TROLL BOYS (Ethan Page & ACH) vs. CATCHPOINT (Chris Dickinson & Jaka) - 5.25/10
Page & ACH have now formed a tag team where they mock pro wrestling in general and EVOLVE in particular due to their respective issues with company management. They have new entrance music, which is a parody of Bad Boys, with what seems to be them singing it, to boot. The first thing they mocked was the fine they were both handed after having a purposely farcical match at the previous show. They also made fun of Lio Rush's now infamous no-selling of a powerbomb off of a ladder through a table, but the way they did it once again hit on territory that I feel is too close to breaking kayfabe. It also would have been nice if the referee had made Ethan Page put the microphone down before ordering the bell rung. The match didn't get started until Page was no longer holding the foreign object, but the bell shouldn't have rung at all if he was holding it.
They did some schtik during the match, too, that was designed to be annoying, and definitely succeeded in annoying me, but it went on a little too long, also, to the point where I just wanted the match to end. Also frustrating to me was the unfortunately predictable response of the crowd to two guys whose entire gimmick is that they are trying to annoy both the company and the fans- they cheered, and chanted along. I also thought that Jaka & Dickinson should have gotten a lot angrier than they did, and a lot faster. Isn't their whole gimmick that they're the angriest guys in the company?
On the bright side, every time Page or ACH would stop taking the in-ring action seriously, it always came back to bite them. Unfortunately, they still won the match.
CRAIG MITCHELL vs. DABBY ALLIN - 4.5/10
Before the match Darby cut a promo saying that he would bounce back from his loss to Timothy Thatcher at the last show and prove that he can be a great technical wrestler in addition to his reputation as a brawler and risk-taker. He did some wrestling, got cut off and took some big moves from Mitchell, but then made his comeback and won with a nifty roll-up. He faces Thatcher again tomorrow night.
JASON KINCAID vs. AUSTIN THEORY (w/Priscilla Kelly) - 6.75/10
In a pre-show promo Kincaid had said that he is worried that young, impressionable Austin Theory is being led down a bad path by Priscilla Kelly ("taken root in soiled soil," were his exact words) and so he is looking to "inflict positive change" on Theory tonight by defeating him to show him that his association with the disreputable Priscilla will not bring him the victories he thinks it will.
The main body of this match felt like it was one big showcase for the impressive things Kincaid can do, but they never made Theory feel like he wasn't on Kincaid's level, either, which was important. At one point Kincaid this this combination out of the corner that would have seemed totally ridiculous if the execution hadn't been so amazingly smooth. It was one of those things like when someone tells you that Eddie and Dean used counter each other's powerbombs with armdrags and it sounds totally ludicrous until you see them do it.
Unfortunately for Kincaid, Priscilla did, in fact, bring Theory the victory, as when Kincaid was climbing a large support pole to hit a big, high-risk move (because turnbuckles are for the unenlightened, I guess) Priscilla just randomly started screaming in a terrible high-pitched wail. Remember the screaming at the beginning of the Age of the Fall's music? This was almost as bad as that. Unpleasant as it was, no one can deny its effectiveness, as it distracted Kincaid enough for Theory to recover and catch Kincaid, then hit him with his uncreatively-named "Theory Knockout" TKO for the win.
As Theory was on his way to the back, Kincaid ran to the ramp and blocked his way. He walked up to Theory and gently touched his shoulder, as if he had some sort of important spiritual advice to give him, but Priscilla Kelly yanked Theory away from Kincaid and to the back before Kincaid could say anything to him.
EVOLVE TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
The Work Horsemen (James Drake & Anthony Henry)(c) vs. "The Amazing" Rory Gulak & Tracy Williams (w/Chris Dickinson & Jaka) - 6.5/10
Based on Rory's manner of dress, he seems to believe himself to be a superhero. Joanna's introduction made it clear that he is not part of Catchpoint. Like Ethan Page & ACH, Drake & Henry have also been given a tag team name tonight. They are "The Work Horsemen," which comes across to me like a MUCH lamer version of the informal name that the old official ROH message board gave to the on-again, off-again team of Bryan Danielson & Austin Aries in 2008: Team Work. Rory Gulak is, of course, related to Williams' mentor and Catchpoint founder Drew Gulak. Specifically, he is Drew's younger brother by three years... or they claim. He looks old enough to be Drew's father.
If you're wondering what the hell these two have done to earn a title shot when they've never even teamed together before, well... Tracy Williams & Fred Yehi lost the tag titles to Jaka & Dickinson back in April, and they split up the next night when Yehi quit Catchpoint in protest of Tracy hiring the disreputable Stokely Hathaway to handle their business affairs. Due to their split, they never got their traditional rematch, so this weekend each man will get to pick a partner for a shot at the titles. It's Williams & Gulak tonight, and whoever walks out of tonight's show with the belts will defend them tomorrow night against Yehi and his chosen partner Jason Kincaid.
