The show begins about thirteen minutes past the scheduled 8PM bell time with Lenny Leonard in the ring, to welcome us to the show. He talks up our title matches for tonight before tossing to Trevin Adams to introduce our first match.
Caleb Konley vs. Jason Kincaid
Feeling out, some light mat grappling to start, intensifying as Kincaid goes to work on Konley's arm and Caleb returns the favor with a toehold. Back to jockeying for position, Konley grabbing a cravate, Jason escapes, up and over, roll-through into the prayer position, duck a kick, sweep the legs and stomp the hand!
Knucklelock, step up into the Arabian Press arm drag, spinning kick takes Caleb to the apron for the triangle forearm and the over-the-ropes double stomp. Going for the imploding Tiger feint kick, Konley catches him and powerbombs him into the apron! Sliding elbow drop gets a nearfall, Kincaid trying to get back in but he gets caught by a senton for another nearfall soon after.
Jason in with chops and uppercuts, building up a head of steam but Caleb cuts him off with a hip toss into the turnbuckles. Headbutt drop, looking for a piledriver, Kincaid counters with a back body drop. Cartwheel powerslam into the double stomp, springboard blockbuster, sunset flip into the turnbuckles!
Coast to Coast connects, only good for a nearfall! Up top, to the ringpost, but the double stomp comes up empty! Konley sidesteps a charge, sets him up, lungblower... NO GOOD! Trading big strikes, sliding knee from Caleb but Jason has a hand on the ropes! Konley looking for the moonsault, nobody home, Kincaid has a kick combo but the third is countered.
Caleb trying to land punches, met with kicks at every turn, they run the ropes in tandem, Kincaid hits a springboard Rock Bottom! Tornado DDT to follow, holding on, slingshot Falcon Arrow... NOT ENOUGH! Konley gets the boot up on a charge, struggle in the corner, avalanche Frankensteiner and Caleb holds on! Powerbomb, buckle bomb, driving him into the mat once more... JASON KINCAID LIVES!
Front facelock over the ropes, trying to suplex him back in, blocked, shoulder thrust, Konley back in with a baseballs slide that takes Jason to the floor, suicide dive in the tank... COUNTER STUNNER! KINCAID CLIMBS TO THE ROOF AGAIN, DIVING DOUBLE STOMP... IT'S NOT OVER?! COMPASSIONATE RELEASE IS IN! IT'S OVER!
Jason Kincaid wins by submission with Compassionate Release.
Awesome opener, well-paced and fun as hell. Not sure why we couldn't just let the double stomp from the ceiling end it straight away again, but it's a great spot and I'm not TOO inclined to complain.
Kincaid bows to Konley after but the former DGUSA tag champ kicks at his hands and leaves.
ACH vs. Austin Theory
ACH gets on the mic and says he's sorry to say but this match isn't happening but he's not wrestling second on the card again. He wishes him the best of luck and goes to leave.
Theory is ready to take the forfeit and Ethan Case enters! He's taking the match!
Austin Theory vs. Ethan Case
Theory in with a waistlock takedown and he bids Case leave his ring. Collar and elbow, backing Ethan against the ropes, toying with him, but the Fully Gimmicked warrior ain't taking that sitting down and he comes back a house afire, elbows and a big waistlock slam! Off the ropes, countered with a mat slam, standing moonsault, Austin looking to kill the rally.
Corner lariat sets up a slingshot stomp and a snap suplex, looking to continue the offenseive but Case peppers him with counter blows. A straight left wakes Ethan up, whip sunset flip nearfall, another off a backslide, Theory ends up outside and pulls Case after, putting his face into the apron.
Back in the ring, mounted punches, stomps in the corner, a choke, Austin just running roughshod on Ethan here. Mocking his hair turns out to be a mistake, Case with the Ace Crusher, back elbow, corner lariat, tornado DDT doesn't get all the step-up but gets the impact and a two count. Going for the knee, sidestepped, slip out of the TKO, waistlock, block the O'Connor roll, Ace Crusher, no dice!
Knee lift connects, Austin slips out of the suplex...
Austin Theory wins by pinfall with the TKO.
Fun match, nice showcase for both Case and for Theory's new Priscilla Kelly-fueled attitude. Would certainly be happy to see Case in Evolve when we're not in his backyard.
"All Ego" Ethan Page vs. Keith Lee
All Ego using his best move, his mouth, jawing at the big man to start. He eats a couple forearms for his trouble and Lee lights Page up further in the corner. A huge biel sends Ethan across the ring and Keith asks that we bask in his glory. Page getting to his feet, Lee stays on him but All Ego throws forearm on forearm.
