** SHINE KICK-OFF SHOW **
ALYX SKY vs. STORMIE LEE - 1.5/10
Alyx Sky’s story is that she is deaf in one ear but has an implant to help her hear. I don’t mean to be insensitive, but that’s really not something that’s going to make it any more difficult for someone to be a pro wrestler, is it? And doubly so in kayfabe, where the wrestlers aren’t secretly communicating with each other all the time. Also, you’d think that with a nickname like “death-defying” Alyx Sky, she’d be a high flyer, but she did no high-flying at all. She was a completely unremarkable, generic pro wrestler.
SHINE NOVA TITLE MATCH:
Natalya Markova(c) vs. Jenna - 6/10
They told their story (Markova needing to use leverage and submissions to overcome Jenna’s size and strength advantage) very well.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Good. Jenna leaves after a show of respect. Then Brandi Lauren came out and said that because Markova failed to take out Shotzi Blackheart for her back in the summer, Markova should forfeit the title to her. Stormie Lee came out attacked Markova from behind with a chair. Stormie hit her in the throat, then set up for a Pillmanizer on the arm but Avery Taylor, Brandi’s opponent for later tonight, chased the heels off with a chair. The announcers speculated that Stormie might be Brandi’s new hired muscle.
SHINE TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
Triple Aye (Aja Perera & Big Swole) vs. BTY (Marti Belle & Jayme Jameson) - 4.75/10
An okay match won by the heels after interference from Brandi & Stormie, so we’ve got new champions. Brandi tried to celebrate with the new champs after the match but they didn’t seem very into it. I guess we’re supposed to think that they didn’t see the interference, but I find that hard to buy.
** MAIN SHOW **
DENZEL DEJOURNETTE vs. JOE GACY (w/Eddie Kingston & Donovan) - 4.75/10
Gacy won in about seven minutes with a clothesline, so he now has a new finisher to complement his singles winning streak.
EDDIE KINGSTON PROMO - Good. He put over Gacy, cut a promo on Anthony Gutierrez to build up their no holds barred match later tonight, and pushed that idea that with The Unwanted, “you’re either in or you’re out.”
STEPHEN WOLF vs. BRENDAN VINK - 6/10
Good storytelling here, with both the size disparity and Vink’s injured arm.
IF ANTHONY GREENE LOSES, HE WILL NEVER WRESTLE IN ORLANDO AGAIN:
Anthony Greene (w/Brandi Lauren) vs. RIik Bugez (w/Avery Taylor) - 2/10
The stipulation was set up by a pre-match exchange of promos that was… well… let me put it this way: Greene and especially Brandi are GREAT heels, but Bugez is just so annoying that I want to see Greene kick his ass, and Greene is someone I have described on multiple occasions as having a face that just makes you want to punch it as hard as you can. That’s how annoying Bugez is.
The match itself… sucked. They did nothing interesting for a bit. Brandi caused a distraction so Green could use a low blow, but then Josh Briggs came out and attacked Greene so Bugez could win. Meanwhile, Avery attacked Brandi but got laid out when Brandi ran her into the post. Even if it’s not clean, I’m getting tired of these part-time WWE PC guys coming in and making the regulars look bad. Greene is a guy with a real future, who they spent a good chunk of 2019 building up. Bugez is a f*cking goof.
