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Evolve 71 recap & review: Sabre is #1 contender, Thatcher joins the Dream Team, and Page declares war

Max Garren

Live in the ring after a William Regal appearance for the live crowd only delayed the start a few minutes and we’re getting right into it!

Drew Gulak vs. Timothy Thatcher (Non-title Fight to the Finish Street Fight)

Both men hard out the gate but Gulak gets the advantage, stomping a mudhole in Thatcher and sending him outside. Thatcher comes back with a ram into the apron and they fight over to the bar a moment. It is wild! Thatcher gets a chair and just grinds it into what appears to be Gulak’s throat (the bar isn’t very well lit, folks!).

Up on the bar now, Gulak comes back with hard right hands and looks for the Gu-Lock but he isn’t getting it. Thatcher slams him into the bar and they take the fight upstairs! Thatcher looks to slam Gulak off the balcony but he fights out with elbows and tries to dump the champion himself! Gulak doesn’t get it, but he stays in charge, biting and dragging Thatcher over to the stairwell. They brawl down the steps, over to the bar, and back to ringside.

That doesn’t last, though, as they head through the back and out to the parking lot, slugging it out the whole way. Thatcher tries to take it back inside but Gulak blocks him and slams him into an ice chest. Back inside and on the stage, Gulak throws chairs at the prone Thatcher and follows it up with a slam on the discarded pile. Gulak throws Thatcher off the stage and dives onto him!

AND OUT IN THE STREET! I love the Orpheum so much. They’re literally trading punches a foot away from the yellow line. Why did Drew Gulak cross the street? To get a breather after Thatcher threw him on a bench. The camera actually loses them for a second as they go back inside, fantastic. Back to the bar, Thatcher choking and slamming, through him uppercuts and dragging Gulak down the bar.

Knee lifts back to ringside, Gulak fires back with a slap that fills Thatcher with rage. More knee lifts and an uppercut that sends Gulak’s head into the support beam! Drew is dazed on his knees and Tim throws slaps but they just get Gulak fired up! Spinning backfist, German suplex, Thatcher with a German of his own, but Drew fires another back at him! GU-LOCK IN THE ROPES! THATCHER’S BENT IN HALF!

Drew Gulak wins by submission with a Gu-Lock in the ropes.

Awesome, awesome match. Just incredible. Everything I was hoping these guys would do here and more. The hate was real.

Gulak leaves Thatcher laid out with one last slap and Stokely comes out with his girls.

Stokely says Tim lost because he was distracted and reiterates his offer to take care of all the non-wrestling nonsense that Thatcher has no time for and says that if he was Thatcher’s advocate, this match would never have happened. Stokely extends a shaky hand while Thatcher considers the offer, but Thatcher shakes nicely! The blonde makes it rain and Thatcher takes his title to the back.

Dream Team 2.0 is a go?

Jason Kincaid vs. "Hot Sauce" Tracy Williams

Grappling to start, Kincaid going hold-for-hold with the Catch Point man. Neither man can quite get the edge here, lot of stuff where I think we’re about to move to one guy being dominant but it doesn’t happen. Great stuff, though, trading escapes, lot of unique holds and transitions. Rollup off the namaste taunt and a double stomp attempt misses and we’re off!

Sauce gets a strong advantage the moment the moment we move away from grappling, stomping away and working a double arm abdominal stretch that Kincaid counters by biting! That turning springboard forearm starts Kincaid a comeback, he takes the mantle off and the straps down before throwing Sauce onto the apron and doing a wicked flipping stomp. Running lariat off the stage to the apron!

Hot Sauce counters a whip into a sort of wrist-clutch Olympic Slam and charges in with lariats in the corner. Sheerdrop brainbuster gets two and Williams follows up with overhead elbows to the shoulder and a running lariat that also fail to put Kincaid away. Japanese stranglehold up now, Kincaid breaks with kicks rather than choosing to reverse and wear Tracy down. Facebreaker into a cartwheel powerslam and the double stomp, springboard blockbuster but he doesn’t go for a cover.

Sunset flip buckle bomb connects, Coast to Coast follows, but Hot Sauce is still in the fight. Struggling on the turnbuckle, Williams wins and drops Kincaid with a half-halch brainbuster into the turnbuckle and clobbers him with a lariat for a nearfall. Slugging it out on their knees and to their feet, Kincaid ends up outside and cuts Sauce off with a cutter mid-dive! Springboard Fameasser gets two!