He's met with a scoop slam into a running elbow drop and the Limitless One puts boots to All Ego. Drawing him up, throwing him in the corner, another huge forearm crumples Ethan up, but Keith takes too long to charge and is met with the boot. Page trying the Frankensteiner again, Lee catches him, powerbomb slipped away from, Ethan lands a kick, quick cover, only one!
Mounted punches, trying to cave Keith Lee's face in, scraping the laces of his boot across his face, leaping stomp, he's got Keith on the back foot and presses the attack with a choke over the ropes. Goozle on the mat, choking the big man and following with jabs when the referee warns him, asking repeatedly if those are okay.
Chinlock, punch connects square on the jaw, charging forearms, All Ego in firm control, back elbow, corner avalanche ducked and Lee hits him with one of his own from behind and another to the front! Big double overhand chop and Page just melts to the mat. Beckoning him up, the Limitless One looking for Ground Zero but Ethan escapes.
Boot for lariat, to the apron, RKEgo... NOT ENOUGH! Jawing, slapping, Lee picks him up, up and over, off the ropes, POUNCE! NO GOOD! Struggle in the corner, Keith thinking superplex, All Ego throwing hands to knock him off, perched up top... DIVING FRANKENSTEINER! Lee blocks a followup kick and they shift to trading forearms. Tanned Sheamus for a headbutt, superkick for a rolling elbow...
Keith Lee wins by pinfall with a rolling elbow.
This was good but didn't reach the absolute heights of their first match, alas.
Keith gets on the mic to call out Hot Sauce and Stokely Hathaway and tell them there will be hell to pay. Hot Sauce comes down and says if you speak his name you better be ready to fight and throws forearms! Lee fights Williams off and has Hathaway cornered but Tim Thatcher hits the ring and creates an opening for Hot Sauce to come from behind!
The Dream Team men assault Keith Lee two on one until Darby Allin hits the ring! He's fighting hard but the two men he's set to face this weekend run him off. Stokely's kicking away at Keith Lee but he wakes up and chases him to the back, followed soon behind by Thatcher, leaving Williams and Allin, so why not have their match right now?
Darby Allin vs. "Hot Sauce" Tracy Williams
Williams gets a hammerlock almost immediately and pushes Allin in the corner just to show that he can do it. Allin back in with a wristlock, showing his technical chops, and Hot Sauce reverses to a heel hook, forcing him into the ropes. Knucklelock from Darby, takedown, double pumphandle into La Magistral, only a nearfall!
Fighting to the outside, Tracy has it well in hand until Allin ducks a shot and takes it back inside. Looking for a whip, denied, throw a headbutt, springboard Coffin Drop but Williams counters to a cross armbar! Darby gets the ropes but Hot Sauce kicks at his injured arm. Proceeding to work it over, wrenching and tearing but Allin's fighting spirit is strong.
Struggle in the corner, Williams gets the half-halch DDT into the turnbuckles and follows it with the brainbuster on the mat... NOT ENOUGH! To the apron, Hot Sauce pulling him up by the arm and snapping it over the ropes, Darby trying to create an opening with strikes but Tracy drops him with an arm wringer on the apron!
Williams punishing him on the ramp before taking him back in the ring, stepover armbreakers into a hammerlock pin. Allin fighting to his feet, throwing punches, double thrust to break, looking to capitalize but Hot Sauce just catches him with another armbar. Darby throwing elbows, Hot Sauce with that Southern Lights suplex and then just stepping on Allin's neck.
Wrenching the wrist, another stepover armbreaker, violence aplenty. Ode to Jim Breaks on for a second, shift to an arm-trap rear chinlock, Darby forces himself to his feet and backs Williams into the corner. Elbow up on the charge, another, Allin looking for a one-armed suplex but Tracy fights him off and knocks him back with one hand of his own.
Big slaps, knocking him down, but soon we have an exchange! Darby pulls ahead with double thrusts, a Yoshi Tonic, forearm, off the ropes and Hot Sauce absolutely decapitates him with a lariat... NOPE! Wrenching at the injured arm, throwing chops, springboard up and over, Williams outside, Darby hits the tope con giro!
Headbutt, back in the ring, O'Connor roll for two, springboard crossbody, two again, crucifix pin, racking up the twos but he can't quite get three can Darby Allin. Charging back elbow, compensating for the "missing" arm, Coffin Drop, Hot Sauce counters to a schoolboy and rolls through in the crossface! Not enough, so he rolls through...
