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Evolve 98 & 99 previews: Darby takes his shot, Thatcher returns, and Keith Lee looks to smack Catch Point around

World Wrestling Network

Yessir, ladies and gentlemen, it's time for the World Wrestling Network to come back in to your home with Evolve 98 (live from Queens, New York) and Evolve 99 (live from Brooklyn, New York), and as always, I'm here to give you the low down on what's going down.

Video Roundup

Evolve 96 Recap: The New Chapter Starts!

Evolve 97 Recap: Ending 2017 With A Bang!

Evolve 4K Short Film: It’s Time To Evolve To A New Chapter

Evolve 4K Mini-Doc: What Happened Between WALTER And Stokely Hathaway

Grown Men Watch This!

Evolve 4K Mini-Doc: AR Fox - The Absolute Highest Flyer in the Game

Darby Allin: CHAMP or Die!

Evolve 98 (Saturday, January 13, at 6PM Eastern)

Darby Allin finally gets his shot at the Evolve World Championship. It’s the end of a road that started last summer after Allin came back from a shovel to the elbow that required several months off and immediately threw himself into action against the top grapplers in Evolve. One by one, busted wing and all, Darby racked up the wins and now here he stands, with Zack Sabre, Jr. in his sights.

But in that same period of time, Sabre has shown no inclination towards losing the title. Indeed, he’s gone a step further and represented the Evolve wrestling style with pride in New Japan, racking up G1 Climax wins against Hiroshi Tanahashi and Tomohiro Ishii. Darby is as good as anyone and clearly ready to step up, but can he beat a man that is arguably the best wrestler in the world for the most prestigious prize in Evolve? And if he can’t, how will he recover from sacrificing literally his entire life for this moment?

Keith Lee has a score to settle with the Doom Patrol and he’s starting with non-title action against Jaka. Stokely Hathaway and Catch Point have been a thorn in the WWN Champion’s side almost since day one and it’s finally boiled over from irritation to a vendetta for the Limitless One after Doom Patrol caught him with Death Trap last month. Staring down an angry Keith Lee would make most men quake in fear, but Catch Point’s Smooth Savage came within inches of the Evolve World Championship and you have to think he’s ready to make a case for his next title shot with a win here.

Austin Theory won the FIP World Heavyweight Championship from Fred Yehi last month and now they’ll have their rematch. But that match was contested under Evolve rules, and now they’ll go toe to toe under FIP rules, which, to put it simply— means no rules. It opens the door to further interference from Priscilla Kelly with no repercussions, but also means there is no freedom in the ropes for Theory, and if Yehi can lock the Koji Clutch on, there will be no escape.

It’s a dream tag team match as Catch Point, here consisting of “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams and newcomer Dominic Garrini, take on Ringkampf. It’s only fitting that Timothy Thatcher’s triumphant return to Evolve after a few months in Europe comes both with his fellow wXw World Tag Team Champion WALTER at his side, but against long-time rivals Catch Point. Dominic Garrini was never party to Catch Point’s eternal grudge against the longest-reigning Evolve World Champion, but all the same, this is his first “real” challenge as part of the Evolve roster, all his other matches being efforts against prelim-level opponents. Dom looked impressive dispatching those men, but against two of the best grapplers in the world, he will find himself tested.

(And on a personal note, I am absolutely stoked for this one. Evolve’s tag division has been fire, and pouring Ringkampf on the flames against a Catch Point team like this one should only be better. Now to get Ringkampf against WorkHorsemen soon!)

Matt Riddle and AR Fox lock up once again. Their first encounter came when Drew Galloway called Fox back to Evolve as a hand-picked opponent for our Bro, but now AR is back on the roster and stands alone. Or, well, mostly alone, as he’s taken to bringing a gaggle of his students from the WWA4 academy with him as a posse. So the question we ask is, will Riddle face Fox alone, or will he find himself in an inadvertent handicap match? And what of Matt’s recent penchant for removing rope breaks from the equation?

Chris Dickinson has called the End out for a fight. It was only a matter of time after the brawl all around the building at Evolve 96, and the Dirty Daddy is wasting no time. It’s one against three and I have no idea whether it’ll even end up being a real match or not, but one thing’s for sure— Dickinson’s feeling not just the rage against the End, but his pure burning hot frustration at not getting to play Jason as much as he’d like in the new Friday the 13th game. Be warned, Drennen, Parrow, and Odinson!

We’ve only got one preliminary match this time, but they’re making the most of it, as it’ll be a four-way between Jarek 1:20, Jason Kincaid, and two wrestlers yet to be announced. The stakes are high, because if Jarek beats Kincaid, he’ll earn his way into the main card four-way at Evolve 99. And best of all, the prelims will air for free on WWN’s Facebook page!

Evolve 99 (Sunday, January 14, at 7PM Eastern)

The other half of Keith Lee’s war against Doom Patrol, he’ll put the WWN Championship on the line against Chris Dickinson. The Dirty Daddy scored the win on Lee with a Doctor Bomb in their tag team match at Evolve 92, so he gets the title shot here. Few men have defeated Keith so directly, and to find the last time he was beaten by someone who wasn’t the WWN or Evolve Champion, you have to go back to his match against Kyle O’Reilly back in April. Thus, Dickinson comes in with what you have to think is a significant psychological advantage— even if Lee can put it out of his conscious mind, his subconscious won’t forget being hoisted up and manhandled like that any time soon, and that could end up giving us our first double-champion in Evolve since Timothy Thatcher retired the Open the Freedom Gate Championship back in 2015.

Long-time rivals Zack Sabre, Jr. and WALTER do battle for the first time in Evolve. They’ve met eleven times to date, all but one of those matches taking place for Germany’s wXw, with the outlier being for PWG. Of those, one went to a no-contest and Sabre has only won three, so the Evolve World Champion would seem to have an uphill battle ahead of him. Indeed, WALTER even has the momentum, having won their last two encounters.

Jaka takes on Matt Riddle in a battle of old and new Catch Point. Riddle spent much of 2017 feuding with Catch Point leader “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams but never found himself pitted against any of his other former stablemates in singles action, and that changes now. Bro met Savage once before, outside of Evolve for Beyond in 2016, and in that match Riddle prevailed, but in the year and change since, Jaka has only grown as a singles competitor.

In a rematch of what proved to be his second-to-last Evolve World Championship match, Timothy Thatcher squares up against Fred Yehi. In that match, Yehi pushed Thatcher to his limit and nearly claimed the title. Now, both men have lost their gold and are looking to re-establish themselves in Evolve’s pecking order, so I’d expect them to top that contest handily.

“Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams, Darby Allin, Austin Theory, and Jason Kincaid struggle against one another in four-way action. Feuds intersect here, as Williams and Allin have had issues since Darby returned from injury, Kincaid has been trying to “save” Theory from Priscilla Kelly’s influence for months now, and Allin and Austin have traded wins themselves last year to boot. Adding to the complexity is that Darby could well walk into this match as Evolve World Champion, and Jason might not even make it here in the first place if he loses his spot to Jarek 1:20 the night before.

Plus the full version of Evolve’s new format returns as we’ll have four preliminary matches. Confirmed talent at this time includes Shane Mercer, Kyle the Beast, Wheeler YUTA, and Jarek 1:20 and just to make sure everybody in the back heard, the prelims will air for free on WWN’s Facebook page.

Like what you read?

Well mosey on over to WWNLive to purchase the shows (and remember, your first month of Club WWN is free until the end of the month, so no reason not to sign up and get half off the iPPVs), and be sure to come right back here to Cageside Seats to hang out in the live thread while you watch the shows!

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