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Evolve 91 recap & review: Darby does the deal, the tag division is killing it, and Troll Boyz continue to troll

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FloSlam

The show kicks off about twenty-five minutes past bell time (a delay caused by the EMTs being late to the arena) with Joanna Rose jumping right in to introduce our first match.

ACH vs. "All Ego" Ethan Page

Troll Boyz enter together because why not. Much hesitation to start the match and consternation over the referee's check for foreign objects, and once the bell rings the focus is on selling the literal shirt off ACH's back. This, I'm pretty sure, is not what Gabe Sapolsky was talking about when he insisted that these men wrestle a match in the proper Evolve style.

Struggle over a handshake, collar and elbow and right to shenanigans, playing a side headlock up into some bull moose strength testing. We actually get going with an up and over for a second but ACH does a backflip evasion and just keeps backflipping before hitting the springboard Ace Crusher and posing rather than capitalizing.

Page remembered his elbow pad today, we're getting the People's Elbow! Only a nearfall, though, and All Ego lies in wait but ACH is ready to block Spinning Dwayne. Charging in with a forearm, ACH wants the charge trading spot but Ethan takes a little convincing. ACH spins around about fifteen times before a rolling elbow and Page goes for one of his own in return, leaving both men out on the mat while Lenny starts talking about more interesting matches that will happen later.

On their knees, slugging it out with slow motion forearms, to their feet, ACH with the distraction chop to the gentleman's area and a fingerpoke of doom... OUT AT ONE! Page is actually mad about getting hit in the dick and drops ACH with a Tombstone piledriver! ACH OUT AT ONE BEFORE HE REALIZES HOW MUCH HE'S ACTUALLY HURT!

They hug it out, All Ego calls for a Rainmaker but just jabs ACH in the collarbone area with a finger...

"All Ego" Ethan Page wins by pinfall with a ripcord finger thrust.

That was... unique. Much like their last match, it's really neat on one level because it's a goofy comedy match with two dudes just screwing around that absolutely makes sense in the context of Evolve. But on the other, if you don't want to watch ACH spin around about fifteen times before an elbow or don't like the idea of Page winning with what was basically a fingerpoke of doom Rainmaker, well...

I enjoyed it, though! And perhaps more importantly, I'm looking forward to see what's next, as they didn't even really try to wrestle the match they were instructed to after the last one, and I don’t think Gabe is super happy about that.

Darby Allin vs. Timothy Thatcher

Thatcher just dumps Allin out, informing him that he doesn't belong in his ring. Darby gets back in and wipes Stokely Hathaway out with a tope con giro! Tim hot to avenge his pal, Allin dropkicks him out of the ring four times running as the former champ tries to enter the ring again. Thatcher sidesteps one, gets in, springboard arm drag and he walks out this time... COFFIN DROP TO THE OUTSIDE!

Darby throwing hands, Tim throwing 'em back and inevitably his size and strength advantage make each of his mean more. Struggle on the apron, forearm for forearm, Thatcher gets an arm wringer on the injured arm and goes to town with a hammerlock body slam on the floor! Clubbing away as he soaks in the fans' boos, Tim takes things back in the ring for the Karelin lift.

Another gets a two count but Allin isn't giving up yet, even as his ribs are slammed by repeated knees and he takes forearm after forearm to the head with Thatcher in mount. Looking for the Kimura lock, he's got it but Darby throws desperate knees to break. Tim brutalizes him with a single knee in return before choosing to simply lock him down with a rear chinlock.

Shift to the sleeper hold, Allin out with a jawbreaker, Coffin Drop... THATCHER CATCHES HIM INTO THE SLEEPER! THE BODYSCISSORS ARE IN! Darby gets the ropes, Ringkampf break to the German suplex, Allin lands on his feet, O'Connor roll, springboard crossbody but he can't capitalize because Tim has the Fujiwara armbar in!

