By Big Red Machine
From January 17, 2020
THE END vs. THE DIRTY BLONDES (w/Sean Davis) - 4.5/10
I guess we’re having a random FIP match at the beginning of the show? They’ve even got the FIP banner up by the entrance. The Dirty Blondes jumped The End from behind but The End eventually fought back and won. Then the Dirty Blondes attacked them after the match and choked Parrow with a rope. In 2020, Sean Davis is still as go-away heat annoying as ever.
SKINNY VINNY PROMO - Bad. What the f*ck is going on? Is there a whole FIP pre-show at the beginning of this EVOLVE show? YUCK! I don’t watch FIP for a reason, and that reason is the over the top low-rent human cartoon managers like Sean Davis and Skinny Vinny. As you might have guessed by his name, Skinny Vinny is a suit-clad gentleman of Italian descent who describes himself as (among other things) “the sauce on your freakin’ pasta” and says things like “I’m gonna make you an offer you can’t refuse.”
OAO (Hunter Law & Snoop Strikes) vs. THE PRECIPICE (Chance Auren & Amir Omar) (w/Skinny Vinny) - 6.75/10
Lenny Leonard has replaced Francisco Ciatso as Trevin Adams’ commentary partner, and he talks about ho “it’s great to be back in FIP.” Oh my G-d this actually is a full FIP-themed pre-show isn’t it?
That being said, this match was very good… but Skinny Vinny’s promo or involvement did not affect my enjoyment of it in any positive way, and I was quite pleased that he stayed out of 95% of it and kept his f*cking mouth shut. The wrestlers are very good; the managers are goofs.
It would be really nice if we could avoid telling people something that essentially amounts to “those seats that are now filled were empty before because the fans would rather go to a meet and greet with NXT wrestlers than watch our wrestlers have actual wrestling matches.” That kind of buries the talent, don’t you think?
FIP FLORIDA HERITAGE TITLE MATCH:
Jon Davis(c) vs. Troy Hollywood - 6.5/10
Davis won clean and offered Hollywood a rare show of respect after the match.
** MAIN SHOW **
RIK BUGEZ vs. JOE GACY (w/Eddie Kingston) - 4.5/10
Rik Bugez is the infamous Eric Bugenhagen who had a brief run of fame last year for being a f*cking goof. He cut a goofy, screaming promo which, while still obnoxious, at least the focus of it was on the fact that he is here to wrestle rather than just to scream loudly. Eddie Kingston came out and cut a promo which pretty much sums up my views on Mr. Bugenhagen and his ilk, and the people who show up to cheer for them.
Gacy picks up the solid win, continuing his winning streak. Eddie Kingston then cut a promo saying that he and Gacy would win the title tag titles later tonight.
INDI HARTWELL vs BRANDI LAUREN (w/Anthony Greene) - 1.5/10
A short match in which Hartwell out-cheated Brandi to get the win.
ANTHONY GREENE PROMO- decent heel stuff to build up tonight’s main event.
DENZEL DEJOURNETTE vs. ADRIAN ALANIS (w/Bobby Flacco) - 4.75/10
Good showings for both men. Lenny Leonard mentioned that Alanis had just gotten his first EVOLVE contract two weeks ago. I could have sworn he got a contract at the end of 2018 or early 2019. That was probably a WWN contract as opposed to an EVOLVE one, but there doesn’t seem to be much of an functional difference between the two to me.
SANTANA GARRETT vs. AVERY TAYLOR - 3/10
Why does the NXT jobber have to beat the closest thing this division has to a babyface right now? Yeah, she’s got indy cred, but her winning this match in such a short amount of time doesn’t anything for Avery Taylor, even with Santana’s cliché post-match speech putting her over. After interviewing Garrett, Trevin Adams offered Avery Taylor an EVOLVE contract. Again… this would have come off as a lot more kayfabe deserved if she had ACTUALLY WON HER MATCH!
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Good. Brandi Lauren jumped Avery Taylor from behind, not just stealing her moment, but ripping up her newly-signed contract as well.
DEXTER LUMIS vs. CURT STALLION - 7/10
We’ve got a loud contingent of idiot fans who have decided to cheer for the creepy guy whose name they don’t even know because they think it’s fun to chant “LET’S GO CREEPY!” F*cking morons. Dexter Lumis is GREAT at his gimmick. He does so many wonderful little things to make himself very disconcerting. But how can the gimmick really be effective if the crowd is going to gleefully sabotage it in the name of “fun?” I’m not saying you always have to cheer the babyface and boo the heel, but in a situation like this, if you feel the need to support Dexter Lumis then just cheer for the guy or chant “LET’S GO DEXTER!” Don’t chant “LET’S GO CREEPY!” because that completely ruins the vibe of the character.
