EVOLVE always puts its best foot forward as a company when they pay a visit to the Big Apple. Coming off of a solid, but largely less than buzzworthy Wrestlemania Weekend, the promotion heads to Queens for its 82nd installment Saturday night with a tremendous card from top to bottom. Kyle O’Reilly will make his redebut against the man many fans think was the breakout star in Orlando, Keith Lee. Drew Galloway will wrestle his second-to-last contest in EVOLVE against Zack Sabre Jr. Darby Allin and Ethan Page will finally settle their score in a Last Man Standing Match. Finally, Matt Riddle will make his first defense of the WWN Championship against Timothy Thatcher in the main event.
April 22, 2017
New York City, New York
ACH vs. Austin Theory
ACH had what several critics, including VOW’s own Rich Kraetsch, believe to be a career-best match in a losing against Zach Sabre Jr. at EVOLVE 80. Since his departure from ROH, ACH has upped his work rate, especially in EVOLVE, and he should have another solid outing with the always dependable Austin Theory. I’d consider if this one a disappointment if it dips below the *** plateau. ACH will get the win to bounce back from his twin title defeats in Florida.
Keith Lee vs. Kyle O’Reilly
I’ve got a thing for technical wrestlers vs. giant machines of destruction. Morishima vs. Bryan Danielson from the glory days of Ring of Honor is my favorite feud of all-time for that very reason. Expecting this encounter to hold a candle to that legendary series is insane. However, hoping for a fun battle between two of the hottest wrestlers on the indies is beyond reasonable. I’m interested to see the direction the booking goes for this one as well. Lee is in the middle of a monster push and collecting a victory over O’Reilly would boost his stock even further. On the other hand, O’Reilly needs to be built up for bigger fights down the line, which the reason why I think he gets the “W” here.
Prediction: Kyle O’Reilly
EVOLVE Tag Team Championship Match: Jaka & Chris Dickinson vs. Tracey Willimas & Fred Yehi (c)
This subtle chapter in the ongoing implosion of Catchpoint is my personal favorite. Jaka and Dickinson have bowled over ever team in their path. They waited for their title shot with patience. However, the two are not the team players they appear to be. Dickinson stole a victory right out under the nose of Yehi in a scramble match, and the duo flat out ignored Williams being choked out by Jason Kincaid in their six man tag at EVOLVE 81. Williams betrayed the trust of his partner Yehi in the main event of Mercury Rising by sneaking a pin while the two were working together in the hopes of taking down Matt Riddle. Yehi was William’s most loyal lieutenant up until that point, and it seems that another wedge between the two is imminent; one that will cost them their tag team belts.
Prediction: Jaka & Dickinson
Last Man Standing Match: Darby Allin vs. Ethan Page
A goofy segment during EVOLVE 80 withstanding, Allin vs. Page is one of the better feuds running right now in North America. Page has done everything short of murder to get rid of Allin, but the modern day Spike Dudley refuses to die. He keeps coming back at his rival with little regard for his well-being, see the cringe-worthy bumps he took during their main event bout at EVOLVE 81. While Allin got the win, he got it with outside help. Pride and wrestling logic dictates that the score shall not end until he beats Page on his own like a man.
Prediction: Darby Allin
Non-Title: Drew Galloway vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
Before Galloway heads back to NXT, he has to do the J-O-B for the EVOLVE Champion. The match should be good, and Galloway will have enough heat to add even more fuel to the rocket already strapped to ZSJ’s back. Plus if Galloway goes full-on hypocritical heel then the bout will be that much better for the fan’s viewing pleasure.
Prediction: Zack Sabre Jr.
WWN Championship: Matt Riddle (c) vs. Timothy Thatcher
Ever since he lost the EVOLVE Championship, I’ve been able to enjoy Timothy Thatcher as a mid-card act. Usually, I’d prefer him to stay as far from the main event scene as possible, but I don’t mind him being in this position for two reasons: 1) Riddle never beat Thatcher over the course of their feud last year, and 2) Without storyline shenanigans involved the two have remarkably good chemistry, see their match from EVOLVE 66. If Riddle can draw Thatcher from his dyed in the wool ways, then his first successful title defense might be a thematic and critical success.
Prediction: Matt Riddle