clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Evolve 108 recap & review: You’ll believe a hoss can fly, Allin puts Theory away, and Strickland knocks Riddle off the mountain

The show starts just a few minutes after the announced bell time with Trevin Adams in the ring to welcome us to the show and hype up our main event before tossing us right into the action.

Anthony Henry vs. Saieve Al Sabah

Henry shoots in and takes Sabah down early but the newcomer proves apt enough at grappling to keep from being routed. Thence Anthony goes to the striking and Saieve turns the high flying up. Sabah takes over with punches and boots in the corner, chops and forearms in return, Henry puts the boots to him! Whip reversed, catch a knee, overhead exploder suplex and the Lethal Lover is rolling!

Charging forearm into a snap suplex, only two, hard kicks to the back but Saieve goes up and over in the corner... and runs right into a guillotine choke! Bodyscissors applied, Henry sapping the life out of him but Al Sabah counters into a suplex! Slingshot to the apron, heel kick... ASAI MOONSAULT! Back inside, corkscrew elbow drop gets two, shoulder thrusts in the corner, a rolling variation knocks the air out of Anthony’s lungs and Saieve cracks a right hand across his face from the floor!

Back in, cover gets another nearfall and Henry starts trying to strike his way back in with chops. Adding forearms to the mix, Sabah ducks one and hits a back suplex! Jockeying for position in the corner, Henry lands a kick and a double stomp to the back, slides under, step-up enzuigiri into a tornado DDT! Outside and in, Saieve slides through Henry’s legs but his powerbomb is countered with a double stomp on the apron!

Diving knee off the apron lands flush, Anthony draws him up and throws him back inside, charges in, countered with a Lightning Spiral... NOPE! Henry counters a springboard by yanking him down, trading pins, neither man able to get a fall, into hard elbows now and Anthony pulls ahead with an enzuigiri that gets another two count. Slugging it out from their knees to their feet and ending the series with Frye/Takayama punches!

Charging forearm from Henry, setting Al Sabah up top, jockeying for position, Saieve dives and gets plucked out of midair with a dropkick! Fired up, off the ropes, wicked lariat turns him inside out, Tenryu powerbomb... NOT ENOUGH! Up and right back down with a brainbuster but the former tag team champion still can’t put Al Sabah away! Jockeying for position in the corner again but the double stomp comes up empty!

Back elbow connects...

Saieve Al Sabah wins by pinfall with Hidden Colors.

Hell of an opener! Hard hitting, intense, some nice exchanges and escalations, a damn fine way to start a show. And it’s nice to see some more versatility from Al Sabah in a straight-up singles context-- after his performance in the four-way last month it could have been easy to be the next man in the Ricochet/AR Fox/Peter Kaasa/Darby Allin sort of DGUSA/Evolve lineage of wild high flyers, but he made a point of mixing it up with some grappling and striking and I appreciate that.

AR Fox, Ayla, and the Skulk make their entrance, and the End follow after... and we got a match?!

Parrow vs. Tommy Maserati

Maserati turning the speed on, hoping to stun the big man, leg kicks, off the ropes... and he’s chokeslammed right to hell! HUGE SENTON! Up in a military press... AND DROPPED ARMPIT FIRST INTO THE CORNER! Up once more...

Parrow wins by pinfall with a sitout powerbomb.

Short and sweet and did what it needed to, not much more to say about a match like that.

After the match, Parrow lifts Maserati up again... AND POWERBOMBS HIM OVER THE ROPES AND TO THE REST OF THE SKULK ON THE FLOOR!

Drennen gets on the mic and talks about how Philly let him down, he thought they could hang with the End, full of outlaws, scumbags, and liars, but it’s been gentrified and sterilized to the point where you can’t recognize it. He calls out the other men in our HOSS four-way and says they’re getting what they deserve, violence.

JD Drake vs. Jon Davis vs. Josh Briggs vs. Odinson

Odinson clearing house, uppercuts and suplexes, Briggs reverses a whip but gets caught with a spinebuster on a leapfrog! The other three unite against the Asgardian and clear him out! Davis saves Drake from a chokeslam but runs him over right after! Passing Josh to the apron, Shining Wizard connects! JD in, trading chops with Davis and pasting the other two when they try to get between them!

