Had enough of New Japan after the Best of the Super Juniors grind? Has the bloom come off the rose for you in regards to NXT? Or, are you simply looking for a new promotion to sink your teeth into this weekend?
If you answered “Yes” to any of the questions above then, I suggest checking out EVOLVE’s two shows scheduled for Friday and Saturday—EVOLVE 62 and EVOLVE 63. And just because I’m such a swell guy, below is a rundown of the major matches and storylines that will shape the weekend to come.
War Comes to EVOLVE
The main event of EVOLVE 62 tonight in Ybor City, Florida just might be the most surreal in company history. Longtime promotion stalwart and NXT star Johnny Gargano teams with TJP, a former TNA X Division Champion, against current TNA Champion Drew Galloway and former Dixieland standard bearer, EC3. The match is not an ordinary dream spectacle. No, this one is personal, folks.
Drew Galloway resurrected his career as EVOLVE Champion and on several occasions over the last year and a half professed his undying pride in the promotion. When WWE and EVOLVE established a loose partnership, Galloway said nothing. He and Gargano united to win the EVOLVE Tag Team Championships, and things seemed to be going smoothly, until Dallas.
During Wrestlemania Weekend, Galloway and Gargano lost their prizes to Tracy Williams and Drew Gulak of Catch Point. Galloway appeared frustrated after the match and launched into a rant denouncing corporate wrestling and Gargano for associating himself with it He embraced his bitterness by attack both Gargano and Ethan Page, who ran out from the back in an attempt to save Gargano from a beating.
The former champions were set to battle in the main event of EVOLVE 61, but the match ended in a no-contest when EC3 came from the back to put the boots to Gargano. For the next ten minutes, EC3 launched into a highly personal speech against his former employer and declared that he and Galloway were self-made men, forged in the fires of the independent scene. When members of the EVOLVE roster came out to run the invaders off they were easily dispatched, hence why this contest was booked.
A WWE vs. TNA storyline is a subject many thought would be left in the hall of fantasy booking yet here one is, in the flesh but also in an independent promotion run by the man long associated with booking the main alternative to WWE in the decade after the Monday Night Wars. Furthermore, long time indie mainstays Gargano and TJP are defending WWE’s honor against two men who failed up there. Like I said, surreal but also very compelling. It will be interesting to see how the story unfolds over the course of the weekend, and hopefully, its quality won’t diminish.
The Mysterious Saga of Grappling Artist Timothy Thatcher
Over the course of the last weekend EVOLVE ran shows, possession of the promotion’s top championship was a literal game of hot potato. None of the men who paraded around with the strap was its rightful holder. In fact, EVOLVE Champion Timothy Thatcher was nowhere to be found. He was suspended for the weekend and voluntarily relinquished hold of the belt that has been more of a curse rather than a blessing.
Thatcher has had no shortage of challengers and detractors since he beat Drew Galloway for the title last summer. Catch Point regularly mocked his abilities and attacked him on several occasions. Sami Callihan stalked Thatcher for the better part of 2016. Throw in numerous grueling title defenses and Thatcher had to be running on fumes by the time he got to Dallas for Wrestlemania Weekend.
Thatcher’s performance in Dallas was mixed regarding the story his matches told and critical acclaim. Many reviewers, even those who firmly championed Thatcher on social media, turned on him in droves. In the ring, a kayfabe arm injury and months of intense psychological pressure caused Thatcher to leave his belt with Catch Point. He vowed he wouldn’t carry it again until he’d collected a debt from every single member of the faction who has made his life hell for months.
While he may not have physical possession of the belt, Thatcher still has to defend the title against Chris Hero at EVOLVE 62. Hero, as he does with many, often bring out the best in Thatcher so the match should be decent at best. The next night, at EVOLVE 63, Thatcher will attempt to collect his first “debt” from a member of Catch Point, Tracy Williams.
Watching a morose, defeated champion compete is compelling simply for the novelty of it all. The angle and the wrestler involved aren’t for everyone, but if a fan wants to see something unique than Thatcher’s plight is a tale to invest in.
Prelude to the E’s Cruiserweight Shindig
EVOLVE will host a preview of the WWE Cruiserweight Classic on Saturday. Participants Johnny Gargano, Drew Gulak, TJP, the returning Lince Dorado and a mystery opponent will compete in what should be a fun free-for-all elimination bout.
Cedric Alexander Debuts
The very talented Cedric Alexander recently ended his tenure in Ring of Honor in search of new places to ply his trade. Gabe Sapolsky called and now Alexander is tied to EVOLVE, at least for the weekend. He will face Matt Riddle tonight and Fred Yehi on Saturday. If Alexander can hold his own—as he should—then more bookings for him might be on the horizon.
The Bravados Break Bad
The Bravado Brothers were eye-rollingly bad heels during their first run in the WWNLive Universe; so when they turned again at the last set of shows, the corner of the wrestling fandom that watches EVOLVE collectively groaned, especially since the pair were putting in good performances on the right side of the law. How the pair will fare as bad guys this time around is unknown. Hopefully a more serious take is in order this time around.
Harlem and Lancelot will challenge Drew Gulak & Tracy Williams for the EVOLVE Tag Team Championship tonight and face the random pair of Darby Allin & Jason Cade at EVOLVE 63