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Evolve 115 recap & review: Aichner and the Profits retain, Ford challenges Drake, and Fox earns Theory’s respect

World Wrestling Network

Quick preamble here before we launch into the recap, folks-- the live broadcast of Evolve 115 was plagued by streaming issues so, while I watched the entire show live, I’ll be rewatching the VOD and recapping off that. As such, since this is my second time through, this review is going to be a bit sparser than the usual blow-by-blow recap of the action you’re used to. On with the show!

Barrett Brown vs. BSHP KNG

All KNG early on after Brown takes a wild spill to the floor, and the story of the match quickly becomes about BSHP cutting Barrett off every time he rallies. Brown’s rallies become more protracted and impressive as time goes on, including a wild nearfall off a satellite DDT, leading KNG to take his wrestling boots off and put work boots on, to the delight of the crowd. But BSHP’s own tactics get turned against him...

Barrett Brown wins by pinfall by reversing a Busaiku knee into a lateral press.

Fun opener that told a story and told it well, and I’m not entirely sure what BSHP’s boot switch is about but it’s kind of delightful, so I’d absolutely be open to seeing him again.

Juntai vs. Mike Fierro

Fierro bringing his strength to bear early, Juntai well on the back foot but fighting back with his educated feet. When he takes flight, however...

Mike Fierro wins by pinfall with the Widowmaker.

Solid little match, nothing too special but a good effort from both men.

Adrian Alanis vs. Harlem Bravado vs. Jason Kincaid vs. Leon Ruff

Alanis and Ruff working together early, Bravado fends them off, Kincaid does some of his trademark wacky offense, and then Adrian makes his move and the Skulk explodes! Full-on four-way chaos, Leon showing why he’s the early breakout star from the Skulk, Alanis takes a dominant turn as does Harlem before things break down once again.

Reaching a fever pitch, Ruff and Jason take center stage by turns, absolutely wild corkscrew neckbreaker from Leon but Harlem slips in for the steal...

Harlem Bravado wins by pinfall with Straight Cash Homie on Leon Ruff.

This was a lot of fun. Special shout-out to the Skulk lads, who are just delightful as always. Leon Ruff somehow gets more entertaining every time I see him wrestle, and Adrian Alanis did a great job subbing for a travel-delayed Josh Briggs on short notice. Good stuff all around.

AR Fox comes out to tell Alanis and Ruff how proud of them he is and Austin Theory interrupts.

Priscilla Kelly runs Fox down and Theory follows it up by accusing AR of leeching off of the Skulk’s careers and says he should be their coach. He wants to fight Fox right now and he wants a pure wrestling match!

AR Fox vs. Austin Theory

Like it says on the tin, this starts off as a grappling encounter. Fox is game to play, looking for a submission with an armbar, but when Priscilla Kelly gets into it with Ayla Fox at ringside he finds himself distracted...

Austin Theory wins by pinfall with a schoolboy pin and a handful of tights.

More on this one later!

Fox gets on the mic and says it ain’t going down like that and he wants another match! Theory goes to leave and AR ups the ante-- he doesn’t want a match, he wants an unsanctioned fight at the end of the show, and he’s willing to put both WWA4 and the Skulk on the line! It’s on!

DJ Z vs. Mustafa Ali

Grappling early, Ali busting out some fancy lucha escapes, tight fast-paced lucha exchanges as the action heats up, stereo kip-ups and a stalemate! Mustafa snaps a headscissors takeover off at the end of another such exchange and taunts DJ, asking if he can remember when he used to be able to hang! This gets Zema fired up and he sends Ali absolutely crashing to the floor!

Into a brawling phase on the floor, returning to the ring with DJ well in charge, absolutely decapitating Ali with lariats! Zema continuing to target the head, SO many tight exchanges, Mustafa fires up, rolling thunder X-Factor gets a tight nearfall! Counters on counters, nearfalls on nearfalls, an avalanche powerbomb from DJZ, wicked kick combo from Ali, neither man can pull out the victory!

On their knees and brawling, rising to their feet, DZT connects... NO! Continuing their back and forth...

Mustafa Ali wins by pinfall with a sunset flip.

So, and I know this will come as a shock, this was a really good match. Just tight, incredibly well-crafted action steeped in lucha libre. Wild hearing Lenny Leonard sell the ramifications of a match that I’m watching as regards Survivor Series, to boot. And it’s also kinda notable how much of this match DJ dominated, especially in light of Ali just barely squeaking out the win with a sunset flip pin. Damn good stuff.

Post-match, DJ and Ali celebrate together, and Zema gets a replica WWE Cruiserweight Championship from somebody in the crowd for Ali to hold high.

Cody Vance vs. Josh Briggs

Vance gets his shots in, but this is all Josh Briggs taking his anger at American Airlines out on the poor kid...

Josh Briggs wins by pinfall with the M5.

Short and sweet, this does what it needs to and not much else. And all in all, a solid way to handle travel issues.

Post-match, Briggs hits another M5 and beats Vance down further!

