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Evolve 98 recap & review: Darby falls short, Fox issues a challenge, and Brody King does a tope

World Wrestling Network

The show kicks off just a minute or two past the scheduled bell time with Timothy Barr in the ring with the participants of our preliminary match already in the ring!

Brody King vs. Jarek 1:20 vs. Jason Kincaid vs. Snoop Strikes

King starts strong kicking Strikes out of the ring and it ends up being him and Jarek, 1:20 clearing him out with the Ace Crusher! Snoop in, using his agility and flying acumen, peppering the magician with strikes, slingshot dropkick but Brody is in looking to suplex him... reversed to a lungblower! Strikes runs into a boot... and Kincaid Frankensteiners both men at once!

Waistlock denied, Snoop throwing elbows, off the ropes into the cartwheel powerslam and the double stomp! Gory Special applied, Strikes gets out and the Gift hits a suicide dive on Jarek without missing a beat. SNOOP STRIKES TOPE CON GIRO! King’s feeling it... BIG MAN TOPE CON GIRO! Cover gets a nearfall and King passes Snoop into the corner for a beating to follow.

Struggle in the turnbuckles, 1:20 comes in, Brody slips out, Jason comes in... TOWER OF DOOM! King the only man standing but he charges into a boot from Snoop, and a standing shiranui after... NOPE! Looking for a dive, Brody catches him right into a sitout powerbomb... Jarek with the save! King still rolling, thinking powerslam on Kincaid but he hits a counter Stunner and 1:20 puts Brody to sleep!

Only two, he moves on to Strikes but finds himself reversed into a Yoshi Tonic, Kincaid off the top...

Jason Kincaid wins by pinfall with a diving double stomp, protecting his spot in tomorrow night’s main card fatal-fourway.

Hell of an opener. These kind of fast-paced fatal four-ways are hard to get wrong, and this was certainly right. Brody King especially, this was my first time seeing him and man he stood out in a big way. Hope to see more of him in prelims going forward.

The main show commences momentarily with Chris Dickinson in the ring calling the End out for his fight! Stokely Hathaway and Jaka hit the ring and Stokely tells him to calm down. Tonight’s the end of the End, but they have bigger things to worry about, like Jaka’s match against Keith Lee. It’s Jaka’s job to soften him up so Chris can become the new WWN Champion.

Hathaway takes Jaka aside and says he loves him like a brother and tonight he gets his private dressing room. Living Single on the big screen TV! He tells Jaka to go ahead to the back and brings the First Lady of the Dream Team, the lovely Faye Jackson, out to take him back. Stokely talks up how he has three brands under his franchise and calls Timothy Thatcher and WALTER down.

Dvorak hits and Ringkampf make their way down. Stokely greets WALTER in the words of the late, great Michael Jackson-- this is it. He passes a contract and a pen over... AND WALTER TEARS IT UP! Dickinson and Dominic Garrini get in Ringkampf’s faces and Hot Sauce hits the ring to pull Chris back and send us right into our first match!

Catch Point (Dominic Garrini & “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams) vs. Ringkampf (Timothy Thatcher & WALTER)

Thatcher and Garrini to start, right into the mat grappling, Dom picking a leg and taking guard, Tim to his feet but Garrini has his leg trapped and takes him right back down until Thatcher turns him around with a front chancery. Garrini reverses, jockeying for position, bodyscissors applied as he tries to pick the arm but Tim picks the leg and gets the half-crab locked in!

On the mat, legs entwined, trading forearms and then slaps, a huge right from Thatcher sending Dom spiraling as Tim throws a few knees and takes mount for clubbing blows to the back of the head! Garrini has his wits about him, turns it into a cradle and sort of a short legscissors and they stalemate! WALTER tags in but Dom is game to fight him, ducking a big chop and offering a test of strength.