Darby gets the ropes, dragging himself up with his mouth because his arm is shot, he climbs but Thatcher is ready to cut him off and hammer his back with clubbing strikes. Allin fights him off... COFFIN DROP TO THE BACK! NOT ENOUGH! Throwing slaps, sidestepping a boot, chop blocks, another Coffin Drop, another nearfall!

Double thrust to the Yoshi Tonic... ALMOST! Rolling the figure four on, bridging back...

Darby Allin wins by pinfall with the Gibson Lock!

Really good match, took everything that worked about their first encounter and smoothed out all the rough edges. Loved the hell out of it, especially the Coffin Drop variations. That one to the back of a bent-over opponent, Kobashi leg drop style was sick!

WALTER comes to ringside after and stares at the ring, hands clasped behind his back in silence in the Ringkampf style. Thatcher shares a few words with Stokely and offers his hand. Hathaway shakes and goes in for a hug, dropping to his knees. Tim pats his shoulder and takes his leave to join his Ringkampf teammate.

Fred Yehi & Jason Kincaid vs. WorkHorsemen (Anthony Henry & James Drake) (c) (Evolve Tag Team Championship)

Yehi hot at Henry before the match even starts, which stands to reason given their history in Style Battle together. Darke right in with a Sick Kick and Anthony takes Kincaid over, leading to quick tags, working the West Virginia wise man over as Ethan Page and ACH take the commentary booth over with an excuse to Lenny about his car being towed.

Jason with a wicked half nelson jawbreaker thing, knucklelock into the Frankensteiner but Henry blocks with a Liger Bomb into the turnbuckles and an STF to follow up... YEHI BREAKS IT UP! Cartwheel powerslam to the double stomp, tag to Fred and he and the Lethal Lover turn a shoving match into a forearm exchange, throwing 'em hot and heavy!

Slap rush from Henry, Yehi ducks a roundhouse, throws a chop and gets the stomp off! Fist drop, rush, another stomp, quick jockeying for position, block a chop, another stomp, double stomp to Henry's back into the nuke! Yehi knocks Drake off the apron and tags Kincaid back in, pop-up headscissors puts Anthony into the turnbuckles, stomp combo, James has had enough and clears the ring before dragging Henry over for the tag!

Hard chops on Jason, Henry running interference with a Drive-By, northern lariat, Shining Wizard... NO GOOD! Off the ropes, Kincaid goes behind, Yehi with a stomp, he takes a jab, Jason gets the springboard blockbuster and Fred follows with the nuke as Ethan Page makes a hell of a noise on commentary.

Yehi legal, throwing chops on the New Age Enforcer and he gets his receipt right back, trying to evade and Drake clobbers him with punches. Death Valley Driver / powerbomb combo... NO GOOD! Henry with the kick rush, Penalty Kick, thinking Kudo Driver, Yehi slips out, Dragon suplex! German suplex for James when he runs in, tag back to Kincaid!

Roll-through double stomp, looking for the up-and-over stomp but Henry has it scouted and kicks him right off the apron! Low suicide dive, Kincaid catches him with a rope-hung cutter! Bit of chaos, all three men outside and James Drake takes flight... BIG MAN TOPE CON GIRO! Rolling Kincaid back in, Henry looks to take flight but is blocked.

Struggled in the turnbuckles... JASON KINCAID HITS A SUNSET FLIP POWERBOMB TO THE OUTSIDE! RINGPOST DOUBLE STOMP... ANTHONY HENRY LIVES! Drake murders Yehi with a forearm on the outside as Kincaid figures out what he has to do to put the champs away, fireman's carry escaped, Henry with the charging forearm, roundhouse kick... SPRINGBOARD SPANISH FLY!

Tag to Drake, double stomp, keeping Yehi isolated...

WorkHorsemen win by pinfall with a diving moonsault from James Drake on Jason Kincaid, retaining the Evolve Tag Team Championship.

