Before I get into the show itself, I need to mention that La Boom looked a little different for this particular EVOLVE event. In conjunction with Halloween, it looks like the venue is doing some sort of creepy circus setup. They had a large “Horror Circus” sign hanging above the ring, with the walls and ceiling covered with all sorts of decorations. Some of these included hula hoops and life-sized clowns (some were hanging upside down, while others appeared as if they were actually hung by the neck from the ceiling).
EVOLVE’s known for running some unique locations, and while La Boom has been the main home of EVOLVE over the last few years, this decor was certainly….unique.
October 14th, 2017
Woodside, Queens, New York
The show kicked off with Lenny Leonard & Ron Niemi in the ring, and they were about to run down the card when Stokely Hathaway (who was already in the ring with all Catch Point and some random wrestler) took the mic from there. Hathaway told them to get out of the ring so he can do the rundown himself, and he does, but specifically focused on the matches involving members of Catch Point. He then introduced us to the random wrestler that was already in the ring with them, and we discover that his name is Rayo (I’m not going to lie, he looks a little bit like Hiromu Takahashi). Hathaway said that the theme of tonight was opportunity, and told Rayo that he’ll be taking on his new bodyguard, Dominic Garrini.
Dominic Garrini def. Rayo
There’s nothing to really say about this one. Garrini went after Rayo immediately and tapped him out in seventeen seconds. The goal here was to present Garrini (who’s a great fit for Catch Point) as a force to be reckoned with, and this quick squash did just that. N/R
Immediately after Garrini’s victory, Hathaway tossed Rayo out of the ring. Chris Dickinson then took the mic and said he wanted to fight right now. His opponent, Jason Kincaid, then made his entrance, and the match was on.
EVOLVE Tag Team Champion Chris Dickinson def. Jason Kincaid
While it was technically the second bout on the card, I think it’s fair to consider this as the true opener, since the actual “opener” was so short. As a whole, this ended up being an incredibly fun sprint, which clocked in at just under ten minutes. There was good action from start to finish, and both guys seemed to work very well together. My thoughts on this particular contest might seem rather brief, but honestly, there’s not much else to say. It was a pretty entertaining match to watch, and for it’s spot on the card, that’s all you can as for. Dickinson would ultimately get the win after hitting a vicious Pazuzu Bomb on Kincaid into one of the turnbuckles. ***1/2
Following the match, it looked Dickinson was going to offer a handshake to Kincaid, but then “The End” showed up on the video screen, and this strange music started to blare throughout La Boom (and it played throughout this entire segment). Now, coming into this weekend, there was a ton of speculation as to what “The End” was going to be. There had been warnings, in the form of an ominous video and a number of emails that (I guess) were hacked WWN News Alerts. Was this potentially referring to The End of EVOLVE? Well, as we all found out here, “The End” turned out to be…..a bunch of dudes from FIP.
Yes, that’s right. The End is a new stable consisting of Drennan (who was trying his best to look like Age Of The Fall era Jimmy Jacobs), Parrow (who actually appeared in the WWN Title Six-Way Elimination Match in Orlando as an ACW representative), and Odinson (a guy from the southern independents who is apparently popular among certain circles of fans). They came out and absolutely destroyed Dickinson and Kincaid with a series of vicious moves. Then, just as quickly as they came, The End left, leaving a path of destruction behind them. Several referees came down to check on the conditions of both Dickinson and Kincaid, before helping them to the back. You have to give credit to those two, because they REALLY sold this attack (with Kincaid not even moving for a couple of minutes). I honestly have no idea what to make of this new group. I’ve seen Drennan & Parrow once or twice before, while I’ve seen almost nothing involving Odinson. This was certainly an impactful debut, but as we soon found out, The End was far from finished.
Austin Theory (with Priscilla Kelly) def. Brandon Watts
Believe it or not, Brandon is actually making his return to EVOLVE here. He appeared on EVOLVE 49 all the way back in October 2015 (almost two years ago exactly) as part of a tag team with Randy Summers called Milk Chocolate. They were regularly featured in Beyond Wrestling at the time, and on that aforementioned EVOLVE event, they lost to the Premiere Athlete Brand team of Anthony Nese & Caleb Konley (that feels like ancient history).
Here, Watts took on Austin Theory. Even though the result of this one was a foregone conclusion, the match itself was pretty solid. It was a fine showcase for Theory, but Watts got a number of opportunities to shine here as well. If EVOLVE is looking for new talents to add to their roster, I feel that Watts could be a good addition. I’m not sure what his ceiling would be, but based on his outing here, he seems like a solid performer you can throw on the undercards in matches just like this. Theory eventually got the win, but Watts had a decent outing here as well. ***1/4
After the match, “The End” showed up on video screen, the same weird music started playing, and the trio that we just saw minutes before returned. Austin Theory & Priscilla Kelly got out of dodge, but not before Theory threw Brandon Watts to the wolves. Parrow gave Watts a vicious powerbomb, and then Odinson held him down so Drennan could deliver a bunch of chair shots. After this attack, the group left quickly, just like they did before, leaving the referees to tend to the broken body of Bandon Watts.
