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Evolve 116 recap & review: Henry falls just short and has only himself to blame, Ohno bests Strickland, and the Skulk and Street Profits party

World Wrestling Network

The show starts a minute BEFORE the scheduled bell time with Lenny Leonard and “Hardcore Giant” Ron Niemi in the ring to hype tonight’s card up.

Adrian Alanis vs. Barrett Brown

Brown looking to grapple Alanis to the mat but the big man brings his strength to bear on him, first in a grappling exchange and then cutting him off in the corner for a clubbering. Barrett turns the speed up, attacking him from every angle until a WICKED overhead belly-to-belly suplex puts him hard into the turnbuckles! Adrian follows with a leg drop for two and presses the attack with a backbreaker.

Chopping him hard into the corner, Brown fires back with a kick combo only to eat a Black Hole Backbreaker into the backbreaker submission over the knee! Barrett fights him out of the corner, another series of kicks, Alanis drops him with a spinning side slam into a senton, still only two! Jockeying for position in the corner, Brown shoves him down, diving crossbody, superkick... NOPE!

Throwing right hands, forcing Adrian to turtle up but he ducks the buzzsaw, Hard Knock... reversed into a pin! Charging in the corner, back elbow, caught into the Argentine backbreaker rack...

Adrian Alanis wins by pinfall with an Argentine backbreaker rack dropped into a double knee gutbuster he calls Hard Knock.

Fun opener! Alanis has had a solid weekend between this and the four-way last night, and Brown isn’t too far behind. Hard Knock is a pretty sweet finish, too.

Jason Kincaid vs. Josh Briggs

Briggs starting hot, just slinging Kincaid across the ring but the Gift counters in to a guillotine choke and goes behind, slinging a clothesline in the ropes to keep him off balance and send him to the floor, off the ropes, suicide dive... JOSH CATCHES HIM AND SLAMS HIM DOWN WITH A BACKBREAKER! Back inside, the “I don’t like you!” Mafia kick gets two!

Trading blows, Briggs’ are rather more effective but Jason hops on his back for a sleeper and ducks an elbow drop to follow. Handspring knee drop, off the ropes again and he gets freight trained into mounted punches for two more! Kincaid rising to the challenge, triangle forearm and the slingshot double stomp on the apron! Springboard back in caught, duck out of an inverted crucifix lift, springboard imploding X-Factor gets the Gift a two count!

The straps are down, to the apron, block a right, hip tossed back inside into a backbreaker but he gets a knee strike off and a slingshot Diamond Dust... NOPE! Dragging Josh to the center of the ring for a diving stomp, no water in the pool and he ends up booted on the apron, Go to Hell... STILL NO! The Gift ducks a lariat only to eat another boot, to the apron, springboard crossbody gets two!

Looking for Compassionate Release, Briggs reverses into a pin before he can get all of it! Boot up on the charge, Josh to the second, jockeying for position, springboard countered with a goozle... AVALANCHE M5! IT IS OVER!

Josh Briggs wins by pinfall with an avalanche M5.

Just good old-fashioned mile-a-minute indie wrestling fun, chock full of Kincaid’s wild offense, Briggs’ power moves, and that finish! Good stuff.

GPA vs. Isaias Velazquez (c) (Freelance World Championship)

GPA begging off early before going to work with grappling exchanges and a pat on the head that infuriates the champion! Out and back in, the speed increases, a backslide nearly retains the title and GPA bails to the floor, frustrated. He puts Velazquez hard into the post and heads back in to capitalize by way of a back suplex into the turnbuckles!

Following it with stomps, a straight suplex into a pin for two, hammer whip gets two more. Knee drops, a backbreaker, still capitalizing on the damage to Isaias’ back, a rear chinlock with a knee jammed into his spin! Velazquez getting back into it, a sequence into a Shiranui is close but no cigar and GPA hits a sequence of jawbreakers into a Doctor Bomb for two!

Isaias slips away from a followup, superkick connects...

Isaias Velazquez wins by pinfall with a Square & Circle-style DDT to retain the Freelance World Championship.

This was a really good match for its spot on the card and the time it got. GPA especially really struck me here-- I’ve liked his work since one of his Freelance Championship matches against Mustafa Ali a few years ago, but here his mannerisms were really especially on point and he just carried himself beautifully like this evil dude that wants the title and to screw the champion up in the process, good stuff.

Anthony Henry vs. Fabian Aichner

Lenny Leonard informs us during instructions that both men wanted this to be an Evolve World Championship match but the WWN championship committee denied them their request.