"Hot Sauce" Tracy Williams wins by submission with an omoplata.
So, like, there's a LOT of wrestling out there. Too much for any one person to watch even if they dedicated 100% of their time to it. So when you see somebody new, a Darby Allin, you don't always have a lot to go on. But I saw a match of his on YouTube at some point where Darby showed some excellent technical wrestling chops.
But that's just one match, and from a sample size like that you never REALLY know what somebody's capable of. So I had that knowledge in my back pocket, but again small sample size, and you never know what'll happen on a different platform, in a different promotion.
Well, my faith was well rewarded, because given an opportunity to show his ability on the mat here in Evolve, where we have the best technical wrestling in the world, Darby absolutely killed it against Hot Sauce. Dude is the real deal, for sure, and I'm stoked as hell to see him wrestle my dude Tim Thatcher tomorrow.
(Not to undersell Hot Sauce, who, as always, is excellently vicious whenever it's asked of him.)
Fred Yehi comes down to announce that Trent Baretta just got out of the hospital and his elbow just got drained and he can't compete. So Fred has an open contract, and when he says open contract, it means anybody in the world.
Enter ACH! (Evidently fifth on the card is good enough for him.) And he says as much, that his contract doesn't pay him if he doesn't wrestle, and with Fred not having a match, why not do ACH/Yehi II? Even better, why not put the title shot tomorrow on the line? But he's not putting his gear on, because it's not the main event.
ACH vs. Fred Yehi (Evolve World Championship #1 Contender's Match)
Feeling out, ACH takes a breather but comes back in soon to keep jockeying for position. Waistlock takedown, Yehi reverses, one of his own, and ACH forces a break under the ropes. Throwing chops, Fred takes him down, misses the stomp, connects with an axehandle, double stomp to the back!
Straight suplex, quick cover, throwing his own chops this time and pulling ACH's shirt off before putting boots to him. Up and over, fast-paced back and forth, chop into a stomp to the foot but ACH has an enzuigiri soon after and ACH puts boots to him in return. Backbreaker, running kick to the back of the neck, Yehi is on the back foot and ACH keeps stomping away.
Trading chops in the corner, ACH lands a back suplex, barely getting a two count before wrenching at his ear to set up a rear chinlock. FIP World Heavyweight Champion trying to get back into it with a headbutt but he gets dropped with a dropkick that nearly ends the match.
ACH with a low dropkick of his own, only one, and he sets Fred up in the ropes to throw forearms on his kidneys. Another back suplex, another two count, looking for another but Yehi blocks it, elbows to the head, so ACH throws more forearms to the back. Another back suplex, Fred lands on his feet, Mongolian chop on Mongolian chop, the Liu Kang bicycle kicks and he's on a roll.
Overhead belly-to-belly suplex drops ACH with his own momentum and Yehi starts in on the charging forearms. Fisherman buster follows it up into a cover... NOPE! Looking for a whip, denied, so he clobbers ACH with strikes and gets it. Boot in return, legsweep to a double stomp to a rapid-fire elbow drop off the ropes and Fred heads outside.
ACH hits a suicide dive into the fifth row! Another! Back in, looking for a third but Yehi sidesteps, so we go to the apron for the Penalty Kick! Back in, discus lariat into a German suplex, only a nearfall! Diving Codebreaker into a folding press, still only a nearfall! ACH losing his mind, stomping like mad, he climbs the turnbuckles but the double stomp comes up empty!
Off the ropes, Yehi with a low headbutt, double stomp, lungblower, Dragon suplex... NO GOOD! Both men face to face on their knees, Fred throws a headbutt. To their feet, ACH with a kick to the back, met by an elbow. Trading strikes, Yehi with a chop block, stomp to the knee, looking to draw him up but his back gives out!
ACH looking for a German suplex, standing switch, Ringkampf rope break, it lands but ACH is fired up! Trading German suplexes, ACH with a lariat... NOT ENOUGH! Straight suplex, climbing the ropes, 450 splash but the knees were up! STO connects...
Fred Yehi wins by submission with the Koji Clutch, retaining the #1 contendership to the Evolve World Championship.
Excellent match. ACH's heel character is really coming clear and Fred is just incredible. Back injury is a hard ask sometimes, but he nailed the hell out of it here.
Anthony Henry & James Drake vs. Doom Patrol (Chris Dickinson & Jaka) (c) (Evolve Tag Team Championship)
Henry and Jaka to start, feeling out, Jaka gets a waistlock takedown and breaks. Anthony takes him down and takes his back but the Savage rolls himself through to the ropes. Henry traps the arm, bars the other, again we stalemate and separate. Side headlock, Henry shoots him off, takes the shoulder block, picking away, sunset flip, only two.
