Drew Galloway interrupts Lenny Leonard’s show introduction for the second time this weekend. Galloway claims that he built EVOLVE into what it is today. He no longer wants to save EVOLVE from itself. He now needs to save all of WWN by becoming the first ever WWN Champion. Hey, I’m not opposed. Seriously, Galloway’s work ethic has been pretty stellar lately. Matt Riddle runs into the ring and attacks Galloway. Galloway catches Riddle with a piledriver. Riddle clutches his neck in pain. Catch Point comes out to make the save. Keith Lee appears for his match. Galloway offers an alliance but Lee turns him down. Galloway headbutts Lee, who responds with a Spirit Bomb and a jackhammer. Lee lands a top-rope moonsault onto Galloway. Multiple referees check on Galloway at ringside.
Apparently, Lee vs. Kincaid has been turned into a four-way with Austin Theory and Timothy Thatcher added. Stokely Hathaway comes out to tell us that Thatcher has been added to the main event. Darby Allin comes out to take Thatcher’s place, but Ethan Page and the Gatekeepers attack him. A Gatekeeper runs into the ring, leading to…
Opening Match: Keith Lee vs. Jason Kincaid vs. Austin Theory vs. A Gatekeeper
The Gatekeeper goes after Theory after what happened on EVOLVE 81. Lee hits a double suplex on Kincaid and Theory. The Gatekeeper snaps off a hurricanrana on Lee and hits a powerbomb. Theory lands multiple dives to the floor. Lee catches Theory on a final dive attempt and rams him into the ringpost. The Gatekeeper hits a black hole slam on Theory for a nearfall. Lee levels Theory with a spinebuster and stares down the Gatekeeper. Lee hits a Spirit Bomb followed by a jackhammer for the win at 6:08. I don’t recall hearing any information before the show that Lee vs. Kincaid had been turned into a four-way, so the pre-match stuff was confusing. The action was fine, but you couldn’t help but feel the dread that these four had nothing better to do on this card. *½
Match #2: SHINE Title: LuFisto © vs. Toni Storm
Su Yung no-showed, so Storm is filling in. Storm lands a dive to the floor and they brawl around ringside. In the ring, LuFisto eventually takes over with a series of strikes. Storm fights back with a running hip attack but falls victim to a flatliner into the middle turnbuckle. LuFisto hits a corner cannonball and connects with a facewash kick. Storm responds with a german suplex for a nearfall. Storm hits a backcracker and goes up top. LuFisto cuts her off with a burning hammer for the victory at 7:25. They had a fine back and forth match that the crowd was even able to get into at times. This still felt like the mere trading of moves without any rhyme or reason, though. I guess they made the best of Yung’s absence. *¾
Match #3: Ethan Page (w/ A Gatekeeper) vs. Jimmy Havoc
Havoc low-bridges Page to the floor and sends him into the guardrail. They brawl into the crowd. Page hits Havoc with a fan’s purse and catapults him into the bottom of a merchandise table. Havoc crotches Page on the guardrail as they make their way back to ringside. They exchange superkicks. A distraction by the Gatekeeper allows Page to hit R-K-Ego for a nearfall. Havoc headscissors out of an iconoclasm and hits a lungblower. Page responds with a bicycle kick. They trade strikes and Havoc connects with a double stomp from the middle rope for a nearfall. The second Gatekeeper comes to ringside. That distraction allows Page to hit the Spinning Dwayne for the win at 10:30. Who would have thought that Page would become this super interesting brawler in EVOLVE of all places? This match was going along quite well until the Gatekeepers interfered down the stretch. It also helped that the crowd was really into Havoc. **½
Page and the Gatekeepers attack Havoc after the match until Darby Allin makes the save with his lead pipe. Havoc and Allin have a moment together.
Match #4: Catch Point (Chris Dickinson and Jaka) vs. Travis Banks and TK Cooper
Cooper wins a strike exchange against Jaka with an enzuigiri. Dickinson and Banks wrestle to a stalemate. Cooper plays around with Dickinson and gets repeatedly chopped in the corner for his troubles. Jaka follows with an exploder and Catch Point isolate Cooper. He stomps Dickinson into the canvas and makes the tag. Banks lays in multiple kicks to Catch Point and causes some miscommunication on their end. Banks hits a double corner cannonball. Jaka takes out Cooper with a dive to the floor as Dickinson DDTs Banks on the apron. Banks fires back with a dive of his own and Cooper follows with a spiral tap from the top rope. In the ring, everyone trades strikes and all four men are down. Catch Point hit stereo german suplexes and connect with lariats. Dickinson hits a half nelson suplex on Banks for a nearfall. Jaka superkicks Cooper to the floor. Catch Point hit a splash mountain-splash combination on Banks for a two count. Cooper saves his partner from more double team offense. Banks and Cooper level Jaka with superkicks but Dickinson german suplexes them both. Cooper lands a springboard 450 splash on Dickinson but he’s out at one! Banks spikes Dickinson with a DDT for the victory at 15:10. This was great tag team wrestling with a real sense of urgency down the stretch. Once again, the crowd was really into the PROGRESS talent while the specific team of Dickinson and Jaka have been excelling in EVOLVE. I don’t think you could ask for much more out of these two teams. ***½
They announce that Drew Galloway has been removed from the WWN Title match main event due to injury.
