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 121 (live from Atlanta, Georgia) and Evolve 122 (live from Concord, North Carolina), and as always, I’m here to give you the low down on what’s going down.
Evolve 121 (Friday, February 15, at 8PM Eastern)
Darby Allin’s finally clawed his way to one more title shot as Austin Theory defends the Evolve World Championship. He’s even gotten to leapfrog established #1 contender Anthony Henry due to an endorsement from WWN Icon Johnny Gargano and Theory’s refusal to defend the title at all in January. So, the stage is set, and it’s do or die time for Allin.
The odds are essentially even— Allin and Theory have met four times in singles action before and split those matches 2-2. But it has to be said... Darby has fallen short every time he’s stepped up to try and claim the gold, whereas Austin has somehow managed to be the only man in WWN history to hold all three of the FIP World Heavyweight, WWN, and Evolve World Championships.
And inspired by my man Henry T. Casey, we have to ask the question— will Darby even still be in Evolve in six months? We live in a time where contracts are flying hot and heavy, and both he and Theory are obvious blue chip prospects for WWE, AEW, and anyone else that’s hiring. Evolve has changed rapidly over the last year, and to its credit has largely retained its quintessential character thanks in part to men like Darby providing continuity and that Evolve spirit.
Do or die? The right answer might be “win and run.”
Adam Cole returns to Evolve and gets to be on the live feed for the first time since 2010 as he takes on former Evolve World Champion Shane Strickland. Last time he was here, Cole successfully defended his NXT North American Championship against WALTER, this time he returns with nothing but the Undisputed ERA’s pride on the line.
Strickland himself returns after something of a layoff, having disappeared since his loss to Kassius Ohno back at Evolve 116 in November. He steps back into an Evolve ring facing another big challenge against a WWE-contracted superstar and looks to establish himself and avenge both that loss as well as Fabian Aichner’s victory over him that ended his title reign.
Street Profits defend the Evolve Tag Team Championship against the dream team of AR Fox and DJ Z. Fox came damn close to taking the titles from the Profits when he was teaming with his protege Leon Ruff, and now he’s teaming up with Zema Ion. DJ is no stranger to tag success himself, having had several successful tag teams in his early career in Ohio and western Pennsylvania and recently winning the Impact World Tag Team Championship alongside Andrew Everett, so he’s got the chops.
But Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford are on a hell of a tear since coming to Evolve, and have found shocking success both as a unit and even in singles action, with Dawkins putting up a hell of a fight against Josh Briggs while Ford managed to put Eddie Kingston away.
All good things must come to an end, and Evolve has long been the home of the superteam, so either outcome feels really plausible here, but if I were a betting woman? The Profits are taking those titles home once again.
The fallout from Eddie Kingston’s Evolve debut continues to settle as he goes one on one with Anthony Henry. Kingston caused Henry’s last shot at the Evolve Tag Team Championship to end in chaos and a no-contest, and Anthony’s returned the favor by interfering on behalf of his best friend and tag team partner JD Drake when Eddie had a shot at his WWN Championship.
This will be a rematch fresh off the presses, as they met for Henry’s FIP World Heavyweight Championship at Everything Burns at the end of January, and you bet it’ll be one heated slugfest of pure violence.
Aja Perera defends the Shine Nova Championship against its inaugural champion, Priscilla Kelly. Reflecting Evolve’s slow approach to integrating more women’s matches into their shows, we finally get a title match from the World Wrestling Network’s distaff brand on the flagship and it should be a hell of a fight as superhero battles Hell’s Favorite Harlot.
Six of AR Fox’s finest students from Atlanta’s own WWA4 Academy face off in a Skulk scramble. Evolve regulars Leon Ruff and Adrian Alanis are joined by Liam Gray and Kavron Kanyon, who we’ve seen a few times before, and Damyan Tangra and Takuri, who we have not, and the results should be spectacular. Looking forward to watching this one, folks, but my hands are gonna hurt trying to keep up with the action on the recap!
