May 20, 2017
Summit Park District
Summit, IL

Watch: FloSlam.TV

Meet our previewers:

  • Case Lowe: Voices of Wrestling’s official young boy. Officially a legal adult.  Current duties include cooking meals for the other writers, mopping the floor and reviewing Dragon Gate and AAW events.
  • Sean Sedor: Sean does a myriad of different things for Voices of Wrestling, which include (but not limited to) previews and reviews for EVOLVE, ROH, New Japan, WWE, and an assortment of other things, when called upon. You can follow him on Twitter @SASedor2994, and you can check out his wrestling reviews blog (which he is egregiously behind on) at http://dxvsnwo1994.blogspot.com.
  • Warren Taylor: The longest tenured writer on VOW who does the least amount of work, Warren saves his sorry behind by regularly previewing EVOLVE and doing team reviews of WWE shows. Follow him on Twitter @WarrenETaylor for takes on University of Kentucky athletics, wrestling, and the occasional photos of his cats and rabbit.

Fred Yehi vs. Jason Kincaid

Case: These two had a match back at EVOLVE 72 in November. Yehi is on a roll, having just split from Catch Point, which is now backed by Stokely Hathaway. Although Kincaid is immensely talented, he is 2-9 in his EVOLVE career and I don’t see that changing for the better. He’s so different that it gets him noticed, but I have a feeling that he’s too different to find great success. Even disregarding that, this will still be a victory for Yehi. He has the momentum and the bigger upside. Prediction: Fred Yehi.

Sean: Back in November, these two met in a fun little undercard match at EVOLVE 72. Yehi won that first encounter, and I expect we’ll see the same result here, though I wouldn’t rule out an upset by Kincaid. Having Yehi pick up the win makes a lot of sense, especially after his split from Catch Point last month, but Kincaid needs to start getting wins at some point. He’s actually in a similar position that Yehi was in just over a year ago, in that he’s becoming a more established part of the EVOLVE roster, but he’s having a hard time finding wins. No matter what the result ends up being, this should be pretty solid, especially given the unique styles that both like to utilize. Prediction: Fred Yehi

Warren:  If anything, this match will feature some of the absolute most fascinating offense fans will see all weekend. Say what you will about his backwoods shaman act, but Jason Kincaid’s arsenal of moves are a sight to behold. By now EVOLVE fans now about Fred Yehi’s strange fixation with feet, and chances are Kincaid might have an unorthodox counter or two for Yehi’s fighting fetish. Alas, Yehi is in the middle of a huge push, so Kincaid will have to wait longer for his signature victory. Prediction: Fred Yehi

Lio Rush vs. Austin Theory

Case: Austin Theory is a year older than me and his muscle mass makes me feel pathetic about myself. I would love to get on that diet plan. No chance he wins here, as Rush is heading into an EVOLVE title match the next night. Theory has yet to have a true standout match, but he has a shot to breakthrough here with Rush. Prediction: Lio Rush

Sean: I’m only 23, yet I’m older than both of the participants in this match. That’s reality punching me in the gut. Anyway, the result of this one isn’t in question, since Lio Rush is getting another shot at the EVOLVE Title at EVOLVE 85. That being said, I still expect this to be very good. Despite going 0-2 on the last set of EVOLVE shows in New York, Austin Theory performed well in both of those matches, and I’m sure he’ll continue that trend here. He’s just 19, but Theory has proven to be a fine addition to EVOLVE’s undercard, and he’s only going to get better from here. On the other side, you know Lio Rush is going to put for the effort, so there’s nothing to worry about there. Prediction: Lio Rush

Warren:  Austin Theory’s previous EVOLVE appearances saw him carve out a nice niche as placeholder opponent. Theory is a reliable worker who in story gives his foe a stiff tune up before a high profile match. He will give Rush a hell of a battle, but fall just short, which is a trend observers should expect to continue in the near future. Prediction: Lio Rush

