By Big Red Machine
From October 12, 2019
J.D. DRAKE PROMO - Very good, but… As build to his “North Carolina backyard fight” or whatever goofy name Gabe has given to this no DQs match that Drake is having with Anthony Henry tonight, this was very effective. What I didn’t like was the sudden addition on an “unsanctioned” stipulation here. It’s not that I can’t see a reason for it, because I can. I can see two, actually, and those are as follows:
1. If Drake is going to win, this match being “unsanctioned” allows them to technically extend the “J.D. Drake hasn’t won a match in EVOLVE since Evolve 129” storyline for another show.
2. It allows the tag title match to technically be the kayfabe main event of the show, and I know Gabe has always been big on keeping titles feeling important by not having them play second fiddle to anything other than another title match except in very rare circumstances (this was a good chunk of the reason for the whole “the WWN Title and EVOLVE Title can’t be defended on the same night” dictum).
The problem with both of these is the benefit they add is only a technicality. We all know what the actual main event of this show is, and if Drake wins tonight, we’ll all know that he did win a match in EVOLVE, even if it’s not recorded in the record book. And if none of these things are the reasoning behind it, all I see this doing is adding a no DQs stip onto on a match that already has one.
SHOTZI BLACKHEART vs. SAVANNAH EVANS (w/The Tommy Thomas) - 4.5/10
Shotzi wins in six minutes. As a character, she continues to go nowhere and doesn’t really have any sort of character other than “generic wrestler who occasionally howls,” and thus I cannot care about her.
FOUR-WAY FREE-STYLE MATCH:
Adrian Alanis vs. Harlem Bravado vs. Colby Corino vs. Josh Briggs - 8/10
This right here is exactly the sort of undercard action-match that has been missing from EVOLVE! Everyone looked great, but Briggs in particular impressed me with his selling once again, never forgetting to sell his knee once it began to be worked over. In other news, I have found myself getting behind Colby Corino in a sort of odd way, just because he tries so darn hard but never wins.
BRANDI LAUREN vs. JAY RAVES - squash
Jay Raves is a total goof who calls herself the “rave police.” Brandi treated her the way such goofs deserve to be treated.
BRANDI LAUREN PROMO - Good delivery, bad content. Brandi did her best with the poor concept she was given. What does she hope to gain out of being the only woman in the division? Surely she doesn’t think the people who run NXT are so stupid as to not realize that a division of one woman is totally worthless because there are no actual matches happening, right?
Also, can we please not brag about “appearing” on NXT when said appearances consisted of getting squashed like a bug?
BABATUNDE vs. SEAN MALUTA (w/Colby Corino) - 4.25/10
Eddie Kingston joined Lenny Leonard on commentary for this match. He was way too over the top. On the bright side, they actually let Babatunde have a match. The story was Maluta trying to choke the big man out, but the big man overcame it and got the win. This was fine for the time it got.
ARTURO RUAS vs. ANTHONY GUTIERREZ - 7.5/10
Would you be surprised if I told you that this is the match in this show I was most looking forward to? Unfortunately, it only went eight minutes. On the bright side, though, those eight minutes were AWESOME! I would be more than fine if these two wrestled each other once a weekend for the rest of my life. They made a dive work in a grapplef*ck match.
CURT STALLION vs. KASSIUS OHNO - 8/10
Ohno’s ploy to prevent himself from getting cheered before this match was to “show how deep the friendship” between himself and Harlem Bravado goes by having Harlem, a UNC fan, put on a jersey of Ohno’s Duke Blue Devils. This backfired a bit, as the crowd had a sizable contingent of Duke fans as well as the geographically-expected UNC fans.
This was Ohno having another awesome match this weekend where he beats the living sh*t out of an EVOLVE young’un. The guy can still go at his age and his weight. I know that’s not news, but it’s still amazing. Anthony Greene attack Stallion after the match.
JOHN SKYLER vs. LAIM GRAY (w/Bobby Flaco) - 6.5/10
Very good for the time it got. They told a good story with Skyler using his size to dominate and working over Liam’s back. Liam made a good comeback and got the win with his fancy high-flying moves.
CAMERON GRIMES vs. EDDIE KINGSTON - 6.75/10
Disappointing, considering the talent involved.
EVOLVE TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
A.R. Fox & Leon Ruff(c) (w/Ayla Fox & the Skulk) vs. Austin Theory & Anthony Greene (w/Brandi Lauren) - 7.5/10
The match itself was great and the interactions between Brandi and Ayla were a lot of fun but the booking baffles me. Fox pinning Theory to retain the titles seems to put us right back to where we were at the beginning of the weekend, with Fox being owed a title shot at Theory. Josh Briggs was on commentary for this match and didn’t come across anything like his in-ring persona. This did not seem like a man who, “chances are he does not like you.” This seemed like a cool dude I’d love to hang out and watch wrestling with.
UNSANCTIONED NORTH CAROLINA STREET FIGHT:
J.D. Drake vs. Anthony Henry - 7.75/10
They ha a great bawl, although I thought Drake spent too much f the match treating it like a “competition” instead of a blood feud match. I realize that that tracks perfectly with the way they’ve told the story, but up until not I think the way they have told the story has made Drake seem more than a little naïve. At least they paid it off with Henry trying to play off of Drake’s emotions at the end and Drake not falling for it like he has in the past. Also, the physics on that bowling ball spot didn’t make sense. Other than that, though, this was a heck of a brawl with a crowd that just plain didn’t appreciate the story and would rather be a 2019 wrestling crowd and say whatever pops into their heads or think they have “spots” they’re supposed to hit.
This was a very good show from EVOLVE, but between the booking of this weekend and getting a look at the card for Evolve 139, there is a lot of stuff that feels like we’re going around in circles instead of moving forward. Hopefully I’m wrong about that, but we’ll see. I’m eager to see guys like Ruas, Gacy, Gutierrez, Greene, and Stallion get the chance to move into the main event scene the way Briggs and Ruff have. Less time being wasted on the likes of Shotzi Blackheart and random NXT bring-ins like Cameron Grimes would help a lot in that direction.