With Evolve 94 proving to be a decent showing from Gabe and his boys it was up to 95 to continue that momentum. They had an influx of fresh and relatively unknown talent, a new champion and an invasion angle set up. In theory, that’s an excellent place to start, and it now all leans on where they go next. Let’s dish out those stars.
Shane Mercer defeated Mikey Webb
To use a wrestling cliché, these two young stars maximised their minutes. Shane Mercer, in particular, came out of this looking fantastic. There are plenty of big and strong wrestlers who will chuck you around the ring and you need style to make it special. Mercer has that. Throw in a barrel load of agility and a burst of acceleration, and you have someone who could go far.
Verdict: Three Stars
In a continuation of last night’s antics, The End hit the ring and destroyed both wrestlers along with the ref.
Jarek 1-20 defeated Brandon Watts
These two had strong performances in defeat at Evolve 94, so it was nice to see them get another chance to impress. This was a fast-paced match with Watts bouncing around in a way that was always going to make him popular. He’s only 22, and if he’s this good already, he could go far. Jarek also came out of this well, picking up the win. I haven’t seen the magic part of his act, and I’ve heard talk of some potentially unsavoury things he’s posted in the past. I haven’t seen them, so I can’t really judge. Based purely on this match, he did an effective job of grounding Watts and still keeping it entertaining.
Verdict: Three Stars
Dominic Garinni defeated Cyrus Satin
Dominic Garinni picks up another quick win and there’s not much else to say.
Austin Theory defeated Jason Kincaid
Jason Kincaid’s gimmick is awful. I like his in-ring work, but he’d be infinitely better off if he cut the hippy bullshit. Even with that weight around his neck, he proved to be the second person to outshine Austin Theory over this weekend. I can see why Evolve like the guy, and there is an excellent chance you’ll see him WWE one day because, well, look at him. Despite that, I can’t get past the feeling that he’s just okay. Certainly not bad, just lacking that special something which would make me care. As a final random aside, Pruscilla Kelly does not work in a serious wrestling company.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
Keith Lee defeated Darby Allin
This match leapt off the card as you had the king of throwing people around vs the king of being thrown around and damn did they live up to those invented monikers. Allin seemed to be going for height records off some of Lee’s offence.
It wasn’t all Lee and Keith sold more than you might have expected. On paper, that might not work. In reality, it did. He was coming off a tough match the night before, and the suggestion was that Allin was able to take advantage of that to rock the new champion on a couple of occasions.
Eventually, Lee’s strength would come to the fore and once he’d grounded Allin, it was only a matter of time before he put him away. Yet, even that wasn’t simple as Allin refused to give up before eventually succumbing to a Spirit Bomb. This was a solid victory for Lee post-title win that also made Allin look like a warrior as he took a thrashing and refused to stay down. Lovely stuff.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Doom Patrol (Chris Dickinson and Jaka) defeated The Gymnasty Boys (Timmy Lou Retton and White Mike) and The Ugly Ducklings (Lance Lude and Rob Killjoy) in an Elimination Match to retain the Evolve Tag Team Titles
This was originally going to be a number one contender match. Doom Patrol wasn’t having that and came down to make it an elimination match for the Tag Titles.
The Ugly Ducklings and The Gymnasty Boys not only have two of the worst tag-team names I’ve ever heard but also some atrocious wrestling gear. Which makes it all the more impressive that they both came out of this match looking good. From start to finish there wasn’t a chance to draw breath, and even when things got sloppy everyone involved did a decent job of pulling it back and getting on track. First impressions don’t necessarily have to be binding.
Of course, there was never a chance that they’d win and this was about making Doom Patrol look good. They came across as fighting champions and despite a few scares ended up looking dominant in their victory. I was a bit harsh on Dickinson yesterday and I’m going to retract that now as he was great here. He has a viciousness to his offence that makes him stand out.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
Richard Holiday defeated RJ Rude to retain the PAPW Heavyweight Title
I know diddly squat about PAPW. Google tells me they still call their women’s division divas, so that isn’t a great sign.
The match itself was perfectly fine. I like that Evolve highlight smaller promotions and give wrestlers the chance to shine on their platform. The problem was that we’d already had six matches on this show with two more to come. This felt like a bit of fat that we didn’t really need. They worked hard and certainly didn’t let themselves down, but I struggled to care and was waiting for it to be over.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
Fred Yehi defeated Matt Riddle
There was a brief feeling out period at the start of this match, then Yehi refused a handshake and the stiff blows started flowing. I’m pretty sure my chest is red from watching this, so fuck knows how the men involved are feeling. It was hard hitting and violent professional wrestling, and you’d be crazy to complain.
The finishing stretch was a particularly great piece of storytelling as Riddle’s looked to be on course for the win following a couple of Omega-like Rainmaker knees. Sadly for him, he let his frustration get the better of him when Yehi kicked out of the Bro-Stone and gave his former Catchpoint teammate a way back in when he pinned him under the ropes. That brief respite was all Yehi needed, and he came around enough to lock on the Koji Clutch and force Riddle to pass out.
For the second night in a row, I came out incredibly impressed by Fred Yehi. I’ve only seen bits and pieces of him in the past and based off of his performances over this weekend I’ll be seeking him out a lot more often in the future.
Verdict: Four Stars
Zack Sabre Jr defeated Tracy Williams to retain the Evolve Heavyweight Title
This was a classic Zack Sabre Jr hard-hitting grapple-fest, except with a critical difference. This was one of those rare occasions where Zack is in there with someone who is equally as happy to go to the ground and roll around as he is.
Tracy Williams gave a fantastic account of himself in this match. It won’t be everyone’s taste, as it was very mat based, but if you are at all interested in checking out that style of wrestling, then this is a decent place to start.
In among all the hard slaps and tight submissions, they also told a good story. Zack was coming off a significant defeat yesterday to Williams’ Catchpoint parter Jaka, and it felt like they sensed a crack in the armour. Like this was their chance to take that belt off him. It gave Williams a desperation to his wrestling as he threw everything he had at Sabre to get the win. In the same vein, Sabre felt like he was happy to just get out of there with the belt and the roll-up with which he stole the victory was a perfect way to show that. All said this was classy pro-wrestling.
Verdict: Four Star
Post-match Sabre headed to the back and The End charged the ring. Luckily for Williams, the locker room finally decided they’d had enough and rushed to his rescue. This led to a sequence of dives from everyone onto The End which ended with Darby Allin doing the Coffin Drop off a basketball hoop because he’s Darby Allin and that’s the kind of stuff he does. In an interesting touch, the show ended with Kincaid, Mercer, Allin and Watts standing tall in the ring.
This was another impressive showing from Evolve. The undercard was a bit cluttered, and I think you could have cut out one or two contests to trim it down a bit. It’s a minor complaint, though, as the big matches all delivered with Riddle Yehi, Williams Sabre and Allin Lee being the obvious highlights. I’m not sure if I’m set to become an Evolve lover, but I reckon I’ll be keeping a closer eye on Gabe and co in the future.
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