AUSTIN THEORY vs. TIMOTHY THATCHER (w/Stokely Hathaway & Catchpoint) - 6.75/10
A good, solid, opener. Priscilla Kelly showed up at ringside again but she's now back to doing nothing. Thatcher worked the head and won clean with the rear naked choke. He kept the hold in for a while after the bell, almost to the point of being DQed.
STOKELY HATHAWAY PROMO - Good stuff, as always. He built up his guys' matches tonight and the idea of taking the Evolve World Title back from Zack Sabre Jr. as well as the feud with Riddle & Lee. Two things happened while Stokely was talking 1) Priscilla Kelly consoled Austin Theory after his loss, and 2) Thatcher headed to the back. This could easily be typical Tim Thatcher behavior where he has won his match and now he considers himself done for the night because he just cares about winning his matches and not about things like cutting promo (which is why he hired Stokely to do it for him), but it could also be him being quite unhappy with Stokely floating the idea that member of Catchpoint could win the title that Thatcher considers to be his.
CHRIS DICKINSON PROMO - He reminds us all that Melrose is where he and Jaka joined Catchpoint, then does his typical Chris Dickinson screaming about how he doesn't want to wait any longer for his match. Dickinson's promos are like Eddie Kingston promos but without any of the nuance... which actually works for him because if he tried to include nuance people just seem him as an Eddie Kingston wanna-be.
Anyway, Dickinson's opponent, ACH does come out to answer the challenge so next we got...
ACH vs. CHRIS DICKINSON (w/Catchpoint & Stokely Hathaway) - 6.75/10
ACH's story since failing to win the Evolve World Title at Evolve 80 a few months back has been that he has been attempting to make up for his failure by being more aggressive and he has also started to take some shortcuts, mostly in the form of trying to annoy his opponents and get into their heads, but occasionally physical shortcuts as well. Dickinson is exactly the sort of guy who is likely to both get extremely frustrated with ACH's antics and/or do something like talk trash or slap him in the face that will really piss ACH off and get him to be even more aggressive. That's kind of what happened here, although ACH was able to channel is anger in a more positive way and once Dickinson turned on his aggressiveness ACH started to feel like (and sell like) a major babyface again, which made his victory here all the more sweet.
THOMAS SHARP PROMO - Joanna Rose asked us to "please welcome... one of The Gatekeepers." The African-American one came out from the back, and a graphic told us that his name is actually "Thomas Sharp." He then cut a promo saying he was tired of being called a Gatekeeper. He expressed his remorse for the terrible things he did on behalf of Ethan Page and said he was upset that Page had repaid his loyalty by firing him. He said he was now going to be nobodies muscle or bodyguard or Gatekeeper. He is now Thomas Sharp.
Ethan Page came out and cut a promo saying he didn't give a crap about the Gatekeeper. He is just a pawn. Page said he wants to "destroy things that the fans love" which is what he is going to do when he faces Keith Lee later tonight, but he's not going to do anything about is former Gatekeeper/Thomas Sharp because "I ruin things people love; nobody cares about you."
Page then says that "Ethan Page always has some dummy who will follow his plans." Then said dummy- the guy who helped Page when he attacked Zack Sabre Jr. at Evolve 83 ran out from the back and jumped Sharp from behind so we got...
THOMAS SHARP vs. "THE DIRTY GATEKEEPER" (that's what Lenny Leonard called him) (w/Ethan Page) - 0.5/10
Sharp got beaten up for a bit on the outside but did one spot to show his athleticism, hit his finisher and won.
FRED YEHI vs. JAKA - 7.5/10
No Catchpoint or Stokely at ringside for Jaka. Lenny Leonard connected this to the fact that Stokely doesn't seem nearly as unhappy with Yehi leaving Catchpoint when he signed them as opposed to Riddle. That might be, but the other Catchpoint guys should still be out here because they're a team, and Stokely should still be out here because managing Catchpoint is what Tracy Williams is paying him to do and he doesn't want to lose Catchpoint (and their Evolve World Tag Team Titles) as clients. Come to think of it, he should be out here to make a pitch to get Yehi back so he can be managing the FIP World Heavyweight Champion as well.