Tracy Williams vs. Jeff Cobb

Case: Hot Sauce feels lost in EVOLVE, doesn’t he? Even Cobb still has some sort of a “new guy” intrigue. That’s not a slam on Hot Sauce, but he just feels out of place in a promotion that is now focusing its efforts on youngsters like Lio Rush and Sammy Guevara, and established hands like ACH and Zack Sabre Jr. With Cobb wrestling Riddle the next night and Hot Sauce squaring off with O’Reilly, I have to give the upper hand to Cobb. He needs this win way more than Hot Sauce. Prediction: Jeff Cobb

Sean: This one is very interesting. I could see this being very good, as Tracy Williams had a really fun encounter with Keith Lee (another fairly large competitor) back at EVOLVE 79. At the same time, however, it could easily end up being a disappointment. I’m always a little wary when it comes to matches involving a larger power guy and a technician. Personally, it’s not the type of styles clash that I find to be intriguing, even though it can work in certain situations. Jeff Cobb is a more of a power/technician mix, so in a way, this match is a return to the kind of match that EVOLVE built its identity on since the reboot in 2014. As for the result, it would be odd for Tracy Williams to suffer a loss after the recent changes to Catch Point, but since Jeff Cobb is challenging for the WWN Title on EVOLVE, I expect him to emerge victorious in this one. Prediction: Jeff Cobb

Warren: The match between Jeff Cobb and Hot Sauce will potentially go two ways: a fun big man vs. little man bout or a slow mat-based scrum that I will enjoy but the majority of VOW readers will hate. I think that epitomizes recent outings for both men, they either sizzle with excitement or make the fans slide into a state of apathy. I’m hoping the former shows up instead of the latter because both men are far too talented not to shine consistently. As far as a winner goes, my pick is Tracy Williams just to be contrary to Case. Prediction: Tracy Williams

Keith Lee vs. Donovan Dijak

Case: Here we go! My most anticipated match of the weekend. Keith Lee continues to be one of the hottest things on the indies, and rightfully so, and I enjoy his chemistry with Dijak a great deal. They tore it up at EVOLVE 81. If I had the pencil, I would mark down Lee as the winner. I still think he should be running through the EVOLVE roster with little-to-no issue. He’s not, however, and I have a feeling that Dijak is going to squeak out a victory so they can have an eventual rubber match. Regardless of the winner, this should be appointment viewing. Prediction: Donovan Dijak

Sean: These two had an absolutely awesome match back at EVOLVE 81 during WrestleMania Weekend in Orlando, and I expect this encounter to be just as good. There’s really not much else to say about this one, as we already know exactly what these guys are capable of. The expectations are high, and anything less than a fantastic match will be considered a disappointment. As for the result, I’m going with Donovan Dijak here. Now I’m sure that’s going to upset some people (especially those who are in the “Keith Lee should be undefeated” camp), but since Keith Lee won at EVOLVE 81, I can’t see any reason for booking this rematch unless Dijak was going to even up the score to set up a potential rubber match down the line. Prediction: Donovan Dijak

Warren: Dijak vs. Lee is a rematch of one of the better matches from Mania’ Weekend. However, not just bragging rights will be on the line for Keith Lee. The man with the Mewtwo trunks will earn a title opportunity if he can notch consecutive wins in Chicago and Michigan. Dijak has the chance to play spoiler, and a win here would set up a rubber match for later in the year, which gives the former ROH Top Prospect the edge in my eyes. Besides, at this point, Keith Lee is made of Teflon and can eat a loss, and he needs an obstacle to overcome before he gets a title fight. Prediction: Donovan Dijak

EVOLVE Tag Team Championship Match
Chris Dickinson & Jaka with Stokely Hathaway © vs. Matt Knicks & Isaias Velazquez

Case: I think it’s safe to assume that there’s a 0% chance of a title switch here, but I’m hoping that Knicks and Velazquez shine here. Dickinson and Jaka have found their footing in EVOLVE, so I really hope they don’t just squash the two to further an angle. I really never thought I’d care about anything that Chris Dickinson was involved with, but to his credit, he’s been excellent lately. I have a morbid curiosity for this one. Prediction: Chris Dickinson & Jaka

Sean: I honestly have no idea what to expect here. Obviously, I’ve heard of ton about Freelance Wrestling, but this will be my first time seeing Matt Knicks & Isaias Velazquez. I’m totally unfamiliar with the former, but I’m know the latter had a series of matches with current 205 Live roster member Mustafa Ali. Obviously Dickinson & Jaka will be retaining their titles here, but I’ve very intrigued to see how Knicks & Velazquez do in this spot, as it could potentially be a breakout performance for them. Prediction: Chris Dickinson & Jaka

