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Evolve 120 recap & review: Briggs beats Dawkins, Stallion signs a contract, and Darby did the deal

World Wrestling Network

The show opens with Lenny Leonard and “Hardcore Giant” Ron Niemi in the ring, and Lenny announces that despite Austin Theory’s attack last night, Johnny Gargano IS cleared and will wrestle him in tonight’s main event!

Street Profits come down and shush Lenny in order to work their cup gimmick, and Montez Ford gets on the mic to say that they’re hijacking the show. He calls Eddie Kingston out and demands they have their match right now or he and Angelo Dawkins will chill in the ring until.

Eddie Kingston vs. Montez Ford

Ford hot out the gates clobbering Kingston with punches and the War King responds in kind so we got us a brawl! Fighting to the floor and back inside, Eddie has the advantage and starts slinging Montez around with suplexes. Clubbing away, vicious headbutts leave Ford out on his feet and stumbling but referee Brandon Tolle judges him able to continue as Kingston presses his attack.

Big sitout powerbomb gets a close nearfall and the War King follows it up with a hell of a DDT and then the uranage into a lariat but Ford finds the energy to kick out at one, shaking and coughing! Big right hand, a back elbow knocks Eddie ot the floor and Montez caves his chest in with a Penalty Kick before taking things back inside for a Fameasser! Up top...

Montez Ford wins by pinfall with a Frog Splash.

Really fun opener. I was a little concerned about Ford in singles action but he passed with flying colors here. I especially dug his comeback, shaking and coughing like Kingston pushed him past his limit but he wasn’t just going to lie down and take it, good stuff.

Post-match, Dawkins gets on the mic and puts his partner over before calling his own opponent, Josh Briggs, out for their match.

Angelo Dawkins vs. Josh Briggs

Testing their strength against one another in the lockup, and then into the obligatory big lad lucha exchange and the stalemate. Briggs leading with strikes, but Dawkins is happy to play his game and lays him out with a dropkick after some misdirection! Eddie Kingston returns and attacks Montez Ford, and they brawl to the back allowing Josh a chance to turn the tide and take the fight to the floor.

Back inside, Angelo game to trade strikes but Briggs is able to cut him off and keep hammering him to earn nearfalls. Dawkins rallies, huge spinning Stinger Splashes in the corner, headband back on, fired up, pumphandle suplex... NOPE! Hip toss backbreaker and a black hole backbreaker from Josh in turn come up short of a victory. Briggs ponders what it’s gonna take to put Dawkins away before calling for it.

Gutbuster connects, Angelo off the ropes, he snaps off the spear that retained them the tag titles last night but can’t put Josh Briggs away! Forearm for forearm in the middle of the ring, Josh with wrist-clutch stomps to the head but Dawkins fires up and nails him for two! Lawn Dart over the ropes, running bulldog, spinebuster... STILL NO! Big boot connects, goozle...

Josh Briggs wins by pinfall with the M5.

This was a good match that just never quite got all the way into gear for me.

Post-match, the Profits make a big deal out of putting their headgear back on.

JD Drake vs. Joe Gacy

Gacy right at it with huge kicks and hammering punches, charging lariats, taking the WWN Champion off balance and keeping him there, hitting him from every angle and eventually getting a nearfall off a sliding knee. Action to the floor, Drake starts to recover but Joe nails him with a grody-looking suicide crossbody! JD gets the pop-up haymaker on the apron and finally has some breathing room as he rolls Gacy back inside.

Big senton for two, stomping away, off the ropes for a big splash and another nearfall. The Blue Collar Badass shifts gears, trying to grind him down with a reverse chinlock and just splats him with a big spinning spinebuster when he threatens to get away! Emerald Flowsion, Vader Bomb... NOPE! Drake says he’s the best big man in the business (true!) and follows with chops but Joe just fires up and wants more!

Trading shots, violence personified, Gacy with the reverse STO... STILL NO! Goes for a handspring... JAMES DAMN DRAKE CATCHES HIM AND COUNTERS INTO A GERMAN SUPLEX! Slash the throat... GACY’S UP AND RUNNING AND GETS THE HANDSPRING CUTTER! Third time’s the charm... OR YOU GET CLOCKED BY THE NORTHERN LARIAT! DRILL BIT, UP TOP...

JD Drake wins by pinfall with the diving moonsault.

