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Evolve 100 recap & review: Everybody calls their shot, Riddle & Drake tear the house down

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The show starts just about five minutes past the advertised bell time with the centennial recap highlight reel and then we go live in the ring with Lenny Leonard and “Hardcore Giant” Ron Niemi welcoming us to the show. Lenny and Ron everyone for coming and get us right into the first match without further ado.

Darby Allin vs. Jarek 1:20 vs. Jason Kincaid

Darby chooses to chill on the floor and Kincaid kicks it off with an enzuigiri, right into the cartwheel powerslam and double stomp sequence and that sends Jarek to the floor. Allin in on Jason, hurling his body into the Gift’s, the same for 1:20 when he returns, reckless abandon, Gallon Throw inadvertently sets up an X-Factor from Kincaid! Double Ace Crusher through the ropes, Jason running hot, springboard double dropkick off the barricade!

Not enough to end it this quickly, Allin gets an Ace Crusher on 1:20 but the Sleeping Beauty punch catches him right in return and the Gift snags a quick cover off it. Hanging Darby up in the Tree of Woe, Allin manages to sling Kincaid aside but Jarek goes Coast to Coast! Springboard leg drop for the followup, Sleeping Beauty on Jason, no dice! Darby still in the Tree of Woe, 1:20 suplexes Jason into him... NOPE!

Darby bleeding from the back, guillotine on Jarek, catching Kincaid as well, both men hung over the ropes... COFFIN DROP OVER THE APRON! Mounted punches to the magic man on the floor, Allin heads back inside, fends off a waistlock but gets caught with a blockbuster! Slingshot suplex denied, Dary catches a tornillo, Jason deadlifts him out of the pin, shoves him away, back elbow, pop-up into the Stundog Millionaire!

Jackknife pin gets two, break, cross the legs...

Darby Allin wins by pinfall with Last Supper on Jason Kincaid.

Hot opener, was worried Darby was gonna play it brooding and psychological when he sat out the opening moments but there he went slinging his body around like always and it was a pretty darn good way to start the show.

Jarek cuts a promo about how Darby got lucky and if it was them one-on-one, Allin would lose just like he did to Zack Sabre, Jr. Darby slaps the taste out of his mouth and 1:20 retreats to the safety of Candy Cartwright’s arms on the floor!

Darby says after the next 100 Evolve shows, everybody will know that it’s his damn company.

Dominic Garrini vs. Fred Yehi

Intense grappling in the feeling out, waistlock for armlock, neither man able to quite get a definitive advantage just yet. Garrini getting aggressive, going after the legs, Yehi’s defense is strong but Dom is eventually able to get the heel hook... right as Fred meets the ropes to force the break. Waistlock, countered into a leg pick but Yehi blocks, jockeying for position, figure four the legs and he stomps Garrini’s bare foot!

Big takedown from Dom, he has Fred’s back but can’t force his way into anything and Yehi starts levering on his arm to try and get something going. Front chancery, both men to their feet, the struggle is real, Fred throws him off and Garrini returns a shoulder block! Not done with the grappling yet, Dom picks a kneebar and again Yehi is right in the ropes to force the break!

Double stomp, nuke, Fred rubs some life back into his leg and the delay is long enough that Garrini can insist on a forearm-for-forearm slugfest. Liu Kang bicycle kicks into a half nelson suplex... NOPE! Yehi comes from behind, full nelson, Dom slings him off, big strikes to the arm, back suplex backbreaker into a guillotine choke in the middle of the ring!

Fred breaks, eats a big elbow, Garrini lifts him up like he’s going for a straight suplex and drops it right into a knee strike... NOT ENOUGH! Big arm drag, reverse STO, Yehi has the Koji Clutch on but Dom is able to reverse to a pin! Knee strike, Mighty Mouse but Fred keeps his hands clasped! A pin breaks the hold and we get back to the clubbering!

Yehi catches a running knee, counter to a dragon screw, Dragon suplex, only good for a nearfall. Front chancery...

Fred Yehi wins by pinfall with a snap brainbuster.

Awesome match, love the way it was built, down and dirty grappling peppered with hard strikes and suplexes, perfectly up my alley. Particularly wanna shout the finishing stretch out, neither man able to land their normal submission finish properly so Fred thinks fast with a counter and ends up scraping it out with a brainbuster.

Fred gets on the mic after and says last year he was the MVP of WWN, and here at Evolve 100 he finds himself at number two, against an individual who wants to take his spot, but you see what just happened. He tortured him, beat him, took control, and persecuted him. He finishes up by saying he’s in a class of his own.

