RADICAN’S LIVE 5/20 EVOVLE 84 Report – results from EVOLVE’s return to the mid-west

By Sean Radican, PWTorch columnist


MAY 20, 2017

Lenny Leonard introduced the show. Keith Lee came out first and cut a promo. He told the crowd to bask in his glory. Donovan Dijak was out next. The opener is a rematch from WrestleMania weekend.

(1) Keith Lee vs. Donovan Dijak. Lee nearly sent Dijak over the top to the floor with a pounce, but Dijak managed to hang on. They went at it on the apron and Dijak got Lee on his shoulders and sent him back down to the apron with a spinebuster variation. Stokely Hathaway was shown watching from behind the fans. Dijak went for a Fosbury flip, but Lee caught him and hit a snake eyes on the apron. Holy s—t! Lee took control of the action inside the ring and slowly went up top for a moonsault. Dijak kipped up and went for a superkick, but Lee got out of the way. He got Dijak on his shoulders and hit feast your eyes for a 2 count. Dijak slipped out of the spirit bomb and hit a superkick. Lee no-sold it and ran into a sit-out powerbomb for a 2 count. If Lee wins both of his matches this weekend he gets a shot at the EVOLVE or WWN Championship on June 25. Lee went up top, but Dijak grabbed him by the neck and hit a super choke breaker for a near fall. Lee hit the spirit bomb, but Dijak kicked out at the last second. Lee took forever going up top and Dijak kipped up and went at it with Lee. He flipped Lee to the mat and went for a rolling elbow. Lee caught it, but Dijak hit a reverse hurricanrana for a near fall.

Dijak grabbed his side and went to the floor. He went after Lee with some clubbing blows. Dijak really favored his side as they went at it near the guardrail. Dijak hit a kick that sent Lee into the seated positon in a chair. Dijak set up for a springboard and hit a flip dive into the crowd to wipe out Lee as he began to stir while the ref counted. OH MY GOD! They battled up top a short time later. Lee tried to get Dijak on his shoulders, but Dijak elbowed out of his grasp. Dijak went for a springboard, but slipped. He then hit a top rope hurricanrana. He followed up with a superkick to Lee, who was on his knees. Dijak barely connected with a corkscrew dive for a 2 count. Dijak placed Lee on the turnbuckles. He tried to get him onto his shoulders, but Lee elbowed out of it. Lee eventually hit a poison hurricanrana of his own. Lee went up top with a lifeless Dijak on his shoulders. The fans fired up and Lee hit a super spirit bomb for the win.

Lee shook Dijak’s hand after the match and put him over before leaving the ring. The fans chanted for Dijak.

Winner: Keith Lee

Star rating: (***3/4) – The crowd wasn’t as hot as the match deserved. This was really good and the crowd would pop for the big spots momentarily and then go back to being quiet. I’m not sure what to make of Lee’s character right now. Hero told him he needed an edge and once again, Lee screwing around and not staying on the offensive cost him several times. This was a little sloppy at times late, but it was a really good match.

(2) Jason Kinkaid vs. Fred Yehi. They had some very even exchanges during the first part of the match. Kinkaid got the upper hand and went after Yehi’s leg. Yehi mounted a comeback, but Kinkaid eventually hit a tornado DDT followed by a falcon arrow. Kinkaid continued to go after Yehi’s knee with knee bars throughout the match and he locked in another one, but Yehi managed to get the ropes. This is Yehi’s first match since leaving Catch Point. Yehi surprised Kinkaid with a huge dropkick off the second rope. Yehi went after Kinkaid on the apron, but he flipped around him and dropped him neck-first over the top rope with a stunner variation. Kinkaid went for a springboard, but Yehi hit an ace crusher and followed up with the Koji clutch for the win. This was a good match, but the crowd didn’t add much to it.

