October 15, 2016
Dr. Smith Neighborhood Center
Watch: WWNLive / Photos: facebook.com/modernmythphotography
Darby Allin def. Anthony Henry
Back at EVOLVE 69, Darby Allin officially earned his spot on the EVOLVE roster with an victory over Tony Nese. Here, he’s taking on Anthony Henry, who’s made quite a name for himself on the Southeast indies. This was a fine opener, but honestly, I was expecting a little bit more. The crowd seemed to be relatively quiet for this one (a theme that would pop up a number of times on this show). Allin got some bits of offense in, but Henry was in control for the most part. Allin would come back, however, and eventually scored the victory over Henry after hitting the Coffin Drop. Allin played a good underdog here (as he always does), but the finish did seem to come out of nowhere. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Anthony Henry, and he had a decent showing here, so I hope he’s given a few more opportunities in EVOLVE. **1/2
Nathan Cruz def. Jason Kincaid
This is match is promoting the budding relationship between EVOLVE and PROGRESS Wrestling, which is culminating in a big way during WrestleMania Weekend in Orlando next year. Representing PROGRESS in this match is Nathan Cruz, the first-ever PROGRESS Champion, and currently, the leader of The Origin. He’s taking on Jason Kincaid, who is making his EVOLVE debut here. I thought this match was solid. Much like the opener, the crowd really wasn’t into this one, but I would attribute that more to them really not knowing who Nathan Cruz was. To be honest, Cruz really wasn’t that impressive here. I mean, he was ok, but he really got outshined by Jason Kincaid, who showcased some of his unique offense. This wasn’t nearly as impressive as his outing against Donovan Dijak on ROH TV a few months ago, but still, Kincaid looked very good here. He’s someone who definitely needs to be signed by a major promotion. He’s incredibly talented. Unfortunately for him, this wasn’t his night, as Nathan Cruz got the submission victory. ***
Fred Yehi def. EVOLVE Tag Team Champion DUSTIN
The war between Catch Point and Drew Galloway’s crusaders (his group needs a name) continues in this match, as Fred Yehi, who went 2-0 during the last EVOLVE weekend, takes on Dustin. I honestly wasn’t expecting that much from this match, but these two surprised me, and this turned out to be a pretty good match. Both guys showed intensity, and there was some solid back and forth action throughout. Yehi eventually got DUSTIN to tap out to the Koji Clutch, making this his third victory in a row. I’m so happy that Yehi has finally on a winning streak. One of my minor gripes with EVOLVE this year was that I felt like Yehi lost way too many matches during the first half of this year. Now, I think they’re finally starting to reverse that, as Yehi got his third win in a row, which is especially important, since DUSTIN (who is now 1-2 in singles competition against members of Catch Point) is one-half of the EVOLVE Tag Team Champions. ***1/4
The Gatekeepers def. Bunk & Funk
For those who don’t know, The Gatekeepers were formerly Blaster McMassive & Flex Rumblecrunch of The Devastation Corporation, a major rudo group in CHIKARA over the past few years. They made their presence known at EVOLVE 69, when they aligned themselves with Ethan Page during his attack on the departing Johnny Gargano. Here, they beat a team called Bunk & Funk in a relatively quick squash match. There really isn’t much to say about this one, other than The Gatekeepers (who I don’t think have been given new individual names, as of yet) looked dominant. N/A
Ethan Page cut a promo after the match, claiming that The Gatekeepers are the most dangerous men in all of wrestling. He then bad-mouth Timothy Thatcher, saying that Thatcher has been a horrible champion, and declared that, when he wins the title, he would take EVOLVE to even higher places. This leads to Thatcher coming down to the ring, and the EVOLVE Title match started shortly thereafter.
Timothy Thatcher (c) def. “All Ego” Ethan Page
Before I talk about the match itself, I think that EVOLVE needs to be commended a bit for keeping these two pretty much separated from each other for so long. They’ve pretty much kept to their own little corners of the EVOLVE/WWNLive Universe without really ever crossing paths, and from a storytelling perspective, that’s actually quite impressive. The match itself however, was not very impressive.
I’m not going to say the match was downright awful, because I thought the action itself was mostly ok, but there were definitely a ton of issues with this match. It went way too long, it never kicked up into a higher gear (but like I said, I didn’t think the action was totally bad), and the finish was filled with a ton of overbooking. This included multiple referee bumps, The Gatekeepers getting involved, and Page using the EVOLVE Title belt as a weapon. The whole thing was a mess. The way the match itself played out was also interesting to note, as Thatcher pretty much dominated (or at least, he seemed to dominate) the majority of this match, and every heel trick Page could pull out just wasn’t enough. Coming in, I thought Ethan Page had a legitimate chance to take the EVOLVE Title after the emphatic statement he made at EVOLVE 69, but the way he was handled on this show left a lot to be desired, for sure. Thatcher, once again, has a disappointing EVOLVE Title defense, though in this case, I don’t think the blame falls squarely on his shoulder alone. The way things turned out really didn’t help anyone involved. **1/4
After the match, Stokely Hathaway came out with some girls and attempted to recruit Timothy Thatcher for The Dream Team. This included a hilarious visual as one of the girls got in the ring and started to throw money at him. Thatcher left without giving a verbal answer. I’m honestly not sure what to think of Stokely Hathaway/Timothy Thatcher potentially joining forces. It just seems so….odd. I’m curious to see how long a potential relationship between the two would even last (I doubt it would be very long).