Springboard arm drag, Jaka sidesteps a dropkick, big chop, the dropkick connects on a second try. Anthony charges in and Jaka catches him with an exploder suplex. A chop backs him further in their corner and Dickinson tags in. Snapmare to a rolling omoplata, taking mount, Henry fighting to block, intense grappling but they end up in the ropes and Chris breaks clean.
Discussing strategy with the New Age Enforcer, the crowd wants James Drake but they're not getting him just yet. Dirty Daddy with a snapmare to a back kick, Anthony returns the favor, tagging Drake in between moves. forehead to forehead, a shoving match turns into a kicks-for-chops strike exchange!
Forearms ensue, Drake shoves Chris off the ropes and plants him with a dropkick! Tag to Henry, double-team rolling powerbomb splash, quick tag brings James back in as they cut Dickinson down to size. Charging blows off another tag, Anthony kicking away but the Dirty Daddy's just getting fired up off it.
Drake back in, off the ropes, running him over, another tag, these PWX boys serious about winning the titles. Jaka with a blind tag, superkick-assisted suplex, putting boots to Henry. Knees to the back, double leg into the corner, Dickinson back in. Falcon Arrow gets a nearfall and Chris targets the leg, stepping over and wrenching it down before making another tag.
Anthony desperate for the tag, Jaka rolls him back over, exploder suplex, a headbutt but you can't keep the PWX World Heavyweight Champion down and he rallies with forearms. Comeback cutoff, tag to the Dirty Daddy, setting him up top for a superplex... Drake with the save!
Action spills outside briefly, Dickinson has Henry up on the apron and kicks his face in! Anthony wakes up, trading slaps, a big kick wipes him out but he's not dead yet! Jaka throwing straight rights, he gets forearms in return, backing him into the middle of the ring. A headbutt connects, Henry ducks the kick but connects with an enzuigiri!
Chokebomb reversed into a Frankensteiner, Anthony follows with a snap scoop powerslam, both men crawling for the tag and they receive it! Drake runs Dickinson over, spinning backfist, Sick Kick, charging chop, Jaka running interference but James drops both with a DDT / neckbreaker combo!
Getting Henry to climb for sort of a Hart Attack, Jaka pulls him off, up and over, New Age Enforcer fighting valiantly but two on one he's being assaulted from every angle and dropped with a double back suplex! Double whip, charging lariats but Henry takes Jaka out with an STO! Looking for a Frankensteiner, Dickinson reverses with a buckle bomb!
Doom Patrol in the corner, thinking superplex, Drake comes from underneath, Tower of Doom! James makes the cover... NO GOOD! Drake ducks a roundhouse kick, thinking Drill Bit but Chris escapes, enzuigiri, Argentine backbreaker rack, Jaka off the top with a double stomp... BURNING HAMMER! HENRY MAKES THE SAVE!
Enzuigiri for Dickinson, lungblower for Jaka, two for one on a dropkick, James Drake cannonball! Assisted tornado DDT... RUNNING SHOOTING STAR PRESS FROM THE BIG MAN! JAKA WITH THE SAVE! New Age Enforcer dumps Jaka outside, double stomp from Henry, Drake climbs, moonsault... NOT ENOUGH! DRILL BIT! IT'S OVER!
Anthony Henry & James Drake win by pinfall with Drill Bit from James Drake on Chris Dickinson!
I can't even process that fully right now. Henry and Drake winning the Evolve tag titles in a hot match in front of a PWX crowd is just awesome. Chocolate in my peanut butter stuff over here.
Timothy Thatcher vs. Zack Sabre, Jr. (c) (Evolve World Championship No Holds Barred Match)
Squaring up, right to throwing hands! Uppercut on uppercut, both men bellowing in rage! Switching to boots off the ropes, Sabre pulling ahead, hamstring kicks, picking the leg, grapevined ankle lock but Thatcher makes the ropes and heads outside. ZSJ meets him, Jim Breaks Special, Tim reverses as they go deep in the crowd.
Sabre with a half-crab in the aisle, sitting back Thatcher has his nose and draws him up for a forearm. Back to trading strikes next to the apron, Zack grabs an octopus hold on the floor and grinds his knuckles into his ribs! Tim out tweaking the foot, into an ankle lock but Sabre kicks him off in short order.
