JANUARY 14, 2018

Watch: WWNLIVE.com / Photo: twitter.com/JohnnyDaMan


These preliminary matches have a strict 10 minute time limit.  

Brody King is a Southern California worker who found himself on the East Coast for the trio of WWN shows over the weekend. He doesn’t have the look of a star with his Beer City Bruiser-esque build and wide array of tattoos,, but I can’t say he didn’t impress me in this prelim bout. He hung with a rabid Darby Allin, which is all he needed to do. Allin passed out the night prior in his first EVOLVE title match, and therefore felt the need to relegate himself to the prelims tonight.

The announcers quickly pointed out that when Darby would slap King, he’d do it in a way that made it seem like he was trying to fire up King so King could hit him harder. When Darby was on the offense and he wasn’t pelting the skin of King with slaps, he was wrenching back on his arm in the least scientific armbar imaginable. It was a yanking, cranking, pull-with-all-your-mite kind of submission, void of technique or prowess.

Those armbars were the closest Darby would come to trying to secure a victory. He never went for a pin. He would crank the arm back, and when King was able to escape, he would be met with a barrage of slaps and Darby’s signature dives, which eventually led to a time limit draw.

Darby’s wild ways had a purpose this evening. I can’t wait to see him try to redeem himself. This was strong not only in the context of an entertaining bout, but strong from the storytelling aspect as well. Everything about this worked. ***1/4


Snoop reminds me of the various faces that worked a FRAY! for DGUSA, only to never been seen again. He’s incredibly athletic, but nothing he did stuck with me. Meanwhile Jarek continues to be kind of good, which I am all for. I was all about being in on the joke when Jarek first got booked, but there’s nothing wrong with him. He’s unique, and it’s certainly not a bad thing. He belongs on the prelims for now, but there is plenty of room to grow. I’m rooting for Jarek, who scored the pinfall here. **1/2


Wheeler YUTA has been floating around the New England scene for a short while now. I see his name everywhere, but I believe this is my first time seeing him. He was fine, respectfully. My eyes and attention were on KTB, who is ready to take the next step and move onto the main card. KTB is big, agile, and ready to breakout in 2018. He overpowered YUTA during the entire match, and then ended things with a Lionsault. All in on KTB. **3/4


The nearly year long story between these two came to a head here in the opening contest on the main card. Kincaid spent most of 2017 trying to save the younger, more naive Theory from the devilish good looks and ways of one Priscilla Kelly. He failed, ultimately, and it has caused Kincaid to snap. His unique brand of offense feels less flowery. The subtle change in appearance, along with that, has helped Kincaid transform from a floundering undercard hippie, to an angry, Branch Davidian-like undercarder that is at least searching for who he is.

The match itself was nothing special. I was more impressed with Priscilla Kelly on the outside. She worked hard here. Moving around, checking in on Theory, and trying to distract Kincaid. I’m still not entirely sure why she’s booked, but she impressed me as a manager in this bout.

Kincaid missed a double stomp on the apron, causing him to roll his ankle and the match to be stopped. On the way back, Theory and Kelly began laying in punches and stomps to the already injured man. **3/4


There is a moment in this match where Fred Yehi hits a Backstabber on Thatcher and the crowd remains silent. Painfully silent. It isn’t until Yehi motions towards them that the claps and cheers mask the sound of a pen dropping.

I’m not going to beat a dead horse. I love Thatcher when he works wXw, but he continues to swing and miss in EVOLVE. I was harrolding Yehi was one of the best wrestlers in the world at this time last year, but with rare exception, he has left me feeling disappointed and empty after all of his matches since Wrestlemania weekend. He tapped out to the Fujiwara armbar, mercifully putting an end to a match that wasn’t bad by any means, but painfully boring. **1/2


This morphed into a tornado tag rather quickly by the members of The End. Parrow and Odison were largely dominant, as they should have been. The MMA backgrounds that Hot Sauce and Garrini have in their arsenal did not help the Catch Point members in this bout. They were overpowered by the sheer brute of The End.