Williams catches a dive into an armbar but Kincaid slips out and they exchange attempts until Hot Sauce finally catches him...

“Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams wins by pinfall with a piledriver.

Very good match, these guys match up well and Kincaid is already a joy to watch in only his second Evolve appearance, but much like his match last night, maybe ran a little long.

Erick Locker & Joe Coleman vs. the Gatekeepers (Blaster McMassive & Flex Rumblecrunch)

Gatekeepers with a two-on-one beatdown out of the gates. Referee DA Brewer gives in and calls for the bell in time for the erstwhile Flex to lawn dart Coleman and powerbomb him. Locker eats a big spear and gets dumped when he tries to roll in. Coleman fights back, Flex drops him with a lariat, tag to Blaster...

The Gatekeepers win by pinfall with a delayed back suplex/elbow drop combination.

Page on the mic to castigate Joanna Rose for not announcing them properly again. He then says that he’s been fined in the amount of both his paychecks this weekend for striking a referee yesterday. He says he brought something different to the table last night— utter chaos. So it was worth every penny because he enjoyed punching the ref and screwing everything up. Whether it’s this company or anybody in the lockerroom or the universe’s plan, Page throws a wrench in it.

It breaks his heart to say he doesn’t have the Evolve title around his waist, but he promises utter chaos from here on out and calls Sami Callihan out for his match early!

“All Ego” Ethan Page vs. Sami Callihan

Things start off sedate but explode quickly, with a dodged package piledriver giving way to no less than three dives from Callihan in quick succession! Strikes on the outside, both guys miss chops and put their hands through the ringpost before throwing caution to the wind and trading hockey punches with their bum hands anyway. Powerbomb attempt just ends with Sami on the apron throwing a bicycle kick, ducks a lariat on the ground, fires a second, and a tornado DDT lays Page out in the aisle.

Page tries to bail and finally dumps Callihan on the apron with a powerbomb. Count-out nearfall, back in the ring Page keeps the press on as a surprisingly well-applied “USA!” chant breaks out. Callihan back with a hard right, a knee, a trip that sends Page face-first into the turnbuckles but looking for the facewash Page has him scouted. DVD into the turnbuckles, Blu-Ray style! Both men running on empty, trading strikes, forearm-for-forearm, kick-for-kick— Page ends it with the cross-arm iconoclasm only to run into an exploder suplex from Callihan.

Stereo pump kicks leave both dudes laying again, soon trading one-armed exhaustion covers for nearfalls. Page to the apron, simultaneous clotheslines lead to RKEGO for two. Package piledriver and Stretch Muffler attempted and denied, Callihan grabs a stepover ankle lock and Page kicks his way out of it. Package piledriver attempt three but Page’s knee is screwed up from the hold. Up top, Callihan grabs him, CUERNO KILLER! NOT ENOUGH!

More slugging, Page is on the ropes but he catches Callihan with a kick and finally connects...

“All Ego” Ethan Page wins by pinfall with the package piledriver.

Awesome brawl of a match. Love the package piledriver being such an instant death maneuver.

Darby Allin vs. DUSTIN

Drew Galloway joins Lenny Leonard on commentary for this one.

Collar-and-elbow starts it off, which usually I don’t call out here but they really hold on to it, through rolls and stuff. Really cool. Anyway, Darby a step ahead of DUSTIN in the early going, using his acrobatics and flexibility to keep DUSTIN from pinning him down and working him over. Well, until it goes outside and he slams Allin into a low wall with a wheelbarrow.

Back in the ring he goes to town with body slams but Darby makes an opportunity and gets on him with a sleeper before DUSTIN drops him with a back suplex and leaves him gasping. So naturally he follows up with chokes before lifting Allin up by the nose for more punishment. But again, Allin slips out and back to the sleeper, so DUSTIN returns one of his own only for Darby to stunner himself out and get back on him.

Revolution sit-out powerbomb from DUSTIN after he gets himself some space, and Darby finds himself out of gas. Two release powerbombs follow but Darby Allin will not die. DUSTIN maybe thinking Lawn Dart but Allin fights out with a tornado DDT and goes back to the sleeper! DUSTIN fights out with elbows but he’s flagging and gets caught right back in it! Out again by dropping to the mat, but Darby’s like a spider monkey and DUSTIN can only save himself by rolling to the ropes and outside.

