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Evolve 95 recap & review: Evolve stands united against the End, Sabre retains, and plenty of new talent make a mark

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The show kicks off about ten minutes after our scheduled bell-time with Lenny Leonard, "Hardcore Giant" Ron Niemi, and ring announcer Timothy Barr in the ring. Lenny and Ron hype up the show and we go right into our first match.

Mikey Webb vs. Shane Mercer

Feeling out, Webb trying to lock Mercer down but he gets bowled over by the Iron Demon's strength. Going for a tornado DDT, Shane plucks him out of midair and turns it into a Crash Landing! To the apron, Mikey finally cracks an opening wide with a wrench of the arm into a leg drop guillotine. Enzuigiri, back suplex lift into a rope-hung neckbreaker and he gets a good solid nearfall out of it.

Trading strikes, Webb with a sunset flip into the turnbuckles and another nearfall. He chains some knee strikes together, staggering Mercer but he's able to pop him up into a shades-of-Jeff-Cobb tossing powerslam... NO GOOD! Goozle into a military press but Mikey reverses to a DDT for a nearfall Empty on a dive but on his feet, Webb gets clobbered by a lariat, Shane calls for it and sets him atop the turnbuckles.

Struggling, sunset flip denied but Mikey improvises... BLU-RAY! NOT ENOUGH! He sets up a shiranui but the Iron Demon counters, setting him on the turnbuckles and knocking him out with an enzuigiri. Back superplex denied with elbows, Webb lies in wait before hitting a turning crossbody. MERCER CATCHES HIM AND CLIMBS THE TURNBUCKLES...

Shane Mercer wins by pinfall with Moonsault & Battery.

Strong opener, especially from two guys making their debut. Really maximized their minutes, to use the cliche, and Mercer's strength in particular is really impressive. Good stuff, would be happy to see either man back in the future.

After the match, the End (Odinson, Drennen, and Parrow, if you recall) show up to destroy both men, Parrow hitting Fire Thunder on Webb and Odinson landing the F-10! Drennen tees off on Mikey with a chair for good measure and then they attack the referee to boot!

Brandon Watts vs. Jarek 1:20

Fast exchanges to start, ducking and evading to a stalemate. Watts offers a handshake but 1:20 kicks it aside, which earns him a slap in turn. Brandon knocks him to the apron with a dropkick, jockeying for position Jarek rams him back first into the post in return and knocks him to the floor. The pole dancer horizontal elbow follows, but back inside the cover's only good for two.

Grabbing a cravate, but it doesn't last and 1:20 has to catch Watts with a neckbreaker as he attempts to come off the ropes. Following that up with a reverse chinlock, grounding Brandon and taking him in the corner for facewashes when it seems like escape is inevitable. Mafia kick, another try and Watts gets an elbow up, boot on the next charge, he's staggered but still fighting.

Catch the boot, knee to the face, a kick sends Jarek out of the ring and a big dropkick follows to send him past the crowd and in front of the comentary desk! Brandon pulls him back inside and heads up top, nobody home on the crossbody but a tornado DDT connects for a nearfall after. Big crossbody follows but 1:20 rolls through and swings him out into the knockout left... NOPE!

Watts catches a kick but the roll-up is denied, countering a lift into a back drop, this time the superkick connects, 1:20 gets him up but he slips right out, springboard back elbow right into the knees and it's sloppy but it's good for a nearfall for Brandon! Up in the turnbuckle, struggling for the advantage, Jarek gets him in the Tree of Woe and hits the seated senton!

Canadian backbreaker rack...

Jarek 1:20 wins by pinfall with a Canadian DDT.

Good match, lot of real tight exchanges and cool stuff going on, although it got sloppy towards the end there. Little bummed to see a whole weekend pass without much in the way of magic from Jarek, but better to be left wanting more than to get sick of it, I suppose.

Cyrus Satin vs. Dominic Garrini

Dom right in with the knee but Cyrus watched the show yesterday and is ready to dodge. It doesn't help him much, because the knee connects on about the third try, a backbreaker follows, German suplex lift...

Dominic Garrini wins by submission with a German suplex dropped into a cross armbar.

Alas, poor Cyrus. Destroyed by Yehi, destroyed by Garrini. At least you get to be destroyed by the best, and in style!

Stokely Hathaway gets on the mic to remind us that Tracy Williams has a shot at the Evolve World Championship and he'll be leaving with the title.

