JAKE ST. PATRICK vs. PROJECT MONIX (w/Rico de la Vega) - 4/10
A perfectly acceptable five minutes of wrestling.
ELAYNA BLACK vs. BLAIR ONYX - 0.5/10
Black came to the ring with a doll of herself and a coffin that was too small for the doll. She won the match in about ninety seconds. She forgot to take her doll and little coffin to the back with her.
KEVIN LEE DAVIDSON vs. DAN THE DAD - 1.25/10
Why is someone named “Dan The Dad” within fifty feet of an EVOLVE ring? He looks like a goof, dresses like a goof, and utilizes and in-ring style that is high on goofage. The fact that it took Davidson longer to put away this goof than it took the winners of our previous matches to put away their non-goof opponents made Davidson look bad.
ZERO-1 USA TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
The Lowlifes (Jordan Perry & Joey O’Reilly)(c) vs. Jake Lander & Knarles Garvin - 5/10
This was fine for the time it got. The problem is that I’ve been sitting here for twenty-five minutes now and I’m still waiting for the EVOLVE show- the thing I tuned in to see- to start.
THE EVOLVE PART OF THE SHOW ACTUALLY STARTS - Yay! Colby Corino interrupted Lenny Leonard and Trevin Adams to cut a promo declaring himself to now be his own man, and he is going to run through The Unwanted one by one, starting with Sean Maluta, who he wants to come out for their match right now. Maluta obliges, so we get…
COLBY CORINO vs. SEAN MALUTA - 6.5/10
Colby wins a solid opener cleanly. After the match, The Unwanted came out to attack Colby. Eddie Kingston ordered Joe Gacy to end Colby’s career but Anthony Gutierrez came out and made the save, transitioning into…
ANTHONY GUTIERREZ vs. EDDIE KINGSTON (w/Natalya Markova & Joe Gacy) - 6.5/10
Gutierrez seemed to be on the verge of winning when Kingston was able to connect with the Backfist to the Future to pick up the win. After the match Joe Gacy decided it was his turn to do the “I WANT MY MATCH RIGHT NOW!” promo, so he called out Andrew Everett, leading to…
ANDREW EVERETT vs. JOE GACY - 6.75/10
A solid showcase for both men. Gacy picks up the win, which means that, between singles and tags, he has now won five matches in a row (three tags, two singles)
BABATUNDE vs. ANTHONY GREENE (w/Brandi Lauren) - no rating, never happened
Before the match could start, Greene’s tag team partner Harlem Bravado jumped Babatunde and Greene joined in on the beat-down. Brandi grabbed a mic and cut a promo vowing that the same fate would befall anyone who tried to get in their way, specifically name-dropping Josh Briggs and Curt Stallion in addition to Babatunde. Briggs came out and chased the heels away, then cut a promo, resulting in the match being changed to…
JOSH BRIGGS & BABATUNDE vs. THE IN-CROWD (Harlem Bravado & Anthony Greene) (w/Brandi Lauren) - 6.5/10
They had some good tag team stuff in here, but I wasn’t wild about the finish for two three reasons. The first is that the referee very clearly saw Brandi Lauren pulling Anthony Greene down and preventing him from getting suplexed. Yes, she didn’t touch anyone on the other team, but that is still getting involved in a match and really should be a DQ.
Moments later Briggs was DQed for using a Kendo stick that he heels had been about to use on him. It feels like we’ve seen this DQ way too often in EVOLVE recently (and that’s not something I should be saying about ANY DQ in a promotion that was build on clean finishes). The fact that most of said finishes seem to involve Greene and Lauren exacerbates this.
The third reason I didn’t like this finish is because it very much feels like a “we didn’t want to beat anyone” finish. I’d much rather see the heels use the weapon and get a dirty pin on Briggs to set up for a title shot where Briggs can get the win back cleanly than I would see this sort of DQ. Making this even more frustrating is that my guess is that part of the reason that wasn’t even considered as a finish is that Briggs is losing clean to WALTER in the main event, in a match that will never result in WALTER getting a title match, so why did we even book it? In fact, my assumption is that the entire reason this match is happening is to give Briggs an out when he loses to WALTER later in the night. And having the heels pin Babatunde was never considered because he’s Babatunde, and I’m quickly losing faith that they will ever let anyone beat him, but Gabe also knows that he’s nowhere near main event material, so he’s a big giant who can’t lose, but you can’t give a title shot to because you won’t put the belt on him, so all he’s doing is going around and beating the heels who should be getting pushed towards the top to replace guys like Austin Theory who have left the promotion, which makes Babatunde’s existence on the roster feel more counter-productive than anything else.