The Ring General puts him to the mat but a legscissors trip takes the big man down and Hot Sauce gets the tag! Stomps and kicks, keeping WALTER off-balance, slingshot knee drop but the Ringkampf man gets to his feet and lays Williams out with one of those deadly chops of his! Another! Big uppercut, and WALTER puts Tracy in the corner and tags Thatcher in.

Lighting him up with uppercuts in the corner, straight suplex into a pin, shift to a cross armbar but Hot Sauce keeps his hands tight to his body and Tim has to shift around to clubs and knees. WALTER back in as Williams throws hands, and a boot sets up a huge Karelin lift! Garrini trying for the save, he gets booted to the floor, Tim back at it, Karelin lift of his own and another quick tag.

Karelin lift, tag, Karelin lift, Thatcher with a sleeper but Garrini cracks him aross the face with a forearm! Blind tag, Hot Sauce with a Saito suplex, Dom with a dropkick, a bit of effort to pull Tim away from the ropes and it’s only a nearfall. Stomps and vicious knee strikes, front chancery and a tag to Williams. He comes in with a butterfly suplex, into a cover, only two and he goes after the arm.

Thatcher keeping his hands locked and he does the Backlund deadlift counter only for Hot Sauce to turn it into a Kimura lock, forcing Tim to the ropes! Staying on the arm, wrenching away, tag to Garrini and he comes in with a senton but it’s only good for two! Thatcher with the old-school belly-to-belly suplex, reaching for a tag but Dom cuts him off with an elbow drop right to the arm!

Williams tags in, knee to the side of the head but Tim’s still fighting, throwing uppercuts. Tracy fires back, forearms and a Tiger feint kick, senton atomico... NOPE! Drawing Thatcher up, Garrini tags in, thinking about the German, jockeying for position, Williams tags back in and clears house as Dom finally gets Tim up... HART ATTACK! NOT ENOUGH!

Thatcher with the enzuigiri, another on Dom and he gets the tag! WALTER throwing chops left and right, cracking out across La Boom, big boot for Hot Sauce but Garrini sidesteps his and Tracy saves him from the German suplex after! WALTER runs right through their double team, lariat, boot, lariat, German suplex, duck a lariat, German suplex!

Big chop sets up the Gojira clutch, Ringkampf rope break into a German suplex, butterfly into a pin, Dom makes the save! The Ring General sets him up for a powerbomb but Garrini reverses to a triangle choke and Williams is able to level the Austrian with a boot! Catch Point thinking double suplex but WALTER suplexes them both instead and makes the tag to a determined Thatcher.

In with uppercuts but Dom has a knee and Tracy a lariat! Strike rush from Garrini, Hot Sauce hits a brainbuster... NOPE BUT HE SHIFTS RIGHT TO THE CROSSFACE! DOM IS HOLDING WALTER BACK BUT TIM IS ABLE TO ROLL THROUGH! Sleeper hold on Hot Sauce, Gojira Clutch is on Garrini but Dom rolls through into a cross armbar! Tracy counters back to the crossface! WALTER DEADLIFT POWERBOMBS GARRINI ONTO WILLIAMS TO MAKE THE SAVE!

Tag to WALTER but Dom is out of it, boot and a suplex, underhooks...

Ringkampf win by pinfall with a crazy two-stage Tiger Driver from WALTER on “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams.

Okay, so, cards on the table, this is four of my favorite wrestlers working a match that’s practically designed to appeal to my sensibilities. I may be biased, is what I’m saying. But holy crap I loved this to death. The grappling early, all the escalation, Dom looking every bit the equal of Thatcher, WALTER, and Williams, excellent match.

The End hit the ring after Ringkampf leave and lay Catch Point out! Drennen wallops Dom with a chair, Hot Sauce manages to fight Parrow off and Jaka comes back out to make the save and Catch Point turn the tide! Williams sends Drennen packing with a DDT! They drag him and Odinson away and leave Dickinson alone with Parrow.

Chris wallops him with a chair, clubs him, another chair shot, kick to the midsection and we have a bell!

