ACH & Ethan Page vs. Catch Point (Chris Dickinson & Jaka)
Page keeps the live mic and begins doing play by play and starts a GIF chant before the action starts. ACH then grabbed the mic and talked about how EVOLVE officials ignored him like Lio Rush ignored getting piledriven through a table. Jaka and Dickinson could wait any longer and finally went after the duo, throwing Page to the outside as the began to work ACH over in the corner. ACH survived numerous tags in and out before escaping Jaka and tagging Page in. Page missed a People’s elbow, allowing Jaka to tag out and Dickinson to take control and keeping it after ACH tagged in. ACH wound up for a big right and hit a low blow instead, but Page then became the victim of Dickinson’s ire. Eventually, Jaka called for the Death Trap, but Page knocked Jaka off the top rope before he could. Page hit the RKO Ego and ACH followed with a brainbuster for the win. Page and ACH continued their posturing throughout and walked away winners, continuing the build of the Catch Point’s frustration. The match had a good balance of silliness and wrestling here and was a solid opener.
Winners: ACH & Ethan Page
Craig Mitchell vs. Darby Allin
Allin cut a promo directed toward Timothy Thatcher, ultimately saying that he will prove that he can wrestle when they square off tomorrow night. Mitchell, as Leonard tells us, did well during the EVOLVE tryout to earn a chance to compete in this match. Allin was in early control, sending Mitchell for the ring with a springboard, only to allow Mitchell to eye gouge him. Allin regained control, but was caught trying to moonsault off the top rope and dropped with a reverse neckbreaker. Mitchell showed some agility here with a standing moonsault and then used his strength to counter an Allin springboard coffin drop with a German suplex. Allin hit a Code Red for a two and half, then immediately locked in a Gibson lock pin combination for the win. Short, but sweet. Mitchell played the heel role well- if over the top during his entrance. Allin’s win and the way in which he win builds the story that he is more than a spot monkey.
Winner: Darby Allin
Austin Theory w/ Priscilla Kelly vs. Jason Kincaid
Kincaid avoiding Theory, falling into his praying position and offering a hand that Theory slapped away. Theory continued aggressively, slapping Kincaid after a nip up. Kincaid offered his other cheek as Leonard wondered if that was a good strategy against Theory. It was all Kincaid until Theory just powered up and dropped Kincaid on his knee for a backbreaker, despite Kincaid squirming around. Continuing his impressive strength, he tossed Kincaid across the ring with a gutwrench and when he only got a two count, he pounded Kincaid’s forehead with a series of punches, keeping him grounded. Theory’s frustration began to shine through and he called for the end, but Kincaid used his escapability to avoid further damage, hitting a jumping clothesline to floor his opponent. Yet another smack from Theory and again, Kincaid offered his other check, unadvisedly opening his mouth, only to have Theory spit in his mouth! Kincaid followed with two double stomps and a springboard neckbreaker to a sitting Theory for a very near fall. Theory rolled from the corner and hit a blockbuster, but again was only able to score a two count. Kincaid hit an unbelievable springboard facebuster off the top turnbuckle into a sunset flip, but only got a two. A missed Double stomp from Kincaid led to a cross-legged neckbreaker from Theory, but Kincaid rolled outside. Theory went for a dive but Kincaid countered with a stunner, rolling Kincaid back inside and revisiting the support beam from his first time down in Joppa. Kelly began to scream absurdly loudly, distracting Kincaid and allowing Theory to catch him, hitting the TKO for the win. Theory gets better every time out there and his heel persona seems to really have added to his work in the ring. Kincaid continues to deliver as different with his style in the ring and these two could be the main event of EVOLVE in two years.
Winner: Austin Theory
EVOLVE Tag Team Championship
Tracy Williams & Rory Gulak vs. Anthony Henry & James Drake(c)
Dickinson and Jaka came out with Williams and Gulak, growing furious as the current champions came out. Henry and Gulak put on a wrestling clinic early on, with continued reversals, with neither gaining control in the early minutes. Gulak offered a handshake, only to walk away from it, but Henry got some revenge with an enziguri and a brogue kick before tagging out to Drake. Drake made short work of Gulak, tossing him towards Williams, who tagged in with a look of slight frustration on his face. Cravat and arm wrench trading between the two until Drake hit hard with knife-edged chops. Henry came back and and played the Ricky Morton role until finally making the tag to Drake, who cleared house and almost won the match with an exploder. After another near fall, Williams took it to Henry and went for a pinfall, not realizing that Drake was the legal man. Drake and Henry combined for a Death Valley Driver/ Sunset powerbomb, but only got a two count. Gulak tagged in and almost stole it with a schoolboy, then had his turn at taking both men down. The numbers game was too much and Drake hit a TEK for the win. Dickinson and Jaka got into the Workhorses’ faces, only to have Williams chase them off and extended his hand to Drake and Henry. Williams grabbed a mic and spoke about the Catch Point being weak. It almost seemed as if he went speaking about Jaka, but turned and floored Gulak, allowing Jaka and Dickinson to get their licks in before standing over his prone body for the Catch Point pose. The match was a good, but not great tag match. The segment afterwards went over really well and Leonard’s commentary painted a fantastic picture of the metamorphosis of Catch Point since its inception.
