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Evolve 72 recap & review: Thatcher survives the squared circle, Hot Sauce beats Hero, and more

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@BookItGabe

Stream goes live on FloSlam after a short delay for the dark match, where WWE Raw superstar Tony Nese defeated WWE NXT superstar Tommy End because that's where we're at here in 2016. Lenny Leonard, Joey Styles, and Joanna Rose are in the ring, Lenny introduces the show and Joey says we all know he doesn't believe in very much talking in pro wrestling, so on with the Bro.

DUSTIN vs. Matt Riddle

Riddle in charge early, waistlock takedowns and an immediate attempt at a finish with the cross armbar and the sleeper hold but DUSTIN keeps getting the ropes. Changeup towards the striking game, knees and forearms in the corner but DUSTIN is able to hook the Bro's arm over the ropes and take him outside to turn the tide. Hooking the ear and the nose before returning the favor with punishment in the corner.

Riddle with big slaps and DUSTIN scrapes his face along the top rope before choking him on the bottom. Huge disdainful chops buckle the Bro but he doesn't break, forcing DUSTIN into the corner with a slap rush and countering a powerbomb attempt into the rolling Karelin lifts. Double knees in the corner into the exploder and a big senton.

DUSTIN mounts a sequence in return including a Sick Kick and a big DDT. A second as Riddle struggles, into a third but the Bro will not die! Release powerbomb connects... Not enough! DUSTIN with the chest kicks, jawing at Riddle, Matt catches one, looks for the Bro 2 Sleep but DUSTIN slips out for an enzuigiri. Riddle counters a DDT into a Pele Kick, BRO 2 SLEEP! Hook the leg...

Matt Riddle wins by pinfall with the fisherman buster.

Awesome opener. Easily DUSTIN's best match since the former Chuck Taylor returned to Evolve, and Riddle is Riddle.

Fred Yehi vs. Jason Kincaid

Fast-paced opening, with Kincaid pulling off the coolest side headlock escape I've seen in some time. Looking for stomps and Kincaid keeps scooting away from him before firing off a cartwheel powerslam into a double stomp and a springboard blockbuster. The straps go down and they slug it out a moment before Yehi gets off a foot stomp and a German suplex, declaring Kincaid to be in BIG TROUBLE.

Yehi blocks boots and throws strikes, cutting Kincaid off every time he tries to pull ahead but Kincaid continues to dodge the big offense. Yehi catches the hand with a huge stomp and stands on it, before doing the same with the knee. Forearm-for-headbutt puts Kincaid down, but when Yehi looks to follow up he catches him with a big knee and a slide out sweep. Kincaid trying to springboard back in, Yehi ready with a forearm.

Back and forth a bit and Kincaid hits a fantastic rolling slingshot stomp and a sunset flip powerbomb to the outside into a barricade! Coast to Coast catches Yehi when he tries for a breather. Double stomp off the top but Yehi ain't going down! Yehi counters a powerbomb into a revolution Air Raid Crash but Kincaid kicks out! Yehi with wrist control and stomps to the chest, reverse STO into the Koji Clutch...

Fred Yehi wins by submission with the Koji Clutch.

Really fun match, this one. Both men have such crazy innovative offense that they're a joy to watch separately, and together is no different.

Chris Dickinson comes out with his fellow Team Pazuzu member Jaka and cuts a promo about how he had Allin beat in the fourway before Nese saved him, and how he's been trying for years to earn a contract and Allin got one handed to him for essentially being a loser. He says there's no chance in hell Allin would beat him tonight, since he's one of the best wrestlers in the world.

Tony Nese comes out and says the people aren't here to hear him bitch and whine, and in his opinion, Darby Allin belongs here in Evolve. If memory serves him right, he's beaten a Raw superstar, and who has Chris ever beat? Jaka proposes making it a tag match, it's on!

Darby Allin & Tony Nese vs. Team Pazuzu (Chris Dickinson & Jaka)

The Pazuzu men jump Nese and Allin from the jump, leaving Allin alone inside until Nese breaks up a pin off a chokebomb from Jaka. That keeps the match going, but Allin's still the legal man and still in trouble, Jaka getting a 2.5 nearfall off a simple headbutt. Allin manages to mount some offense but Jaka counters a diving crossbody with a damn headbutt to the chest!