Chris Dickinson vs. Parrow (No Disqualification Match)

Dickinson still with the edge, another chairshot sets up mounted punches but he runs into a chokeslam and the Endsman has a moment to catch his breath. Headed around the outside, Chris has the chair again and uses it as an equalizer, charging shot with him trapped against the barricade and a few more to follow! Good lord he’s unfolded the chair and set it across Parrow’s throat and is standing on it!

The Dirty Daddy heads to the back and gets a broom, choking Parrow with it! Insult to injury, sweeping the floor on him and cracking the broom across him! Parrow may be down but he’s not out, however, as almost on instinct he’s able to fire back, ram Dickinson into the post and then spinebuster him over the stage! Fighting on the stage, Parrow returning some of the chair shots and choking him with the back of the chair.

Hoisting Chris up on his shoulders but Dickinson fights out with the testicular claw and hits a counter suplex! Parrow back in the ring, Chris throws some chairs, Van Daminator whiffs a little but hits enough to allow him to set two chairs up. The He Who Smelt It, Dealt It rule is in fool effect, however, as Parrow powerbombs him into the chairs he himself set up!

Parrow collects some chairs, we’re in danger of going ECW for a moment but the fountain of chairs dries up and he piles them and heads up top. Dickinson cuts him off...

Chris Dickinson wins by pinfall with a Pazuzu Bomb into a stack of chairs.

A little awkward at points but a fun hardcore match all the same. Dickinson choking Parrow out with an unfolded chair was particularly wild.

The End hit the ring again and Odinson lays Dickinson out with a half nelson driver before the rest of Catch Point run him off!

AR Fox vs. Matt Riddle

Fox and his posse mock Riddle for not wearing boots before the bell but Bro just wants to dance with them! Feeling frisky on his birthday, Matt twerks at them before kicking a few of Fox’s boys aside. AR gets on the mat like he’s gonna grapple and we finally have the bell!

Deep Waters with a shove, right in with a takedown into mounted punches but Fox gets the ropes! Waistlock into a takedown, looking for the cross armbar and AR is again forced into the ropes. Fox decides to play his game, side headlock, sliding low when Riddle tries to shoot him off but he doesn’t have an answer for the back suplex!

Off the ropes, tight sequence into a leg lariat, twisting suplex... only a nearfall! Leaping corner lariat, Fox well in charge, slingshot dropkick, disdainful kicks earn a big slap in return! Ramming Bro in the corner, he fires back with a forearm, waistlock to a ripcord knee and we’re into the charging forearms! Exploder suplex countered with elbows, AR off the second and he dives right into it!

High jump senton follows, a nearfall, another senton, following it up with the Karelin lift, holding on, rolling through but Fox reverses the second, low bridges him to the floor and a pair of suicide dives land true before Fox... catches a thrown hairbrush? Man’s a showman! Apron DDT, Ayla Fox running interference, letting the posse beat on Matt, springboard imploding moonsault senton to the floor but Riddle’s nowhere to be found!

Back in the ring, Bro 2 Sleep into the bridging German suplex... NOPE! Fisherman buster denied, a knee into a guillotine choke as Riddle changes strategies! AR posts to his feet and reverses to a brainbuster... NOT ENOUGH! Palm strikes, Fox ducks a roundhouse kick and hits an Ace Crusher! Up top, senton atomico... RIDDLE CATCHES HIM INTO THE BROMISSION!

He doesn’t quite have all of it, shifts to a sleeper, AR to his feet... Jumping tombstone! Powerbomb! Running knee strike... but Fox is in the ropes! Shift, cover... NO GOOD! Hitting another pair of sentons, distracted by Fox’s posse for a moment before getting back on him, setting him up in the corner. Jockeying for position in the turnbuckles... AR FOX FLIP PILEDRIVER!

Big boot follows, Lo Mein Pain, back up top...

AR Fox wins by pinfall with the 450 splash.

Really good match. Fox as the cocky showman with the skills to back it up (note that despite mocking the feet he didn’t go after them, because he knew he didn’t need to!), Riddle as the crusader increasingly frustrated by rope breaks hampering his style of pro wrestling. Really smart, both in the layout and the execution.