Goddamn, I loved this. I don’t think I’ve actually said it “out loud” in a review as such, but JD Drake is pretty handily my favorite guy to watch on the indies right now and performances like this are a prime example. He’s a 350 pound monster of a man that can shift smoothly from taking a beating and being vulnerable as hell to being a deadly strike machine to the power guy that chains violence together to the big lad luchador... he’s so good, and Gacy is a game opponent and the result is just magical.

Curt Stallion vs. Leon Ruff vs. Orange Cassidy

Ruff and Stallion going at it hard while Cassidy chills out, Curt takes Leon out with a German suplex and tries to figure Orange out. Snapmare, roll through smooth but the sunglasses fall off. Stallion’s a good dude and replaces them and the action continues in Cassidy’s inimitable style. Shoulder block, and then Ruff takes his turn trying to make Sense of Orange.

Snap off a Frankensteiner, trying to pick the pace up, big neckbreaker drops Curt when he comes in and he follows it up with a senton atomico off the top and to the floor! They brawl on the floor, Freshly Squeezed off the ropes... CORKSCREW ASAI MOONSAULT RIGHT ON TOP OF OUR MAN HENRY T. CASEY! Diving DDT... Ruff makes the save! Ace Crusher denied, Cassidy hits a Michinoku Driver for two and he’s fired up!

Up top, falling splash... NOBODY HOME! Curt hoists him up, Reverse Neckbreaker, and then he and Ruff trade German suplexes a while! Head to head... ORANGE CASSIDY FRANKENSTEINERS BOTH GUYS! Trading forearms, Leon with a jumping knee and all three men are down and out! Jockeying for position, charging and dodging, hesitation dropkick from Stallion sets up Ruff with a Cannonball, reverse STO into that incredible standing moonsault DDT of his!

Cassidy rolls out, Stallion gets a small package, trading shots, to the second... ODE TO LUIGI! IT’S OVER!

Curt Stallion wins by pinfall with the torpedo headbutt he calls Ode to Luigi.

This also ruled! Ruff and Stallion are known quantities here in Evolve, and Orange Cassidy is on such a hot streak lately-- he’s always been good, but he’s really found the sweet spot to blend his comedic stylings with his firey vanilla wrestling of late and I’m stoked to see him here in Evolve.

Post-match, Trevin Adams comes down to put Stallion over and offer him a WWN contract! Stallion picks up his phone and begs Trevin’s pardon, saying it might his girlfriend and he has to take it. He picks it up and greets Court, leading Adams to offer him an extra $50 per appearance. Brainy specs on, the phone rings again and he greets Joe, leading to another offer of more cash and Stallion to again hag up.

One more call as he examines the contract, it’s Shibata-san! Another $50 per appearance on the stack and Curt says he’s down with the deal but there’s one more... he picks up again and it’s Cody! This gets him another $100 per appearance and he agrees to the deal without further ado!

Okay I don’t normally break in with review content for promo segments, but holy hell this was excellent. A simple gag but well-executed, and the little details like Stallion stealing Trevin’s glasses really made it. So glad to have him on the roster.

Anthony Henry vs. AR Fox (Evolve World Championship #1 Contender’s Match)

Intense grappling to start, Henry with a slight advantage but Fox is right behind him and they stalemate! Jockeying for position, AR gets a step-up multi-jump flipping lucha arm drag and his point is made. Leaping clothesline in the corner into a skin the cat dropkick but Anthony is fired up and ready to bring it! Matrix evasion into an enzugiri, off the ropes, Henry decks him with a lariat!

Fox dumps him to the floor and dives on him before dancing with the Skulk, back in side, jockeying for position around the apron and AR snaps off a DDT into the apron and follows it with the kickflip moonsault! Again fighting over the apron, Henry with a hip toss but he’s slow to capitalize, clutching his neck. Back on the apron... NECKBREAKER SPIKES AR FOX INTO THE EDGE OF THE RING!

Cover’s only good for two, Henry follows it with a cravate, wrenching it in. Regal Cutter to follow, Fox starts ducking and dodging and catches a dive into an Ace Crusher out of desperation! Lariats ensue, Anthony cuts him off on the evasion, trading shots, roll-through into an Ace Crusher gets AR two this time but the Lethal Lover stays in the fight! Kick to the midsection, kick down low, basement Ace Crusher, pop-up, springboard Ace Crushers, a pair of ‘em... ANTHONY HENRY WON’T STAY DOWN!

