The show begins just about five minutes after the scheduled bell time with Lenny Leonard and “Hardcore Giant” Ron Niemi in the ring to welcome us to the show and hype up our festivities for the evening.
Colby Corino vs. Joe Gacy
Gacy using his strength in the feeling out but Corino counters with speed and nearly snaps a cradle off on him. Turning the heat up, bit of lucha libre, Colby still using cradles and still unable to finish the match this early. Fakeout handshake, Corino’s got a bit of his dad in him and Joe pays him back by countering a Frankensteiner into a wild release Gallon Throw!
Continuing to throw Colby around, dexterity turns the tide, tight crossbody for two! Mounted punches, losing his cool, Gacy returns chops and we got a slugfest! Corino pulls ahead and takes a moment to taunt before pressing the attack, Generation Ace Crusher... NOPE! Switching gears, trying to grind Joe down in a rear chinlock but he counters with a Death Valley Driver!
Both men down and out, Gacy fires up, blocking punches, Colby begs off, not enough, fireman’s carry into the Michinoku Driver... STILL NO! CORINO BITING THE EAR TO SET UP A TORNADO DDT! LAST GASP, JOE HITS AN EXPLODER INTO THE CORNER! Both men up top, jockeying for position, Colby knocks him down but gets dropped to the floor by a lariat! Gacy draws him back in, Alabama Slam, roll through...
Joe Gacy wins by pinfall with a sit-out powerbomb.
This was an excellent opener between two guys hungry for a roster spot and just putting it all out there. Great stuff and if these two aren’t both regulars by the end of the year either they got signed somewhere exclusive or I’ll go buy a hat and eat it.
Beaver Boys (Alex Reynolds & John Silver) vs. Lotus (Gavin Quinn & Juntai) vs. Milk Chocolate (Brandon Watts & Randy Summers) vs. the Skulk (Adrian Alanis & Leon Ruff) (Evolve Tag Team Championship #1 Contender’s Scramble Match)
Ruff and Juntai to start, slugging it out, Leon peppering him with moves and tagging Alanis in to run double-teams before Quinn comes in. Power moves on the big man, Milk Chocolate cycle in and waste time posing, leaving them open for the Beaver Boys. Brawling on the floor, the match breaks down, fountain of dives, Silver kicking a hole in Watts, Alanis dumping Reynolds into the turnbuckles!
Lotus fighting the Skulk boys off, Demolition Decapitation into a superkick/Blackout combo... NOPE! Johnny Silver stacking ‘em up, three men on his shoulders... TRIPLE SAMOAN DROP! Beaver Boys running combos on Gavin but they can’t put him away! Milk Chocolate up next on the nearfall train, Ruff comes in and gets caught but he and Adrian turn the tide...
The Skulk win by pinfall with a series of maneuvers I didn’t quite catch.
This was fun and the right team won, so zero complaints outta me.
Priscilla Kelly vs. Trish Adora (Shine Showcase Match)
Adora hard out the gates ready to go beat-for-beat against Kelly, outside and back in and she nails a dropkick that gives her the advantage for a while. Working TPK over, seated surfboard and making her clap her hands behind her back! Wrenching a headscissors in, setting her up in the corner and that’s where Priscilla starts to turn the tide only get caught by a backpack Stunner... NOPE!
Second try at a rally is rather more successful, stringing kicks together, arm-trap crossface applied after Trish kicks out of a crucifix but she gets the ropes to force the break. Huge powerbomb from Adora gets a nearfall, jockeying for position atop the turnbuckles, TPK gets her...
Priscilla Kelly wins by pinfall with Osteoporosis.
Good solid action, Adora’s power game meshing well with Kelly as the underdog and giving us a couple big wild highlight moments like that surfboard.
Anthony Henry vs. Curt Stallion
Extended struggle in a collar and elbow to kick the match off, rolling to the floor with neither man giving an inch until they finally stalemate against the barricade! Slugging it out forearm for forearm, chop for chop, snapmare into a shoot kick to the back for snapmare into a shoot kick to the back! Henry with a backslide pin and he kicks Stallion’s damn face off!
