Yes indeed, ladies, gentlemen, and assorted nonbinary folks, it’s time for the World Wrestling Network to come back in to your home with Evolve 112 (live from Joppa, Maryland) and Evolve 113 (live from Queens, New York), and as always, I’m here to give you the low down on what’s going down.
Okay, folks, elephant in the room first— Yes, NXT superstar Velveteen Dream is wrestling on these shows. He’s got Austin Theory in Joppa tonight (in the very same building he made his name , and Darby Allin in Queens tomorrow, but there’s a catch. Both of his matches, like Adam Cole’s NXT North American Championship defense against WALTER before them, will not be broadcast as part of the internet pay-per-view stream.
And frankly, that sucks.
The relationship between WWE and Evolve is overall a positive, but for me, a home viewer, it gets really frustrating after a while knowing that these cool dream matches are seemingly never going to be broadcast live. It’d be one thing if WWE had a blanket ban on letting footage of their stars at indies be released commercially, but Progress have been allowed to air matches featuring the likes of Jack Gallagher, Aleister Black, and Dakota Kai as part of their VOD releases, and before you raise your hand and suggest that maybe “live” is the problem, main roster star Apollo Crews appeared on the live stream for PCW UK’s Road to Glory tournament this February.
Evolve 112 (Friday, Sept. 7, at 8PM Eastern)
Joey Janela defends the WWN Championship against a true WWN Icon in AR Fox. Fox comes into the match with two recent victories over Janela, one in non-title singles competition and one in a four-way. No one can ever truly count AR out, he’s seen and done everything you can see and do in Evolve, but when he comes into a title match with two previous victories, well, I’m not inclined to bet against him.
But the Bad Boy is a true wild card, a man who zigs when you think he’s going to zag because he thinks that you thought he was going to zig. There’s no telling to what lengths he’ll go to guarantee victory when the title is on the line, and more people are aware of this than ever after his brutal match against Hangman Page at ALL IN.
No matter how it goes, this is a match that you’re going to want to watch, folks.
The last ashes of the Catch Point War smolder as Chris Dickinson takes on Josh Briggs. Briggs was the last man to be approached by Stokely Hathaway for membership in the Dream Team, and one of the few to ever turn him down. Dickinson is the de facto leader of what remains of the Dream Team in Evolve now that Big Stoke’s frolicking and playing in a nice farm somewhere upstate. It’s a natural clash, and while Josh has size on his side, the Dirty Daddy hits as hard as anyone and this should be a compelling brawl.
Skulk mainstay Leon Ruff gets a chance to make a name for himself opposite Jaka. Leon has quickly emerged as a standout amongst the happiest gang on Earth, having previously earned himself a major opportunity at Style Battle Season 1 Episode 7. There he fell short against Matt Palmer, but with nearly a year of further training and development under his belt, he’ll take on the Smooth Savage. And who knows, a victory or even a close defeat here might be enough to give the Skulk the confidence to overcome the Doom Patrol on Saturday.
The women of WWN get a chance to shine(*) by way of a showcase match pitting Aja Perera, Dementia D’Rose, Kiera Hogan, and Priscilla Kelly against one another. Shine is along for the ride this weekend, with Shine 53 on Saturday afternoon before Evolve 113, and so we get this four-way showcase here in Maryland. These four are four of the freshest up-and-coming women on Shine’s roster, and this had ought to do a fine job acting as a prelude to Shine 53.
*Pun absolutely intended.
It’s a rematch of Anthony Henry’s first match in Evolve as he goes toe-to-toe against Darby Allin. In that match, at Evolve 70, Darby came up victorious, but both men have grown leaps and bounds in the intervening time. Allin is unstoppable in non-title matches of late, while Henry has had a more mixed record. For either of them, this match could very well hold the key to earning another title shot, but for us, it’s just gonna be a damn good grappler/flyer matchup in the finest Evolve tradition.
Former Dragon Gate USA Open the United Gate Champion Harlem Bravado returns for singles action against former Evolve Tag Team Champion JD Drake. Unsigned Hype has come a long way since the days when he and his brother Lancelot were grandma’s boys, but it’s no easy road for him on his return to Evolve as he stares the New Age Enforcer down.
“Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams is riding high after sending Stokely Hathaway packing, but he faces a big challenge in the form of two-time Style Battle winner Jon Davis. Hot Sauce has quietly become one of the most reliable and longest-tenured men in Evolve while Davis is still looking to re-establish himself after several years away from Evolve. Either man could easily put Evolve on his back and be the proverbial guy, but in order to do that, they’ll have to earn a victory here.
It’s a huge opportunity for two lucky lads at the WWN Seminar, because Jason Kincaid returns to Evolve in a tag team with Facade to take on two men who impress coaches at the tryout. WWN and WWE officials, including NXT trainer “Black Magic” Norman Smiley will be present to evaluate talent and so you know whoever gets the nod is going to be quite worthy.
Evolve 113 (Saturday, Sept. 8, at 6PM Eastern)
Shane Strickland defends the Evolve World Championship against “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams. With the champion unpopular in the locker room, Hot Sauce is merely the first of half a dozen or so men who have lined up for a shot, and he’s first in line both by virtue of his seniority and as a result of ending Stokely Hathaway’s career last month.
This will be Hot Sauce’s third shot at the Evolve title, with previous opportunities coming against Timothy Thatcher and Zack Sabre, Jr., pure grapplers both. Against those men, arguably 1a and 1b candidates for “best technical wrestler in the world” at all times, he fell short, but Strickland’s hybrid style offers a different mountain to climb.
Arguably the two men in Evolve history closest to Shane’s unorthodox mix of flight and grappling acumen are Fred Yehi and Darby Allin, and against those men, Williams is 4-0. Matt Riddle’s reign is currently the shortest in history at 151 days, but if Tracy prevails here, and that’s shockingly plausible, Swerve’s will end at just about a fifth of that.
The Skulk get their highest profile match yet as they challenge the Doom Patrol for the Evolve Tag Team Championship. AR Fox’s students have impressed every time out, but can the happiest gang on earth stand up to the most dominant tag team in the history of the Evolve tag titles?
It’s teacher vs. student as AR Fox and Austin Theory finally clash in singles action in Evolve. They’ve met eight times outside of Evolve, however, and the master has the edge in those contests, going 5-3 over his learner, including a victory in WWN’s very own Style Battle.
And as so often is true of Theory’s feuds in Evolve, this is a battle for his heart and soul. Fox knew him before Priscilla Kelly sank her fangs into him, and he’d like nothing more than to bring Austin our of her darkness and back into the light of the Skulk, but that’s easier said than done, and every man who’s tried to pry her off before has failed.
JD Drake gets a massive opportunity in the form of a non-title match against Joey Janela. Drake has been steadily building himself a resume as a singles competitor with strong performances against the likes of WALTER and Matt Riddle, but victory has eluded him. It’s make or break time against the Bad Boy, and a victory could send him right on to challenge for the WWN Championship next month.
Plus more to be revealed following the events of Evolve 112. Anthony Henry, Josh Briggs, Jason Kincaid, Jon Davis, and Harlem Bravado are all scheduled to compete!
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