Allin counters a Pazuzu Bomb with a headscissors takeover and makes the tag! Nese comes in like a house afire and ends up taking them on two-on-one for a while, forcing Jaka to hit a Stunner on Dickinson with a sweep of the leg. Nese dumps both dudes outside and hits a suicide dive, Darby tries some fancy rope jumps but slips and immediately turns it around into a senton atomico!

Allin tags himself back in but gets distracted by Jaka picking Nese off and ends up eating a Dragon suplex right on the back of his neck...

Team Pazuzu pick up the win with Total Elimination on Darby Allin.

Solid tag. Darby is a human sympathy machine, so two bruiser dickheads like Dickinson and Jaka putting him through his paces is good fun.

"All Ego" Ethan Page vs. Zack Sabre, Jr.

Page gets on the mic before the match begins, or tries to, since his first one is nonfunctional. Once it's up and running, he says he doesn't really care about this match, and he knows Sabre wants to get his magical wizard hands on him, so he has to come outside the ring to meet him first. He'll be a nice guy and grapple like a real pro wrestler, but first Sabre needs to come to him. Sabre responds, saying if he wants to test his mettle he'll come in the ring. And he does!

Feeling out quickly gives way to Sabre wrenching Page's head and stepping on his head before locking on a wicked modified Regal Stretch. He keeps riding Page a while, the big man able to keep him from utterly dominating him but not quite able to get away and establish an advantage for himself until he fires off a slam and tries to send Sabre outside. Even then ZSJ gets back up and catches him in an octopus through the ropes, but when he's forced to break by the five count Ego takes him pillar to post, wrenching and smashing his arm.

He keeps the press going in the ring, kicking and stomping the arm until Sabre fires up and throws forearms, but a kick to the shoulder puts a stop to that again. Back to the wrenching and stomp, locking a seated armbar in, but when he adds a bodyscissors he offers a foot up for Sabre to yank and break free. Suplex reversed into a Pele kick, Sabre with the bodyscissors guillotine, Page breaks it by ramming him into the turnbuckles, but Sabre stays on him with a lariat and a Penalty Kick.

Looking for a Spinning Dwayne, Sabre catches him and counters, ending up with a triangle choke, which Page counters into a deadlift buckle bomb! Tilt-a-whirl slam from Page, Sabre kicks at his arms and slaps but runs into a boot, Page lifts him up... HAMMERLOCK POWERBOMB?! Page looking for RKEgo to capitalize but ZSJ catches him! Page escapes that and Sabre slips into an octopus, Page gets out again, hammerlock...

"All Ego" Ethan Page wins by pinfall with a hammerlock Spinning Dwayne.

Solid match, much better than I feared after the Thatcher match! Armwork does wonders, really.

Page gets back in the ring after, inviting the Gatekeepers in, saying this is their moment. He points out the message on the seat of his trunks, saying this is the Era of Ego, and that means chaos. After he ruined Gargano's farewell, now he's beaten our chosen one. He wants to talk about some letters now, but not B-R-O, but rather C-O-D-Y. He says Cody's little dream tour is going to end, and Joey Styles starts saying ass over and over for reasons. Joey, I love you, you're my favorite play-by-play commentator of all time, but less is more, my man.

Chris Hero vs. "Hot Sauce" Tracy Williams

Hot Sauce starting hot with suplexes! Taking Hero to the woodshed with chops and forearms, determination flashes across Hero's face but he can't seem to string two strikes together. Williams with a dragon screw over the ropes and a suicide dive, he looks to follow it up with a diving headbutt but Hero catches him with a cravate! Cravate suplex!

They end up slugging it out on the outside, Hero practically kicking Hot Sauce through the guardrail. Devastation chops in the ring, Hero going so far as to wrap Williams' t-shirt around his hand for insult to injury as he decks Sauce with a huge right. Hot Sauce gets a couple forearms and boots in, missile dropkick, turning it around now, charging corner strikes, looking for a brainbuster, Hero hits him with a straight elbow but Williams has his wits and goes right back to the brainbuster, connecting.

