June 24th, 2018
Melrose Memorial Hall
Josh Briggs def. Dominic Garrini
For the second night in a row, we kicked things off with Josh Briggs picking up a win in singles competition, this time over Dominic Garrini. While it only lasted about five minutes or so, this opener was fun while lasted. Briggs went right after Garrini at the start, using his power and size to his advantage. Garrini fought back with submissions and a couple of suplexes, but it wasn’t enough, as Josh Briggs hits his Chokeslam/Lumbar Check finisher. After his initial debut on the shows back in May, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Josh Briggs with regards to (relatively) longer singles matches. However, he had two solid performances on this weekend of shows, so I’m looking forward to seeing more from him. An enjoyable opening contest for sure. ***1/4
Afterwards, Stokely Hathaway took the mic and praised Josh Briggs. Hathaway makes a pitch for him to join Catch Point, and offers him a contract, noting that he doesn’t need to read the fine print. Briggs took the contact, gave Hathaway a big pat on the chest, and left. I guess the good news for Stokely Hathaway is that not only did Briggs not destroy him on the spot, but he didn’t say no to his offer.
Adrian Alanis def. BSHB King
The fire alarm randomly went off as Adrian Alanis was making his entrance with the rest of The Skulk. This led to the fans chanting “Burn It Down”, and The Skulk went bonkers when the fire alarm finally shut off. Anyway, Alanis went up against BSHB King (with the first name being pronounced “Bishop”), and they had an ok match. This was mainly a showcase for Alanis (the largest member of The Skulk), but BSHB King did get some offense in. With that being said, Alanis won via rollup for some reason. If you’re going to showcase this particular member of The Skulk, you should at least have him win in a more decisive manner. Another small nitpick, but considering who was in the match, I guess it didn’t matter that much. **
Darby Allin def. Jarek 1:20
The night before at EVOLVE 106, Darby Allin scored the biggest win of his career in a massive upset over WALTER. However, he didn’t leave that match unscathed, and Jarek 1:20 was eager to take advantage of a weakened opponent. Unfortunately for Jarek, his best efforts weren’t enough, as Darby Allin managed to pick up the win to move to 2-0 on the weekend. Allin went right after Jarek at the start, but the momentum soon shifted, and for the most part, Jarek was in control for a good chunk of this bout. The fire alarm did go off again in the middle of the match, but these two just kept moving forward with what they were doing (a ton of credit to them, as that’s a tough situation). Allin eventually put Jarek away with two straight Coffin Drops off the top rope. A good match overall, despite the fire alarm issue coming up again, and a great way to end the weekend for Darby Allin. He’s going to get another title opportunity at some point down the line. It’s only a matter of when. ***1/4
Anthony Henry def. Timothy Thatcher
This was set up after some miscommunication in a six-man tag team match at EVOLVE 106 led to Timothy Thatcher attacking Anthony Henry afterwards. To be completely honest, I wasn’t very excited to see this one, given that Thatcher has a history of having some boring singles matches in EVOLVE. Fortunately, this was far from boing, as these two had a great back and forth bout. What made the match work so well was that it wasn’t based around the mat wrestling and grappling that we typically see from Thatcher. Instead, the bout was wrestled at a quicker place, and we saw a ton of stiff strike exchanges and submission. These two just beat the crap out of each other for just over eleven minutes. Both men worked very hard, and there were plenty of intense moments throughouts. At one point, the two were in the middle of a strike exchange, which Thatcher ended up getting the better off. As he went to advance on Henry, however, his right leg gave out (Henry had been kicking that leg throughout the bout) and he fell to his knees. This led to an awesome visual of Thatcher giving a horrified look right before Henry kicked him in the head. That was a small moment (in terms of facial expressions), but it proved to be a pivotal moment in the match. From there, Henry went after the injured leg, and eventually, got the former EVOLVE Champion to tap out. Speaking strictly about his work in EVOLVE, this was definitely one of the best singles outings I’ve seen from Timothy Thatcher in recent memory. It was also an awesome moment for Anthony Henry, who picked up a huge win in his first singles bout since the amicable split of the Work Horseman. ****
Afterwards, WALTER came out to check on Timothy Thatcher, but then he took Anthony Henry out with a big boot. It looks like we’re getting an Anthony Henry/WALTER singles match at some point, and I can’t wait to see it happen.
Up next, we were supposed to get Austin Theory defending his FIP World Heavyweight Title against DJ Z in a FIP Rules Match. However, before the bout could get underway, Theory (who was not in a good mood after losing the WWN Title at EVOLVE 106) took the mic and declared that his loss the previous night was a fluke. He claims that Joey Janela has no future in wrestling, and proclaims that he’ll be a future WWE Champion. Theory then said that he’ll always be the face of WWN as long as he’s the FIP World Heavyweight Champion. This brings out Joey Janela (along with Penelope Ford), and he said that if last night was such a fluke, then Theory should prove it by turning this match in the a Three-Way. Theory agreed to this request, and it was on from there.
