SAN ANTONIO, TX – Ever since being released by WWE in November 2013, Chris Hero has been one of the hottest commodities on the independent circuit. Fast forward three years and he said goodbye to the indy life once again, his second chance at NXT and WWE only days away.
Hero made his last two appearances on the indy scene this weekend at the Woodlawn Lake Park Gym in San Antonio, Texas, working for EVOLVE. On Friday night, he was defeated by Keith Lee while on Saturday afternoon, he put over Zack Sabre Jr., someone he has wrestled on many occasions in the last few years. And it was only fitting that his last match was against the “British Master.” According to Hero, he wrestled Sabre Jr. more than anybody over the last three years.
“I really kick the shit out of you,” said Hero to Sabre Jr. in his post-match interview. “And you made me give you the best of me.”
The Knockout Artist kept going on Sabre Jr., saying that he first wrestled him in 2008 for 1PW in England and that he should be the next EVOLVE champion. Hero asked the crowd if they’d like to see Sabre Jr. with the belt, which the fans answered in an overwhelmingly positive fashion.
However, what would a retirement or departure speech be without an angle of some sort? The belt talk was the cue for ACH, who had previously won his match against half of the tag team champions, Fred Yehi. He came to the ring and thanked Hero because it was after wrestling him in 2011 in his home state of Texas and because of Hero himself that he moved to St. Louis and pursuit his dream.
“When someone asks me who’s your hero, I say Chris Hero!” exclaimed ACH, playing on Hero’s song and the chant fans love to do when Hero is wrestling.
ACH put himself in the title mix, which brought Stokely Hathaway, EVOLVE champion Timothy Thatcher’s manager. He said that none of the two contenders would get a title shot, but then Thatcher jumped to the apron and pointed at Sabre Jr.
The ceremony was not over yet.
By the time the angle was over all the EVOLVE roster was on the stage. It was then Sabre Jr.’s turn to put over Hero. That make Hero tease “it’s not like I have to be anywhere tonight,” hinting at being present at NXT TakeOver. (He was not shown on camera if he was.)
Hero said he attacked the shit out of the independent scene after getting released from WWE. And now that he’s going back, he waned to make sure everyone knew he didn’t get that job on his own. He thanked his fans, everybody who ever bought a DVD, a ticket, or watched his matches on YouTube.
“Don’t ever underestimate what a little support can get you,” said Hero, who just turned 37.
The match itself was very good, the best on the card. Psychology wise, it was tremendous. One of Hero’s best quality is the ability to adapt to his opponent’s style. The finish came when after two piledrivers from Hero, Sabre Jr. got him in one of his crazy submissions on the third attempt, to which Hero tapped out.
Chris Hero’s career started 18 years ago, when the Dayton, Ohio, native had his first match in his home state. After wrestling for almost every wrestling company in North America, as well as in Europe and in Japan, he was signed by WWE in 2012 and assigned to Florida Championship Wrestling where he was given the name of Kassius Ohno. He was released in November 2013, but in December 2016, it was reported that he was heading back to WWE and made his NXT return in January, using the Kassius Ohno moniker again.
And for Hero, it’s all about being grateful to get that second chance.
“It’s been an overwhelming weekend in general,” said Hero in an exclusive interview with SLAM! Wrestling. “Sharing the locker room with these guys. I mean, who knows when I’m gonna see a lot of people. The intimate nature of independent wrestling. You get used to see the same fans at a lot of shows. You know, I’m sure I’ll see a lot of them again, but you know, smaller faces in bigger crowds if that makes sense. It’s definitely overwhelming. The support that everyone’s giving me, it can far outweigh any criticism that you receive. I didn’t just get that second chance. The promoters, my coworkers, the fans, they’ve all helped me get that second chance, so I’m excited about it.”
RESULTS FROM EVOLVE 77:
– Darby Allin, Barrett Brown & Zack Sabre Jr defeated Ethan Page & The Gatekeepers. The original match was supposed to be Darby Allin vs. Peter Kaasa, but Kaasa got a stiff neck from the night before so he was given the night off. It was then supposed to be Allin vs. Brown but Page and the Gatekeepers attacked both of them and started an handicap match, until Sabre Jr came in. In the spot of the show, Allin climbed a 15-foot high post and let himself dropped on his back on the heels trio.
– EVOLVE tag team champion Tracy Williams beat Laredo Kid
– Chris Dickinson & Jaka defeated Jason Kincaid & Sammy Guevara
– ACH beat EVOLVE tag team champion Fred Yehi
– Matt Riddle defeated DUSTIN after a suplex in a pile of chairs from the top rope. It was a different kind of match for Riddle. But he’s still new and has to work different king of matches to improve. He’s really a superstar in the making though.
– EVOLVE champion Timothy Thatcher beat Jeff Cobb. Before the match, Cobb said that he was dedicating the match to Oliver John, the wrestling trainer in Northern California who trained both of them.
– Zack Sabre Jr. defeated Chris Hero in Hero’s last match on the indy scene.