EVOLVE 73 Review
Lenny Leonard welcomes us to EVOLVE 73 and starts off by saying that he has both good and bad news as well as telling the crowd that there is a special tag team match planned. As Leonard was about to share the band news, Stokely Hathaway came out. Stokely began by telling the fans that due to the brutal main event last night, Timothy Thatcher won’t be appearing, however he had the belt with him and let them see it.Darby Allin ran out and grabbed a mic and sat down, beginning to talk about his failure at EVOLVE 72 and Stokely advised him not to get lost in the sauce.
Darby Allin vs Jaka
Jaka ran down and attacked Allin right off the bat. Allin was able to to mount some early offense in the form of springboard half saults and elbows until the action spilled outside. Jaka was able to take control of the match, flinging Allin around outside before rolling him into the ring and using a combination of strikes and a nerve submission hold. Allin was able to create space by ducking a spin kick, but his coffin drop off the second rope ended poorly as Jaka caught him and hit him with a German suplex. The two were locked in a backslide, but Jaka ran Allin into the ropes and hit the spin kick he missed earlier, allowing him to pick up the pinfall victory. Impressive singles debut for Jaka here, establishing him as a force right off the bat and continue Allin’s underdog story.
Icarus vs. Jason Kincaid
Both men shook hands before the match started, but it was all a ploy but Icarus to get the upperhand, as he attacked Kincaid from behind. Kincaid was able to avoid strikes and hit his trademark pose before attempting to launch the outside, thinking the better of it as he saw Icarus rolled back in. Icarus gained control, stomping Kincaid in the corner and draping Kincaid’s throat over the second turnbuckle.Kincaid was able to mount some innovative offense, connecting with a sunset bomb into the second turnbuckle and following that with a coast to coast dropkick. Icarus’s wheelbarrow suplex only garnered a two count and clearly frustrated the golden hair combatant. Kincaid hit an absurd tope cone blockbuster on the outside before climbing a post near the ringpost and connecting with a double stomp to earn the win. Kincaid has been excellent in EVOLVE and this match was no different.
Winner: Jason Kincaid
Chris Dickinson vs. Ethan Page
Some streaming issues to start this one, but when the feed picked up, Page, who was flanked by the Gatekeepeers, demanded that Jaka be sent to the back. During the debate, Page took advantage and whipped Dickinson into the ropes before heading back to the ring, scoring with a dropkick to the face that only went for a two count. Throughout Leonard really put over how much Page is dislike by the crowd in Joppa and fans at large. Page took his time, allowing Dickinson to take control, but making a mistake in jumping to the top with Page. Page fought him off and then dragged him back up, setting him up for a cutter from the top. Dickinson countered him with an unexpected hurricane, as the fans really got behind him. The Dirty Daddy connected with two freight train clothesline and scored with mounting punches in the corner before an a spinning slam almost got him the three count. Page was able to hit a superkick kick and an RKO, but it still wasn’t enough to hold Dickinson down. Page’s package piledriver attempted was reversed and the two traded kicks, with Dickinson getting the better of the exchange. In the end Page was able to hit another RKO Ego followed by a Spinning Dwayne for the victory.
Winner: Ethan Page
Drew Gulak vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
The two exchanged a sign of respect as the match started off and a collar and elbow tie led to a stalemate until Gulak took over with a waistlock. ZSJ was able to escape by trapping Gulak’s foot. The two cleverly traded submission locks, only breaking the holds as the reach the ropes and once again went at each other from a standing position. Leonard did a great job of filling the audience in on the events of last night, reminding everyone about ZSJ’s injured arm and the vague status of Catch Point. Both men twisted each other into pretzels for a bit, neither really gaining the advantage as they both traded near falls and matched each other move for move. After ZSJ gave Gulak a chance to fix an issue with his boot, the Brit locked in a full nelson that he transitioned a surfboard before going back to the full nelson. Gulak was able to escape and locked in an armbar on ZSJ’s injured arm. After a lengthy period of the two really stretching each other out, ZSJ’s jackknife attempt was reversed into the Gu-lock and he had not choice but to tap. Real technical clinic put on by these two men, which was to be expected if you’ve seen these two before. Amazing that Gulak was able to pull it off after the brutal main event of EVOLVE 72.