Austin Theory vs. Jason Kincaid

Kincaid starts off letting Theory know that for him, this match is about brotherly love and respect. Well, Austin clubs him from behind with a forearm, letting him know what he thinks about that. Theory tries to slow things down with a side headlock but Jason is ready to evade and shift into some proper feeling out mat grappling. Exchanging arm holds, the Gift evades a standing moonsault, knucklelock Arabian Press doublejump frankensteiner sends Austin outside!

Slingshot, Priscilla Kelly makes the save and Theory yanks a distracted Kincaid face-first into the apron! Chaining strikes together, Austin suplexes Jason across the ring and follows it up with repeated grounded punches to the head before telling the crowd that Evolve is his. Kincaid lands a jawbreaker but comes up empty on the charge and bumps hard over the ringpost to the floor!

Back inside, a rear chinlock from Austin, transitioning into kicks but Kincaid keeps fighting. Short-arm elbows from Theory, stomping away on the mat, fireman's carry for the TKO but the Gift escapes and sweeps his legs out from under him! Swatting away kicks, Gedo clutch for two, off the ropes, tilt-a-whirl schoolboy pin gets another two, Kincaid just trying to end it in a flash but Austin kicks his knee out from under him!

Up for a powerbomb but Jason escapes, popped-up into the turnbuckles he jumps right back down with an X Factor... NOPE! Perched on the ringpost but nobody's home on the stomp and Theory passes him into the ringpost hard! Buckle bomb lands square, cross-leg brainbuster on the knee... NOT ENOUGH! Jawing at referee Brandon Tolle, fireman's carry... KINCAID REVERSES TO A STUNNER!

He hits the double stomp and locks Compassionate Release on but Priscilla attacks his eyes to break it up! Fireman's carry...

Austin Theory wins by pinfall with the TKO.

Really good match, the first time I've been really into an Austin Theory match in some time, and all thanks to the story here, which is basically Kincaid trying to demonstrate the right path with his actions only to find Theory's cheating ways pulling him ahead at nearly every turn.

Theory slaps Jason a few times but he refuses to return violence with violence! He catches a slap from Kelly and makes like he's going to pray with her and Austin scoops him up for another TKO!

Darby Allin vs. Keith Lee

Allin getting right into it, forearms, springboard headbutt, but a springboard arm drag is blocked cold. Continuing to try and chip away, back body drop to the apron... TOPE CON GIRO! Back inside, thinking Coffin Drop... POUNCE CATCHES HIM IN MID-AIR! Clubbing away at Darby, pushing him back to the apron where he can get a stunner off, but Keith grabs a waistlock and just drags him back through the ropes for a huge German suplex!

Darby throwing hands but Lee pastes him with a single elbow in return and remains in charge. Overhead belly-to-belly suplex, a huge biel, but he hesitates and Allin takes advantage, dodging a charge and chipping away again, this time landing the springboard arm drag and following it up with a falling elbow strike to the back of the head! Again trading strikes about three for one, plucking Darby out of the corner for a Spirit Bomb... ALLIN COUNTERS TO A YOSHI TONIC! NO GOOD!

Charging in, the Limitless One sets Darby on the turnbuckles only to walk into kicks and eat a Frankensteiner and a step-up senton to the back after! Turning Coffin Drop off the top but turning Lee onto his back is an effort in and of itself and it's only a nearfall! Off the ropes, Keith hits a HUGE back body drop for two, deadlifting him up, big fallaway slam but Allin lands on his feet!

Chop block and a headbutt only make Lee mad and he fires a headbutt in return. Huge ham hock overhand chop, fireman's carry into the rolling elbow, leisurely making his way to the cover but Allin is still moving and refusing to give up and the WWN Champion fills with resolve. To his feet, big slap, Lee hoists him up...

Keith Lee wins by pinfall with the Spirit Bomb.

Darby was coming into this match talking about his funeral, and well, it's a hell of a way to go out. Darby's really grown into himself as he takes a bigger and bigger role in Evolve, and this match, as well an executed David-and-Goliath as you'll find in all of wrestling, is no different. Chopping away, refusing to lose, but in the end, the Limitless One just had to put him down. Great stuff.

