Apparently the preliminary matches are back. Cool. I always liked the idea of guys working their way onto the main roster, and the threat of main roster guys being demoted if they lose too much.
BARRETT BROWN vs. BSHP KNG - 4.25/10
They had a pretty short match that was fine for a while until BSHP KNG decided that instead of following up and pressing his advantage after he hit a big move and got nearfall, it would be a better idea to take off his boots, then go and pull a different pair out from under the apron. Somehow he got cheered for this. Then his opponent hit him with a dive, and he was pinned shortly thereafter. Well... at least the guy who was an idiot lost because of his idiocy. It's always nice to see justice done.
There is someone in the crowd wearing a "Russo Club" t-shirt, so everyone with any sort of Bullet Club merch might as well burn it because it has become irreversibly contaminated. Also... what the f*ck is someone wearing a "Russo Club" shirt doing at an EVOLVE show of all places? EVOLVE is the least Russo-esque company in history of North American professional wrestling.
MIKE FIERRO vs. JUNTAI - 3/10
This was almost like a squash for Fierro.
Leon Ruff vs. Harlem Bravado vs. Adrian Alanis vs. Jason Kincaid - 7.75/10
An excellent opener that felt like exactly what it was framed to us as: four hungry undercard wrestlers trying to get an important victory to propel them up the card. They were given plenty of time and had an exciting match, with pretty much everything they did looking good (there were a few exceptions, and most of those involved Alanis). The crowd liked everyone aside from Harlem Bravado, who they hated, so they were quite unhappy when he got the big win.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Fine. A.R. Fox (along with The Skulk) comes out to tell everyone how proud he is of his students Leon Ruff and Adrian Alanis even though they didn't pick up the win, but he was interrupted by former student and current rival Austin Theory, and Theory's manager Priscilla Kelly.
Kelly started to talk Theory up but Theory snatched the microphone away from her. Kelly was not happy with this, but didn't make a scene about it. Theory said some stuff to Fox that was hard to hear because the mic wasn't working. What I did catch was that he said he should be the one Fox' students come to for training and look up to as a role model because of how successful he is, and that Fox was a "disease" that was killing their careers. He then challenged Fox to a match right here, right now, and Fox accepted, so we got...
AUSTIN THEORY (w/Priscilla Kelly) vs. A.R. FOX (w/Ayla Fox & The Skulk) - No rating, good segment
They wrestled a short but intense match, and I really do mean wrestled, as 95% of this was them going for holds and stuff. The finish saw Priscilla Kelly attack Ayla Fox from behind. This distracted A.R. Fox, and Austin Theory then rolled him up, with a handful of cargo pants for good measure.
Fox was furious and demanded a rematch while Theory and Kelly stood there smugly and refused. Eventually, Fox amended his demand to an "unsanctioned fight" after the main event, but Theory still refused, until Fox offered to put ownership of the entire WWA4 school on the line (and also, somehow, The Skulk were also said to be on the line, but I'm not sure what they really mean by that. It has never been said that Fox controls their contracts or anything).
DJ Z vs. MUSTAFA ALI - 8/10
An awesome, clean, respectful sporting contest. I know people will be complaining about DJ Z jobbing to a WWE guy, but Ali is going for a title shot in nine days at Survivor Series, and DJ Z isn't doing anything right now, so what's the harm in it? Most promotions (including any promotion Gabe himself books) would ask the same courtesy. That being said, I could have done without them celebrating with a replica WWE Cruiserweight Title belt that a fan handed them.
JOSH BRIGGS vs. CODY VANCE - Squash
SHINE TITLE MATCH:
Allysin Kay(c) vs. Shotzi Blackheart - 6.75/10
This was a very good match. Kay is great at playing the insurmountable force. Unfortunately, the SHINE storyline and the structure of this match seemed to be for Kay to be the heel, but this match took place in Kay's home market, so the fans were 95% behind her instead of Shotzi.
Timothy Barr informed us that WWN has agree to keep the ring up and the cameras on so Fox and Theory can have their fight.
EVOLVE TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
The Street Profits(c) vs. J.D. Drake & Anthony Henry - 8.25/10
Drake & Henry attacked the Street Profits during their entrance. This was a little heelish to me, although I can see an argument that they took the Street Profits usual Street Profit-ing as too much showboating. Also, apparently there is Twitter heat between these two teams, so that might have helped lead to this as well. It would have been nice if they had shown or told us about some of those comments before the match.
This was another excellent outing for the Street Profits. This was a hard-hitting match with great heat. The announcers emphasized several times when Drake and Henry accidentally bumped into each other (or were pushed into each other), including one right before the finish. Said bumping into each other on the finish was followed up by a Spinebuster by Dawkins and then a Frog Splash by Ford for the pin on Drake. This led to a bit of a post-match altercation in which Ford joking grabbed for Drake's belt a few times. This quickly turned into yelling, with Dawkins trying to calm both guys down. Personally, I thought Ford was being a dick, but it's definitely the type of very real situation where you could understand why Ford thought his actions were clearly intended all in good fun while Drake thought Ford was rubbing the victory in his face.
EVOLVE WORLD TITLE MATCH:
Fabien Aichner(c) vs. Kassius Ohno - 7.75/10
The fans HATED Aichner and loved Hero. This match was one hell of a slugfest, and it was GREAT!
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Not good. Anthony Henry came out. He appeared to have drunk several cans of Red Bull since we last saw him. He cut a promo that was extremely hard to understand, and got in Aichner's face a bit (they're wrestling each other tomorrow night). Ohno tried to calm him down, but he said something about not being able to cut in NXT "so you had to come here," which totally buries EVOLVE, and I honestly wasn't sure if it was aimed at Ohno or Aichner. He pushed Oho afterward so I guess it was him, but I'm not 100% sure. Henry then walked off.
UNSANCTIONED FIGHT FOR CONTROL OF THE WWN SCHOOL:
A.R. Fox(c) vs. Austin Theory - 7/10
They had a referee out here, but rather than the usual referee outfit, he was just wearing an EVOLVE t-shirt... which still kind of makes it look like it's sanctioned by EVOLVE. Fox through a bunch of back elbows right in front of the crowd, and the camera able made it pretty darn clear that he was barely even touching theory.
The match was great at times, but would often lose a lot of its intensity. The last few minutes were excellent and it definitely felt like an unsanctioned fight, but occasionally it just ceased to be an exciting professional wrestling match. I don't really know how else to phrase it because all of the ingredients were there. It just stopped clicking at times.
This was a great show from EVOLVE, despite the main event not quite delivering. I wish there was a little bit more going on story-wise, but they were down some of their important regulars (Darby Allin, Shane Strickland, Doom Patrol) and they do seem to have tried to start a bit of stuff on this show with Henry/Ohno and Ford/Drake. Tomorrow night's line-up looks quite stacked, so hopefully that show will be even better.