September 23, 2017
Summit Park District
EVOLVE 92 was a good, if unspectacular show. With that in mind, and the spectre of the WWN/FloSlam debacle still hanging over their heads, EVOLVE traveled to Chicago, Illinois for EVOLVE 93. The card was stacked, as EVOLVE had relaxed their usual rules and allowed for both an EVOLVE title match and a WWN title match. Add in a tag team title match, and you had every belt being defended on one show. But would the matches deliver with all the controversy surrounding the promotion?
The show began with Cedric Alexander vs. Fred Yehi, which was not streamed on WWNLive, so the show opened with…
Fred Yehi def. Cyrus Satin
Lenny Leonard was in the ring to introduce the show and before he even got to the commentary booth, the match was over. Nothing more than a simple squash, but effective as Fred Yehi continues to look for direction post-Catch Point. N/R
Jason Kincaid def. Anthony Henry
I made my thoughts clear on Jason Kincaid in my EVOLVE 92 review, so now I’d like to discuss Anthony Henry. Anthony Henry and Austin Theory are very similar to me, but I think Anthony Henry is superior in a few ways. I think Anthony Henry has some really unique offense, busting out some interesting moves in his match against Kincaid, including a powerbomb on the apron that looked vicious. I also think Henry radiates attitude and danger a bit more than Theory. Theory as a heel right now feels like someone trying to play mean, while Henry, even though he is currently a face, comes across as a guy with some danger to him. As I said last night, I don’t know what EVOLVE’s plans are with Henry and Drake now that they aren’t tag champions anymore, but I think Henry could have a strong future in the company.
The match was a strong opener, allowing Henry to showcase his offense in only his fourth singles match in the company. Almost luckily for them, Kincaid’s nose was busted open early, and the visual of the blood all over Kincaid’s face and body really helped heighten the match and made Henry look even better. In the end, Kincaid submitted Henry with the Compassionate Release, but Henry looked good in his return to singles competition. ***
Austin Theory with Priscilla Kelly def. James Drake
Unfortunately, James Drake wasn’t as lucky with his draw of opponent. The focus on this match seemed firmly on Priscilla Kelly as she stroked Drake, stalked around ringside and then randomly started screaming at the top of her lungs. I understand that this Priscilla Kelly-Austin Theory story is a slow burn, but it does really nothing for me and I think it actually weakens Theory as a character, as he seems fairly directionless outside of the idea that he follows Kelly’s instructions just because that’s what he is booked to do. I also think turning him heel was a bad idea, as he has the type of offense that people want to cheer for, and he often looks to be playing a bad guy instead of embodying one.
There wasn’t much to this match, as it mostly revolved around Kelly screaming to distract Drake. Drake looked as good as he could, showing a lot of fire along with some good, high impact offense. In the end, Kelly distracted Drake, allowing Theory to hit the Theory KO for the win. ** ½
After the match, Jason Kincaid came out and Theory and Kincaid had a silent staredown before Kelly pulled Theory away.
Stevie Fierce (c) def. Bryce Benjamin and Matt Knicks and GPA
This was a Freelance Wrestling showcase match for the Freelance Wrestling Championship held by Fierce. I don’t have much to say about this match, as I’m not super familiar with Freelance Wrestling and only knew Matt Knicks prior to tonight from his previous match on an EVOLVE card. All four men came in looking to impress, and it showed in the speed of the action, as the match moved pretty fast. For the most part it was a nice match, but I think the speed hurt the match in places as things got sloppy as the match wore on. In the end, Fierce retained his title by hitting an Unprettier on Benjamin. ** 3/4
Darby Allin def. DJZ
Coming into this match, I thought Darby was a better opponent for DJZ, and boy was I right. This match started off with a bang with a great back and forth opening sequence showcasing both wrestlers’ skills. The current storyline with Allin is that he is trying to prove that he is more than a stuntman, but even his more traditional wrestling moves have an element of danger to them. He hit a dangerous looking tope suicida with DJZ draped over the barricade and then later hit an insane looking dive onto DJZ who was seated in a chair on the outside.
I think I’ve said it in every one of these EVOLVE reviews I’ve done, but Allin is a star in the making, and he showed that not only can he make himself look good, but he can make others look great too. DJZ looks even better than he did the night before, showing off his arsenal of offensive maneuvers. I really hope that he comes back to EVOLVE, as he proved this week that he definitely fits in with the EVOLVE style. After an exciting back and forth battle, Darby Allin won with his Last Supper Gibson Lock submission finisher. Check out this match. ****
After the match, Derek (?) 120 comes out with $500, and did the same exact thing he did the night before. Boy, I really hope there is a point to this.
