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Evolve 122 recap & review: Kelly confronts Theory, Kingston speaks for the Unwanted, and Anthony Henry’s finally had enough

World Wrestling Network

The show begins just a few minutes after the rescheduled start-time of 8:15PM Eastern with Trevin Adams (still filling in for Lenny Leonard) and “Hardcore Giant” Ron Niemi in the ring to welcome us to the show and hype things up.

Curt Stallion vs. Harlem Bravado

Bit of mat grappling to start, neither man with a significant advantage at first but Bravado manages to pull ahead. Turning the heat up, bit of running the ropes and a snap scoop powerslam gets Harlem our first nearfall of the match. Running Stallion out of the ring with stomps, following after, beating him down with a bit of help from the barricade. Curt fires up, trading chops, Bravado chops the post and the tide turns!

Back inside, snap suplex and a knee drop, Stallion can’t put him away but he’s got him on the run. Literally, as Harlem hits the ropes and comes off, snapping off an inverted DDT for another nearfall. Boot gets a cover so quick it’s not even a one and Bravado presses the attack, slam and a stomp, Curt hurting and clutching his jaw but refusing to stay down.

Jockeying for position of the ropes, Harlem wants a suplex to the floor but Stallion blocks, into the turnbuckles... CURT STALLION SUPERPLEX! Mafia kick to the back of the head, running knee, facewash, big hesitation dropkick, short-arm DDT.... NOPE! Roll-through, reversed to underhooks, reversed, Buck Off denied, double stomp connects but can’t put Bravado away!

Setting him up top, Harlem slips out, trips him up, running uppercut into the Tower of London... STILL NO! Charging under a dive, Harlem with an overrotated back suplex... STALLION CRACKS A WILD HEADBUTT OFF! POWERBOMB FOR BUCK OFF AND BOTH GUYS ARE DOWN! Both to their feet, trading forearms in the middle of the ring, staggered and stumbling, Stallion lands a couple hard slaps, lines it up and gets nailed with a boot anyway!

Rolling elbow from Bravado, Curt tosses him to the floor, suicide dive... NOBODY HOME AND HE TORPEDOES INTO THE BARRICADE! Back inside...

Harlem Bravado wins by pinfall with Straight Cash, Homie.

Fun opener-- bit of a slow start but they hit a fever pitch late. Curt Stallion, whoa. Dude has that mid-2000s indie reckless abandon about himself, that missed suicide dive into the barricade? Holy hell.

DJ Z vs. Josh Briggs

DJ turning the speed up, ducking and dodging, flurries of strikes, but a shoulder block knocks him right down. Big dropkick, jawbreaker, trying to keep chipping away but Briggs knocks him right back down again! Stomping and choking, but Z turns the tide such that Josh has to bail to the floor. Keeping the pressure up, plancha takes him back in the ring, corner moonsault but Briggs has the knees up!

Gutbuster, primal roar, tossing DJ around, backbreaker into a side slam for a two count. Whip across, Ion fighting back, striking away to chip the beast, sunset flip blocked, Josh hosses him up into a deadlift vertical suplex! Mounted punches to the base of the neck, back suplex, lands on his feet, off the ropes and he takes Briggs off his with a leaping lariat!

Josh, unfazed, clobbers him with a boot and pops to the second. DJ sets him up, jockeying for position, superplex off the second! Springboard caught into a backbreaker, underhook backbreaker but Zema rolls to the floor! Back in, trying to rally, Josh catches him, DJ reverses to a Dragon sleeper and Briggs starts to fade! Fending off a reversal attempt, turning it into an inverted DDT... NOPE!

Trading shots, Josh with a goozle, Zema reverses to a wheelbarrow, reversed again... GO TO HELL ONLY GETS TWO! Goozle... DJ Z REVERSES M5 INTO A DDT! BRIGGS GETS HIS FOOT ON THE ROPES! Up top, 450 splash... JOSH CATCHES HIM INTO THE GOOZLE! M5! IT’S OVER!

Josh Briggs wins by pinfall with the M5.

So this ruled! Pure mainline David and Goliath action with an absolutely wild series of reversals in the finishing stretch, this is a really enjoyable match.

Colby Corino vs. Joe Gacy vs. Leon Ruff vs. Slim J

Corino says he’s got nothing to prove and they can start things off... so they do! Gacy with a boot to J, he and Ruff slug it out, big Frankensteiner from Leon but here comes Colby. Half nelson swinging backbreaker takes ruff out, Slim with a SLICK headscissors takeover! Whip reversed, boot up in the corner, springboard tornado roundhouse kick! Joe attacking J again, uppercuts in the corner, throwing him across the ring and popping him up for a vicious knee!