FIP World Heavyweight Title
Austin Theory def. DJ Z & Joey Janela
This only went about nine minutes or so, but these three managed to pack a lot of entertaining action into that time frame. The crowd was very much into it, and all three men had opportunities to shine. We briefly saw Penelope Ford and Priscilla Kelly get involved as well, but I was fine with it in this particular instance, since it was a FIP Rules Match (plus, there usually aren’t any disqualifications in a Triple Threat Match). It seemed like Janela had the bout won after hitting a top rope brainbuster on DJ Z, but as soon as Janela hit the move, Austin Theory snuck back in the ring, and stacked up Janela in a pin to retain his title. The finish was probably the worst part of the match, but wasn’t bothered by it too much, as it means that Janela and Theory are now 1-1 against each other. I don’t have much else to say about this one, beyond that. It was all action from start to finish, and it was a ton of fun to watch. ***3/4
Sieve Al Sabah def. Bad Bones, Jaka & Jon Davis
I’m not the biggest fan of following a Triple Threat Match with a Four-Way Freestyle. If you’re going to do more than one multi-person bout (that’s not a tag team match of some kind) on a card, then they should at least be spread out a little bit more. Anyway, this was pretty good as a whole, though there was no way it was going to follow the Triple Threat Match that came before it. All four men had their moments, though Jon Davis was the most dominant of the four. This was my first time seeing Sieve Al Sabah (who wrestled in street clothes), and I honestly thought he was there just to eat the pin. He didn’t do much until the very end, but he made an impact when it counted, as he actually won the match after pinning Jaka. It’s clear that Sieve Al Sabah is going to be pushed as a fresh face moving forward (he did pin one-half of the EVOLVE Tag Team Champions, so that’s a pretty strong debut), but I’m intrigued to see what he can do in singles matches. Until then, this was another example of a new name getting a big win during this weekend. ***1/4
Catch Point Rules
Chris Dickinson def. Tracy Williams
As we saw at EVOLVE 104 back in May, “Catch Point Rules” are essentially the rules from the old ROH Pure Title. Those rules came into play quickly, as the match was immediately thrown out after Tracy Williams repeatedly attacked Chris Dickinson with closed fists. He was clearly more concerned with getting revenge on Catch Point, and after the match was thrown out, it looked like Williams was going to take out Stokely Hathaway. Fortunately for Hathaway, that didn’t happen, as Dickinson recovered and attacked Williams. We did see a brief comeback from Williams, and he also took out Dominic Garrini, who tried to make the save for Hathaway. The numbers game finally caught up to Williams when Jaka ran out, and the rest of Catch Point held Williams down so Stokely Hathaway could get some shots in. Josh Briggs then comes out, and wipes out Catch Point before ripping up the contract that Hathaway offered him earlier. While we barely got a match, the angle afterwards did a good job of continuing the feud between Catch Point and Tracy Williams, while also getting Josh Briggs involved with more EVOLVE regulars.
Matt Riddle def. AR Fox
AR Fox decided to wrestle in shorts with no boots or shoes of any kind (I guess so he could be on a “level playing field” with Riddle. As a whole, this was a great main event, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, considering who was involved. At the same time, it could’ve been a little better. What hurt the match (in my eyes) were the first few minutes, which saw AR Fox attempt to beat Riddle at his own game. This didn’t work out for Fox very well, as Riddle just dominated him. The commentators were puzzled by Fox’s strategy, as was I. Once Fox started to rely on his regular arsenal, the pace really started to pick up. The action in the second half of the match was great, and the crowd was on fire as Fox nearly had Riddle beat on a few different occasions. Riddle was able to survive the late onslaught from Fox, and finally put him away after knocking him out with repeated knee strikes followed by some hammer fists on the ground. This main event featured a lot of cool stuff from both guys, but again, those first few minutes really worked against the match in general. It clocked in at around twelve minutes, so if they wrestled the first half with same amount of action and intensity that we saw in the second half, then this could’ve easily been one of the best EVOLVE matches of the year (easily on par with Darby Allin vs. WALTER from the night before). Alas, it was just shy of being on that level, but it still delivered as a main event. ****
As soon as the match ended, Austin Theory ran out and hit Matt Riddle with a TKO. He taunted the EVOLVE Champion before being chased off by AR Fox & The Skulk. Once Riddle got back to his feet, he took the mic, and said they can face off again anytime he wants. The Skulk then decked out Riddle in some of their gear and danced for a bit. Riddle closed out the show by saying that he wants to face Austin Theory when EVOLVE comes back to Melrose in August.
While EVOLVE 107 was probably a slight notch below EVOLVE 106, in terms of overall quality, it was still a very consistent show from top to bottom. Only one bout on the card is skippable, and everything else ranges from good to great. Matt Riddle vs. AR Fox and Anthony Henry vs. Timothy Thatcher were easily the best matches on the show, with the Triple Threat Match not that far behind. Aside from the bouts themselves, you also had more fresh faces getting big moments, such as Josh Briggs, Austin Theory, and Sieve Al Sabah. One factor that really worked in the favor of EVOLVE 107 was that it was an absolute breeze to watch at roughly two hours flat. I’m sure Adam Cole vs. WALTER for the NXT North American Title had something to do with that, but the show length meant that nothing went overly long. Almost all of the matches were (for the most part) quick, enjoyable, and easy to sit through. You can’t complain too much about a show that has those qualities.