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Evolve 88 & 89 previews: Thatcher/Sabre IV, Page/Lee II, Yehi/Sabre II, Thatcher/Allin, and more!

World Wrestling Network

Yessir, ladies and gentlemen, it's time for the World Wrestling Network to come back in to your home with Evolve 88 (live from Charlotte, North Carolina) and Evolve 89 (live from Marietta, Georgia), and as always, I'm here to give you the low down on what's going down.

Video Roundup

Evolve 86 Recap: A Battle of Champions

Evolve 87 Recap #1: Sabre, Thatcher, & Darby!?

Evolve 87 Recap #2: Baretta, Theory, & What!?

Evolve 87 Recap #3: Keith Lee, Matt Riddle, & Uninvited "Guests"...

Evolve Mini-Doc: It All Lead To No Holds Barred

Stage One: Thatcher

Stokely Hathaway on TMZ Sports!?

Evolve 88 (Saturday, July 8, at 8PM Eastern)

Timothy Thatcher vs. Zack Sabre, Jr. (c) (Evolve World Championship No Holds Barred Match)

Zack Sabre, Jr. may be the one man that has Timothy Thatcher’s number.

Yes, at Evolve 47 the former champ successfully defended his title against the current champ in an all-out technical wrestling epic, an arm-for-leg classic that ended with Thatcher tapping Sabre out with a heel hook. But four other times now, twice in Evolve and once each in wXw and RevPro, Zack has won the day.

On the other hand, the No Holds Barred stipulation surely works in Thatcher’s favor, as twice he’s decisively beaten opponents in that match in Evolve, sending Biff Busick off at Evolve 48 and memorably tapping Matt Riddle out with an armbar hanging off the ring apron at Evolve 66. Sabre, by comparison, hasn’t fought a match of that variety in Evolve.

Whether Tim adds “first two-time Evolve World Champion” to “longest-reigning Evolve World Champion” or Zack comes one step closer to entering the G1 Climax with all three belts around his waist, one thing is sure— this will be the last entry for this wonderful wrestling rivalry in an Evolve ring.

“All Ego” Ethan Page vs. Keith Lee

This match seems superfluous, on the face of it.

In their clash at Evolve 86, Keith Lee was all but unstoppable. Even with Ethan Page keeping him on the back foot for much of the match after connecting with a backbreaker on the big man, at one point even managing to catch the Limitless One with a release powerbomb out of the corner, all it took was one opportunity to hit Ground Zero and it was over. It was as definitive a win as you’ll find in an Evolve ring, Lee took the best Page had to offer and finished things clean in the middle of the ring.

But All Ego, well, he gets stuck on things. In his madness, he’s become obsessed with Matt Riddle and Keith Lee, calling them golden geese and hitting the ring at the end of Evolve 87 to, in his own words, “take a golden deuce” on them when they lay on the mat, exhausted from their utter war against each other. Stomping away, Page cracked the door open, and kicked their rivalry into high gear.

Safe to say, no matter which way this match breaks, these two probably won’t be done with each other.

ACH vs. Austin Theory

ACH has been building up a hell of a mean streak.

As success in Evolve has eluded him, he’s grown increasingly willing to go to underhanded tactics, the illegal-but-cheeky-and-somewhat-fun “What’s that?!” chop to the gentleman’s area first among them, but the tantrum he threw at the idea of being in the first match last month, well... he’s got some issues to work out.

Speaking of issues, Austin Theory! This young man has been, for lack of a better word, stalked these last few months by Priscilla Kelly. Hell’s Favorite Harlot claimed she was simply looking for a friend initially, but her rhetoric intensified, insisting that Theory “belonged” with her. Who knows what changes her influence might wreak?

Two men, falling seemingly inexorably towards different dark paths clash, and the will to victory may send them down that road even faster.

And the rest

Doom Patrol defend the Evolve Tag Team Championship against two of the finest PWX have to offer in Anthony Henry and James Drake. Henry is the PWX World Heavyweight Champion and Drake is a former PWX iTV Champion, and both men excel in the squared circle, but not being a regular team, they face a deficit going against the well-oiled combination of Jaka and Chris Dickinson.

Trent Baretta’s return to Evolve hits a speedbump as Fred Yehi puts him in BIG TROUBLE. Trent wants to move up to the heavyweight division in New Japan, and if he can survive some time in the Trouble Zone, he can survive anything.

Darby Allin’s quest to the Evolve World Championship begins as he takes on the leader of Catch Point. Allin needs to prove that he’s more than just a daredevil, but “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams will not make it easy for him. If Darby has hidden skills on the mat, he may need to reveal them here to win, but if he does, he can’t surprise anyone with them again.