Off the ropes, Drake ducks a lariat and takes flight with a suicide dive! Jon to the apron, taking care of Josh... AND CHOKESLAMMING DRENNEN INTO THE OTHER TWO MEN AND PARROW FROM THE APRON TO THE FLOOR! JOSH BRIGGS SUICIDE DIVE OVER THE DAMN RINGPOST INTO THE CRUSH. Josh and Odinson back in the ring, trading forearms, goozle from Briggs, the Asgardian slips out, F-10 denied, off the ropes... POUNCE! JD back in, Odinson gets him... F-10! Davis breaks it up with a German suplex!

Jon drawing Briggs up, backed into the corner for elbows, off the ropes with a Mafia kick! Setting Davis up top, climbing to meet him, Odinson from behind... HE GETS BOTH BRIGGS AND DAVIS ON HIS SHOULDERS! DAVIS SLIPS OFF AND GERMAN SUPLEXES THE BOTH OF THEM ONLY FOR DRAKE TO BREAK IT UP WITH AN ELBOW DROP! CANNONBALL! Huge spinning spinebuster but Odinson kicks out at one!

Looking for Drill Bit, denied, F-10 blocked, off the ropes, big boy dropkick! Josh with a boot, Odinson with an enzuigiri, passing him off the ropes, pounce countered into a backbreaker! Goozle, M5 denied and Jon Davis runs over the Asgardian with a lariat! Rolling elbow, trading boots, trading lariats, trading forearms, Briggs and Davis slugging it out!


JD Drake wins by pinfall with Drillbit on Odinson.

My god that match was an experience and a half. Just big lads doing big lad things and it was truly beautiful.

Post-match, Briggs and Davis brawl to the back and Drake soaks in the adulation of the crowd for a moment.

Austin Theory vs. Darby Allin

Darby with a dive before the bell and we are off! Jockeying for position in the ring, huge springboard arm drag sends Theory to the apron where he’s dropkicked to the floor! Suicide dive connects and Theory ends up crotching Allin to set up a dropkick that sends HIM to the floor! Powerbomb swing into the steel frame of the ring and Austin finishes the sequence by powerbombing him INTO THE RINGPOST!

Taking his time now, Theory throwing forearms and tossing Darby aside like so much garbage, but Allin gets a desperation sleeper hold and clubs away relentlessly to try and create an opening! Austin throws him into the corner hard and decides to continue targeting the back, hammer whip, boot up in the corner, Darby rolls over, dropkick, charging elbows, arm drag, STANDING DIAMOND DUST CAN’T PUT HIM AWAY!

Allin clubbing away, Austin getting his shots him but the man who would be champ neither flags nor fails, getting a headlock STO into mounted punches and into the guillotine choke! Theory stands up, takes a monkey flip, crucifix pin can’t end it but Darby rolls into his Fujiwara armbar! Austin makes the ropes! Pressing the attack, strikes into the Yoshi Tonic, only a nearfall!

Theory retreats to the floor and clips Darby hard with a forearm on a dive! Up for a powerbomb, Allin fights out but gets tripped up on the apron and thrown into the post! Rolling thunder dropkick, Blue Thunder Driver... NOPE! Darby’s stunned and Austin signals he’s going to end it but Allin fights out of the fireman’s carry, elbow up in the corner, up top, cut off...

AVALANCHE ARGENTINE POWERBOMB CAN’T PUT DARBY ALLIN DOWN FOR THE COUNT! TKO denied again, sunset flip gets two, same for the O’Connor roll, springboard crossbody into a crucifix, no good! TKO connects... STILL NO! Ataxia blocked, leg trip...

Darby Allin wins by pinfall with Last Supper.

I feel like this might be Austin Theory’s best match yet, with nary an overlong chinlock nor a padded feeling middle section in sight, just all killer, no filler, all around really good to borderline great action. Good stuff!

AR Fox vs. Joey Janela

Electric atmosphere as they lock up, ducking and dodging, neither man able to score a blow and we get a stalemate! Fox blocks an Ace Crusher and turns it into a leg drop, big chop off the rops, but Janela scores a hard whip that sends AR flying! Powerbomb blocked, Fox with a knucklelock into a double jump springboard headscissors-- JOEY COUNTERS INTO A POWERBOMB AFTER ALL!

Suicide dive wipes AR out on the floor, Tiger feint kick from the apron into the kickflip moonsault and he gets his right back on Janela! ANOTHER SUICIDE DIVE ALMOST PUTS THE BAD BOY ON HIS DOME BUT HE ROLLS THROUGH! Fox off the apron with an arm drag, off the ropes for the tope con giro! Back inside, rolling thunder Sling Blade gets AR two, corkscrew brainbuster to follow it up, still just a nearfall!