Allysin Kay (c) vs. Shotzi Blackheart (Shine Championship)

Kay hard out the gates, beating Blackheart down, but Shotzi won’t stay down and gets right at targeting the champ’s arm! Kitchen sink approach, picking at the legs, a sweet grounded deathlock version of a Gory Special before Allysin regains the momentum and takes control awhile, power moves and striking. Escalating, a Codebreaker reversed into a powerbomb clutch and Blackheart reverses into a Frankensteiner!

Bit of trash talk, corkscrew X-Factor, reversing a fireman’s carry to a DDT as the rally continues, but the champ eventually cuts her off by reversing a discus Shotei into a back suplex, and then a Yoshi Tonic into a Beach Break! One last attempt, Shotzi up top for a diving stomp but AK rolls away...

Allysin Kay wins by pinfall with the discus lariat to retain the Shine Championship.

Good match, didn’t quite hit the fever pitch / top gear I might have liked but a real enjoyable time all the same.

And it’s interesting to hear commentary talk about how we’re going to see more women’s matches going forward on Evolve shows. One has to wonder, especially after Jessie Elaban appearing last month and that the last Shine was all indie talent, how much of that is perhaps NXT talent only being allowed on Evolve shows proper and not the rest of the WWN promotions, but either way it’s a welcome move.

Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford) (c) vs. WorkHorsemen (Anthony Henry & JD Drake) (Evolve Tag Team Championship)

WorkHorsemen hot out the gates beating the new champs down! A brawl on the floor feeds back inside and the Profits get Wakanda Forever off to turn the tide! The rally doesn’t last, however, as Drake and Henry are a well-oiled machine and get Ford isolated and work him over at length with quick tags and slick sequences. Finally the hot tag, Dawkins cleans house and the challengers suffer a malfunction at the junction!

Big pumphandle fallaway slam, tag back to Montez, kickflip Shiranui... SO CLOSE! Champs have JD isolated, blockbuster / powerbomb gets broken up by Anthony! Angelo on the wrong foot now and Ford eats a revolution TKO into a Shining Wizard when he tries for the save! A double stomp into a moonsault and Dawkins breaks it up by hitting Death Valley Driver on Henry into the cover!

Into a full-on slugfest, another accident between the challengers...

Street Profits win by pinfall with the Prophecy from Montez Ford on JD Drake to retain the Evolve Tag Team Championship.

I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t super excited about Street Profits coming to Evolve. Nothing against them, just they never grabbed me while watching NXT, and while I enjoyed their first Evolve match against Doom Patrol, it could have easily been a fluke.

Well I can safely say now that it was no fluke. Granted, you could definitely tell that WorkHorsemen are the seasoned indie vets of the matchup and Street Profits the WWE Performance Center prospects-- the challengers were just that bit smoother, well-timed, and innovative in their selection of maneuvers-- but the Profits more than held their own and this was an excellent match.

Indeed, they baked that into the overall story of the match, with WorkHorsemen’s sequences and double-teams being far slicker and more advanced, with only the Profits’ sheer determination and the fact that they’ve been teaming regularly while the WorkHorsemen have been split and were prone to the occasional friendly fire mishap keeping the titles around their waists.

Post-match, the Street Profits celebrate in WorkHorsemen’s faces and Ford tries to lay claim to Drake’s WWN Championship, leading the two men to jaw at each other and referees to hit the ring to separate them.

Fabian Aichner (c) vs. Kassius Ohno (Evolve World Championship)

Ohno using his strength and size early, Aichner refusing to crumble, and in fact showing off his own strength by catching Kassius out of midair and powerslamming him! Fabian continues to enjoy control of the match a while, using his speed and agility to stay one step ahead of the former champion, but eventually he gets caught with a pump kick and knocked to the floor!

That turns the tide nicely and after a bit of brawling on the outside Ohno brings things back in to press the attack. Those concussive kicks and KO elbows in full effect, and Aichner’s down and out and gasping! Knee pad down, putting the patella right into Fabian’s orbital bone with a knee drop and leaving the champ staggered and clutching his eye like me in the middle of a blackout migraine.

Disdainful kicks and piefaces, the champion shoots back, tight nearfall off a Finlay Roll into a moonsault! Ohno fires back up, Cyclone Kill connects and with Aichner staggered he starts throwing elbows! Fabian manages a big DDT and the gloves are off! Powerbomb reversed into a Frankensteiner and here come those Chris Hero elbow chains... NOPE!

Aichner’s about had enough, fired up and asking for more, right hands, he gets run over with a boot but reverses a suplex into a brainbuster! A bit of trouble getting him up but he does it...

Fabian Aichner wins by pinfall with Hasta La Vista to retain the Evolve World Championship.

Holy hell, what a match this is! Kassius Ohno back in full-on Chris Hero, Evolve Gatekeeper mode, overwhelming Aichner after an early press and Fabian weathering the assault to stick it to him clean in the middle of the ring... Fabian is a made man as far as I’m concerned now-- it’s a shame about the Shane Strickland story, but the man’s a real champion.

