The show kicks off about ten minutes after bell time with Lenny Leonard in the ring to give us a quick run down of the double main event before passing the mic to Joanna Rose for our introductions.
Doom Patrol (Chris Dickinson & Jaka) vs. Troll Boyz (ACH & "All Ego" Ethan Page)
Troll Boyz have a theme and it is MAJESTIC, seeing as it's Ethan Page and ACH covering the theme to COPS as only they can. Of course, they're dressed in t-shirts and shorts, because it's the opening match, and that means we don't get proper gear.
ACH starts off pointing out Doom Patrol don't look too happy and All Ego decides he's gonna do live commentary. The bell rings but the match doesn't get started, as ACH gets back on the mic to complain about being in the opening match and run Lio Rush down for no-selling the powerbomb off the ladder through a table spot from CZW Once In a Lifetime last week.
That gets Dickinson and Jaka hot and they charge in! Quick tags, working ACH over, choking him with his t-shirt, the whole nine yards. He carves an opening out on Jaka with a string of kicks for a two count and makes the tag, turning the tables on Catch Point's savage. All Ego takes his shorts off for a People's Elbow, because his priorities are in order, but nobody's home and the Dirty Daddy tags in.
Fired up, Ethan starts up a strike exchange but immediately withers under a kick and tags ACH back in. He picks up the strikes right where Page left off and nearly withers himself as well but All Ego reminds him about John Cena and that inspires ACH to wind himself up for the distraction chop to the gentleman's area.
Page back in, Doom Patrol turn the tide and work him over with quick tags. A DDT into wristlock stomps from Jaka, Ethan tries to rally but the Smooth Savage is right there with the cut-off and the working over continues until All Ego gets a boot in and leaves himself and Chris laid out on the mat.
Jaka tags in, knocks ACH to the floor, Page is isolated but he gets the tilt-a-whirl slam off! ACH gets the tag, circling jabs on both Catch Point men, but Jaka gets a headbutt off allowing his partner to roll ACH up for a nearfall. ACH fights off a double team but walks into a pair of kicks and a Total Elimination variant... NOT ENOUGH!
ACH ducking and dodging, a whole series of slingshots in the corner, he takes a long time setting up a springboard cutter and Jaka just steps aside. Double stomp into a fireman's carry Michinoku Driver... PAGE WITH THE SAVE! Calling for Death Trap, All Ego shoves Jaka off the turnbuckles, RKEgo connects, ACH is legal and ready...
Troll Boyz win by pinfall with Buster Call from ACH on Chris Dickinson.
Real fun opener, the contrast of styles worked well and Troll Boyz' comedy continues to, for my money, be cheeky and fun and make sense. Good stuff!
All Ego sings a bit of their theme live on their exit, because the wrestling is good.
Craig Mitchell vs. Darby Allin
Good to see Freelance Wrestling's Craig Mitchell make his way to Evolve!
Darby gets on the mic first, calling Timothy Thatcher out and saying that his loss didn't make him complacent, and now he's moved into his car and training everywhere to be the best wrestler he can be. It's not a joke, you think he's just a stunt dummy? This is for you.
The match begins, Darby intent on grappling and showing Tim just how wrong he believes he is, arm wringer into La Magistral for a quick nearfall, a bit of light lucha pyrotechnics and an arm drag sends Mitchell to the apron. Craig makes like he's begging off before firing a slap across his face! Hard whip, Allin right back in the fight, elbow, climbing but that was a mistake as Mitchell catches him with a Tower of London.
Stepping on the injured arm now, drawing Darby up, hammerlock body slam into a standing moonsault... NO GOOD! Top wristlock, Allin breaks out with thrusts, goes for a springboard and gets caught with a German suplex! Fireman's carry, Darby slips out, hammerlock headbutt into an O'Connor roll for two!
Crossbody, Craig catches him, rolls through, hosses him up into a fireman's carry and swings him out into a Michinoku Driver! Ducking haymakers, Allin throws slaps in return, a Yoshi Tonic gets a nearfall and he applies a figure four and bridges back...