Fox gets on the mic after, crowing about beating the first-ever WWN Champion and saying that since he’s Mr. WWN, at Evolve 100 he wants whoever’s WWN Champion!

Lenny Leonard lets us know that tomorrow’s show will have a “very special announcement” of a talent who will be appearing in New Orleans for WrestleMania weekend, so that’s exciting.

Austin Theory (c) vs. Fred Yehi (FIP World Heavyweight Championship FIP Rules Match)

Fred is hot during introductions and has to be held back by the referee!

Right to the striking at the bell, Priscilla Kelly taking full advantage of the lack of rules here, begging off and giving Theory a chance to throw Yehi to the floor, where TPK hits a somersault senton on the former champion! Fred hits a dive of his own, whip into the barricade, another, Austin in a bad way, back inside for a big release German suplex into a cover for a nearfall!

Drawing him back up, laying him out with a chop, body slam, and it’s stomp time, just stepping on Theory’s throat! Off the ropes with a leg drop, standing switches, O’Connor roll denied but Yehi nukes him to the floor! Fred ducks a belt shot but finds Kelly on his back, biting and choking him and giving Austin enough time to run around and clobber his challenger!

Theory with a lariat, slingshot stomp but Fred hits a Codebreaker and locks the Koji Clutch on! Austin’s able to get the ropes, which doesn’t force a break but takes some of the leverage off and gets Yehi close enough for Priscilla to claw his eyes! This brings Jason Kincaid down to continue his struggle for Theory’s soul, talking sense into him as Kelly screams abuse in his ear.

Austin, meanwhile, gets a rolling thunder dropkick off, Fred throwing wild haymakers, his sight not yet recovered! Clinging to Theory’s leg, taking a few stomps to shake him off and Austin mocks the nuke with a dropkick of his own. From the apron, Fred pulls the champion out by his head but he’s able to fire a forearm off and keep the advantage.

Blind Yehi waving his fist at ring announcer Timothy Barr and Theory slams his face into the apron! Fred lands a slap but his punches are still going wild and Austin is able to roll him back inside for a cover that gets two. Pummeling him in the corner, charging into a boot, Yehi still rubbing his eyes, an elbow lands true but the champ cuts him off on a springboard with a spin-out Argentine powerbomb for a nearfall!

Kelly gets back in the ring, chair in hand, but Kincaid takes it from her! She slaps the Gift but before he can retaliate Theory knocks him off the apron! Fred fired up behind him, a nuke turns him inside out and Priscilla slides in to literally bit at Yehi’s ankle, so he stomps her hand to dust! He punts her out of the ring and turns to Theory, double stomp city, five in total... NOT GOOD ENOUGH!

Fred feeling it, he’s in big trouble, charging forearm, up and over, duck a lariat and hit the lungblower, Dragon suplex connects, only a nearfall! Chops in the corner, powerbomb denied but Yehi ducks a few shots, boxes his ears, wristlocks into the Liu Kang bicycle kicks! Now the powerbomb connects, flip piledriver follows... SO CLOSE!

Setting the champion up in the corner, climbing to join him, more Liu Kang bicycle kicks... PRISCILLA KELLY WITH THE VAN TERMINATOR?! Theory hooks him...

Austin Theory wins by pinfall with Ataxia, retaining the FIP World Heavyweight Championship.

Good match, if maybe just a bit long in the tooth by the end of it. Lot of fun stuff pushing both the utter lack of rules as well as the stories involved. And if nothing else, Priscilla Kelly finally getting really strongly physically involved on Theory’s behalf in a match was a hoot.

Jaka vs. Keith Lee

Jaka declares this to be his house but Lee is literally looking past him, over his head. Locking up, Keith hosses him away with zero effort! Probing leg kicks, Jaka changes strategies, headed behind for a waistlock and shifting to a wristlock, headbutting Lee’s hand to do more damage! But not enough damage, because Keith picks him up with ease and chucks him aside once again.