Darby Allin def. Jarek 1:20
Jarek 1:20 (who bears a striking resemblance to Chris Hero, to the point where I’m wondering if the two of them are legitimately related) appeared on EVOLVE 92 & EVOLVE 93 back in September, though not in actual matches. At both events, he came out after a certain bout and insulted the winner in the form of a magic trick involving money.
Apparently he’s an actual street magician (he has a YouTube account featuring some of his stuff). One of the people he confronted during the shows in the Midwest was Darby Allin, which is the reason why this match took place. I didn’t know what to expect, but this ended up being really good.
It was my first time seeing Jarek 1:20, and even though he came up short, he had a strong outing here against Darby Allin who (as always) was a ton of fun to watch. Jarek 1:20 had a number of highlights in this one, from superkicking Allin out of a dive and into the stage at ringside, to pulling off a flagpole elbow off the turnbuckle (ala Matt Cross). While I can see his magic tricks getting old very fast in the eyes of some fans, he proved here that he can hold his own in the ring. Of course, while having a good first impression is certainly a positive, I’m going to need to see more of him before making a full judgment on him. Allin would pick up the victory after he trapped Jarek 1:20 in his Gibson Lock pin, which he calls the Last Supper. ***1/2
Allin didn’t have much time to celebrate his victory, as for the third time, The End ran out to cause chaos. Before they could get in the ring, Allin made an attempt to fight back in the form of a Coffin Drop to the floor, but Parrow caught him, and gave him a powerbomb onto the stage, through a bunch of chairs. They then beat up some security guards, and a couple of referees before departing. Once again, The End came and went like a tornado, leaving a trail of destruction behind them.
Tracy Williams def. Fred Yehi
This was the first that these two had met in singles competition since Yehi split from Catch Point at EVOLVE 83 back in April. From start to finish, this was a very solid bout that was technically sound throughout, but I feel like this could’ve been better. For starters, it never felt like they got into that next gear. They did get off to a relatively hot start, going right after each at the opening bell, and there were plenty of good exchanges, but overall, the match just lacked a certain intensity that you’d think would exist in a match involving two rivals who were once EVOLVE Tag Team Champions. Secondly, the crowd didn’t seem to be overly invested into this particular contest, which is a very strange thing to say, as the fans in La Boom are usually very loud. They were far from dead, as they got behind Yehi at various points, but it seemed like this particular audience was a little more subdued than the usual EVOLVE crowd in La Boom. Finally, the actual finish did take away from this one a bit.
Stokely Hathaway got on the apron in an attempt to distract the referee. This caught Yehi’s attention, and it looked like he was going to get his hands on Hathaway, but Dominic Garrini stepped in between them, and got in Yehi’s face. This distraction allowed Williams to whip the top rope into Yehi’s throat. A stiff lariat and a guillotine choke soon followed, and “Hot Sauce” was awarded the submission victory after Yehi passed out. Again, the wrestling itself was good, but there were a couple of small things that definitely hurt it. ***1/4
As soon as the match ended, Jaka came out and demanded the mic. After what The End did to Chris Dickinson earlier in the night, Jaka called them out for an even fight against Catch Point. They waited for a good minute or so, but The End never came out. Eventually, Zack Sabre Jr.’s music hit, signaling that it was time for the semi-main event.
Non-Title – EVOLVE Tag Team Champion Jaka def. EVOLVE Champion Zack Sabre Jr.
Back at EVOLVE 87 in June, these two met in a singles bout that saw Zack Sabre Jr. retain his EVOLVE Title. In this rematch, the title wasn’t on the line, but Jaka didn’t waste any time, as he went right after Zack Sabre Jr. before the bell even rang. While this second meeting wasn’t quite as awesome as their initial encounter, it was still pretty great as a whole. There was a ton of exciting action throughout, with both men beating the crap out of each other for nearly thirteen minutes. Zack Sabre Jr. did utilize a couple of his usual submission moves, but it’s always fun to see him go up against a hoss like Jaka. It does force Zack Sabre Jr. to bring out a more vicious side, because he needs to, if he has any hope of keeping up with a bigger opponent who wants to run him over. Meanwhile, Jaka put forth another really strong performance here.
