May 20th, 2018
Monaghan Knights Of Columbus Hall
Watch: WWN Live
N8 Mattson & Orlando Christopher def. The End (Drennen & Parrow with Odinson) via DQ
The End are coming off a major loss to Catch Point the night before at EVOLVE 104. They decided to shake things up a bit with their lineup for this particular match, as Drennen teamed with Parrow instead of Odinson.
It was a pretty basic affair, in terms of in-ring action. While The End did control a sizable chunk of this bout, but the local team did get their fair share of offense in. Towards the end, Christopher managed to hit a Coast-To-Coast elbow….thing (he appeared to hit his head on low-hanging chandelier mid-move), and it looked like the local team actually had a chance. Ultimately, they did technically win this match, but it was by DQ, as Drennen attacked Christopher with his baton. I’m honestly not sure why The End didn’t just win this match clean. They could’ve used a nice rebound win. The fact that they got themselves blatantly disqualified because they couldn’t put away a team of local wrestlers just speaks volumes about how much their stock as a group has fallen. **1/4
The End continued to beat up N8 Mattson & Orlando Christopher (while most of the fans chanted “You Still Lost!” at The End) until Tracy Williams ran out to make the save. That bit led right into the next match.
Tracy Williams def. Odinson (with Drennen & Parrow)
I really wasn’t sure what to expect from this one, as Odinson has wrestled almost exclusively in tag team matches with Parrow since The End came to EVOLVE.
This turned out to be a surprisingly solid singles bout that featured some fine action throughout. Williams was good, as he usually is, but Odinson was also pretty impressive. He nailed a couple of cool power spots, and in general, he played his role pretty well. Beforehand, I would’ve guessed that Odinson was probably the best in-ring wrestler out of the three in The End, and his performance here seemed to prove that. I’m not totally sure where The End goes from here (especially since they lost all of their matches on this weekend of events), but if the faction does break up at some point in the future, I wouldn’t mind seeing more of Odinson in EVOLVE as a singles competitor. How far he would get is up for debate, but I’d like to see him at least get some more opportunities in singles matches, just to see more of what he can do. Anyway, the finish came when Williams pulled off a beautiful counter of the F5 into the Crossface, and Odinson tapped out shortly thereafter. Once again, I wasn’t expecting this to be as good as it ended up being. ***1/4
Afterwards, Catch Point ran out and attacked Tracy Williams. They then held “Hot Sauce” down so that Stokely Hathaway could yell at him. Hathaway claimed that he, along with the rest of Catch Point, were going to end the career of Tracy Williams (after they already took Catch Point from him).
Fortunately, Anthony Henry & James Drake ran out to make the save. Williams then took the mic and said that he respected The Work Horsemen. He claimed that tonight was their night to win back the EVOLVE Tag Team Titles, and promised to have their backs if Stokely Hathaway or Dominic Garrini got involved.
Up next, we were supposed to get some kind of match involving Cyrus Satin (who’s been used by EVOLVE occasionally as an enhancement talent), but it never happens, as Bryan Idol attacks him. Idol (who is apparently from FIP) took the mic and basically complained about not getting enough opportunities in EVOLVE, or WWN in general. He then calls out Fred Yehi for a match at FIP Ascension on May 25th in Ybor City, Florida. I guess this was some sort of attempt to promote the FIP event in front of a live audience? Maybe this Bryan Idol guy will get a shot in EVOLVE? I have no idea, and to be honest, I never heard of him until this segment. As for Idol calling out Fred Yehi for that FIP show, I was under the impression that Yehi was done with WWN altogether after it was announced that he was leaving when he couldn’t come to terms on a new deal with WWN. Now he’s just randomly showing up in FIP? I don’t have a clue what’s going on there. This whole bit was very strange.
AR Fox (with The Skulk) def. Myron Reed
Myron Reed has been making a name for himself throughout the Midwest independent scene in the last year or two. He took part in a Four-Way Freestyle the night before at EVOLVE 104, but on this night, he got a big opportunity in singles competition as he took on AR Fox. When the dust settled, these two ended up having a great match! There was a ton of really cool action from start to finish, with both men showing off incredible displays of athleticism. Of course, we all know what AR Fox is capable of, but Myron Reed looked very impressive here. While he did get a chance to shine in the aforementioned Four-Way Freestyle at EVOLVE 104, this singles bout was a much better scenario for Reed to show off what he could do, especially to those who were seeing him for the first time (myself included). Lenny Leonard mentioned on commentary that AR Fox was the main reason why Reed decided to become a wrestler, and the similarities between the two are very clear to see (from their abilities as high-flyers to their taller, thinner frames).
