EVOLVE 84 Review

May 20th, 2017

Opening Match:  Keith Lee vs. Donovan Dijak
There is a point in this match where Dijak easily cleared the top rope on a fosbury flop attempt and Lee effortlessly caught him and slammed him across the apron.  When these two wrestle each other, they set out to make a statement.  For the second time in EVOLVE, they succeeded in the least annoying way possible.  Dijak came out of the gates with a cheap shot, which really increased Lee’s cockiness throughout the match.  They wanted to out-do each other and this manifested itself in interesting ways such as Lee hitting his own version of Feast Your Eyes.  Down the stretch, Dijak hurt his own knee after hitting Lee with a chokebreaker.  Lee tried to capitalize but Dijak would not stay down, refusing to lose in the same way as he did at EVOLVE 81.

Dijak then busted out some wild offense, such as a reverse hurricanrana and a springboard dive into the crowd.  I cannot put into words how much fun this was to watch.  The story then turned into how Lee refused to stay down.  Dijak’s offense became a bit sloppy towards the finish and the craziness probably went on for too long.  But I think those are two relatively minor complaints on what was otherwise a fantastic opener.  Lee won in 18:46 with the Spirit Bomb from the middle rope.  ***¾

Match #2:  Jason Kincaid vs. Fred Yehi
After a recent string of losses and an injury, Kincaid was determined to prove that his in-ring style has merit.  Unfortunately, he ran into the newly-unaligned Yehi here.  Yehi and Kincaid worked incredibly well together and their chemistry in the ring was unexpected.  Although, Yehi against any barefoot wrestler is bound to be entertaining to some extent.  I likely would have opted for a shorter duration, especially in light of how extravagant the opener ended up being.  From a storyline perspective, the nice thing about Yehi’s loss is that it doesn’t necessarily imply that Yehi’s style is not working.  Rather, it could just mean that Yehi is difficult for ANYONE to defeat, regardless of style.  This math certainly could have trimmed a few minutes, but their strong chemistry together made the action work.  Yehi won in 14:48 with a koji clutch.  ***

Match #3:  Austin Theory vs. Lio Rush
When it comes to having clean and crisp professional wrestling matches, no one is doing it better right now than Lio Rush.  All of his offense provides a tremendous visual.  Theory was able to completely hang with Rush here and this match should serve as decent evidence that Theory has a place in EVOLVE.  Theory’s success in this contest was directly related to how intense he was willing to become, and the story played out from there.  EVOLVE 84 is officially on a roll!  Rush won in 8:59 with a frog splash.  ***

Match #4:  Tracy Williams (w/ Stokely Hathaway, Chris Dickinson, and Jaka) vs. Jeff Cobb
My fear going into this match was that the action would be primarily mat-based, which I don’t think the crowd would have gotten behind.  Instead, Cobb leveraged his power advantage and actually looked quite good because there was urgency to his offense.  A lot of Cobb matches lose me in the tedious pacing, but they managed to wrestle a somewhat interesting ten-minute match.  I don’t think I would ever want to go back and rewatch this contest, however.  Still, I wish all of Cobb’s matches would have this kind of urgency.  Williams won in 10:07 with a small package.  **¾

Match #5:  EVOLVE Tag Team Titles: Catch Point (Chris Dickinson and Jaka) © (w/ Stokely Hathaway) vs. Matt Knicks and Isaias Velazquez
Knicks and Velazquez are from the local Freelance Wrestling promotion.  Their local significance meant that the crowd was able to get behind them despite this being their EVOLVE debuts and despite there being zero chance of a title change.  Though these two teams wrestled a coherent match with solid pacing, I had difficulty seeing past the inevitable result.  I think this contest would have worked better as a “proving ground” opportunity, where Knicks and Velazquez would receive a shot at the EVOLVE Tag Team Titles on the next set of shows if they won here.  Still, I can appreciate the idea of wanting to showcase fresh talent, especially in front of crowds that are already familiar with them.  Catch Point retained their titles in 10:32 with the Death Trap on Velazquez.  **½

Match #6:  EVOLVE Title: Zack Sabre Jr. © vs. Ethan Page
EVOLVE was in an interesting situation booking-wise because ideally neither one of these men would lose.  Sabre’s reign is still getting off the ground.  However, given Page’s recent feud with Darby Allin, you would think now more than ever is his time to be on top of the promotion.  While I certainly agree with Sabre retaining, I do wonder where Page goes from here.  As far as the action itself goes, I think they wrestled a smart match that played to Page’s strengths.  Page tried to find ways to leverage his power advantage.  After some early ringside brawling went poorly for Sabre, he managed to keep the rest of the match in the ring and out-smart Page.  I don’t think there is a ton more to say about this one.  They delivered a strong match that unfortunately leaves Page in limbo for the time being.  Sabre retained his title in 14:23 with a penalty kick.  ***¼

Match #7:  WWN Title: Matt Riddle © vs. Kyle O’Reilly
Riddle and O’Reilly seem like they would be natural opponents for each other and that’s the best compliment that I can give this match: it just felt natural.  This match felt like a legitimate fight between two of the best representatives of that style.  In that sense, this was truly O’Reilly’s EVOLVE homecoming because this was the style of match which EVOLVE as a promotion was founded to showcase.  Riddle has been booked to be pretty untouchable recently and this match was made even better by the fact that O’Reilly made the champion look vulnerable.  Riddle and O’Reilly produced a main event that was incredibly satisfying for many reasons and you should check this one out.  Riddle retained his title at 16:30 with the Bromission.  ****

-Show Grade: A-
You Need to See: Riddle/O’Reilly, Lee/Dijak
You’d Enjoy Watching: Kincaid/Yehi, Theory/Rush, Sabre/Page
You Should Avoid:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *