September 8, 2018
Woodside, Queens, New York
Six-Way Freestyle – Anthony Henry def. Facade, Harlem Bravado, Jason Kincaid, Jon Davis, & Josh Briggs
These six guys didn’t have an announced match coming into EVOLVE 113, so they were all thrown together in a Six-Way Freestyle. When the dust settled, it ended up being a really entertaining opening contest with nonstop action from start to finish. The match was given time (it went about fifteen minutes or so), and everyone involved got opportunities to shine throughout. We did get the continuation of the feud between Josh Briggs and Jon Davis, as they went after each other. However, neither of those guys played a factor in the finish, as Anthony Henry got the win after hitting a double stomp on Facade. This was a great way to kick off the show. ****
JD Drake def. WWN Champion Joey Janela (with Penelope Ford)
It’s pretty clear that JD Drake is being built up as one of the next top stars in EVOLVE, but coming into this show, he had yet to get that “signature win”. Drake has been having plenty of strong performances against the likes of Keith Lee, WALTER, and Matt Riddle, and that’s certainly noteworthy. However, he needed to get a major win eventually if EVOLVE was serious about getting him closer to the top of the card.
Well, he finally broke that barrier here, as he scored a big non-title win over WWN Champion Joey Janela. The match itself wasn’t quite on the same level as the opener, but it was still very good. Drake really took the fight to Janela (particularly in the opening minutes), but the WWN Champion stayed in the fight.
Towards the end of the bout, Penelope Ford got involved, as she hit a big dive off the top rope to the floor while Janela had the referee distracted. She would get involved again a few moments later, when she tried to prevent Drake from hitting a moonsault. However, the attempted interference didn’t work out this time around, as Janela accidentally took out Ford. This allowed Drake to capitalize, as he hit the Drill Bit, followed by a moonsault, for the win. Even know this was a much needed win for Drake, the fact that it came against Joey Janela was interesting. He won the WWN Title on his first night with the promotion, yet he hasn’t scored a lot of victories this then (aside from his title defenses). This almost certainly sets up a future title bout between these two, and it’ll be fascinating to see if they can have another really good match. ***3/4
As Joey Janela and Penelope Ford were leaving, Stokely Hathaway got in the ring. He appeared to be in a better mental state than he was the night before at EVOLVE 112. Hathaway took the mic and said that while he doesn’t work here anyone, he just wants another opportunity in EVOLVE, nothing that he’s willing to do anything. This brought out The Doom Patrol, and Chris Dickinson took the mic. He said that Hathaway can’t manage anymore, but then suggested that he become a wrestler (Hathaway is a trained wrestler). Dickinson proclaimed that he wanted to face Hathaway right now, and while Jaka doesn’t seem to be fully behind this idea at first, the match went ahead anyway.
EVOLVE Tag Team Champion Chris Dickinson def. Stokely Hathaway
There’s not much to say about this, as it only lasted thirty seconds. Dickinson went after Hathaway immediately, and gave him a brutal Pazuzu Bomb for the win. This seemed like another write off for Hathaway, but we’ll see if he appears again on the next set of shows.
Dickinson attacks Hathaway. Pazuzu Bomb. 1-2-3. Hathaway gets taken away, and we go right into the next match.
EVOLVE Tag Team Titles
The Doom Patrol (Chris Dickinson & Jaka) (C) def. The Skulk (Adrian Alanis & Leon Ruff)
The Skulk came out shortly after Dickinson was done killing Stokely Hathaway, and The Doom Patrol didn’t waste any time, as they attacked before the bell. At only seven minutes and change, this was the shortest bout of the night (discounting what took place beforehand with Stokely Hathaway, which wasn’t much of a match), but ultimately, it was pretty solid for what it was. In terms of the story, it was actually quite similar to Jaka vs. Leon Ruff from the night before. The Doom Patrol dominated in the first few minutes as they were able to isolate Ruff. The Skulk managed to make a comeback late after Ruff made the hot tag to Adrian Alanis, but in the end, they came up short. Ruff got hit with a Pazuzu Bomb off the second rope, followed by a top rope splash from Jaka. There’s no getting up from that. Another fine showcase from The Skulk here (both Leon Ruff & Adrian Alanis have a ton of potential), but The Doom Patrol were clearly a step above them. ***1/4
Afterwards, Austin Theory & Priscilla Kelly came out. Mockingly congratulates The Skulk for their efforts. AR Fox might be their trainer, and might try to feed off their careers, but after this bout, everyone will see that he’s surpassed Fox. Student surpassing the teacher.