Winner: Fred Yehi

Star rating: (***)

(3) Austin Theory vs. Lio Rush. They had a fast-paced exchange during the early going and came to a stalemate. Rush offered a handshake and Theory whipped him into the corner and they went at it again. Rush hit an enzuguri that sent Theory to the floor. Rush set up for a dive, but Theory slid around him back into the ring. Theory tripped Rush and hit a slingshot double stomp and a suplex for a 2 count. Rush fired back and hit an asai moonsault and the fans fired up. The action continued at a fast pace. Rush hit a 360 enzuguri to cut off Theory’s momentum. Theory fired back and hit a big German. He followed up with another big German and the fans applauded. They went back and forth and Rush caught Theory with a cutter. Rush set up for a dive and stopped. He then hit a big dive through the ropes and followed up with a lariat off the top for a 2 count. Rush went for a handspring, but Theory caught him on his shoulders and hit a rack bomb for a near fall! Theory missed a moonsault and Rush caught him with Rush hour followed by a frog splash for the win.

Rush will wait to see if Zack Sabre Jr. can beat Ethan Page. If he does, Rush gets a shot at the title.

Winner: Lio Rush

Star rating: (***1/2) – Really good fast-paced match. Theory gets better and better by the month.

After the match, Pricilla Kelly came down to the ring. She got on the mic. She stoked Theory’s face and hair and told him she sees something in him and he belongs with her.

Catch Point came down to the ring next.

(4) Tracy Williams (w/Catch Point) vs. Jeff Cobb. Leonard talked about all of the implications for tomorrow based on the results of the title matches on this show. Cobb got the upper hand during the early going and tossed Williams across the ring. Cobb squatted Williams before hitting a pump-handle suplex over his head for a 2 count. Williams fired back and hit a missile dropkick. Williams went after Cobb’s arm. Cobb blocked an Angle slam attempt, but Williams managed to hit a Saito suplex for a 2 count. Cobb mounted a comeback and went for tour of the islands, but Williams rolled through into a small package for the win.

Winner: Tracy Williams

Star rating: (**1/2) – This was a solid match and things were just picking up with Cobb’s comeback when it ended.

Stokely Hathaway got on the mic and put over Catch Point. He then said Chicago isn’t as good as New York for some cheap heat. He put over Chris Dickinson and Jaka as the EVOLVE Tag Team Champions. The fans started a F New York chant. He asked if Freelance Wrestling was one of the best promotions in Chicago. He said that they would find out in a few minutes.

Hathaway screwed up the “Every Breath You Take” lyric from The Police when addressing Matt Riddle and said he had his eyes on him and the WWN Championship. Dickinson then called out their opponents. Matt Knicks and Isaias Velazquez.

(5) EVOLVE Tag Team Champions Catch Point (Chris Dickinson & Jaka w/Stokely Hathaway) vs. Matt Knicks & Isaias Velazquez. The crowd was very into Knicks and Velazquez, who are from Freelance Wrestling. Eventually Velazquez got the hot tag and hit a standing sliced bread on Jaka for a 2 count. Velazquez went for a dive and got caught. Knicks, who was standing on the ropes holding the middle rope open for Velazquez, hit a moonsault to the floor to wipe Catch Point out, which started a Chicago chant. Catch Point fired back and hit a springboard doomsday device on Knicks, but Velazquez made the save. Velazquez took a ton of big moves from Catch Point capped by a sit-out powerbomb from Jaka, but he kicked out at the last second. Catch Point set up for death trap, but Knicks broke it up. Velazquez hit a frog splash on Jaka a short time later for a near fall. Jaka went at it alone, but ate a pair of superkicks. Dickinson tripped Knicks from the floor. Velazquez then took the death trap finish from Catch Point and it was good for the win.

Winners: Chris Dickinson & Jaka to retain the EVOLVE Tag Team Championship

Star rating: (***1/2) – This was a really good showing for Velazquez and Knicks, who were representing Freelance Wrestling out of Chicago. The crowd got into the match late with several good near falls before Catch Point escaped with the win.

