A few weeks ago, EVOLVE had their first shows of 2019. The highlight of the weekend was the return of Johnny Gargano to the promotion.
In lieu of individual reviews of both events, I put together this quick review of the weekend, plus my star ratings for the various matches (for those of you who care about star ratings).
January 18, 2019
Saint Finbar Catholic Church
Brooklyn, New York
The first show of the weekend took place in front of a lively crowd in Brooklyn, New York. The main event was a special tag team bout featuring “WWN Icons” (AR Fox & Johnny Gargano) and the “new generation” (Austin Theory & Josh Briggs). This was a really strong match that ended up being the best thing on the card. The action throughout was pretty entertaining, and the story they told was pretty straight forward. Fox and Gargano got the edge early, but then the heel side managed to isolate Fox for a few minutes. This built up to a hot tag to Gargano, and we got a fun closing stretch to finish this one off. While Gargano got the victory for his side (after he tapped out Josh Briggs to the Gargano Escape), he didn’t get the chance to celebrate that long, as Austin Theory attacked him during his post-match promo to close the show. That angle helped build up their singles match the next night.
While the rest of the show didn’t feature anything spectacular, there were a lot of fun matches on the undercard. JD Drake vs. Eddie Kingston in a No DQ Match for the WWN Title and Anthony Henry vs. Curt Stallion were both hard-hitting affairs that featured plenty of brutal exchanges between the participants. The latter was a more straightforward bout, as Henry and Stallion just beat the crap out of each other for about twelve minutes before Henry finally got the pin after hitting a powerbomb. The former was a little more nasty, as Kingston gouged at Drake’s face on a number of occasions. Anthony Henry came back out and did get physically involved with Kingston at one point. However, that didn’t lead directly to the finish, which saw Drake retain his WWN Title after hitting a moonsault. My one complaint about this match was that it really didn’t live up to the No DQ stipulation that much. We did get a little bit of brawling on the floor, but that was about it. Despite that critique, the match was still pretty enjoyable as a whole.
Another bout on the card that stood out was the Four-Way Tag Team Match. The stipulation was that the winner would get a shot at the EVOLVE Tag Team Titles later in the night. I’m probably the high person on this particular bout, but it was a ton of fun to watch. This was basically a ten-minute spotfest, with all four teams getting opportunities to shine throughout. If you’re someone who enjoys watching these multi-man undercard spotfest, then you’ll probably enjoy it as much as I did. The Skulk (which was Adrian Alanis & Leon Ruff, in this case) getting the win here was no surprise, since they were the only EVOLVE regulars in the match. They went on to challenge The Street Profits later in the night, and while that bout did tell a decent story (there was some goofing off early before Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford got more serious), but it didn’t leave that much of an impression on me. It was perfectly fine.
Before I give my ratings for the matches, other results from this show included Fabian Aichner defeating Darby Allin (I’ll get to that in a minute), Liam Gray (from The Skulk) over Cyrus Satin, Priscilla Kelly over Trisha Adora, and Joe Gacy defeating Colby Corino.
- Colby Corino vs. Joe Gacy: ***1/4
- #1 Contender’s Tag Team Scramble – The Beaver Boys (Alex Reynolds & John Silver) vs. Lotus (Gavin Quinn & Juntai) vs. Milk Chocolate (Brandon Watts & Randy Summers) vs. The Skulk (Adrian Alanis & Leon Ruff): ***1/2
- Priscilla Kelly vs. Trisha Adora: **1/2
- Anthony Henry vs. Curt Stallion: ***1/2
- Darby Allin vs. Fabian Aichner: ***1/2
- Cyrus Satin vs. Liam Grey: **1/2
- EVOLVE Tag Team Titles – The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford) vs. The Skulk (Adrian Alanis & Leon Ruff): ***1/4
WWN Title – No DQ Match – JD Drake vs. Eddie Kingston: ***1/2
- AR Fox & Johnny Gargano vs. EVOLVE Champion Austin Theory & Josh Briggs: ****
January 19, 2019
Woodside, Queens, New York
The second show of the weekend to place in La Boom, which has been EVOLVE’s defacto home for a number of years now. I saved the Darby Allin/Fabian Aichner discussion for this half of the review because the story spanned across both shows. Allin came into the weekend on a losing streak and had a tall order ahead of him at EVOLVE 119 as he facing off against another talent from NXT. The bout on that show was pretty good (it didn’t stand out too much from the rest of the undercard), but it ended in controversial fashion, as Aichner had his feet on the ropes as he scored the winning pin. Allin called out Aichner after the fact, but Aichner just walked off. A rematch was set for EVOLVE 120, and it was here that Aichner showed his true colors, as he attacked Allin during his entrance. Once the match officially got underway, they managed to have a better outing than the night prior. Aichner was a full-fledged heel here, as he dominated Allin. However, Allin more than held his own, and eventually managed to pin Aichner with the Last Supper. This was a big moment for Allin, as he got a win over an NXT regular to finally snapped his losing streak.
