TASK FORCE (Mikey Spandex & DMC) vs. MILK CHOCOLATE (Brandon Watts & Randy Summers) - 4.25/10
Milk Chocolate get their first win in EVOLVE after several tries over the past few years.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Fine, I guess. Task Force jump Milk Chocolate from behind after the match. Then NXT's Babatunde came out and beat Task Force up. He looked like he might do the same to Milk Chocolate but instead decided to be a friendly giant to them. Lenny Leonard noted to us that Babatunde has been managed by Stokely Hathaway in NXT lately. I'm not sure if this will become important to a storyline or was just a way to give him a little more credibility as a threat.
LACEY LANE vs. BRANDI LAUREN - 4/10
During this match Lenny Leonard told us that the referee for this match was also a participant in one of the WWN seminars that they love to plug for the wrestlers so much. I would love a kayfabe explanation for what a seminar for referees looks like. I mean... wouldn't it just be easier to use referees you already know are competent? And if you can't come up with a good answer for this question, it's not something you should be bringing up on the air.
Both women have decent personalities, but Lacey came off as a little green and things were a step slower than you'd expect them to be.
KONA REEVES & COLBY CORINO SEGMENT - Interesting. Reeves came out and immediately got booed loudly. He then proceeded to cut generic heel promo #1: The people aren't treating him like the star he is, he doesn't want to be here he came for competition but can't find any, etc. etc. Colby Corino came out and scolded Reeves, saying it is his dream to have the spot that Reeves does, so he's not going to let Reeves come here and insult everyone. He challenges Reeves to a match and Reeves accepts.
While on the one hand this feels like WAY too babyface a promo for a heel like Colby, it also does fit in perfectly with his and his faction's motivation and established dislike for NXT guys, so I guess it's more an issue of it being so weird to see a heel being positioned as the babyface like this, especially when in all of their other interactions with NXT guys (which have really just mostly been the Street Profits) they have clearly been the heels.
KONA REEVES vs. COLBY CORINO - 6.25/10
A good match with Colby, usually the pesky little heel, now playing the underdog babyface, and playing the role very well.
ADRIAN JAOUDE vs. ANTHONY HENRY - no rating, bad segment
This was a match I was really looking forward to and it was very good for about five minutes... and then they did a finish that just plain didn't understand, and based on the crowd's reaction, I don't think I was alone. Basically what happened was that Jaoude went for his armbar but Henry poked him in the eye to stop him Henry went after Jaoude and they both started trading strikes. The referee then tried to get between them and when they wouldn't stop fighting, the referee called for the bell and the match was declared to be a double-DQ. What I don't understand is why the referee was trying to get in the way and separate them in the first place. If he saw the eye poke he should disqualify Henry, or at the very least warn him. I understand the idea of separating them to give Jaoude time to recover, but Jaoude seemed to hammering right back at Henry so it didn't really seem like he needed the time. And if the referee didn't see the eye poke then what is he getting in the way for?
That, of course, is all of this in a vacuum, and while that was bad enough, in the greater context of the last few months of EVOLVE, this was even worse. There have quite simply just been too many DQs/double-DQs recently, which is frustrating on its own, but even worse from a company that was built on clean finishes. We have seen way too many matches recently that start off very hot and seem like they're going somewhere great only for there to be some sort of DQ or no-contest or other non-finish. I'm not quite going to call it a f*ck finish since there is a clear route to go from here (no DQs), but I'm getting pretty annoyed.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Meh. This was the standard pull-apart with guys breaking lose. I guess it makes me want to see a rematch, but I already wanted to see this match-up, and now I'm just worried we'll get a non-finish in their next match, too.
SHANE THORNE vs. CURT STALLION - 7/10
Thorne won a great match. Not that Thorne wasn't great here, but Stallion really shined as a babyface here felt like the true star of the match, even though he lost.
ADRIAN ALANIS vs. LEON RUFF vs. A.R. FOX - 8/10
All three wrestlers came out to together, all accompanied by the Skulk. This was an awesome spotfest with the usual three-way story mixed in. They also did a good job of not losing that feeling of camaraderie that the WWA4 guys all exude. This very much felt like brothers having a respectful match (even though it was a spotfest rather than the grappling contest we usual get with such set-ups. Ruff gets the win on his birthday, and Alanis, who let the team down and got pinned in the main event of Mercury Rising 2019, has now lost a second straight match.
A SPECIAL PERFORMANCE BY ERIC BUGENHAGEN - He wasted several minutes of our time by jumping onto and off of things and screaming, like a five-year-old who got into the sugar. Why is this happening in EVOLVE? G-d, I don't know what I did to anger You to the point that I deserve this, but I am very truly sorry.
Goofenhagen continued being a goof until Eddie Kingston attacked him from behind and cut a promo about how crap like this is why "my wrestling is dead." So is Eddie Kingston the babyface now? Because that's what it feels like. Angelo Dawkins ran out to brawl with Kingston, kicking off the scheduled...
FALLS COUNT ANYWHERE MATCH:
Angelo Dawkins vs. Eddie Kingston - 3/10
This was disappointingly short, and pretty much all punch-kick stuff. The finish saw Kingston trying to run away, only to be intercepted by Bugenhagen, then speared by Dawkins, so our babyface needed help to get the win. Not good.
EVOLVE TITLE MATCH:
Austin Theory(c) vs. Raul Mendoza - 7.75/10
An awesome babyface vs. heel match, but it was definitely hurt by the fact that no one believed the title would change hands. Even Lenny Leonard reminding us of Fabian Aichner's surprise Evolve Title victory couldn't sway me even one bit.
AUSTIN THEORY PROMO - GREAT! He notes that he has already beaten Roderick Strong and Kyle O'Reilly so he is 2-0 against Undisputed Era. "Bobby Fish isn't important" so he is calling out Adam Cole for a match. Not a title match, mind you, "because we all know that when it comes to big title matches, you always choke," but a match nonetheless.
WWN TITLE MATCH:
J.D. Drake(c) vs. Shane Strickland - 8.5/10
An awesome marathon that had that real "world title match" feel, with Strickland working over Drake's arm (which he had injured last Friday at Mercury Rising 2019), and Drake just being the big tough babyface hanging in there no matter what.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Good. Eddie Kingston and Colby Corino of The Unwanted run out and attack J.D. Drake but Anthony Henry came out to make the save, something he notably did not do in a similar situation at Mercury Rising 2019. I guess he actually did just leave the building early and there is no reason to be suspicious.
This was a very good show from EVOLVE (and NXT, really) in the ring, but the booking was definitely rather questionable. This show feels rather throw-together at the last minute, with the goal really being to see how well a large number of NXT guys but no real NXT stars (the closest we got was tag team specialist Dawkins in a singles match), while making sure certain people either got a necessary win or loss, with most of the focus being to set up for future shows rather than on this show. This is not inherently a bad thing (I'd normally call it a "breathing room" show), but highly disappointing nature of two of the three matches I was really looking forward to- and Dawkins vs. Kingston in particular, which has months of story behind it and felt like it was supposed to be something of a blow-off- put a big damper on it and made it feel less like a breathing room show and more like a show that was supposed to be big but under-delivered due to disappointing booking. EVOLVE right now has some great wrestlers delivering great action on every show, but the past few months have seen it begin to feel like a place where the blow-offs always disappoint, and that's not a good thing for a storyline-focused promotion.