To the floor, Joey wipes Fox out and takes things back inside, pressing the attack with chops, taking things into the corner, AR knocks him down but the 450 splash comes up empty! Elbow for enzuigiri, Matrix a lariat, another enzuigiri, Janela ducks a lariat... STUNNER! Fox trips Joey up in the ropes with kind of an inverted skin the cat, rolling through, Janela reverses and hits a brainbuster!

Both men spent, slugging it out on their knees and to their feet, AR off the ropes, cut off with a kick, same for Joey, duck a lariat, springboard Ace Crusher and into the Dragon sleeper! Janela with a cravate to put some pressure on as he gets to the ropes! Superkick lands flush on the point of the jaw... FOX KICKS OUT! AR heads back to the floor, trips Janela up on the apron... NECKBREAKER INTO THE EDGE OF THE APRON!

Fox heads up top, 450 splash... NOT ENOUGH! Struggling in the corner, Joey wins the exchange... AVALANCHE BRAINBUSTER BUT AR FOX IS STILL IN THE FIGHT! To the second again, Fox breaks away with a forearm, charges into a boot, Janela turns his back and AR cuts him off. Charging in... AVALANCHE GERMAN SUPLEX! STRAITJACKET...

AR Fox wins by pinfall with Foxcatcher!

Well that ruled! The kind of match that if it were 10% faster or had 10% more stuff in it my hands would have melted trying to keep up. Excessive? Yes. Awesome? Also yes! Just pure innovative violence almost start to finish.

Post-match, Austin Theory hits the ring and puts boots to Janela! Penelope Ford gets in his face and the Skulk get involved, which leads Fox to try and talk some sense into his student. Janela hits a superkick on AR and drops Austin with Meteora! Ayla Fox in Joey’s face now, he’s dismissive and she turns around into a pump kick from Ford!

Joey Janela gets on the mic and says at the end of the day who stands on his own feet in the ECW Arena? He puts over the fans of South Philadelphia for loving wrestling and still being the same bloodthirsty fans from 1996, and reminds us all that he’s a bad, bad boy.

Doom Patrol (Chris Dickinson & Jaka) (c) vs. TK Cooper & “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams (Evolve Tag Team Championship)

All-out chaos at the bell, just pure two-on-two brawling. Soon enough Dickinson and Williams are on the floor as Jaka and TK fight it out in the ring. Drop down, leapfrog, the Smooth Savage with a waistlock, denied, leapfrog into a leg lariat! Cooper with a suicide dive after Jaka hits the floor and Hot Sauce takes Chris out with a diving knee strike! Chasing after Stokely Hathaway, the Dirty Daddy cuts him off in the ring and grabs a headlock for repeated punches.

Pasting Tracy with strikes, and into the control segment, working him over with quick tags. Jaka with a bodyscissors sleeper hold at one point, Hot Sauce fights out, chops and forearms, HUGE Saito suplex gets him that separation! Reaching, clawing, Dickinson tags in first and cuts Williams right back off, kicking his ribs in! Hot Sauce creates a malfunction at the junction, crawling, reaching, the Dirty Daddy picks his leg, ducks the enzuigiri, Tracy lands on his feet on a back suplex... TAG MADE!

Cooper in a house afire, pasting everybody with forearms, Mafia kick on both tag champs stacked up! Back body drop puts Jaka on the apron for a knee and a corkscrew guillotine leg drop! Spinebuster for Chris, only a nearfall! Trading slaps, Jaka tries to trip TK up but he fights him off. Dickinson takes advantage all the same, double team back suplex and Hot Sauce makes the save!

The Smooth Savage dumps his former teammate to the floor, Chris hits a powerbomb, rolls Cooper through for a knee from Jaka, only a nearfall! Into the corner, setting their challenger up top, Tracy comes from behind, one-arm powerbomb on Dickinson! Fireman’s carry, reverse DVD on Jaka! TK with an axe kick, frog splash... DIRTY DADDY BREAKS IT UP!

Williams and Jaka slugging it out, Hot Sauce hits his half-halch DDT, discus lariat-assisted German suplex but the Smooth Savage gets under the ropes long enough to guarantee he can get up before three! Double whip, back body drop and a superkick put TK on the floor, Hot Sauce ducks and Jaka takes Chris out with a shotei! Throwing chops with abandon, fighting one-on-two, double lariat!