Anthony Henry vs. “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams

Henry right in hot taking Williams to the corner for violence! Hot Sauce turns it right around on him and we got a fight! From striking to jockeying for position, ducking and dodging, trading pinfall attempts, Anthony goes to lever Tracy’s arm, strikes evaded, and we’re at a stalemate! Probing leg kicks from the Lethal Lover, he picks the legs and rains strikes down on Hot Sauce’s guard until he turns it around into a pin.

Trip on the apron, running kick lights Williams’ chest up and Henry follows it with a double stomp off the apron! Back inside, a cover comes up empty and Anthony gets back to the striking, going chop for chop and taking the lead with an elbow in the corner and a Penalty Kick. Bodyscissors applied, Tracy reverses to a double stomp and chops the back of Henry’s friggin’ neck!

Anthony fired up, spitting at Hot Sauce, he gets clobberd for his trouble but comes right back with a German suplex! Chest kicks, Williams catches one and we segue into a slap exchange that turns into forearms. Henry with a kick rush but he runs right into a boot, trading boots now, a rolling solebutt fires Hot Sauce up and he takes Anthony’s head off with a lariat!

Both men drag themselves slowly up the ropes and get right back into it, stereo elbows and kicks, Williams blocks one and suplexes Henry. Corner lariat follows it up, half halch suplex out of the corner is only good for two and the crossface gets reversed into a pin on him. Anthony gets the rebound kick after the first is blocked, northern lights suplex into a senton, big sitout powerbomb... NOPE!

Shoulder thrusts in the corner, he climbs up but Williams throws him aside, swinging kick lays him out, the Maltese Falcon comes up emty on a diving double stomp, Henry rebounds up with a kick of his own, missile dropkick and a kip-up! Posing on the turnbuckles, charging elbow, enzuigiri, fireman’s carry denied, cutthroat pumphandle suplex from Hot Sauce... NOT ENOUGH!

Crowd split down the middle, Hot Sauce thinking about a piledriver but Anthony blocks, back body drop, penalty kick denied and Williams gets the piledriver! Arm-trap crossface, Henry posts on one knee and crawls for the ropes... HE’S GOT ‘EM! Stokely Hathaway argues with referee Brandon Tolle, Henry flips out of a crossface attempt and throws Tracy into Stokely! Roundhouse kick...

Anthony Henry wins by pinfall with an overrotated lateral press.

I feel like I could watch these guys wrestle each other every day for a month and I’d never get sick of it. This was crisp, intense, hard-hitting, you name it, this match delivered. Great match.

Hot Sauce is angry at Stokely Hathaway after the match and Stoke gives him the business, holding his arm out for a handshake. Doom Patrol come down to try and smooth things over and here come the End! A pillar to post brawl ensues, Parrow catches Jaka on a dive... ODINSON FIREMAN’S CARRY SLAMS DICKINSON OFF THE APRON INTO BOTH MEN!

Odinson beats on Dickinson and referee Brandon Tolle makes lemonade of the situation and call for the bell!

Doom Patrol (Chris Dickinson & Jaka) (c) vs. the End (Odinson & Parrow) (Evolve Tag Team Championship)

Odinson remains in charge, suplexes and slams, low-angle pop-up corkscrew elbow into a kneeling rear chinlock. Chris gets out, throwing desperation strikes, and gets a German suplex off! Tag to Jaka, he clears Parrow from the apron and brings it to Odinson with another German suplex! Superkick, shotei, back suplex, the Smooth Savage is on a roll and finishes up with a Busaiku knee kick... NOPE!

Headbutt backs him off, Parrow into run interference and he takes the spinning wheel kick. Tag to Dickinson, they charge in and get caught and powerbombed into each other Super Collider style! Parrow throws the Dirty Daddy outside, Odinson sets him up on Parrow in the corner but Dickinson breaks it all up! Chest kick from Jaka, avalanche arm drag takes Parrow out of the turnbuckles!

Chris and Odinson fill the ring with chairs, Brandon Tolle calls for the bell and gets the hell out of dodge!

The match goes to a no contest.

All four guys batter each other with chairs after. Hot Sauce and Drennen inject themselves into the brawl and they’re all out of control. Anthony Henry joins the fray, perches up top... PLANCHA INTO THE CRUSH! Stokely gets in the ring and swings a chair around, but Drennen stalks behind him and he ends up bumping into him Looney Tunes style.

He turns around and Drennen has a collapsible baton! Tracy Williams makes the save and takes the baton to the gut! Jaka saves Hathaway, Dickinson throws a chair and gets Drennen up... DEATH TRAP!

