By Big Red Machine
From July 14, 2019
OPENING SEGMENT - Fine. Lenny Leonard is hyping up the Matt Riddle vs. Curt Stallion main event when he is interrupted by Harlem Bravado. Harlem says that he had Curt Stallion beat last night but Stephen Wolf stole his pin. Wolf comes out with a referee in tow and tells Bravado that he will happily prove to him that his win is not a fluke, so we got...
HARLEM BRAVADO vs. STEPHEN WOLF - 5.75/10
A decent opener with a story of both guys having the other's finisher scouted. Wolf won by countering Straight Cash Homie with a jackknife pin. Bravado attacked him after the match and laid him out with part of the barricade.
ANTHONY HENRY vs. SEAN MALUTA - 5.25/10
Maluta does have to win at some point for his continued bookings to make sense.
ASHLEY VOX vs. BRANDI LAUREN (w/Anthony Greene) - no rating, never happened.
Ashley Vox comes out, ready for her match, but when Brandi comes out she is clearly not dressed to wrestle. You see, last night (after beating Shotzi Blackheart over and over with a Kendo stick, she makes sure to add), she suffered an injury, and thus was "unable to clear myself to wrestle tonight." That injury was a taped up middle finger, which she prominently displayed to both Ashley and the fans. WHoeverf came up with that idea is a genius. It was absolutely tremendous.
Shotzi Blackheart came out and ran Brandi down, talking about everything she went through in their match last night but how she would never pass up an opportunity to wrestle, and she wants to make sure that there is a women's match on this show tonight. Throughout all of this Brandi, from outside the ring, is telling Shotzi "I'm injured" and displaying her injured middle finger. Brandi and Greene leave, and EVOLVE officials give the okay to...
ASHLEY VOX vs. SHOTZI BLACKHEART - 3.25/10
The match was short. Shotzi sold her arm due to last night's match. Vox worked this for a bit but then Shotzi made her comeback and won via Cattle Mutilation.
BABATUNDE vs. JOE GACY - DUD!
They went for a decent minute or two before Sean Maluta ran in for the DQ.
ARTURO RUAS & AUSTIN THEORY vs. JOSH BRIGGS & ORANGE CASSIDY - 2/10
One of these things is not like the others. One of these things just doesn't belong...
Theory is now calling himself the "Unified Evolve Champion" and is only carrying the Evolve Title to the ring. I'm not sure if this is official or just Theory burying the WWN Title.
So yeah. I do not like Orange Cassidy. I do not understand him and do not want to understand him. He is a perfect example of a case in which Jim Cornette is completely on the money. He is a goof whose very presence makes a mockery of the wrestling business who some silly group of fans cheer solely because of kitsch, and when he stands there with his hands in his pockets I want nothing more than to see his opponent kick his head off like Holly Holm did to Bethe Correia. The fact that his stupid bullsh*t got one of the best reactions on this show makes me think that EVOLVE should never, ever run another show in this terrible, terrible city.
They told the story of Theory being scared of Briggs and only tagging in when Briggs was down. The problem with this was all of the times it was interrupted so that Orange Cassidy shenanigans could occur. Briggs and Ruas screwing up a chokeslam did not help matters, and the finish- Theory ran to the back, Briggs chased him but then went back to the ring where he immediately got kicked in the head and pinned by Ruas- soured me on everything. Yes, I understand the idea was that (as Lenny Leonard said) Briggs had "taken his eye off the ball," but the fact that you pinned the guy you're building up as the top big scary monster babyface instead of f*cking Orange Cassidy does not compute to me, no matter the situation. Why not just have Briggs chasing Theory mean that he couldn't get back to the ring in time to break up a pin? You get the same idea across but you pin Goofball McIdiot instead of Josh Briggs.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Meh. Johnny Gargano came out and told Briggs to not let hate consume him, and that staying focused is the only way to win the Evolve Title. He drew a comparison to him giving Matt Riddle his blessing on his way out of EVOVLE and Riddle going on to win the title, which while it does serve to build up cache for the idea, this whole thing kind of bugs me because until this moment we had never seen Briggs' anger cost him anything, and it didn't really even feel like he was that angry with Theory here.
Also- and I'd love to be wrong about this- it felt like the finish to the previous match was booked specifically so that Gargano could have something to do on this show, which, in my opinion, is booking around the wrong thing. Building up the EVOLVE guys should be Gabe's top priority, not finding ways to fit surprise appearances by WWE guys into the show.
CHRISTIAN CASANOVA & D.L. HURST vs. THE SKULK (Adrian Alanis & Liam Gray) (w/the Skulk) - 4.5/10
The heels jumped the bell on the Skulk. The match was short but everyone looked good. The Skulk won, so they're picking up some momentum as a group now, rather than just Leon Ruff.
LEON RUFF vs. ANTHONY GREENE (w/Brandi Lauren) - 7/10
A solid confidence-building match between two up-and-coming stars (by which I mean it builds up fans' confidence that these new guys who are getting pushed are going to be able to deliver). Shotzi Blackheart came out to chase Brandi away after she put Greene's foot on the ropes top break up a pinfall. Greene won the match a few minutes later.
J.D. DRAKE vs. A.R. FOX (w/Ayla Fox) - 8.5/10
A BRUTAL sixteen minutes of combat ending in another hard loss for Drake.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Good. Drake shook Fox's hand, but he was still clearly very upset about his loss, and Anthony Henry had to come out and calm him down, which Lenny Leonard noted is a reversal of the way it usual is.
MATT RIDDLE vs. CURT STALLION - 8.25/10
Both guys worked the head and sold well. I thought the fighting spirit with the German suplexes got excessive, but other than that this was an awesome, hard-fought, gritty wrestling match. This was one of those matches where it didn't feel like BS at the end when Lenny Leonard told us that Stallion "took Matt Riddle to his limit."
This was a passable show from EVOLVE, with a great second half saving this show from what is almost certainly the worst first half of a show in company history. The booking has definitely started to feel more questionable to me now. Hopefully next month's shows set things right.