January 28, 2017
From Woodlawn Lake Park Gym in San Antonio, TX
Lenny Leonard is your host
Barrett Brown and Darby Allin come out the ring for their match but are interrupted by Ethan Page. The Gatekeepers then attack Allin from behind as Page demands for the microphone. He orders the Gatekeepers to continue beating on Allin as he is pissed over Allin’s involvement in his match from yesterday. Brown comes over to remind Page about how this is “his time” so Page punches him down then leans over and grabs Page by the throat as he calls Allin the “dirt on the bottom of his foot” and how he is worthless. Page tells Allin he will not give him a match as he is worthless then suggests Allin team with Brown against the Gatekeepers as Page yells at the Gatekeepers to get ready and beat them down. Allin grabs the mic and tells Page to walk away and that deep down inside, Page envies him because he is nothing but a coward as Allin talks about he does not care and will face them 3 vs. 2 if needed and we get a match. Nice segment here as Page got called out for hiding behind the two big men in the Gatekeepers and not fighting his own fights while the much smaller Allin is fearless and fights his own battles.
Barrett Brown & Darby Allin vs. Ethan Page & The Gatekeepers
Brown & Allin avoid a sneak attack and clear the Gatekeepers from the ring. They hit dives outside but Allin runs into trouble once they head back inside. Allin gets backdropped on top of Brown outside then Blaster hits an insane tope con hilo, especially for someone 265 lbs. Page is now beating on Page as the crowd rallies behind Allin. The Gatekeepers work over Allin in the corner as they are in control of the match. Allin breaks free and attacks Page but the Gatekeepers hit him with a double chokeslam. Page wants to tag in now as he grabs him by the throat and reminds him when he dropped him on his head the last time they were in Dallas but Page flips out of a powerbomb attempt. Page tags out but Allin hits the Gatekeepers with a springboard crossbody. Allin crawls over to the corner but Brown is out but then Zack Sabre Jr. runs out on the apron. The ref lets him be part of the match and he tags in and hits the Gatekeepers with uppercuts. The Gatekeepers accidentally clothesline each other then Sabre hits Blaster with a Penalty Kick for two. The crowd is hot for Sabre but he ends up getting speared by the other one. Brown gets up and takes out the Gatekeepers with a missile dropkick but Page nails Brown with a running kick and launches him outside on to everyone with a Border Toss. Page goes out and beats on Sabre, who fights back. They go into the crowd then Allin climbs a beam to the top of the rafters and takes everyone out with a Coffin Drop. The crowd chants “one more time” as Leonard tells them not to encourage Allin. Back inside, Sabre puts Page in the triangle hold but Page escapes and hits a powerbomb. Allin takes Page out with a headbutt from the top but the Gatekeepers are back in and overpower the two. Sabre puts Blaster in the triangle hold but gets lifted up then Sabre manages to put Blaster in a kimura and gets the win (11:59) ***1/4. After the match, Page is irate as he stares down both Allin and Sabre.
Thoughts: Fun opening match. Sabre coming down plays off of what happened at the last show where the Gatekeepers attacked Sabre after he beat Page then the decision got reversed as Sabre refused to break the hold after the bell. Brown did a few nices moves as he is a Texas-based Independent wrestler who actually wrestled as “Americo” on the 8/29/16 edition of RAW where he was squashed by Braun Strowman. A Page vs. Sabre feud seems to be in the works now going forward.
Laredo Kid vs. Tracy Williams
Leonard bills this as the “wrestler vs. high flyer.” Williams gets the best of Kid with some mat work to start off the match. Kid snaps off a tilt-a-whirl headscissors after an Irish whip sequence then connects with a super kick. Williams rolls outside where Kid flies out with a beautiful tope con hilo from the ring post. Kid rolls Williams inside and covers for a two count before he hits a chop in the corner. Williams gets pissed and chops him back then catches Kid with a back elbow smash. Williams takes Kid down with a shotgun dropkick then hits a brainbuster for a nearfall. Williams cuts off a comeback with a boot to the face then tries to put on the crossface but Kid reaches the ropes. He then hits Kid with a Michinoku Driver for a nearfall as he stays in control. Kid ducks underneath an attack and hits a cradle slam for two. He then heads up top but whiffs on a Phoenix Splash then Williams hits a sliding forearm smash and applies the crossface for the win (7:57) **1/4.
Thoughts: Solid action but it was a one-sided affair for the most part. The Laredo Kid’s offense doesnt really fit in with most of the EVOLVE roster but at the same time its different and his high-flying stands out more here. He is also a competent technician too. Keeping Williams strong is a good thing as he is Catchpoint’s leader now. Williams seems primed for a breakout 2017. He has the technical ability for sure but lets see if he can back it up with his personality.