Darby Allin wins by pinfall with a bridging inverted figure four leglock.
Short and sweet, it did exactly what it needed to do. Seeing Darby stretch his wings is always great and Craig Mitchell was a good foil for him here, really made the most of the opportunity.
Austin Theory vs. Jason Kincaid
Kincaid forcing Theory's hands into prayer on a break but the younger man isn't having any of it. Wristlock, Jason already to the clever escapes, so Austin cuts the knot with a slap. Kincaid turns the other cheek! Another slap! Jason rolling through a few holds, trying multiple pinning predicaments, wheelbarrow arm drag, the double stomp comes up empty on the first try but moments later hits its mark.
On a roll, Kincaid hits the stomp on the apron to cap off a flurry of offense, but Theory comes back in the ring with a wild wheelbarrow half-nelson backbreaker! Elbow and a knee, spinning the West Virginia wise man out with a wild Doctor Bomb! Mounted punches follow, just trying to cave Kincaid's face in!
Chipping away wildly, throwing whatever he can in between beats on Austin's assault, he gets an imploding springboard lariat and evens the score! Theory spits in his face and Kincaid asks for another before taking it and planting him face-first into the mat. Double stomp, a rolling sweep, another double stomp, he ducks a lariat, right into the powerslam/cartwheel double stomp combo!
Springboard blockbuster gets a nearfall, Jason tells Theory he hates his face and runs right into a rolling thunder blockbuster... NOPE! Drawing him up, fireman's carry denied with elbows, block the stunner, springboard kick, again just a nearfall. Wild springboard X-Factor into a sunset flip pin... NOT ENOUGH!
Cross-leg brainbuster on the knee but Kincaid rolls outside so Austin cannot capitalize. He hits a dive but Jason counters into a stunner, he's fired up, climbing the barricade and roaring, sending Theory back inside, he climbs the support beam and Priscilla Kelly loses her mind screaming! Kincaid hits a crossbody, Austin catches him...
Austin Theory wins by pinfall with the TKO.
Very fun match, just a rollercoaster of wild and innovative offense. Shame Kincaid couldn't hit whatever wacky thing he was thinking of when he started climbing the post, though.
Post-match, Jason blocks Austin's exit and puts a hand on his shoulder, but Kelly yanks him away and they exit.
Rory Gulak & "Hot Sauce" Tracy Williams vs. WorkHorsemen (Anthony Henry & James Drake) (c) (Evolve Tag Team Championship)
Gulak (boy it feels good to type that name in an Evolve recap again!) and Henry to start, intense mat grappling, Rory with his eyes on Anthony's leg, into heavy jockeying over a waistlock. Henry gets a grounded abdominal stretch, Gulak right out, into a headlock shoot-off sequence and Rory riding Anthony right back into a headlock.
An amazing fake-out handshake gets the champ's ire up and he drops Gulak with a kick. A follow-up boot sends him into enemy territory and Drake tags in. James asks to see something amazing and Rory fires off chops that do nothing. Drake's chops in return do rather more and a biel gets Hot Sauce in inadvertently.
Williams right in, grabbing a hammerlock but the New Age Enforcer uses his size to escape and lock him down with a side headlock. The headlock begets a cravate, Drake reverses to one of his own and Tracy manages to roll him into a pin. Wristlock blocked with a straight right but Hot Sauce has the chop scouted and goes back to working the arm.
Slugging it out, forearm for forearm, chop for chop, Hot Sauce pulls ahead and gets Drake in for a tag to Gulak. Rory has an uphill battle, his chops doing little, he gets some headway but Henry tags in and nearly ends the match then and there. Clothesline into a crab into a knee drop into a sliding lariat... Still no good!