The Smooth Savage throws a few headbutts, forearms, trying to chip away at the Limitless One only to get shoved away and bowled over! Jaka considers a chair before deciding to play by the rules, kicking and chopping to back Lee into the corner. Whip reversed, Stinger splash, and Keith brings those cracking loud double ham hocks down across Jaka’s chest!

Knee up in the corner but Jaka’s follow up dive is caught with ease! He slips out, Lee up and over, he runs right through a lariat and snaps off a Frankensteiner because why bother to adhere to the laws of physics, right? Jaka, undeterred, goes back to the strikes but Keith rams him into the turnbuckles! Struggle in the corner, both men with a goozle and the Smooth Savage gets a throat thrust that sends the big man staggering and this time the crossbody lands true!

Up top again, diving DDT gets anearfall! Clubbing, grounded blows, elbow drop, no dice! Grinding down the leg, Jaka grabs a leglock but Lee is able to rake his eyes and break it. Jaka throwing forearms, Keith shrugs ‘em off, elbows of his own, short-arm lariat and Jaka is sent into another plane of consciousness! Not out of it yet, trading chops, he gets the worst of ‘em... POP-UP SPINEBUSTER!

Off the ropes, Spirit Bomb attempt, Jaka slips out, throwing strikes, a leg sweep takes him down and the Shining Wizard takes the WWN Champion’s head off! Spinning wheel kick in the corner, Lee is staggered, another one connects, but a third time is not the charm, Keith getting away and throwing him with a German suplex. The damage is done, however, as Lee can’t capitalize with any celerity.

Drawing him up, Jaka fires palm strike after palm strike, off the ropes... POUNCE! AR Fox’s posse comes to the stage to get into the champion’s head, and it’s all the opening Jaka needs to go back to the strikes. Overhead belly-to-belly gets the Limitless One some breathing room and he decides to go for the Doomsault only to see Fox has joined his crew to taunt him!

Spirit Bomb attempt denied with overhead elbows, more chops, duck an elbow, Jaka firing ‘em fast and furious, he blocks the fireman’s carry rolling elbow...

Jaka wins by pinfall with T’Challa.

Well that was a shock! I was all set to write about how this was a great way to make a match that feels like a foregone conclusion keep you invested, but then the conclusion went and wasn’t foregone at all. Really good match, Jaka giving everything he had and refusing to give up time and again, and Lee the champion who’s reached the mountain but is still a little too easily distracted and got himself caught out.

Chris Dickinson gets on the mic and says he’s gonna take the WWN Championship tomorrow, and if Fox wants a shot at Evolve 100, he’ll be happy to give it to him.

Darby Allin vs. Zack Sabre, Jr. (c) (Evolve World Championship)

Darby out the gate with La Casita! Pinning predicaments, trying anything to win it right out the gates, sending Sabre to the floor! Back inside, Zack tries to ground him with grappling, and Allin is game but the Technical Wizard is maybe the best in the world and only the ropes save him. Continuing with the mat grappling, Darby taking any bit of control he can get, but ZSJ knows all the tricks and can lever him unholy.

Variations on a bow-and-arrow, Allin gets some wrist control but Sabre bridges out and picks the leg for a deathlock before transitioning to the armbar to soften him up for anything from the Ode to Jim Breaks to the full Hurrah!. So Darby steps it up and takes flight before getting a hammerlock guillotine choke! Zack reverses to a double arm submission, and Allin is close to the ropes, but not close enough to avoid damage.

Torture half-crab, shifting to a stepover toehold, and from there into kind of a variation on a Regal Stretch and simply grinding the bone of his forearm across Darby’s face! Disdainful kicks, Sabre toying with his challenger, uppercuts, going after the fingers before shifting to the spinning armbreaker on the arm that Ethan Page devastated with a shovel!

