Yessir, ladies and gentlemen, it's time for the World Wrestling Network to come back in to your home with Evolve 72 (live from Queens, New York) and Evolve 73 (live from Joppa, Maryland), their first shows to be broadcast live as part of the FloSlam family, as well as 72 being the first show to feature Joey Styles on commentary the whole show. As always, I'm here to give you the low down on what's going down.
Drew Galloway’s injury caused one last unfortunate shuffling of the cards for Evolve after his doctors advised him to not rush his comeback and hold off for 11/16, but fortunately the working relationship with NXT rode to the rescue. That’s right, Tommy End is back in Evolve fresh off his NXT house show debut...
...for the live audience only. It’s a bummer, for sure, but unsurprising, given that even William Regal’s in-ring segments (which have historically made significant matches and advanced plots in Evolve and one of which is coming to Evolve 73) remain dark. Mr. End will face Tony Nese at Evolve 72 and “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams at Evolve 73.
Evolve 72 (Saturday, November 12, at 6:30PM Eastern)
Drew Gulak vs. Timothy Thatcher (c) (Evolve World Championship Squared Circle of Survival Match)
Last month, these two men brawled up and down, inside and out of the Orpheum in a match that delivered every last bit of hate and brutality their feud had engendered, but it seemed to be the end of it. Well, when Drew Galloway informed officials he had to pull out, leaving us minus one main event, Drew Gulak was right there with a signed contract. Mr. Thatcher, in a moment of weakness after his loss, agreed to defend the Evolve title against Gulak in a match of his choice.
And oh, what a choice it was! We don’t know exactly what a Squared Circle of Survival match looks like, but Gulak says it’s the distilled essence of Catch Point’s philosophy. I expect submissions and violence, with either no holds barred or perhaps barred only a limited number of times, a la the limited rope breaks in the old Ring of Honor Pure Championship rules.
Thatcher is 1-5 against Gulak now, so it was an uphill battle for the champion even before he was forced to enter a playground of Gulak’s own devising. All I know is after their last match, I’m looking forward to this one with zero reservations.
“All Ego” Ethan Page vs. Zack Sabre, Jr.
After Ethan Page lost his shot at the Evolve Championship, he decided that if he can’t be champion, he’ll be an agent of chaos. The first recipient of his chaos, fittingly enough, was seemingly freshly crowned #1 contender Zack Sabre, Jr., who ended up on the receiving end of a Pillmanization to finish up his weekend. No fun.
Such little fun, in fact, that the decision was made to give Sabre a shot at Page before giving him the shot at the title he earned by going 2-0 last weekend. Make no mistake, it’s a tough road Sabre is on. Page has beat everyone he’s gone up against in singles action since Mercury Rising except current champion Thatcher and former champion Drew Galloway. His package piledriver has put away every man it’s hit. And Sabre has had problems putting away more brawling-oriented opponents here in Evolve, as evidenced by his losses to Chris Hero and Sami Callihan.
As long as Page doesn’t try the “anything you can do, I can do better” strategy he inexplicably used against Thatcher last month, he has to be the favorite here.
Chris Hero vs. “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams
Catch Point is at war again. No sooner than Timothy Thatcher had finished tearing through them one-by-one, they found themselves embroiled against Drew Galloway and his goon squad looking to tear Evolve down to the foundations and rebuild it in their own image. Chris Hero has since made it clear that he’s no man’s goon, but make no mistake, there’s no white peace here.
After Hero tore through Gulak and Riddle last month, Williams stepped up, sticking his chest out and saying that the line must be drawn here, this far, no farther, that Hero beat him and his pals before but it’ll be different next time. Bold words, to be sure. But Chris Hero is still Chris Hero, the self-proclaimed Greatest of All Time, the man who has been nigh-undefeated in the last two years. Hot Sauce is gonna have to be extra spicy if he wants to keep his word.