Hot Sauce back in, working Henry's leg over a while, tagging Gulak back in, a body slam and a springboard splash come up empty so he picks an arm and runs him through a few slams on the way before blocking the tag with a kick, starting to pick up some of that Catch Point attitude. Slam into the turnbuckles and Williams tags back in to resume his work on the leg.
Ankle lock applied, Henry rolls out, gets a powerslam out and he has the separation he needs! Tags made, James with a strike rush for a nearfall, big multi-stage exploder... NO GOOD! Looking for a big man springboard... GULAK CATCHES HIM INTO A GERMAN SUPLEX! NOT QUITE! Williams in, Henry over with a kick, immediately regretting it as he limps up the turnbuckles.
Struggle in the corner, Hot Sauce gets the turnbuckle DDT off, a missile dropkick follows, corner lariat into a brainbuster but he's not the legal man! James Drake from behind, beautiful pop-up spinning spinebuster into a folding press... NOT ENOUGH! Fireman's carry, Anthony stirring but Rory gets a blind tag as they hit a powerbomb.
Gulak in with palm strikes, crucifix pin for a nearfall, Drake sends him off the ropes for the northern lariat! Henry climbing, he misses the double stomp, Rory throwing hands, fighting two on one, shotgun dropkick for the New Age Enforcer but Anthony catches him with an enzuigiri and a lungblower... CHAOS THEORY!
Drake stalks over, spinning backfist, the underhooks are in, he can't get the spin for the full Drill Bit... NOT YET! TEK from Henry...
WorkHorsemen win by pinfall with a lateral press on Rory Gulak, retaining the Evolve Tag Team Championship.
Great match. WorkHorsemen rule, Hot Sauce is such a great sadist, and the dynamic where Rory started out Amazing and gradually got more in line with the present-day Catch Point ethos was really well executed. Plus, despite also featuring one slightly thrown-together team against another, more established one, it had a VERY different vibe to the opener, which is always nice in a place like Evolve where sometimes tags end up feeling kind of same-y.
Williams gets on the mic and talks about how Catch Point doesn't let weakness seep in. He helps Rory up and says it's time they eliminated that weakness and he drops Gulak with a lariat! Jaka adds an exploder suplex for good measure! Dickinson draws him up, hoists him high... PAZUZU BOMB!
Keith Lee vs. Timothy Thatcher
Thatcher charging in and Lee just bowls him over, barely even moving a muscle! Tim trying to chop him down with strikes, he gets the double overhand chops but it just fires him up and he throws uppercuts and knees! A forearm in return, every one of Keith's worth like three of Thatcher's but the former champion keeps throwing 'em.
Shift to grappling, going after the leg, Lee blocks so Tim grabs a hammerlock, adds an elbow and the Limitless One just knocks him right down. Clubbing away, trying to find the sequence of strikes that will stagger Keith and he finds one, sending him reeling along the ropes. Looking for the underhooks, Lee just hosses out of 'em and hits another elbow, flush to the jaw.
Scoop slam into a corkscrew elbow drop, Thatcher again going after the leg again but Keith Lee is a lot of man and it's hard to leverage him down. Some help from the ropes is much appreciated, looking for the belly-to-belly off the ropes, blocked, Lee hits one of his own! Slipping out of a powerslam, off the ropes with an uppercut and Keith is finally on his knees.
Tim takes him outside, putting his sternum into the apron, and back inside he grabs a heel hook, wrenching it in as Lee tries everything in his power to escape and finally makes the ropes. Knees to the back, trying to soften up the Limitless One, stomps to the legs and midsection follow and Thatcher has the sleeper in!
Keith gets to his feet, breaking the bodyscissors, and Tim breaks the hold, choosing a series of short-arm lariats but Lee's filling with resolve and getting fired up. Uppercuts, off the ropes... POUNCE! Thatcher gets the belly-to-belly suplex off this time, only two but he slips right over into the Fujiwara armbar!