Hero to the second rope, Hot Sauce plucks him off with the half-halch DDT into the crossface! Hero rolls him around until he gets the ropes, Williams throwing lariat after lariat but Hero starts busting out elbow after elbow into the rolling elbow and senton... Not enough! Williams blocks the piledriver so Hero drags him up by his nose for a headbutt, looking for Death Blow, Sauce reverses to a backslide, exchanges, Hero clutches him, jumping piledriver connects... HOT SAUCE LIVES!

Hero with an elbow, a hammer blow, a chop, but Williams stands defiant! Chops and forearms and headbutts, off the ropes trading boots, huge lariat, HERO OUT AT ONE! A second lariat and Hero barely gets out, Williams locks the facelock on... HERO TAPS?!

"Hot Sauce" Tracy Williams wins by submission with the wrenching facelock.

Holy hell, that was excellent. From Hot Sauce starting out hot to Hero disdainfully knocking him around to Williams refusing to die in the back half to the completely stunning victory.

Drew Gulak vs. Timothy Thatcher (c) (Squared Circle of Survival Match)

Drew Gulak out in street clothes to explain the rules of the match. He calls for the ring crew and tells them to take the ropes off. He says he whooped Tim Thatcher's ass all over the streets of Florida, but tonight they're in Queens, and it's gonna be no holds barred.

Stokely Hathaway comes out, saying that Gulak conned Thatcher at his lowest into giving him an Evolve title shot, and congratulating Gulak for working for WWE before calling him a manipulator and a fraud. He offers Drew a life lesson, telling him not to get cocky. Joey Styles comes through the crowd to tell Stokely to shut up. Stokely says he's been riding a catchphrase for twenty years, and Joey says that Gabe Sapolsky told him that he was not to do political jokes, but he has a live microphone. He tells Joanna Rose she looks beautiful and says that our next president would want to grab her by the... and the word he left out brings him to Stokely. C'mon, Joey, we don't need that right now.

He says everybody Stokely manages goes to WWE but they never seem to bring him with them. Stokely says he started from the bottom, and Styles says he's still at the bottom because he's kissing the champion's ass, and accuses him of coasting on Thatcher's hard work. Stokely asks Styles what he's good at, because he can't figure it out, and Joey says Gabe is telling them to wrap it up so promises to tell him next time, before firing a totally unwarranted shot at Stokely's wardrobe.

Thatcher charges in but Gulak ducks, strikes exchanged, Thatcher tries to dump Gulak to the outside but he blocks. The favor is returned, Thatcher looking to dump him with the Karelin lift but Gulak slips out with a boot to the head. Gulak with a front chancery, Thatcher slips outside and slams his face into the apron. Thatcher blocks slaps and gets the Fujiwara armbar early but Gulak rolls through and back to the front chancery, and around to the Gu-Lock.

Thatcher slips out and moves to throwing uppercuts and forearms before picking the leg for an ankle lock... Gulak kicks him to the outside! Gulak with a diving forearm. Slugging it out on the outside before Gulak hits another battering ram dive. Drew looking for plunder, he gets a turnbuckle pad but the champion cuts him off. A third dive is caught but the Catch Point man fights out only to get slammed onto the ring.

Karelin lift, cover only gets one, Thatcher looking to set up the armbar over the apron for leverage but Drew rolls away before too much damage is done. Back in the ring, Gulak with hammer blows, double underhook, adds the legs, Thatcher turtles up and Gulak switches gears, firing the point of his elbow into the champion's ribs and locking a grounded abdominal stretch in. Thatcher to his feet looking to hip toss him outside and Gulak shifts gears for a Karelin lift.

Tim with a Kimura attempt but Gulak German suplexes him onto the apron! Drew Gulak unhooks the mat while Thatcher writes in pain before loading his hand with the bungies that hold the mat down and clubbing Thatcher with them, fish-hooking him and wrenching way back! Thatcher out with strikes and sends Gulak into the ringpost before continuing the job of unhooking the mat and using one of the bungies to lash Gulak to the ringpost with Stokely's assistance, ripping the Catch Point shirt off his chest and continuing to club him.