Stoke runs interference, TK comes back in with a missile dropkick, charging uppercuts, Dickinson cuts him off with an enzugiri, Jaka with the chokebomb... NOPE! Calling for Death Trap, tag made, electric chair, Cooper blocks and slips out, O’Connor roll... broken up with a kick! Chris rolls through...

Doom Patrol win by pinfall with a victory roll pin from Chris Dickinson on TK Cooper to retain the Evolve Tag Team Championship.

So this was really good but something in the back half felt a little off to me and I’m having trouble putting a finger on it. Maybe it’s just the way the ending was somewhat abrupt and anticlimactic. Either way this was still 3/4 of your average really good Doom Patrol title defense and certainly nothing to complain about even if it did maybe stumble a bit at the finish line.

Post-match Hot Sauce lays Stoke and Dominic Garrini out with lariats to send a message!

Matt Riddle (c) vs. Shane Strickland (Evolve World Championship Hardcore War)

Riddle right in with a flurry of palm strikes, backing Strickland in the corner and letting a primal roar out after! Exploder suplex follows, Shane gets a kick and a knee and a Saito suplex in but our Bro rises right to his feet! Knee strike into a German suplex, the action spills to the floor and Matt keeps the striking up. Jawing at him for talking all that crap, chest kicks on the apron!

Setting up a table as Swerve gets himself a chair and is ready to wail on Riddle with it as soon as he comes back over! Putting Deep Waters into a chair, bicycle knee, smashing his face into the apron, fighting past the table (and telling the crowd that he doesn’t care that they want it!), into the entry, dropping Matt throat-first into the barricade in front of his family!

Sitting Riddle down in a chair to further abuse him in front of his wife and children... SWERVE STOMP FROM STRAIGHT OUTTA GORILLA! Back inside, all that’s only good for a nearfall and Bro lays a chop in that cracks out across the ECW Arena! Backbreaker in return, folding press gets two and holy hell Riddle’s hand is bleeding! Strickland works the hand over, trying to break his arm in a Rings of Saturn!

Referee Brandon Tolle checks on Matt’s hand and Riddle gets back into it, swinging empty at first but he gets Shane trapped in the corner and wails on him with his good hand! Swerve with mounted elbows to the head of his own, taking Riddle’s back and grabbing an Ode to Jim Breaks but Deep Waters flings him off! Up for the Bro 2 Sleep, not happening, but he gets a sleeper hold and falls back with the bodyscissors on!

Strickland levers the bad hand to break free but Matt remains in control from guard and grabs a double wristlock. Unable to push it all the way through, Shane posts to his feet, deadlifts him up, punches to the ribs, backhammer exploder suplex into the turnbuckles! Getting a bunch of chairs out from under the ring, about half a dozen in total before Strickland begins building his deadly contraption.

Happy with his craftsmanship, he turns to Riddle... VAN DAMINATOR KNEE! RUNNING TOMBSTONE PILEDRIVER INTO THE CHAIRS! STRICKLAND WON’T GIVE UP HIS SHOT THAT EASILY! Shane to the floor, Bro drops him with the Penalty Kick from the apron... DIVING SENTON THROUGH THE TABLE! Riddle gets some more chairs, his left arm hanging limp at his side and stern resolve on his face as he returns to the ring.

Jawing at him to show him that he wants to be champion, Matt throws a chop and Swerve returns a slap! Slugging it out in the middle of the ring, jockeying for position, Pele kick countered and a kick to the neck connects but Riddle gets the German suplex anyway! Discus lariat, suplex reversed to Bro 2 Sleep, powerbomb into the knee strike... STILL NO!

Matt gets a chair and WAFFLES it across Shane’s back! Throwing more chairs into the ring, smashing them across his back, laying six of them flat in the middle of the ring, drawing Strickland up, an overhand chop knocks him into the chairs! Up top, Swerve up first and he cuts Deep Waters off with a kick! In position in the turnbuckles, levering the bad hand... SUPERPLEX INTO THE CHAIRS!

Popping up top... SWERVE STOMP! But Shane won’t go for the cover yet! Up top again for another Swerve Stomp and still he’s not done with the Evolve World Champion! A third time connects flush... BUT STILL RIDDLE GETS HIS SHOULDER UP! Up top again, number four... MATT RIDDLE WILL NOT LET THE EVOLVE TITLE GO! Crawling, desperate, Shane steps on his foot and then his hand to block his escape!