Sammy Guevera & Jason Kincaid vs. Chris Dickinson & Jaka
Kincaid starts off with Jaka and escapes from the corner as Leonard mentions how Peter Kaasa is not on the show today due to getting hurt from the rope break on the last show. Kincaid avoids Jaka then tags out as Guevara gets a decent chant from the crowd. Dickinson tags in too as Guevara hits a dropkick after an Irish whip sequence. Jaka tags back into the match and hits a few chops but Guevara catches him with a jumping knee strike. Dickinson & Jaka roll outside as Guevara teases a springboard dive only for Dickinson to run in and hit a tiger suplex as Leonard points out Guevara’s inexperience. Dickinson beats on Guevara then puts on an inverted Boston Crab before tagging out. Dickinson & Jaka are cutting the ring in half as they are really beating on Guevara. Dickinson puts on another crab as he kicks Guevara in the back. Guevara manages to stay alive but continues to get destroyed. Guevara comes back with a soccer kick on both men and follows with a double sliced-bread. Guevara crawls over to his partner as Dickinson grabs his foot but breaks free as Kincaid is now in and running wild. He takes out Dickinson with a dive to the floor then hits Jaka with a sunset bomb. Guevara climbs up top and hits a shooting star press to the floor as the crowd is really getting into the match. Back inside, Kincaid gets up top but Jaka rolls out of the way so Kincaid walks the ropes and hits a coast-to-coast dropkick. Guevara then hits a 630 splash as Kincaid then covers but Dickinson breaks up the pin with a wheelbarrow suplex. Guevara is tossed outside as Kincaid is double-teamed but Guevara takes out his opponents with a double dropkick. Guevara whiffs on a shooting star press and Dickinson rolls away from Kincaid’s double stomp as Kincaid is then put away with a Doomsday Chokeslam (13:38) ***. After the match, Williams comes out to congratulate Jaka & Dickinson for their win and points out the high risk of high-flying wrestling. However, Larry Dallas comes out and asks Williams about Catchpoint’s philosophy of competition should mean he gives Dickinson & Jaka a shot at the Tag Team Titles. Kincaid then talks about egos then about nature as he tries to get deep while Dallas ends this by putting himself over while the camera shows Kincaid sitting down in the corner.
Thoughts: Good match. Guevara was over a little bit with the crowd and did a fine job selling during the long heat sequence. He has a good look and even attended the most recent WWE Performance Center tryout but still needs polish. I like Kincaid as he is a unique character with a matching moveset as he shows potential. The Dickinson & Jaka team is good together and they’ve fit in well with Catchpoint so far, although Dickinson’s temper will probably cause conflict with the group soon enough. Resident shit-stirrer Larry Dallas came out to try and pit the two tag teams within Catchpoint against each other as that makes for an interesting story.
ACH vs. Fred Yehi
They start shoving each other after a brief sequence on the mat. ACH uses Yehi’s “you’re in big trouble” as Yehi stares him down. ACH rolls away from a stomp but ends up working a headscissors on the mat. ACH escapes and works a headlock then they work a rerversal sequence that ends in a stalemate. Leonard talks about how EVOLVE is a new beginning for ACH as he is no longer “bound by restrictions.” Yehi takes ACH down with a shotgun dropkick as the crowd starts a dueling chant. Yehi works a stump puller and tells ACH to “kiss his knee.” He stays in control and bends him in half but ACH is able to reach the ropes. Yehi hits a suplex for two then follows with a German suplex as he orders ACH to get on his feet. ACH blocks a waistlock and takes Yehi down and applies a Muta Lock. Yehi reaches the ropes then ACH chops him in the corner. He hits some more chops then drops a knee as that gets a one count. ACH gets two off of a dropkick after a flurry of strikes then kicks Yehi outside. Yehi rolls inside to avoid a slingshot dive but gets hip-tossed to the floor then ACH hits a running soccer kick but ACH clutches his knee. They are both in the ring and start trading slaps from their knees then eventually stand up. Yehi misses a stomp and eats a super kick then trade rollups for a nearfall. Both men are in opposite corners then Yehi catches ACH with a dropkick then a powerbomb for a nearfall. He cuts ACH off with a chop that also gets two before he starts slapping him around. Yehi once again orders ACH on his feet as he starts to fight back. They trade forearm strikes then ACH hits Yehi with the brainbuster and uses a cradle for a pin as that gets the win (14:08) ***1/2. After the match, Yehi is pissed but goes over to shake ACH’s hand before leaving.