Garinni at one point did counter a Pounce from Odison with a triangle choke, which is far and away the best counter I’ve ever seen to that move. It was all for not, however, as Garinni was quickly tossed to the side and The End landed a Powerbomb/Backstabber combo on Hot Sauce to pick up the victory. The End didn’t blow me away, but I’m very curious to see how they progress. ***


Jaka is really, really good. If he could breakout from the Northeast indie scene and get work in a place like AAW or PWG, I can’t help but feel like he’d become a major player on the indie scene. This match with Riddle saw Jaka once again show off his intense physicality. Both Jaka and his partner Chris Dickinson don’t possess all of the technical skill that their Catch Point cohorts do, but their intensity and charisma make them far more interesting than a Garrini or a Hot Sauce.

For awhile it looked like Jaka was going to overpower the former WWN champion, meaning that Jaka would have beaten Matt Riddle, Keith Lee, and Zack Sabre Jr in singles matches in EVOLVE. Riddle found his second wind after barely getting his shoulders up on a powerbomb, and after a barrage of knees and elbows, Riddle was able to lock on the Bromission for the win. Nothing prior to this match came anywhere close to being this good. Jaka continues to prove that he can hang with EVOLVE’s best with performances like this. ***3/4


When Zack Sabre Jr’s run as EVOLVE champion eventually comes to an end, it should end via the Austrian hands of WALTER. Since making his presence felt in EVOLVE early last summer, no one has been as impressive or has made as big of an impact. WALTER continues to deliver match after match, and this was no different.

No matter what the EVOLVE champion threw at WALTER, it was countered. Octopus holds, slaps, bridges, and whatever else we’re used to seeing from Zack Sabre Jr. It’s not fair to call this a squash, but that is simply because Sabre refused to give up for so long. This was a dominant performance by WALTER, made morbidly entertaining by the never-say-die attitude of the champion and his ability to take punishment.

WALTER was able to pin the champion after his second Powerbomb of the match. This was an emphatic victory. WALTER is nothing to mess with, and Zack continues to struggle in non-title matches.  I really hope these two square off for the gold at Wrestlemania weekend. WALTER is the only person in EVOLVE that matches ZSJ’s level of star power, credibility, and in-ring ability. Go out of your way to see this match. ****1/2

After the match, Darby Allin made his way to the ring and pleaded with Zack Sabre Jr for a rematch. He was interrupted by Timothy Thatcher (WALTER’s corner man), who was then interrupted by the man himself. WALTER stated that, “This is a professional wrestling ring”, before prodding Allin and asking him, “what the fuck are you doing here”? Their brawl was short lived, as WALTER choked out the skate punk with ease. I really hope we get to see WALTER and Allin tangle next month at EVOLVE 100.


Never did I think I’d be raving about Chris Dickinson as much as I have been lately, but he’s transformed himself from a guy with go-away heat in my eyes to an exciting, energetic part of the EVOLVE roster. His Pillman-like demeanor was on full display here. He charged at Keith Lee as soon as the bell rang and from there, the war was on.

Lee, obviously the bigger man, used his size and raw strength to combat Dickinson. Dickinson’s attack was far from calculated or scientific. He threw all that he had at Lee, as often as he could, for as long as he could. Towards the finish, it looked like Dickinson was capable of beating Lee. It certainly wouldn’t have shocked me. The closest near fall was on a Superplex from Dickinson to Lee. The giant was just able to kick out, and much like waking a sleeping bear, Lee went into overdrive, landing strikes on Dickinson before sending him crashing to the canvas with Ground Zero.

An excellent main event for what is realistically a “filler” defense for Lee. Dickinson ruled, and Lee continues to do what he’s done since signing with EVOLVE. He’s one of the most consistent wrestlers on the planet. ****

Tracy Williams attacked Keith Lee after the match, which will lead to a title match between the two. I find that a little odd, considering that Williams ate the pin instead of Garrini in their tag match earlier in the night.


EVOLVE 99 wasn’t a slam dunk, but it got the job done. The first half of the card did not deliver the way that EVOLVE normally does. It wasn’t until post-intermission, with Riddle vs. Jaka, that things really got going. Any fan of WALTER or ZSJ needs to check out their match. Even with the slow start, EVOLVE 99 gets a thumbs up from me, as EVOLVE continues to build momentum before WrestleMania Weekend.