Winner: Drew Gulak
Chris Hero vs. Matt Riddle
Riddle came down to the ring sporting new gear, ditching his UFC style shorts for a pair of plain trunks. Hero came out second, sporting Seattle Supersonics gear, but it did not seem to stop the Maryland crowd from being behind him nonetheless. Hero lost all of that goodwill as he immediately caught Riddle unprepared, booting him to the face before pummeling him in the corner. Hero repeatedly delivered knife edge chops until Riddle flew out of the corner and connected with a flying knee. Riddle continued to the onslaught before getting kicked in the face, German suplexing Hero as he was unphased. Hero sent Riddle to the outside by catching him with a forearm to the back as Riddle attempted to springboard off the second rope. Hero removed the mat from the arena floor and draped it over Riddle before hitting a senton and rolling back into the ring. Riddle was able to shrug off some stiff strikes and attack Hero with a flurry of kicks and knees, but his Bro 2 Sleep attempt was countered and he was laid out by a rolling elbow. Both men got up very slowly, with Hero able to strike first, connecting with a series of elbows before attempting a tombstone that Riddle countered into a Brostone piledriver. Hero was able to escape a Bromission by reaching the ropes. Riddle’s springboard was met by an elbow and Hero then hit him with three straight piledrivers, the last one being a Gotch style piledriver that won him the match.
Winner: Chris Hero
Four Corners Elimination EVOLVE Tag Team Championship Match
Fred Yehi & Tracy Williams vs. Drew Gulak & Tony Nese vs. The Gatekeepers vs. DUSTIN & Chris Hero
Riddle was helped the back, as he sold the effects of the match. Drew Galloway stood at the top of the ramp and smiled as Riddle was carried to the back. Galloway told everyone to sit down and listen to what he had to say. He went on to remind everyone that he is determined to save EVOLVE and that he has done that, as Catch Point has proven to be a failure. DUSTIN called for all three men to leave the ring, but Tracy Williams and Fred Yehi came out before the three could leave. Williams demanded a title shot for Catch Point and although Hero was set to depart, William’s words kept him on the apron. Galloway urged Hero to stand in for him tonight and Hero got on the mic and reminded Galloway that he is nobody’s soldier. Hero went on to say that although he has wrestled nine matches in ten days, he is willing to wrestle one more to break the little bottle of hot sauce. Gulak came out and reminded Yehi and Williams that Catch Point is dead. As such, he called Nese out to team with him to challenge for the titles. Before the match could start, Page came down to the ring with the Gatekeepers who had removed their shirts and ties, seemingly ready to wrestle.
Yehi and Nese start the match off,matching each other to begin the match, both men breaking a collar and elbow tie up cleanly. Yehi stomped away on Nese, but was taken down by a series of quicks before DUSTIN tagged himself into the match. Gulak then tagged himself in as well and he worked DUSTIN’s arm over with a wristlock early on. Nese and Gulak tagged in and out before Hero tagged in and demanded Williams be tagged in as well. The two traded forearms and knife edged chops before the Gatekeepers came into the ring and whipped Williams around. Yehi tagged in and took both big men on himself, step on both of their feet, but was not able to avoid a double boot to the face. Bushy Bearded Gatekeeper stayed in the ring as bald Gatekeeper waited his turn to beat Yehi down.
The Gatekeepers cleared everyone of the ring and stood tall until Hero walked in and got in their faces. Out of nowhere Darby Allin clipped Bushy Bearded Gatekeeper’s knee, allowing DUSTIN to roll him up, eliminating the big men and infuriating Page. In the ring, DUSTIN and Hero took turns beating down Yehi and Hero targeted Williams on the apron, continually distracting him until Catch Point was able to take advantage of a tired DUSTIN. Nese, who had been on the apron for quite a while, tagged in and briefly was in control until DUSTIN and Hero kept him in their corner. Nese reversed a whip, forcing Hero to accidentally elbow DUSTIN. Nese followed up by hitting Hero with a tope suicida, allowing Williams to make DUSTIN tap, leaving three members of Catch Point left in the match. Nese and Williams battled on the top rope, with Williams able to DDT Nese onto the turnbuckle. Yehi tagged himself in, but Nese was able to set him up for a 450 attempt and locked in a Koji clutch, winning the match and the EVOLVE tag team championship for the second time. After the match Nese shook the new champion’s hands, but Gulak walked out without doing so to end the night.
Winner: Tracy Williams & Fred Yehi
Final Reaction: B
Due to Thatcher’s injury, the card had to be reworked, with Hero and Gulak both doing double duty on the night. All of the matches were solid here and the story going into the last match was effective, but the card did suffer from Thatcher’s absence. Riddle’s loss to Hero was a bit perplexing, especially as EVOLVE is bro. The tag title change was a welcome one, especially with Galloway unable to compete, but the card simply did not deliver in the same way that EVOLVE 72 did. All in all it was a good show and given the circumstances, came off far better than expected. Allin seemingly positioning himself against Page is an intriguing wrinkle and Gulak’s refusal to congratulate Catch Point plants seeds for the company’s next two shows next month.