Colby taking flight, brawling with Leon on the floor, Ruff back in, he kicks Gacy to the floor, off the ropes, double jump senton atomico! SLIM J TORNILLO! Back inside, corkscrew Meteora from Corino, Leon and Joe jockeying for position and Gacy takes his damn head off with a superkick! J wipes Joe out and everybody’s down! Slim and Gacy recover first, J with a nearfall off a dive and Colby scoops him up... cannonball Alabama Slam!

Ruff with a German suplex, rolling crucifix driver but Joe comes in with a stomp! Discus lariat ducked, superkick lands, Leon off the ropes and right into a handspring Ace Crusher from the big man! Gacy’s got him up, Ruff snaps off a Frankensteiner, Joe keeps his wits, Alabama Slam, he holds on...

Joe Gacy wins pinfall with a sitout powerbomb on Leon Ruff.

Holy hell this match ruled. Slim J’s still got it and I hope to everything I hold close to me this isn’t the last time we see him in Evolve. Maybe we can even scrape together enough Special K guys for Special K vs. the Skulk?! Anyway all these guys are great, it’s nonstop action, bit of a weird finish in that Corino was just kind of sitting and staring from the turnbuckles, but in any case, fantastic stuff.

AR Fox vs. Shane Strickland

Grappling early, Strickland trying to lever the arm but Fox won’t give it up so easy and we get a stalemate! Action to the floor, ducking and dodging and AR lands the kickflip moonsault! Putting boots to him on the floor, back inside, struggle over a suplex and Fox gets it for two! AR grinding him down with a chinlock, out of it, end up on the apron, Shane ducks a slingshot senton atomico and hits a springboard double knee armbreaker!

Targeting the arm, kicking, wrenching it over the ropes! Facewashes just to screw with him, back to wrenching the arm over the ropes, bicep cutter, stomp, only one but Fox is clutching his arm in pain. Float over a slam, schoolboy for two, leaping clothesline in the corner, one-arm skin the cat... AND SWERVE DROPKICKS HIM TO THE FLOOR! Following after, stalking Fox, going back to work over the barricade!

Back in the ring, bodyscissors armbar, Fox fighting, he gets hammerlocked and thrown into the turnbuckles a few times! He manages to reverse Strickland face-first into the turnbuckles, leaving him glassy-eyed. AR fired up, chops and forearms, lariats, Matrix evasion into an enzuigiri! Roll-through into an Ace Crusher... NO! Fox goes Coast 2 Coast, follows it up with the senton atomico... STILL NO!

Fast-paced jockeying for position... SHANE SEES THE MATRIX COMING AND TRAPS HIM IN A PIN FOR TWO! Strickland takes Fox’s back and rains punches down all over his head, arm, and ribs! THEY ROLL TO THE FLOOR TOGETHER! To their feet, Swerve with a right hand and AR with a pump kick! Fox up on the turnbuckle, pulling Strickland up with him, struggle in the corner, Shane has AR bent over the ropes... ASAI MOONSAULT TAKES THE SKULK OUT USING FOX AS THE SPRINGBOARD?!

AR recovers, off the ropes... TOPE CON GIRO AND THE SKULK CATCHES HIM! SWERVE STOMP TAKES ‘EM ALL OUT! Back in, up top... FOX KICKS OUT OF THE SWERVE STOMP! Wristlock, slugging it out without ever letting go and Shane whips AR to the apron. Joining him, Fox kicking away, scouts the shoulder block, superkick, slingshot into a somersault Ace Crusher! Headed up top, 450 splash... SHANE STRICKLAND WILL NOT STAY DOWN!

Oklahoma roll nearfall, Fox clubbing, Dragon sleeper blocked, Ace Crusher, Shiranui denied, springboard Ace Crusher, fired up... SPRINGBOARD COUNTERED INTO AN ARMBAR! FOX HAS NOWHERE TO GO! Sweve shifts... ODE TO JIM BREAKS! HE BREAKS AR’S DAMN ARM! Scooping him up...

Shane Strickland wins by pinfall with a Storm Cradle Driver.

Holy hell. I need a break after that one, my god. Nobody going today does more innovative and interesting arm work than Strickland and this felt like a throwback to his excellent series with Matt Riddle last year. And the highspots! Just wild. Love it. Fantastic match.