The story of this match was one of Lumis dominating Stallion and Stallion never giving up, fighting on until he was choked into unconsciousness. Lumis needed the win because he’s challenging Briggs tomorrow night (Briggs put out an open challenge to anyone from the Performance Center) and Stallion was in a spot to take a loss so the booking makes sense, but the story did a great job of getting Lumis’ character over s we know what kind of threat our champion is facing tomorrow night. If you’re someone who likes the “he’s a horror movie villain” vibe of The Fiend, I’d urge you to watch Dexter Lumis so you can see how he does the same thing but better, keeping his no-selling to selected places and using his facial expressions to convey a lack of registering the pain.
ARIEL DOMINGUEZ vs. STEPHEN WOLF vs. LIAM GRAY (w/Bobby Flacco) vs. LEON RUFF (also w/Bobby Flacco) - 6.25/10
A fine series of spots. The announcers talked this up as Stephen Wolf’s return to action after a broken leg. They also pointed out to us that he was on the outside and thus unable to break up the winning pin.
EVOLVE 2019 HIGHLIGHT PACKAGE - A good video to update anyone who needed catching up on the year’s biggest storylines. This sort of thing probably should have been done at the beginning of the show, but it has been a very storyline-light show so far so I don’t think anyone missed anything that would have enhanced one fo the earlier matches for them.
BRENDAN VINK vs. A.R. FOX (w/Ayla Fox) - 7/10
The story here was the big powerful Vink using his big power moves to work over the outsized high-flying babyface A.R. Fox’s back while Fox used the usual high-flyer tricks of momentum and leverage to help himself take the bigger man off his feet. They had some good bits with both guys developing counters to moves they had previous fallen victim to as well.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Good. Vink cut a promo burying A.R. Fox and all of his students. Bobby Flacco came out and got obliterated. The rest of the Skulk came out to tend to him and Fox.
EVOLVE TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
Besties in the World(c) vs. The Unwanted (Eddie Kingston & Joe Gacy) (w/Donovan) - 6.75/10
FALLS COUNT ANYWHERE MATCH:
Josh Briggs(c) vs. Anthony Greene (w/Brandi Lauren) - 6.75/10
This was originally just supposed to be no DQs but Briggs responded to Greene’s earlier bragging by offering to have the match bee falls count anywhere as well, and Greene accepted. His was one of those unfortunately all too common Falls Count Anywhere matches that gets dragged down by the amount of time spent either doing walk-and-punch for the sake of walk-and-punch (it’s really not worth walking all the way outside just so you can throw a few punches on the sidewalk, then go back in), or with time wasted wading through the crowd to get to an opponent who you threw over the bar or whatever. For every spot that made good use of the stips (like the chokeslam onto the bar and then the pin attempt on the bar) there was something that slowed the match down to a crawl that they did just because it was a Falls Count Anywhere match.
The other story of this match was a mystery person interfering. It happened first when they were brawling on the stage by the curtain, and a hand popped out from behind the curtain and hit Briggs in the throat. The announcers were certain it was Brendan Vink, even though all we saw was an arm, because Vink has been saying he wants a title shot and hasn’t gotten one yet. Vink later showed up on commentary and denied that it was him. Later, when Briggs had a pin on the floor, someone yanked him from under the ring to pull him off of Greene. At the finish we found out that Dexter Loomis is almost certain the person who attacked from behind the curtain (they were wearing the same glove, and him attacking the man he has a title shot against tomorrow night makes sense), but unless he has super speed, he cannot possibly have been the person under the ring. I usually give Gabe the benefit of the doubt that there will be some reasonable explanation later (he’s the only booker to take the time to explain a blackout spot by saying that someone turned out the lights, and then having that person’s identity and/or position be relevant to the storyline), but I’m worried that we’re not going to get an explanation here.
Brandi Lauren interfered a few times but Avery Taylor came out to counter her and the two brawled away. That was a nice spot to get Avery over and move that feud along. Lumis’ interference at the end resulted in Greene pinning Briggs, so this feud is certainly not over, and I’d guess we’ll see a mixed tag at some point. It also means that Greene will be getting a title shot at some point, so between that and Vink’s commentary, we’ve now built up two more challengers for Briggs here, so that’s good.
This was an okay show from EVOLVE. We moved some storyline things along and saw some solid wrestling, but the main event was disappointing and the promotion still feels like it lacks direction anywhere other than the singles title scene. This show felt like something of a squandered opportunity to start the year off with something that gets some buzz, or at the very least gets people talking about how the show was good and got them excited for the next one.