WWN capped off their WrestleMania Weekend with Mercury Rising, which despite its billing as a Supershow, was at its core Evolve 104. While there was a handful of new faces or irregular Evolve talent, that’s the only thing that distinguished it from the two events they’d already held. Not that I’m complaining, I liked what I saw.
AR Fox, DJZ and Trey Miguel defeated Austin Theory, Travis Banks and Zachary Wentz
They competed under Lucha rules and wrestled it like they’d taken a trip to Mexico. There was some sloppiness (which I think is inevitable in these multi-man bouts), but that was negated by the incredible flying, with everyone getting a chance to shine.
My star man was Zachary Wentz. That lad is going to go far and even in among the general craziness he managed to stand out. He is ridiculously smooth and keeps improving. DJZ was the other one to impress as he’s unrecognisable from that Broman shtick back in TNA. Even that daft buzzer doesn’t take away from his talent.
It would be Z who got the win with a 450 Splash, which he followed up by getting in Austin Theory’s face. As he’d already pinned Theory earlier in the weekend, I think it’s a safe bet that we’ll be seeing those two together at some point.
Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars
Jason Kincaid was making his way to the ring when Jarek 120 attacked him. Sadly, he still didn’t do a magic trick. He did handcuff Kincaid to a barrier and do some choking. Kinky.
Zack Sabre Jr defeated Munenori Sawa
If Evolve hadn’t put these two face to face it would have been a travesty. Sabre has spoken about Sawa being an influence on him, so I’d have been astounded if they’d produced at a level below excellent.
And they didn’t. Sawa got us started by slapping Zack straight across the face and rather than Sabre taking things to the ground they stayed on their feet dishing out strikes, even making their way outside the ring as they beat the shit out of each other. These two don’t have the power of a WALTER or a Sekimoto, but they have the speed. They unleash flurries of stinging blows causing welts to begin rising up all over the place.
They couldn’t keep that pace going all day and, eventually, the two of them went to the ground. While Sawa is no slouch down there, you’ve got to assume he’s a bit rusty after his years off, and it’s Zack Sabre Jr’s playground. After some frantic back and forth they went Orienteering With Napalm Death, and it was over.
Evolve announced on Twitter that this would be Sabre’s last appearance in the promotion. He’s been winding up his US commitments as he moves his focus out to Japan and while that’s great for NJPW, it’s a bummer for Evolve. While I question the decision not to give him a proper goodbye (he didn’t even linger in the ring), this was still a great match on which to leave.
Verdict: Four Stars
The WorkHorsemen (Anthony Henry and James Drake) defeated The End (Parrow and Odinson) and Catch Point (Dominic Garinni and Tracy Williams)
Maybe I’m a grump, but for the second time this weekend, Evolve delivered a tag team brawl that did nothing for me. This time around it was a street fight which meant we got various tables and chairs involved and they failed to elicit a beep on my emotional scale.
I do wonder if this is down to me not following the story. Evolve isn’t one of my must-see promotions, so I come in and out, only catching glimpses of the various narratives taking place. It left this whole thing feeling oddly heatless, even as they beat the crap out of each other.
The botched finish probably didn’t help. Henry and Drake had it won before deciding they wanted to put an exclamation mark on proceedings. They set Parrow up on a table with Odinson lying underneath it with a chair on top of him. Henry then came off with a stomp and, of course, the table didn’t break. Instead, it slumped over a bit pathetically. While you can’t blame the wrestlers for that, it took away from the visual and kind of summed up how flat this left me feeling.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
LuFisto defeated Hollidead to retain the SHINE Title
It is difficult to get past the feeling that you’re watching budget Rosemary when Hollidead makes her way to the ring. Despite that, she impressed me more here than she did at the Beyond show, so she’s going up in the world. I’m sure she’ll be delighted.
However, her and LuFisto were fighting a losing battle from the start. They were sent out with no build-up and asked to produce a match that would sell the SHINE show to the Evolve crowd. That’s a thankless task, especially when you only get eight minutes to do it in.
Nothing that LuFisto or Hollidead did was bad. In fact, they did everything that could be expected of them. You just can’t presume fans will care about something they have no knowledge of. It’s that simple.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
Daisuke Sekimoto defeated Keith Lee
Sekimoto and Sawa had wonderful weekends as they came over and delivered at a higher level than could have been expected. Finishing with Sekimoto getting down and dirty with Lee was a perfect conclusion. These two went out and did what these two go out and do. It was two big boys delivering earth-shattering strikes, and I doubt I have to say anything else about it. If you don’t want to see that, you’re a fool.