To the floor, Curt straight-up stepping on Anthony’s head, clubbing away! Back inside, Henry turns the tide, chaining strikes together, Danielson Special, Stallion in the ropes and the Lethal Lover refuses to break until he nearly gets disqualified! Kicks earn a headbutt, Curt following it with the hesitation dropkick only to get exploder suplexed into the turnbuckles!
Trading palm strikes with abandon, full-on BattlArts style, Stallion gets a kick and a knee, rises off a German suplex, Henry does the same and they keep trading until they both spill to the floor in exhaustion! Henry gets the first shot in, Death Valley Driver on the apron, up top, diving double stomp... SO CLOSE HE CAN TASTE IT! Superkick, roundhouse, powerbomb countered into a Air Raid Crash neckbreaker over the knee!
Stallion goes for the Luigi flying headbutt... COUNTERED INTO A SLEEPER HOLD! Countered into a pin, Anthony recovers, lets go, off the ropes, Penalty Kick for two, another one... SO VERY CLOSE! Up for the powerbomb...
Anthony Henry wins by pinfall with a Tenryu powerbomb.
This was an excellent match, visceral and violent, two dudes beating the holy hell out of each other until they had nothing left in the tank and then somehow managing to fight on even deeper still. Fantastic stuff, and between this and the AR Fox match last month, I feel like Stallion has more than shown he deserves a spot on the Evolve roster.
Post-match, Stallion slaps Henry and they trade some more before embracing, respect earned and given.
Darby Allin vs. Fabian Aichner
Allin baiting Aichner early, taunting him and dodging his charges before eventually nailing him with a dive to set the action in earnest! Fabian catches a flip but Darby reverses, second time a Coffin Drop gets converted into a German suplex that puts Allin hard into the ropes! Biels into the corner, throwing him around with abandon but Darby’s able to get steady on his feet and throw chops.
Aichner responds in kind and turns him inside-out with a lariat for two, Allin with boots up in the corner, shotgun dropkick, trying to eke out a rally, O’Connor roll into a tornillo on the kickout, only two! Fabian with the pop-up powerslam to even the score but he can’t put Darby down! Trading strikes, all the punishment just getting Allin to a spot where he won’t stay down, rolling Yoshi Tonic... AICHNER BARELY KICKS OUT!
Diving headscissors attempt, Fabian catches him, swings him into the barricades... AND POWERBOMBS HIM INTO THE POST! DARBY SIDESTEPS THE KNEE TO FOLLOW AND AICHNER’S KNEE HITS STEEL! Back inside, wrenching Darby’s arm practically out of socket to set up a brainbuster... NOT ENOUGH! Calling for it, revolution powerbomb lift but the knee gives out and Allin gets a nearfall!
Ankle lock applied, falling back into the grapevince, Aichner’s in agony but refuses to tap! Crawling, reaching, face a rictus of pain... AND HE GETS THE ROPES! Back to the ankle lock and again Fabian crawls to the ropes! German suplex out of desperation, Darby lands on his feet, up top, Aichner snaps off a one-arm powerbomb and puts his feet on the ropes...
Fabian Aichner wins by pinfall with a one-arm powerbomb and a pin with his feet on the ropes.
This was excellent. Darby’s impromptu challenge series has really started to take shape as a storyline here, with all the loss and disappointment crystalizing into a Darby Allin who takes a beating and gets sharpened to a razor edge by it... only for Aichner to show his real face and pick up the win by cheating. Great stuff.
Post-match, Darby jumps Aichner and beats him down but Fabian runs off. Allin calls him back to the ring and demands he get back here and finish it. Aichner backs down and Darby says he doesn’t want the three-way he’s scheduled for tomorrow anymore, he wants another round against the Italian Roughneck!
And so we go to intermission.
Cyrus Satin vs. Liam Gray
Hold for hold in the feeling out, Gray turns the heat up, diving splash, Satin fights out of a followup and they end up going strike for strike. Liam with a big Rock Bottom, back up top...
Liam Gray wins by pinfall with a frog splash.