Crucifix powerbomb dodged, Darby sends DUSTIN into a support beam before SHIMMYING UP THE BEAM HIMSELF AND LANDING A COFFIN DROP FROM FIFTEEN FEET UP! My god. Back in the ring DUSTIN looking to choke the life out of Darby but he slips away and goes for the Coffin Drop only to see DUSTIN out of the way...

DUSTIN wins by pinfall with the Awful Waffle.

Darby Allin is a madman. Good match beyond the crazy support beam stuff, really enjoyed the story of Darby going back to the sleeper every time because he knew it was his only real shot at beating an Evolve Tag Team Champion.

Fred Yehi vs. Zack Sabre, Jr.

Intense grappling early, Yehi getting a double leg takedown and going to work on the Technical Wizard’s arm. But Sabre turns it around on him, going for a Regal Stretch only to see Yehi break by biting(!) the ropes. Yehi reverses a cravate into a Dragon sleeper and they break, Sabre with an expression on his face that shows that perhaps he was taking Fred lightly.

Sabre goes hard after the ankle in a rolling pin exchange but Yehi’s out with punches to the knee. Rolling on the mat, Yehi denies Sabre the leg so he starts working on the arm instead, getting a hammerlock and sitting down on the far arm. Yehi with a low-angle cloverleaf in return and both guys are feeling it in their extremities.

Quick, smooth exchanges and Yehi gets the Koji Clutch out of nowhere, forcing Sabre to the ropes! Drags Zack to his feet by the ear and pounds hammer blows to the back and a stomp to the ribs but the half-halch suplex only gets one. Stepover neck crank into the stump puller! Sabre breaks with some finger manipulation and lands a Pele kick to the arm before grinding his bones into Yehi’s shoulder to get him to offer the arm.

Elbow stomp makes me nauseous as always and Zack stays on the arm wicked, wrenching a seated armbar to an angle no one’s arm should ever be in and rolling it around almost Calf Killer style. Sabre wrenching in the old-school seated cross armbar, Fred’s in agony here. Disdainful strikes after the break, but Yehi fires chops back and drops Sabre to the mat. Back on his feet, more uppercuts take Yehi to his knees and possibly knock a tooth loose.

Looking for Ode to Jim Breaks but Yehi gets the ropes and drops the fist on the foot. Swinging neckbreaker gets two but Zack cuts the comeback off with a shoulder armbreaker before the hammerlock and twist on the mat. Sabre tries to go back but Yehi knows his left arm is blinking red and fights him off, eventually landing a German suplex! Sabre is declared to be in BIG TROUBLE and when he goes for the cut off arm wringer/Pele again Yehi’s ready for him and stomps him into the mat!

Sabre with an octopus but he’s wrenching the good arm and Yehi gets right out. Catch the boot, fist drop, dragon screw, folding powerbomb... NOT ENOUGH! Sabre with kicks to the arm, Yehi stomps the foot in return, more exchanges, Sabre with a brainbuster floated into the bodyscissors Kimura! Yehi manages to get himself out, wrenching on Sabre’s ear but Zack is right there with the wrist control. Wrist for ear they wrench but Fred wins the exchange with a knee.

Stomp to the knee into a sliding rolling elbow but Sabre’s not going down yet. Sabre counters a rolling elbow with an arm drag and looks for Ode to Jim Breaks but Yehi blocks so he rolls to a pin for two. Uppercut-for-forearm, reverse STO, the Koji Clutch is in, Sabre pops the leg off, crucifix gets two! Yehi with a backslide, Sabre slips out, Ode to Jim Breaks attempt, Zack uses the leg to lock the far arm down all the way...

Zack Sabre, Jr. wins by submission with the leg-assisted Ode to Jim Breaks.

Holy hell. Such a superlative match, I can’t even formulate thoughts. Both guys, fighting so hard, knowing that this one is essentially a number one contender’s match, and done in such a way as it felt like literally anything could end it.

Sabre on the mic to put Yehi over as a maniac and sell that walking isn’t going to be fun for a few days before thanking him and asking him for a rematch sometime in the not-so-immediate future. Zack then says that he’s 2-0 this weekend and that’s earned him a title shot, so if Thatcher could stop “sod-arsing” around with whatever he’s doing—

Ethan Page attacks! This would be that “utter chaos” then. The Gatekeepers hold Sabre up as Page attacks him. Sabre asks for more and Page gets a chair as a bunch of guys who wne to the seminar today run out for the save and get clobbered. Darby Allin follows and the Gatekeepers launch him onto the mass of humanity outside.