Holy hell, what a match. WorkHorsemen, man. Just from zero to "one of the best tag teams in the world" in no time, and of course their opponents rose to the occasion as well, but damn. So stoked they have the platform here in Evolve to do their thing. And ACH and Page on commentary was also quite entertaining-- James Drake ain't Takeshi Morishima, but damn if I wouldn't like to see them wrestle each other now that the comparison is made.

Post-match Yehi and Henry get in each other's faces some more, and Kincaid does his sit and pray deal until Fred pats his shoulder and startles him. They leave together in peace.

Austin Theory vs. Mark Haskins

Grappling early, Haskins nearly getting a LeBell Lock off of all things, and they get into slugging it out after the stalemate. Quick exchange ends in a kick to the chest, back elbow, up and over and back in for a dropkick and Theory heads outside to confer with Priscilla Kelly. Back in to block a dive with a forearm, Mark fires back with a dropkick, goes for the dive, dodged on one side and it connects on the other!

Snapmare, off the ropes for a double stomp to the chest right into a folding press for a nearfall. Stomping and kicking away, Austin gasping for air but he ducks one kick and catches the other to hamstring Haskins over the ropes and string some offense together. Off the ropes for a clothesline, only two, clubbing away, a dropkick, peppering Mark with covers but nothing can put him away just yet.

Mounted punches into a rear chinlock, wrenching it in, pushing Haskins' face into the mat and clubbing away at his neck for good measure but Mark is able to get his foot on the ropes. Knee strikes in a front facelock, another cover comes up empty and we go back to the chinlock. Haskins throwing forearms for separation but he's drained enough that one in return from the younger man knocks him flat.

The action shifts to a full-on forearm exchange as Mark warms back up, into a strike rush, a heel kick backs Theory into the corner! Charging elbows, pump kick countered to a trip, standing moonsault comes up empty and Haskins locks the bridging Fujiwara armbar on but he gets the ropes!

Austin throwing elbows, catching Mark with a shoulder block, rolling thunder dropkick, a shotgun dropkick follows but Haskins gets the roll-through into the fireman's carry Michinoku Driver! Northern superkick... NOT ENOUGH! Theory cuts off a charge with a boot but Mark blocks the followup into a cross armbar! Rolling through to the LeBell Lock and then the Rings of Saturn neck crank... AUSTIN THEORY GETS THE ROPES!

Theory ducking and dodging, he catches Haskins into the spin-out Argentine powerbomb... NO GOOD! Buckle bomb follows, thinking brainbuster but Haskins blocks, going for the roll-through and he gets caught by the wheelbarrow half nelson backbreaker, standing moonsault... NOPE!

Austin getting hot, he clobbers Mark with strikes against the ropes leading to admonishment from the ref and Kelly comes in to attack Haskins, dropping him! Cross-leg brainbuster over the knee... MARK HASKINS LIVES! Fireman's carry on the apron but Mark blocks and grabs one of his own... DEATH VALLEY DRIVER ON THE APRON!

Fireman's carry on the floor but Priscilla Kelly runs interference, she goes for a springboard but Haskins dives and she wipes her man out! Mark throwing kicks, roll-through into the Sharpshooter, bridging back...

Mark Haskins wins by submission with the Sharpshooter.

Good match-- drug a little in the first third or so but the back half was some real good stuff. Especially interesting to see Priscilla Kelly finally get physically involved in Theory's matches in a big way. And of course, great to finally see Haskins on a proper numbered Evolve show.

Doom Patrol (Chris Dickinson & Jaka) vs. South Pacific Power Trip (TK Cooper & Travis Banks)

Doom Patrol want nothing of the offered handshakes and immediately go on the attack! Jaka has Cooper well in hand but Banks takes care of Dickinson and the SPPT lads take charge. Charging strikes, drop toehold into a double stomp and Jaka heads outside! Banks with the suicide dive on both sides! Twice on Jaka and TK goes for a moonsault followup but the Dirty Daddy meets him with an avalanche Falcon Arrow!