The smoothness of Reed’s offense also left an impression on me. His motions in the ring were so fluid and crisp. It’s astonishing that wrestlers like Reed can be this talented as such a young age. Despite his best efforts, Reed ultimately came up short here against AR Fox, but he certainly gained the respect of the former EVOLVE Champion (and The Skulk), as they celebrated with Reed afterwards. Once again, this was a really strong match. AR Fox moved to 2-0 on the weekend with this victory, while Myron Reed had a great outing in his first singles bout in EVOLVE. ****
Eight-Man FRAY – Josh Briggs def. AC Mack, Bu Ku Dao, Dominic Garrini, J. Spade, Johnny Flex, Matt Delray, & Snoop Strikes
It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a FRAY with this many people on an EVOLVE card. For those who might not be familiar, it’s basically an abbreviated gauntlet match. Two men start off, and then a new entrant comes out every minute. Eliminations occur via pinfall or submission. In this case, it served as an opportunity for a bunch of younger talents looking for roster spots (plus Dominic Garrini) to “get their shit in” until Josh Briggs came out as the eighth entrant and destroyed everyone else left in the match. It was recently announced that WWN has signed Josh Briggs to a contract, and it’s obvious that they (along with WWE, I’m willing to bet), see a ton of potential in him.
The fact that he pinned Dominic Garrini, a member of Catch Point and a regular on the roster, to win the match just shows that Briggs is going to get a massive push within the next couple of months. I don’t see it happening immediately (he’ll probably get more squash matches on the next set of shows), but it seems like WWN will be strapping the proverbial rocket to his back. As for match itself, there really wasn’t much to it. This was meant to get Josh Briggs over as a dominant monster, and in that regard, it worked to perfection. **
DJ Z def. Zachary Wentz
Both of these competitors were looking to bounce back after suffering losses at EVOLVE 104 the night before. While this singles encounter didn’t get a ton of time (clocking in at just under ten minutes), they made every second count, and their efforts resulted in a match that was incredibly entertaining to watch. We did get a little bit of comedy early with DJ Z’s air horn, but from there, this bout was all action. These two went back and forth as they busted out some really cool offense, both inside and outside of the ring. Wentz came close to putting DZ J away on a few occasions, but ultimately, DJ Z picked up the win after hitting a Super Rana off the top rope, followed by his ZDT. I might’ve like this one a little bit more than most, but I enjoyed it a lot. This wasn’t a match that anybody is going to remember two weeks from now. At the same time, however, super fun undercard bouts like this will always get high marks from me.
Shane Strickland def. Darby Allin
Before this match began, we got a promo from Shane Strickland. He talks about how WWN passed up on signing him three years ago. Since then, he travelled the world and became a star on his own. Strickland said that he made WWN regret that decision from three years ago when he destroyed Matt Riddle’s arm the night before at EVOLVE 104. He broke the man that people thought was unbreakable. Strickland then turned his attention to Darby Allin, pointing out his issues with staying fully healthy, and claimed that he’ll take his arm as well. After his entrance, Allin took the mic to respond. He said that he respects Strickland and his mission, but said that he’s not afraid of anything. The only thing Allin is afraid of is what he might do to Stickland.
This ended up being a pretty good match that told similar story to the main event of EVOLVE 104. Dary Allin got the upper hand initially, and seemed to frustrate Shane Strickland in the early going, but the tide turned once Strickland started going after one of Allin’s arms. Throughout the bout, Allin would make a few short comebacks, but the methodical strategy of Strickland proved to be too much for Allin, who eventually submitted to the Key Lock. While this wasn’t nearly as awesome as his match with Riddle the night before, Strickland still looked incredibly strong and was once again presented as a dangerous man who isn’t afraid to severely injure his opponents on his way to the top. ***1/2
After the match, Candy Cartwright came out and once again told Darby Allin that Jarek 1:20 was coming.
Non-Title Match – WWN Champion Austin Theory (with Priscilla Kelly) def. Trey Miguel
Coming into this bout, Trey Miguel was in a similar position that Myron Reed was in. He did get a chance to shine in the same Four-Way Freestyle from EVOLVE 104, but this singles encounter with Austin Theory would give him a better opportunity to show what he could do. Now, this wasn’t nearly as great as the AR Fox/Myron Reed match from earlier, but it was still relatively good. Miguel had the edge over Theory in the first few minutes, and aside from a dive to the outside that wasn’t totally clean (it seemed like a combination of Miguel landing a little too short and Theory being a bit out of position), he looked pretty solid. Theory would regain control, and managed to put Miguel away after hitting Ataxia. This was far from the best match on the show, but for what it was, it was fine. ***1/4
Afterwards, Austin Theory’s celebration was cut short by AR Fox & The Skulk, who used their dance moves to get on Priscilla Kelly’s nerves. AR Fox took the mic and said that Austin Theory was one of them. Then AR Fox’s wife got in the face of Priscilla Kelly, and The Skulk had to carry her off before a brawl broke out (the crowd actually chanted “Cat Fight”). It looks we’re going to be getting a Austin Theory/AR Fox match down the line for the WWN Title.
EVOLVE Tag Team Titles – Catch Point (Chris Dickinson & Jaka with Stokely Hathaway & Dominic Garrini) (c) def. The Work Horsemen (Anthony Henry & James Drake)
This was the second title defense of the weekend for Catch Point, and just like the night before, it was a last chance match. The Work Horsemen were getting their last shot at the EVOLVE Tag Team Titles here, though that was a little strange, since they hadn’t actually received their obligatory rematch for the titles until now. This was also the first time that The Work Horsemen have wrestled Chris Dickinson & Jaka in a straight two-on-two tag team match since beating them for the titles at EVOLVE 88 in Charlotte last year. Anyway, I went into this expecting a great title bout (given how good their first encounter was ), and when the dust settled, they certainly met my expectations. Dickinson & Jaka wasted no time getting the bout started, as they went right after The Work Horsemen. From there, Catch Point took control after the opening exchanges, and isolated Anthony Henry until he was finally able to tag in James Drake (the crowd got really excited for that first hot tag).
