clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Evolve 102, 103, & Mercury Rising 2018 previews: Munenori Sawa returns and Daisuke Sekimoto debuts

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

World Wrestling Network

Yes indeed, ladies and gentlemen, it's time for the World Wrestling Network to come back in to your home with Evolve 102, Evolve 103, and Mercury Rising 2018 (all live from New Orleans, Louisiana), and as always, I'm here to give you the low down on what's going down.

Video Roundup

Evolve 100 Recap: The Evolve Centennial Show

Evolve 101 Recap: Title Match For WrestleMania Week Set

Evolve 4K Mini-Doc: Zack Sabre, Jr. vs. Matt Riddle - Evolve 102 (Apr. 5th) Preview!

Timothy Thatcher Speaks From The Heart About Dream Tag Team Match

Evolve 4K Mini-Doc: Catch Point Turmoil!?

Evolve 4K Mini-Doc: The Collision Cannot Be Stopped

Does Darby Allin Have A Heavyweight Death Wish!?

What Does He Have Planned?

Evolve 4K Mini-Doc: Can Austin Theory Handle The Pressure?

Stokely Hathaway Uncut...

How Should People View This Man?

Evolve 4K Mini-Doc: ZSJ - A Reflection On Over 400 Days As Evolve Champion

Evolve Mini-Doc: The Mighty Fist Bump of Bro!

Evolve Mini-Doc: The Art of Submissions by ZSJ

Evolve 102 (Thursday, April 5, at 9PM Eastern)

Zack Sabre, Jr. defends the Evolve World Championship against Matt Riddle. Riddle’s quest to defeat former Evolve Champion Timothy Thatcher ended in defeat, and by the time Sabre won the title, our Bro had set his sights on the newly created WWN Championship, but since losing that title, he’s refocused himself on two goals— one, eliminate rope breaks from Evolve, and two, win the Evolve World Championship.

But ZSJ is arguably the best wrestler in the world today, forged in the combined fires of at last beating Chris Hero and finding his killer instinct, heading to New Japan Pro Wrestling and proving he’s as good as their finest, and holding it down against all comers here in Evolve as champion.

Riddle’s determination will take him far, but all the way to the world title against a man he has an even 1-1 record on?

Ringkampf stare across the ring at Big Japan and BattlArts’ finest, Daisuke Sekimoto and Munenori Sawa. WALTER is quite familiar with Mr. Sekimoto, given that they’ve clashed many times over the years thanks to Big Japan’s interpromotional collaboration with his home base of wXw, so for the big lads you know they’re going to bring it, but the other half of this one is really special, folks.

Timothy Thatcher is the most BattlArts man to never work for the sadly defunct shoot-style promotion. While he got into the business as a journalist who did a story on a local promotion and decided to stick around as a referee only to end up falling into a role as a wrestler, he stayed in the business only after pursuing a love for the European, catch-influenced style that lead him directly to BattlArts and Yuki Ishikawa.

Well, Evolve haven’t yet been able to convince Mr. Ishikawa to come out of retirement, but they were able to convince Munenori Sawa to lace up his boots once again and return to Evolve for the first time since 2010’s Evolve 5. That he starts off on the other side of the ring from Mr. Thatcher seems only right. This is one you’re not going to want to miss, folks.

It’s a generational clash of the high fliers as AR Fox and Will Ospreay are set to do battle. I don’t think this one needs a hard sell, folks. Ospreay. Fox. Flips. It’s gonna be good.

Doom Patrol defend the Evolve Tag Team Championship against the End, WorkHorsemen, and the Catch Point team of Dominic Garrini & “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams in a scramble match. This should be wild. All four teams have some kind of claim to want to be in this, whether it’s WorkHorsemen never getting a clean rematch after losing the titles, the End’s reign of terror, running in and beating down at will, Hot Sauce and Dom getting caught in the crossfire just trying to help their stablemates out... and that might just be the key to the match. If all four Catch Point men can stay on the same page, they might just have this scramble won before it even begins.

Darby Allin continues his heavyweight death wish in non-title action against Keith Lee. Since failing to claim the Evolve World Championship from Zack Sabre, Jr., Allin has recast himself as a loser and thrown himself bodily into every dangerous situation he can find. Moreso than usual, that is. But this is no new situation for Darby, he’s tested himself against the Limitless One’s might before, at Evolve 95, and came up short. Will a second time be the charm or will Lee simply take him down to Ground Zero again?

Austin Theory finds himself put to the test against lucha veteran DJ Z. Theory has Priscilla Kelly in his ear, guiding him as always, but the man occasionally known as Zema Ion has dealt with Impact management, so a young upstart with a devious manager shouldn’t pose that much of a problem.

And more, including an advertised appearance from Jason Kincaid. It’s logical to assume that he’ll end up involved with Theory again somehow, but we’ll just have to wait for the show.

Evolve 103 (Friday, April 6, at 5PM Eastern)

Evolve vs. the World action dominates Evolve 103, and no match more than the main event, where Matt Riddle will go toe to toe with Daisuke Sekimoto. Japan is one of the only worlds left for Riddle to conquer, and a victory over a man like Sekimoto will surely turn heads in Big Japan and beyond. But more importantly, it’s going to be a hard-hitting, viscerally physical battle in the tradition of Riddle’s matches against WALTER.

Following up on last year’s tag team tour de force at Mercury Rising, Chris Dickinson and Travis Banks will do battle as singles. That match, with both men’s partners as Doom Patrol and the South Pacific Power Trip, was one of the best matches of the weekend. Can the Dirty Daddy recreate that magic in singles action against the Kiwi Buzzsaw?

