Yes indeed, ladies, gentlemen, and assorted nonbinary folks, it’s time for the World Wrestling Network to come back in to your home with Evolve 114 (live from Ybor City, Florida), and as always, I’m here to give you the low down on what’s going down.
Evolve Mini-Doc: Anthony Henry
Evolve 113 Recap: The Calm Before The Storm
What is Evolve?
It’s a good question, and one the promotion have themselves been asking recently.
Evolve has had many faces over the years— I myself started watching with the 2014 reboot that emphasized realistic, gritty technical wrestling spearheaded by men like Timothy Thatcher, Drew Gulak, and Zack Sabre, Jr., but that’s a very different beast than the early days where close attention was paid to win/loss records, the days when Evolve was essentially little more than Dragon Gate USA without the Japanese talent, or let’s call it the personality era when men like Matt Riddle and “All Ego” Ethan Page featured prominently and Drew Galloway waged his war against WWE influence on Evolve.
So it’s both a reasonable question and a very a open one. At a guess, I’d hazard that this promotional push is meant to focus on Evolve’s relationship with WWE, given that Club WWN is now allowed to broadcast every match on every card regardless of the participants contractual status with WWE. Indeed, since next month’s shows are already set to feature Mustafa Ali and December has Chris “Kassius Ohno” Hero as a guest, it seems like a safe bet indeed that the intended answer to the question “What is Evolve?” is “WWE’s American indie partner promotion” now.
Evolve 114 (Sunday, October 28, at 7PM Eastern)
It’s a ladder match to crown a new WWN Champion and AR Fox, Austin Theory, Anthony Henry, JD Drake, and Harlem Bravado are five of the six men fighting for Joey Janela’s vacated crown. More on the identity of the sixth later, but the obvious favorites here are, well, obvious— AR Fox is one of the most decorated men in WWN history with Style Battle, the inaugural Evolve Championship Tournament, and the 2011 Jeff Peterson Memorial Cup to his name, and Austin Theory is the only man in the match that’s a former WWN Champion.
But if I were a betting woman, I’d put money down on one of Henry or Drake here. Formidable competitors in their own right, they’ve had success in Evolve both as a tag team and as singles, and I can’t help but think it’ll come down to the WorkHorsemen when the going gets tough.
Especially in Ybor’s very own Orpheum, a venue that’s played host to some of the roughest and tumblest of matches in Evolve over the years. Expect fighting at the bar and maybe even into the street in this one, folks!
The Doom Patrol of Chris Dickinson and Jaka will defend their Evolve Tag Team Championship against NXT’s own Street Profits of Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford. In a first-time-ever development, this match will be included on the Club WWN broadcast of the show!
Dickinson and Jaka have taken on all comers and beaten just about every team to have come through Evolve in recent memory, and indeed this match started as an open challenge, two Alexanders standing at the Indus and lamenting that there is nothing left to conquer. In nearly 400 days as tag team champions, they’ve not only beaten everybody, but they’ve outlasted the next longest reign twice over, and that confidence caught the attention of the Profits, themselves one of the fastest-rising teams in NXT.
So, up-and-comers from the big leagues down to challenge the firmly established top dogs in Evolve. A natural matchup, and exciting! I wouldn’t at all be surprised if the Profits win the day and leave with the gold around their waists, especially given how hard Evolve is pushing this as a historic night for the promotion.
Darby Allin and Josh Briggs go to war for the last spot in the ladder match to crown a new champion. Allin is as established as a man can be without actually winning the big one, with victories over everyone from “All Ego” Ethan Page to Timothy Thatcher to DJ Z to WALTER to Matt Riddle. There’s no doubt that on any given night, in any given match, Darby doesn’t just have a chance to win, but he may well at this point be a favorite.
Briggs is untested by comparison, with only ten Evolve matches under his belt and his biggest victories coming against the tag team champions. But stylistically he’s a monster, one of the finest of the new breed of athletic big men, like a wilder, hairier Donovan Dijak, and the allure of a shot at the WWN Championship might be enough to propel him past Darby here.
Regardless, I know I said earlier that I’d put my money on Henry or Drake walking out with the WWN Championship at the end of the night, but the smart money might just be on whichever of these men makes it through getting the nod.
Plus Shane Strickland will be in action defending the Evolve World Championship and more. Also confirmed for a match is Priscilla Kelly, in rare Evolve women’s action.
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