Caleb Konley returns to Evolve to take on West Virginia wise man Jason Kincaid. Konley has been on a roll in FIP in his time away, and we’ll see if he can continue that against Kincaid, who continues to navigate the waters of his own mean streak.

Evolve 89 (Sunday, July 9, at 8PM Eastern)

Fred Yehi vs. Zack Sabre, Jr. (c) (Evolve World Championship)

Fred Yehi has been putting together an excellent year.

You don’t have to take my word for it, Evolve head Gabe Sapolsky put it all on front street in a blog post. Everywhere he goes in the World Wrestling Network, Yehi has found success— Evolve Tag Team Champion, multiple-time Style Battle finalist, and the crowning achievement of them all, his 400 days and counting as FIP World Heavyweight Champion.

That alone would mount a case for Fred having a fair chance of dethroning Zack Sabre, Jr., but then you consider their match at Evolve 71, an epic encounter where both men exhausted every trick in their respective playbooks in a match that was a de facto #1 contender’s match. Indeed, Sabre’s victory made the case that lead to him getting the shot at the title where he won in February, albeit with an Ethan Page-related detour along the way.

And Evolve 89 is in Georgia, Yehi’s home turf. If there’s any such thing as a hometown advantage in pro wrestling, he’ll have it. Don’t be surprised if you wake up Monday morning and Fred Yehi is the first man to ever hold both the Evolve and FIP titles, folks.

Keith Lee vs. “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams

Matt Riddle is wrestling in the UK this weekend, but his presence is still felt here in Evolve.

Hot Sauce is consumed by a quest to defeat our Bro. It is, perhaps the inevitable curse of Catch Point, since the original group was formed, not out of a desire for self-improvement through competition, but as a way for Drew Gulak to lead a personal crusade to claim the Evolve World Championship from Timothy Thatcher. And so it is with Tracy Williams, who mere months after taking over, is hellbent on claiming the WWN Championship from Riddle.

Keith Lee has found himself on the opposite side of this struggle, through his loose alliance with Riddle and, to a lesser extent, Evolve World Champion Zack Sabre, Jr., making it, at least on the face of it, three-on-three with Catch Point. And this isn’t Lee’s first rodeo against Williams, either, with a win over him at Evolve 79 in a hell of a match.

Clear of purpose, confident, it would seem that Keith has the advantage here, but Stokely Hathaway, genius that he is, never shows his hand, and you can be sure he’s ready to lay this one out however he needs to to ensure Dream Team victory.

Darby Allin vs. Timothy Thatcher

Timothy Thatcher has essentially said that the moment Darby Allin stops falling off things for our amusement, we’ll turn on him.

The bummer of it is, he might not be that wrong. Wrestling fans love a daredevil, and it’s often worth it for wrestlers to trade a line or two from the back of their bump card for fame and adoration in the present. But when the dives fade, when there’s no support beam to scale and then jump off of, if there’s nothing else, well, yeah. It’s over. You’re done.

But what Thatcher hasn’t accounted for in his calculus is Darby’s spirit. Somehow this weird skateboard kid with a penchant for doing trust falls in very untrustworthy situations has made a connection with a hell of a lot of people. And yeah, sure, for some of those people, that’s a connection that only lasts as long as he’s falling, but for plenty, perhaps for the majority of the Evolve faithful, it’s deeper than that.

Deep enough to be worth fighting against medical advice, to come back with a bullseye painted on your elbow against a man with the deadliest Fujiwara armbar this side of Yoshiaki. Deep enough that as long as there’s any substance beyond the dives, Allin is gonna have a long, successful career in the squared circle..

Maybe even deep enough to win on Sunday and carry forward to the Evolve World Championship.

And the rest

Trent Baretta and Austin Theory square up in a rematch from Evolve 87. Openly allied with Priscilla Kelly, one has to assume her presence will be felt, but Baretta is no stranger to outsiders meddling in his matches.

ACH and “All Ego” Ethan Page go one on one. Both men have seen their worlds implode in Evolve in recent months, and this is a chance to get some momentum in hopes of a fresh start in August.

James Drake and Anthony Henry go one on one in a showcase for two of the south’s finest. On the face of it it’s power vs. speed, but both men are incredibly versatile wrestlers and this could end up being anything from a pure grappling contest to a lucha libre contest of escalating pyrotechnics.

Style Battle winners clash as Jason Kincaid takes on a returning Jon Davis. Kincaid fell before Tim Thatcher’s might last month, and Thatcher and Davis aren’t dissimilar, being large men who excel at the grappling arts. Can Jason apply the lessons learned or will Jon earn himself a comeback?

The Doom Patrol have an open contract to defend the Evolve Tag Team Championship if they still hold the titles come Sunday. Exciting!

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