EVOLVE 89 Review

July 9th, 2017

Opening Match:  Timothy Thatcher (w/ Stokely Hathaway) vs. Darby Allin
The plan with Allin this weekend was to have him wrestle mat technicians who could take advantage of his injury while he was able to look resilient in defeat.  In theory, I liked that idea.  And the brevity of this match was certainly a nice contrast to Allin’s outing against Tracy Williams at EVOLVE 88.  However, the referee messing up the finish really hurt their momentum.  Thatcher had Allin in a backslide of sorts while trapping his arm.  The referee stopped counting at 2.5, awkwardly checked Allin’s shoulder blade to make sure it was on the mat, and then counted 3 again.  What resulted were crickets from the crowd and a visibly angry Thatcher.  Rightfully so, because it came off as though Thatcher had Allin pinned for an eight-count.  They had the right idea here with an unfortunate finish.  Thatcher won in 8:26 with a backslide.  **

Match #2:  ACH vs. Ethan Page
Once again, ACH was angry that he was featured so early in the card.  Page commiserated with him and they proceeded to mock professional wrestling.  ACH did backflips in the ring while Page ran around ringside throwing money at him.  They started “this is awesome” and “both these guys” chants.  ACH eventually won with a rollup.  I don’t feel too strongly one way or the other about this one.  ACH not willing to give even 50% for the second match of the show made sense storyline-wise.  But I also wonder, from a storyline perspective, why EVOLVE management would be willing to book these two again anytime soon given how they disgraced EVOLVE here.  Take the rating with a grain of salt because mileage will certainly vary here.  ACH won in 8:01 with a rollup.  *

Match #3:  Jason Kincaid vs. Jon Davis
I enjoy watching Kincaid wrestle when his unconventional offense leads to him gaining material advantages in his matches.  Sometimes, as was the case here, his offense looks silly.  Davis’ huge size and power advantage meant that Kincaid needed to adjust and there really wasn’t any evidence of Kincaid changing things up.  Davis looked strong for having Kincaid’s offense scouted, but I don’t think that this was the best showcase for Kincaid.  Although they strung together some nice exchanges down the stretch, fifteen minutes felt long.  Kincaid won in 15:31 with a flying double stomp.  **½

Match #4:  Tracy Williams (w/ Stokely Hathaway) vs. Keith Lee
As we saw at EVOLVE 79, Williams’ strategy when wrestling Lee is to just take the fight to him.  That strategy didn’t pan out so well back then and it actually led to a no contest here.  They were so adamant about striking each other, they unintentionally knocked down the referee.  The locker room had to clear out to separate them.  I was getting Roderick Strong vs. Erick Stevens 2008 vibes here.  Lee dove onto everyone and then started brawling with Timothy Thatcher.  If nothing else, this was a fun experiment in how a match could inadvertently break down.  Williams and Lee pulled it off well.  The match was ruled a no contest at 8:00.

Match #5:  EVOLVE Tag Team Titles: Workhorses (Anthony Henry and James Drake) © vs. Catch Point (Chris Dickinson and Jaka) vs. Ugly Ducklings (Lance Lude and Rob Killjoy)
EVOLVE made great strides this weekend to rejuvenate their tag team division.  After the surprise title change last night, Henry and Drake came away from this one looking legitimate.  One of Gabe’s strengths is his ability to take chances on new talent.  The Ugly Ducklings ended up being a wise debut and I hope to see them back.  They have a reckless abandon to them and the crowd really liked chanting “quack.”  All three teams worked well together to produce a fun scramble and I’m actually looking forward to seeing where this tag team division is headed.  Workhorses retained their titles in 8:14.  ***¼

Match #6:  Austin Theory (w/ Priscilla Kelly) vs. Trent Barreta
This was a rematch from EVOLVE 87, where Theory finally turned heel by low blowing Barreta after their match.  They appropriately began this contest as a brawl before Theory settled in and started attacking Barreta’s previously injured elbow.  The interesting part about this rivalry is that Barreta could have been anyone.  Theory decided that the EVOLVE 87 loss was his breaking point, and Barreta happened to be the one to give it to him.  Theory’s mannerisms and demeanor were consistent and the crowd seemed to buy him as a legitimate threat.  I think this match succeeded because they made the story mean something.  Barreta was able to hit the Dudebuster, the same move which he used to defeat Theory at EVOLVE 87, but this time Barreta could only use one arm for the pin attempt and Theory kicked out.  Thus, the action was probably more one-sided in Theory’s favor than you’d expect, but they made their point. Theory won in 16:06 with a TKO.  ***

Match #7:  EVOLVE Title: Zack Sabre Jr. © vs. Fred Yehi
This main event was reminiscent of some of Thatcher’s EVOLVE Title defenses in that the crowd was not invested in the extended mat wrestling sequences and the competitors did nothing to adjust.  There is no dispute over whether they worked hard – they clearly did.  EVOLVE main events rarely reach into the bag of tricks and the EVOLVE style lends itself to telling stories in the ring, so an engaged crowd is especially important.  If the Workhorses defeated Catch Point last night for the EVOLVE Tag Team Titles to complete silence, that would have had a substantial effect on the match quality.  Tonight, the crowd enjoyed the Lee/Williams brawl and the three-way tag scramble, but they just didn’t seem to have any interest in this lengthy main event.  Sabre retained his title in 23:06 with a bridging pinning combination.  **¾

-Show Grade: C
You Need to See:
You’d Enjoy Watching: Tag title match, Theory/Barreta
You Should Avoid:

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