By Big Red Machine
From October 11, 2019
NXT General Manager William Regal has promised that “someone on this show’s life will change dramatically” as a result of this show, which sounds a lot to me like someone is leaving EVOLVE. Hopefully it’s someone I don’t care for like Adrian Alanis or Colby Corino or Shotzi Blackheart rather than someone who I actually come to EVOLVE to see like Anthony Henry, J.D. Drake, Curt Stallion, Leon Ruff, Arturo Ruas, or Anthony Gutierrez.
SLIM J vs. ANTHONY HENRY - 6/10
Henry is in the opener as a punishment after throwing a match to K.C. Navarro at Evolve 135, then beating Navarro up afterwards. I hope this isn’t his only punishment, because throwing a match should be considered a HUGE offense.
The match was a lot more competitive than I was expecting. They actually had me believing an upset was possible.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Didn’t like it. J.D. Drake came out and wanted to fight Henry but Henry retreated. This was supposed to be heelish on Henry’s part, but he just got done with a match while Drake is fresh, is it’s really hard to blame Henry for not wanting to fight right now, especially when they’re booed against each other tomorrow night.
J.D. DRAKE vs. ARTURO RUAS - 6.5/10
Another Arturo Ruas match that I like a lot but goes too short for my tastes. He’s like Rush in that way. Drake’s winless streak continues with a clean loss here.
ANTHONY GUTIERREZ vs. COLBY CORINO - 4.75/10
Another match that was short but very good for the time it got.
BABATUNDE vs. EDDIE KINGSTON - 4/10
The wrestlers did a decent job with what they were given, but I want to give Gabe a DUD here. This is at least the second time we’ve gotten a DQ like this between these two. If you don’t want to book a finish then don’t put them together! Making matters even worse is that this was a double-DQ for not getting back in the ring even though at the moment the DQ was called for ALL THREE MEMBERS OF THE UNWANTED WERE ATTACKING BABATUNDE. How was this not a DQ on Kingston for interference?
SHINE NOVA TITLE MATCH: Shotzi Blackheart(c) vs. Aja Perera - 4.5/10
Another short and uninspired match. Some of their offense pretty clearly didn’t land but they sold it anyway. It looked very bad.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - William Regal comes out and offers Shotzi Blackheart an NXT contract. Good for Shotzi. Also good for those of us who don’t want EVOLVE to take up time with her anymore.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT PART 2 - Not so good. Anthony Greene and Brandi Lauren come out and demand to know where their contracts are. Regal rebukes them with ice rather than fire. Harlem Bravado comes out and tries to smooth things over between the important dignitary from WWE and his tag team partner for later tonight. Regal suggests that their match with the Skulk be moved up to right now. This felt fairly pointless other than to move the tag match up from it’s kayfabe scheduled place on the card, though even that was pointless because it could have slid in here just fine, anyway. I also hated Brandi talking up her recent “performances” on NXT when said performances were being a jobber to get squashed. That’s not something to be proud of. I’m also stumped as to how Shotzi Blackheart was given a contract but not Brandi Lauren, who is a much more complete package. Maybe ever since Carmella or Liv Morgan or whoever had their most recent dye-job it opened up a spot they specifically needed for a woman with green hair.
HARLEM BRAVADO & ANTHONY GREENE (w/Brandi Lauren) vs. THE SKULK (Adrian Alanis & Liam Gray) (w/A.R. Fox, Ayla Fox, & the Skulk) - 5.75/10
The heels jumped the bell on the babyfaces. Stuff happened. Some of which was cool flips and exciting nearfalls. There was no real story, though.
A.R.FOX PROMO - very good build for this Evolve Title match tonight against former student Austin Theory.
LEON RUFF vs. SEAN MALUTA - 6.75/10
Colby Corino made his commentary debut. He was great at being simultaneously impressed by Ruff while also consistently sticking to the story that all of Ruff’s athletic feats were just “lucky shots.”
CAMERON GRIMES vs. CURT STALLION - 7/10
Anthony Greene replaced Colby Corino on commentary for this match. He ruined a great match when he caused Stallion to lose via distraction. The camera had to cut to him to show us the distraction he was causing, so we almost missed the finish. This keeps the Greene vs. Stallion feud going, and at least this isn’t an EVOLVE guy who feels like he is about to break out doing a clean job to a WWE guy. I’ll just cross my fingers that Stallion picks up a win against Ohno tomorrow night. And speaking of Kassius Ohno, it’s time for a…
LIGHTS OUT MATCH:
Josh Briggs vs. Kassius Ohno (w/Harlem Bravado) - 9/10
This is a Gabe-booked promotion, so here a “Lights Out match” means Last Man Standing (because the loser has had his/her lights knocked out). They did a nice little pre-match segment to do their best to avoid anyone cheering for Ohno during this match… and holy sh*t did they succeed. Ohno was the absolute single most unlikable person on Earth during this match, and Briggs was just the best damn babyface you ever saw. It’s rare to find someone who can wrestle like a monster while still selling the way Briggs did here. It was quite incredible. Ohno’s selling was great as well, and I thought both men’s selling after the match really put over how much of a struggle this truly was. Getting this match made the interference in last month’s title match feel worth it. And this is coming from a guy who generally dislikes the Last Man Standing stip.
EVOLVE TITLE MATCH:
Austin Theory(c) vs. A.R. Fox (w/Ayla Fox & the Skulk) - 8.5/10
An excellent main event with a “they know each other so well” story, combined with some great drama playing off of the “Theory is Fox’s arrogant former student” story. The new “Theory is allowed to stay in EVOLVE as long as he is the champion” reverse Summer of Punk dynamic (instead of fighting to save the championship, everyone wants to knock Theory out of EVOLVE by winning the title) also added a later to this with a sort of “I brought you into this world, and I can take you out of it” vibe.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Great. Theory retained the title and cut a promo vowing to take everything from Fox when he and Anthony Greene beat Fox and Leon Ruff for the Evolve Tag Team Titles tomorrow night. Josh Briggs came out and Theory start to taunt him, so Briggs just knocked him out with one punch. Then the Skulk all made fun of Theory. That was a great way to end the show.
This show was 2019 EVOLVE in a nutshell. New talent is getting the chance to show what they can do, but so many of the matches on the undercard are getting cut short. WWE talent is all over the show, mostly feeling like they’re getting in the way, but when they come in for a real storyline, things pay off well in the end. Creative definitely has a vision, but often feels like it is struggling to get there and relying too much on run-ins and DQs, and every once in a while we get a top match that makes up for so many other matches on the card being disappointing.