Yessir, ladies and gentlemen, it's time for the World Wrestling Network to come back in to your home with Evolve 86 (live from Melrose, Massachusetts) and Evolve 87 (live from Queens, New York), and as always, I'm here to give you the low down on what's going down.
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Evolve Mini-Doc: The Evolution of Jason Kincaid
Evolve 86 (Saturday, June 24, at 7PM Eastern)
Matt Riddle vs. Zack Sabre, Jr. (Battle of the Champions)
Champion vs. champion.
Neither Riddle’s WWN Championship nor Sabre’s Evolve World Championship is on the line here, but it’s a natural story. Whenever you have two champions of equal or near-equal prominence, you want to know who’s better, it’s as old as competition itself, nevermind pro wrestling.
Ordinarily one would have to favor Zack Sabre, Jr. here— not only is his title relatively more storied in history, but he’s a triple champion right now, including his RPW British Heavyweight Championship as well as the PWG World Championship, to Riddle’s “mere” two titles, adding his Progress Atlas Division Championship into the equation.
Neither man exactly had a free ride to their title, Zack had to knock off the longest-reigning Evolve World Champion in singles action, whereas our Bro had to overcome five of WWN’s finest in an eliminator while also dealing with lingering effects from his issues with Drew Galloway and the betrayal of “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams.
What flops it around to a total dead heat, however, is their record against each other. Twice Riddle and Sabre have met, once in Evolve and once in IPW:UK, and twice Matt Riddle has been victorious. Since then, ZSJ finally found that killer instinct that won him the Evolve title, but 2-0 casts a shadow, especially since that Evolve match ended his string of victories in the Best in the World Challenge Series.
Only pride is on the line, but sometimes that’s enough.
“All Ego” Ethan Page vs. Keith Lee
Ethan Page has stared into the abyss so long that not only has it looked back, the abyss is offering a guided tour.
Evolve Championship? Not in his hands. Darby Allin’s career? On hold due to the shovel incident, but he’s not staying down and frankly it’s clear at this point that nothing short of full-on decapitation would stop him. The Gatekeepers? One retired and the rest missing in action. Chaos has come to Evolve, but Ethan Page hasn’t seen any lasting personal success from it.
Instead, his greatest achievement remains ruining Johnny Gargano’s exit. That was, one presumes, supposed to be a springboard to the title, but instead it was one night, an isolated incident. And as he spirals ever downward, even that becomes a fading light in the distant horizon.
In light of all this, he’s vowed to burn Evolve to the ground, and why not start with the Limitless One himself?
Jason Kincaid vs. “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams
At the burning center of the long-running Catch Point vs. High Flyers feud, you find these two men.
It’s a debate that’ll never truly be settled, what style of pro wrestling reigns supreme. Indeed, in Evolve’s sister promotion Style Battle, they’ve collected a motley crew of winners so far, from a pure flyer like Tracer X through a hybrid technician like Anthony Henry, and, notably, the man on the flyer side of the equation here, Jason Kincaid.
But here in Evolve, Hot Sauce is up 1-0 in singles over Kincaid, and also has a trios win over the man. It’s a steep hill to climb, but Jason has shown he can hang on the mat with the best if he’s so inclined, as he did at Style Battle to defeat Fred Yehi in the finals.
Is compassionate release the order of the day or will Catch Point’s maestro lock him down and tap him out?
And the rest
Fred Yehi goes one on one with his former Catch Point stablemate Jaka. There’s quite a score to settle as Jaka is one-half of the Catch Point team that took the tag titles from Yehi, and the FIP World Heavyweight Champion looks to begin carving a path through them starting here.
ACH returns to Evolve in singles action against Chris Dickinson. After a month away in New Japan competing in Best of the Super Jr., ACH will be looking to make an impact and maybe stake a claim by beating one half of the tag team champions.
After turning the match down WrestleMania weekend, Timothy Thatcher finally assents to a match with Austin Theory. Theory will find himself proven in a hurry if he can so much as go toe-to-toe with the longest-reigning Evolve World Champion, but after a month off, Thatcher will be fighting mad and eager to teach him the lesson.
Evolve 87 (Sunday, June 25, at 6PM Eastern)
Keith Lee vs. Matt Riddle (c) (WWN Championship)
This is, in honesty, a bit of a left turn.
When Keith Lee won both of his matches last month and earned himself a shot at either active singles title in Evolve, I presumed he’d stick to what had clearly been his plan going back months, and challenge Sabre for the Evolve title. But after he and Riddle ran Catch Point off, clearly the Limitless One decided on a change of plans and chose the WWN Championship as his potential future calling card.
Now, Riddle/Lee is an obvious dream match given both men’s sudden rise to prominence, and it only makes sense. But what makes this extra interesting is that it’s not even the first time it’s happening this weekend, as both men are scheduled to square off for the first time in the main event of Beyond’s Saturday afternoon show, Go With the Flow.
It’s a real chance to prove who’s better, even beyond the title being on the line. Given a rematch less than 36 hours after the first, capitalization will be key— whoever best picks up on ways to counter, cut off, and reverse the other man’s signature holds, strikes, and throws will likely leave as WWN Champion.
Jaka vs. Zack Sabre, Jr. (c) (Evolve World Championship)
From an unexpected challenge to an unlikely contender.
Oh, Jaka has the chops, to be sure— the Smooth Savage will go toe-to-toe with any grappling man you can find and take him to his limit. And as one half of the reigning Evolve Tag Team Champions, with singles victories over Darby Allin, Jason Kincaid, and ACH to his name, he has the credentials.
So it’s clear no one doubts Jaka’s ability or fit for the contendership, and with Stokely Hathaway as his agent, it’s no shock at all that he’d be able to negotiate a title shot. But at least to some extent, it comes as a surprise that, of the Catch Point men, he’d be selected for a title shot over Hot Sauce.
But maybe that’s the element that finally brings the Evolve title into Catch Point’s hands, because Jaka is nearly a total unknown to Sabre. They’ve wrestled exactly once before, in a tag match for Beyond.
A tag match that Jaka and Dickinson won.
Chris Dickinson vs. Fred Yehi
Catch Point explodes an awful lot...
...but no combination may be more explosive than Yehi and Dickinson. Even before the Dirty Daddy joined Catch Point, they had it out for each other, first clashing in the ring in a four-way at Evolve 64 where Yehi was out for Dickinson from the bell. And again, in a four-way, at Evolve 79, now stablemates, but still at odds, with Chris stealing the win by literally powerbombing Austin Theory past Yehi, who had the match won with Anthony Henry in the Koji Clutch.
So when the Doom Patrol won the tag titles and Catch Point split asunder, with the tag champs and Hot Sauce aligning with Stokely Hathaway, it was only a matter of time before Yehi and Dickinson finally got hands on each other one-on-one.
And it is going to be explosive.
And the rest
Trent Baretta makes his return to Evolve with a match against the unproven Austin Theory. Or perhaps the proven Austin Theory, depending on how the Thatcher match goes. Either way, expect pyrotechnics!
ACH and “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams butt heads once again in a rematch from Evolve 78. ACH was victorious in that one, but Hot Sauce has been undefeated in singles action since April. Can he build up a streak or will ACH leave this weekend with the momentum?
Jason Kincaid goes from fire to frying pan as he squares off with former Evolve World Champion Timothy Thatcher. This is the kind of match I didn’t realize I desperately wanted until I saw it was made— just Thatcher’s facial expressions in reaction to Kincaid’s off-kilter offense should be worth the proverbial price of entry here, folks.
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