These two teams went back and forth throughout the match, trading big moves and hard strikes in an attempt to put their opponents away. At one point, Tracy Williams came out to help counteract the presence of Stokely Hathaway & Dominic Garrini, and eventually chased them off. The closing few minutes of this match were awesome, but in the end, Catch Point managed to retain their titles after hitting James Drake with Death Trap. While I would still have their original encounter at EVOLVE 88 as their best bout together (if I had to pick), this rematch was right on par with it. The crowd in Detroit gave The Work Horsemen a standing ovation for their efforts. ****1/4
As Trevin Adams was getting ready to introduce the main event, Austin Theory came out, and challenged AR Fox to a title match the next time EVOLVE is in Detroit (which will be on August 12th, as part of a double-header with PROGRESS Wrestling).
EVOLVE Title – The Final War – Matt Riddle (c) def. Keith Lee
Of course, there were No Rope Breaks in this title match. Riddle came out with a bandage around his left arm/elbow, as he was selling the effects of Shane Strickland’s vicious assault at EVOLVE 104. While the result of this one was never really in question (since we all know that Keith Lee is on his way to NXT), these two still had a fantastic main event!
It did get off to a slow start at first, but for the most part, this match was packed with amazing action from start to finish. These two just beat the crap out of each other for over eighteen minutes, and the fans in the building loved every second of it. Lee had the upper hand in the first half, but Riddle refused to stay down, and did his best to fight back. His arm injury did hinder him at points, such as when he tried (and failed) to lock in the Bromission. For the majority of the bout, Lee showed some good sportsmanship by not going after Riddle’s injured arm. That wouldn’t last, however, as Lee would later try to attack the arm as he tried everything he could to put Riddle away.
Once “The King Of Bros” was finally able to fully go after Lee, this match kicked into high gear. The second half was nothing short of awesome. Riddle was ultimately able to survive Lee’s biggest shots (he kicked out of the Spirit Bomb at one and kicked out of Ground Zero at two), and finally put him away with a series of knee strikes to retain his EVOLVE Title. The No Rope Break Rule didn’t come into play at all in the match, but they didn’t really need to use that rule in this particular instance, given the guys involved. Once again, these two put on an incredible main event that was easily the match of the night and the match of the weekend. This was the third singles encounter in EVOLVE between Matt Riddle and Keith Lee, and even though their three meetings didn’t reach “Match Of The Year” status, they’ve all been phenomenal. If I had to pick right now, I’d probably say this was my favorite of the three. A great main event to close the show, and an excellent send off for Keith Lee. ****1/2
After the match, Matt Riddle took the mic and called out Shane Strickland (who he called a “punk bitch”), who came out with a steel chair. The fans chanted “Swerve’s a pussy” as Strickland got up on the apron. He teased getting in the ring, but backed off, saying that he’s not fighting Riddle until he gets a shot at the EVOLVE Title. After Strickland left, Riddle turned his attention to Keith Lee. Riddle said that’s only known Keith Lee for a year, but in that time, they’ve wrestled each other all over the world. He said that guys like Lee not only make him a better wrestler, but they make wrestling so much fun for him. Riddle said that he appreciates and loves Keith Lee, as the fans started to chant “NX-Lee”. The two men hug, and Riddle leaves Lee alone in the ring so he could give a speech. The fans sang “Bask In His Glory” as Lee finally rose to his feet. He said that leaving a place like EVOLVE will be difficult for him, but he appreciated all of the fans for making it a special place for him. Lee then requested two things from the fans: Continue to support him (wherever he goes) and continue to support EVOLVE and WWN. He closes by telling the fans that he loves them so much, and he makes his exits.
EVOLVE 105 was a much better show than EVOLVE 104. The show was headlined by a fantastic main event that might’ve been the best match we’ve seen in EVOLVE this year (if you don’t count Riddle/Ospreay from Mercury Rising, because that technically wasn’t an actual EVOLVE show, but we’d just be arguing over semantics at that point). What really put EVOLVE 105 firmly above EVOLVE 104 was a stronger undercard. Matches like Catch Point vs. The Work Horsemen, AR Fox vs. Trey Miguel, DJ Z vs. Zachary Wentz, and Darby Allin vs. Shane Strickland all ranged from really good to great, and were generally superior to most of what we saw on the undercard for EVOLVE 104. We saw the continuation of a few storylines (Shane Strickland’s ascent, setting up Austin Theory vs. AR Fox), and more new talents were given opportunities to shine as the promotion looks to rebuild their roster following the departures of Zack Sabre Jr. & Keith Lee. There’s only one match on the show that’s truly worth skipping (the opener), but other than that, this was an awesome showing from EVOLVE.