February 18th, 2018
MCW Arena
Joppa, Maryland

Watch: WWN Live

Dominic Garrini def. KTB

After coming up short against Fred Yehi the night before, Dominic Garrini was able to bounce back with a solid victory over KTB. This was a decent little preliminary bout clocked in under four minutes. KTB did get some offense in, but the match mainly served as a quick showcase for Garrini, who used his German Suplex into an Armbar (inspired by Demetrious Johnson) to secure the win. **1/4

Triple Threat Match – Rayo def. Ace Perry & Dante Caballero

This went under three minutes, so I didn’t really see the point in giving this a rating. These three rushed through this, and there wasn’t much too it. Ace Perry actually did some fine stuff in the ring, but the match was ultimately won by the Hiromu Takahashi lookalike known as Rayo. He was the only one of the three in this bout that I had even seen previously (his only other appearances in EVOLVE/WWN were in quick losses to Dominic Garrini and Matt Riddle). I assume this means we’ll see Rayo again in another preliminary match in the future. N/R

Jason Kincaid def. Jarek 1:20 (with Candy Cartwright)

The third and final preliminary bout on this card was really the only one of any consequence, as the feud between these two continued. Their last singles encounter (at EVOLVE 97) ended in a ten minute time limit draw, but on this night, Kincaid was able to score the victory with less than a minute to spare when he forced Jarek 1:20 to tap out to the Compassionate Release. While this didn’t quite match that aforementioned encounter from late last year, this was still a relatively solid bout. There was some fine back and forth action, but the pace never really picked up at any point. This was a much-needed win for Kincaid, so we’ll see if he’s out of the prelims on the next set of shows. As for Jarek 1:20….well….time will tell. **3/4

The End (Odinson & Parrow with Drennen) def. Anthony Henry & James Drake

Before this match began, The Work Horsemen came out (to no music) and demanded The End come out for a fight. As soon as The End made their entrance, a brawl broke out, and The Work Horsemen actually got the early advantage after hitting a pair of dives to the floor. This clocked in at just under seven minutes, but it was actually pretty decent while it lasted. There was some fine action throughout, and The Work Horsemen actually took the fight to The End on a few occasions. The finish did hurt this one a little bit, as Drennen hit Henry with a baton behind the referee’s back, which allowed Parrow to get the win for his side with a Sit-Out Powerbomb. I can sort of understand why that was the finish (when you’re fighting The End, you’re always fighting three guys), but if you want to push Odinson & Parrow as these monsters, having them win matches via outside interference seems counterproductive. Also, I wasn’t a big fan of Anthony Henry & James Drake losing in a sub-seven minute tag team bout after both had standout singles performances the night prior (Drake in particular). They don’t have to split up, but after their outings on EVOLVE 100, it’s time for them to focus more on singles competition. **3/4

Fred Yehi def. Shane Mercer

Shane Mercer looked impressive on some EVOLVE events late last year, and was going to be featured on the shows that took place in January (EVOLVE and Style Battle), but got pulled late. It was good to see him back (and on the main card), but he ultimately came up short here against Fred Yehi. This an entertaining contest that featured good action from start to finish. Mercer looked impressive as he showed off some of his unique offense. Yehi (who apparently broke or chipped a tooth during his match at EVOLVE 100) was solid as well. The two men went back and forth for almost twelve minutes (a little longer than I was expecting), and the bout ended in an interesting fashion. Mercer was successfully able to hit Yehi with his finisher (Moonsault & Battery), but he took a few seconds too long to go for the cover. That was the opportunity Yehi was waiting for, as he quickly locked in the Koji Clutch for the submission victory. ***1/4

Non-Title Match – EVOLVE Champion Zack Sabre Jr. def. EVOLVE Tag Team Champion Chris Dickinson

When it comes to non-title singles bouts, Zack Sabre Jr. had been on a bit of a losing streak over the last few months (this included losses to Jaka at EVOLVE 94 and WALTER at EVOLVE 99). Fortunately, he was able to buck that trend here with a victory over Chris Dickinson. While this was a technically sound match, it was worked at a slow and methodical pace. They never really got into that next gear, and even though the crowd reacted at a few points (particularly in the second half, when things picked up slightly), they wasn’t a ton of heat. The match came to an end via referee stoppage after Zack Sabre Jr. turned Dickinson into a human pretzel. Again, this was a relatively solid singles encounter, but I was expecting this to be better. ***1/4

