Last year, EVOLVE was the toast of WrestleMania Weekend. All star cards, match of the year candidates galore, and wall to wall action created a memorable time for the lucky crowds gathered inside the Eddie Deen’s Ranch.
Fast forward a year later to Orlando during the industry’s biggest weekend and EVOLVE’s offerings are coated in just as much potential as its predecessors. Gone are Johnny Gargano, Will Ospreay, Drew Gulak, Marty Scurll, and Chris Hero.
Enter Keith Lee, Michael Elgin, Donovan Dijak, ACH, and Jason Kincaid. All are hot names on the American Independent scene and all are capable of coupling with the established talents on the roster to produce another outstanding chapter in the illustrious history of Gabe Sapolsky booked shows.
March 30, 2017
Orlando Events Center
Ethan Page vs. Austin Theory
Ethan Page’s role in EVOLVE is quite interesting. He is the chief foil of EVOLVE Champion Zack Sabre Jr. and plays the role that Val Venis or Steve Richards fell into for the WWE in the early 2000s. Of course, I don’t mean the long gone but not forgotten Right to Censor. No, both men served as barometers for how well new talent would fit in with the company. If a wrestler could have a good match with either than chances were they could do the same with the rest of the roster. Austin Theory was impressive in his other WWN Live appearances and a solid showing with Page should net him more bookings down the line. Just do not look for him to pull the upset here. Prediction: Ethan Page
Jaka vs. Jason Kincaid
Jason Kincaid might have the unique offense in independent wrestling since Chris Hero set sail for Full Sail. His character, a riddle speaking, spiritual savant, is a novel twist as well. Recently, Kincaid has taken to vexing Catch Point leader Tracy Williams about the strife within the unit. Before Kincaid gets an in ring audience with Williams, he must dispatch of Hot Sauce’s teammate, Jaka. This is the first of several brawn vs. agility encounters of the weekend. Jaka will look good, perhaps dominant, but Kincaid getting the win seems likely as to further brewing issues between Williams and he. Prediction: Jason Kincaid
Timothy Thatcher vs. Chris Dickinson
The scorn of Wrestling Twitter’s past and present collide in a contest that I am sure many reading this article could care less about. I strongly suspect many will call this the beer, pizza, bathroom, or hunting expedition match. Could it be that bad? Maybe. Could it be better than most will assume? You bet. Dickinson is on a roll of perfectly serviceable undercard exhibitions and Thatcher put his best leg forward for the first time in months against ZSJ in Queens. This should be the first step in Thatcher’s road to either a rematch for the title or the inevitable destruction of his partnership with Stokley Hathaway. Prediction: Timothy Thatcher
Ricochet vs. Keith Lee
Since his defeat in the now infamous shoddy ring debacle against Chris Hero in San Antonio, Keith Lee has not tasted defeat, including a win over ZSJ the night before he won the EVOLVE Championship. At some point, Lee will get his rematch with the champion, the only question is whether he will have tasted defeat by that point. If Lee is going to lose, it will be here against company legend Ricochet. The feeling in my gut tells me that will not happen anytime soon. Lee is receiving a monster push and Ricochet is a special attraction that is bulletproof even when he goes out on his back. Prediction: Keith Lee
Drew Galloway vs. Matt Riddle
Round one of Riddle verses Galloway paid off the simmering level of loathing that festered between the two for months. Riddle walked with a controversial TKO victory that did not sit well with his rival. Now Galloway looks for revenge close to the anniversary of his descent to the dark side. This match will be every bit as hard-hitting and hate filled as the two’s previous brawl. The difference will be Galloway finally getting his “revenge” with a reminder of how dirty of a fighter he is i.e. the man is going to cheat, cheat, and cheat some more. Prediction: Drew Galloway
EVOLVE Tag Team Championships
Tracy Williams & Fred Yehi (c) vs. Michael Elgin & Donovan Dijak
Recent matches for the tag team champions from Catch Point were not exactly smooth sailing. The group is suffering from repeated losses and internal strife; all of it happening at the worst possible time since Williams & Yehi are facing the stiffest test of their reign thus far. Elgin & Dijak may not have the experience level as a team, but their combination of size, strength, and athleticism is unparalleled. The combination of all three is more than enough to sink the faltering Catch Point canoe. They are perfect pair to become the new kings of the tag division, alas Elgin’s New Japan bookings will prevent that from happening. Plus Williams and Yehi are the most dedicated former students to Drew Gulak’s teachings, their relationship is on solid ground as of this writing and I do not see that changing. Prediction: Williams & Yehi
Zack Sabre Jr. (c) vs. ACH
For every major triumph Zack Sabre Jr., earned earlier this year in EVOLVE, ACH was always close by to remind him that he wanted a title shot if the Brit ever ascended to the throne. With ZSJ’s coronation complete ACH finally has the chance he has visibly been jonesing for since his debut, and this easily his most high profile match since he faced Shinsuke Nakamura in ROH a few years ago. ACH and Sabre Jr. have the potential to put on a MOTY candidate. The only thing I see going wrong is ACH’s puzzling habit of working to his opponent’s style and not his own. The best thing ACH can do is to forget about proving he can roll on the mat and just go straight Air Jordan in this one. ZSJ is more than capable of keeping up, though he won’t lose the title here. Prediction: Zack Sabre Jr.