Winners: Henry & Drake
Timothy Thatcher w/ Stokely Hathaway vs. Keith Lee
Lee came out The match started off with an exchange of stiff forearms, with Lee taking early control with a methodical heavy offense. Thatcher really seemed to have trouble even as he gained control, feeling the effects of Lee’s offense. Thatcher used a brief opening to score with a forearm and he grounded the big man, locking on a single leg ankle lock that Lee was only able to break by grabbing the ropes. Thatcher sold the story of not being able to take Lee down, eventually falling victim to a pounce that almost knocked him out of the ring. Thatcher tried to keep Lee down but couldn’t, even though he slipped out of a fireman’s carry, he was met with a superman punch that ended the match. The two styles of the men felt like an imperfect match and although they both performed will here, the flat crowd made this feel less important. In other venues Thatcher’s heat and the support for Lee. After the match, Allin came out and checked to make sure Thatcher was okay. Once Thatcher realized it was Allin, he locked in an armbar and officials had to break the hold. Thatcher eventually left after telling Allin to stay away from him.
Winner: Keith Lee.
Progress Atlas Championship
Fred Yehi vs Walter (c)
Yehi tried to out wrestle Walter early, only to be lifted and placed on the apron by Walter as a show of strength. The match continually told the story of the physical underdog Yehi ducking and weaving as much as possible, while Walter tried to lock on the sleeper. The longer the match went, the more offense Yehi got in, using upkicks to give him to the space to hear an impressive deadlift German suplex and a superplex. Yehi was even able to lock on the Koji clutch, but Walter rolled out of it and scored a two count with backslide. He followed up with a Helluva kick in the corner, then a German suplex, topping it all off with a clothesline before cinching in a rear naked choke for the win. Walter came off looking very strong here and the match with Lee at EVOLVE 91 will be a hoot. Yehi walked away looking no weaker than before, but rather a scrappy fighter who will take the fight to anyone.
Lio Rush vs. Matt Riddle
Crowd really came alive for this one. Friendly handshake to start before Rush kept away from Riddle, blocking a kick, only to be find himself locked in an armbar. Rush escaped and bounced off the ropes for an advantage with a bounding kick, but once again Riddle caught him with an ankle lock, forcing Rush to grab the ropes for a break. Riddle worked him over in the corner and sent him across the ring with an exploder that led to a two count. Riddle continued to keep Rush grounded but a quick leap frog from Rush sent Riddle to the outside briefly. Riddle and Rush exchanged a flurry of quick strikes, with Riddle hitting two consecutive busters for a two count. As he went for the third he transitioned to a tombstone, but the two reversed each other before Riddle finally scored, only to get a two count. Rush hit a spinning unprettier, very nearly scoring the three count. Riddle ultimately ht another jumping tombstone, following with repeated elbows before he lock on the Bromission for the win. This was easily the best match on the card and the pacing and exchanges were excellent. Riddle hugged Rush mid ring and put him over, giving the fans a chance to thank him in what is his last EVOLVE appearance. Walter then came down to the ring and the two stood face to face until Catch Point came out and started beating Riddle down as Walter looked on before changing his mind and taking Catch Point on. As the group swarmed him and took him down Lee’s music hit and he cleared the ring, with Jaka and Dickinson heading to the back as Williams and Riddle brawled to the back. Lee and Walter stared each other down. Lee asked for a mic and said he would be respectful, but that at EVOLVE 91, Walter, Riddle and Williams will Bask in his Glory. The two shook hands as the show came to a close.
Winner: Matt Riddle
Final Reaction: B-
For a show without EVOLVE champion Zack Sabre Jr., the main events really delivered. The tag matches were solid, but the crowd was very quiet for the those matches, as well as Thatcher and Lee, which took away from moments during those matches feeling bigger and more important. The best parts of this show were the segments with Catch Point, putting over how the group has changed from a few like-minded individuals sharpening steel against steel for improvement to a wake of vultures who prey on those they outnumber. Lee is being pushed into the main event and his unique promo style is a fantastic stylistic opposite to his hard-hitting large frame. His soft-spoken promo to end the show was convincing because he didn’t raise his voice are forth at the mouth. The entire card was not necessarily mind-blowing, but the seeds for compelling narratives were planted and will pay off to end the weekend.