Henry hot out the gate, putting boots to Aichner! Fabian fired up, striking hard, he runs Anthony to the floor and follows after to deliver a clubberin’! Back inside, Henry turns the tide against the champ, stepping on his feet, whip across and Aichner gets a snap scoop powerslam out of the deal! Big lariat takes Anthony down, they end up in the corner and Henry kicks his leg out of his leg!

Mounted punches into a kneeling toehold, shifting to leg kicks, a stepover toehold, just destroying the Italian Roughneck’s leg. Inverted Indian deathlock, Fabian fights back but the damage is done as he hobbles away from the Lethal Lover! Slick whip reversal into a back suplex and both men are down! Aichner with a series of right hands, big lariat, whip into the tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and the Evolve Champion is fired up!

Finlay Roll into the moonsault... NOPE! Looking for Hasta La Vista, no dice, Henry slips out and lays the champion out with a roundhouse kick! Up top, Fabian joins him... AVALANCHE BELLY-TO-BELLY SUPLEX ISN’T ENOUGH FOR A WIN! Looking for a brainbuster, Henry reverses with knees, step-up enzuigiri, step-up tornado DDT, only a nearfall! Jawing at him about how he worked for this and Aichner didn’t, leg kicks and a big slap, waiting for him to rise.

Fabian catches a boot, thrust spinebuster and the gloves are off! Peppering Anthony with jabs, a huge palm strike, Anthony floats over the brainbuster and lays kicks in! Off the ropes, devastating lariat... BRAINBUSTER! LIGHTS OUT! NO GOOD! Hasta La Vista reversed into a Frankensteiner, Henry has a half-crab on in the middle of the ring! HE’S ALMOST GOT THE ROPES BUT ANTHONY SWITCHES TO A CROSSFACE, ROLLS BACK TO THE MIDDLE OF THE RING, ANKLE LOCK FOR A MOMENT, LEG-TRAP GERMAN SUPLEX... AICHNER KICKS OUT!

Headed up top, double stomp comes up empty, Fabian htis a pop-up backbreaker, powerbomb lift, Hasta La Vista... HENRY ROLLS TO THE SAFETY OF THE FLOOR! DRAGON SCREW IN THE ROPES WHEN AICHNER TRIES TO FOLLOW! Fabian cuts him off in the turnbuckles, jockeying for position, sunset flip Tenryu Powerbomb! Two superkicks, Anthony heads up top and nails the double stomp this time! IT’S THREE BUT REFEREE BRANDON TOLLE SEES AICHNER’S FOOT ON THE ROPES THE SECOND HE LOOKS UP AND HE WAVES THE FINISH OFF!

Henry shoves Tolle! He’s throwing the match out!

Fabian Aichner wins by disqualification.

Holy hell what a match. Cards on the table, I’m always inclined to enjoy my dude Henry’s matches more than the average cat, but this absolutely ruled. Urgency towards victory, sick legwork, both men digging deep and using their entire arsenals, this was a hell of a fight even before you get to the storytelling aspect!

Henry getting DQ’d over a three count that was completed but invalid due to Aichner’s foot being on the ropes is the PERFECT next beat in his story of feeling undervalued by Evolve and I am here for it.

JD Drake hits the ring to try and talk some sense into Henry! They’re arguing when Austin Theory and Priscilla Kelly show up. He runs Drake down for not looking like him and being an embarrassment to the title, to which JD says he wants to have a talk about Theory. He sees somebody who spends a lot of time in the gym drinking pumpkin spice lattes because he’s an entitled millennial.

The Blue Collar Badass says he’s been busting his ass in a ring almost as long as he’s been alive, and Austin doesn’t know about the sacrifices he’s made. And he wants the match right now!

Austin Theory vs. Harlem Bravado vs. JD Drake (c) (WWN Championship)

Theory going outside to hide early only to try and pick the bones and get clobbered by Drake! Missile dropkick from Bravado gets Austin back in, fast-paced three-way jockeying for position and Harlem wipes both men out with a tope con giro! Bravado gets a Blue Thunder Driver but not Straight Cash Homie, Theory busts him up with a suplex and clobbers JD when he tries to return to the ring.

Sweet inverted DDT setup from Harlem into a big dropkick on Drake and grandma’s boy is in charge until the Blue Collar Badass comes back in a big way and nearly ends it. HUGE pop-up Emerald Flowsion on Theory but he manages to kick out! Three-way slugfest ends with a double clothesline from the champion! More lariats to light up both his challengers, cannonball on Austin as Bravado gets checked on the floor and TPK attacks!