Short and sweet, not much to this but it does a fine job establishing Gray, who’s just a few steps behind Ruff and Alanis in terms of Skulk guys who have gotten Evolve exposure.
Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford) (c) vs. the Skulk (Adrian Alanis & Leon Ruff) (Evolve Tag Team Championship)
Dawkins and Ruff to start, the Curse of Greatness having fun with it and Leon right in there as well until he mocks the “stir the pot” thing and Angelo snaps, double legging him and rolling him around! Death Valley Driver caught into a wristlock, Ruff with strikes, step-up multi-jump springboard arm drag and the Skulk are fired up! Ford tags in and soon enough Ruff has the cup and Alanis has the headband!
Skulk sip from the cup, Dawkins slaps Montez to wake him up but when he gets back inside it’s Leon running circles around him until he’s able to snap an electric chair drop off! Working Ruff over with tags, trying to grind him down but an enzuigiri staggers Dawkins enough to allow tags to be made! Adrian in hot with right hands on Ford, more of the same for Angelo when he runs interference, and the powerhouse of the Skulk goes to town!
Ruff takes Dawkins out with a dive, Tiger Driver into a German suplex on Ford... NOPE! Argentine backbreaker rack sets him up but the Skulk fumble the execution and Montez is able to slip out and tag Dawkins...
Street Profits win by pinfall with a spear from Angelo Dawkins on Leon Ruff to retain the Evolve Tag Team Championship.
You know that gif of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin smiling and laughing and then getting dead serious in a fraction of a second? This is that gif in match form, and it was a lot of fun. Not up to the Profits previous tag defenses on a pure quality level, but it more than made up for it by being a pure hoot and ending before it could outstay its welcome.
Post-match, the Profits and the Skulk celebrate together, the good sports and party dudes that they are.
Eddie Kingston vs. JD Drake (c) (WWN Championship No Disqualification Match)
Drake gets right to it and wails on Kingston in the corner but Eddie goes for his eyes to cut him off and dives on him when he rolls to the floor! Chop for chop on the floor, again the War King goes for the eyes to break up the clubberin’! Just laying a beating on each other, but over time all the eye rakes add up and Kingston is well in control as they return to the ring.
T-Bone suplex, only two, Eddie presses the attack and savages JD against the ropes when Anthony Henry arrives on the scene and slaps his man back awake! Drake fired up, Kingston’s hand injured and the champ takes full advantage, catching it and using it as leverage to beat the hell out of him! Kicks and stomps, spinning spinebuster... NOPE! Boot up, into the Emerald Flowsion... NOT ENOUGH!
Chop sets up Drill Bit, Kingston reverses to an STO and then the true uranage... NO GOOD! Backfist ducked, champion hits a lariat and both men are down and out. Henry beats on Eddie for good measure, Drake off the ropes... SICK KICK FOR A NEARFALL! TENRYU POWERBOMB FOR ANOTHER! DOUBLE JUMP INTO THE VADER BOMB SETS UP ONE MORE! Slow to rise, back to slugging it out but Kingston’s hand is hurting him and keeping him from getting the full effect of his shots.
He pulls ahead all the same, DDT and a lariat both come to the same conclusion! Drawing the champion back up, forearms, rolling chop for a rolling elbow, Drake pops up into the ropes and off the second with a leg lariat! CANNONBALL! Up top...MOONSAULT CONNECTS! IT’S OVER!
JD Drake wins by pinfall with the moonsault, retaining the WWN Championship.
So I came into this match expecting to love it, and somehow it exceeded my expectations. Kingston working the eyes vs. Drake working the arm, the sheer visceral slugging out of it all... I loved every bit of this and am very much looking forward to the next beat here now that Eddie is all bent out of shape over Henry throwing a few slaps. WorkHorsemen vs. Kingston & Homicide, maybe...? Book it!
AR Fox & Johnny Gargano vs. Austin Theory & Josh Briggs
Gargano and Theory to start but Austin chickens out and tags Briggs in instead! Josh wants Fox more than anybody but Johnny won’t let him ignore him and goes right to town! Looking for Gargano Escape early, Briggs boots him hard and Fox tags in. Turning the speed up, the WWN Icons stand tall before working Josh over with double teams. Briggs fires up, pounding AR with forearms, letting a primal scream out into the cover but of course it’s only two.