FIP World Heavyweight Champion Austin Theory (with Priscilla Kelly) def AR Fox (with The Skulk)
This was the first time that these two have faced off in a singles bout (in the WWNLive Universe) since the inaugural Style Battle show in January of 2017. Ironically enough, Theory got his WWN contract off of that performance against his trainer. A lot has changed since then, and they met here under much different circumstances.
Austin Theory ultimately emerged victorious in what was a really strong match. Theory stalled early on, but AR Fox soon put a stop to that with a dive so forceful that he sent himself into the front row. There were some down periods (mainly when Theory was in control during the middle portion of the bout), but the action in the rest of the match was so good that it more than made up for it, in my view. Fox was very aggressive as he went after his former student, and just when it seemed like things were going Theory’s way, Fox would turn the tables. There were a number of times when it looked like Fox had Theory beat, but in the end, he came up short. The fact that Theory won pretty cleanly (and with no outside interference from Priscilla Kelly) was very interesting. At the same time, it’s intriguing that Fox lost twice on this weekend. I believe that’s the first time he’s gone 0-2 on an EVOLVE weekend since his return. Regardless, I imagine we’re getting another match between these two down the line. ****
Afterwards, Austin Theory took the mic, and proclaimed that the student has finally surpassed the teacher. He then turned his attention to Priscilla Kelly, and verbally put her down, telling her to get out of his spotlight, before adding that the only thing she’s good for is holding his FIP World Heavyweight Title. Theory claimed that he’s not only the greatest champion in WWN, but a future WWE Champion. Darby Allin soon interrupted Theory, and sent him packing. We then got a brief faceoff between Allin and Priscilla Kelly, before Kelly bailed. It looks like they’re setting up a face turn for Kelly, where she’ll end up with Allin. They actually hinted at a split between Kelly and Theory in a subtle way back at EVOLVE 110, when Theory seemed perturbed by the Mae Young Classic T-Shirt that Kelly was wearing (I guess the idea being that she got to WWE before he did). Now Darby Allin and Priscilla Kelly have a relationship in real life, so this potential partnership in EVOLVE canon works out perfectly. There’s no telling when that turn will happen, but I presume it’s coming sooner rather than later.
Shane Strickland (c) def. Tracy Williams
Williams earned this title shot after winning the main event of EVOLVE 111. Going in, I wasn’t sure how this match would turn out, but for the most part, it was very good. While the bout did get off to a slow start (the two had a grappling exchange in the opening few minutes), the pace gradually picked up, and the second half was pretty strong. Personally, I never bought Williams as a threat to capture the EVOLVE Title, but they did some nice nearfalls that made you think he had a chance. One noteworthy spot saw Williams give Strickland a piledriver off the second rope! That was a cool move, but if you’re going to do it, and if the opponent is going to kick out of it (which Strickland did, in this case), I would’ve saved it for later in the match. By that, I mean that it should’ve been the “last resort” finisher for Williams, not just another move in the middle of the match (but that’s just a minor critique). The former EVOLVE Tag Team Champion gave it everything he had, but it wasn’t enough. Strickland would target the injured arm and shoulder of Williams, which led to him getting the win via submission after locking in an arm bar. This wasn’t the best match of the night, though I really enjoyed it, for the most part. ***3/4
As it would turn out, this was the last time we’ll be seeing Tracy Williams in EVOLVE, for the time being. It was announced on Twitter that Williams would be parting ways with the company, and that EVOLVE 113 would be his last appearance for the foreseeable future. Now while some felt like it was his time to leave (as he was a holdover from the “grapplef*ck” era of EVOLVE), I would’ve kept him, simply for roster depth reasons. I don’t disagree with the fact that it’s time for Williams to move on from EVOLVE (personally, I’ve always enjoyed Williams more as his CHIKARA persona), but I would’ve at least kept him until this most recent “transition period” was complete.
EVOLVE 113 was certainly a step up from EVOLVE 112 in terms of quality. Out of the five bouts on the iPPV (technically six, but Chris Dickinson vs. Stokely Hathaway was more of a segment disguised as a match), one of them was solid, while the rest all landed in the really good to great range. The match of the night is honestly a toss up. For me, it was between either the opener or AR Fox vs. Austin Theory, but I’m sure others will have different opinions (there really wasn’t one match that stood out from the rest). What really added to this show was the length. It clocked in at just under two hours (roughly an hour and forty-seven minutes). That made the show such an easy watch. If you’re looking to sit down and check out a quick, but enjoyable wrestling event, EVOLVE 113 isn’t a bad choice.