I'm confused. Why is Joanna Rose billed as the "hostess" of the event if Lenny Leonard is the one who comes out to the ring to welcome us all to the show? Seems to me that Joanna is the ring announcer, seeing as how she does all of the introductions and is usually the one to make important announcements to the crowd.
DONOVAN DIJAK vs. KEITH LEE - 7.75/10
This is a match that definitely seems to have diminishing returns. Yes, this match had some slips in it and thus wasn't nearly as smooth as their previous one, but I think a bigger part of it is that there does actually hit a point where you see large men to crazy athletic things so much that it ceases to be unexpected, and having seen these guys do this in EVOLVE twice in under two months certainly seems to have been a little too much.
Stokely Hathaway was shown watching this match. He had cut a promo shown in the pre-match hype expressing his anger at Lee for shoving him into Matt Riddle at the last show, which set up Riddle hitting Stokely with the Bro To Sleep and Stokely chipping a tooth, so he's definitely something nefarious planned for the future.
FRED YEHI vs. JASON KINCAID - 7/10
Yehi worked the head and Kincaid worked the leg, but the real story in this match was Jason Kincaid's behavior. He had been behaving oddly- by Jason Kincaid standards, I mean- in one of the promos they showed to build up the show, seeming angrier and more erratic. In tonight's match he continued this story. He shouted to Yehi that "I HATE YOUR UGLY FACE!- a very un-Kincaid thing to say, and also had a moment where it appeared that he was about to go into one of his calming trances, but instead continued to attack Yehi. Yehi won the match and Kincaid went into one of his calming meditative trances after the match, but he definitely seemed to be shaking more violently than ever before and also started to scream at the referees who tried to politely let him know that he had to go to the back so the next match could start. He did walk to the back afterwards, seemingly getting calmer, so that's a good sign (although it's not a good sign that Lenny Leonard once again reminded us of Kincaid's "violent upbringing" and how meditation has helped him deal with it. Lenny probably wouldn't be saying that unless Mr. Kincaid was going to snap at some point).
There is a fan in the back dressed like Shinsuke Nakamura, who served as official confirmation to what we all already figured was true: only Shinsuke Nakmura can pull off dressing like Shinsuke Nakmura.
LIO RUSH vs. AUSTIN THEORY - 6.25/10
Rush got the win. I'm really just not seeing anything special in Austin Theory. He's a guy that does some athletic moves. There's a million of those in wrestling, and he's not even on the third tier of impressive flippy-ness, never mind the top. I'm sorry but I just don't see it.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Well apparently Priscilla Kelly does see something special in Austin Theory because she came out to tell him "I see something special in you" and "you belong with me." Then again, based on the way she was caressing him it might just be that she wants to bone him rather than thinking he is a great wrestler.
Whoopsies. Someone jumped the gun on the graphics for the next match.
JEFF COBB vs. TRACY WILLIAMS (w/Catchpoint & Stokely Hathaway) - 6.5/10
Tracy spent most of the match working the arm to try to negate Cobb's power, but eventually picked up the win by countering the Tour of the Islands with a small package.
STOKELY HATHAWAY PROMO - Effective. Stokely cut a heel promo about how New York City was better than Chicago (of which Summit is a suburb), and the members of Catchpoint, who are all theoretically babyfaces except that they have agreed to let Stokely Hathaway manage them, agreed with this statement because they are all from New York City. I thought this was an interesting way to get Catchpoint booed despite the fact that they really aren't heels, and it came across as perfectly natural behavior for them because most people from New York would react exactly the way they did. It also helped to frame the next match, which saw two Chicagoans challenging Jaka & Dickinson for the tag titles.
Stokely also had a message for Matt Riddle and Keith Lee, which was "every move you make, every breath you take: I'll be watching you."
EVOLVE WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
Catchpoint (Chris Dickinson & Jaka)(c) (w/Tracy Williams & Stokely Hathaway) vs. Matt Knicks & Isaias Velazquez - 6.5/10
Knicks and Velazquez came out with the flag of Chicago to drive home the point that they are the local guys standing up for their home city against the guys from the rival city, but I can't help but notice the irony that one of the guys representing Chicago against New York has the same last name as one of the New York sports teams. The whole thing seems to have worked, though, as these guys got the same level of response as the EVOLVE regulars did, and even more of one than some of the newer members of the roster like Rush, Theory, and Kincaid. They also booed Catchpoint heavily and chanted "F*CK THE YANKEES!" which is exactly what you would expect out of people who are jealous that their city's two teams have combined for a grand total of six World Series victories in the past one-hundred and eleven years while the Yankees have won twenty-seven World Series in just the past ninety-four. So yes, I'm rooting for Catchpoint here.
This was a fine showing by the local boys and they got a good false finish in but Jaka & Dickinson picked up the win, as everyone knew they wood.
EVOLVE WORLD TITLE MATCH:
Zack Sabre Jr.(c) vs. Ethan Page - 7.75/10
Lenny Leonard told us that EVOLVE officials had a big debate over whether the EVOVLE World Title or the WWN Title should main event tonight's show but eventually came to a compromise wherein the WWN Title would main event tonight and the EVOLVE World Title would main event tomorrow night. This one little tidbit takes something that many people probably wouldn't have even noticed and turns it into a way to get BOTH titles over.
They started off as a brawl but once Page cut Zack off the story of the match started to focus more on Zack working over Page's arm to combat Page's power. Really great match.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Darby Allin showed up with his arm in a sling and told Ethan Page that while he was lying in his hospital bed he did some thinking and decided that their war was now over. Instead Darby vowed to "reinvent" himself and do the one thing Page could never do: win the EVOLVE World Title. He and Zack then shared a look and Zack told him to come back when he's all healed up.
WWN TITLE MATCH:
Matt Riddle(c) vs. Kyle O'Reilly - 8/10
This was much more of a brawl than their match in PWG last year, which did help give it that extra bit of intensity you'd expect from a main event title match. The crowd into everything and the match was awesome, but I will admit that I was hoping for more of a submission-focused match. I'd love to see these two face off one more time before Kyle winds up in NXT.
Another great show from EVOLVE, if a bit down from their usual level of in-ring excellence. The company is definitely in something of a cool-down period coming off of the big climaxes of Thatcher finally dropping the title to Zack, the crowning of the first-ever WWN Champion, the end of the Page vs. Allin feud and Drew Galloway's exit from the company, but that doesn't mean there aren't interesting things going on. There is the Yehi & Riddle's dislike with a Stokely-led (sold out?) Catchpoint, whatever is going on with Jason Kincaid, Stokely's grudge against Riddle and Lee, and several people being built up for title shots. These issues aren't ready to boil yet, but they are certainly brewing. It reminds me a lot of ROH a decade ago in the time between the TNA guys getting pulled after the PPV announcement and the second PPV, Driven, two months later, when the Steen & Generico vs. Briscoes feud really began to heat up and Austin Aries returned to reinvigorate the NRC vs. Resilience feud, and that was an extremely fun period of ROH to watch.