GymNasty Boys (Timmy Lou Retton & White Mike) vs. Ugly Ducklings (Lance Lude & Rob Killjoy) (Evolve Tag Team Championship #1 Contender's Match)

Doom Patrol hit the ring before the bell and runs down these two pairs of "jabronies" that want a shot at their tag titles, but the fact is, last night in Queens, the End didn't get the job done, so he wants them down here right now for a fight. Jaka says if they're not gonna come out, they want this to be a three-way eliminator for the titles!

Doom Patrol (Chris Dickinson & Jaka) (c) vs. GymNasty Boys (Timmy Lou Retton & White Mike) vs. Ugly Ducklings (Lance Lude & Rob Killjoy) (Evolve Tag Team Championship Elimination Match)

Doom Patrol in hard from the jump but the GymNasties get Dickinson isolated only to get run off in turn by the Ducks. Ducks on Jaka, laying him out, rolling senton into a standing shooting star, only a nearfall. Mike and Timmy back in throwing forearms at Rob and Lance, stereo Frankensteiners in return and the Ducks knock the champs off the apron with stereo dropkicks before following with stereo dives on everybody! (Quadraphonic?)

Killjoy wants to get dangerous but White rolls away, corner knee, Retton in with a pump kick before he can capitalize, Rock Bottom into a lungblower... LUDE MAKES THE SAVE! Boys trying to work him over but Lance gets boots up, Timmy tosses him into a delayed backbreaker but Jaka comes in with the sliding knee! Chris joins him with a kick, working Retton over, assisted body avalanche, looking for a chokebomb but Retton counters, throwing knees!

Rob from behind, Timmy gets an electric chair but can't quite land anything and ends up switching to an Emerald Flowsion for two! Retton with a shooting star press off the top but nobody's home, Killjoy hits a poison Frankensteiner, Mike in with a forearm, Lude up and over... WHITE MIKE CAN OPENER! Jaka catches him with the spinning wheel kick...

Doom Patrol eliminate GymNasty Boys by pinfall with a chokebomb from Jaka on White Mike.

Killjoy fighting the good fight two on one, he kicks out of a nearfall off a knee drop and a big splash, Dickinson gets him up for Death Trap but Lance has a Frankensteiner for Jaka, victory roll on the Dirty Daddy... NO GOOD! Stereo enzuigiri, they stack the Smooth Savage on top, Launchpad McQuack... NOT ENOUGH! Jaka isolated, double stomp from Killjoy into a splash from Lude... DICKINSON WITH THE SAVE!

Asai moonsault, nobody home, Jaka follows it with a dive and the champs put boots to Rob Killjoy. Back inside, a friggin' Ganso Bomb from Dickinson on Lude, Killjoy inthe electric chair...

Doom Patrol win, last eliminating Ugly Ducklings by pinfall with Death Trap on Rob Killjoy to retain the Evolve Tag Team Championship.

That was a hell of a match. Non-stop action and a testament to Evolve's recent tag resurgence that we got about halfway through and I realized this was what I felt was missing from last night's show. And, I mean, White Mike in Evolve, what's not to love? He's the great character sensation of our time, and the front facelock swing into a rolling neckbreaker he calls Can Opener remains the coolest thing.

Afterwards, Dickinson prowls the ring looking for the End and Stokely has to come out to try and keep him under control before we take a brief intermission.

Richard Holliday (c) vs. RJ Rude (PAPW Heavyweight Championship)

Keeping it simple early, mat grappling, trading advantages and Holliday bowls Rude over with a shoulder block. Into some light lucha, and the champion again uses his strength to dominate. Tossing RJ outside proves to be a mistake, however, as he comes off the apron with a cannonball! Unable to follow up thanks to the intervention of Erik Essex, Richard suplexes him back inside and stomps away, punctuating with an elbow drop.

Rude off the second with a crossbody, Holliday catches him into a backbreaker and a fallaway slam, gutwrench lift into a Canadian backbreaker rack but RJ slips out, backslide, but it's only good for a nearfall. Throwing kicks and forearms, the champ cuts him off with a knee, ducks a lariat, butterfly backbreaker, but the match ain't over yet.

Rude with right hands, a fireman's carry but Holliday slips out, back suplex, RJ lands on his feet, superkick, over and back with double knees and he sets the champ up top. Struggle in the corner, springboard Frankensteiner, he follows it up with a fireman's carry Michinoku Driver but he's slow to capitalize and Essex yanks the referee out of the ring anyway!

Richard passes him face first into the turnbuckles...

Richard Holliday wins by pinfall with Market Crash, retaining the PAPW Heavyweight Championship.