The big man has his hands clasped to block and Tim just hammers his back over and over. Another attempt sees Lee lift him up into a side slam... only two! That enzuigiri follows, back to the sleeper hold, Keith flagging already but he leverages the arm down, goes for a rolling elbow, comes up empty, big slaps get the double chop and Lee plants a headbutt that sends Thatcher limp! Fireman's carry...
Keith Lee wins by pinfall with a fireman's carry dropped into a rolling elbow.
So, as big a fan of both these guys as I am, I had no idea how they were going to play this one... and they picked the a really good angle. Brawly Thatcher hitting hard but Lee hitting harder, using his top-shelf submission game to augment the strikes and take the big man down but never trying to make it a full-on grappling contest, that finish out of nowhere, not the greatest match but one I found myself really into.
Darby Allin hits the ring to... check on Thatcher? Allin and the referees help Tim up... THATCHER TAKES HIM DOWN AND THROWS THE CROSS ARMBAR ON! HE SNAPS BACK!
Fred Yehi vs. WALTER (c) (Progress Atlas Division Championship)
Right into a test of strength, perhaps not the best idea for Yehi, as WALTER basically has his way with him. So Fred changes strategies, maneuvering around the big man and trying to find a point to leverage, but nothing seems to take. Throwing chops... WALTER cuts him RIGHT down!
Scoop and a slam, a leg drop comes up empty and the knee stomp connects! Off the ropes for the nuke, only one but he's chipping away. Waistlock applied, suplex denied, throwing chops and stomps and blocking WALTER's offense at every turn. Just running wild on him, the left and right stomps, this whole sequence here is something else.
Elbows and chops from the champion, wilting Fred in the corner but he comes right back in with more chops of his own. To the outside, WALTER in control with those deadly chops of his but Yehi gets a stomp to the hand on the steel steps! A back suplex on the apron in return but WALTER has to shake feeling back into his hand on their return to the ring.
Slapping away, Fred going chop for chop but he gets knocked down! Karelin lift, more strikes... EARTHQUAKE! NO GOOD! Underhooks dodged, firing chops and ducking them in return, Mongolian chops into the Liu Kang kicks, and he's got WALTER on the proverbial ropes! But as soon as he's too his feet he gets the Gojira Clutch!
Ringkampf break into the suplex, butterfly suplex follows, only a nearfall! Fred trying for a German suplex, blocked, back to the sleeper, Yehi rolls out, escapes a powerbomb, double stomps to the back take the champion to the mat! Dragging him up... HE GETS THE GERMAN SUPLEX INTO A BRIDGE! NOT ENOUGH!
Trying for the reverse STO, he just swings himself up for the Koji Clutch but WALTER blocks and they go back to the chops. Blocking a cravate with a shoulder armbreaker, he's in BIG TROUBLE but the champion blocks the rolling elbow with a leg kick! Tenryu powerbomb... STILL NO GOOD! Back to the Gojira Clutch, Fred fading but not flagging, back to his feet... HE'S GOT WALTER UP AND BACKED INTO THE CORNER!
Into the turnbuckles, the big man up top, Yehi climbing after, seems to be thinking about the reverse STO in avalanche form but the Austrian isn't letting him have it that easy, Fred gets caught up... LIU KANG KICKS IN THE CORNER! AVALANCHE FISHERMAN BUSTER! THE RING SHAKES... BUT WALTER LIVES! THE KOJI CLUTCH IS ON! WALTER reverses to a crucifix pin but it's only a nearfall!
Another powerbomb, Mafia Kick, German suplex, a lariat... FRED YEHI LIVES! BUT WALTER HOOKS HIM RIGHT BACK INTO THE GOJIRA CLUTCH IN THE MIDDLE OF THE RING! IT'S OVER!
WALTER wins by submission with the Gojira Clutch, retaining the Progress Atlas Division Championship.
Simply incredible. Some of the offensive sequences in here, good lord. Fred Yehi on most days is one of the best, most innovative offensive wrestlers in the world. Today, against WALTER? He found a whole new level, chaining stuff together incredibly to overcome the nearly one hundred pound size differential and make you absolutely believe him going toe-to-toe, chop-for-chop with WALTER.