Chris hammering Cooper with clubbing strikes to the head, into the corner for more, tag to Jaka and they keep working him over. Quick tags, hard strikes, Dickinson wrenching the fingers, double-teams, just unloading the entire playbook at TK. Cooper gets a few licks in but it's not enough and the Smooth Savage wipes him out to continue the former tag champs' domination of the proceedings.

Still targeting the arm, but TK manages to get them hung up in the ropes and dropkicks Chris to the outside, crawling for the tag and he gets it! Travis in with kicks, two-on-one is no problem for the Kiwi Buzzsaw! German suplex for Jaka sets up corner-to-corner uppercuts, a leg kick sets the savage up in the same corner as his partner for the cannonball!

Tag to Cooper, the Dirty Daddy wipes Banks out but doesn't realize TK is legal, avalanche exploder, Jaka hits a splash but he's got the wrong man covered! Everything kind of breaking down, into the "everybody do something cool" part of the match, Travis and Jaka jockeying for position but Cooper comes over and they all end up squared off wobbling for a four-way kick knockdown!

Dickinson firing chops off two on one, but he hits the ropes and gets clobbered with Slice of Heaven and the scissors kick, Kiwi Crusher, TK with the springboard 450 but the Dirty Daddy gets his knees up! Argentine backbreaker rack to hang Cooper in the corner, tandem dropkicks, Travis Banks makes the save!

Calling for Death Trap, TK is up and the Kiwi Buzzsaw runs in for the save, the assisted DDT... DICKINSON BREAKS IT UP! Jaka up in Jig 'n Tonic territory... DOUBLE STOMP ASSISTED JIG 'N TONIC! JAKA LIVES! SPPT firing off alternating superkicks but I think Jaka likes it! Low superkicks, stereo superkicks, off the ropes, the savage gets a double chokeslam off!

Doom Patrol agree to kill alternate members, chokebomb on Banks, Cooper with the back body drop, Dickinson catches him with an enzuigiri and looks for the Pazuzu Bomb but Dahlia Black gets on the apron to run interference! Chris goes to yank her in and TK makes the save! Dickinson shoves Cooper into Black and Doom Patrol rush him with kicks... TOTAL ELIMINATION! Electric chair...

Doom Patrol win by pinfall with Death Trap on TK Cooper.

Two for two on great tag matches tonight! Just non-stop wild action, a fine sequel to the original at Mercury Rising.

Respect shown between both teams after as Doom Patrol finally accept those handshakes.

Keith Lee vs. Matt Riddle (c) vs. "Hot Sauce" Tracy Williams vs. WALTER (WWN Championship)

WALTER and Lee square up but Riddle and Williams cut the moment off and pair off with them. The biggest lads well in charge, they square off once again... and again Hot Sauce and Bro get in, this time on opposite partners. Tracy manages to cut Keith down a bit as WALTER disposes of Deep Waters and the Atlas champ drops Hot Sauce with chops.

Former Catch Point allies double teaming the Austrian big man and the Limitless One comes over, forcing them to shift to clubbing away at him instead, sending him outside. Williams and Riddle stare each other down, the biggest lads taken care of, and they trade strikes, slaps and forearms, Matt with a judo throw into a kick to the back of the head!

Tracy catches a kick into the ankle lock, Riddle rolls him through, looking for Bro 2 Sleep but WALTER gets back in and slams the Catch Point man... EARTHQUAKE SPLASH! Finally, Lee and WALTER square off, and Keith offers the linchpin of wXw an opportunity to bask in his glory.

WALTER does not bask.

Instead he offers up a kick and a shoulder block, and the behemoths test each other's strength... but Riddle and Williams are on opposite aprons to catch them! Disposed of, WALTER with the Gojira clutch, Ringkampf break into the German suplex, Lee is right on his feet! Belly-to-belly suplex in return and WALTER's right on his feet! Double lariat and both men are wiped out!

