EVOLVE 99 Review

January 14th, 2018

Preliminary Match:  Darby Allin vs. Brody King
Allin inserted himself in this preliminary match because he claims that he deserves to start at the bottom after losing to Zack Sabre Jr. last night.  He lets King punch him in the face.  Allin lands a dive to the floor and sends King into the guardrail.  He lands another dive, this time sending King through a propped chair at ringside.  Back in, King counters a Coffin Drop with a german suplex.  Allin synchs in an armbar but King reaches the bottom rope.  Allin drapes King across the guardrail and lands yet another dive.  He follows with a Coffin Drop from the top rope into the crowd.  They brawl into the crowd, where King starts to take over.  In the ring, King connects with a huge lariat for a nearfall.  One minute remains in the ten-minute preliminary match time limit.  King crotches Allin up top and hits a corner cannonball.  He follows with a superplex and both men are down.  The time limit expires at 10:00.  We seem to be exploring a flaw in Allin’s game.  He is incredibly resilient (as seen last night against Sabre), but he is having difficulty actually putting his opponent away.  In terms of using the preliminary match concept to its fullest potential, this hit all of the right notes.  **½

Preliminary Match:  Snoop Strikes vs. Jarek 1:20
They dodge each other’s offense until Strikes hits a wheelbarrow bulldog.  Jarek responds with an ace crusher and starts working over the left leg.  Strikes fights back with a snap german suplex and a blockbuster.  Jarek lands a punch to the face for a two count.  Strikes hits a backcracker but hurts his leg in the process.  He lands a frog splash for a nearfall.  Jarek superkicks the bad leg and hits a DDT for the win at 5:37.  Even though they both got in a similar amount of offense, this felt like a showcase for Jarek.  The leg work was ultimately fine, but they didn’t do anything interesting with it.  *¾

Preliminary Match:  KTB vs. Wheeler YUTA
YUTA uses his speed advantage to connect with a few strikes.  KTB catches him on a crossbody attempt and military presses him to the floor.  Back in, KTB takes control until YUTA fights back with a springboard dropkick.  YUTA follows with a springboard dive to the floor and a flying crossbody back in the ring.  KTB kind of lands a lionsault for the victory at 5:11.  A fine showcase for both men.  These two preliminary matches after Allin/King have felt underwhelming by comparison, so I wonder if the match order was right.  *½

Match #1:  Austin Theory (w/ Priscilla Kelly) vs. Jason Kincaid
They start brawling before the opening bell.  Kincaid connects with a double stomp and hits a bulldog.  Theory blocks a senton with knees.  Kincaid hurricanranas him to the floor.  Theory blocks another hurricanrana at ringside and whips Kincaid into the apron.  Theory takes over until Kincaid snaps his neck across the top rope.  Kincaid hits a rolling neckbreaker and connects with handspring knees.  He adds a facebuster for a nearfall.  Theory answers with a 2k1 bomb but gets too cocky.  They battle up top and Kincaid goes crashing to the floor after missing a double stomp.  He starts clutching his knee in intense pain.  The referee stops the match at 9:06, giving Theory the win.  Given their feud, I thought the action would be more intense.  Aside from the post-match attack, this felt pretty tame and I don’t think the injury angle worked well in an opening contest.  **

Match #2:  Timothy Thatcher vs. Fred Yehi
They aggressively trade control on the mat, with Yehi taking some time to regroup at ringside.  Thatcher synchs in a bow and arrow and transitions into ground strikes.  Yehi rolls to the ropes but Thatcher doesn’t seem to care.  Yehi fires up and lays in a series of strikes.  Thatcher hits a belly-to-belly suplex and regains control.  Yehi comes back with a powerbomb and the crowd seems indifferent.  Thatcher kind of connects with an enzuigiri and hits a saito suplex.  He adds a butterfly suplex for a nearfall.  Yehi hits a german suplex and a backcracker.  He puts on Thatcher’s scarf and the crowd pops.  There we go.  Yehi hits a fisherman suplex for a two count.  They exchange strikes and Yehi tries a few quick pin attempts to no avail.  Thatcher applies a fujiwara armbar for the victory at 13:42.  The first ten minutes of this match felt like one of Thatcher’s old EVOLVE Title defenses where he forced his style of match on a crowd that wasn’t particularly interested in watching it.  When they picked up the intensity in the closing minutes, the crowd eventually came alive.  However, this match was far from a cohesive whole.  **¼