BRENDAN VINK vs. ADRIAN ALANIS (w/the Skulk) - 6.75/10
These guys had a very good, hard-hitting brawl, which Vink won. The In-Crowd were on commentary (thankfully it was mostly just Anthony Greene talking for them than having a four-person booth), sucking up to Vink as part of their continuing efforts to recruit him.
TIMOTHY THATCHER vs. ARTURO RUAS - 6.75/10
Sadly, this only went ten minutes, and it certainly was not the “INSTANT CLASSIC!” that Lenny Leonard declared it to be, but it was still a very fun catch-as-catch-can wrestling match.
NO DISQUALIFICATIONS MATCH:
Shotzi Blackheart vs. Reina Gonzalez - 6.75/10
Other than a Codebreaker with the chair that looked terrible, this was a very good weapons match. Reina won, and cut a promo afterwards. Shotzi get got the big goodbye and thank you in her final EVOLVE match.
CURT STALLION vs. MATT SYDAL - 7/10
J.D. Drake replaced Trevin Adams on commentary for this match. Stallion picked up a what feels like a big step forward of a victory for him, coming back from being bloodied and several bad landings early on against the veteran Sydal.
EVOLVE TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
A.R. Fox & Leon Ruff(c) (w/Ayla Fox & the Skulk) vs. Besties in the World (Mat Fitchett & Davey Vega) - 8/10
An exciting, fast-paced tag team match with a finish that feels like a huge upset. It’s a little disappointing to see Fox and Ruff drop the belts just as they have really begun hitting their groove, but I think the Besties in the World are a good addition to the tag team division, and their addition rounds out a tag team division that feels newly completely refreshed and revamped after feeling like it was comprised of just two teams at this point last year.
JOSH BRIGGS vs. WALTER - 8/10
This was an awesome hoss-fight with WALTER working over Briggs’ back. Briggs was a great babyface fighting from the disadvantage and making a big comeback. In the ring, this rocked. Unfortunately, there two things outside of the wrestlers’ control that really bugged me. The first was the fans all being behind WALTER. Briggs is not only the babyface but also the EVOLVE guy, and all the fans want to see is the NXT guy beat him up. What the f*ck, fans?
The second thing was the result. I know WALTER was always going to win and I know Gabe tried to book the show in such a way as to give Briggs an out, but it’s still frustrating to see the Evolve Champion losing clean to an NXT guy… again. If Briggs wasn’t the champion this would have been a great “guy fights hard and gets elevated even in defeat” match, but it wasn’t because Briggs is the freakin’ Evolve Champion, so how much elevating is there possibly left to do with him? Throw in wXw Unified World Wrestling Champion Timothy Thatcher doing two jobs for NXT guys this weekend, and it all becomes more and more frustrating.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Good. After the expected niceties between Briggs and WALTER, Brendan Vink comes out (with the In-Crowd running out after him to cheer him on), cut a promo on Briggs, and pie-faced him. Vink bailed, and the In-Crowd got in Briggs’ way so he couldn’t chase Vink. Briggs then cut a promo promising to take on all comers in 2020. They’ve done a good job building Vink up this weekend… but it has only been one weekend, so I don’t think immediately doing this match and then having him lose to Briggs is a good idea, and I certainly wouldn’t put the title on him, either… and I definitely don’t want to see a f*ck finish, either, so we’ll see how they handle this (they probably should find a way to put the title match off for a month or two).
This was an okay show from EVOLVE. The top of the card definitely saved it, but the long stuff that was essentially a pre-show (it was only twenty-five minutes, but it was four matches) made it harder to sit through than it should have been and wasn’t very good, and the booking feels more directionless than it did a mere twenty-four hours ago. Talent-wise, they definitely set the stage for a rebuild in 2019 with the likes of Briggs, Stallion, Greene, Leon Ruff, Ruas, Sydal, Gutierrez, Gacy, Colby, heel Anthony Henry, the addition Harlem Bravado to the Greene/Lauren tandem), even with the loss of some big names who they had invested a lot of time in (Theory, Darby). There is a lot of good talent ready to carry this company. The real question feels like it is how Gabe will be able to handle juggling booking his own promotion with using the non-regular NXT guys, which I don’t think he did a particularly good job at this year (other than maybe Ohno).