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Evolve 117 recap & review: Ohno fells Allin, Eddie Kingston debuts, and Austin Theory wins the Evolve World Championship

World Wrestling Network

The show kicks off just a few minutes after bell time with Lenny Leonard and “Hardcore Giant” Ron Niemi in the ring to welcome us to the show and hype up the card.

Harlem Bravado vs. Joe Bailey

Bailey trying to outmaneuver Bravado on the mat early, bringing his mat grappling and speed to bear to deny Harlem full use of his strength. Bravado eventually pushes through and takes things to the floor, but Joe meets him strike for strike. Back inside, Harlem bringing the heat, grinding him down with a cravate, Bailey escalates in return with a diving uppercut and both men are down and out.

Struggle over a suplex, Joe hits the German for a shockingly tight nearfall on the former tag champ! Straight Cash Homey blocked, butterfly suplex into a butterfly lock but Bravado reverses to a pin! Off the ropes, Harlem clearly just looking to end it, trading nearfalls and a bridging backslide gets another tight nearfall for the newcomer! Jockeying for position...

Harlem Bravado wins by pinfall with Straight Cash Homey.

Fun opener, was impressed with Bailey’s speed and precision here. Good stuff.

Ring announcer Timothy Barr announces Evolve’s return to New York on January 18 and 19 featuring the return for one weekend only of JOHNNY GARGANO!

BSHP KNG vs. Joe Gacy

Fast-paced out the gate and KNG swats a dropkick aside! Gacy quickly sets to work on BSHP’s arm, wrenching, firing knees to the elbow, but KNG gets away and hits some hard strikes with the good hand. Battering away, Joe fires back, big Alabama Slam into a powerbomb... NOPE! He makes the mistake of going high rent and BSHP cuts him off and ends up with a close nearfall outta the deal.

On their knees and trading hard slaps, rising to their feet as the slugfest continues, Gacy gets away but KNG has the handspring scouted and decks him with an elbow for another deep two count! Second try’s the charm and the Ace Crusher connects but Joe can’t put BSHP away! Snap scoop powerslam evens the odds and KNG heads up top only to get cut off himself.

Jockeying for position, KNG off the top...

BSHP KNG wins by pinfall with a senton atomico.

Another good match, real hard-hitting back and forth. It never really got into second gear but at this position on the card that’s not the worst thing.

Josh Briggs vs. Leon Ruff

Ruff with a huge right hand early but he dances rather than capitalizes, and has to turn the speed up posthaste when the big man’s ire turns on him. Looking for about a sextuple jump Frankensteiner, Josh catches him! Evasion, to the floor, double jump senton atomico! Back in, tight nearfall off a victory roll pin but Briggs nails him with a hip toss backbreaker and takes control.

Big slams follow, over and over, just trying to grind Leon into dust. Toying with him and he pays for it as Ruff throws a series of punches that crack out across La Boom! Body blows, forcing him to cover up, and a huge superkick staggers the big man! Pressing the attack, a neckbreaker... NOPE! Another nearfall off a DDT, Ruff clutching his ribs and trying to figure out what else he can do, and he gets caught by Josh, Go To Hell... NOT ENOUGH!


Josh Briggs wins by pinfall with the M5.

This was a really fun David and Goliath matchup with Leon turning his speed up and refusing to stay down and an increasingly frustrated and sadistic Briggs taking it to him in return. Good stuff.

Post-match, Adrian Alanis gets in Briggs’ face and calls him out ahead of their match tomorrow. Josh leaves, but Fox steps up and calls his opponent for tonight down and we’re off!

AR Fox vs. Curt Stallion

Shoving match to start, Stallion bringing the huge chops and a wicked headbutt into a series of boots! To the apron, Fox recovers and hits a wicked neckbreaker on the corner of the ring! Back inside, Ace Crusher, neckbreaker, AR in control until Curt snaps off a German suplex to counter another Ace Crusher! Throwing more chops, to the floor, some SWEET dives from the youngster but he can’t finish the vet off.