After the aforementioned attack at the end of EVOLVE 119, there was some added intensity coming into the main event of EVOLVE 120. I was intrigued to see how this Austin Theory vs. Johnny Gargano match would turn out, and for the most part, it was really good. There was some nice back and forth action between these two in the first two-thirds of the match. Unfortunately, we got shenanigans in the final few minutes, with a variety of people running in after the referee got knocked down. Priscilla Kelly, Darby Allin, and Josh Briggs all got involved, but in the end, Gargano emerged victorious after making Theory tap out to the Gargano Escape. Gargano gave a big speech afterward, as he thanked the fans and encouraged them to support the current crop of talent in EVOLVE.
The best match of the entire weekend took place on EVOLVE 120, as Anthony Henry defeated AR Fox in an incredible one-on-one encounter. There were some high stakes in this one, as the winner would receive a shot at the EVOLVE Title during the next weekend of events in February in the Southeast. The action from start to finish was pretty awesome, as both men went back and forth, trading big moves. Henry targeted Fox’s neck with a series of neckbreakers (from a variety of positions), while Fox utilized some of his signature offense, including Ace Crushers from a number of different positions. The final few minutes were just fantastic, but when the dust settled, Henry emerged victoriously. There was a bit of a screw up on the cover, as the referee had to stop his count midway through because Fox’s shoulders weren’t totally down. That minor flub aside, this was an awesome match that you should definitely check out if you get the chance.
Elsewhere on the card, we saw both members of The Street Profits in singles action for the first time, to mixed results. Montez Ford managed to defeat Eddie Kingston in a decent match, while Angelo Dawkins came up short against Josh Briggs in a bout that ended up being much better than I was expecting. Meanwhile, after his victory over Leon Ruff and Orange Cassidy (who had a very good showing) in a Triple Threat Match, Curt Stallion did a segment with Trevin Adams where Stallion “received calls” from other promotions after Adams offered him a contract with WWN (promotions he referenced included MLW, ROH, New Japan, and AEW). Adams upped his offer with each call, and Stallion eventually agreed to sign with WWN.
- Eddie Kingston vs. EVOLVE Tag Team Champion Montez Ford: **1/2
- EVOLVE Tag Team Champion Angelo Dawkins vs. Josh Briggs: ***
- Non-Title – WWN Champion Josh Briggs vs. Joe Gacy: ***1/4
- Three-Way Freestyle – Curt Stallion vs. Leon Ruff vs. Orange Cassidy: ***1/4
- #1 Contender’s Match – Anthony Henry vs. AR Fox: ****1/4
- Darby Allin vs. Fabian Aichner: ***3/4
- Non-Title – EVOLVE Champion Austin Theory vs. Johnny Gargano: ***3/4
As a whole, these were both solid outings from EVOLVE. There was good wrestling throughout both cards, but there were only one (maybe two) matches that I would say are worth seeking out, if you have time. The tight relationship with WWE (specifically NXT) continues into the next set of shows, as Adam Cole and Ricochet have been confirmed for the EVOLVE events in February and March, respectively.