On the floor, Henry catches a kick and snaps a neckbreaker off to the floor! Back in, up top, diving double stomp... COMES SO CLOSE BUT IT’S NOT ENOUGH! BRAINBUSTER! ONLY ONE! Buzzsaw roundhouse into a crescent kick, another brainbuster... ONLY TWO! Buzzsaw roundhouse, crescent, buzzsaw, Fox reverses the brainbuster attempt... HENRY KICKS OUT! Trading forearms, both men running low, pump kick for big boot, Lo Mein Pain connects! IT’S NOT OVER!

Fox up top again... 450 SPLASH CAN’T FINISH HIM OFF! FOXCATCHERRRRRRR... STILL CAN’T DO IT! AR FOX HAS UNLOADED HIS ENTIRE OFFENSIVE ARSENAL ON ANTHONY HENRY AND THE MAN IS STILL FIGHTING! Folding press, Henry kicks out and he waves Fox over for more! Setting him up in the corner, thinking avalanche Foxcatcher, jockeying for position, Lo Mein Pain blocked... SPRINGBOARD GERMAN SUPERPLEX! TENRYU POWERBOMB BUT FOX KICKS OUT!

Crescent kick, only two, reposition the pin...

Anthony Henry wins by pinfall with a crescent kick.

Oh my god this match. The escalation! The pure escalation! They did literally everything and it all made sense and built flawlessly to the finish. A great match, bar none.

Post-match, Henry yanks Fox into the ring and offers a handshake, which is graciously accepted and they embrace!

Darby Allin vs. Fabian Aichner

Aichner jumps Allin during his entrance and beats him down! Into the barricade, pressing the attack, back inside, setting him up top but Darby trips him up into the tree of woe and hammers at his knee only to get yanked to the mat!

We finally get a bell and Fabian whips him hard into the corner before hobbling over to tear his entrance gear off and lay into him, setting him up top again... AND SHOVING HIM OFF THE FLOOR AND INTO RING ANNOUNCER TIMOTHY BARR! Back suplex into the apron and by all rights it should be over but Aichner refuses to complete the pin and resumes throwing Darby around.

Jawbreaker for separation but the Italian Roughneck runs him over with a lariat and cuts the rally off. Chops in the corner, Darby fighting back, lands on his feet off a back suplex, strike rush, off the ropes, Aichner decapitates him with a lariat for two! Chipping away, to the floor, Coffin Drop caught into a German suplex but Allin lands on his feet and puts Fabian into the post!

Trapping his leg in the barricade, Darby hurls his body into the steel hoping to do more damage than he receives! Back in, chop block, Yoshi Tonic... NOPE! Fall back into the kneebar but Aichner gets the ropes and pops him up into a powerbomb when he’s back to standing. Cover made... STILL NO! Jockeying for position in the corner, suplex denied, right back to the kneebar!

Fabian Aichner’s got nowhere to go but he manages to get the ropes! Again Darby slips away from a powerbomb, chop block Coffin Drop caught into a German again and again Allin lands on his feet! Diamond Dust, Fabian to the floor and Darby hurls himself through the ropes at him! COFFIN DROP ALMOST DOES THE DEAL! Jockeying for position in the corner, turning crossbody, Aichner rolls through into a pin with the foot on the ropes but referee Jake Clemons catches him this time!


Darby Allin wins by pinfall with Last Supper.

Tears in my eyes, folks. Darby’s story has been up and down and stretched out to absurd degrees, but as an isolated beat in the story, this weekend’s pair of matches against Fabian Aichner have been as satisfying as anything. Great match, two great competitors, holy hell this all was great.

Austin Theory vs. Johnny Gargano

Gargano blasts Theory right out the gates and they brawl on the floor! Charging chops, Austin tries to turn it around but Johnny’s one step ahead until he gets tripped up on the apron. Rolling thunder dropkick for one, working the Whole Shebang over in the ropes and whipping him hard into the corner, shoulder thrusts to the kidney and a mat slam sets up the slingshot stomp but Johnny evades.

