June 24, 2017
Melrose Memorial Hall
Melrose, Massachusetts

Watch: FloSlam.TV / Photos: @JonWasherPhotos

Timothy Thatcher (with Catch Point) def. Austin Theory

This is the first time we’ve seen Thatcher since EVOLVE 82. In what was probably the most fascinating storyline development on the show, Thatcher was accompanied to the ring by Stokely Hathaway and all of Catch Point. It seemed like Hathaway had distanced himself from Thatcher following his loss to Matt Riddle in a WWN Title bout at EVOLVE 82, and I had assumed that Hathaway had fully dropped Thatcher as a client following the formation of his alliance with Catch Point at EVOLVE 83, but it appears that’s not the case. It’s so weird seeing Thatcher aligned with Catch Point in any form, since they spent pretty much all of last year feuding with each other.

As for the opening contest itself, it was…..ok. When Austin Theory was on offense, it was interesting. When Timothy Thatcher was on offense? No so much. Fortunately, it didn’t go too long, so that’s a plus. With regards to Thatcher, it’s obvious that he’s so much better as a heel than as a babyface. He showed heelish tendencies here (his smug nature and some of his facial expressions), but he needs to do more of what he did in his match with Zack Sabre Jr. at EVOLVE 79 where he lost the EVOLVE Title. If we see more of that version of Thatcher more often, I think he could slowly become a little more bearable. The former EVOLVE Champion would ultimately score the win here after choking out Austin Theory. **1/2

After the match, Stokely Hathaway took the mic and welcomed Timothy Thatcher back to EVOLVE, proclaiming that he’s the greatest EVOLVE Champion ever.

Hathaway brings up Zack Sabre Jr., and said that the EVOLVE Title would be coming back to either Catch Point (with Jaka) or The Dream Team (with Thatcher). During this promo, Priscilla Kelly (who came down to ringside for the match) led Austin Theory to the back. Thatcher also left during the promo. I’m actually a little intrigued to see where this Thatcher storyline goes. He can only tolerate working alongside Catch Point for so long. Maybe a split is inevitable? We’ll see.

Hathaway talked up the Catch Point/Dream Team alliance, and then turned his attention to Keith Lee & Matt Riddle, saying that his forces “can’t stop, and won’t stop” until they take them out. Chris Dickinson then took the mic and called out ACH for their match.

ACH def. EVOLVE Tag Team Champion Chris Dickinson (with Catch Point)

This is the first time we’ve seen ACH in EVOLVE since EVOLVE 83 back in April.

Since then, he competed in New Japan’s Best Of The Super Juniors Tournament. As a whole, this was much better than the opener. It certainly took some time to get going, but once it did, we saw some pretty solid action, and both guys looked good. They probably could’ve taken a few minutes off of this one, because when I was watching live, it felt a lot longer than it actually was, and that’s not something you want in your second match. ACH eventually put Jaka away with a 450 Splash. It’ll be interesting to see if this win earns him a shot at the EVOLVE Tag Team Titles down the road. ***1/4

Up next, we were treated to a surprise as the former Blaster McMassive came out to the ring. He cut a promo essentially saying that he’s tired of doing Ethan Page’s dirty work, and that he hated being referred to as simply “a Gatekeeper”. He then revealed that his name is Thomas Sharp, and called out Ethan Page. “All Ego” did indeed come out to the ring, and he said that he doesn’t care about Thomas Sharp, and noted that he was always his punk. Page mentions how, later tonight, he’s going to decimate Keith Lee (who he calls “the golden goose” in EVOLVE), and added that his new goal is to ruin things that people love, like EVOLVE. He then turned his attention back to Thomas Sharp, and noted that there will always be dumb people that are willing to follow his lead. That was the sign for Nick Comoroto (who debuted as the newest Gatekeeper back at EVOLVE 83) attacked Thomas Sharp, and it looks like we have a match.