Stokely again extends a hand, and Hot Sauce shakes it this time, leaving Catch Point still united.

So obviously a little disappointing on a certain level but you didn’t really think a normal straight-up match was going to be the end of this anyway, did you? What we got was a real satisfying brawl and when these two factions meet in whatever pitched stipulation battle they’ll surely meet in eventually it’ll be worth the wait.

James Drake vs. Matt Riddle (No Rope Break Match)

Riddle comes out and cuts a promo about how he’s been around since Evolve 49 and to keep things in the spirit of Evolve, he wants to make this a no rope break match. Drake says he’s never backed down from a fight before and he’s on!

Bro in with some grappling, Drake immediately gets him to the ropes but with no break Riddle is able to pull him back to the center. James is able to turn it into a waistlock and gain a measure of control but in the corner Matt takes his back looking for a sleeper. Drake breaks out and fires off one of those cinder block chops of his! Deep Waters fires back one of his own and we got us a clubberin’!

Riddle ahead, chest kicks, repeated charging forearms, bleeding from the chest, he looks for the exploder suplex but the New Age Enforcer counters with elbows. German suplex finds home, Drake heads outside, Matt slides after him and he immediately takes the pop-up haymaker on the apron! James using those ham hock fists of his, pummeling our Bro. Back in the ring, slap rush but Drake turns it around into a pumphandle exploder suplex and a senton... NOPE!

Grounded elbows, kneeling rear chinlock, trying to grind Matt down. He posts to his feet, slaps to the gut, Drake shoves him off into a knee, sliding lariat... only a nearfall! James falling back into a cross armbar, dropping his leg across Riddle’s face to try and force him to break his hands but Matt turns it into a pin to break it. More chops, wicked elbow from Drake sets up a buzzsaw roundhouse that seemingly knocks Riddle out... NOT ENOUGH!

Drawing the King of Bros up into the corner, a chop rings out across LaBoom and Riddle gives him one right back in return! Two gods of war trading chops in the middle of the ring, James blocks the Pele, counters the Bro 2 Sleep, German suplex lands but Matt rises! Riddle with the German... Drake’s right back up himself! Trading kicks now, knee for a chop, Riddle gets the Bro 2 Sleep this time but James is only staggered and manages to land a German suplex in return!

Both men down and out, crawling back up forehead-to-forehead and trade slapes to the face now! Ripcord knee strike from Riddle, bridging German suplex... YOU’RE NOT GONNA TAKE JAMES DRAKE OUT LIKE THAT! Sentons in the corner, Riddle trying whatever he can think of, knees to the ribs and stomps to the head, a senton to the shoulder but all that is only good for another nearfall.

Chest kick from Matt gets the bird up from Drake and he wants more! The New Age Enforcer crawls to the middle of the ring and tells Riddle to bring it! Chest kicks, he blocks one, spinning backfist, both men staggered and stumbling, back elbow on the charge, Drake with a leg lariat off the top... NO GOOD! Deep Waters raining chops down, James returns one, lariat into a folding press, only a nearfall!

Trying to whip Bro off the ropes, Riddle blocks, more strikes, roundhouse denied, pumphandle into the fallaway slam and Drake is fired up... CANNONBALL! Big man headed up top... MOONSAULT! RIDDLE KICKS OUT AT THE LAST FRACTION OF A SECOND AND LABOOM IS ON ITS FEET! ANOTHER MOONSAULT... BRO GETS A KNEE UP! TRIANGLE CHOKE, ELBOWS TO THE HEAD! PALM STRIKES TO THE FACE, DRAKE TRIES TO ESCAPE AND GETS IN THE ROPES BUT THERE IS NO SAFETY!

BRO SWITCHES TO A CROSS ARMBAR AND JAMES ESCAPES WITH A KICK TO THE FACE! Drake with a backslide, Riddle floats out, powerbomb, rolls him through, knee strike... ONLY TWO! RIDDLE RAINS STOMPS AND FOREARMS DOWN, DRAKE CAN’T DEFEND HIMSELF, TOLLE HAS TO CALL IT!

Matt Riddle wins by referee stoppage with repeated forearms to the head.

I don’t have words. In a vacuum, this match is good enough to begin with— a violent, visceral, incredibly satisfying match between two of the hardest hitting men on the Evolve roster with a brilliant ending. Almost, if you’ll indulge me in a bit of cross-promotional comparison, almost a perfect counterpart to the fantastic Thatcher/WALTER match from Progress Chapter 62. Two very different matches in a lot of ways, but both pitted a slightly smaller, slightly grapplier man against a bigger man with hands of stone and let the magic happen from there.