Zack Sabre Jr. came out to defend the EVOLVE Championship against Ethan Page. Sabre got right in Page’s face, but the ref got between them. The crowd gave Sabre a big reaction.

(6) EVOLVE Champion Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Ethan Page. Sabre got a guillotine early, but Page ran them both through the ropes to the floor. Page told Sabre to bring it and they began trading uppercuts. They went at it on the outside for several minutes. Sabre missed a penalty kick on the outside, but he managed to slide around Sabre and lock in a guillotine. He transitioned to an arm submission, but Page draped him over the barricade and followed up with a back breaker over his knee. Page followed up with an apron bomb and RKO Ego, but Sabre kicked out at 2. Leonard mentioned that Page was as serious as he’d ever seen him and he had left The Gatekeepers at home. Leonard said EVOLVE officials debated which singles title would main event the show and they decided the WWN title would main event this show and the EVOLVE title would main event the show tomorrow in Detroit. Sabre fired back and hit a tornado DDT. Leonard mentioned Page hadn’t lost a match since EVOLVE 74. Sabre went for another penalty kicks, but Page caught it. Sabre fired back with a big slap to the face and a German. Page shook off a second Tornado DDT attempt and hit a running boot to Sabre’s face for a 2 count. Sabre blocked the spinning Dwayne and countered it into a bridging pin for a 2 count. Page got up and nailed Sabre with a big clothesline. They battled up top a short time later and Page eventually hit a big slam off the top for a 2 count. The fans began singing Sabre’s name as he tried to regroup. He blocked the RK Ego and Sabre turned it into an arm bar. Page buckled bombed his way out of a triangle a short time later and hit the spinning Dwayne for a 2 count.

They went back and forth and Page hit a kick to Sabre’s head. He shook off a flying triangle choke and hit a package piledriver for a near fall with Leonard declaring a new champion as Sabre kicked out at the last second. Page signaled for the end and went for another package piledriver, but Sabre slipped out of it. Sabre hit several kicks to Page’s arm. Page caught him with a superkick, but Sabre slid around him a short time later and applied a dragon sleeper. He then began hitting elbows to Page’s head over and over. Sabre let go of the hold and hit a PK. Page shook it off and waved his finger at Sabre. Sabre hit another penalty kick and Page flipped him off. Sabre hit a third penalty kick. He then hit a fourth penalty kick for the win.

Darby Allin came out after the match wearing a sling on his arm. He got on the mic and said he put his soul through hell. Allin said his mission is now hanging with Sabre in the ring and becoming EVOLVE Champion, which is something Page could never do. Sabre patted Allin on the back of the head.

Winner: Zack Sabre Jr. to retain the EVOLVE Championship

Star rating: (****1/4) – This was a hell of a match and it looked like Page was going to win down the stretch only for Sabre to finish him off with four penalty kicks. It’s hard to figure out where Page goes from here after failing to capture the EVOLVE Championship yet again.

Joanna Rose announced EVOLVE would return to Chicago on Sept. 23.

(7) WWN Champion Matt Riddle vs. Kyle O’Reilly. O’Reilly went for a knee bar early, but Riddle got the ropes. Riddle fought O’Reilly off and things got heated as they began trading big blows in the middle of the ring. O’Reilly finally blocked a forearm with a kick to the legs to ground Riddle. Riddle fired back with an exploder and the fans fired up. O’Reilly got the upper hand and hit a running knee strike to Riddle’s mid-section. Leonard told a story about O’Reilly coming to a DGUSA show with Davey Richards several years back. He said he was talking to Richards, who interrupted their conversation and pointed to O’Reilly working out and said he’d be a star one day. O’Reilly went for a cross-arm breaker, but Riddle blocked it and managed to get to the ropes. O’Reilly kept the advantage and sent Riddle shoulder-first into the turnbuckles. O’Reilly continued to target Riddle’s arm and the fans fired up. O’Reilly went for a knee bar after hitting a suplex, but Riddle grabbed a knee bar of his own. Riddle finally escaped O’Reilly’s hold with a series of heel strikes to the head. Riddle fired up as O’Reilly nailed him with some big kicks to the chest. Riddle blocked a kick and hit a huge right hand that dropped O’Reilly. Riddle hit bro to sleep and a German with a bridge for a near fall and the fans fired up!