And the rest
DUSTIN replaces his fellow crusader Drew Galloway against Matt Riddle. Riddle has taken up the mantle of Evolve (indeed, recently signing a multi-year contract extension) while DUSTIN has turned his back on the fans that he claims killed his previous identity of Chuck Taylor. It’s an ideological war and Riddle is a freight train, but could his loss to Chris Hero last month have dented the Bro’s confidence?
Fred Yehi is fighting mad against Jason Kincaid. He had a shot at champion Thatcher scheduled initially and was blazing hot pissed-off at Stokely Hathaway for maneuvering around him and making sure it would be a non-title match. Now he gets a chance to turn that anger around on newcomer Jason Kincaid and really set the pecking order here in Evolve.
Chris Dickinson and Darby Allin have a one-on-one partial rematch of the four-way fray they were in at Evolve 64. Dickinson started that match by tossing Allin outside and into the barricade like so much garbage, but now he’s the one looking outside in as Allin has secured himself an Evolve contract. It’s daredevil vs. Dirty Daddy in a battle of stiff strikes against flips and steel resilience.
Evolve 73 (Sunday, November 13, at 7PM Eastern)
The Evolve Champion defends against Tony Nese
This match, originally signed by Stokely Hathaway for his client Timothy Thatcher to regain the rightful champion’s spot on top of the card, has, thanks to the Squared Circle of Survival Match, been thrown into a bit of upheaval. Granted, one’s plan of attack wouldn’t likely be different against Thatcher or Gulak, they wrestle similar styles, and what works against one should also against the other.
But Nese, despite teaming with the man on WWE TV for 2016 Pro Wrestling reasons, has lost to Gulak before. This year, even, at Evolve 66, in a Cruiserweight Classic Spotlight Match, and that weighs on a man, one way or the other. Might put the fear in him, might spur him to victory, and there’s only one way to find out. But Gulak has to get through Thatcher first.
Chris Hero vs. Matt Riddle
The immovable GOAT meets the unstoppable Bro for the third time. In their first meeting, Riddle squeaked out the win by countering the Gotch Piledriver into a triangle choke. In their second, Hero held on in the same sequence, deadlifting Riddle up for another piledriver to set up the elbow to the back of the head and the pin.
Their third encounter will assuredly be decided in similar fashion. Incremental changes in action and reaction as each man learns the other a bit better, gets a bit deeper inside his head. Two of the absolute best wrestlers in the world playing an intensely physical game of chess. It’s gonna be fantastic, folks.
DUSTIN & ??? (c) vs. Fred Yehi & ??? (Evolve Tag Team Championship)
The tag titles have been in real turmoil since Drew Galloway got hurt. First Catch Point (Drew Gulak & “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams) were due to challenge for them in a match billed as the LAST BATTLE OF ORLANDO, in which the losing team could never team again, and that got canceled. Then, it was Hot Sauce and Fred Yehi set to challenge, with a modified stipulation that it would be the last time Catch Point could challenge for the titles in any configuration and again, for his own safety, Drew Galloway was forced to pull out.
And so we come to this match. DUSTIN has special dispensation to defend the tag titles with a mystery partner of his choosing, and Yehi will also bring a mystery man to the table. I’m not going to sit here and speculate overmuch, given that last time I got scooped by a WWN Alert the day this preview went up, but the possibilities are certainly tempting, especially when you consider the obvious allegiances that may form on either side, whether a new member of the goon squad or Catch Point.
And the rest
Zack Sabre, Jr. goes one-on-one with the loser of Saturday’s world title match. He’s had classic matches with both Thatcher and Gulak, but in their last encounters, he was beaten by the British Messiah and beat the maestro of Catch Point himself. Either way it’s a must-win match to keep him on track for a title shot.
Ethan Page faces off against Chris Dickinson. They tagged together against the Bravado Brothers in a losing effort at Evolve 63, and now they’re squaring off. Two hard hitters, but Page has proven himself willing to do anything to get a win.
And more, featuring Darby Allin, Jason Kincaid, and the Gatekeepers! Nothing has been announced at press time, but it doesn’t take a mindreader to see that either Allin/Kincaid and Gatekeepers vs. local talent, or the four of them in tag team action against each other seem likely courses of action.
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