I’m not sure if he’ll ever be the EVOLVE Champion or WWN Champion, but Jaka has proven over the last year that he can deliver in a singles environment. The final few minutes were particularly strong, and eventually, Jaka managed to score the victory, avenging his loss from EVOLVE 87, after he hit Zack Sabre Jr. with a Sit Out Powerbomb. Obviously this was the biggest victory in Jaka’s EVOLVE career (and Stokely Hathaway sold the result very well). I know he’s still one-half of the EVOLVE Tag Team Champions, but hopefully this win leads to him getting more singles opportunities in the future. ****
After Catch Point left, Zack Sabre Jr. was still recovering in the ring. Priscilla Kelly came out, and ran her hand down the champion’s chest (she’s done this to Austin Theory’s opponents before his matches to signify that they’re his next target). This pretty much confirms that Austin Theory will be challenging for the EVOLVE Title in the near future. I’m actually really looking forward to that one. It would Theory’s toughest test to date, and although he has absolutely no chance of winning, seeing how he handles himself in a singles bout with Zack Sabre Jr. should be very interesting.
WWN Title – Last Man Standing Match – Keith Lee def. Matt Riddle
What started off as a friendly relationship slowly deteriorated as the months went by, and at the previous two events in Detroit and Chicago, this friendship between (arguably) the two biggest stars in EVOLVE came to an abrupt end. Miscommunication led to a loss against Catch Point at EVOLVE 92, and a brawl between the two broke out at the end of EVOLVE 93. The last time these two met in a singles match was at EVOLVE 87, in La Boom, and in that bout, Riddle barely escape with the WWN Title, but after what happened in the Midwest, a Last Man Standing Match became necessary to determine who really was the better of the two. EVOLVE treated this match like a really big deal, with a cool video package shown beforehand, along with extended ring introductions.
While I would say their encounter at EVOLVE 87 was slightly better, this was still a fantastic main event. Essentially, these two just traded big moves for nearly eighteen minutes, with the story being that they were just going to keep hitting each other with these moves until one of them couldn’t get up anymore. To just give you an idea of how crazy this was, the Bro-2-Sleep and the Spirit Bomb were used in the first five minutes. It was incredible to see how this all unfolded. They were busting out every major move they had in their arsenal in an attempt to put each other away. It was like watching two people play a singles match in a WWE video game with both of their characters having unlimited finishers. What also made this main event really interesting was that, aside from one apron spot where Riddle dropped Lee head first onto the apron during an attempted Fisherman’s Suplex, they kept this one mostly in the ring, with no weapons being used.
As someone who first started watching wrestling around 2003-2004, I’ve become accustomed to WWE interpretation of a Last Man Standing Match (an intense, hardcore brawl with lots of weapons), but these two showed here that you can have a great Last Man Standing Match without all of that. They didn’t need any weapons to beat the crap out of each other. My only critique is that the finish (which saw Keith Lee beat barely answer the ten count to win the title after hitting the Spirit Bomb on Riddle off the second rope) seemed to come a bit out of nowhere, and the commentary had something to do with that. During what ended up being the final ten count sequence, Lenny Leonard seemed to go from talking with a normal tone to an incredibly excited tone as the finish happened. To me, it almost came off like he didn’t realize that was going to be the finish, hence the sudden shift in tone. That’s only a minor complaint though, as this main event was still pretty awesome. I might be a little high on it, but I enjoyed it that much.
Seeing Keith Lee win the WWN Title was a really cool moment, and it ended the show on a high note. ****1/2
After the match, Keith Lee cut a brief promo where he thanked the fans and mentioned how awesome La Boom is. He then told everyone to bask in his glory as the show came to a close.
EVOLVE 94 seemed to signal a new direction for the company following the tumultuous end of their relationship with FloSlam. We were introduced to several new talents on the undercard, with The End clearly having the biggest impact. I’m curious to see what they do going forward, as this act really seems to be the antithesis of what EVOLVE has been all about since the original reboot back in 2014. Meanwhile, we saw some exciting results in the top two matches, as Keith Lee and Jaka (who weren’t even regulars with EVOLVE at this time last year) got huge wins over Matt Riddle and Zack Sabre Jr. respectively. Something that I really enjoyed about this show is that it was another example of EVOLVE continuing stories that revolve around certain venues in certain cities. For instance, the Matt Riddle/Keith Lee vs. Catch Point tag team match from EVOLVE 92 in Detroit came about after the events that took place at the end of EVOLVE 85 in that same building.
In the case of EVOLVE 94, the top two matches were actually rematches from EVOLVE 87, which was the most recent EVOLVE event to be held in La Boom before this return. It’s cool that, in addition to telling their overarching story, they’re telling smaller stories at particular venues. As far as the match quality is concerned, while the undercard was relatively good (with nothing bad to speak of), the top two matches are the only bout that are worth seeking out.