By Big Red Machine
From November 12, 2016
DUSTIN vs. MATT RIDDLE- 7.25/10
A great opener to start off the FloSlam era, with a strong win for the top babyface. Riddle won with the Bro to Sleep into a Fisherman's Buster.
JASON KINCAID vs. FRED YEHI- 7/10
Kincaid continues to impress with his innovative offense.
DARBY ALLIN vs. CHRIS DICKINSON (w/Jaka)- no rating, good segment
Dickinson cut a great pre-match promo to give this match some context. It also set up for Tony Nese to come out and stick up for Darby, who I believe has yet to utter a single word in Evolve. This led to our originally-scheduled match being reorganized into...
CHRIS DICKINSON & JAKA vs. DARBY ALLIN & TONY NESE- 2.5/10
The usual Darby Allin match involves him killing himself on dives and getting the sh*t beaten out of him for most of the match. Gabe found a way to do that same story but in a different context by booking a tag match and having Allin be the babyface in peril. He eventually made the hot tag to Nese who did your basic comeback, which was fine except for one rather hokey-looking spot. Soon after that, Allin tried some crazy dive but slipped on the ropes twice in a row before giving up and doing a different one. Right after that Nese signaled that he was going for his finisher but Allin tagged himself in. Allin proceeded to get distracted by Jaka pulling Nese out of the ring, which allowed Dickinson to take control of the match, and Allin was pinned soon after. This all combined to make him look like a total idiot.
On commentary, Joey Styles uttered the words "Gabe Sapolsky is the boss," which is almost certainly the first time any such sentiment has ever been uttered in kayfabe in any promotion Gabe has booked (and I'm sure if Gabe had his way, Joey would never have said it, since Joey's intended role here aside from commentator seems to be that of some sort of representative of Evolve management, which having a boss name Gabe who is never seen basically defeats the purpose of).
ZACK SABRE JR. vs. ETHAN PAGE (w/the Gatekeepers)- 7.75/10
Page Pillmanizered Zack's arm at the last show so he worked over that injury tonight and got the win. I was quite pleased to see him get the win here, as he really needed, while Zack losing going into a title shot tomorrow is quite surprising, but the continued work on the arm shows that this is a necessary part of a larger story (rather than just bad booking by pitting two guys against each other when both of them really need to win).
ETHAN PAGE PROMO - he challenges Cody Rhodes to a match the next time Cody is in Evolve.
TRACY WILLIAMS vs. CHRIS HERO- 8.25/10
It's always a treat to see these two face off, and by "face off" I mean "try to knock each other out." Lots of work on the head (as you would expect) and some great fighting spirit make for an awesome wrestling match, with Williams finally getting that elusive win over Hero.
DREW GULAK, STOKELY HATHAWAY, & JOEY STYLES SEGMENT - Drew Gulak came out (dressed in jeans with kneepads over them) to explain the rules of a "Squared Circle of Survival" match. First he ordered the ring crew to take down the ropes (which got a HUGE pop). Then he told us that this match is No Holds Barred. Both of those play into the Thatcher vs. Catchpoint feud this appears to be blowing off, in which both submissions in the ropes and otherwise illegal maneuvers in the ropes have been a recurring factor.
Stokely Hathaway came out to interrupt him and they yelled at each other for a while until Joey Styles ran down from the commentary table to argue with Stokely, calling him a "leech." This moment right here is when Joey said the line that got him fired. From the way it came off to me, Joey was asking for it. He starts off by saying that Gabe told him not to make any political jokes, then tells ring announcer Joanna Rose that "if our next president were here, he would grab you by the-" and then stopped and said "I didn't say it, Gabe. I didn't say it." That is just asking to get fired... and while I'm sure that knowing that this was coming was definitely coloring my view on everything else Joey said tonight, Joey did often seem to be out to get himself over rather than the match and said quite a number of things that I'm sure Gabe would have preferred he didn't say, from constantly name-dropping Gabe to subtle little things that buried the promotion (like asking why a girl as hot as Joanna would be hanging out here) to making masturbation jokes about Ethan Page and everything in between. He did use the line that ultimately got him fired as transition to talking about (and insulting) Stokely, but still, he went out there and did something the booker told him not to, and for that he deserved to be fired.
SQUARED CIRCLE OF SURVIVAL MATCH FOR THE EVOLVE WORLD TITLE:
Timothy Thatcher(c) (w/Stokely Hathaway) vs. Drew Gulak- 9.75/10
At the beginning of this match Joey Styles noted that the first match he called in Evolve was these two facing off for the Evolve World Title, and knowing what we know now, these two facing off for the Evolve World Title will also be the last Evolve match Joey ever calls... and boy did he pick one hell of a match to go out on!
I've probably said this before, but this time I mean it more than ever: this is the most different wrestling match you will ever see. I don't want to spoil anything they did, so all I will say is this: I have described the Bryan Danielson vs. Roderick Strong match at ROH Vendetta (BRM rated 10/10 so go check it out) as what would happen if "two guys who are, at their cores, very technical, submission-based and hard-striking wrestlers got pissed off during a match against each other." This match is the story of what would happen if instead of getting pushed over the edge during the match, two guys like that came into the match pissed off and wanting to severely hurt each other, and they used every single tool at their disposal to try to do so. The only thing that keeps this from being 10/10 is that it felt a little too repetitive with the backdrop drivers as a result of that the finish came off a bit anti-climactic. But just because it's not 10/10 doesn't mean you shouldn't see it because this match is so different in such an interesting way that you owe it to yourself as a wrestling fan to go see it.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Big news forth Catchpoint
DREW GALLOWAY SHOWS UP - AWESOME stuff from Drew (and everyone else was great, too).
Yet another awesome show from Evolve, with a main event that truly is must-see.