She hits a senton on Harlem as Theory hits a standing blockbuster... NOPE! Jockeying for position in the corner, all three of ‘em, Drake goes for a cannonball, nobody home and Bravado hits a Tower of London onto the champion... STILL NO! JD sidesteps a knee, hits the spinning spinebuster, Drill Bit, headed up top and Theory comes in, cuts him off... SPIN-OUT ARGENTINE POWERBOMB ISN’T ENOUGH TO WIN HIM THE TITLE BACK!

Austin clubbing the champion into the corner, he and Bravado run shots on him, Harlem turns, Straight Cash Homie denied and Drill Bit hits for the second time! Up top...

JD Drake wins by pinfall with a moonsault on Harlem Bravado to retain the WWN Championship.

This was definitely kind of your standard “two guys in, one out” three-way but it had a real smooth ebb and flow to it and some really strong exchanges.

BSHP KNG vs. Cyrus Satin vs. Matt Knicks vs. Mike Fierro

Knicks and Satin in hard out the gates, Fierro fends Matt off and Cyrus goes at him only to get tossed into a right hand from KNG! Mike slings him around, whips Knicks, the Freelance man slides low only to get cut off with a knee from Satin before a dive! Reverse STO, he gets the dive this time! Fierro press slams Satin back into the ring and follows it up with a belly-to-belly suplex only for BSHP to make the save!

KNG and Knicks into it, quick exchanges, BSHP gets a senton atomico on Cyrus but Mike breaks it up with a German suplex! Big forearm cuts Matt off, Satin staggers Fierro with a dropkick but gets spinebustered for his trouble! Knick in with a superkick, scoop lift...

Matt Knicks wins by pinfall with a Snow Plow on Cyrus Satin.

Fun little four-way to bring us back from intermission. Fierro looked a lot more impressive here than he did last night, just slinging dudes around with aplomb, and Matt Knicks is always welcome in an Evolve ring if I have anything to say about it.

Kassius Ohno vs. Shane Strickland

Slow start as Ohno takes in the atmosphere of the crowd and Strickland’s in no hurry to bring the fight to him. Back inside, ready to start, handshake, Shane tries a kick and Kassius catches his foot and we’ve got a fight! Just battering Strickland, fending off attempts to grab his arm and work him over, and finally it’s the leg that gets Swerve an opening as he ends an exchange dropkicking Ohno’s knee out from under him!

Pressing the attack, a DDT to the leg sends Kassius to the floor, back inside, stepover knee drop to the knee, shifting back towards his trademark armwork, mixing it all together, deathlock stomp to the knee, Ohno trying to turtle up, to get any advantage he can manage, but Strickland puts him to the floor where his knee gives out! Following after, the Knockout Artist manages to clock him with an elbow for some breathing room.

Back inside, still picking at the leg, scissoring it and leading Kassius to rake the eyes to escape. A slugfest ensues, Swerve hammering his head with punches and then forearms on the mat into a cover for two. CRASH LANDING! Ohno fired up, watching through forearms, asking for more and taking them clean on the jaw! KO ELBOWS! An enzuigiri blocks a leg pick, another elbow, a huge senton AS SHANE WAS RISING BACK TO HIS FEET BUT IT’S NOT ENOUGH!

Gutwrench, Canadian backbreaker, Strickland floats out, thinking German suplex but the big man throws him to the apron! Shane back in... HE GETS THE GERMAN! Rolling thunder Ace Crusher... SO CLOSE! Hammering the head with knees and elbows, looking for a leglock but Hero blocks with upkicks! Jockeying for position, Swerve with a hard kick to the ear, up top... SWERVE STOMP CAN’T PUT THE GATEKEEPER AWAY!

Stomp/kick combo, lying in wait as Kassius puts himself back together, counter into a cravate suplex! Going for Cyclone Kill but his leg gives out so he waits for Strickland to approach before clocking him with an elbow, ripcord Canadian backbreaker rack drop... NO GOOD! Trying a new tack, Ohno up top... NOBODY HOME ON THE MOONSAULT BUT HE CLOBBERS SHANE WITH AN ELBOW WHEN HE CHARGES!

Rolling elbow blocked with a knee, Mafia kick, off the ropes, High Tension Elbow! Stump puller pin... IT’S OVER!

Kassius Ohno wins by pinfall with the High Tension Elbow.

Not quite to the heights of the Aichner match from last night, but this was that pure Chris Hero goodness I love so much, elevated by Shane Strickland and his always-unique limbwork.