Dickinson’s Doom Patrol partner won’t be left out of the fun, however, as he gets a chance to face Munenori Sawa. Now this one... this might be special. Jaka’s series with Zack Sabre, Jr. was one of the absolute highlights of 2017 for me, and now he gets a chance against a maestro like Sawa? Grappletastic, friends!

Darby Allin faces his toughest challenge yet as he squares up with WALTER. Darby has long had an issue with WALTER’s Ringkampf teammate Timothy Thatcher, and now he faces the Ring General himself. Allin did manage to squeak a win out over Tim with the Last Supper at Evolve 91, but that was when he was running hottest and finally cresting the wave to success. Can a down and out and desperate Darby make lightning strike twice?

Keith Lee has another non-title match against a young upstart as he goes one-on-one with Austin Theory. Lee and Theory have met once before in Evolve, in a four-way at last year’s Mercury Rising. In that match, Keith swatted him aside for a relatively easy victory, but now, a year later, it’s a clear clash of present and future as WWN Champion and FIP World Heavyweight Champion throw down.

AR Fox, DJ Z, Jason Kincaid, and “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams will test their mettle against one another in a real styles clash of a four-way match. Not a lot of story here, folks, just four awesome wrestlers in what should be a highly entertaining four-way.

In what is one of my most anticipated matches of the entire week, Dominic Garrini has an opportunity to test his grappling mettle against one of the best in the world at what he does, Timothy Thatcher. Garrini is the next great indie grappler and he’s ready to step up just as Sabre, Thatcher, and Yehi have before him. This is the final exam, the test that stumped them all. If he can clear Tim out on his own terms, on the mat, in intense submission wrestling action... Dom’s the guy.

WWN Supershow Mercury Rising 2018 (Friday, April 6, at 9PM Eastern)

Keith Lee defends the WWN Championship against Daisuke Sekimoto in what is sure to be a hard-hitting heavyweight HOSS FIGHT. The two have met in the UK before for XWA (fun fact: the same promotion that also brought you such hits as Kota Ibushi shooting fireworks in the street), and that match ended in victory for Sekimoto. Now, the Limitless One is on his home turf, relatively speaking (although Louisiana is right next to Texas) and the dream match is happening again. Best of all, 2018 pro wrestling is kinda crazy, so the title may well change hands here!

Zack Sabre, Jr. has a date with Munenori Sawa and he’ll put the Evolve World Championship on the line if he retains against Riddle. This match is a clear and direct echo of the last time Mr. Sawa appeared in an Evolve ring. Way back at Evolve 5, he wrestled no less than the American Dragon, Bryan Danielson, and I ask you, who on the Evolve roster right now is more like that boy D-Bry in between the ropes than Zack Sabre, Jr.? That match is easily one of the best in Evolve history, and one of the first to really embody the ethos that Evolve was meant to stand for, and here we have a chance for history to repeat itself, folks.

And not only that, but Sabre successfully defended the wXw World Lightweight Championship against Sawa back in 2010, so it’s a straight-up rematch. ZSJ has matured a hell of a lot as a wrestler in those 8 years, so Munenori best be ready to bring it if he wants to bring the Evolve title back home with him.

Two of the best tag teams in the world today collide as Doom Patrol are set for action against the almighty Ringkampf. We are sadly just a few weeks and one victory by RISE away from this being wXw World Tag Team Champions vs. Evolve Tag Team Champions, but as long as they retain the Evolve titles at Evolve 102, Chris Dickinson and Jaka will have to put the titles on the line here. Last year at Mercury Rising, Doom Patrol stole the show against the South Pacific Power Trip, and I’d put good money down on it happening again against Thatcher and WALTER.

In our annual Shine showcase, Shine Champion LuFisto is set to defend against Holidead. LuFisto is the most dominant Shine Champion of all time, but Holidead is a formidable competitor and should give her a run for her money here.

Will Ospreay makes his second WWN/Evolve appearance of the weekend as he’s set for a match against Matt Riddle. It’s amazing that a match of this caliber can seem almost secondary, but that’s how packed Evolve’s schedule is this year! Riddle has faced Ospreay before outside of Evolve, in Progress way back at Chapter 39: The Graps of Wrath. That match was an eight minute sprint and a thing of true beauty, and one can only hope that lightning will strike twice.

Last but not least we have the annual six-man tradition. Every year at Mercury Rising, Evolve plays host to some kind of wild six-man match. Last year saw Matt Riddle crowned as first-ever WWN Champion after winning a six-way elimination match, and the year before saw a brace of men who competed at Evolve 1 (Johnny Gargano, Kota Ibushi, and TJ Perkins) do battle with a team of men billed as the future of Evolve (Marty Scurll, Tommy End, and Will Ospreay). This year we have six men that WWN are billing as the men who will carry the indies through 2018— it’ll be Austin Theory, Travis Banks, and a debuting Zachary Wentz against Darby Allin, DJ Z, and a debuting Trey Miguel. And most importantly, it should be a real hoot, folks.

Plus more from the likes of “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams and the WorkHorsemen of Anthony Henry and James Drake. WWN are promising an update on Friday that will finish connecting the dots, so one can only assume the final card here is pending the events of Evolve 102.

Like what you read?

Well mosey on over to WWNLive or FITE to purchase the shows (and do note, a Club WWN subscription gets you 50% off on on these shows if you buy through WWNLive), and be sure to come right back here to Cageside Seats on Friday and Saturday to hang out in the live thread while you watch the shows!

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Cageside Seats Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your pro wrestling news from Cageside Seats