The Gatekeepers hold Sabre down as Page Pillmanizes his arm with the chair, asking how the Technical Wizard is going to escape now. Page sets the chair up and sits in it, declaring that this is his ring now.

Chris Hero vs. Matt Riddle

Again, grappling to start, Hero using his size and strength and... his teeth to keep Riddle defensive. Full advantage taken of the Bro’s bare feet as he wrenches a toe at one point. Test of strength ends with Hero on the mat and yelping for the ropes as Riddle grabs a heel hook on the leg he injured recently.

Hero goes to the strikes a bit earlier than he did against Gulak, throwing chops and unleashing the fury from Riddle, who fires back unholy. Bicycle kick sends Riddle outside and into the support beam! Big right hands from Hero as he leads Riddle around the ringside area but the Bro fires back with chops and a flurry of forearms that earn a hard elbow that sends him into the chairs.

Hero breaks the count and waits for Riddle to come back in, whereupon he cuts him right off with a boot. Knees and a twisting senton and Deep Waters is submerged low but he manages to kick out. Hero with stomps to the feet and head and a wicked knee drop right to the nose. Another hard elbow meets Riddle just as he’s finally getting back to his feet but he stands again, defiant, and throws overhand chops at the big man.

Piledriver denied, Hero throws another pump kick and tries again but Riddle’s not having it, so Hero kicks his head in more. A third piledriver attempt and Riddle slips out and hits a Karelin lift! A deadlift German follows after significant struggle and Riddle fires forearms and a chop to finally put Hero on the back foot, but Hero lands a single loud right hand to keep it even.

Slap rush in, Hero with a big boot, Riddle has it together enough for a pair of knee strikes only to eat Cyclone Kill! More boots and a senton but Riddle fires up with a war cry of “BRO!” on the first and second tries, but on the third he shifts and Hero jumps into the Bromission! Hero’s able to roll to the ropes and break. Kicks for knees, Hero looking for Death Blow but Riddle lands the Pele, rolling elbow attempt in return... BRO 2 SLEEP!

Hero’s out of it to the point where referee Brandon Tolle applies a standing ten count but he gets up at nine and fires three rolling elbows off at Riddle in the corner! Rolling elbow to the back of the head glances off and Riddle turns it around into grounded elbows! Tombstone... Hero reverses for one of his own! A normal piledriver follows! Hero lifts him up for the Gotch Piledriver BUT RIDDLE FLIPS OUT OF IT INTO A TRIANGLE!


Chris Hero wins by pinfall with a rolling elbow to the back of the head.

Excellent match. Escalating and escalating and even though you kind of knew it had to end either with one last elbow or with a counter to one that gets the win, it was so excellently executed that it’ll captivate you regardless.

“Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams comes to the ring afterwards to support his fallen comrade. He gets on the mic and calls Hero out, saying Catch Point is about competition. Hero says he beat his ass in Queens. Sauce continues, saying he beat Gulak last night, and Riddle tonight, but he names a place and a time and Hot Sauce will beat him.

DUSTIN drags Riddle out of the ring and Hero lays Williams out with a rolling elbow. Galloway’s out too, of course, and he gets on the mic. He says Winston Churchill said he doesn’t worry about action, only inaction, and a lot of people wouldn’t have showed up this weekend, injured as he is. He says if he wasn’t here, the tide would have turned against them, because he had to be here to inspire the troops. The clock has struck midnight on Catch Point and Matt Riddle’s Cinderella story has come to a violent end.

He says what DUSTIN did to the “crash test dummy” earlier was awesome and says Chris is his hero for taking Riddle out for him after he hurt Galloway in the first place, before asking him to pick Riddle up for him. Hero tells him he can pick him up his damn self and walks off! DUSTIN lifts him up instead but Gulak and Yehi hit the ring and the goons bail, with Galloway claiming he’s won the war already and slinks to the back.

Catch Point have themselves a pow-wow before Gulak gets on the mic. He calls Galloway a “big dumb Scottish Braveheart wannabe” and says this has to end, and with Catch Point more united than ever, it’ll end with Catch Point on top. They stand tall with Catch Point handshakes all around and close out the show.


Excellent show. One of Evolve’s best, for sure, and I can’t recommend it enough. Sabre/Yehi and Riddle/Hero II were an incredible double main event, they started off hot with Thatcher and Gulak brawling all over the arena, Callihan and Page had a very good brawl of their own, Darby Allin is an utterly sympathetic madman, and the future is safe with Jason Kincaid around. If you buy one Evolve show from the back half of 2016, this is the one, folks.

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