Last month’s twin set of EVOLVE shows in San Antonio, Texas saw a Hero’s Exit, the rebirth of a Technical Wizard, and a belligerent ring that refused to be fixed.
This weekend on the 24th and 25th in Joppa, Maryland, and Queens, New York respectively the promotion presents a night of firsts and a main event that will hopefully end one of the most bizarre championship reigns of the last year.
February 24, 2017
Joppa, Maryland, US
Darby Allin vs. Austin Theory
Theory impressed the WWN brass during the first Style Battle show in January. That lead to him getting a shot on the company’s best known brand. If the newcomer fails to impress in his debut contest, it won’t be because his opponent did not try to make him look good. Darby Allin has a track record of wanton disregard for his body and an ability to sell that makes method actors envious. Theory should win in a fun opener. Prediction: Austin Theory
Chris Dickinson & Jaka vs. The Gatekeepers
Both teams have quietly been built up to contender status albeit through different means. The Gatekeepers have squashed and squashed some more while serving as Ethan Page’s hired goons. Dickinson & Jaka had to storyline earn their way into the company and have scored some respectable wins. Expect a hard-hitting encounter with the Dickinson & Jaka gaining the victory and potentially taking a step towards a future title shot at Catchpoint teammates Fred Yehi & Tracy Williams. Prediction: Dickinson & Jaka
Ethan Page vs. Jason Kincaid
Kincaid’s New Age gimmick is in its nascent stages. It would be great fun to see him annoy the notoriously boorish Ethan Page with it, but I doubt a comedy match is in the works. Page will try to bully the smaller Kincaid, who I suspect will give a valiant effort, and might use his Gatekeepers to cheat the West Virginian out of a well-deserved win. Prediction: Ethan Page
Matt Riddle vs. Anthony Henry
Like Austin Theory, Anthony Henry is another wrestler who a positive impression during his two Style Battle appearances. For those who haven’t Henry, he is an excellent technician and had a fantastic match with Fred Yehi in Florida last month. If he and Riddle connect well, say in a battle of submissions, this too shall be an enjoyable exhibition. However, the chances of Henry pulling the upset are slim since The Bro is destined for bigger and better things down the line and needs to stay strong. Prediction: Matt Riddle
Tracy Williams vs. ACH
So I’m stupidly excited for this match. Williams’ is one of the most consistent performers on the roster and ACH is still out to impress following his exit from ROH. Depending on the chemistry between the two, this will either be a match of the night contender or just a solid undercard bout at worst. ACH pinned Williams’ partner, Fred Yehi, in Texas and it wouldn’t surprise me if knocks off the other half of the EVOLVE Tag Team Champions here to either set up a shot at them or the big belt. Prediction: ACH
Drew Galloway vs. Jeff Cobb
Galloway makes his return to EVOLVE following an injury he suffered last autumn. Cobb is on the rebound after whiffing on winning doubles and singles gold at the previous pair of shows. Both of those facts are tertiary, the real point of interest is how hard are these two behemoths going to waffle one another. Let’s hope for a hoss battle for the ages. I legitimately have no inkling on who will win this one, but I’ll say, Galloway, since this is his return. Prediction: Drew Galloway
Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Keith Lee
Keith Lee’s EVOLVE debut against Chris Hero was memorable for dual deteriorations of the ring ropes. Karma owes him a redo, and a semi-main event against ZSJ is just perfect. It will be fun to witness Sabre Jr. try to neutralize Lee’s girth just as he did versus Hero in San Antonio and to see if Lee can live up to his billing as a hot name. Regardless, I don’t see Mr. Lee notching his first EVOLVE victory here. Prediction Zack Sabre Jr.
Fred Yehi vs. Timothy Thatcher ©
Without a doubt, this is the biggest match of Fred Yehi’s career in WWN, and not just from a storyline standpoint either. Since his debut a year and a half ago, Yehi hasn’t had many bad outings in the company. During that same time, Timothy Thatcher left a swatch of boredom across double-digit shows. If Yehi can coax a spirited performance out of the EVOLVE Champion, then it will mark him as a real ring general, but he won’t leave with the belt–at least not this time. Prediction: Timothy Thatcher
February 25, 2017
Four Way Freestyle
Thatcher/Yehi Loser vs. Chris Dickinson vs. Anthony Henry vs. Austin Theory
I fully expect Yehi to take the open spot. EVOLVE cluster matches are usually entertaining since everyone involved is doing their due diligence to make an impression. Yehi will win here to regain some momentum following his likely loss in Maryland. Prediction: Fred Yehi
Jeff Cobb vs. Jaka
Speaking of rebounds, Cobb will be potentially looking for one against Jaka and I think he will get it.This will be another contest that will be more visual edification than actual storytelling. Prediction: Jeff Cobb
ACH vs. Jason Kincaid
Well, speaking of visual edification, here is a match between two known for being tremendous athletes and having unique move sets. It is equally important for both men. A win gives ACH another feather in his cap as he campaigns for a shot at the EVOLVE Championship. A Kincaid victory would be the biggest of his WWN career and would also propel him higher on the card. Prediction: ACH
Tracy Williams vs. Keith Lee
Okay, so with the exception of Chris Hero, Lee will be the largest man that Williams has faced during his run in EVOLVE. I’d like to see him fighter underneath. The man known as “Hot Sauce” is underrated in his ability to play a fiery, underdog babyface. He will get the win, but will have to work his tail off to get it. Prediction: Tracy Williams
Ethan Page vs. Darby Allin
Allin is the proverbial thorn in Page’s paw and is regularly punished for it by the loudmouth Canadian, but he got a measure of revenge by helping defeat Page and the Gatekeepers at EVOLVE 77. In my opinion, that seals Darby’s fate in this match. Page is going to pain him a lovely shade of purple and blue. Prediction: Ethan Page
Matt Riddle vs. Drew Galloway
During Galloway’s failed crusade to bring EVOLVE to its knee, he tried to recruit Matt Riddle into his army of malcontents. Riddle brushed him off in his typical happy-go-lucky manner, thus irking Galloway. However, the former EVOLVE Champion’s injury stalled their inevitable clash, until now. Riddle is on fire right now and Galloway always ups his game during his indie appearances. Expect The Bro to win a nasty, nasty brawl. Prediction: Matt Riddle
Thatcher/Yehi Winner vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
Thatcher will be ZSJ’s opponent. ZSJ should be the man to finally beat the longest serving champion in company history. There is no reason why he should not. The fans love Sabre Jr. and his sticking around for the time being. He has great matches with almost everyone, including some with Thatcher. I don’t beg, but Gabe if you are reading this, please take the title off of Thatcher this weekend and give to the guy that the fans want and deserve as the face of EVOLVE. Prediction: Zack Sabre Jr.