list. A reign as the EVOLVE champion may seem unattainable now but I think things could look different a year from now.

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