My only real complaint here is that Ohno wrestled in a shirt and didn’t bust out any of the piledriver escalations he was so fond of in his last run.

Anthony Henry comes down and gets on the mic, putting the match over before introducing himself to Aichner. He says he’s sick and tired of the way he’s treated in Evolve, of guys like him coming in and taking the spot he’s earned. Ohno tries to play peacemaker, but Henry ain’t having it and says he can’t do it anymore and he wants Fabian to go back where he came from!

He berates Kassius for coming back and trying to act like a locker room leader after not being able to hack it at NXT! A shove to punctuate his statement (and build their match that seems pretty likely for the December shows) and Anthony leaves, jawing at Aichner the whole way. Ohno sticks around and offers Fabian a handshake and a hug out of his respect to the champ.

AR Fox vs. Austin Theory (Ownership of WWA4 / Leadership of the Skulk vs. Respect Unsanctioned Match)

First off, nice touch from referee Brandon Tolle to ref an unsanctioned match like this in his street clothes.

Theory ducking Fox early before dragging him out to the floor to beat him up against the barricade! We get our first bit of plunder as Austin gets out a short ladder and does a bit of hardcore feng shui while Liam Grey from the Skulk hides under the ring to let AR set a trap! Fox gets a ladder of his own out, and after a bit of beatdown, it comes into play first with a guillotine leg drop across it on the apron!

Some wild jockeying for position with AR balanced in the ropes, he takes a bad spill there but it’s Theory’s turn next as he ends up on a bridged ladder and eats the kickflip moonsault through it! Priscilla Kelly comes down and screams in Fox’s face after this, and Austin takes advantage... POWERBOMB THROUGH A LADDER LEANED AGAINST THE BARRICADE!

Back in the ring, Theory absolutely unleashes on his teacher, putting him through a ladder a second time in the ring! And a third, bending the battered ladder back almost straight! Speaking of straight, a straight suplex into the ladder welts Fox’s back up a little more but can’t put him away! Manhandling an out of it AR, mockingly making him do the Skulk dance for the crowd, but he pays for it with a flurry of vicious elbows and a Stunner into the barricade!

Kicking the barricade into Austin’s body repeatedly and a second guillotine leg drop hung over the barricade! A TOPE CON GIRO OVER THE STEEL TAKES BOTH MEN ALL THE WAY TO THE BACK OF THE CROWD! Ladder set up on the floor... FOX HITS THE TOPE OVER IT! Back in, 450 splash... THE CLOSEST NEARFALL IN EVOLVE HISTORY! AR gets a big sturdy ladder and bridges it across the bottom rope and one of the broken ladders, laying Theory atop it.

Up top, Austin rolls away, Fox perches, senton atomico... NOBODY HOME! Slugging it out, Matrix evasion sets him up, AR dives and gets caught... ARGENTINE POWERBOMB INTO THE LADDER SOMEHOW ISN’T ENOUGH! Looking for Ataxia, the move that won him their last (full-length) match, Fox has it scouted, floats over, ducks... AND CRACKS THEORY RIGHT IN THE GENTLEMAN’S AREA!

TPK screaming on the apron, Ayla Fox runs down and takes her leg out from under her! They brawl to the back! Fox and Theory resume slugging it out, AR fires up, kicks out of a schoolboy with the tights, superkick...

AR Fox wins by pinfall with Foxcatcher, retaining WWA4 and the leadership of the Skulk and winning Theory’s respect.

This was just a tornado of brutal, visceral, awesome pro wrestling violence, folks. Maybe a bit longer than it needed to be, I could have been well-pleased if it ended on the 450, but even so, a great pro wrestling match.

Fox celebrates his victory with the Skulk, but it remains to be seen if Theory will give him the respect he’s owed.


This was a great show from Evolve. After Evolve 114 last month, a lot of legitimate concerns were raised about Evolve’s use of NXT talent but I feel confident in saying that, given the lack of the likes of Dan Matha and the performances the Street Profits and Fabian Aichner put in tonight, Evolve is very much still Evolve.

The last three matches on the card are all obvious standouts and three very different matches stylistically, plus the opening scramble and Ali vs. DJ Z were both really good as well.

Storyline-wise, Street Profits and WorkHorsemen aren’t done with each other just yet, as Ford’s challenge to Drake for the WWN Championship is interesting. Henry, for his part, has moved on to targeting Kassius Ohno, and that match is going to absolutely rule. Fabian Aichner is well-established as Evolve World Champion now with his win over the legend, but that win was skin-of-his-teeth enough to keep him looking vulnerable and leave the door open for tonight’s match against Henry to go any way they choose.

And, now that Theory has been forced to give his mentor Fox the respect he deserves, where does he go? Will he finally shake Priscilla Kelly’s influence? As one of the only continuing story threads left from the summer, I’m very interested to see what the next step here is.

Check the VOD out on WWNLive, either as an individual purchase or at no additional cost as part of your Club WWN subscription, folks.

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