TRACY WILLIAMS vs. ACH - 7.5/10
No Stokely Hathaway at ringside for a Catchpoint match again. During Tracy's entrance, right after Tracy did his rather simple pose, ACH ran in front of Tracy and also did Tracy's pose. That made me laugh me ass off. Early on in the match ACH continued to... well... to be ACH is the best way to put it. Tracy would have none of his sh*t, though, so things started to get quite aggressive. Both men worked over the head, with Tracy eventually picking up the submission victory with the crossface.
ACH PROMO - A good promo expressing his frustration with being booked in a curtain-jerker spot.
JASON KINCAID vs. TIMOTHY THATCHER (w/Stokely Hathaway) - 7.25/10
So Stokely wasn't at ringside for a Catchpoint member's match but he is at ringside for Thatcher's? Interesting. Thatcher worked the arm and got the win. I'm noticing quite a lot of anger on this undercard. Kincaid offered a handshake but Thatcher didn't take it. I'm feeling quite bad for Kincaid right now, but at the same time I'm so curious to see what will happen when he snaps that I REALLY want to see it happen. Does that make me a bad person?
FRED YEHI vs. CHRIS DICKINSON (w/Jaka) - 7.5/10
Okay... this thing where Catchpoint guys and Stokely aren't being at ringside for each other like usual is really bugging me. Something must be up, but Lenny Leonard hasn't called any attention to it whatsoever.
This was one heck of a slugfest. You'd think that would favor Dickinson, but Yehi came out on top, meaning he has now defeated both of the Evolve World Tag Team Champions this weekend. My assumption is that after Zack Sabre Jr. defends his Evolve World Title against Jaka later tonight we will wind up getting Yehi & Zack (the FIP & Evolve world champions) challenging for the tag titles, which will also pull Zack into this feud with Stokely's people (more than he already is with Thatcher coming after his belt), and when you combine that with Yehi's stated desire to get involved with that (on one of the short promos that aired before this show), I can see us getting something crazy like Stokely's guys (Catchpoint & Thatcher) vs. Yehi, Zack, Riddle, & Lee, which would be quite the departure from the usual EVOLVE fanfare, as EVOLVE rarely does any match larger than a standard tag team match. In fact, it's not impossible that they have never done an eight-man tag before.
JAKA PROMO - He puts his tag team partner over for his hard-fought loss, then says that he is tired of everyone underestimating his chances of winning the Evolve World Title tonight and he doesn't want to wait any longer to prove everyone wrong, so next we got the...
EVOLVE WORLD TITLE MATCH:
Zack Sabre Jr.(c) vs. Jaka (w/Chris Dickinson) - 7.25/10
Stokely showed up a few minutes into the match. The match was pretty great, but I think it would have been vastly improved if Jaka had sold his leg better. Or at all, really. It's not like he running around on it the whole time- in fact, he didn't run much at all- but it would have been better if he had reminded us he was hurt at times when Zack wasn't directly attacking his leg, too. Zack won, but Jaka got something of a moral victory, as the people were all chanting his name by the end. As Lenny Leonard said, "if people were sleeping on Jaka, he just woke them up."
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Awesome! Stokely Hathaway demands that Zack give Thatcher his rematch (he said it was "the right thing to do"). Darby Allin (arm still in a sling) showed up and tried to grab the mic from Stokely, but Timothy Thatcher came out and ASKED FOR THE MIC. That's one of those things I never thought I'd see. I also loved the way he did it without speaking a single word. He just reached his arm out towards a microphone that two other men were in the middle of a tug-of-war over, and they both stopped and just let him have it, because even they knew that if Timothy Thatcher chooses cut his own promo then there must be something important on his mind.
Thatcher started off by addressing Darby Allin, who he basically called a spot-monkey. He said that it was a disgrace that Darby would compare himself to actual wrestlers like Zack and himself. He told Darby that the fans only like him because he injures himself for their entertainment, and the moment he stops doing that they won't care about him anymore. When the crowd booed this, Thatcher responded by simply but emphatically telling them, "don't act like it's not true." He told Darby to take his broken arm and get out of the ring. The fans all chanted Darby's name and Darby defiantly shouted "I'M NOT GOING ANYWHERE!" So Thatcher just ignored him and turned to address Zack. I thought that was BRILLIANT.
Thatcher told Zack that he has a lot of respect for him, but the next time they meet it needs to be for the Evolve World Title... and it needs to be No Holds Barred.
Then Thatcher floored Zack with a sucker-headbutt.
Darby grabbed at Thatcher but Thatcher punched him right in his injured arm and Darby went down in pain. Thatcher started to stomp away on Darby. He ripped the protection off of the broken arm and put Darby in an armbar. The referees weren't able to break it up right away because they were occupied with getting the unconscious Zack Sabre Jr. to the back, but they eventually came back out and pulled Darby to safety.
ETHAN PAGE vs. THOMAS SHARP - 4.5/10
This was a short power match. Don't let the low rating fool you: this was quite good for the time it got.
AUSTIN THEORY vs. TRENT BARETTA - 7.5/10
Lots of work on the head from both guys. The story (aside from that, obviously) was young Austin Theory putting up a hell of a fight against a former FIP World Heavyweight Champion and thirteen-year veteran. This was one of the better Austin Theory matches that I've seen, but while it was exciting and it was well-executed mechanically, I still don't feel any emotion from him whatsoever. It's hard for me to get behind him as an up-and-coming young babyface out to prove himself if he comes across to be like someone who comes off completely bland except for the few times when he sounds like a whiner.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Well... that fixes that problem. Trent showed young Austin respect after the match. Priscilla Kelly came out and was starting to do her seductive muscle-caressing on Trent when Austin Theory came up from behind and gave Trent a rather vicious looking low-blow, then hit him with a TKO. Finally, after six long months, this Priscilla Kelly crap has finally gone somewhere, and as a bonus I don't have to like Austin Theory anymore!
WWN TITLE MATCH:
Matt Riddle(c) vs. Keith Lee - 8.5/10
It seems that Riddle took Keith Lee's advice last night and will never wear corn rows again. Good. These two had a friendly but hard-hitting and competitive match with impressive feats of strength from both men. Its biggest weak point is the finish, which was one of the odder "technically it's a clean finish but in reality it's indecisive" finishes you'll ever see. What happened was that, after a series of strikes by Riddle, Lee responded with a big headbutt and both men went down, with Riddle falling on top of Lee for the pin. The two men executed it well and it certainly got across the idea that Gabe wanted while still being a clean win for Riddle, but it just feels hokey, even despite the fact that it's perfectly plausible. Shockingly, the crowd didn't seem put off by the kinda-sorta-but-not-really-a-non-finish.
The reason for this finish (other than keeping Lee very strong in defeat and building to a rematch that can take place after Riddle is finished with some of the current challengers that have been hounding him in particular- i.e. Tracy Williams) was that it was a way to face both babyfaces be knocked out after this match, which they needed to be for the...
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - AWESOME! Ethan Page, who had previously said he wanted to kill EVOLVE's two "golden gooses" in Riddle in and Lee, came out and mocked the fans, then said he would take a "golden deuce" on everything the fans had been loving and started to beat up the downed Riddle and Lee.
As Page was beating on Lee, Tracy Williams and Stokely Hathaway came out. Williams cut a promo on Riddle, noting that he has been undefeated since Riddle quit Catchpoint (in protest of them joining up with Stokely), so he wants a title shot on August 12th. Tracy notes that he could do whatever he wants to Riddle right now with Riddle in such a weak and vulnerable state, but he is willing to wait until August 12th, "but right now, I'm gonna let Stokely Hathaway slap the piss out of you."
Tracy held Riddle up so Stokely could do so a few times, then Stokely went over to Keith Lee and started stomping away on him. Stokely and Tracy left (interesting that Jaka & Dickinson weren't with them) and Page kept going after Lee. Riddle recovered enough to make Page nervous, then Page noticed that Lee was recovering two and he ran off.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT #2 - Riddle offered Lee the fist-bump of friendship that they had exchanged before their match. Lee was very hesitant, but eventually accepted it. Lee turned away but Riddle ran over and gave him a big hug, and was acting kind of overly-goofy the whole time, but you could see that Lee did not share his mood. Was it because he had suffered more a beat-down than Riddle? Was it because it was disappointed and/or frustrated with his own bad luck in the finish of their match? A combination of these things? We don't know. But it seemed to me that there was definitely something deeply bothering Keith Lee here, and I wouldn't be shocked it winds up turning out very painful for Matt Riddle at some point down the road.
Another awesome show from EVOLVE. The most consistently solid undercards in wrestling, the most interesting booking, and one of the best main event scenes anywhere. Why more could you want?