SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
ATTENTION: Tonight marks the first night of a new format in EVOLVE. The first three matches will now feature prelim talent primarily looking to impress and make their way up to the main card. These matches are designed to go by quickly and be a throwback to the early EVOLVE shows with each match having a 10 minute time limit. The first three prelim matches will then be immediately followed by the first three matches of the main card. The show will then go to intermission and conclude with the three final matches on the card. It is essentially a wrestling show presented like a three act play with a beginning, middle, and end.
(1) Joey Lynch vs. Dominic Garrini. Very good match. Both guys looked good. Garrini won with a German into an armbar.
Winner: Dominic Garrini
Star rating: (***)
(2) KTB & Shane Mercer vs. Matt Knicks & Stevie Pierce. Mercer was really impressive. He climbed the ropes while holding Knicks and hit a moonsault slam for the win.
Winners: KTB & Shane Mercer
Star rating: (**1/2)
(3) Stephen Wolf vs. Jarek 1:20 (w/Candy Cartwright). Solid match. Wolf went up top late, but Jarek got his knees up. He then hit a doctor bomb into a DDT for the win.
EVOLVE Champion Zack Sabre Jr. came out and said he’s beaten everyone and questioned whether or not new stars would come to EVOLVE in 2018. He said nobody would become a star until they proved themselves to him.
(4) EVOLVE Champion Zack Sabre Jr. vs. DJZ in a Non-Title match. This was really good with both guys trading submissions and DJZ doing his spectacular high-flying offense. Sabre won with his double wrist clutch submission. Wow what a way to open the main portion of the show.
Winner: Zack Sabre Jr.
Star rating: (****1/4)
(5) Jason Kincaid vs. A.R. Fox. Kincaid blocked Lo mein pain and hit a big diving blockbuster to wipe out Fox and his entire crew. Fox fired back and hit lo mein pain and a 450 for the win. This was a fantastic back and forth match that showcased both guys well
Winner: A.R. Fox
Star rating: (***3/4) – I was surprised these two were matched up. It seemed like they both needed to win the match, although the way things played out, this result made sense. I like that Fox returned with a crew behind him and some thought put into his entrance.
(6) Austin Theory (w/Pricilla Kelly) vs. Darby Allin. Allin had a hot start, but Theory fired back and whipped Allin into the belt. Allin took a crazy bump as he went flying into the post. Kelly distracted Allin, but he flipped her off and went for the coffin drop only for Theory to get his knees up. Theory hit the Theory KO, but Allin barely kicked out and the fans went nuts. Theory got Allin on his shoulders and Kelly told him to go for an avalanche Theory KO, but Allin turned it into a crucifix bomb. Both men were down and Allin finally got his arm over Theory, who barely kicked out. Allin eventually crossed Theory’s legs and folded over into a pinning combination for the win. This was another fantastic match.
Winner: Darby Allin
Star rating: (***3/4) – Allin is really beginning to shine as a performer. He’s got an aura about him and he does some innovative high-risk offense that you just don’t see anyone else doing. His springboard moves are a ton of fun to watch. I like Theory, but he needs to work to find himself as a character.
Regal was out putting over Allin, so they cut the feed. They came back and Jason Kincaid was in the ring with Theory. He talked to Theory about releasing his pain. He said Kelly was f—ing up his life. He told Theory to think about his option. Kelly jumped on top of Kincaid. He shrugged her off and she nailed him with a kick to the face. Theory looked conflicted. Theory told Kincaid to hit him. He went to swing, but Kelly got in the way. Kincaid ended up leaving the ring.
(7) EVOLVE Tag Team Champions Tracy Williams & Jaka (w/Stokely Hathaway & Dominic Garrini) vs. Anthony Henry & James Drake. Theory took a big combination of moves capped by a splash off the top from Jaka for a near fall. Henry took a beating, but finally tagged in Drake, who ran wild. Drake ended up on the wrong end of the numbers game, but he hit a double suplex and tagged in Henry, who went to work on Williams and Jaka. Henry hit an exploded into the corner on Williams that sent him right into Jaka. Drake missed a moonsault off the top late and Jaka nailed him with a big knee strike. The End’s music played and they came out and won’t to town on everyone.
Winners: No contest
Star rating: (**1/4)
Chris Dickinson ran in from the cited with a chair. He went to town on The End and cleared the ring to a big pop from the crowd. He sent one of the members of The End into the other two with a pazuzu bomb to the floor. He then wiped out The End with a dive through the ropes. Henry and Drake then jumped him and everyone began brawling. All three teams went around the building as the cameras tried to keep up with the chaotic scene. Odinsom and Parrow powerbombed Henry and Jaka into each other in front of the bleachers. The End stood tall and walked out through the bleachers. This was a really good segment to mask a flat tag title match.