Lots of work on the head and neck from both men. The match was very hard-hitting and very intense. It's amazing how much personality these two men can show with just screams, grunts, angry faces, and defiant glares. Jaka loses clean going into his Evolve World Title match tomorrow. That's odd.
JASON KINCAID vs. TRACY WILLIAMS (w/Stokely Hathaway) - 6.75/10
Tracy got right in Kincaid's face to try to throw him off by getting him out of his calm state but Kincaid kept his Zen. Williams manages to pick up the win. Kincaid did his "I'm trying not to go to a dark place" meditation thing with his beads but then got up and got right in Tracy's face and it looked like something was going to happen but he quickly shook Tracy's hand, raised it in victory, then made a hasty retreat. Props to them (and especially Kincaid) for the speed at which this all happened. I really thought Kincaid was finally about to snap, and the way this was done made it feel like he regained his calm for just the few seconds necessary to not snap, do the honorable thing and congratulate his opponent, and then get away from the situation as quickly as possible so as to reduce the risk of snapping.
ETHAN PAGE vs. KEITH LEE - 6.75/10
During this match Lenny Leonard let us know that right before he came out for this match Ethan Page agreed to face Thomas Sharp tomorrow night, so that's something to look forward to. So is the Riddle vs. Lee WWN Title match main event.
Page held his own surprisingly well against the much bigger man. He actually had a pretty dominant position towards the end but then let himself get distracted by first yelling at the referee over a count and then by the jeering of the fans, which resulted in Lee being able to recover and hit his finisher for the win.
KEITH LEE PROMO - He makes a rather odd request of ring announcer Joanna Rose: to let him be the guest ring announcer for the next match. I assume this is going somewhere.
ZACK SABRE JR. vs. MATT RIDDLE - 8.75/10
Lee's ring intros were funny, but not over the top. There was a bit of friendly trash-talking in there with Riddle, who Lee challenges for the WWN Title tomorrow night. Riddle's hair was in corn rows. Lee correctly determined that this is something that should never happen again.
This match was, like, one of the most EVOLVE matches you'll ever see, with a great mix of hard strikes, suplexes, grapplef*ckage, and submissions that really feel like they can end the match at any moment. This was two men are rivals- champions with competing belts- who don't hate each other, but don't really like each other, either, so they just want all out on trying to wreck the other guy, but all within the confines of the rules. I loved every moment of it.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Great. Stokely Hathaway comes out to cut a promo on Zack on behalf of two of his clients: Jaka, who has a shot at Zack's championship tomorrow night, and Timothy Thatcher, who I guess still is owed a rematch (is that a thing in EVOLVE?) despite having lost a WWN Title match to Matt Riddle in April. Darby Allin then came out (arm still in a sling) and grabbed the mic from Stokely to say that he was coming after the title, no matter who is the champion. Zack said he didn't care and then just left.
Riddle got a mic and told Darby that he was willing to defend his title "anytime, anyplace, bro." Tracy Williams came out and jumped Riddle from behind. He beat Ridde up for a bit. Darby wanted to help but knew he shouldn't in his condition... but eventually decided what the f*ck and did it anyway... so he took off the sling, and with his arm in a huge cast, he did is coffin drop onto Tracy (and accidentally onto Riddle) from the top rope to the floor. This kid is insane for doing that move at all, ever, never mind coming off of a not fully healed arm injury. Riddle was shocked and impressed, telling Darby "that was pretty cool, bro" and raising his hand. The fans all chanted for "DARBY!" and Riddle thanks us all for coming to the show.
Another great show from EVOLVE, with an undercard that ranged from solid to great, an excellent main event, and a closing segment that continues advance certain storylines while setting up new ones for a bit later down the road. Like all EVOLVE shows, you should check this show out.