Match #5: PROGRESS World Title: Pete Dunne © vs. ACH
They trade control on the mat in a feeling-out process. They start engaging in some showmanship, allowing Dunne to connect with a forearm smash. Dunne blocks a punt from ACH and trips him up on the apron. Dunne hits a pedigree and connects with a bicycle kick. He takes control until ACH comically goes low during a strike exchange. ACH snaps off a hurricanrana and connects with a punt from the apron. He follows with a swinging neckbreaker for a nearfall. Dunne wins a strike exchange but falls victim to a codebreaker. ACH hits a death valley neckbreaker for a two count. They trade bicycle kicks and headbutts. Dunne connects with a huge lariat and hits a tombstone for a nearfall. ACH hits a slingshot ace crusher and an air raid crash. Dunne blocks a flying double stomp attempt with a punch and hits Drop Dead for a nearfall. ACH shrugs off a low blow, connects with a lariat, and hits a brainbuster. Dunne won’t stay down. ACH misses a 450 splash. Dunne applies a regal stretch to retain his title at 18:38. Since leaving Ring of Honor, ACH has been having matches that don’t properly reflect the excitement and rapidity of his offense. Unfortunately, this was another one of those matches. It was somewhat enjoyable watching Dunne methodically pick apart ACH on the mat, but I don’t think they used their nineteen minutes very wisely here. **¾
Match #6: EVOLVE Title: Zack Sabre Jr. © vs. Mark Haskins
They spend the first three minutes going back and forth on the mat. Haskins does his best to hold onto a side headlock while avoiding Sabre’s headscissors. Haskins stomps on Sabre’s left arm and begins working over the limb. Sabre blocks a leapfrog and tries a bridging pin attempt to no avail. Haskins connects with a basement dropkick and now targets Sabre’s left leg. Sabre applies a kimura and they roll into the ropes. Haskins really starts working over Sabre’s left leg now. They eventually transition into a forearm exchange. Haskins hits a powerslam and transitions into a crossface. Sabre is able to reach the bottom rope. Haskins hits a beautiful death valley driver for a nearfall. He locks in an armbar but Sabre powers out and applies an octopus stretch. Sabre transitions into a small package for a two count. Haskins hits Cradle to Grave for a nearfall. Sabre connects with a penalty kick and synchs in a triangle choke. Sabre transitions into Ode to Breaks to retain his title at 19:52. This struck me as the exact opposite of the previous match. The action was methodical at times and the match lasted nearly twenty minutes, but it wasn’t because they were wasting any time. Rather, their familiarity with each other lent itself to a grindy, drawn-out encounter. The mat wrestling at play here was really well-executed and they had terrific chemistry together. This contest might not be for everyone, but check it out if you like the style. ***½
Match #7: WWN Title: Elimination: Fred Yehi vs. Jon Davis vs. Matt Riddle vs. Parrow vs. Tracy Williams vs. Timothy Thatcher
Galloway appearing on camera at NXT Takeover tonight is a bit awkward. Everyone begins brawling at the opening bell. Williams hits a back suplex on Thatcher and they trade strikes at ringside. Stokely Hathaway tries to create an alliance between Parrow, Davis, and Thatcher to battle Catch Point. Thatcher immediately betrays Parrow and Davis. Everyone eventually gangs up on Parrow. Thatcher chokes out Parrow to eliminate him at 4:27.
Thatcher hits a german suplex on Riddle. Riddle’s neck can’t seem to catch a break. Yehi catches Thatcher with a neckbreaker. Davis hits a dead-lift bucklebomb on Yehi along with a spinebuster. Riddle hits a tombstone on Thatcher. Williams adds a brainbuster and applies a crossface to eliminate Thatcher at 9:11.
All three members of Catch Point stare down Davis. He can’t quite seem to beat the numbers game despite a noble effort. Davis catches Williams with a powerbomb for a two count. Davis blocks the Bro 2 Sleep and hits Three Seconds Around the World for a nearfall. Yehi catches Davis with a german suplex. Williams connects with a sliding forearm and transitions into a crossface to eliminate Davis at 13:21.
Williams and Yehi decide to team up on Riddle. Yehi goes after Riddle’s pressure points and Williams connects with a forearm smash. Yehi plants Riddle with a german suplex and Williams adds a back suplex. Yehi follows with a fisherman buster. Riddle is not in good shape here. Williams rolls up Yehi out of nowhere to eliminate him at 17:38.
Williams begins to work over Riddle. Riddle comes back with a Bro 2 Sleep and a german suplex. He can’t hold the bridge because of his bad neck. Williams hits a DDT onto the top rope but Riddle responds with a fisherman buster. Williams cuts off Riddle with another DDT and transitions into a crossface. Williams hits a spike piledriver for a nearfall. He goes back to the crossface. Riddle reaches the bottom rope. Williams lays in repeated elbows to the side of the head and applies the crossface again. Riddle once again gets to the bottom rope. Riddle applies a triangle choke in the ropes. They battle up top and Williams hits a super butterfly suplex for a nearfall. Riddle locks in the Bromission to become the first ever WWN Champion at 28:06.
Listen, I certainly agree with the end result, but there were a lot of problems here. Parrow, Thatcher, and Davis felt like complete afterthoughts. I know Yehi is the FIP Champion, but if you watched this match, you would think the WWN Title is going to be a secondary EVOLVE championship. Yehi’s elimination was incredibly lame because it was either (a) predictable or (b) nonsensical depending upon how you feel about the strength of Catch Point’s bond. Finally, Riddle came off as super-human. He’s just been dropped onto his neck so much this weekend. Riddle also put Williams away with such ease. I don’t know. This match just didn’t progress in an overly interesting or exciting way. I think Riddle was the right choice, but this match didn’t come together for me. **½
-Show Grade: C
–You Need to See:
–You’d Enjoy Watching: SPPT/Catch Point, Sabre/Haskins
–You Should Avoid: