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Evolve 85 recap & review: Good wrestling intensifies, Keith Lee’s coming for Matt Riddle


The show is live just a few minutes after bell time with Lenny Leonard and Joanna Rose in the ring. Lenny thanks the crowd and says Evolve will be back in Detroit before the year is out. He runs the card down and we get right into it with our first match!

Alex Daniels vs. Dominic Garrini

Garrini right on Daniels, trying to grab a quick submission, flying triangle, Alex back with a slap and a step-up knucklelock wrist drag, low enzuigiri, double knee to the back, no good. Sweet slingshot rope-hung blockbuster can't do the job either. Dominic in with strikes, shotgun knees back Daniels in the corner but he gets right back in it and they keep trading.

Charge, up and over, Garrini back in with a forearm and a springboard guillotine choke but Alex has a spinebuster to counter. Trying for another punch and he's right back in the triangle! Overhead elbows...

Dominic Garrini wins by submission with a triangle choke.

Fun opener. Love seeing Dominic Garrini show up in Evolve, dude fits right in and hopefully this won't be the last time he's on a show. Daniels is good himself as well, you can see a lot of Johnny Gargano in him.

Stokely Hathaway and Catch Point hit the ring. "Hot Sauce" Tracy Williams congratulates Dominic and tells him he has some skills. Stokely says not to get ahold of himself, because Garrini isn't a star yet, Catch Point are the stars, and he asks Dominic to beat it.

Stokely then says he meant every word he had to say to Keith Lee and Matt Riddle last night but he has something to add. He's interrupted by a man in the crowd calling him a "midget Charles Barkley" and he continues, saying no one is too big or too old for an ass-whipping, he doesn't know the people he knows, and he is somebody!

Jason Kincaid and Austin Theory come down, and Kincaid wants to offer a formal apology from his heart. This whole Catch Point vs. High Flyers feud is weird because he doesn't consider himself a flyer, but if this is about being the face of the new Evolve, he thinks it's time to put the belts on the line.

Stokely says if they want a shot, they got a shot, but this means they want more money.

Austin Theory & Jason Kincaid vs. Doom Patrol (Chris Dickinson & Jaka) (c) (Evolve Tag Team Championship)

Theory starting, a bit of light grappling into a bit of light lucha but the Dirty Daddy stops him short and they stalemate. Tags made, Kincaid working a knucklelock, Arabian press double jump springboard arm drag, which is crazy, he puts some other offense together, Jaka gets the corner, tag made but Jason slips away and Austin's back in against Dickinson.

Chris working a stepover toehold, really wrenching it in and putting the Catch Point men in control. Jaka running interference, Theory trying to put a run together and he battles through, rolling thunder dropkick, not even a two count. Going for a rolling thunder DDT but the well is dry and Dickinson catches him with a Falcon Arrow.

Quick tags, working Austin over, keeping him off balance, brainbuster, German suplex, exploder suplex, you name it, high impact maneuvers tearing his resolve down shot after shot. Folding press after a series of strikes from Dickinson nearly ends it and he settles for simply trying to tear Theory's head off with a rear chinlock.

Austin back in with forearms, fighting fo his life, Chris giving him back double for every shot but Theory is able to lay him out with an enzuigiri and crack the door open. Tags made, springboard arm drag, inverted shiranui with a little incidental help from Dickinson and he comes off the ropes with a slingshot double stomp on Jaka!

Slingshot for Dickinson, Austin with a suicide dive! Slingshot stunner on Jaka, fisherman suplex, Dickinson makes the save with a German suplex! Enzuigiri for Theory, tossing Death Valley Driver for Jason, assisted Stinger splash, Pazuzu Bomb, German suplex, corner lariat, but Kincaid floats over the chokebomb!

Chaos reigns, everybody's doing stuff but after an X-Factor from the West Virginia wise man and a superkick from Catch Point's Savage, all four men are laid out. Catch Point up first, wheelbarrow basement dropkick into a superkick-assisted half nelson suplex... NOPE!

Argentine back breaker rack, double stomp, Burning Hammer... THEORY BREAKS IT UP! Setting something up in the corner but Austin gets them hung up, double double stomp, double covers... NOT ENOUGH! Thinking his Argentine powerbomb, blocked, Jaka takes care of him, Kincaid in, caught on a dive, double shoulder blocks, electric chair...

Doom Patrol win by pinfall with Death Trap on Jason Kincaid, retaining the Evolve Tag Team Championship.

Really good match. Every time I think "surely, this is the last new cool thing Kincaid has left" he busts out two more. And man, once we got out of the obligatory face-in-peril segment with Theory, they were really killing it out there, awesome crazy fast-paced action, stuff constantly happening in the best way.

Hot Sauce gets in Kincaid's face and says he hopes he's satisfied with his answer, that Catch Point is the better way of wrestling.

Theory tries to console Jason but gets shoved away. Kincaid gets up and apologetically waves him off before reclaiming his beads and heading out.

Allysin Kay vs. Priscilla Kelly

Kay in with a big boot out the gates, pinkies up, charging lariat but Kelly gives her a boot in return and a tornado DDT as well. Allysin has a fallaway slam in return, putting boots to her, wicked chop, TPK ducks a charge and heads up top, diving crossbody, strike rush, buzzsaw kick, underhooks but AK-47 fights out and counters to an Alabama Slam for two.

Discus lariat blocked with a low kick, Yoshi Tonic, only two as well. Allysin looking for a Gory Special, Kelly slips away, trying for a sunset flip, Kay catches her with Jig n' Tonic! Argentine backbreaker denied, Priscilla lands a back suplex, only a nearfall. Off the ropes...

Allysin Kay wins by pinfall with a discus lariat.

Short and sweet, good fun. Neat seeing a women's match on an Evolve card, too.

Kay draws her up after only to shove her down.

Donovan Dijak vs. "All Ego" Ethan Page

Lockup, Ego wins the bull moose struggle and they break clean. Dijak lands on his feet and Page goes to congratulate him but it was a ruse! Going after his nose but the Tall Don gets back in it with a backbreaker, a flip senton and a falling splash off the ropes that sends Ethan ass over teakettle to the outside trying to escape!

Fighting to the outside, Page gets the Mandible Claw of all things! Donovan puts him into the barricade for his trouble, goes for an Asai moonsault but All Ego ducks it! Dijak hooks his leg on the barricade and boots him, jacking the leg and informing him that he's the big man here in Evolve.

The Tall Don interacts with a fan while Page is down, asking him to look at his Twitter... ALL EGO FROM BEHIND WITH A BOOT! He grabs the guy's phone and loses his mind over what the dude Tweeted before jamming his phone in his tights! He gives the phone back and we get back into the match here, trading shots on the floor.

Whip reversed, Dijak almost goes over the barricade, so Page pushes him the rest of the way. He throws him into the concrete wall... TANNED SHEAMUS! The referee counting, Dijak in at NINETEEN! All Ego puts a beating on him as soon as he gets back in, hammer whipping him into the ropes and sending him over and outside!

Fireman's carry, Dijak slips out and puts Ethan into the ringpost before hammering him with all manner of elbows against the barricade. CHOKESLAM ONTO THE APRON! Donovan thinking another dive maybe but Page comes from behind... APRON POWERBOMB! RKEgo blocked with a superkick... NOT ENOUGH!

Goozle, All Ego blocks and ends up shoving Dijak to the apron once again. Dragging him to his feet, the Tall Don blocks the suplex, mule kick, going to slingshot in but Page catches him with a right hand and the rope-hung underhook backbreaker. Tanned Sheamus... NO GOOD!

Spinning Dwayne blocked, Feast Your Eyes slipped out of, Page with a judo throw, takes a forearm, returns a superkick, whip reversed, up and over, back to the goozle and a chokebreaker! Springboard moonsault... NOPE! Going for the rack again but Dijak's back gives out on him.

Trading shots on their knees, forearm for forearm, to their feet, Tanned Sheamus blocked, chokeslam blocked, superkicks, package reversed to a fireman's carry, off the ropes, Dijak with a pump kick, Page with elbows, roll-through, off the ropes, this time his back holds on the backbreaker rack but Page reverses...

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

That one was a lot of fun. Feel like this match may have cemented this as Page's best weekend in Evolve to date, between the character work early with the Twitter stuff (I hope that dude disinfects his phone) and then the actual action, with the brawling outside early and fast exchanges late is about what I want from these dudes. Good stuff.

Kyle O’Reilly vs. "Hot Sauce" Tracy Williams

Intense mat grappling early, Williams going after the leg to initial stalemate. Grabbing a headlock, trying to grind the former ROH World Champion down but he shoots him off and takes a shoulder block before Hot Sauce goes back to the leg. Quick pin exchange, O'Reilly gets mount and starts laying open-hand strikes in! Tracy reverses, looking for the crossface, Kyle gets the ropes.

KOR after the arm now, Divorce Court, cross-leg abdominal stretch into a pin for a nearfall. Williams breaks and Kyle starts punching the shoulder and wrenching the arm, shoulder armbreaker, Hot Sauce reverses the wristlock to a leg capture back suplex and a forearm for two. A bit of Inoki/Ali with Kyle playing Inoki and Tracy grabs an octopus hold.

Russian legsweep into a grounded octopus when O'Reilly seems to be breaking free, but Kyle gets a foot on the ropes, so Williams follows it up literally standing on KOR and getting it reversed to a kneebar. Break in the ropes, Hot Sauce right back on him, knee to the ribs, standing switch exchange, waistlock takedown from O'Reilly!

Olympic Slam connects but Kyle gets in with kicks. Forearm in return, strike rush from KOR stops the exchange short and he sweeps Tracy's legs out from under him. Charging forearm, shoulder armbreaker, back suplex into a heel hook! Hot Sauce gets one of his own and tries to kick himself free but Kyle grabs the Volk Han double heel hook as a transition to a Sharpshooter, because he is Canadian.

Another armbreaker to an armbar, Williams tries to escape and gets a knee for his trouble. O'Reilly sets him up in the corner, thinking Kimura lock but he can't get all of it and Tracy comes back with the half-halch DDT into the turnbuckles and rolls it into a brainbuster on the floor!

Kyle dead weight on the mat, Hot Sauce looking for a piledriver but he gets out of it and grabs a cross armbar. Escaped, knee lift and then the guillotine choke is in, KOR wrenching it hard before trying a brainbuster. Williams blocks with a knee, back to the choke but Hot Sauce escapes, gutwrench... DOCTOR BOMB! NOT ENOUGH!

KOR goes under, throwing knees, forearms, kicks, a sliding knee lays the Catch Point man out! Regalplex blocked with elbows, O'Reilly throws a hamstring kick and tries for the sleeper. Hot Sauce blocks the leverage hand but Kyle gets it in. Saved by the ropes, kick to the leg, German suplex, a cover only gets KOR a nearfall so he goes right back to the armbar.

Hands clasped, Kyle breaks the grasp but Williams gets a foot on the ropes! Shoulder armbreaker countered into a back suplex countered into a triangle choke countered into the crossface! KOR counters to a pin for two. Trading boots, Tracy swats one away and they go to trading lariats. Double lariats twice and they're both down on the mat.

Spent, rising to their feet, trading forearms with aplomb into Frye/Takayama punches as they run out of gas but find another wind! Simultaneous forearms, again and again, something has to give soon! Ax and Smash, brainbuster lift, Hot Sauce counters! The crossface is on...

"Hot Sauce" Tracy Williams wins by submission with the crossface.

My god, what a match. Just the physical chess of it all, counters on counters, like the perfect synthesis of both men's matches from yesterday. Pure excellence.

Fred Yehi vs. Keith Lee

Yehi offers up a version of the Seven Nation Army chant off the bat to inform the crowd that Keith Lee is in BIG TROUBLE.

Fred charges at him and Lee shoves him away. A second charge and the Limitless One sidesteps, showing his agility. He offers Yehi a chance to bask in his glory and Fred pops him one with a forearm! Keith throwing hands, Yehi ducking and dodging, Lee stomping like Godzilla but neither man can find purchase!

Side headlock, Keith trying to HOSS out of it but Fred stops him. Going for an arm drag, nothing. Chops? Keith Lee stands still. Wristlock, Yehi trying to block, off the ropes, crucifix, he can't take the big man down, sunset flip attempt, Lee trying to stomp and Fred drops a fist on his foot!

Throwing chops that stagger the big man now, off the ropes, huge leapfrog, drop down, Keith Lee dropkick! Keith orders the ring crew to fix the FloSlam banner that fell, calling it "his sign", before dragging Yehi up for a chest-caving chop in the corner. Body slam and the Limitless One settles into a neck crank for a bit before clubbing Fred and tossing him around a bit.

Stinger splash like a freight train, double overhand chop, whip to another corner to do it again but Fred dodges and throws more chops, again wobbling the big man and blocking his own strikes before stomping his foot and hitting a backhand chop to the back of Lee's neck! Charging in, fireman's carry, Keith drops it into an elbow strike!

Yehi moving fast, off the ropes with dropkicks, nuking the big man to one knee.. Off again, leapfrog, dropdown, Yehi gets off a folding powerbomb with a bit of help from momentum... NO GOOD! Wicked nuke follows, shotgun dropkick, he's in BIG TROUBLE, charging forearm and Lee's on dream street, stumbling corner to corner and taking more charging forearms.

Waistlock, Keith breaks it, tries for Spirit Bomb but Yehi counters with a stomp to the foot! Rolling elbow, another, getting fired up, a third! Stomp to the back of the knee, reverse STO into the Koji Clutch! But he can't get all of it because Keith Lee is a mountain of a man!

Reverse chinlock backbreaker, the huge pop-up spinebuster, off the ropes, criss-cross... POUNCE! Keith Lee is on a roll but it's only a nearfall! Calling for the powerbomb, Yehi floats over, Tenryu style enzuigiri, but Lee stops the rally with a tossing powerslam that gets two. Thinking Doomsault but he's slow to climb and Fred is coming to his senses.

Kip-up, nuke to the back of the knee... GERMAN SUPLEX OUT OF THE CORNER! KEITH LEE LIVES! Cravate headbutts and knee lifts, trying to keep the Limitless One down but Lee wakes up with a fury! Goozle, Yehi breaks it, spinning backfist, rolling elbow blocked with a headbutt! Going to pick him up but Fred catches him with the Liu Kang bicycle kicks... they're not enough! Powerbomb connects...

Keith Lee wins by pinfall with Ground Zero.

And just as I was thinking nothing could possibly top that last one, these guys came along and the did the damn deal. Not one hundred percent sure I'd take it over KOR/Sauce, the grappling is always my jam, but it's close. Awesome, awesome David and Goliath story executed by two of the best in the business.

Keith gets on the mic and says he has something on his mind. Even though he was victorious he want everyone to take seconds for respect in memory of his toes. He says he won today and yesterday, so that makes him #1 contender for whichever title he chooses, WWN or Evolve. He polls the crowd on which title should bask in his glory, and Evolve takes an early lead before they decide they'd like to see him go after both, in fact.

Jeff Cobb vs. Matt Riddle (c) (WWN Championship)

Intense grappling to start and Cobb just ragdolls Riddle across the ring. Going low but Jeff just tosses him around in a gutwrench before finally landing the Karelin lift. Bro back in with a triangle but Cobb deadlifts him and powerbombs him to the mat. Throwing hands, Matt on the back foot but firing back when and where he can, Cobb catches the leg, capture exploder suplex!

Slap rush, Bro ducks a lariat, Pele kick, charging forearm into the exploder suplex, high jump senton, not enough. Kicks to the back, chest, and side, front facelock knee lifts, overhead elbow, fireman's carry, Cobb reverses to a German suplex, Riddle pops up! Another, same thing, a third he lands on his feet and throws a knee.

Fisherman buster connects and both men are down on the mat. On their knees, slugging it out with overhand chops and shifting to forearms as they get to their feet Riddle with the slap rush, the Pele kick misses and the Olympian catches him with the pop-up swinging German suplex! Tour of the Islands blocked, knee strike, Bro with the flip piledriver!

Tombstone piledriver... Cobb out at one! Riddle gets the Bromission...

Matt Riddle wins by submission with the Bromission.

That was a bit of a disappointment. Way short and leaning a bit too heavily on indie main event tropes like the pop-up German suplexes and the flip piledriver and whatnot. Just didn't connect with me at all. The very beginning had me hoping maybe we'd get some really intense UWFi-Rings-BattlArts type grappling out of these guys but alas, it wasn't meant to be. Maybe at wXw Ambition next year.

Trevin Adams comes out in his capacity as WWN Ambassador. He thanks the crowd and announces September 22nd as the return date for Detroit..

Lio Rush vs. Zack Sabre, Jr. (c) (Evolve World Championship)

Sabre riding Rush right from the jump, but the younger man's speed gets him away when it counts and they end up stalemating. A handspring kick knocks Sabre from the apron, Lio follows with a dive and takes it back in the ring, grabbing a quick pin for two. Duck a boot, quick pin, sliding knee, Rush climbs the turnbuckles but the dive comes up empty.

Leg caught, backflip, handspring, Zack kicks his arm out from under him and starts setting Ode to Jim Breaks up but Rush gets to the ropes before he can get the whole hold. Outside, Sabre wrapping his arm around the barricade and kicking it, uppercut, and then into the barricade.

Back in the ring, Lio cuts Sabre off from entering with a kick, again, but ZSJ catches him with a kneebar in the ropes! Wrenching the arm, stomping the head, the spinning armbar that broke Gatekeeper Flex's arm! Trading strikes but Rush finds himself outclassed with just one functioning arm and the Technical Wizard steps on his arm to punish him.

Leg kick, Sabre's right on him with a Jim Breaks Special, wrenching the wrist and dragging him up by it. Lio escapes, dropkick, on a charge but Zack just wipes him out and he's in agony in the corner, clutching his shoulder. Double wristlock surfboard in the ropes, forced to break, knucklelock, the Ricky Steamboat elevated wristlock, stepover, seated Fujiwara and he grabs the leg before digging his elbow into Lio's back.

Rush throwing hands, Sabre taunting him, asking for more before yanking his arm and snapping it down, the elevated wristlock again, inverted stomp armbreaker, Lio is just in agony here. Staying on the arm, wringer, Rush desperately throwing hands with his good arm to try and save it, chops and forearms.

Champion with a waistlock, challenger with back elbows, Sabre turns it into a Kimura lock but Lio is right at the ropes. Referee Brandon Tolle checking on Rush, but the young man of excellence will not stop. Hand to the mat for the elbow stomp, Lio rises defiant and ducks a Penalty Kick! Enzuigiri connects, one-armed Rush fighting for his life but the champ has uppercuts for him!

Block the lariat, slap rush, backfist ducked, roundhouse, Poison Frankensteiner... NOT ENOUGH! Climbing the turnbuckles but Zack cuts him off with a headbutt to the bad arm, hammerlock, Lio fights him off, tries for the enzuigiri but it's caught, Pele to the arm! Dragging him by the wrist, another enzuigiri blocked, this time to the ankle lock!

