DOMINIC GARRINI vs. ALEX DANIELS - 4/10
Short, but good for the time it got. Both guys were given just enough time to show what they could do. Garrini got the win via ref stoppage with elbows in the triangle choke a la Bryan Danielson.
POST-MATCH CATCHPOINT SEGMENT - Good. Catchpoint came out and Tracy Williams started to put Garrini over for his technical prowess but Stokely interrupted him and said that Garrini wasn't a "star" like Catchpoint. Tracy did not look happy about this at all, but he let Stokely keep going. Stokely told Garrini to scram. Garrini started to get in his face but backed down when Jaka started moving towards him. Stokely then cut a promo on Keith Lee and Matt Riddle.
CATCHPOINT, KINCAID, & THEORY SEGMENT - Then Jason Kincaid and Austin Theory came out. Kincaid snatched the mic from Stokely. Kincaid said that Jaka & Dickinson were ugly and said that if they truly wanted "to evolve as champions" they should put the belts on the line. Catchpoint- including, shockingly, Stokely - was fine with this, so we got an impromptu...
EVOLVE TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
Catchpoint (Chris Dickinson & Jaka)(c) (Tracy Williams & Stokely Hathaway) vs. The High-Flyers (Jason Kincaid & Austin Theory) - 7.75/10
They seem to be pushing the idea of Kincaid and Theory as a team together called "The High Flyers." I'm not really sure where this "high flyers" part came from, as I had interpreted the original confrontation between Kincaid and Catchpoint back at Evolve 77 as more of a feud about their different abstract philosophies rather than this sort of "Ospreay vs. Rogers"-esque technical guys vs. high-flyers thing. Then again, looking back, the guys that have been teaming with Kincaid against Catchpoint at the time such things were mentioned have been guys like Austin Theory and Sammy Guervara who are definitely all high-flyers.
This was a GREAT match that I think really helped everyone involved, but especially Austin Theory, who got to be the babyface in peril here and managed to get me (and the fans in the building) to actually care about him. This match was a lot more competitive and went a lot longer than I think anyone expected and thus it did feel like it elevated the stocks of Kincaid and especially theory, as well as making them feel like a solid unit.
After the match, Tracy Williams got right in Kincaid's unconscious face and told him "I hope you're satisfied. Because you got your answer: Catchpoint is the better way of wrestling." Between this and Jaka & Dickinson's aggressiveness and use of debatably heel tactics, Catchpoint are really starting to feel like heels, but heels that are completely in-keeping with the characters they were just a month ago before they signed with Stokely Hathaway.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Good. Theory went to check on Kincaid, but Kincaid shoved him away. Kincaid quickly apologized, got his meditation bead necklace thing and seemed calm again, but then kicked a guardrail on his way to the back.
PRISCILLA KELLY vs. ALLYSIN KAY - 4.5/10
Leonard told us that this was the first women's match at an EVOLVE show since September 2010, all the way back at Evolve 5. That should tell you how much wants this Priscilla Kelly thing to get over. What this Priscilla Kelly thing is, exactly, I am now even more confused about than I was before. In all of her other appearances so far she has been all creepy and mysterious, but she wrestled this match like the world's blandest babyface. She didn't even win.
ETHAN PAGE vs. DONOVAN DIJAK - 5.75/10
They incorporated comedy here but managed to make it not farcical like we get way too often nowadays (looking at you PWG and ROH) by having everything fit in with the personalities of the wrestlers of the wrestlers (yes, personalities and wrestlers, plural. I know. I, too, was shocked to find out that Dijak actually has one. You'd think we'd have gotten a chance to see it in two years of him wrestling in ROH, but now that I think about it, I don't ever remember him getting the chance to cut a single promo, and he only actually had one feud. Because two years of meandering is what Delirious calls "making stars"). But back to the point at hand...
I can believe that Ethan Page would do and say the things he did and said here because his ego is so enormous that he would want to come off as both witty and smarter than his opponent and the crowd. I can also completely buy that Dijak making disparaging Tweets about him during a match is something that Page would be compelled to fix. As for Dijak Tweeting rather than trying to follow up... yes, he came off like an idiot, but he did get burned for doing so, and he was in pretty much total control of the match when he did it, so it doesn't bother me as much. It also doesn't bother me as much because it's something that happens so rarely in EVOLVE, as opposed to other big-name indy promotions booked by masked individuals who shall both remain nameless (even though I now realize that I named them both above) where we have guys trying to force comedy spots in almost every single match. That being said, you could definitely see the crowd start to go off the rails and engage in any stupid chant that came to their minds.
They did start to tell a story as well, which was the both men worked over each other's backs and also tried to knock each other out with kicks to the head.