Match #3:  Catch Point (Tracy Williams and Dominic Garrini) vs. The End (Parrow and Odinson)
Catch Point attack The End during their entrance.  Both teams brawl around ringside.  Garrini traps Parrow in a sleeper to slow him down.  Parrow is able to power out of the hold.  Williams connects with a missile dropkick on Parrow but he doesn’t budge.  Parrow answers with a bucklebomb and Odinson follows with a pounce.  The End work over Williams while keeping Garrini at bay.  Catch Point takes advantage of some miscommunication and Garrini runs wild.  He applies an ankle lock on Parrow and Williams adds a crossface for a double submission.  Odinson eventually breaks up the hold.  Catch Point apply stereo submissions but The End power out again.  The End hit Overkill on Williams for the win at 7:48.  This brawl didn’t wake up the crowd like I thought it would and the action was definitely missing a certain intensity.  I enjoyed the subtle storytelling of Garrini being Catch Point’s best chance against The End because of his somewhat comparable strength.  I hope that gets explored more.  **¼

Match #4:  Matt Riddle vs. Jaka
They exchange taunts and Riddle hits rolling gutwrench suplexes.  He connects with a few forearms but Jaka answers with a corner cannonball.  Jaka hits a backbreaker and takes control.  Riddle blocks a flying crossbody with a dropkick and both men are down.  Riddle hits a fisherman buster and a few sentons.  Jaka blocks another senton with knees but falls victim to a german suplex.  Jaka pops up and hits a german suplex of his own.  Riddle is up with another german suplex.  Alrighty.  It would have been easier to type “they trade german suplexes.”  Jaka avoids a Bro 2 Sleep and connects with a spin kick.  Both men are down again.  They exchange forearms and Jaka bites Riddle’s foot.  Jaka connects with a basement superkick for a nearfall.  He follows with a huge powerbomb but Riddle won’t stay down.  Riddle escapes a sharpshooter and hits a tombstone for a two count.  Riddle applies the Bromission for the victory at 12:40.  Unsurprisingly, these two delivered a solid exhibition that injected some life into the crowd.  Jaka is truly delivering in these situations and I wouldn’t be surprised if a WWN or EVOLVE Title run is in his future before 2018 ends.  The action took some time to get going, but the finishing stretch was tremendous.  ***¼

Match #5:  Zack Sabre Jr. vs. WALTER
WALTER asserts his power and size advantage to start.  Even on the mat, Sabre can’t seem to gain any traction.  Sabre tries some leg kicks to take WALTER down, but WALTER can bridge so that doesn’t quite work.  Sabre is able to bridge as well while holding all of WALTER’s weight.  They exchange strikes and WALTER takes control.  Sabre is able to trap him in an ankle lock but that just makes WALTER angry.  It’s pretty unbelievable how entertaining it is to watch WALTER decimate Sabre with strikes.  If you can make one-sidedness interesting, you’ve accomplished something.  Sabre creates some space with a DDT out of the corner.  WALTER answers with a shotgun dropkick and both men are down.  Sabre applies an octopus stretch and connects with a penalty kick.  WALTER literally bats away a kick with his fist and punches Sabre in the face.  Sabre tries a european clutch to no avail and runs into a clothesline.  He locks in a guillotine choke but WALTER counters into a butterfly suplex.  WALTER wins a strike exchange and powerbombs out of a triangle choke.  WALTER hits another powerbomb for the victory at 18:06.  There is an incredible dynamic between these two.  It’s obvious that they know each other well, but the way their offenses play off each other is something pretty rare to see.  WALTER beating the hell out of Sabre is simply a lot of fun to watch.  WALTER winning would indicate an upcoming rematch for the EVOLVE Title, which is great news.  ****

Darby Allin comes out after the match to demand another shot at the EVOLVE Title.  This angers WALTER, so he chokes out Allin.

Match #6:  WWN Title: Keith Lee © vs. Chris Dickinson (w/ Stokely Hathaway and Jaka)
Dickinson attacks at the opening bell but Lee boots him away.  Lee wins a strike exchange.  Dickinson is able to hit an early Pazuzu Bomb for a nearfall.  He grounds the champion and takes control.  Lee blocks a flying crossbody but eats a knockout kick.  Lee answers with a lariat and both men are down.  They exchange strikes.  Lee hits a spinebuster and lands a moonsault off the middle rope for a two count.  Dickinson escapes Ground Zero and connects with a spinning enzuigiri.  Lee fights back with a Spirit Bomb.  Dickinson hits a reverse hurricanrana from the middle rope for a nearfall.  Lee recovers with a headbutt and goes up top.  Dickinson dazes him and hits a superplex.  He unloads with strikes but Lee hits Ground Zero to retain his title at 15:53.  Tracy Williams attacks Lee after the match, setting up their eventual title match.  The biggest challenge facing them was that no one believed Lee was losing the title.  In spite of that, Dickinson worked his ass off and watching him run around the ring like a madman was entertaining.  Just because a title change wasn’t believable doesn’t mean the match shouldn’t have happened, though, since Dickinson looked great even in defeat.  This was a very solid main event.  ***½

-Show Grade: B-
You Need to See: Sabre/WALTER
You’d Enjoy Watching: Lee/Dickinson, Jaka/Riddle
You Should Avoid:

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