Chris Dickinson and Jaka def. Ethan Page and ACH
This was a rematch from EVOLVE 90, where the Troll Boyz defeated Doom Patrol to begin their rise towards the EVOLVE 92 Tag Title match, which they won. I covered it in the EVOLVE 92 review, and I don’t want to infuriate people, so I will just say I enjoy the Troll Boyz and I enjoyed this match. I think this match was even better than the night before because Doom Patrol is such a serious team that the contrast between the two teams was really strong. There was a long stretch of comedy before the match properly began, but once it properly began, it was a very good pro wrestling match.
I’ve never been a huge fan of Ethan Page’s in-ring work, but I think putting him in a team with ACH has really accentuated his positive traits and hidden the negatives. I don’t know what the future of the Troll Boyz holds, but if I’m in charge of EVOLVE, I might think of keeping Ethan in tag teams for a bit longer. Sadly for me, in the end, Doom Patrol hit the Death Trap to regain their tag team championships. While I’m a bit disappointed we won’t get to see more Troll Boyz tag team title matches, the switch makes perfect sense. *** ¾
After the match, the War Horseman came out and demanded a rematch. It appeared that the rematch would be happening on the spot, but Stokely Hathaway quickly put the kibosh on that, telling Drake and Henry that they would have to work out when they could have their rematch. He then called out the newest member of Catch Point, which turned out to be Dominic Garrini, who attacked both Henry and Drake. Garrini is a great pick up for EVOLVE and a solid addition to Catch Point. He is exactly the type of wrestler that EVOLVE should be signing: someone who is obviously talented, but still under the radar with room to grow. They’ve done it with a number of wrestlers who turned out to be very successful in EVOLVE, and I hope Garrini has that same success.
Zack Sabre Jr. (c) def. Keith Lee
This was originally supposed to be Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Davey Richards, but once Richards had to pull out, the opportunity was given to Lee. This was a great match with a simple story: how would Sabre overcome the size difference between he and Lee. At first, he picked his spots, circling Lee and attacking only when necessary. Then, he became a counter wrestler, desperately trying maneuver his body into any advantageous position he could whenever Lee got him in his grasp.
For Lee, the story was another simple one. Back when Chris Hero had his match with Keith Lee before leaving the company, he told him that what Keith Lee needed was “a killer instinct”. Unfortunately for Lee in this match, he didn’t have it. Every time Lee seemed to gain an advantage, he would be distracted by the crowd, telling them to bask in his glory or just jawing with a fan. In the end, every advantage Lee had was chiseled away by his insistence on playing to the crowd, and Zack Sabre Jr., one of the best wrestlers in the world, capitalized on Lee’s lack of focus, getting a flash pin on Lee out of nowhere to win the match. A superb match between two superb wrestlers with the added bonus of the slightest tease of what was to come later in the match. ****
Matt Riddle (c) def. Tracy Williams
This was an Anything Goes match, and it showed from the very beginning. The match started hot with both men slugging it out in the ring before ending up outside the ring to continue the punishment. It won’t be the most violent match you ever see, but more importantly, it was a smartly told story with painful looking moves that emphasized how much these two really hate each other over the idea of doing something “cool” or “extreme”. It also continued the story of a Tracy Williams who is willing to do anything to win a match, as he low blowed Riddle in the middle of the match to try and gain the upperhand. It is really a match that needs to be seen, as both men pulled out an unbelievable array of moves to try and put their opponents away. Williams’ top rope DDT was used multiple times to great effect and Riddle’s bevy of kick and strikes was aided by the addition of weapons and relaxed rules. In the end, for me, the entire match came together perfectly as a union of great in-ring action mixed with superb storytelling. The action in the ring served to heighten the story and vice versa. I highly recommend you seek out this match. **** 1/2
After the match, Riddle called out the entire locker room to the ring. He then briefly mentioned the controversy that has been surrounding the company before explaining that each and every one of the wrestlers in EVOLVE do it because they love to wrestle and they love the fans. He hyped up the roster and thanked the fans, but was then interrupted by Keith Lee. Lee explained that he took exception to the way Riddle had treated him after their tag match last night and demanded that he have a Last Man Standing match for Riddle’s WWN Title. They jawed for a bit and then attacked, brawling briefly before being separated by the rest of the roster. The show ended with Riddle defiantly holding up the WWN title in the entranceway.
I can say with confidence that this is the best EVOLVE show of 2017. The undercard is solid, but the final four matches all deliver in some way. If you like comedy, watch the tag title match. If you like unique and wild offensive showcases, check out DJZ-Darby Allin. If you like great storytelling, check out ZSJ-Lee. And if you like wrestling, check out the main event. This is the example of peak EVOLVE, with great matches mixed with gripping stories, diverse styles and great characters. Check it out!