To be clear, I don’t have a problem with guys like Brandon Vink who are clearly in EVOLVE for the long haul (although I’d like to see them actually put someone over on their way out, as Ruas seems to be done with EVOLVE now, having run through the company and beaten almost everyone, and then with no payoff of any sort. He didn’t even lose to Theory in a title match despite accumulating a very large number of wins). But I’m tired of both the Rik Bugez of the world and the Adam Cole’s of the world just showing up and winning and no one on the full-time EVOLVE roster benefitting from their presence. Even Dexter Lumis coming in and beating Stallion en route to his certain loss to Briggs tonight doesn’t feel worth it because Briggs is already the champ. He’s already the top dog, and beating Dexter Lumis won’t make him look any better. Stallion, on the other hand, is a guy on his way up, and being the sacrificial lamb to get Lumis before he challenges Briggs in a f*cking open-challenge style of title shot does hurt the perception of him.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Meh. Bugez and the referee went to tend to Taylor, who had been run into the ringpost. Greene came up behind Bugez and hit him with his loaded fanny pack. Despite having just been run into the ringpost, Avery still wanted to wrestle Brandi Lauren, so she got into the ring and charged her, kicking off…
AVERY TAYLOR vs. BRANDI LAUREN (w/Anthony Greene) - 2/10
They had a short match with the finish being Greene saving Lauren by putting her foot on the bottom rope, then Taylor getting distracted yelling at Greene, allowing Lauren to roll her up with a handful of tights for the win. A dirty win for Brandi is definitely the right finish for this early point in the feud, but it’d be nice to let these women get some actual time for their match so that they can get me excited about the eventual rematch rather than having me apprehensive about it because it looks like the booker isn’t certain that they can give us more than a few minutes.
JOAQUIN WILDE vs. LEON RUFF - 6.75/10
Once again, the NXT guy comes in and beats an up-and-coming EVOLVE guy. Yes, Ruff is exactly the sort of guy who can benefit from this type of clean loss, but that’s only true if the match last long enough to make his effort feel special, and this match was only given about thirteen minutes… and even if this match had gone that long, that sort of thing works if NXT guys aren’t coming in all the time. If NXT guys are coming in all the time and beating EVOLVE guys, this just feels like any other random instance of that happening.
BESTIES IN THE WORLD vs. THE SKULK (Liam Gray & Adrian Alanis) - 6.5/10
Big win for the Skulk to set up a title shot.
FIVE-WAY ELIMINATION MATCH:
Noah Clay vs. Donovan vs. Troy Hollywood vs. Curt Stallion vs. Bobby Flaco - 6/10
Curt Stallion wasn’t originally scheduled to be in this match, as it was supposed to be a “Breakout Star Four-Way Elimination Match,” but Stallion, as the 2019 Breakout Star of the Year, asked to get himself added so that he could test the worthiness of these potential breakout stars of 2020. Lenny Leonard speculated that Stallion is feeling a little insecure after last night’s loss to Dexter Lumis and feels like he needs to prove himself all over again.
I laughed my ass off at Lenny Leonard wondering if A.R. Fox’s WWA4 school has a class specifically devoted to way you can hit an Ace Crusher.
Stuff happened and eliminations were had. It came down to Curt Stallion and Donovan. Eddie Kingston came out and told Donovan that if he didn’t win tonight he was out of The Unwanted. Donovan had a good showing but was ultimately eliminated.
NO HOLDS BARRED:
Anthony Gutierrez vs. Eddie Kingston - 6.75/10
This was one of those matches where the booking was all there to make a new star, but the match didn’t get enough time to deliver the work-rate that has become an important component of star-making in modern pro wrestling. Gutierrez won, and then Kingston grabbed a mic from the announcers’ table and said “I need to go away,” so I guess he’ll be out of EVOLVE for a while.
MANSOOR vs. A.R. FOX (w/Ayla Fox) - 7.5/10
A great match, and certainly the best of the few Mansoor matches I’ve seen. The problem is that we once again have the NXT guy going over an EVOLVE guy, and this time it’s a real EVOLVE main eventer losing to a guy who barely even makes NXT TV.
EVOLVE TITLE MATCH:
Josh Briggs(c) vs. Dexter Lumis - 7/10
This just barely hit my minimum acceptable level for a main event, but it’s not really an encouraging sign. I’d like to see the champion be able to carry people to the level of work-rate I have come to expect from the Evolve Champion over the years.
This was a bad show from EVOLVE. The promotion once again feels like it is completely flailing for direction, the matches aren’t being given enough time, and the fact that the NXT guys win 90% of their matches has made their presence, which was originally a fun novelty, into something worrying and grating. Hopefully things start to turn around next month, but at this point I’m really losing faith.