Zack Sabre Jr. def. Tracy Williams
It’s hard to believe that there are people on the EVOLVE roster that Zack Sabre Jr. hasn’t competed against before, yet here we are. This was easy the best match on the show, up to this point, which really shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Zack Sabre Jr. was, of course, very good in this match, but I thought Tracy Williams was equally as impressive. I know Matt Riddle gets a lot of buzz when it comes to how great of a year he’s been having, but Tracy Williams has also been performing very well this year, with a number of legitimately great matches in EVOLVE. While this particular match definitely got off to slow start, I think it definitely picked up by the end. We saw some great wrestling exchanges between the two, but also some very noticeable intensity towards the end of the match. It went a little longer than it needed to, but as a whole, this was a really enjoyable match. Zack Sabre Jr. would, in the end, score the submission victory over Tracy Williams, making this the fourth win by submission on this card, up to this point. ****
Chris Hero def. Drew Gulak
The last singles encounter between these two in an EVOLVE ring was all the way back at EVOLVE 38 in March of 2015, though they did have a singles match in PWG, and did meet in tag team action during WrestleMania Weekend in Dallas. One thing that I’ll say about these two is that they always seem to deliver matches that are really good, and this was no exception. Hero & Gulak just work very well together. Of course, we got a lot of hard-hitting action, but also a fair amount of storytelling, as Hero continuously used his size advantage to bully Gulak during the match, forcing Gulak to fight back in an attempt to make a comeback. As hard as Gulak tried, he ultimately fell to Chris Hero, who picked up the win in this match. It wasn’t the best match I’ve seen these two, but it was still very good. If I had to choose between the two, I would say that I prefered the Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Tracy Williams match a little bit more, but again, I really liked this match as well. ***3/4
Drew Galloway comes out right after the match, and goes to shake Chris Hero’s hand, but Hero just pats him on the shoulder and leaves, which was a very interesting moment (potential dissension?) Galloway congratulates Hero, calling him a true independent success story, before moving on to Matt Riddle. He accuses Matt Riddle of only being out for himself (referencing Riddle not coming out to help his Catch Point stablemates on the last several EVOLVE events), and says that as long as he’s here, Matt Riddle would never be the face of the company. Galloway also brings up his recent injury (mentioning how severe it could have been), and blamed Matt Riddle for causing it. He then introduces the returning AR Fox as his “surrogate” here in the main event.
Matt Riddle def. AR Fox
It’s really weird to see AR Fox back in EVOLVE, in the main event no less. Even though he only left EVOLVE after WrestleMania Weekend in 2015, so much has changed with the promotion since then. I do like the fact that he’s being presented on the heel side here, as I really only ever knew him as a babyface during his original run in Dragon Gate USA & EVOLVE. Plus, having a stable consisting of an EVOLVE original and the first three EVOLVE Champions sounds like a pretty cool concept. The matchup itself was also a very interesting one on paper, and I was curious to see how these two would mesh stylistically, but in the end, I think things turned out well, as this match was really enjoyable. AR Fox was able to get most, if not all, of his signature spots in. He was definitely a unique challenge for Matt Riddle, but I think the former UFC Fighter performed very well in this spot. It still blows my mind that Riddle has gotten so good in such a short amount of time. He’s really one of the most interesting performers to watch in wrestling today. Riddle is also incredibly entertaining, as we saw in this match, where Riddle used the “Bro 2 Sleep” on AR Fox, and also got the crowd to chant “Bro-plex City”. Riddle did eventually get the victory in this match over AR Fox via submission, making this the fifth submission result on this card. ***3/4
After the match, DUSTIN ran out and attack Matt Riddle. AR Fox joined in on the assault before Catch Point ran out and chased them off. Gulak then took the mic and basically asked if Riddle was still on Catch Point’s side, after all of the questions that had been surrounding him in recent. Riddle, of course, starts his response with “Bro”, before saying that he never left, and celebrated with his Catch Point teammates.
Despite some issues with the crowd, the first half of the show was moving along pretty smoothly until we got to the EVOLVE Title Match, which was really a complete mess that made me question what exactly Timothy Thatcher and Ethan Page are going to be doing moving forward. That match really put this show in a precarious spot. Fortunately, the last three matches really lifted this show up. Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Tracy Williams was the match of the night for me, though I wouldn’t argue with someone if they thought that Chris Hero vs. Drew Gulak was the best match from this show. AR Fox vs. Matt Riddle also had a very good match in the main event, and it’s aftermath seemingly put to bed any questions of Matt Riddle’s loyalty to Catch Point. As a whole, I would say that the show was pretty solid, however, if you’re pressed for time, the last three matches are the only things you really need to check out.