So I'll admit I was initially crushingly disappointed because PAPW's website suggested that Paul Roma was champion and I got ridiculously excited at the idea of him being on an Evolve show in the year of our lord 2017, but once I got over that, this turned out to be a solid little wrestling match. Nothing blowaway, just good solid fundamentals of the kind you'd frankly hope you'd see out of a heavyweight title match from two students.

Fred Yehi vs. Matt Riddle

Intense grappling early, probing their defenses, Riddle scores the first decisive blow with a reverse chinlock sleeper out of guard that forces Yehi into the ropes. Shifting to chops, Fred gets the stomp to the foot off and grinds Matt's foot into dust as he continues to throw chops, forcing our Bro to cover up. He squeaks the Karelin lift in, rolling through and floating over for the second and releasing it.

From there to the charging forearms, exploder suplex, high jump senton, another, Yehi responds with a lungblower and gets a nearfall. Double stomp to the back sends Deep Waters looking for shelter on the floor and Fred follows, throwing chops and again forcing Riddle to cover up! Matt firing back with chest kicks to Yehi seated on the apron, back inside for knucklelock stomps but Fred reverses to the Liu Kang bicycle kicks!

German suplex, Bro lands on his feet and fires the knee off, Bro 2 Sleep, bridging German suplex... NO GOOD! Another senton but Yehi's out at one and fired up! He catches the knee and trips him up, Shadows Over Hell into a double stomp, another German suplex and this time Riddle is down! Powerbomb denied, kicks traded for rolling elbows, Matt is down on one knee but gets a German suplex off and both men are down!

Trading charging strikes, Deep Waters ahead with the forearms for a second but Yehi nukes his leg out from under him! Pulling him up for the German, Riddle blocks, shift to the Dragon suplex... NO GOOD! THE KOJI CLUTCH IS ON IN THE MIDDLE OF THE RING! Matt reverses to a pin to escape but he collapses approaching Fred! Tenryu powerbomb... STILL NO GOOD!

Trading chops, Riddle has fight left him and gets a big overhand boy off! Yehi nukes him in return for a tight nearfall but it ain't over yet. He declares Riddle in big trouble and takes a ripcord knee! A second, Riddle tells him he's in big trouble, bro... TOMBSTONE PILEDRIVER! NOT ENOUGH! Hooking him up for the overhead elbows, Fred catches them and makes the ropes but Matt keeps hammering and has to be pulled away!

Yehi with a small package nearfall, he catches a charging forearm into an exploder suplex into the turnbuckles! Setting the former WWN Champion up top, Riddle fires slaps to the ribs... LIU KANG BICYCLE KICKS HANGING FROM THE TURNBUCKLES! Jumping avalanche Frankensteiner into the Koji Clutch! Riddle's crawling, trying to find a way out, he gets the bottom rope but Fred rolls him back in the center and reapplies!


Fred Yehi wins by referee stoppage with the Koji Clutch.

Incredible match. The finishing stretch is some of the most dramatic and exciting struggle over a finish I've seen this year, the counters and exchanges throughout... And not to undersell the opening grappling-- amidst all his big high profile indie main event dream matches it can be easy to forget that Riddle is such an incredible technician, but against Yehi in a match like this it shines right through.

"Hot Sauce" Tracy Williams vs. Zack Sabre, Jr. (c) (Evolve World Championship)

Right to the grappling, trading leg holds until they stalemate and Williams breaks dirty with a slap. Sabre keeps his cool and resumes grappling, attacking the arm this time. Hot Sauce tries to return the favor, Zack takes him down and we go back to the leglocks, going heel hook for heel hook. Trading stomps on the mat, they break, and Tracy is in first with a knee lift.

Repeated knees in the clinch, back to the Technical Wizard's leg, getting a pin out of the exchange but ZSJ is able to roll him right around into an ankle lock. Reversed to a heel hook, and they trade slaps and forearms while entangled! Hot Sauce with a guillotine choke, a knee, looking for a suplex but Sabre reverses with the Pele kick to the arm and a legsweep!

Champion throwing uppercuts, challenger returning with chops and forearms, going for a German suplex but Zack reverses to a guillotine and then the Kimura lock! Williams reverses to a fireman's carry and drops the champion knee-first onto the mat! Back to the heel hook, ZSJ rolls out and gets a reverse chinlock sleeper but Williams reverses to a sleeper hold of his own and forces Sabre to throw him aside!

