EVOLVE 98 Review

January 13th, 2018

Preliminary Match:  Brody King vs. Jason Kincaid vs. Jarek 1-20 vs. Snoop Strikes
Jarek wins an opening exchange by catching King with an ace crusher.  Strikes connects with a missile dropkick on Jarek and follows with a slingshot dropkick.  Kincaid takes all three of his opponents over with a hurricanrana.  He follows with a dive to the floor onto Jarek.  Strikes adds a dive of his own.  King finishes with a somersault dive.  In the ring, Strikes hits a standing sliced bread on King for only a one count.  King blocks a flying codebreaker and hits a powerbomb on Strikes for a nearfall.  Jarek almost knocks out King.  Kincaid connects with a flying double stomp on Strikes for the win at 6:03.  As far as preliminary matches are concerned, this was harmless fun.  Everyone worked well together and had at least a few moments to stand out.  Kincaid and Jarek trying to move away from these preliminary matches seems like an engaging enough story.  **½

Match #1:  Catch Point (Tracy Williams and Dominic Garrini) (w/ Stokely Hathaway) vs. Ringkampf (Timothy Thatcher and WALTER)
Thatcher and Garrini trade control on the mat.  They eventually start trading strikes and slaps.  Williams is able to beat down WALTER with some kicks but gets taken down by one of WALTER’s chops.  Thatcher hits a dead-lift gutwrench suplex on Williams and Ringkampf isolate him.  Williams is able to create some space with a saito suplex from Thatcher.  Catch Point work over Thatcher until he catches them with enzuigiris and makes the tag.  WALTER cleans house with some audible chops.  He hits a german suplex on both of his opponents.  WALTER hits a butterfly suplex on Williams for a nearfall.  Garrini traps him in a triangle choke, allowing Williams to connect with a boot to the face.  WALTER responds with a double suplex.  Williams hits a brainbuster on Thatcher and transitions into a crossface.  Thatcher is able to escape and applies a rear-naked choke.  Garrini synchs in a cross-armbreaker on WALTER at the same time.  WALTER is able to powerbomb Garrini into Williams and all four men are down.  WALTER hits a huge powerbomb on Williams for the victory at 15:05.  Ringkampf were right at home in EVOLVE and the first-time pairing of Garrini and Williams were appropriate victims for their debut.  I enjoyed how the terms of engagement were essentially dictated by WALTER here and this match is good evidence of how unique of a professional wrestler he is.  This was a very good opener that set the tone for 2018.  ***½

The End attack Catch Point after the match, leading to an impromptu match…

Match #2:  No Disqualification: Chris Dickinson vs. Parrow
Dickinson lands a chair shot and keeps the pressure on with a series of strikes.  Parrow hits a chokeslam.  The action goes to the floor where Dickinson is just being relentless with chair shots.  He breaks a broom across Parrow’s midsection.  Parrow powerbombs Dickinson into some chairs on the stage.  Dickinson goes low to avoid getting slammed off the stage and hits a suplex.  Back in the ring, Parrow hits a powerbomb through two chairs for a two count.  The crowd starts throwing chairs at Parrow for him to use.  Dickinson hits a Pazuzu Bomb into the chairs for the win at 8:59.  Both Dickinson and Parrow seem well-versed in these shorter weapons-based brawls.  The crowd was certainly having fun with this impromptu match and I like this booking every so often to add an air of unpredictability to shows.  **½

Match #3:  AR Fox vs. Matt Riddle
Riddle attempts an early cross armbreaker but Fox is able to roll to the ropes.  Riddle hits a saito suplex but Fox responds with a leg lariat.  Fox hits a twisting brainbuster and connects with a hesitation dropkick in the corner.  Riddle connects with a series of charging forearms and hits an exploder.  He adds a few sentons and takes control.  Fox breaks open the action with a dive and hits a nice DDT onto the apron.  Riddle avoids Lo Mein Rain and hits the Bro 2 Sleep for a nearfall.  Riddle locks in a guillotine choke but Fox reverses into a brainbuster.  Fox follows with a springboard ace crusher.  Riddle anticipates a swantan and applies a rear-naked choke.  He transitions into a jumping tombstone and connects with a knee strike.  They battle up top and Fox hits a destroyer from the middle rope.  Fox hits Lo Mein Pain and lands a 450 splash for the victory at 10:57.  Two big personalities throwing bombs at each other and trading clean offense for eleven minutes turned out to be entertaining.  There have been times where I thought I’ve become desensitized to Fox’s offense, but a lot of things he did here felt fresh against Riddle.  This was an excellent showcase match.  ***½

