ETHAN PAGE vs. ACH - 4/10
Both members of the Troll Boys entered together. I was able to get a good listen to the lyrics of the entrance music they debuted last night (a parody of Bad Boys that they themselves sing) and it is quite great.
The story behind this match is that at Evolve 89 these two were booked against each other and proceeded to put on a completely farcical match that made a mockery of pro wrestling, and so in addition to being fined, both men were relegated to the opening matches this weekend, and were ordered to face each other again and take it seriously, or else.
Some fan has already made "Troll Boyz" banner. I'm not sure if "boys" is official supposed to be spelled with a Z here or not, but until I have confirmation that it is, I'll just assume that anyone dumb enough to like these guys enough to make a banner for them is too dumb to know how to spell the word "boys."
They did a bit where the referee checked ACH for weapons but didn't check Page, and ACH and Page made a big deal out of and accused the referee of being racist. This is a fine example of the sort of comedy spot that shouldn't be done because, whether you believe his race has anything to do with it or not, it is impossible to do this spot without the referee showing bias towards one of the two competitors by inexplicably choosing not to perform an important part of his job for absolutely no reason other than to allow them to make a joke about it.
Well... they weren't as bad as last time, but they still weren't taking things as seriously as they should have been. There was mockery here, but it wasn't the complete and total farce that their previous match was, and there actually were one or two moments where they had me certain one was about to betray the other with a roll-up and things would get serious. After the match they made an EVOLVE ring attendant/security guy hold their banner up for them. Then Page punched him in the nuts. That part was good.
DARBY ALLIN vs. TIMOTHY THATCHER (w/Stokely Hathaway) - 7/10
They told a great story with Thatcher not showing Darby any respect despite Darby's attempts to prove himself with his wrestling skill. Thatcher dominated most of the match, using both his size and technical ability to keep Darby under control and work over his injured arm. At one point Stokely threw a chair in and told Thatcher to end Darby's career once and for all. Thatcher hesitated before going to pick it up, which gave Darby time to recover, and when Thatcher bent down to pick it up, Darby, who was on the top turnbuckle, hit him with a coffin drop right onto his back. Soon thereafter Darby picked up the biggest win of his career, beating for Evolve World Champion Timothy Thatcher with his new cool roll-up, which is named the Gibson Lock.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Interesting. Thatcher's European Ringkampf stablemate WALTER showed up in the aisle, at which point Thatcher told Stokely "I have to go" and offered him a handshake. Stokely responded by giving Thatcher a big hug, to which Thatcher had the most wonderful reaction possible. After some more begging by Stokely, Thatcher left the ring and walked over to WALTER, and they stood solemnly, side-by-side, as RingKampf likes to do.
EVOLVE TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
The Work Horsemen (James Drake & Anthony Henry)(c) vs. Fred Yehi & Jason Kincaid - 7.5/10
Yehi's former tag team championship partner Tracy Williams got his rematch with a partner of his choice last night, so new Yehi gets his with a partner of his choice tonight. ACH and Ethan Page showed up at commentary and told Lenny Leonard that his car was about to get towed. Afraid that the heels had done something to his car, Lenny abandoned his post, letting the heels do commentary for this match.
In just the first minute, some highlights include Page referring to Yehi as "Uncle Fred" and saying "What was that? A Ligerbomb into the corner? I can't wait to make fun of that on Twitter." ACH, for his part, explained why he had to be the "color commentator" and made fun of him missing his flight for ROH All-Star Extravaganza VI, which, in hindsight, seems to have been the singular event that ended any chance of him getting a meaningful push, no matter how well he performed over the course of the next two years before finally leaving. Still... missing a flight for what was at that point the biggest match of your career is not something I would think it is a good idea to make light of. Or even do anything to remind people of it.
ACH also encouraged Yehi to "STEP ON HIS TOES!" and when Yehi was facing James Drake, who is a bit on the heavier side (Page had earlier jokingly confused him for Takeshi Morishima), he encouraged Yehi to "throw a cheeseburger at him! Not that other guy, but an actual burger." The best line of the night, though, was probably ACH saying "If Low Ki was watching this, he'd be pissed all of these double stomps." It was either that or ACH calling a James Drake moonsault by shouting "THE COW! THE COW JUMPED OVER THE MOON!"
Among other things, Page said "Booking note: I will never wrestle Fred Yehi," which I REALLY hope is a line Gabe instructed him to say so that WWN management can punishing by booking him against Yehi on the next show. That would be so great.
The match itself was really great. The Work Horsemen are starting to gel together as a team quite well, and Yehi and Kincaid both got to show off their unique styles of offense. After the match, "angry, short, and pissed off" Fred Yehi was angry, short, and pissed off at Kincaid for getting pinned and got in Kincaid's face when he was doing his usual post-loss calming meditation. Kincaid got understandably upset, but Yehi quickly apologized and things did not escalate.
MARK HASKINS vs. AUSTIN THEORY (w/Priscilla Kelly) - 7/10
The story here is that Kelly has started getting physically involved in Theory's matches, once making for an excellent false finish and the second time backfiring and directly leading to his defeat. She was obviously quite unhappy about this. Theory and Haskins, for their part, but on a very solid wrestling match showed off their personalities quite well.
CATCHPOINT (Chris Dickinson & Jaka) vs. SOUTH PACIFIC POWER TRIP (Travis Banks & TK Cooper) (w/Dahlia Black) - 6.75/10
The match was pretty great, with the usual action and hard-hitting you'd expect from these two teams, but I didn't like the bit with Dahlia Black, Dickinson, and Cooper. Dahlia made herself a distraction in a way that felt way too much like she was a heel manager as opposed to a concerned girlfriend, which took away from the story they had been building with Cooper as the babyface in peril.
FATAL FOUR-WAY MATCH FOR THE WWN TITLE:
Matt Riddle(c) vs. WALTER vs. Keith Lee vs. Tracy Williams (w/Stokely Hathaway) - 8.75/10
They kept teasing the Lee vs. WALTER match-up that they teased us with at the end of last night's show but the other two kept breaking it up. The story early on was that Williams and Riddle knew that it would be a lot easier for them if they teamed up on the big guys so they worked together, despite their mutual loathing. From there it turned into the usual four-way story of there always being someone ready to come in a take you out or break up your pin when it looks like things are going your way. They had a bunch of really great false finishes towards the end before Riddle eventually beat Williams with the Bro-mission. This was one hell of an awesome match.
After the match Riddle had a stare-down with Lee. He offered him a bro-fist and eventually received one in return, albeit "begrudgingly" (as Lenny Leonard put it). He then had a stare-down with WALTER and offered him a handshake, but WALTER snubbed him.
Another awesome show from EVOLVE, showing that last was just an aberration. The tag division continues to feel like it is growing, despite having a grand total of ONE team before last month's shows and guys like Austin Theory and Darby Allin continue to grow and feel like bigger parts of the promotion. If there is one place where I think they've been a bit deficient, it's setting up singles challengers- especially now that Williams has been erased from the list. They've got two singles titles, (not even counting Yehi's FIP World Heavyweight Title) and the only guy who seems like he is worthy of a title shot is Lee. Hopefully Gabe will get to work on fixing that next month.