Warren: Matt Knicks and Isaias Velazquez are stalwarts from the cult Chicago promotion Freelance Wrestling, and it’s a shame that either of them has gotten many bookings outside of it. They are talented workers, and if their match with EVOLVE Tag Team Champions gets time, I think they will surprise people. To no one’s surprise, Jaka & Dickinson are on a roll, and hopefully, their first successful title will be the first breath of fresh air for a stagnant division. Prediction: Dickinson & Jaka

EVOLVE Championship Match
Zack Sabre Jr. © vs. Ethan Page

Case: For what it’s worth, these two had one of the best angles/matches/chaotic brawls in EVOLVE history back in Texas at EVOLVE 77.  My thoughts on Ethan Page remain the same as always, that being that I’m completely indifferent towards him. I go in with reasonable expectations, and from there he either impresses or disappoints me. I’m hoping he reaches down and pulls out a big-time, ace-like performance against ZSJ. My fear is that this is going to be full of schtick and “crazy” Ethan Page. Maybe that’s the annoying fan in me wanting a good match over a good story, but that’s why I watch EVOLVE. Give me action and excitement. Prediction: Zack Sabre Jr

Sean: This is a feud that dates all the way back to EVOLVE 71 in October. Technically, Page is actually 2-0 against Zack Sabre Jr., as he scored wins over “the technical wizard” at EVOLVE 72 (in a shockingly clean victory) & EVOLVE 76 (though Page only won after the referee reversed his decision when Zack Sabre Jr. refused to release his submission hold). Both of those previous encounters were actually really good, and I expect this one to be no different, especially if it has the same level of intensity that their bout at EVOLVE 76 had. Of course, there’s a chance that this one could go completely off the rails with referee bumps and interference for The Gatekeepers (similar to Timothy Thatcher’s title defense against Ethan Page at EVOLVE 70), but hopefully it doesn’t go in that direction. While Page is definitely a threat, I fully expect Zack Sabre Jr. to retain his EVOLVE Title. Prediction: Zack Sabre Jr.

Warren: Outside of Chris Hero, Ethan Page is Zack Sabre Jr.’s most challenging opponent. Page hasn’t dominated ZSJ on the canvas, the cocky Canadian made the EVOLVE Champion’s life a living hell. He even went as far to gatecrash ZSJ’s title win in New York City. This match is going to violent and hard-hitting. It is going to bring out the nasty side of the champion audiences has seen flare up recently, and it will be enough for him to end the issue with Page for good. Prediction: Zack Sabre Jr.

WWN Championship Match
Matt Riddle © vs. Kyle O’Reilly

Case: Riddle defended the WWN Championship successfully twice on the last EVOLVE weekend; once against Timothy Thatcher, and then against Drew Galloway on the next night. With Gabe already advertising an eventual Title vs. Title match between Riddle and ZSJ, there’s no chance that O’Reilly picks up the victory. The good news is, however, that this match will surely be hot fire. O’Reilly will bring it. It looks like a majority of his ring rust has been shaken off. Very excited for this one. Prediction: Matt Riddle

Sean: Aside from Keith Lee vs. Donovan Dijak, this is probably my most anticipated match of the weekend, even though the outcome really isn’t in question. Both guys are awesome, and are perfect examples of how to effectively incorporate MMA backgrounds into pro-wrestling. There’s no question that we’re going to see a ton of fun wrestling exchanges and really stiff striking. Again, there’s no chance of Matt Riddle losing here, but this should still be nothing short of fantastic Prediction: Matt Riddle

Warren: Matt Riddle isn’t going anywhere as WWN Champion anytime soon. Kyle O’Reilly’s two wins at the last set of shows were specifically to give him credibility beyond his name value. This title contest will go to the mat early and often; there will be strikes, very stiff ones at that; someone will likely end getting dropped on their head before the final bell. The end result will be the first memorable championship match in the history of the young flagship belt. Anything else will be a major disappointment. Prediction: Matt Riddle