MCW Showcase – Joe Keys def. Ken Dixon

The first match after intermission featured two competitors from Maryland Championship Wrestling (who own the venue). There really wasn’t much to this one. It was a very basic bout that had practically no crowd heat, which was a little surprising, since this show was taking place in the home of MCW. Perhaps there wasn’t much crossover between the fans that attend MCW shows regularly and those who were in the crowd at this show? I honestly don’t know. Joe Keys got the win, and that’s all you really need to know. *1/2

Non-Title No Holds Barred Match
WWN Champion Keith Lee def. Tracy Williams (with Stokely Hathaway & Dominic Garrini)

After going on a crazy winning streak over the summer, Tracy Williams has been on a downward slide. He has a losing streak dating back to late last year, and has yet to win a match in EVOLVE in 2018. That string of bad luck continued here on EVOLVE 101, as he came up short against the WWN Champion. This was only slightly better than the Chris Dickinson vs. Zack Sabre Jr. bout from earlier in the night, but it suffered from similar issues. Despite being a No Holds Barred Match, it was a wrestled at this slow, methodical pace, which didn’t seem to fit the stipulation. The crowd seemed to be more invested in this one compared to Dickinson vs. Sabre, but in general, they still weren’t that lively. They brawled all over ringside, and Williams used a chair and a ladder at various points, but Lee was able to overcome all of that (as well as interference from both Dominic Garrini & Stokely Hathaway). He put Williams away with Ground Zero to secure the win. ***1/4

Afterwards, Stokely Hathaway tried confront Keith Lee, and as you might’ve guessed, that didn’t go well. Lee absolutely destroyed Hathaway with a Spirit Bomb, and left him in the middle of the ring with Tracy Williams. Then, The End comes out, and Drennen tells Odinson & Parrow to wait before going into a promo. He talked about how they destroyed The Work Horsemen earlier in the night. They only care about hurting people. Drennen then proclaimed that the war they started with Catch Point ends tonight. The End goes to attack, but Chris Dickinson & Dominic Garrini try to make the save to no avail. Anthony Henry & James Drake then run out with chairs, and attack The End! This is enough to send The End packing, and The Work Horsemen stand tall. It wouldn’t shock me if we saw a three-way match for the EVOLVE Tag Team Titles at some point between Catch Point, The End, and The Work Horsemen.

#1 Contender’s Four-Way Elimination Match
Matt Riddle def. EVOLVE Tag Team Champion Jaka, Darby Allin, & FIP World Heavyweight Champion Austin Theory (with Priscilla Kelly)

This was actually voted as the main event via a Twitter Poll. The winner would get their shot at the EVOLVE Title during the WWNLive Experience in New Orleans. This was easily the best match of the night. It did get off to a bit of a slow start, but this turned into a really entertaining contest once the action picked up. Everyone had moments to shine throughout, and after seeing a fine but relatively mundane undercard, it was nice to finally get a match that was better than just good/solid. Theory was the first to be eliminated after being on the receiving end of a triple team from the other three competitors, which ended with Darby Allin pinning the current FIP World Heavyweight Champion after hitting a Code Red. Allin was the second person eliminated, but in a very weird fashion. Jaka took advantage of an unintentional low blow on his part (I say that because of his facial expressions immediately following the illegal act) after Allin accidentally collided with the referee, and hit his Choke Bomb for the elimination. Thus, it came down to Jaka vs. Matt Riddle, and the two had a fun exchange which ultimately ended when Riddle hit a Gotch Tombstone Piledriver on Jaka. Once again, this was a very entertaining main event that proved to be the lone highlight of this show. ***½

Afterwards, Matt Riddle took the mic and promised that the next time EVOLVE comes to Joppa, Maryland, he’ll be the EVOLVE Champion. Zack Sabre Jr. then came out on the entranceway and had a stare down with the new #1 Contender. Riddle then said EVOLVE is his company, and that Sabre’s reign as champion will be over soon. I’m not sure if Riddle will indeed capture the title, but regardless, it’s another great match to add on to the already stacked weekend in New Orleans for WWN.

Final Thoughts

This very much felt like a lame duck card, sandwiched between EVOLVE’s fantastic centennial show the night prior and all of the events that WWN is putting on in New Orleans. While there really wasn’t anything bad on the card (aside from the triple threat preliminary bout and the MCW showcase, which were more incredibly basic than bad), nothing stood out. Some of the stuff on the undercard ended up being exactly what I was expecting, in terms of match quality, but there were other bouts that were disappointments, considering who was involved (specifically referring to Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Chris Dickinson and Keith Lee vs. Tracy Williams). The main event is really the only match on this card that’s worth checking out. Other than that, this was a very skippable show.