Thatcher pulls the foam padding off the ring! He has just about the whole ring uncovered, a rare smile crossing the champion's face, when Gulak frees himself. Scoop... and a slam on the exposed boards! GULAK OUT AT ONE! Sleeper hold locked in, Gulak tries to fight it but flags... until he connects with a back suplex, leaving Thatcher grimacing in agony!

Gulak rolls his shirt tight, he's choking Thatcher out with it! Thatcher to his feet, Gulak with an inverted snapmare and a cover but it ain't over yet. Thatcher back to the sleeper, Gulak to his feet but Tim wrestles him back down, practically grinding his face into the boards. Drew crawls to the edge of the ring, his face turning blue, but he manages to get out! GULAK STARTS PULLING BOARDS OUT!

The frame of the ring is exposed, Drew looking for a suplex, Thatcher out with a forearm, he sets Gulak over the hole in the mat and stomps him into it! They're trading slaps as Gulak sinks under the ring, THATCHER CLOSES UP THE BOARDS OVER GULAK AND LOCKS THE SLEEPER BACK IN! GULAK WITH A STUNNER!

Gulak emerges from the hole and they go forearm-for-forearm, a headbutt! Spinning backfist! Thatcher slips into the hole! GU-LOCK IN THE HOLE! Thatcher slips out! Back suplex on the exposed boards, Gulak kicks out! Slaps and knees, Gulak blocks a German suplex, hits one of his own! THATCHER OUT AT THE VERY LAST FRACTION OF A SECOND!

Gulak with knees, backfist, Thatcher ducks a second, headbutt, headbutt, both men visions of pain, a third headbutt! Karelin lift... GULAK LIVES! More strikes, another back suplex from the champion but Gulak is learning to call the exposed boards home and throws a straight suplex of his own that sends Thatcher into the hole.

Gulak peels another board away and looks for a deadlift suplex but eats two more headbutts. Another backfist connects, Gulak is thinking piledriver but Thatcher slips away...

Timothy Thatcher wins by pinfall with a back suplex on the exposed boards, retaining the Evolve World Championship.

My god. One of the most brutal, innovative matches I've ever seen. I could quibble that maybe the final stretch escalated one or two more times than it needed to, but it was awesome all the same.

Catch Point attend their leader in the aftermath, and Gulak gets on the mic again. He says he doesn't deserve to be in Catch Point, because he failed. He gets in Hot Sauce's face and continues, saying as far as he's concerned, that means Catch Point is a failure. He makes his way out, passing DUSTIN and Drew Galloway on their way to the ring.

Galloway says he's spent 24 hours trying to get here to talk to Riddle. He agrees that Catch Point is a failure, and says "bro" used to mean something to him, something special about the fraternity of this business, but now he cringes when he hears it, remembering Riddle kicking his head off a few shows back. If Evolve is Bro, he says, then Evolve is a disgrace, just like Riddle was a disgrace as a UFC fighter. He loves Evolve and wants to see it blossom into being a healthy adult, and so he needs to exterminate Matt Riddle.

Riddle lays down a precision Bro strike before telling Galloway to chill. Riddle and Catch Point leave the ring and this, naturally, enrages Galloway. He throws a fit about how he didn't travel all day for that reply, and that closes out the show.

Overall

A hell of a pro wrestling show. Williams/Hero II was pretty clearly match of the night but Gulak/Thatcher VI was an entirely unique experience, Kincaid/Yehi was loads of fun, Riddle was Riddle, and even Ethan Page going grappling again wasn't the terrifying prospect it initially seemed. The only real low point of the evening was Joey Styles going political and cheesing off what appears to be basically the entire audience, and he got fired for it, so at least it’s not a concern going forward, one supposes.

But hey, don't take my word for it, fire up FloSlam and catch the replay when it drops. They've committed to getting the shows up ASAP, so it shouldn't be long at all.