And, I’m not normally a crowd reaction guy, but LaBoom coming around and getting up to a fever pitch for this match really made it something above and beyond special. One of the best matches in Evolve history.

Riddle embraces Drake after that incredible match and the New Age Enforcer takes in a standing ovation.

AR Fox vs. Keith Lee (c) (WWN Championship)

Feeling out, Fox takes a breather with the Skulk at ringside before we get any actual action. In and out, trying to get Lee hot, and when he finally goes to get into it, AR tries an fails to pick Keith’s leg. The Limitless One decks him with repeated elbows. Fox gets in the ropes, gets a kick off and celebrates like he’s already won. Lee bowls him over with a shoulder block, drop down, leapfrog, leapfrog, dropkick nails the champ on the chin!

Corner lariat connects but Keith grabs ahold, forcing AR to break free with elbows, more kicks, and again he taunts like he won already. Knucklelock, rake to the eyes, springboards, wheelbarrow bulldog! Lee forced to the apron, kickflip moonsault, Keith catches him but Fox shoves him into the post! Back inside, basement dropkick hits the Limitless One on his return but he’s still able to do the big kickout.

Stomps from AR, pump kick in the corner, a second, the champion still on his feet and able to pounce him when he goes for the third! Clubbing blow, scoop and a slam, off the ropes for an elbow drop, only good for two and Fox is still in it. Big elbow, Ayla Fox screaming at Lee and distracting him for a moment, but not so much that he can’t biel AR across the ring!

Stinger splash, big ol’ double chop, going for another splash, Fox has the boot up, to the apron, springboard dropkick staggers Keith, Ace Crusher denied, fireman’s carry, AR runs off before the elbow, springboard into the Ace Crusher, senton atomico... NOT ENOUGH! Forearm strikes, Lee gets up, headlock backbreaker gets two, looking for the Spirit Bomb, AR slips out, lands a few kicks... pop-up spinebuster cuts him off but isn’t enough to win it for the champ!

Fox with the low bridge, dropkick through the ropes and then over the top with a suicide dive! AR manhandles Lee so he’s perched from apron to guardrail... KICKFLIP MOONSAULT OFF THE POST! Fox gets him back in the ring, 450 splash... NOPE! Both men on their feet, trading forearms, AR ducks ‘em, gets caught by the fireman’s carry rolling elbow, not all of it the first time so Keith hits a second rolling elbow to wipe him out!

Lee blocks a forearm, strike rush of his own concludes with the double overhand chop, he stumbles but calls for the end, fireman’s carry... FOX ROLLS THROUGH GROUND ZERO INTO A PIN! Duck the lariat, matrix evasion, enzuigiri connects but Keith takes his head off with a lariat! Another attempt at Ground Zero, AR slips out, flip piledriver... HE CAN’T PUT KEITH LEE AWAY!

Looking for the straitjacket, Lee breaks out of it, Spirit Bomb... BUT NEITHER WILL AR FOX GO DOWN SO EASILY! Keith sets Fox up top, struggling for control but eventually climbing after him, fireman’s carry on the second but AR slips out. springboard into a lariat takedown, another 450 splash... NOT ENOUGH! Looking for Foxcatcher again, Lee blocks with all his mass, pops him up...

Keith Lee wins by pinfall with Ground Zero, retaining the WWN Championship.

Following a match like Riddle/Drake is a tough ask and Fox and Lee did admirably, starting slow with the stalling and shenanigans and building to a very satisfying fever pitch late. (And, in a nice touch, leaving some drama open for a potential second match since Foxcatcher is still untested against the Limitless One. Sounds good to me!)

After the match, Fox is consoled by the Skulk as they head to the back.

Austin Theory vs. Zack Sabre, Jr. (c) (Evolve World Championship)

Feeling out gives way to strength testing shoulder blocks and Sabre hauls off and slaps Theory across the face! Austin wants more and the champ is happy to give it to him, repeated uppercuts into kicks, that killer instinct taking hold. In the corner, Theory piefaces ZSJ on the break and we go into a test of strength, and again Zack tires of it and slaps him.

Going off the ropes, Priscilla Kelly interjects herself but Sabre is able to sidestep a charge and Austin only barely stops himself from clobbering her! Flying triangle choke, Theory barely makes the ropes! Austin lands a backbreaker and stays on the champ trying to overwhelm him. ZSJ is able to get an ankle lock, Theory makes the ropes and breaks, arm wringer into a hammer whip and the back damage begins to mount for the champion.