This was just a good, solid tag match, with everyone getting to show their stuff and look respectable. Gulak predictably took the pin, but as I said, this got enough time to make sure that no one looked weak.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Excellent. Jaka & Dickinson got in the Work Horsemen's faces but Tracy got them to stand down, then offered both Drake and Henry a handshake in respect. As the Work Horsemen left, Tracy started to address his troops. He helped Rory up while lamented that Catchpoint, whose philosophy is about exploiting their opponents' weakness, has now become full of weaknesses themselves. He said it was time for them to eliminate their weaknesses, and then nailed Rory with a big lariat. Jaka then gave Rory an exploder suplex, and finally Dickinson nailed him with a Razor's Edge with his head seeming to land right on the bottom turnbuckle and his neck folding in a very uncomfortable-looking way. Lenny Leonard insisted that Drew Gulak would be extremely disapproving of the direction that his protégé has taken Catchpoint in.
Whichever fan started to chant "AWKWARD SILENCE" between this segment and the next match should be thrown out.
KEITH LEE vs. TIMOTHY THATCHER (w/Stokely Hathaway) - 5.75/10
Stokely is out here for Thatcher's match, but once again was absent for Catchpoint's matches. Hmm...
Keith Lee with facial hair looks nowhere near as awesome as Keith Lee without facial hair. The match went surprisingly short, with Lee knocking Thatcher out in around eleven minutes.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Good. A bunch of referee came out to check on Thatcher. Darby Allin also came out to check on Thatcher, his opponent tomorrow night, who he is looking to prove himself again. Allin was helping the referees get Thatcher to the back when Thatcher recovered, noticed that Allin was right there, and attacked him, taking him down and slapping a submission hold on his injured arm. Once the referees pulled him off, Thatcher shouted "WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH YOU?! WHY ARE YOU HELPING ME?! STAY AWAY FROM ME!" at Darby. Poor Darby, trying to do something nice and getting burned for it.
PROGRESS ATLAS TITLE MATCH:
WALTER(c) vs. Fred Yehi - 8/10
This was an awesome big-man vs. little-man match, with the Yehi bringing his unique style of offense to the little-man role.
LIO RUSH vs. MATT RIDDLE - 7.25/10
Don't worry, guys. Lio sold everything Riddle hit him with, which was a lot because Riddle got in most of the offense. The truth is that I think Lio has better matches when he is one the defensive most of the time, although he probably could have gotten some more in here. Riddle worked over Lio's head while Lio would try to play hit and run to capitalize on his speed advantage. The match was pretty great, but I expect a bit better out of an EVOLVE main event.
Riddle showed Lio respect after the match, both by helping him up and by giving him center stage here on his last night in EVOLVE.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - WALTER comes out, causing Riddle to say "this isn't Bro-riffic!" A stare-down ensues between our PROGRESS Atlas Champion and the man whose WWN Title he has a shot at winning tomorrow night. As this stare-down is happening, Catchpoint come out and attack Riddle from behind. WALTER just stands there and watches as they beat him down.
After Riddle has been stomped on for a bit, WALTER springs into action, catching Catchpoint off guard and locking his rear naked choke in on Tracy Williams, who is also in tomorrow's WWN Title match. Jaka and Dickinson take WALTER down to save Williams.
Then the fourth man in that match, Riddle's good friend Keith Lee, comes out and cleans house on Catchpoint. Jaka, Dickinson, and Stokely all run off while Williams and Riddle brawl away, leaving us with the two hosses staring each other down in the ring. Lee went to do what has become something of a signature spot of his where he picks up a champion's title for him and politely hands it to him, but then pats it twice to indicate that he is coming for the belt... but before Lee could grab the belt, WALTER bent down and snatched it up. Lee went to pat it anyway, but after the first pat WALTER grabbed his wrist and very firmly indicated to Lee to keep his hands away from the PROGRESS Atlas Title.
Lee asked for a mic and cut one of his very polite and yet slightly arrogant Keith Lee promos which I love so very much. He turned to leave, but as he was doing so WALTER extended his hand for a handshake. Luckily, Lee saw it at the last moment, turned back and took the handshake, despite the fans' warning chants of "IT'S A TRAP!" It wasn't a trap. WALTER was just being polite.
In my three years of following EVOLVE closely, this was definitely towards the bottom of the shows I've seen in terms of in-ring action, but it was still fun, interesting, and easy to sit through. You don't have to go out of your way to see it, but you certainly won't feel like you've wasted your time if you do.