Riddle no-sold a German from O’Reilly. O’Reilly went for a guillotine choke. Riddle tried to escape, but went down. Riddle eventually lifted O’Reilly and hit a northern lights suplex, but O’Reilly floated back over and held on to the guillotine! Riddle finally got up again with O’Reilly still holding the submission and hit a fisherman buster and both men were down. WOW! Riddle hit a series of kicks, but O’Reilly fired up. O’Reilly hit several knee strikes and finished Riddle off with a big running knee to the head and both men were down as the fans applauded. Both men traded German suplexes. They hit running kicks at the same time and then clotheslines. Riddle finally blocked a kick and slid around into an up kick. O’Reilly fired right back with a huge clothesline and both men were down again! Both men traded blows from their knees. They got to their feet and continued to exchange. O’Reilly went for a choke, but Riddle tossed him off. They continued to go at it. Riddle slid around Kyle and hit a Liger bomb. The ref began to count, but O’Reilly sat up and grabbed a triangle choke! O’Reilly began hitting elbows, but Riddle managed to get to his feet. O’Reilly let go and hit a knee strike. He grabbed a guillotine. O’Reilly then went for a brainbuster, but Riddle slid out and hit a jumping tombstone! He then locked in the bromission. Riddle really locked in the bromission and O’Reilly was forced to tap.

The crowd stood and applauded after the match. The fans chanted bro after the match as Riddle grabbed the mic. He thanked the fans for hosting EVOLVE in Chicago. He put over O’Reilly. He thanked him for the match. They shook hands and O’Reilly bowed to end the show.

Winner: Matt Riddle to retain the WWN Championship

Star rating: (****1/2) – This was all you could ask for out of a main event. O’Reilly and Riddle had an all-out war that went back and forth from start to finish with hard-hitting exchanges, submissions, and counters. Go out of your way to see this match!

Overall score: (8.5) – I was concerned the crowd was going to hold this show down, but the in-ring action was so good that the crowd got more and more into the show as it went on. The crowd was really good for the last two matches considering they were flat during the first part of the show and the wrestlers had to work really hard to get them into the action.

The action up and down the card was really good and there wasn’t a bad match on the show. Some of the booking was a bit puzzling as Lee continues to show no killer instinct after Hero put him over before heading to WWE and telling him the one thing he lacked to be a top guy was a killer instinct. Since that time Lee had hovered around the .500 mark trading wins and losses and his stalling and grandstanding nearly cost him a match against Donovan Dijak. Lee has been great, but he needs his character to have an edge to really get over the top in EVOLVE.

The last two matches were great. Page has really done a ton of heavy lifting in EVOLVE the last two years. He’s worked a couple of big feuds with Johnny Gargano and Darby Allin, but when it has come time for him to move on from those feuds and get a shot at the EVOLVE Title, he’s fallen short. I’m not sure what EVOLVE can do with Page going forward. He’s been a valuable part of the roster and he did a good job of getting himself and Allin over, but at some point he needs to establish he can win big matches.

The main event between O’Reilly and Riddle was a fantastic state-of-the-art wrestling match in 2017. The crowd really woke up for the hard-hitting exchanges whether they were working holds on the mat or exchanging blows on their feet. This match just kept getting better and better leading into the finish. The last two matches are worth going out of your way to see. Thumbs up show.


Contact Sean at pwtorchsean@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @sr_torch. Like and join Radican’s Wrestling Community on Facebook at Facebook.com/SeanRadicanRWC.

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