AR in with yet more Ace Crushers... NOPE! Up top, Coast 2 Coast through the ropes is followed by a huge suicide crossbody and then the 450 splash for a nearfall! Stallion up top, jockeying for position... MOONSAULT RUSSIAN LEGSWEEP ALMOST DOES IT! Fox rush of kicks, straitjacket...

AR Fox wins by pinfall with Foxcatcher.

This absolutely ruled and my recap doesn’t really do it justice. Fox with the thermostat turned all the way up, Stallion game to make an impact in his debut, fantastic stuff and a great match. More Stallion, please!

Darby Allin vs. Kassius Ohno

Hold for hold in the feeling out, Ohno in control but Allin won’t stay down. A big right and Kassius throws Darby through the ropes and to the floor, smiling as referee Brandon Tolle goes to check on him. Following out after, clubbing away and the big man hits a wicked senton on the apron. Back inside, wild release atomic drop, following it up with a knee drop to the face and Darby’s gotten about half a teaspoon of offense so far here.

Going after Allin’s leg with him in the ropes, shifting to the hand and he just bends Darby’s fingers back with a vengeance! Knucklelock applied, Allin fires a headbutt off and gets some separation but all it does is get Ohno mad enough to chop him in the back of his neck! Electric chair, Allin slips out, turns the speed up, slap rush, into the Yoshi Tonic for two!

Dives ensue, including a wild senton atomico off the ringpost, before Allin takes it back inside and reverses a reversal off a dive into Diamond Dust and follows with a victory roll for two! Ohno cracks off an elbow to the back of the neck... OUT AT ONE! Kassius choking him in the ropes, electric chair facebuster... STILL ONLY ONE! Big elbow... YOU CAN’T KEEP DARBY ALLIN DOWN!

ROLLING ELBOW BUT STILL DARBY WON’T STAY DOWN! Allin throwing desperation strikes, going elbow for boot, Coffin Drop... COUNTERED BY AN ELBOW FOR SUCH A TIGHT NEARFALL! Wrist clutch, rolling elbow to the back of the head... it’s over.

Kassius Ohno wins by pinfall with a ripcord rolling elbow to the back of the head.

My god, what a match this was. Chris Hero, as they say, ain’t nothin’ to F with. Darby tried, desperately, oh he tried, but despite his best efforts he couldn’t do it, and that’s sad, but dear god was watching him try satisfying.

Post-match Ohno gets into it with a fan before heading back into the ring, where ANTHONY HENRY ATTACKS AND LAYS HIM OUT WITH A KNEE! JD Drake follows soon after to try and calm him down as Kassius is helped to the back.

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

Henry and Dawkins to start, Angelo jawing at Drake to try and bring him in and Anthony obliges. Shoving match between the big lads, quick tag right back to Henry and they get right into the grappling. Dawkins ends up manhandling the Lethal Lover, tags made, but Ford doesn’t want to fight Drake and he tags right back out to Angelo. Big boys trading chops, the champs pull ahead for a moment but the WorkHorsemen refuse to let it stick.

Henry and Montez jockeying for position, Dawkins back in, double-teams, Wakanda Forever... NOPE! Challengers take the tide again, wiping Angelo out at the knee and pressing the attack with the weak spot revealed! Quick tags, working holds, but after a quick trip to the floor Ford gets the tag! Trading strikes with the WWN Champion, blockbuster gets him close but no cigar!

Back suplex, front flip Ace Crusher, up top for the frog splash but Henry makes the save! Dawkins legal, the champs hit a 3D but Anthony breaks the pin up with a double stomp! Henry tags in, ducking punches and throwing kicks, electric chair reversed into a victory roll but he can’t end it! TOTAL ELIMINATION GETS TWO ON DAWKINS! Rolling strikes on Angelo, big cannonball from the big man, diving double stomp connects!

Montez trips Anthony up on the apron, Dawkins rolls away from the moonsault... EDDIE KINGSTON IS HERE AND HE’S THROWING BACKFISTS ON EVERYBODY! IT’S OVER!