Trading boots, a lariat gets Hot Sauce a nearfall and both men are down and out. Zack picks the leg to set up a Penalty Kick but he's having trouble capitalizing. Thinking Dragon suplex, Williams blocks so he slips down and picks the leg again, but in doing so gives up his arm and Tracy's able to get a cross armbar! Sabre wrenches the foot to break but Hot Sauce is right with him!

Grabbing an ankle lock, ZSJ establishes control for a moment only for Tracy to kick his way out with his free leg. Strikes from the champ get an Olympic Slam in return, sliding forearm, only a nearfall, and Williams follows it up with vicious forearms to the side of the neck! But Zack has wrestled Tomohiro Ishii twice now and he has his wits about him, grabbing a waistlock before switching to a northern lights suplex!

Floating right into the omoplata, softening the shoulder up with kicks and the Ode to Jim Breaks is on! Hot Sauce reverses to a pin and Sabre does in turn but neither is good for more than a nearfall. Slugging it out, Tracy goes low and wipes Sabre's legs out with a dropkick before landing a brainbuster for two and locking a kneebar on! Jockeying for position, the champ grabs the octopus hold and bends the crap out of Hot Sauce's wrist!

Picking the leg in return, ankle lock applied and escaped with overhead elbows and Sabre capitalizes with a short Penalty Kick to lay Williams out! Tracy picks the leg but Zack is able to hobble away and return a kick to the hamstring, uppercut, off the turnbuckles... HOT SAUCE CATCHES HIM INTO A FUJIWARA ARMBAR AND SHIFTS TO THE CROSSFACE! BUT ZACK LEVERAGES THE HAND AND ESCAPES!

Jim Breaks Special, wrenching and tearing but Williams hits a back suplex in return and both men are once again down and out. Forehead to forehead, they return to slugging it out, wicked elbows into kicks and then slaps and Sabre catches Williams with a flying armbar but it gets countered into an ankle lock, countered again...

Zack Sabre, Jr. wins by pinfall with the European Clutch, retaining the Evolve World Championship.

Two equally matched grappling masters, one targeting the leg and the other the arm, as they battle back and forth for supremacy only for one catch a pin out of nowhere on a series of reversals? Yeah, that's the good stuff right there. Excellent match, and one that closes out a one-two punch double main event that shows that Evolve is still where you can find the best technical wrestling action on the planet.

After the match Stokely goes to check on Hot Sauce but the End come out and he heads for the hills, leaving Williams surrounded! Parrow hits a powerbomb but Garrini is game to fight! They beat Dom down as Dickinson and Jaka make the save and we have a brawl on our hands! The locker room empties, Catch Point may be assholes but they're OUR assholes, damnit!

Darby Allin hits a missile-like suicide dive, Shane Mercer lands a diving moonsault, Jason Kincaid has a corkscrew senton atomico... OH MY GOD DARBY'S CLIMBING THE BASKETBALL HOOP! COFFIN DROP OFF THE HOOP! EVOLVE RUN THE END OFF!

Brandon Watts, Shane, Allin, and Kincaid are standing tall. Jason says that's only the beginning and thanks the fans for their passion. He can't talk for everybody in the locker room, but he can for these four guys at least, and he thanks the crowd again and calls them awesome.


Now THAT'S the trademark top-shelf Evolve experience! Last night was a bit shaky, and in truth Evolve 95 wasn't a perfect show either, but getting the tag teams back in there and following them up with a double main event as good as the combination of Yehi/Riddle and Williams/Sabre was, well, it's a recipe for success. (To say nothing of the also-great Allin/Lee match and the rest of the perfectly pleasant and enjoyable undercard!)

Storyline-wise, nothing quite as big as the End debuting, but we got some movement on that front with the Evolve locker room united against them, Jason Kincaid saw a major setback in his quest to show Austin Theory the light, and, in backstage videos, Jarek 1:20 promised that he's here to stay and Keith Lee vowed to defend the WWN Championship against anyone, anywhere.

Plus just the general influx of new talent is notable, especially given that Shane Mercer and Brandon Watts both got prime featured spots at the end of the show. And with the GymNasty Boys and Ugly Ducklings around, Evolve is putting together a tag division that may end up combining the best of the south with the best of the northeast, along with the longstanding Evolve tradition of super-teams. Sounds good to me!

Check it out on, folks.

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