Another hard whip, Sabre comes off with a dropkick to the knee, dragon screw, hamstring kicks and a legsweep feed into a Penalty Kick and the Evolve World Champion is right back in it! Pick the leg, stepover toehold, add a cravate, roll through into a half crab and he torques all the way back on it something unholy! Stomps and kicks, ZSJ circling Austin and hitting him from all angles.

Tornado DDT into a guillotine choke, Theory breaks, blockbuster connects, only good for two! Following it up, looking for a crossleg brainbuster but Sabre slips out and they trade kicks, off the ropes, a lariat sends ZSJ careening but Austin’s too burnt out to follow up on it! Laying the kicks in, Penalty Kick lands but Theory’s back on his feet and wants more!

Uppercuts, shove off, fireman’s carry denied, Zack with the European Clutch, denied, TKO... NOPE! Front chancery, Sabre blocks, big slap, Austin returns a forearm, both men clearly running low and Theory wastes time calling his shot, letting Zack grab an abdominal stretch. Austin walks himself to the ropes and forces the break, whereupon ZSJ kicks his arm out... AND PRISCILLA KELLY HITS A MISSILE DROPKICK WHILE REFEREE BRANDON TOLLE IS CHECKING ON THEORY!

Austin capitalizes, crossleg brainbuster on the knee, into the cover... YOU’RE NOT GONNA WIN THE TITLE WITH THAT, KID! Fireman’s carry, Sabre reverses into a sleeper, turns it around into a triangle choke... THEORY COUNTERS INTO THE POWERBOMB! ZSJ with a sleeper, Theory flags but rises back up, kidney shot, Argentine backbreaker rack, spun into a powerbomb, only a nearfall!

Austin in control, taking his time, he draws Sabre up but Zack picks his moment, European Clutch! Nope, Penalty Kick, only a nearfall, Penalty Kick into a folding press, still not enough, pick the leg, kneebar... TOO CLOSE TO THE ROPES! Trading strikes, Theory with a dropkick, off the ropes, Sabre catches him into the octopus hold! Austin reverses, TKO... NOT GONNA DO IT!

Ataxia denied, ZSJ rolls through, banana split in the middle of the ring, shifting to a Stretch Muffler... IT’S OVER!

Zack Sabre, Jr. wins by submission with a leglace Stretch Muffler, retaining the Evolve World Championship.

Really good match built around the idea of Theory being canny enough to deal the back damage, but not yet quite experienced enough to capitalize on it enough to put Sabre away.

Sabre begins cutting his usual show closing promo when Regulators plays over the PA and Matt Riddle comes out. He starts off with “What’s up, bro?” and puts the match over, saying Zack’s held the Evolve title for a minute now and has done a pretty good job representing it, but he thinks he’s gonna be the Bro to take that title through the next hundred Evolve shows.

Zack says their records have them at one each in non-title competition, and he’d be happy to give him a title shot, but Riddle has to get himself to number one contender first. Deep Waters drops a picture-perfect “So you’re telling me there’s a chance?” and turns around to see Priscilla Kelly. She drags a hand down his chest and Theory attacks from behind but Matt shrugs him off and swats him down!

Kelly on his back, Riddle with the fireman’s carry, Austin gets underneath him... TKO! Theory gets down with Riddle on the mat and says he’s looking at the past before slamming his face into the mat again. Austin says he’s the future of Evolve, and he’s the epitome of what every guy in the back wishes they could be. In this ring, he says, Matt Riddle can’t touch him, Keith Lee can’t touch him, and all he can say is that everybody that came tonight spent their money well because they’re looking at a legend.

Overall

When you hit a big milestone show like this, expectations run high, and Evolve 100 absolutely delivered. Drake/Riddle is a match of the year-quality bout that, even if the rest of the show was two hours of static, would probably have been enough to make good on those expectations, but then you also have the excellent Fox/Lee and Henry/Williams matches, a hot, fast-paced opener, a technical wrestling match that went straight to my heart in Yehi/Garrini, a short-and-sweet tag team brawl, and a main event worth your time and it all adds up to a good show on the wrestling merits.

Which is good, because there wasn’t a whole lot of storyline play here. Sure, you had a lot of folks coming out and declaring themselves the future of Evolve, but as far as stuff to really move the needle goes, it’s basically down to Williams and Hathaway having some friction (Which, could Hot Sauce be ousted from Catch Point the same way Drew Gulak was? It’s an interesting hook and I like it a lot if that’s kind of where we’re heading.) and Riddle staking a claim to the Evolve title at the end of the night.

Check it out on WWNLive.com, folks, whether as an individual paid VOD stream ASAP or on Club WWN in two weeks, you won’t likely regret it.