Anthony Henry comes out to confront Ohno, and Kassius cedes the stage (and the microphone) to him. He says after last night he realizes that he’s probably not a guy Ohno wants around, to which Kassius says he was very rude. Anthony wants to explain himself and says he’ll be real, he’s frustrated. He’s been working his butt off in this business for fifteen years, and every time he’s this close, some new guy comes up and takes that opportunity from him.

All he wants is to show everybody how good he knows he is, and he hopes Ohno will accept his apology, telling him he’s one of the greatest of all time and he’s been watching since 2002. And maybe if he accepts his apology, maybe they could share the ring? Ohno says he didn’t hear an apology to accept yet, and a “Say you’re sorry!” chant goes up, because Evolve’s midwest crowds are always fun.

Henry says he’s right, real men apologize, and he says he’s very sorry for what he did to him, to Fabian Aichner, to referee Brandon Tolle, and to everyone here. Kassius says they’re in the ring now, and when he sees Anthony he sees himself six or seven years, and he knows what it’s like to get passed by again and again, but there’s a time and a place for an interruption.

It’s 2018, anything can happen, so he accepts his apology and he’ll talk to some people, and maybe they’ll see each other in the ring again sooner rather than later!

AR Fox & Leon Ruff vs. Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford) (c) (Evolve Tag Team Championship)

Ruff and Dawkins to start, Leon showing off a bit before Angelo backs him into the corner. Ruff slips away but Dawkins sets him up top and things get serious with a nearfall on a sunset flip! Shift to Fox and Ford, a bit of mat grappling that Montez has fun with, human cartoon that he is, before giving way to a bit of lucha libre with arm drags on arm drags into a stalemate!

AR working a wristlock, combination arm drag headscissors on both Profits and a tag to Ruff! Superkicks, the match broken down with all four guys in the ring, wheelbarrow suplex assisted senton from the challengers and the champions hit the floor... STEREO OVER-THE-POST TOPE CON GIROS! A reversal of fortune on the floor as Dawkins sidesteps Leon and Ford suplexes Fox into the apron!

The Skulk fan poor Ruff to help him recover but he heads right into Angelo’s loving elbows for a nearfall! Montez tags in, working Leon’s arm over with repeated wrenches into a kneeling armbar! Ruff gets back and nearly wins with a backslide but a single arm wringer puts him right back on the back foot. Dawkins tags in and the champs keep pressing the attack with quick tags.

Leon sidesteps a charge, ducks a right, and Fox tags in! Rolling somersault senton, kick combo to a jawbreaker, lands on his feet off a back suplex, Matrix evasion and an enzuigiri! Stereo Shiranuis denied, but Fox and his protege hit stereo springboard Ace Crushers... STEREO KICKOUTS! AR lives Ruff into a suplex but Dawkins catches him with a fireman’s carry flapjack!

Superkick and a cover, Ayla Fox gets Fox’s shoulder up! Profits with the spinebuster / blockbuster... AR FOX KICKS OUT! Tag back to Angelo, jockeying for position in the corner, AR straightens up and hits the 450 splash but nobody’s home! Montez with a senton atomico, tag to Ruff! Leon in with right hands, a mule kick cuts him off, Ford with mounted punches in the corner but Ruff sets him up... CHEEKY NANDO’S!

Montez recovers, sitout powerbomb... NOT ENOUGH! Double suplex, Leon lands on his feet, Profits throwing forearms on forearms, the feed goes glitchy and I have to refresh and when it catches back up Fox is dragging himself up and asking the Skulk to throw Ford back in when Dawkins clocks him into their loving arms and back body drops Ruff on top of him! Spinebuster connects...

Street Profits win by pinfall with The Prophecy on Leon Ruff to retain the Evolve Tag Team Championship.

It’s a good thing Leon Ruff is as good as he is, because the “That was Ruff!” chants he gets every time he does something really cool were gonna help make him a star no matter what! This was a really good match, and a nice counterpart to the WorkHorsemen match from yesterday in that the Profits were much more in control of this.

Minor feed issues again, folks, but when I get it back up, Ford is cutting a promo, asking if the Skulk feel like partying. Dawkins asks for his headband back before getting the party started, and the two groups celebrate in the ring together!

As Montez leaves, he gets to celebrate with some of his family, which is very sweet.