Fighting even deeper in the crowd this time, chest kicks from ZSJ, Thatcher catches one and drops him with a forearm. Up the ramp now, disdainful stomps are caught into a heel hook by the champ. Trading strikes in the sitdown, back to their feet, towards the bar, Tim puts Sabre on it and slams his face into the countertop!
But Zack grabs an armbar without leaving it! Thatcher reverses but the damage is done and ZSJ takes him back to the ring, working his arm over at ringside. Back in, the belly-to-belly off the ropes connects and keeps the match from going one-sided. Sabre in with a guillotine choke, transitioning to the leg, double heel hooks!
Zack kicking away to break, he frees himself and they kick at each other from the mat. Taking mount, open hands and forearms as Sabre turtles up, Tim looking for a cross armbar but ZSJ rolls through and wrenches the leg! Elbows to the knee, Tim looking for a neck crank and the break but Zack works his hand over, stomping the elbow as the exclamation point.
Sabre laying chest kicks in, grounded octopus hold, Thatcher rolls through into a pin and then the Karelin lift but the cover for that doesn't even get one! Another Karelin lift, guillotine choke, Sabre reverses with the Pele kick to the arm! Roundhouse kicks at the shoulder, one misses but he swings around and goes low with a legsweep, Penalty Kick!
Charging uppercut, another but Tim turns it around with a sleeper hold in the turnbuckles! Zack breaks free with a bit of finger wrenching, headbutts on headbutts, climbing up after him and he locks the guillotine choke back on! Transition to a triangle choke, bridging back with the full arc of the turnbuckles as free space! THATCHER REVERSES TO THE TORTURE HALF-CRAB OUT OF THE TURNBUCKLES!
Taking the crab to the mat, Zack screaming agony, rolling through and kicking Thatcher off. Uppercut for uppercut once more, palm strikes into a rush from Tim and his enzuigiri misses! Penalty Kick in return and Thatcher's glassy! Champion looking for the cross armbar, Tim traps the ankles and reverses, cross armbar but Sabre's hands are locked!
Trying to break them, ZSJ working the hand to try and get an opening, crawling for the ropes, Thatcher's positioning is incredible but Sabre pulls himself under the ropes... THE ARMBAR THAT BEAT MATT RIDDLE AT EVOLVE 66! BUT ZACK GRABS THE LEG IN RETURN! TANGLED UP UNDER THE APRON, TRADING SLAPS!
TIM HAS THE LEG IN THE ROPES, ALL THE LEVERAGE AS SABRE DANGLES! ZSJ THROWING SLAPS ON SLAPS AND DAZING THATCHER! OCTOPUS HOLD IN THE ROPES, HE'S PUTTING IT TOGETHER AND IT'S ON! IT'S OVER!
Zack Sabre, Jr. wins by submission with an octopus hold in the ropes, retaining the Evolve World Championship.
Holy hell. So many deep callbacks and excellence on display here, from the big obvious stuff like the Evolve 66 armbar to deeper cuts like Sabre going for the arm as Thatcher goes for the leg, a strategy pulled straight from their second match at Evolve 47, which was also the only in their series that Tim won. Great high-level grappling goodness all around.
Zack gets on the mic and says he respected Tim from the first day they met, because he had the class, skill, and grace that a wrestler should have, but not anymore. That championship, this company, and independent wrestling represent the best of this sport, and when a champion loses, he gracefully hands the title to the new champion, which Thatcher did not do.
As far as he's concerned, the rivalry is over and he's champion. But because of that admiration, he's giving him a chance to end it right, with respect.
Thatcher gets to his feet and pics up the mic before setting it down and requesting the title. Stokely, tears streaming down his face, hands it to him, and Tim hands it to its rightful owner.
Zack gets on the mic and has a sitdown again, asking Charlotte how it's going. Evolve's technically been here before, but this is his first show here and he had fun here, a lovely time aside from the being stamped on the head. He was hoping if he retained that he'd be able to say they're coming back here. About four hours ago management told him to be ambiguous, but was then informed that they WILL be back.
Another excellent Evolve show essentially from top to bottom. The final four matches, in particular (Williams/Allin, ACH/Yehi, and both title matches), are a very, very strong set of matches. But in the end, even more than pure match quality, the biggest takeaway from them might just be Darby Allin establishing himself as a dude who can do more than just jump off things.
Storyline-wise, new tag champs are pretty sweet! Plus ACH's turn deepening with LITERAL refusal to wrestle low on the card, Thatcher perhaps realizing just how far he's fallen in defeat, and the stage is set for some fun stuff tomorrow and going even further into the future.
Check it out on FloSlam, folks.