Ode to Jim Breaks applied, wrenching the hand, he stomps... GOD HELP ME RIDDLE’S ARM IS BROKEN! Strickland introduces a ladder and another table into the proceedings before going back and stepping on Matt’s hand. Right hands for some equilibrium but a chair to the arm knocks the champion right back down! Setting the table up, ladder in hand he clubs Riddle in the shoulder!

Setting Matt up on the table, Shane climbs the ladder and orders Tolle to hold it steady, but that gives our Bro the time to recover and meet him atop the ladder with a vicious palm strike. Hand into the ladder, Strickland staggers him... SWERVE STOMP OFF THE LADDER AND THROUGH THE TABLE! BUT RIDDLE HAS ENOUGH LIFE LEFT IN HIM TO GET A SHOULDER UP!

Strickland’s losing his mind! Gasping like a fish out of water, Riddle crawls, unsure of his own destination. Swerve to his feet, he takes his knee pad down, lines the champion up... KNEE TREMBLER! Jawing at our Bro, telling him he’s gonna wipe him from history and he hits another knee! Bro fires up and pops to his feet for a wicked knee!

Kick to the arm... JML DRIVER! IT’S OVER!

Shane Strickland wins by pinfall with a JML Driver, winning the Evolve World Championship.

Holy hell. What can I even say about this match? Easily one of the best in Evolve history, bringing together the threads of armwork and ever-escalating violence from their previous two matches into a hardcore crescendo. Matt’s hand getting sliced open, the arm break spot, the repeated stomps, hell, even the finish being Swerve’s version of a Storm Cradle Driver, a maneuver that hooks the injured arm and drops you on your dome in violent fashion, all brought everything together into a visceral spectacle of a match.

Special shout-out to Riddle’s wife and children being in the crowd-- they were never a focal point, but with Shane taking time to jaw at them it really built up the sense that there’s no way Matt is losing here, especially not after the stomp through the ladder came up empty, and contributed immensely to the intensity of the final act.

After the match, Swerve celebrates with the title before getting on the mic. He says it’s traditional for the locker room to come out and appreciate the champion after the main event and he doesn’t feel very appreciated right now. He feels owed their appearances and demands everybody in the back, from the locker room to management, come out or he’ll hold the show up long enough that the Progress show won’t happen tonight.

Slowly the locker room empties and he says he appreciates their loyalty and that they’re part of history. He addresses Saieve Al Sabah and says he appreciates hard work and he reminds him of himself, even. A handshake is offered and accepted but Sabah doesn’t let go at first! He continues in the mix, addressing Hot Sauce and Anthony Henry in the same condescending manner.

Onto Jon Davis and then Darby Allin, and honestly I have a hard time hearing what Swerve has to say here over one very angry dude trying to start a “Not my champ!” chant. Anyway, Darby puts hands on the title and then Strickland backs into JD Drake! Shane says he’s always admired his work and doesn’t really have anything to say about him, backing right off and reminding us that he’s our new Evolve World Champion


This was a great show in front of a fired up crowd, with a main event amongst the finest in Evolve history. Add to that a mile-a-minute HOSS WAR, what might be Austin Theory’s best match ever, and a Fox/Janela that was sufficiently bonkers and the in-ring side of the show is sewn right up, so let’s take a look at the storytelling.

We’ve all seen the rumors. The idea that Matt Riddle might lose the title sometime during this tour is not a shock. But the closing angle, where essentially his entire likely slate of challengers for his reign came out to confront him? That’s very exciting-- Anthony Henry, “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams, Saieve Al Sabah, Jon Davis, Darby Allin, and last but not least, JD Drake? This is a series of matches and stories I can get behind.

Plus the contrast between the former WorkHorsemen is being played in a really interesting manner thus far, with Henry still struggling to build himself a resume but Drake already presented as sort of the final boss for Strickland in his war against the locker room. Friends have had excellent matches over far less!

Other than that, Hot Sauce’s dogged determination to get Stokely at any cost seems likely to follow him and rack him up losses until he actually gets Mr. Hathway in the handicap “I Quit” next Sunday, Theory and Fox don’t seem to be anywhere near done yet, and Davis and Briggs brawling to the back is an interesting development as well.

Check the VOD out on as part of your Club WWN subscription, folks.

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