Bro and Sauce, slugging it out forearm for forearm, Matt gets a slap rush and backs him into the corner with forearms and kicks! Off the ropes, charging forearms, corner knees scouted and blocked! Tracy trying a brainbuster, blocked, shoulder blocks in the corner, setting the Catch Point man up top, Deep Waters climbs to meet him but his superplex attempt is blocked and Hot Sauce hits the half-halch DDT into the turnbuckles!

Southern lights suplex follows, not enough to end it so Williams throws chops, thinking about a brainbuster, countered into the fisherman buster! WALTER caught in a triangle from Riddle and Hot Sauce has Lee in the crossface! WALTER HOSSES RIDDLE UP AND POWERBOMBS HIM ON THE OTHER TWO MEN!

Slowly to their feet, slugging it out four ways, Tracy taking the lead and chopping away until the three other men knock him aside. Our three remaining trading chops, and the sound ringing out across the arena is a symphony of flesh and violence. Riddle pulling ahead, kicking one-on-two, roundhouse for WALTER, Keith ducks one but takes the knee!

WALTER with the Mafia Kick, German suplex, Bro lands on his feet! Going for another... KEITH LEE COMES FROM BEHIND AND GERMAN SUPLEXES BOTH MEN! Hot Sauce in with a brainbuster to try and steal it... NOT ENOUGH! The ring clears, leaving Williams on Lee and the Limitless One catches him with the pop-up thrust spinebuster... POUNCE!

He demands we bask and WALTER catches him in the Gojira Clutch! To the mat, the bodyscissors are on! Lee is fading, Riddle climbs... DIVING SENTON FORCES THE BREAK! Hot Sauce in, crossface on Matt! WALTER BREAKS IT UP! Looking for a powerbomb, Bro escapes, slap rush but he gets caught in the Gojira Clutch! He escapes, takes the back, firing elbow after elbow to wear the Austrian down and Lee comes from behind with the fireman's carry elbow from yesterday!

Riddle takes Keith's back the same way as he did WALTER, firing the same elbows, but Tracy yanks him off for a piledriver... MATT RIDDLE LIVES! THE CROSSFACE IS ON! REVERSED TO BROMISSION! SLAPPING THE RIBS! IT'S OVER!

Matt Riddle wins by submission with the Bromission on "Hot Sauce" Tracy Williams, retaining the WWN Championship.

Excellent match. Not a huge fan of the way guys sort of dropped in and out for much of the match, makes it feel too much like two (or even three) separate matches are happening, plus the unholy alliance stuff with Riddle and Williams felt odd, but four-ways are hard and the action absolutely delivered as much as I think we were all hoping in the end anyway.

Riddle and Lee square up after and Bro offers the fist bump. Keith hesitates and even goes to leave but decides to offer the champ the respect he wants. WALTER is next and they share a few words, Riddle offering a handshake but WALTER's not having it.

Overall

An excellent show from Evolve with very little in the way of downtime or slow patches. The two tag matches were incredible, the four-way delivered big, Thatcher/Allin righted the wrongs of their first match and had the one I knew they had in them, and ACH/Page also happened. (Kidding, guys, you know I loved it.)

Storyline-wise, the Dream Team is swinging low, with Thatcher seemingly gone and Williams not just not winning the title but taking the fall, although with a win over a team that may be the Progress Tag Team Champions by the end of the night, maybe the Doom Patrol are on their way up again. Plus you have to think Darby is edging closer to his dream of the Evolve title! And while Troll Boyz are unlikely to get another chance to have the kind of classic they were instructed to tonight, they seem to be flinging themselves headlong into the tag division, which has the promise of being really fun in its own right.

And thinking of the tag division, it may be a bit of an optical illusion due to the way so many of the teams this weekend were guests or one-offs, but it really feels hot right now, in large part thanks to the efforts of tag champs the WorkHorsemen, who are absolutely on fire right now, in the kind of run where I struggle to think of a match they could have that I wouldn't be interested in.

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