Two of Evolve’s newest stars do battle as Josh Briggs takes on Curt Stallion. The pack has been churning in the undercard for a while but both Briggs and Stallion have immediately stood out ahead the rest. Today they meet early in the card with no stakes but momentum on the line, but this is the kind of match that may well have the Evolve or WWN Championships at stake when they meet again in a year or so.
Harlem Bravado gets a non-title match against JD Drake. Some men just don’t know when to quit, and Bravado is one of them. Unsigned Hype has requested another chance to beat his head against the wall that is the Blue Collar Badass, and bless him, Drake accepted. Wish him luck, folks, he’s gonna need it.
Plus more featuring Joe Gacy and other wrestlers yet to be announced.
Evolve 122 (Saturday, February 16, at 8PM Eastern)
In a match a long time coming, JD Drake defends the WWN Championship against Montez Ford. The WorkHorsemen were the first roadblocks the Street Profits faced when they came to Evolve, after they had beaten Doom Patrol for the tag titles and, buoyed by that early success, Ford immediately challenged Drake. Now, the match happens, and while I think the odds are firmly in James Damn Drake’s corner, well...
Montez did polish Eddie Kingston off relatively easily last month. For a guy who had a grand total of five televised singles matches up to that point, that’s crazy impressive. The New Age Enforcer had best take him seriously, is all.
Austin Theory concludes his weekend against another longtime rival, Anthony Henry. If Theory retains the Evolve World Championship over Allin, the title will be on the line. Up until this point, their feud has been contained to WWN’s number two promotion, Full Impact Pro, but there, too, it followed a clear arc— Henry gets knocked down, gets dirt kicked in his face, stands up, brushes himself off, and hits Austin with everything he’s got until he’s on his back for a three count.
Will that happen here? Who knows. But if it does, the roof will come off the place the same as it did when Anthony won the tag titles along with JD Drake, right here in North Carolina.
Darby Allin’s unofficial WWE challenge series continues against Adam Cole. WWN officials have already determined that, owing to Cole not being booked for any further dates, if Allin enters this match as Evolve World Champion, the title will not be on the line.
These two are primal opposites— Adam is smooth and collected and detached, a dispassionate schemer who thrives on catchphrases and taunting. Darby is rough and unorganized and throws himself into his wrestling with abandon, quite literally at times, his beating heart exposed to the world, raw and bloody.
To Cole, this Evolve weekend is a stepping stone, a chance to rack up two big wins he can bring back to NXT and use as fuel to demand a title shot to get a chance to bring the gold back to Undisputed. But what he’s likely to find out here is that Allin’s not for treading, and Evolve’s daredevil will make him pay for every inch of victory in scars.
And rounding out the batch of men whose match he debuted interrupting, Eddie Kingston goes one on one against Angelo Dawkins. Dawkins came up short but put up a good fight in his singles against Josh Briggs last month. Kingston is looking to make up for an Evolve career where he made a big initial splash and raised some hell but hasn’t gained a single victory yet.
Explosive high-flying action ensues as Shane Strickland takes on AR Fox. Fox seems to be here for the long haul, but rumors have been swirling around Strickland for months. Both men are well-established and a win here is unlikely to do much for either of them... except for drive Shane’s value up in the eyes of anyone watching with a contract in their hands.
A little bit of extra motivation aside, this is a really even match and really, cheesy as it sounds, one of those matches where we, the fans, are the winner. This is gonna be wild.
Josh Briggs plays Goliath once again, this time against DJ Z. Briggs has been on a tear, with his only singles loss in Evolve coming at the hands of Darby Allin. DJ’s record is rather more mixed. If Josh wins, he beats an indie vet who’s been everywhere and wrestled everyone. If Zema wins, he immediately catapults himself ahead with a major victory over a hot young star.
Curt Stallion looks to make his name against Unsigned Hype himself, Harlem Bravado. Both men face huge challenges the night before in Atlanta, and this is prime territory to cement a win or rebound from a loss.
Plus more featuring the likes of Joe Gacy, Priscilla Kelly, Leon Ruff, Colby Corino, and others.
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