By Big Red Machine
From August 11, 2018
ZERO1 USA X-DIVISION TITLE MATCH:
Jake Parnell(c) vs. Gary Jay- 5/10
FW TITLE MATCH:
Isaias Velazquez(c) vs. Matt Knicks – 5.75/10
JOSH BRIGGS vs. ANTHONY HENRY vs. JON DAVIS- 6.75/10
This was a great action-packed three-way, with the big guys being big and strong and the smaller Henry being small and quick. They hit each other hard, did some big spots, and gave us a good finish for the storyline in question.
DJ Z vs. A.R. FOX (w/Ayla Fox & the Skulk)- 7.25/10
J.D. DRAKE vs. WALTER- 7.5/10
Before the match, the announcers reminded us that WALTER attacked Anthony Henry after Henry beat Thatcher and then offered him a handshake at Evolve 107, and that Henry and Drake are no longer tag team partners, having recently announced an amicable split to concentrate on their respective singles careers... and all I can think is that the Drake/Henry split seems even weirder now because it feels like we have what should be the beginning of a Drake & Henry vs. RingKampf feud but Drake & Henry aren't a thing anymore. Then it got even weirder when Henry came out mid-way through the match to cheer Drake on.
Drake and WALTER had a great hoss fight, just using their size and smacking the sh*t out of each other. WALTER won with the Gojira Clutch, and kept the hold in for a bit longer than necessary after the referee declared Drake unconscious. Henry went to check on Drake, and Walter gave him a dismissive poke with his boot, instigating a shouting match between them (it would have been more of the referee hadn't gotten between them), to build up to their match against each other tomorrow night.
TRACY WILLIAMS vs. JAKA (w/Stokely Hathaway & Dominic Garrini) - 6.75/10
Tracy's eye is all bandaged up after Stokely tried to take it out with a screwdriver last weekend. As you'd expect the eye became a factor in this match, as Jaka went to it whenever he need to cut off Williams' assault on his knees. Not only did Jaka get the win, but Catchpoint attacked Tracy after the match and held him so Stokely could again go after his eye with the screwdriver but the referees were able to hold Stokely back.
CATCHPOINT (Dominic Garrini, Chris Dickinson, & Stokely Hathaway) vs. THE SKULK (Adrian Alanis, Leon Ruff, & Tommy Maserati) - 5/10
This was perfect for what it was, with a rather surprising but still very Gabe finish, making the most of a unique situation while giving us a completely clean pin.
SAIVE AL SABAH & JOEY JANELA (w/Penelope Ford) vs. SHANE STRICKLAND & AUSTIN THEORY (w/Priscilla Kelly) - 8/10
Al Sabah came out with Joey (and Penelope) to Joey's music. Austin Theory was apparently supposed to do the same for Strickland but "refused to come out until they played his music," which Lenny Leonard described as "throwing a tantrum in the back." I'm sorry, but I've got to side with Theory on this one. Strickland might be the Evolve Champion, but Theory is the FIP World Heavyweight Champion, and I at least think that warrants him getting his own entrance. Also, guys usually get separate entrances in EVOLVE (although, then again, we rarely get guys who aren't in the same faction teaming together... or really many tag matches at all), so I don't think Theory is wrong to be upset that they decided that they weren't going to give him his own entrance tonight, as it does, in fact, make him look like a lesser star not to have it (which is exactly how I felt when I saw Al Sabah come out with Joey and Penelope).
Both teams worked surprisingly well together and they had an awesome tag team match. Al Sabah in particular shined here, getting to show off his Ricky Morton impression. He's been pushed as an up-and-coming babyface in his few EVOLVE appearances, but has never really had an intense, prolong period of just selling before. IN this match he assuaged any concerns anyone might have had that he wouldn't be particularly great at that rather important babyface skill.
The only thing in this match that I didn't like was that second spot with the women. Kelly- who has a history of getting suspended for her interference in Austin Theory's matches- was clearly caught by the referee interfering in this match, and yet this wasn't a DQ. It then led to Janela chasing her around and finally into the ring, where the referee kept yelling at her to get out of the ring but she didn't... and there was still no DQ. And all this was done to set up Penelope Ford- who isn't even in the damn match- getting a highspot in.
MATT RIDDLE vs. DARBY ALLIN - 8.75/10
This was both of these guys at their best. Riddle did his Riddle stuff and worked over the arm and midsection and threw Darby around with amateur stuff, while Darby was freakin' awesome babyface, both in his determination not to lose and his determination to show that he could hand with Matt freakin' Riddle. And, of course, Darby sold a lot (and very well) because he threw himself at Riddle in various ways that make me worry for his long-term health.
An awesome show from EVOLVE (especially once the preliminary, non-EVOLVE matches were over). Everything was great or better for what it was supposed to be, they built anticipation for tomorrow night's show pretty well, and continued to feature new talent in big ways. The semi-main was a rather interesting match because it's something EVOLVE rarely does, but I can definitely see it happening more often after tonight's success.