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First title defenses for Evolve’s new NXT-contracted champions announced

Plus Kassius Ohno has decided he’d rather come back to his old stomping grounds sooner rather than later

After the monumental events of Evolve 114 (check out our recap here if you missed it), wherein NXT’s own Street Profits and Fabian Aichner won the Evolve Tag Team and Evolve World Championships respectively, we knew they were booked for all four remaining Evolve shows this year, but the specifics were left for later.

Well, now it’s later, and Evolve 115 in Livonia, Michigan and Evolve 116 in Oak Lawn, Illinois are starting to take shape, so let’s list ‘em out and break ‘em down.

Evolve 115 (November 9, 8PM Eastern)

  • AR Fox vs. Austin Theory (Stipulation TBD)
  • Harlem Bravado vs. Jason Kincaid vs. Josh Briggs vs. Leon Ruff (Evolve World Championship #1 Contender’s Match)
  • Fabian Aichner (c) vs. #1 Contender (Evolve World Championship)
  • DJ Z vs. Mustafa Ali
  • Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford) (c) vs. WorkHorsemen (Anthony Henry & JD Drake) (Evolve Tag Team Championship)

Evolve 116 (November 10, 7PM Central)

  • Barrett Brown vs. Jason Kincaid
  • GPA vs. Isaias Velazquez (c) (Freelance Championship)
  • Angelo Dawkins vs. Josh Briggs
  • Montez Ford vs. Shane Strickland
  • Darby Allin vs. Mustafa Ali
  • Anthony Henry vs. Austin Theory vs. Harlem Bravado vs. JD Drake (c) (WWN Championship Elimination Match)
  • AR Fox vs. Fabian Aichner (c) (Evolve World Championship)

So first off, the return of the WorkHorsemen to tag team action is very welcome! And thematically consonant with Aichner’s defense against Fox— these NXT kids are being thrown right into the deep end of the pool with defenses against past Evolve champions. Fabian’s defense on Evolve 115 covers the other end of things, as four more fresh gentlemen battle for a shot. Keep your eyes on Ruff, especially— he’s one of AR Fox’s students, a key player in the happiest gang on the planet, the Skulk, and coming off a strong victory over Barrett Brown to earn his spot in this match.

It’s also interesting to note that our WWN Championship defense is a near-repeat of the six-way ladder match from 114, putting the Blue Collar Badass in tough territory from the jump. Much like that match, however, for us it should be a quite rewarding viewing experience.

The two singles matches for our new tag champs, too, are interesting, a sign that NXT talent will be used the same as any indie star. On the flip side, although former Evolve World Champion Shane Strickland’s presence is very welcome (and his match against Montez Ford should rule), it does rather reinforce my misgivings about cutting off his story mid-beat and doing the title change so soon.

On a similar note, the lack of the likes of Dan Matha and Adrian Jaoude from Evolve 114 is notable. Their presence could be announced later, of course— the only NXT stars that were announced for 114 ahead of time were the Street Profits, after all— but still, it strikes me as interesting and worth noting.

But wait, there’s more!

His matches haven’t been announced yet, but Kassius Ohno will be returning to Evolve one month early! Initially scheduled only for the December shows, the former Evolve World Champion will be on both Evolve 115 and Evolve 116. I certainly am not complaining about having more of that Young Knockout Kid to go around, especially with all the hints that his December matches will likely be against Henry and Drake.

There you have it, folks

Excited to see the new direction for Evolve start to crystallize, Cagesiders?

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