Rush throws him off, momentum carries him outside, Lio with a baseball slide into an Asai moonsault, climbing, can he do it, Dragon's Call... THE KNEES ARE UP! PENALTY KICK! NO GOOD! DRAGON SUPLEX! STILL NOT ENOUGH TO PUT LIO RUSH AWAY! Back to the arm, posting it over his own shoulder and dragging Lio to his feet but he eats a big defiant slap from the CZW World Heavyweight Champion!

Slaps in return, off the ropes... RUSH HOUR! Setting the champion up top... AVALANCHE RUSH HOUR! CAN HE CAPITALIZE?! COVER... SABRE KICKS OUT! Lio, staggering to his feet, Sabre, considering his options, and Rush connects with a kick to the chest. Another chest kick as ZSJ tries to straighten, he ducks one, European Clutch, reversed! No good!

Lio ducking kicks, slap rush, forearm, Sabre slaps his face off! Dragon suplex blocked, Rush has a sleeper hold locked in! The champion fighting to his feet, Rush has to break and readjust and the champ is flagging... He breaks out! Ode to Jim Breaks! HE'S TEARING THE MEDICAL TAPE OFF! STOMPS TO THE HEAD! TRAPPING THE ARM!

Zack Sabre, Jr. wins by submission with the double-arm Ode to Jim Breaks, retaining the Evolve World Championship.

So remember how after Lee/Yehi I was talking about how nothing could top Williams/O'Reilly and then it did. Well... Being honest, after their first match I kind of felt like Rush and Sabre had used up too many stories and I was kind of worried they wouldn't be able to find anything for this one. It'd be a good match, to be sure, but kind of perfunctory.

Boy was I wrong. Every time I thought "there's no further this match can escalate", they found another gear. Fantastic performances from both Sabre as the giant dickhead champion destroying the youngster's arm and Lio as the plucky kid full of determination, not willing to let it end until he's far past his breaking point.

Sabre shakes Lio's hand on the mat after and then gets on the mic to talk about the match a little and thank Detroit...

Enter Keith Lee. He congratulates Sabre for a successful title defense, saying he has his choice of title shots and having a meaningful look at the Evolve Championship.

Enter Matt Riddle. "...bro." He points out that he's got the super title and Evolve is just one part of that super title. He and Zack stare down with their belts and Catch Point hit the ring with Stokely Hathaway in tow. All Ego from behind with a low blow on Lee! Spinning Dwayne on Riddle! Sabre boots Page and they brawl outside, ZSJ with a guillotine as they fall to the back.

Catch Point drag Riddle to his feet and Hot Sauce tells him he asked for this. He could have been a part of this, and this isn't business, so take it personally. But it's not him, he's gonna stand here and watch while Stokely slaps the piss out of him!

Hathaway warms up but Kincaid comes down! Springboard dropkick on the tag champs! Corkscrew senton atomico to the outside after Catch Point bail! Keith Lee gets to his feet alone in the ring... LIMITLESS TOPE CON GIRO! He tosses Williams back in the ring... BRO 2 SLEEP! Riddle tells Lee he owes him one and fist bumps him.

Keith has an idea, if he owes him one, why not a title shot. Handshake! Lee thanks Detroit and takes his leave before Bro slaps hands with the front row to close the show out.


Another fantastic show from Evolve to close out the weekend, possibly even better than yesterday's. A lackluster WWN Championship match brings it down a notch, but the trifecta of Williams/O'Reilly, Lee/Yehi, and Rush/Sabre II all more than made up for it by creating a night where I constantly thought "okay, that's the best one, no way there's a better match on this show" and then was proven wrong by these titans of wrestling. And hey, Dominic Garrini showed up! Future Evolve World Champion, mark my words.

Speaking of whom, storyline-wise it seems like we were headed towards Hot Sauce offering Dominic a match to prove himself worthy of Catch Point much as Drew Gulak did for Fred Yehi once upon a time until Stokely cut him off, Kincaid seems to be mellowing out, Page is Gatekeeper-less but still stirring things up, and we generally have a wide open main event scene around our two titles right now. Interesting times!

Check it out when the replay goes up on FloSlam, folks.

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