The match goes to a no contest.

What do I do with my hands?! So yeah, the match itself, great, a worthy sequel to their first match, bit of a down ending on a certain level but... but... EDDIE KINGSTON! I’ve been waiting for Eddie to show up in Evolve for literal years, he’s such a perfect match I can’t believe it didn’t happen sooner. He and JD Drake are gonna have a hell of a match I tell you what.

Post-match the beatdowns continue and Kingston and Drake brawl.

When the dust settles, Montez Ford cuts a promo questioning Eddie’s presence and says he’s free on January 19 and calling Kingston out!

Austin Theory vs. Fabian Aichner (c) vs. Roderick Strong (Evolve World Championship)

First off I’d like to officially complain about Roddy coming out to his NXT theme instead of End of Heartache. I get it, I get it, branding matters, but... I miss End of Heartache, damnit.

Looking for quick pins in the feeling out, but none of the three men can find purchase enough to put anyone away. Strong trying to set up an alliance, but Theory decks him and decides to go it alone! He and Aichner go at it for a beat before Roddy comes in to start slinging backbreakers and ends up one-on-one with the champion himself. Once Fabian’s definitely in control, Austin comes back in and cuts him off, grinding him over the ropes.

Stomp into a suplex, only two, and soon enough Strong is back in and throwing those hellacious chops of his to set up the Olympic Slam for two! All three men up on the apron and slugging it out, back inside, and here’s the reverse chinlock from Theory but fortunately it doesn’t last long and he and Roddy end up trading some nice shots. Aichner wipes them both out with a crossbody, lariat and a backbreaker follows, lands on his feet off a back suplex and hits one of his own!

Finlay Roll into the moonsault... NOPE! Rolling thunder countered into the delayed vertical but Strong gets Strong Hold at the same time as Theory grabs a Last Chancery! Fabian out of it and Austin and Roddy trade shots again, ending in the spin-out Argentine powerbomb that only gets broken up by the champ! Rolling thunder blockbuster gets two, and another neckbreaker still can’t win the match for Theory either.

Ataxia blocked with a jumping knee from Strong, he hits another before following it with the tossing back suplex only for Aichner to break it up! Dumping the champion to the floor, Theory with a buckle bomb but Aichner’s back, revolution powerbomb and it’s Austin’s turn to break it up! Jockeying for position, Austin takes the revolution powerbomb and Priscilla Kelly breaks it up!

Trying to will her man back into it, Fabian runs her off and Theory lands a pair of superkicks, Ataxia...

Austin Theory wins by pinfall with Ataxia, winning the Evolve World Championship.

Gotta admit, it was a fine match but I’m super not into the idea of Austin Theory as Evolve World Champion. He’s got all the potential in the world but it’s just not come together as much as you’d hope given how prominent he is in WWN.

Post-match, Aichner offers a handshake and presents the title to the new champion.

Theory gets on the mic and orders TPK out of his ring. She’s fired! He then addresses the title and asks the question “What is Evolve?” before answering that Evolve is Theory, and the only way that’s ending is when he signs to leave here and become the WWE Champion.

Enter Darby Allin, slow-clapping the new champ and refusing to look at him. Austin shoves him back and holds the title high... AND ALLIN SNAPS AND ATTACKS HIM! THEORY HIGHTAILS IT OUTTA THERE!


This was a really strong show from Evolve despite down endings in the two final matches, in large part due to that hot run of matches from Briggs/Ruff through Fox/Stallion and concluding in Ohno/Allin.

Storyline-wise, I am SO hyped for Eddie Kingston in Evolve that I worry I can’t properly express it, but on the flipside... I’m really down on Austin Theory as Evolve World Champion. I like the guy, but he felt overpushed when he was WWN Champion, and now that he’s the only man to have held that title, the FIP World Heavyweight Championship, and the Evolve World Championship, that feeling is even stronger. The ending with Darby Allin reasserting his claim gives me some hope that the destination will have been worth the journey, but I’m really hoping we arrive at that destination sooner rather than later.

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

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