I’d never seen Sekimoto do his thing before this weekend and over the course of three matches, he’s turned me into a fan. He got the win with a German to compound what was a pretty miserable weekend for Lee as between car crashes and title loses he struggled. Poor lad, I’m sure that WWE contract that appears to be in his future will cheer him up.
Some things don’t need to be reviewed. You know what you’re going to get.
Verdict: Four And A Quarter Stars
Nick Gage attacked Keith Lee in the aftermath as they desperately tried to make people care about Style Battle. It didn’t work.
Doom Patrol (Chris Dickinson and Jaka) defeated RINGKAMPF (WALTER and Timothy Thatcher) to retain the Evolve Tag Team Titles
The boys are here. In this situation the boys are RINGKAMP. Doom Patrol are good and all, but they’re not my boys.
They started things off with some good old-fashioned wrestling. RINGKAMPF isolated Jaka and then Doom Patrol isolated Thatcher. Both teams were working a ground and pound style, trying to smear their opponent into the mat.
It wasn’t until we got a WALTER hot tag that things picked up. In my notes, I have the sentence ‘do that RINGKAMPF pose, you sexy bastard’ which says a lot about me as a person. More importantly, we got violent. WALTER’s chops vs Dickinson’s kick was quite a contest. Dickinson even managed to get WALTER up for a Falcon Arrow in on hell of a feat of strength. They’re two men who revel in beating the crap out of people and as fantastic as Jaka and Thatcher are, they stole the show.
And it was needed because while this was enjoyable, it perhaps wasn’t the classic I expected. I think it was a perfect example of four men coming to the end of a long weekend and not having the energy to hit that next level. Hopefully, one day, they’ll do it again at a time when they’ve all had plenty of sleep.
Verdict: Three And Three Quarter Stars
Post-match Tracy Williams tried to fire Stokely Hathaway. That did not go well for him. The rest of Catch Point ended up turning on Williams and kicking him out of the group.
Matt Riddle defeated Will Ospreay to retain the Evolve Title
Do you know who should be exhausted? Matt Riddle and Will Ospreay. Riddle’s goal for the weekend seemed to be to wrestle on every show possible while Ospreay started with a neck injury. If those two had gone out and had a standard match, no one would have complained.
They didn’t do that. They had a war, even if it only just went over ten minutes. Matt Riddle went out with the goal of murdering Young William, which is useful because Will is the kind of person who embraces attempts to kill him. Within a few seconds, he’d eaten a couple of German, at least one big knee and a whole flurry of elbows. If his neck wasn’t injured, it is now.
And Will Ospreay sold everything like a champ with an incredible example of babyface wrestling. He took his beatings and battled back, grimacing with pain as he moved. There was a moment when he fought out of a Bromission by climbing the turnbuckle with Matt on his back. As they fell backwards from the top, Matt twisted enough for Will to come down on his neck. It looked sufficiently sloppy that you could believe it was real.
Ospreay wasn’t going to stop there, though. He pushed off the doctors and demanded they continue. So, Riddle did what any good friend would do to someone with a neck injury. Knee them in the back of the head, hit a jumping Tombstone and then rip off the tape on their neck before stomping on it. That’s what friends are for.
The final sequence was outstanding. Ospreay hit a Rainmaker and held onto the wrist before going for number two at which point Riddle Shibatad (my new favourite phrase) the fuck out of him. It was beautiful. Matt then caught him out of the air on an Oscutter attempt (you’d think he’d have learnt from the number of times Scurll has done that) and tapped him out with the Bromission.
Wrestling schools the world over should use this to teach people how to maximise your minutes. It was violent, exciting and told a coherent story. They didn’t just put down a contender for match of the weekend, but quite possibly for MOTY. If you only watch one Evolve/WWN contest from the weekend, make it this one.
Verdict: Four And Three Quarter Stars
A fantastic ending to the weekend for WWN. The Japanese boys and the main event were the highlights, but once again they didn’t put out anything poor. Even the stuff I wasn’t as in too, was never a disaster. I think they will look back on this WrestleMania season as a success and having tuned out of Evolve for a while; they might have dragged me back in.