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Evolve 119 & 120 previews: Johnny Gargano returns!

World Wrestling Network

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 119 (live from Brooklyn, New York) and Evolve 120 (live from Queens, New York), and as always, I’m here to give you the low down on what’s going down.

Video Roundup


Evolve 118 Recap: The Future Of Evolve...

Kassius Ohno With A Challenge For Indie Wrestlers

Evolve Mini-Doc: Evolve Is Theory

Evolve Mini-Doc: Eddie Kingston Invades Evolve

Evolve 119 and 120 Update

Evolve Mini-Doc: Gargano vs. Theory

Best Moments of Evolve in 2018

I am Darby Allin and I’m a superstar.

Evolve 119 (Friday, January 18, at 8PM Eastern)

Upstarts Austin Theory and Josh Briggs face the challenge of their young careers in the form of the superteam of AR Fox and a returning Johnny Gargano. Gargano’s last several months in NXT have seen mixed reactions as his quest for the NXT Championship has corrupted him, body and soul, but he returns to WWN a conquering hero and teams against one of the only other men who can be said to be as identified with Evolve as he is.

Briggs and Theory both have been daggers pointed at Fox’s heart over the last several months— Austin still owes his mentor respect from their mental unsanctioned match, but Josh is under no such obligation, and he’s been cutting through members of the happiest gang on earth, the Skulk, on his way towards this match in order to show AR he means business.

This isn’t a match likely to have huge ramifications on the future of anyone’s career here in Evolve, aside from cementing Briggs’ place in the upper echelons of the roster off a strong performance, but it should be a damn good time all the same. And oh, how sweet it is to have Johnny Wrestling back where he belongs!

JD Drake defends the WWN Championship against Eddie Kingston in a no disqualification match. This is going to be brutal in the best possible way, folks. They beat the holy hell out of each other last month, and now not only is the title on the line, but there are no rules. War King. Blue Collar Badass. Pure, beautiful violence. If I had to pick one match to watch this weekend, this one might be it. Someone might die!

Street Profits defend the Evolve Tag Team Championship against the winners of a tag team scramble earlier in the night. Currently announced for the scramble are a Skulk team of Leon Ruff and Adrian Alanis, the Beaver Boys of Alex Reynolds and John Silver, and the team of Juntai and Gavin Quinn, with one more team being selected at the WWN Seminar ran by Steve Corino earlier in the day.

The Skulk are obvious favorites, and Dawkins and Ford would have their hands full against them, but as much as I personally am not a fan of their wrestling, the Beavers have found success in Beyond of late and have a real chance of earning the match.

Darby Allin’s rocky road to gold resumes with another in his impromptu challenge series against WWE stars as he goes one-on-one with Fabian Aichner. Roderick Strong. Kassius Ohno. Mustafa Ali. Three matches deep, and Allin hasn’t been able to buy a victory with a half-off coupon. He hasn’t lost to an Evolve regular in one-on-one singles action since he fell to Joey Janela back in August, but against WWE-contracted talent? Bupkis.

So, against the very fallible former Evolve World Champion and all-around Sick dude Aichner, does he have a chance? Well, a man that puts his body on the line like Darby does always has a chance, but this... this feels like it’s make or break. Allin’s matches against Ohno and Strong both saw him on the back foot and taking a beating. Here? I expect a tornado of offense out the gates to overwhelm Fabian and attempt to neutralize his strength and power advantage, and I expect a hell of a match.

Newcomer Curt Stallion gets a chance to establish himself against one of Evolve’s most experienced veterans, Anthony Henry. Very impressive in his short time in Evolve, Stallion goes from frying pan to fire against a frustrated Lethal Lover looking to claw his way to a proper title shot. Henry’s my dude, I’d never bet against him and I fully expect him to win, but Curt’s going to bring it for sure.

In a Shine showcase match, Priscilla Kelly takes on Trish Adora. Let’s be real, folks, you’re all asking the same question I am here— are we gonna get the tampon spot? Your guess is as good as mine!

Joe Gacy and Colby Corino battle in preliminary match action. A victory here could put either man on a fast track to being a full-time member of the Evolve roster.

Evolve 120 (Saturday, January 19, at 6PM Eastern)

Austin Theory gets a chance to put his proverbial money where his mouth is against Johnny Gargano. Already plenty smug before, Theory hasn’t stopped running his mouth since he won the title, and to be fair, his trash talk has brought him not one, but two matches against WWN Icon Johnny Gargano this weekend. Fair play, Mr. Theory.

The title isn’t on the line, but seeing as the Evolve World Championship is the one title in Evolve that was active during Johnny’s time here previously that he never won and his rather singleminded crusade for NXT gold of late, well, that’s one more fire lit under the Whole Shebang here.

As far as the match goes here, I have to admit— I have my concerns. Gargano’s matches have become increasingly... epic (to be polite) in NXT of late, and Theory’s proclivity to grind the action to a stop with chinlocks as if he’s the second coming of Randy Orton mean that, of all the big singles matches Johnny could have had on his return to Evolve, this is the least guaranteed to deliver.

Hand-wringing aside, though, I have faith that Austin will step up and make some magic here with Johnny Wrestling.

Montez Ford has his first singles match in Evolve as he goes toe-to-toe with Eddie Kingston. More than that, only his second one-on-one singles match taped for broadcast consumption. His first? A three-minute loss on NXT TV to the Forgotten Sons’ Steve Cutler over two years ago.

So this is a huge test for Ford, who is very talented to be sure but almost entirely experienced as a tag team wrestler and here he is across the ring from one of the most decorated indie veterans in the United States. The inaugural Chikara Grand Champion, a two-time AAW Heavyweight Champion, CZW World Heavyweight Champion, IWA Mid-South World Heavyweight Champion... Kingston hasn’t won gold everywhere he’s gone, but everywhere he’s won gold, he’s won the biggest, most prestigious title they have to offer.

Ergo... good luck, Montez. You’re gonna need it.

AR Fox and Anthony Henry do battle for the right to be Austin Theory’s next challenger. For most men in Evolve, Fox would pose a steep challenge, but Henry has wrestled him twice now— once in Style Battle and once at FIP— and come out victorious both times. If anybody has AR Fox’s number, it’s Anthony, but perhaps most importantly, they’ve got some killer chemistry and next to Drake/Kingston, this is one of my most anticipated matches of the weekend.

Angelo Dawkins faces the challenge of Josh Briggs. It’s a battle of the big lads, and both men come in hot, with Dawkins of course being one half of the tag champions and Briggs on a four-match winning streak. It’s the Curse of Greatness against a man who probably just doesn’t like him, and they’re gonna beat the hell out of each other.

Joe Gacy is in a big boy fight against JD Drake. The title isn’t on the line, but with Drake coming off a no disqualification fight against the War King, Gacy may be able to squeak out a win against the WWN Champion that will earn him his full-time spot on the Evolve roster.

Darby Allin finishes his weekend up in a three-way against two of Evolve’s young hungry men, Leon Ruff and Curt Stallion. For Stallion, this match could be worth a contract. For Ruff, it could be the gateway to more and more marquee matches in the months to come. And for Allin, it could be the final piece in place on his way to getting one more title shot.

Plus more featuring former Evolve World Champion Fabian Aichner and others!

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