(8) Fred Yehi vs. Matt Riddle in a No Rope Breaks match. The ref was explaining the rules of the match. Riddle interrupted him and say don’t confuse the people. He said he was going to do whatever he wants to Yehi. Yehi got on the mic and said something and shoved Riddle. The fans reacted huge to Yehi taking off his sneakers to go barefoot at the request of Riddle. Yehi kept going after Riddle’s arm. Riddle blocked a stomp a short time later and got on top of Yehi and hit some big strikes. He sent Riddle flying out of the ring and into the guardrail with a big forearm. Yehi got a Koji clutch and then an arm bar, but Riddle escaped and hit a vicious knee strike to the head for a 2 count.
Riddle hit God’s last gift for a 2 count. He held on into the brostone for another 2 count. Yehi blocked an elbow strike attack and suplexed Riddle right on his head. Riddle got right up and ran right at Yehi, who hit an exploded into the corner for a 2 count. They battled up top and And Riddle hit a super fisherman buster. Yehi kicked out at 1. He was in the ropes, but Riddle hit him with a series of elbows and got the bromission for the win.
Winner: Fred Yehi
Star rating: (***1/2) – This was good, but it seemed to fall flat down the stretch.
Both men shook hands after the match. Their series is now tied at 2-2. Yehi was left alone in the ring and the fans chanted his name before he left.
(9) WWN Champion Keith Lee vs. Walter. They went to a big exchange off the ropes that ended with Lee hitting a dropkick on Walter and the fans went nuts. Stokely Hathaway was shown watching in the background, but he left and went backstage. Walter hit a HUGE chop out of the corner and followed up with a big German to get the upper hand. Walter hit the Earthquake splash a short time later, but only got a 2 count. Walter targeted Lee’s arm. At one point he stood on top of Lee and bent his arm at a bad angle as Lee screamed in pain. Walter hit three HUGE chops on Lee and he fell to the mat. Walter stood over Lee and allowed him to get to his feet. Both men began exchanging HUGE chops.
They went to an exchange off the ropes. Lee ducked a clothesline and hit the pounce and the fans went NUTS! Lee caught Walter charging at him in the DVD position and hit a HUGE rolling elbow for a 2 count. Walter got a sleeper, hit a shotgun dropkick, and then a big release powerbomb for a near fall! Walter grabbed another sleeper. He let go and hit a series of clubbing blows to Lee’s chest. He told the ref to count Lee out as the ref booed. Walter got Lee up and Lee surprised him out of nowhere with the spirit bomb for a near fall! WOW! Walter fired back. He got the sleeper again. Lee tried to fight it and tried to muscle him up, but Walter got the sleeper again. Lee drove Walter into the corner, but he held on. Lee finally fell backwards on top of Walter to get a 2 count. Lee fired up after taking a kick to the head. He then hit ground zero for the win! WOW!
Winner: Keith Lee to retain the WWN Championship
Star rating: (****1/2) – This was a great match. Walter was in control the whole time and Lee kept getting in small bursts of offense. In the end Lee got the win with ground zero when things looked bleak for him.
Walter was helped to the back after the match. A.R. Fox’s music played and he came back out with his crew. Fox said he was going to have to cut his celebration short. Fox ran down his accolades in Dragon Gate and EVOLVE. He said it’s destiny he becomes WWN Champion. Fox and his crew got up on the apron like the Shield. One of them tried to take out Lee. He beat them up on at a time. Fox dragged his wife in front of him when Lee went after him. Fox bailed and left a member of his crew behind, but he other members of the crew saved him by dragging him out of the ring when he sent him off the ropes. Lee vs. Fox will be one heck of a match.
Lee asked for a mic. The mic wouldn’t work, but he got it to work. Lee said he still had not hit his limit. Lee said he is the WWN World Champion. Lee thanked the fans and said if they support them, they would continue to bask in his glory.
Overall thoughts: (8.0): This was an enjoyable show. It played out nicely in three stages with the three prelim matches setting the stage for the main card. The first three matches for the main card all delivered, although having Sabre vs. DJZ go on first made it hard for the next two matches, but those were really good as well.
After intermission, the show featured a forgettable tag title match between Catch Point and Drake & Theory. That was erased by a great brawl once The End interfered in the match. The main event closed the show on a high note. Walter and Lee really did a good job showcasing their size and power. Walter was dominant for most of the match, but Lee managed to eek out of victory in the end. I really liked how Fox was set up as Lee’s next challenger to close the show with his (attempt) at a post-match attack on Lee. The replay is recommended.