Match #4:  FIP World Heavyweight Title: Anything Goes: Austin Theory © (w/ Priscilla Kelly) vs. Fred Yehi
Kelly actually lands the first big move of the match with a rolling senton from the apron onto Yehi.  Yehi lands a dive onto Theory and sends him into the guardrail.  He starts taking control until Kelly jumps onto his back, allowing Theory to connect with a mafia kick.  Yehi recovers with a koji clutch.  Theory makes it to the ropes but it doesn’t matter, so Kelly attacks Yehi to break the hold.  Jason Kincaid comes out to try to neutralize Kelly.  Theory eventually knocks Kincaid off the apron while he tries to talk to Kelly.  The distraction allows Yehi to connect with a shotgun dropkick.  Kelly interferes again, so Yehi stomps on her hand.  Yehi hits a backcracker and a dragon suplex on Theory for a nearfall.  He follows with a powerbomb and a destroyer but Theory won’t stay down.  Kelly catches Yehi with a chair-assisted dropkick.  Theory hits Ataxia to retain his title at 14:16.  The persistent interference from Kelly put a damper on what was otherwise a fun match.  There is certainly an issue between Theory and Kincaid that the booking wanted to advance, but you have to think that Yehi has a valid claim to another rematch after the way Theory won.  My fear is that if Kelly’s interference continues to be an integral part of Theory’s defenses, the crowd will stop caring about him.  **¾

Match #5:  Keith Lee vs. Jaka (w/ Chris Dickinson)
Jaka tries to target various limbs but Lee’s strength advantage keeps Jaka at bay.  Lee absolutely levels Jaka with a running shoulder tackle.  Jaka becomes frustrated and grabs a chair but ultimately thinks better of it.  Lee snaps off a hurricanrana and the crowd appropriately goes crazy.  Jaka lands a flying crossbody and comes off the top rope with a DDT.  He takes control until Lee comes back with a huge spinebuster.  Jaka slows him down with a running knee strike.  Lee hits a german suplex and both men are down.  Lee catches Jaka with a pounce and goes up top.  AR Fox appears and starts taunting Lee.  Jaka elbows out of a Spirit Bomb and connects with a spin kick for the win at 15:37.  These two had solid chemistry together and I appreciated the fact that Jaka came into this match with some sort of a plan.  The imagery of Lee losing to Jaka as his next two challengers (Dickinson and Fox) watched on was kind of cool.  I also like the idea of Jaka being someone who can pick up unexpected wins out of nowhere.  ***

Match #6:  EVOLVE Title: Zack Sabre Jr. © vs. Darby Allin
Allin comes out of the gates fast with some quick rollups.  Sabre has to take some time to regroup at ringside.  Once the action goes to the mat, Sabre starts building an advantage.  Allin tries a guillotine choke but Sabre quickly counters.  Sabre takes control and gets a little cocky.  He specifically targets Allin’s left arm.  Allin creates some space with a spike DDT.  Sabre traps him in an abdominal stretch but Allin reaches the ropes.  Sabre now applies a half crab and transitions into an ankle lock.  Allin once again reaches the bottom rope.  Sabre goes for his european clutch but Allin is able to kick out at two.  Sabre connects with a penalty kick but Allin won’t stay down.  They trade strikes and Allin hits Last Supper for a nearfall.  He follows with a code red and both men are down.  Sabre anticipates a Coffin Drop and applies a triangle choke.  Sabre yanks back on Allin’s shoulder while kicking him in the face to retain his title at 19:58.  This was as great of a match as you’d want Allin’s first EVOLVE Title challenge to be, as the action really showcased his character and determination.  Sabre didn’t seem particularly interested in Allin’s story and appropriately took the role of, well, being a jerk.  The crowd got behind Allin down the stretch and everything came together to create a special match.  Ideally, there would have been more of a feeling that the title could change hands, but this outing still raised Allin’s stock.  ***¾

Austin Theory attacks Sabre after the match.  Jason Kincaid comes out to scold him.  Theory and Kincaid eventually come to blows to end the show.

-Show Grade: B+
You Need to See:
You’d Enjoy Watching: Sabre/Allin, Fox/Riddle, Catch Point/Ringkampf, Lee/Jaka
You Should Avoid:

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