I have a Gretsch Renown Maple that I like very much. I have played on both the Catalina Maple and ELX, and of the 2, the ELX's had a more presence than the Catalina's. This most likely had to do with head selection on the kits I played. I think you should go with the one that you feel would inspire you to play your best.
I've played them both. I now own a Gretsch Catalina Birch and it is by far one of the best sounding drumsets I've heard. I've got it nicely tuned with Aquarian performance II heads and it sings beautifully. My friend played it and compared it to his DW. I know It seems like bragging but I'm telling you it sounds great! I'm not dizzing Pearls at all. Theyre among my favs but ElX doesn't come close.
I'm a pearl guy, I own a pearl EX kit but I'm going to say go for the Catalina kit for a couple reasons: 1) They're usually easier to find on sale; 2) The difference between EX, ELX and EXR are so minimal as to not warrant paying $150-500 more for a kit; 3) The Catalina has higher quality wood on the inside shell (birch or maple both sound great); 4) Once again you can find tremendous deals with this line because many of them were produced and I've seen full five piece Catalinas for as little as $500. Good luck.
I've had exports and I'd have to say the Catalina maple are phenomenal...especially considering the price. Gretsch drums sing. They're so easy to play and these are good enough to take on a gig.
I also have a Pearl BLX (studio birch) and the Catalina maple blew me away. You can get a blem kit from Musicians friend right now for $535. Otherwise they're $699.