Also, apparently there was some angle based off of some video that got posted today after from after last night's show where because he won this match Page now controls the FloSlam website or something? It was very confusing and Lenny Leonard didn't explain it at all, and only mentioned it twice, both times in bemused tones. Very weird.
TRACY WILLIAMS vs. KYLE O'REILLY - 8.75/10
No Stokely Hathaway at ringside for Williams? Odd. Anyway this match was awesome. Lots of great submissions and lots of heart shown by both men. This match had a wonderful feeling of complete and total sport about it. They did start to get a little cute towards the end with the strike exchanges, but they did a very good job with the early fighting spirit part of it, and they never lost that feeling that this was supposed to be a professional sport, with two professional athletes going out there for no other purpose than to win the match.
IF KEITH LEE WINS, HE GETS A SHOT AT EITHER THE EVOLVE OR WWN TITLE NEXT MONTH:
Keith Lee vs. Fred Yehi - 8.5/10
Power vs. speed. Plain, simple, and always effective. Lee's constant calmness always brings an interesting dynamic to his matches that make them different.
KEITH LEE PROMO - he won. He asks the fans which belt they want him to challenge for. The majority initially say the EVOLVE World Title, but then people start chanting "BOTH THOSE BELTS!" so we didn't get any real resolution here.
WWN TITLE MATCH:
Matt Riddle(c) vs. Jeff Cobb- 5/10
This was one of those matches that is just not up my alley. It was also quite short which, while on the one hand I didn't like, I do think makes more sense with the way they did things. Basically this was one of those no-selling matches. Riddle popping up after the German Suplexes actually worked for me, though I'm not quite sure why. I guess it kind of felt like a statement that he wasn't going to let Cobb throw him around anymore, which Cobb had been doing all match up to that point, and really never did again afterwards. Riddle then hit a fisherman's buster, did a bunch of strikes, hit a Canadian Destroyer-which Cobb teetered around on his feet after rather than going down- then hit a tombstone piledriver which Cobb kicked out of at one, and then Riddle locked him in the Bro-mission for the win. It was like if Ishii vs. Shibata wasn't so egregious and they actually tried to have some sort of story besides no-selling. Oh. And there was a decisive finish rather than that kicking out t 3.1 bullsh*t.
EVOLVE WORLD TITLE MATCH:
Zack Sabre Jr.(c) vs. Lio Rush- 9/10
Darby Allin dropped by on commentary and basically said that he want to win the EVOLVE World Title to prove that he's not a spot-monkey.
The match was fantastic, with Sabre basically torturing Lio by going after his arm while Lio tried to use his speed to every conceivable way- beating Zack to the punch, avoiding Zack's moves, slipping out of holds before Zack could lock them in- to gain an advantage.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Awesome! Keith Lee came out to announce which belt he wanted to go after. Matt Riddle came out as well and he and Zack got in each other's faces about whose belt is more important while Lee looked on stroking his chin in thought. Then Catchpoint came out and they faced off with Lee, Riddle, and Sabre. Then Ethan Page came out and snuck up behind Lee and gave him a low blow. Riddle turned around into a Tan Sheamus. Zack then went after Page and they brawled away. This left Catchpoint (w/Stokely Hathaway) alone in the ring with the two men Stokely is angry at, both in vulnerable positions.
They went for Riddle first, as Lee was still rolling around selling the low blow. Jaka and Dickinson grabs his arms while Tracy cut a promo on him, telling him that- unlike in the main event of Mercury Rising 2017 when Riddle defeated Williams to become the first ever WWN Champion- "this isn't business: this is personal... and I'm going to stand here and watch while Stokely slaps piss out of you." This got MAJOR heat. It was awesome.
Stokely took of his jacket, rolled up his sleeves, started doing push-ups, rubbing his hands together- the whole deal. This of course, wasted time for a savior to come... in the form of Jason Kincaid, who took all three Catchpoint guys out of the ring and dove onto them. Kincaid looked much calmer than he was earlier, which seems to be a good thing. Some referee came out to try to separate the mass of people one the floor, but of course they only served to make a bigger clump of people for Keith Lee to dive onto, while Matt Riddle stood in the corner, completely marking out for Lee's dive. Lee rolled Tracy Williams back into the ring and Riddle nailed Tracy with the Bro To Sleep. Riddle then told Lee "bro, I owe you one," and Lee wasted no time in suggesting that Riddle give him a shot at the WWN Title. Riddle accepted.
A top-notch show from EVOLVE, full of awesome matches and some big storyline moments. In most other years this would have a shot at being Show of the Year. Things are really starting to heat up again in EVOLVE.