Thomas Sharp def. “The Dirty Gatekeeper” (Nick Comoroto)

I believe Lenny Leonard referred to Comoroto on commentary simply as “The Dirty Gatekeeper”, so I guess that’s what he’s being called?

Anyway, he did get a bit of offense in, but Sharp easily fought back, and defeated “The Dirty Gatekeeper” with his variation of a Boss Man Slam. There’s really no use in rating this one, as it only went two minutes or so. As a whole, this was a very interesting move. I think nobody can argue that Thomas Sharp is a really good talent who can do some great things. We saw that during his run in CHIKARA as Blaster McMassive (one third of The Devastation Corporation), as well as in his tenure thus far in EVOLVE as one of Ethan Page’s Gatekeepers. I’m actually pretty excited to see him potentially get a push. The only criticism I have about this whole thing is that it felt kind of sudden, as there really wasn’t any build towards this turn. Outside of that, this was pretty good as a whole, and I can’t wait to see what Thomas Sharp can do on his own.

Fred Yehi def. EVOLVE Tag Team Champion Jaka

This was a particularly big weekend for Fred Yehi, as he had separate singles matches against his former Catch Point stablemates, and the current EVOLVE Tag Team Champions. First up was Jaka, who would be challenging Zack Sabre Jr. for the EVOLVE Title the next night at EVOLVE 87. As a whole, this was a very solid back & forth match that featured some good, hard-hitting action. However, it wasn’t without issues. There were two noticeable mishaps that occurred during the contest. First, Yehi tried to float over Jaka in the corner, but it seemed that the timing was off, and Yehi crashed right on top of Jaka’s head and neck. It looked pretty nasty, but Jaka continued the match.

Later, there was a spot where Yehi went to hit Jaka with a German Suplex, and it looked like he just wasn’t able to hold on, and the two just….fell over. While that seemed like just an instance of both guys being a little slippery from a lot of sweat, it was still a noticeable mishap. Those two moments definitely put a damper on this match, but despite the issues, it was still fairly good. Yehi would pick up the win after catching Jaka in the Koji Clutch. ***1/2

Tracy Williams (with Stokely Hathaway) def. Jason Kincaid

These two had a fantastic match back at EVOLVE 71 last October, and while their second encounter didn’t manage to equal that original bout, it was still very entertaining. I don’t know what it is, but these two just seem to have some great chemistry. Kincaid put his incredibly unique offense (which always looks amazing) to good use. He continues to bust out moves that I’ve never seen before, such as hitting a 619 variation on the outside of the ring with an assist from the ring steps. Just when you think you’ve seen it all from him, he does something new. To his credit, Williams was really good in this match as well. After some great exchanges, Williams eventually got Kincaid to tapout to the Crossface. That’s the fourth consecutive singles victory for Williams, who’s really been on a role since Catch Point joined forces with Stokely Hathaway. He’s definitely getting a title shot at some point. Once again, this match was a lot of fun to watch, and it was one of the best of the night. ***3/4

Afterwards, Kincaid when into this trance in the ring (which he always does when he comes up short). He then jumped up and got in the face of Williams, but then he just shook his hand, raised it, and left. It seems like they’re building towards something with these trances. After what happened here, it looks like we’re going to get to a point where Kincaid eventually snaps (and maybe turn heel?), but time will tell.

Keith Lee def. “All Ego” Ethan Page

After coming up short in his quest to capture the EVOLVE Title at EVOLVE 84 against Zack Sabre Jr., Page announced in one of his YouTube videos that his new goal is to cause as much chaos as possible. He wants to burn EVOLVE to the ground, and he’s going to start by (in his words) “decimating” Keith Lee. Well, that didn’t happen, as Lee pinned Page in the middle of the ring after hitting Ground Zero. Going into this show, I wasn’t sure how this particular bout was going to turn out, but it ended up being a ton of fun. In my view, the length of the match (about ten minutes or so) had a lot to do with it, mainly because it played right into Ethan Page’s strengths. He’s someone who really excels in ten to fifteen minute sprints that are packed with action from start to finish (Page is very similar to Sami Callihan, in that regard). There was some great back & forth throughout this one, and it seemed like Page nearly had Lee beat on a few occasions. Although he ultimately fell short to Keith Lee, as I already mentioned, this was still a strong outing for Ethan Page. As a whole, this contest was very entertaining. ***1/2