Anthony Henry vs. Austin Theory (c) (Evolve World Championship)

Testing their strength in a lockup to start, Henry trying to sucker him into making a mistake and soon enough he opens himself up to a kick combo! Theory targets the bum knee with a kick and there’s blood in the water! Anthony a little too fast for him, Lou Thesz Press, working combos, looking for an early pin to no avail. Crossface applied, Austin struggles out under the ropes and forces the break!

Henry follows, laying chops in, brutalizing the champ but when he tries to pull things back in the ring, Theory bails right back out again. Plancha misses because Austin pulls the ring skirt out and trips him up! Clobbering him, taking the fight to Anthony on the floor and back inside for the cover, only one! Chopping away, backbreaker, overhead elbows into a straitjacket choke!

Suplexes, back on the floor for an extended beatdown but when Austin brings things back in Henry’s back begins to stiffen with resolve. Back elbow, back body drop, he’s got the rolling thunder scouted and nails him with a dropkick that bloodies the champ! Slugging it out forearm for forearm, both men staggering under every blow, Anthony with a flurry of body blows into a release German suplex!

Looking for a piledriver but Theory hits the knee to block and forces Henry back to pinning predicaments. Kick into a tornado DDT, blocked and countered into a brainbuster over the knee... NOT ENOUGH! Spin-out Argentine powerbomb... NOT HAPPENING! Ataxia denied, northern lights suplex into an armbar on the kickout! Austin struggling, shift to a triangle choke but his arm is shot badly enough that he can’t deadlift his way out of it!

Fired up he manages to find the will to do it, buckle bomb but Anthony comes right back with a lariat and a Tenryu powerbomb... NO GOOD! Chest kicks, Theory reverses one into a schoolboy for two and they trade shots! A dropkick from Henry leaves both of them down and out! The Lethal Lover’s knee falters but he still gets his shot off, nearfall, Tenryu powerbomb, another one, crescent kick... SO CLOSE I CAN TASTE IT!


Austin Theory wins by pinfall with Ataxia to retain the Evolve World Championship.

Okay, this was a bit slow in places but it told a really compelling story all the same— rather than playing up the knee injury like it was catastrophic, Henry played it smart and aggressive, the knee a problem but one he could compensate for while he dug deep for every bit of resolve to beat the holy hell out of Theory, and it was only after everything else was spent that Austin was able to hit Ataxia and end it. Good stuff.

Post-match, Theory gets on the mic and says this is the part where he’s supposed to congratulate Henry on fighting so hard, but he says as good as he thinks he is, he’ll never be better than Austin Theory. He bids Anthony get out of his ring and calls Adam Cole out, saying he made the biggest mistake of his career not accepting his offer to join the Undisputed ERA.

Enter Priscilla Kelly, telling Austin she’s going to make him miserable. She took him from the bottom all the way to the top just so he could step on her? She knows how to get in his mind and will make sure Allin knows every weakness she has. She made him and he wouldn’t be here today without her! He was weak, nothing, and she punctuates this by shoving him into the corner.

He backs off full of bravado and brushing off everything she said, and we go to intermission.

Angelo Dawkins vs. Eddie Kingston

Kingston demands to be shown what Dawkins learned at the PC and he gets his wish when Dawkins backs him into the ropes repeatedly off a lockup and takes his back on the mat, forcing him to turtle up as he rains strikes down! Big takedowns, Eddie bails to the floor for some separation and Angelo follows out after him to press the attack! Back inside, Kingston with an STO into a grounded choke, DDT connects but the damage Dawkins did is showing as he clutches his back.

Clawing at Angelo’s face, raking the eyes, disdainful kicks and we move onto trading forearms. Dawkins with a jab that cracks out across the arena, he follows it up with a slam that gets a nearfall! Pumphandle, Eddie reverses and goes for the uranage but needs to take a beat before hitting it due to his back and only gets two when he does hit it! Slapping at the bicep to soften him up, double wristlock but Angelo gets a pumphandle exploder for a nearfall that’s only defeated by their proximity to the ropes!

Action to the floor, again Kingston gets a chair...

Angelo Dawkins wins by disqualification.

This was a good match, Dawkins going hard to prove to Kingston that he’s not some WWE paper champion and managing to get the advantage repeatedly only for Eddie’s dirty fighting to keep things interesting.

Post-match, Eddie wails on Angelo with the chair, trying to take his knee out!

JD Drake (c) vs. Montez Ford (WWN Championship)

Struggling in a collar and elbow, Ford keeping pace with Drake despite the size differential and they stalemate! Trading chops, moving to the floor as they do so and JD just destroys Montez against the barricade! Back inside, Ford leans on his athleticism and leapfrogs Drake repeatedly, nobody home on a tope con giro... AND HE EATS THE POP-UP HAYMAKER ON THE APRON!