Lio Rush vs. Matt Riddle
Riddle looking for a flash roundhouse for the win right at the start but choosing to chase after Rush on the mat to no avail after. Lio nearly takes it with a quick pin but our Bro hits a knee and they jockey for position at lightning speed, coming off the ropes, ducking and dodging.
Charging forearms from Riddle, he blocks a kick, Rush ducks a lariat, throwing kicks but Matt catches him into an ankle lock! Lio makes the ropes but he's in trouble for a good minute after, catching the forearm / exploder suplex / high jump senton sequence for a two count. Rolling Karelin lifts follow, then chest kicks, Rush absolutely staggered here.
Knucklelock, disdainful stomp to the head, Lio escapes with a cartwheel and puts together a few kicks before flagging again. Bro catches a boot, Bro 2 Sleep into the bridging German suplex, only a nearfall! Slipping out of a Tombstone setup, Rush gets Riddle to the apron and handspring kicks him right off.
Back in, Rush Hour... NOT ENOUGH! Slap rush begets a strike rush from Lio begets a jumping knee but he catches the Pele kick! Basement superkick, Riddle reverses the followup into the fisherman buster, only two, he holds on, hits it again, into the small package, again just a nearfall and he holds on, hoists him up into the Tombstone but Lio reverses!
Matt re-reverses, the jumping Tombstone piledriver connects... OUT AT ONE! Running knee, pump kick in return, spinning Killswitch... ALMOST! Backing Bro into the ropes, striking away, thinking Rush Hour but Riddle hosses him out of it... JUMPING CRADLE TOMBSTONE PILEDRIVER! OVERHEAD ELBOWS INTO THE BROMISSION... WE'RE DONE!
Matt Riddle wins by submission with the Bromission.
Well that was a hoot! After an opening that was clearly designed as a jab at folks that are upset about the aforementioned powerbomb no-sell spot, Lio turned the speed up but with an ebb and flow that really made for a match with a great feel to it. And that finishing sequence, just stopping Rush Hour cold into the piledriver, the elbows, and the Bromission? Great match.
Rush and Riddle share a moment before Lio takes his leave, and WALTER comes down... Catch Point are right behind him! He stands by for a moment before fighting back but he gets overwhelmed by That Damn Numbers Game. KEITH LEE MAKES THE SAVE! Doom Patrol run off as Riddle and Williams fight to the back!
Lee and WALTER have a bit of a staredown, taking their shirts off before bending down for the Atlas title at the same time. WALTER collects his title and shoulders it. Keith goes to pat it but the champ grabs his hand and so he gets on the mic. Lee welcomes WALTER to Evolve, saying he needs to understand that he's the king of this business, and he's standing in Keith Lee's ring.
However, he respects what WALTER does as one big man to another, he's quite talented and brutal and he loves that. So out of respect, since they're gonna throw down tomorrow, he's going to leave him here with these people to shower him with love. But tomorrow, when the WWN title is on the line, he's going to make sure WALTER takes a moment to bask in his glory.
True to his word, Keith sets the microphone down and takes his leave, but WALTER extended a hand and he turns back to accept the handshake after a moment's hesitation.
Not the greatest Evolve show in living memory, but a strong show all the same, with three really strong matches in the tag title defense, Yehi/WALTER, and Rush/Riddle, and two just a few clicks below in Thatcher/Lee and the opening tag.
Storywise, Troll Boyz have a win, which is going to be problematic for the tag division, Kincaid is trying to peel Theory away from Kelly, which is an interesting move, and I can't help but feel like the Dream Team were counting on WALTER, as a result of his Ringkampf allegiance with Thatcher, to at least stand aside rather than help Riddle out, which is mainly interesting because a desperate Catch Point is a dangerous Catch Point, and if they leave the weekend without gold, well...
Check it out on FloSlam, folks.