Hard whip puts Fox through the corner and Theory tags in to abuse his mentor a bit on the floor before heading back in for the cover and a foot on the ropes in clear sight of referee Jake Clemons. Slingshot stomp into the pop-up suplex, still just two and he tags Briggs back in. Tossing AR around like a sack of flour, stomping away before grabbing a WAR Special for a beat.
Fox fired up in the corner, Sling Blade, Austin legal again and he and Josh run double-teams and take AR off his balance and nearly put him away. Double stomp into a standing moonsault, still just two, tag to Briggs once more and the big man goes to town. Stereo Ace Crushers, the path is clear... TAG TO JOHNNY WRESTLING! He comes in hot, axehandle, enzuigiri, roll-through basement enzuigiri, chops in the corner, bulldog / lariat combination!
Kick to the gut, DDT / reverse STO combo, directing traffic as Fox goes Coast 2 Coast and follows it up with a springboard imploding somersault senton to the goddamn floor! Putting Theory back inside, tag made, double whip, flapjack into a springboard Ace Crusher... AUSTIN KICKS OUT! Set him up top, Lo Mein Pain denied and countered into the Argentine rack, blocked, looking for a shiranui, no good!
Go to Hell blocked, superkick ducked, Go to Hell connects on the second, Austin with the Argentine powerbomb! Briggs hits M5... Gargano breaks it up! Working Fox over but he counters a powerbomb lift into a Frankensteiner, enzuigiri staggers Theory, tag back to Johnny! Squaring Austin up, staring daggers, forearms, the match breaks down with all four men in the ring, superkicks ahoy from the team of Icons but the match ain’t over yet!
Lawn Dart denied, Theory with a schoolboy for two, Ataxia countered, Gargano Escape denied, blind tag to Briggs but Fox cuts him off before he can do much! Charging forearms, legal men pull ahead, Briggs boots Austin off the apron and Johnny sends him out after, gesturing for Fox... OVER THE RINGPOST TOPE CON GIRO! Back inside, AR with a 450 splash, Johnny with the slingshot DDT... GARGANO ESCAPE IS IN! IT’S OVER!
AR Fox & Johnny Gargano win by submission with Gargano Escape from Gargano on Josh Briggs.
Once this really got going it was great-- not, like, a match of the year type contest that we’ll remember forever or anything, just some high end super indie tag team action, but sometimes that’s all you need to hit the spot.
Post-match, Johnny Gargano gets on the mic and talks about how Evolve will always be his home. He says he forgot how great Fox is, but walking through the curtain felt a little off because he wasn’t coming out to the right theme song. A lot of folks say they’d like to hear a specific theme song, his old theme song, so for old time’s sake... AUSTIN THEORY ATTACKS FROM BEHIND BEFORE DON’T DIE DIGGING CAN START AND PUTS HIM INTO THE POST OVER AND OVER!
Theory gets on the mic and tells Gargano to get on the phone once he’s feeling better and to tell Hunter all about it, before holding the title up and reminding us that he’s the current Evolve World Champion and making a claim to the NXT North American Championship.
He leaves and Johnny slowly recovers and is helped to the back by referees without any music playing, to my dismay.
This was an excellent show to kick Evolve’s 2019 off. Henry/Stallion, Allin/Aichner, and Drake/Kingston were all excellent wrestling matches, the main event tag, Gacy/Corino, and the tag titles weren’t too far behind them, and nothing truly was bad in any sense of the word, so based on the pure in-ring alone it was a proverbial slam dunk.
Storyline-wise there’s a few interesting things going on here— Kingston’s frustration at just a few right hands from Henry in a no DQ, Allin crystalizing his despair at losing high profile match after high profile match into something approaching victory only to have Aichner snatch it away, all seem worthy of being built on going forward even if nothing is exactly an obvious smash hit angle.
Check the VOD out on WWNLive, whether as an individual purchase or at no additional cost as part of your Club WWN subscription, folks.