Back inside, putting boots to his challenger and chopping him back down to set up a senton for two! Ford snaps off a DDT that gets him back and fighting, laying kicks and stomps in to get a two count! A standing moonsault, same result, chop in the corner and JD wakes up! He’s had enough, shrugging off a chop, a lariat, spinning backfist! Chops send clouds of sweat flying off Montez and he follows with a Sick Kick!

To the second, diving knee... NOPE! Up top... NOBODY HOME ON THE MOONSAULT AND FORD ROLLS TO THE FLOOR! Off the ropes... BIG BOY DIVE BUT AGAIN MONTEZ DUCKS IT! TOPE CON GIRO! Back inside, up top... nobody home on the splash! Spinning spinebuster connects and both guys rise! Duck a lariat, pop-up spinebuster... STILL NO! Forehead to forehead, rising to their feet and they trade slaps! Nobody home on the cannonball, Montez hits a blockbuster for two and heads up top... ANOTHER BLOCKBUSTER BUT JAMES DAMN DRAKE AIN’T STAYING DOWN!

Mounted punches, JD ducks a senton and hits the Stunner! CANNONBALL! Fired up, to the second rope, up top... MOONSAULT CONNECTS BUT MONTEZ KICKS OUT AT ONE! Underhooks...

JD Drake wins by pinfall with Drill Bit, retaining the WWN Championship.

This was excellent. Montez keeps blowing me away for how few singles matches he’s had in his career-- to have a match like this as your maybe seventh or eight broadcast singles ever?! Wild. And JD Drake is, as ever, the whole damn truth. Plus the post-match angle you’re going to read about in a second that I’m kicking myself for not grabbing a screencap of? Hell yes!


Eddie gets on the mic and tells the crowd to shut up and listen! He says that they all were passed over by Evolve at one point or another but he knows there’s strength in numbers and he speaks for the Unwanted in Evolve! They throw the horns up and leave!

Adam Cole vs. Darby Allin

Intense grappling from the jump, Cole in control but a taunt gets Allin hot and he shoots in with a double leg for grounded punches! Turning the heat up, suicide dive, Darby sets up a table at ringside and batters Adam to set him up on it but Cole recovers and shoves him off the ropes into a hard landing. Mounted punches, big neckbreaker into backbreakers, off the ropes for the big fakeout reverse chinlock.

Allin out, going for a dive but Adam cuts him off with a kick! Up on the apron, fireman’s carry but Darby slips out, off the ropes and he runs right into a boot. Jawing at him, disdainful shove and Allin lights him up with punches! Whip reversed, caught into the fireman’s carry neckbreaker over the knee but Cole can’t keep him down for three! Small package for two, arm wringer into La Casita, still just two!

Leg pick, Last Supper... SO CLOSE! Diamond Dust follows, springboard... COFFIN DROP COUNTERED WITH A KICK! Off the ropes...

Adam Cole wins by pinfall with Last Shot.

This was good but it never quite reached the level of fever pitch or escalation I would have liked, especially after Darby had such a tour de force last night. Bit of a limp ending to the night.

Post-match, Austin Theory blindsides Cole and beats him down! Priscilla Kelly comes back out, Darby spits on the title and she and Adam both lay Austin out with kicks! Cole leaves them to the ring and they size each other up... AND HENRY CHARGES DOWN AND LAYS TPK OUT WITH A SUPERKICK! ONE FOR ALLIN... AND HE POWERBOMBS DARBY TO BOOT! HE THROWS ALLIN INTO THE BARRICADES REPEATEDLY!

He sets Darby on the table and climbs... DOUBLE STOMP THROUGH THE TABLE!


Another really strong show with a bit of a weak conclusion, buoyed by a cluster of great matches, including the four-way, Strickland/Fox, and Drake/Ford, and without really much in the way of weak spots. Even the main event, for as critical as I am of it, was still a good match, just not quite the crescendo one hopes for.

Storyline-wise... oh baby, mama LIKES the idea of Kingston, Corino, Gacy, and Strickland together as a stable! I am so ready for this. Plus Anthony Henry finally turning in a plot element that seemed like it got put on the back burner with all of the NXT talent coming in is a very welcome plot development. I’m kinda hoping that, since he and the Unwanted are sort of but not really coming from the same place that they’ll have a similar dynamic to the one between Timothy Thatcher and Catch Point, where they should be natural allies but the distrust runs too deep and generates some storytelling possibilities.

Check the VOD out on WWNLive, folks, whether as an individual purchase or at no additional cost as part of your Club WWN subscription.

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