After the match, Keith Lee took the mic and, in an odd move, asked Joanna Rose if he could handle the ring announcing duties for the main event. She agreed to it, and Lee proceeded to do a pretty solid job as a ring announcer. He threw in some funny quips here and there, but also took a subtle shots at Matt Riddle ahead of their match at EVOLVE 87, making fun of his corn rows and referring to him as the “soon to be former WWN Champion”. Is there anything that Keith Lee can’t do?!

Non-Title Battle Of Champions
EVOLVE Champion Zack Sabre Jr. def. WWN Champion Matt Riddle

This is actually a rematch from EVOLVE 59 during WrestleMania Weekend in Dallas well over a year ago.

Matt Riddle won that initial encounter, but Zack Sabre Jr. was able to even things up with a submission victory over the WWN Champion. From start to finish, this was a great main event. It was by no means spectacular, but it still an enthralling contest to watch. The majority of the match featured some really good technical wrestling, but they eventually got into some more hard-hitting, back & forth action. Both of these guys are so entertaining to watch, and they produced the match of the night. An interesting similarity that I found between this bout and their aforementioned encounter at EVOLVE 59 was that both matches were on the shorter side (relatively speaking). Their first battle clocked in at just under ten minutes, while this second battle was just over twelve minutes. It’s fascinating that these two have never had a longer match with each other. That’s not a bad thing by any means, but it’s certainly interesting. With the series now tied up at 1-1, you know there’s going to be a third match at some point down the road. Their prior encounters have both been great, but I can’t wait to see that eventual third clash, which I can easily see being the best of the three. ****

As soon as the main event ended, Stokely Hathaway came out the ring. He said that Zack Sabre Jr.’s title reign would soon be coming to an end, either at the hands of Jaka or Timothy Thatcher.

Darby Allin (still in a sling) then came out, and proclaimed that he wants a shot at the EVOLVE Title, regardless of who the champion is. Zack Sabre Jr. is having none of this, and tells them to piss off before leaving. Riddle gives his congratulations to the EVOLVE Champion, and noted that he’ll defend his WWN Title against anyway. Tracy Williams then runs out and attacks Riddle from behind. They eventually go onto the floor, and Darby Allin (again, still injured) decides to make the save. He takes off his sling, revealing a large cast on his injured arm, and does a Coffin Drop to the floor onto both Tracy Williams & Stokely Hathaway. The latter was apparently knocked out by this, as Williams had to drag his lifeless carcass to the back. Riddle then raised the hand of Darby Allin, and the WWN Champion celebrated in the ring as the show came to a close. This was a fine closing segment.

I mentioned earlier that, with four straight victories, Tracy Williams must be due for a title shot, and it looks like he’ll be challenging for the WWN Title. This also reminded us that Darby Allin is indeed an insane person, as he still did his signature Coffin Drop despite being injured. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when Allin returns to the ring and eventually gets a title match.

Final Thoughts

While this wasn’t an amazing show from EVOLVE, it was still a very enjoyable one. Aside from the opener, which was average, everything on the card ranged from good to really good. The main event was easily the best match of the night, though as a whole, you can’t go wrong with this show. What I was especially impressed by was the runtime. This show clocked in at right around two hours (maybe just a couple of minutes over that), and that just made it a breeze to watch.

A relatively quick show that still manages to feature great wrestling is a perfect combination, and this event was an excellent example of that. As a whole, EVOLVE 86 was an easily digestible show that featured a lot of entertaining wrestling up and down the card.