Pressing the attack, wrenching the arm unholy and stomping the bicep, leaving Allin groaning bloody agony on the mat. Darby’s able to snap off a crucifix driver, it’s not enough to end the match but it’s enough to buy him some breathing room and take his wrist tape off. Back at the champ, trading forearms, able to block some arm work and spike the champion with a DDT!

Off the ropes, Zack hooks him in an abdominal stretch and falls to the mat, shifting to a half crab but Darby’s in the ropes and breaks free! Sabre kicks his leg out from under him, deciding he needs to take two limbs out to win this one. Referee Brandon Tolle checks on Allin but has to take a break to warn Sabre for continuing the attack! Set to continue, Darby gets a kick and a guillotine choke in the ropes, up and over, jackknife pin, no good!

Last Supper, Sabre reverses into a kneebar, kicking away at Allin’s back! Darby punches himself in the face to keep himself going and he gets the ropes! Champion charging uppercuts, Darby ducks one and goes for a couple back splashes but the third sees a sleeper applied! European Clutch... DARBY KICKED OUT! Frustration mounting, ZSJ fires off a few chops but Allin will not fail!

Penalty Kick connects... NOT ENOUGH! More slaps, as the realization dawns across Darby’s face that he can take everything Sabre’s thrown at him! Slapping himself in the face for good measure, he takes another from ZSJ like it’s nothing and throws a bunch back! Leapfrog, leg pick, European Clutch reversed, Last Supper... SABRE KICKED OUT! More palm strikes from Darby, Yoshi Tonic... NOPE!

Coffin Drop... SABRE CATCHES HIM INTO A CROSS ARMBAR BUT HE’S GOT HIS HANDS LOCKED! Shifting to the traingle choke, readjusting as Allin flags, thinking about Ode to Jim Breaks but Darby won’t let him get his arm back! Posting the knee into the mat, he gets the Ode to Jim Breaks! Shifting to stomp the back of Allin’s head...

Zack Sabre, Jr. wins by submission with Ode to Jim Breaks, retaining the Evolve World Championship.

This is an excellent match, both on a pure match-in-a-vacuum level, and on a level of being Darby’s kind of final exam. He’s beaten Thatcher, he came out ahead on Williams and Lee, but it would have all been for naught if he couldn’t hang with the champ, and he not only hung with him, but he shrugged off the unbeatable European Clutch and took a Penalty Kick like it was nothing, only failing in the end to a literally unescapable situation.

And Sabre, for his part, starts his 2018 off as a continuation of his 2017, just dashing off these high-level performances and generally being a hell of a champion.

Austin Theory attacks Sabre from behind, laying him out with the TKO! Jason Kincaid is right behind him with a shove! Priscilla Kelly charges, Jason double legs Theory and rains punches and headbutts down! Double stomp! Slamming Theory’s head into the mat over and over before Kincaid realizes what he’s done!


An excellent show from Evolve. Match-wise, the main event was excellent and the tag match in particular has to be considered an early contender on my Match of the Year list, were I the kind of person to keep an actual list as opposed to just occasionally pontificating about it. Jaka/Lee, Riddle/Fox, and the prelim four-way were also each really satisfying in their own way, and it’s hardly as if Dickinson/Parrow and Yehi/Theory sucked or anything.

Storyline-wise, Kincaid/Theory popped off at long last, so it should be interesting to see their interactions in their four-way tomorrow. As well, the state of Darby’s psyche after losing a match that he literally bet his life on should make for some good pro wrestling action. Plus Ringkampf gunning for the tag titles and the End being handed a defeat means Stokely Hathaway’s lads have a full plate on their hands.

Last but not least, Fox’s crusade for the WWN Championship will make for a hell of a main event at Evolve 100-- either he faces a man who represents the future of WWN in Keith Lee, or he takes on Chris Dickinson, a man who wrestled on the very first Evolve show (and one of the few such men not gobbled up by the WWE machine at this point!), and that’s absolutely fitting.

Check the VOD out soon on, or in about two weeks at no additional cost as part of your Club WWN subscription.

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