Superman Spear evaded in turn, the stomp into the standing moonsault connects and Johnny Wrestling writhes in pain. Staying on him, stomping away, snap suplex for two into a single-arm straitjacket. Gargano fights to his feet but a single forearm to the kidneys is enough to stagger him. Theory keeps trying to give him nephritis but Johnny fights back against the tide, refusing to crumble.

On the apron, the Superman Spear connects for two and Gargano is fired up! Austin cuts him off with a blockbuster for two, ducking and dodging, trading kicks, discus lariat from Johnny and both men are down and out! Fighting in the corner, looking for Lawn Dart but Theory trips him up, slingshot, kick to the face to counter and Lawn Dart connects this time!

Fired up, he runs into a superkick, buckle bomb for a superkick, Johnny falls into a pin, again just a nearfall! Both men on their knees, trading forearms, rising to their feet and still slugging it out, Gargano sends him to the floor, suicide dive! Slingshot DDT caught and blocked, brainbuster onto the knee into the Argentine powerbomb... NOT ENOUGH! Toying with Johnny, sizing him up, mocking him but the superkick is caught!

Johnny tries to muscle him down for Gargano Escape, ends up in the ropes, float over on Ataxia, cradle, no, superkick goes awry and takes referee Brandon Tolle out! Counter a powerbomb, headscissors into the turnbuckle, slingshot DDT, it’s good for three but there’s no ref to count! Theory recovers enough to hit a low blow and gets in Gargano’s face, screaming!

Rolling to the floor, going under the ring for plunder and he comes up with a steel chair in hand. Back inside, underhooks but Priscilla Kelly is here! She confronts Austin and unloads with a flurry of slaps! Joined by Darby Allin... DIAMOND DUST! JOSH BRIGGS HITS GO TO HELL ON ALLIN AND GOOZLES GARGANO... M5! Austin rolls back in, referee Brandon Tolle wakes up... JOHNNY WRESTLING KICKS OUT!

Theory’s got the title belt but Gargano ducks it, tilt-a-whirl... INTO THE GARGANO ESCAPE! Austin struggles...

Johnny Gargano wins by submission with the Gargano Escape.

I admitted in my preview that I was a bit worried that this match might succumb to both men’s worst instincts— Gargano’s tendency of late towards overly melodramatic pseudo-epic matches in NXT, and Theory’s to stick chinlock control segments in places that mess with the pace of the match and take away from his strongest factors, his execution and speed.

I had nothing to worry about, folks. They brought it in fine form, and this match turned out great.

Post-match, Johnny gets on the mic and says he’ll never forget how walking through that curtain one more time felt and he thanks everybody. He points out he hears some Darby Allin chants mixed in with all the chants for him, and points out they’ve never had the privilege of wrestling each other. He remembers Darby as a guy who’d do all this crazy stuff because of his heart.

Because he loves this and he wants to give us our hard-earned money’s worth, and Johnny’s right there with him, but he thinks right now is what he’s trying to do, focus on wins and championships. That’s why one week from tonight he’s going to be your new NXT North American Champion, and what he wants Darby to do is refocus and do him a favor-- win the Evolve Championship.

Last time he was in the building he didn’t get a chance to give a proper farewell speech, and he was in the ring with another... Bro, and he ends up calling the roster into the ring and putting them over as the future. He’s honored to be here, Evolve will always be his home, but right now, LaBoom is their house, and next time he’s watching he wants to see shirts and signs for all the current Evolve roster!

That leads him to do the Skulk dance and say that he loves that pro wrestling is so fun, and Evolve would be nothing without the rest of us, and he concludes by thanking everyone one last time.


Two for two on great shows in this weekend and in 2019 as a whole! I think Evolve 119 had stronger peaks by a hair, but Evolve 120 here has a higher average match quality, especially considering the back-to-back-to-back tour de force jam of Henry/Fox, Allin/Aichner II, and Theory/Gargano.

Storyline-wise, the big bomb here is that Darby Allin is once again finally positioned to gun for the Evolve World Championship. Anthony Henry’s in line ahead of him, and the one-defense-per-weekend rule means he’s likely not winning it until the WrestleMania weekend shows, but even so, an exciting development indeed. Plus Curt Stallion is a welcome full-time addition to the roster, and Josh Briggs has a win over one of the tag team champs, so he may find himself on his way to a title shot if he can find anybody that wants to tag with him.

Check the VOD out on WWNLive, whether as an individual purchase or as part of your Club WWN subscription, folks.

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