Darby Allin vs. Mustafa Ali

Allin starting off seated in the corner, leading Ali to point out that this is the part where they wrestle. Darby pulls himself up and we’re off to the races! These guys are so damn fast, ducking and dodging, jockeying for position, La Casita gets Mustafa a two count! Darby can play the same game, two of his own with the same hold! Off the ropes, back and forth, Ali snaps off a headscissors takeover, Allin to the apron, Mustafa to the floor and Darby wipes him out with a suicide dive!

Hammerlock, sandwiching him against the post for clubbing blows, following it up in the ring with a kneeling armbar. Shift to a double wristlock, Mustafa struggles out, lands on his feet on a back suplex and wipes Allin out with a kick. Jockeying for position, pop-up countered with a dropkick and Ali clutches at his arm on his way to deliver big chops in the corner.

Slide low on a whip, kick from the apron, rolling thunder X-Factor connects for two! Darby with an upkick to the bad elbow but Mustafa returns a kick combo, falls into the cover... NOPE! Allin floats over a suplex, shoves him off, quebrada, nobody home but he lands on his feet, O’Connor roll, smooth into a springboard tornillo on the kickout and then the Fujiwara armbar!

Wrenching it in, Ali flagging but he does not fail, crawling, reaching... HE’S GOT THE ROPES! To the floor, Darby with a slingshot dropkick, up top... COFFIN DROP TO THE FLOOR! Back inside, headed up top and Mustafa cuts him off with a dropkick! Clutching his bicep in agony, climbing after, jockeying for position... COFFIN DROP COUNTERED WITH A SUPERKICK WHAT THE HELL?!

Big enzuigiri into a Poison Frankensteiner... DARBY ALLIN LIVES! Repeated basement superkicks, springboard tornado DDT... STILL NO! Ali arguing with referee Brandon Tolle before drawing Allin to his feet, Darby picks the leg, Last Supper... NOT QUITE! STANDING DIAMOND DUST, SLOW TO CAPITALIZE AND MUSTAFA GETS THE KOJI CLUTCH OUTTA NOWHERE! DARBY’S GOT NOWHERE TO GO! HE’S FADING! TOLLE CALLS IT!

Mustafa Ali wins by referee stoppage with the Koji Clutch.

Fantastic match! Honestly they did so much cool quick stuff here there’s no way my recap can do the actual match justice. Ali does long-term limb-selling SO well and with Allin destroying his arm here, well, it was a thing of beauty. And that Coffin Drop counter!

It’s also just so surreal to not only see a WWE #1 contender wrestling on an indie show the week before a Big Four pay-per-view, but to know that there are spots Ali tried out in this match and the previous one against DJ Z that will end up being part of his WWE Cruiserweight Championship match at Survivor Series. 2018 pro wrestling is the best.

Ali gets on the mic and says he doesn’t like Darby, but he respects him, and the reason for that is he’s got that heart. He earned the name Heart of 205 Live, and tonight, Allin earned the name Heart of Evolve. In just a few short days he’s gonna be the WWE Cruiserweight Champion (goddamn right, sir!) and when he comes back to Chicago, he wants to come back to Evolve and give Darby a shot at that title!

He says he’s on a long, winding road, but if he stays the path, he’ll get where he wants to be. Allin, disappointed, waves him off and walks out. Mustafa continues, saying Chicago is his home and since they’re like family, he wants to introduce his family, and he has his wife bring his daughter into the ring with him for a sweet moment together.


A hell of a show caps off a great weekend for the new Evolve. Henry/Aichner (which is likely my overall match of the weekend), Ohno/Strickland, and the main event were all impeccable, undeniably great matches, and the tag titles and WWN Championship matches were quite good in their own right as well.

And storyline-wise, well... the odds that Mustafa Ali is gonna defend the Cruiserweight Championship against Darby Allin in Evolve in 2019 are pretty even. What a world! In the shorter-term, Henry vs. Ohno is gonna rule, of course. The Skulk and the Street Profits having a dance party together after their match is the most Skulk thing imaginable and I love it, plus an alliance between the two groups has some interesting ramifications down the line if it sticks.

On a less obviously positive note, we didn’t get a whole lot of an idea as to what’s next for either Allin or Shane Strickland, both of whom had two of the most prominent stories over the summer and who may end up left high and dry by the reboot. Neither did we really get anything on the stipulation from last night where Fox earned Theory’s respect, although the fact that he’s still tight with Priscilla Kelly is probably a sign.

That being said, Evolve’s in a good place right now and I’m really excited to get to the December shows now.

Check the VOD out on WWNLive, either as an individual purchase or at no additional charge with a Club WWN subscription, folks.

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