Thoughts: Really good match. ACH gets a big win in a match where both opponents tried to counter their skill sets and at the end, ACH won with his quickness. I thought both guys did a good job and the match was well-paced, perhaps a bit slower than expected. I’d like to see these two go at it again.
No Disqualification Match: DUSTIN vs. Matt Riddle
Riddle immediately starts beating on DUSTIN after ducking a chair shot. as he is pissed over DUSTIN’s sneak attack from last night. Riddle lights up DUSTIN in the corner then hits an exploder. Riddle gets cut off by DUSTIN’s chair shot on the outside and yells at the camera man to get out of the way as he tosses Riddle into a pile of chairs. He does it again but after some taunting and stalling, Riddle returns the favor. Riddle fires away then has two fans hold chairs up as he hits a running kick. DUSTIN fights back and makes a pile of chairs then charges but Riddle catches him and hits an overhead suplex on top of the chairs. Riddle hits DUSTIN with a chair then they brawl over near the gimmick table and fight on top of it as DUSTIN reverses a suplex to hit one of his own. That was a banquet table that did not break at all. DUSTIN pulls out a table from underneath the ring and leans it against the ring post. He gets more chairs to make a pile but Riddle fights back. He tries for a running senton but DUSTIN rolls away and Riddle lands on the chairs. DUSTIN now sets up the table on the floor as the front row clears. DUSTIN tosses a chair at Riddle’s head then runs in the ring and flies out with a tope con hilo that puts Riddle through the table. DUSTIN then rolls Riddle inside and hits a double stomp but Riddle kicks out and starts hulking up as the crowd goes nuts. DUSTIN takes Riddle down with a super kick then hits a DDT onto a chair but that only gets two. DUSTIN gets desperate and sets up more chairs in the ring and stacks them all up. He heads up top but Riddle cuts him off then gets up and puts him through the chairs with a superplex as the crowd starts a “holy shit” chant. Riddle starts stomping away and covers for the win (10:43) ***3/4.
Thoughts: I really liked this match. It came off as both guys absolutely hating each other and they did some brutal stuff. Riddle was incredibly over with the crowd and this was one of DUSTIN’s best, if not the best, effort since returning to EVOLVE.
EVOLVE Title Match: Jeff Cobb vs. Timothy Thatcher (c) w/ Stokely Hathaway
The story here is that Cobb and Thatcher are old friends who trained together and that Cobb does not care for Hathaway’s influence on his former friend. Cobb takes Thatcher down after a staredown as Leonard lists off all of Thatcher’s successful title defenses. Cobb hits an overhead toss but misses a charge in the corner as Thatcher goes after the arm. He drags Cobb outside and follows with an uppercut. They trade forearm smashes outside then head in the ring where they fight over position until Thatcher hits a Russian leg sweep and goes back to working the arm. Cobb fights back and hits an overhead suplex but Thatcher fights back in the corner. He starts smirking as he toys with Cobb but fails to hit a gutwrench suplex. Cobb is sent to the mat with a knee strike then targets the back for a bit. Cobb fights back and drops Thatcher with a right hand as that gets two. Cobb hits a deadlift gutwrench suplex then they trade strikes from their knees until Thatcher yanks Cobb down by the arm. Cobb blocks a butterfly suplex and hits a backdrop but Thatcher gets up and hits the butterfly suplex for a two count. Cobb fights Thatcher off and hits a back suplex then follows with a moonsault but misses a second moonsault as Thatcher applies the Fujiwara Armbar. Cobb breaks that with a gutwrench and tries it again but Thatcher puts on another armbar. Cobb hits a German suplex for two but Thatcher hangs on and works a kimura then turns it into a backslide and gets the win (16:09) **.
Thoughts: I was not feeling this match at all. It was the same, repetitive formula Thatcher used for most of 2016 as he only works the arm. The story of both guys having the same trainer and Cobb hating Hathaway was at least something but this match was a bore. At least Thatcher added a second facial expression, which is a smirk and a good heel smirk too.
Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Chris Hero
The crowd is jacked for Hero, who comes out in New York Knicks gear as to let everyone know he is going there (WWE). Sabre is offered a handshake then runs and takes Hero down with a triangle hold. Hero rolls outside and they trade strikes on the floor. Hero wins that battle and goes inside and plays to the fans before somersaulting outside where Sabre locks on an octopus hold. Hero breaks that by dropping him in the front row. Sabre gets up and hits an uppercut then hits a few charging uppercuts. Back inside, Hero cuts Sabre off with a boot to the face as he appears finished playing to the crowd and more focused on his opponent. He gets two with a suplex toss then fires away. Sabre gets right up after a chop but Hero hits a knee smash in the corner but that only gets a one count. Hero grounds Sabre and puts on an STF as Sabre figures out a way to escape. Sabre blocks a senton with a cross armbreaker but Hero gets out of that and hits the senton. Sabre rolls outside where Hero knocks him down with a headbutt. Hero then knocks Sabre off of the apron with a big boot as Sabre is crawling on the floor then takes him back off of the apron as he is now drinking water in the ring. Hero once again toys with Sabre on the apron and sets up for a running boot but Sabre runs in and trips him up. Sabre tries another octopus hold and turns that into a crucifix bomb. Sabre then kicks Hero’s arm and tries it again but Hero blocks it and hits another senton. Sabre comes back with a tornado DDT in the corner but Hero overpowers him and places Sabre up top. He tries for an avalanche piledriver but Sabre blocks that and knocks him off. Hero then cuts Sabre off but Sabre works an octopus hold and kicks Hero off after his sunset bomb was blocked. Sabre hits a Penalty Kick but Hero comes back with a rolling elbow as both men are down. Hero gets up and inflicts more punishment but Sabre ducks a ripcord elbow and tries for a backslide. Hero comes back with a shining wizard that gets two then lights him up with chops in the corner. Hero laughs as Sabre tries to fight back but Sabre blocks a tombstone with a cradle that gets two. Hero then picks Sabre back up for the tombstone but that only gets two. Sabre almost puts Hero away after ducking an elbow and using a backslide. Hero hits a rolling elbow to the back of the head but Sabre kicks out as Hero is in shock. Hero slowly picks Sabre up and puts him in a double underhook and hits the Pedigree. Hero covers but Sabre kicks out at one then fires away. Hero cuts Sabre off with a boot to the face and hits two short piledrivers but Sabre counters a Gotch piledriver and takes him down and uses a stretch on the mat as Hero is trapped and has no choice but to tap out (22:57) ****.
Thoughts: The story is that Sabre has never been able to beat Hero in EVOLVE and wants to do so before Hero leaves. Sabre refused to back down as Hero was toying with him from the start but as the match went on he became more serious but ultimately fell short to his relentless opponent.
After the match, Sabre sits next to Hero on the mat. Hero asks for the mic as the crowd shows their appreciation. Hero talks about being a wrestler for 18 years and he wouldnt have gone this far if not for the fans. He then thanks Sabre and talks about how they’ve wrestled all over the country and the world and jokes how he really kicks the shit out of him as Sabre agrees. Hero mentions wrestling Sabre in England in 2008 for 1PW (which is now defunct) and how they were the first company in England to fly over U.S. talent. Hero jokes about never seeing Zack Sabre Sr. and how everyone said he did armbars and that they wrestled in Pro Wrestling NOAH as Hero puts over the company for giving him a chance to wrestle Misawa and Kobashi before saying Sabre wrestled KENTA (Hideo Itami) in a tryout as Hero notes KENTA is healthy now and wants to kick him in the face. After leaving the WWE, Hero went back to NOAH and saw Sabre as he went through the dojo five times and that Sabre is a hell of a lot more than armbars. Hero talks about working with Gabe Sapolsky back in 2006 for Ring of Honor and thanks EVOLVE for giving him a platform. Hero then says he does not see guys in EVOLVE as good as Sabre even though they have a ton of talent. Hero says Sabre will look at lot better with that EVOLVE belt around his waist and asks the crowd if they want to see him get a title shot as they agree.
ACH comes out and grabs a mic and puts over Hero for being the greatest at establishing the Independent scene then tells a story of how Hero was the reason he pursued his dream to be a wrestler after meeting him in St. Louis back in 2011. ACH puts over Sabre for being the greatest technical wrestler today. However, ACH said tonight he beat a double WWN Champion in Fred Yehi and if we are handing out title shots then his name should be “put in the hat.”
Hathaway comes out with the belt as Sabre and ACH keep the mic away from him then Hero lets him talk but the mic was turned off. He turns it on and says he is an agent, not a valet, and that no one gets a shot at the EVOLVE Title unless they go through him first. Hathaway then consults with his “baby” as he puts the belt up to his ear and has a conversation that ends with no one given them a title shot. Thatcher comes out and points at Sabre then smirks before leaving as Hathaway is surprised. Sabre then tells ACH when he wins the belt from that “dickhead” he can have the first title shot. ACH leaves then Sabre puts over Hero for never being a jerk and a pro to deal with as he calls him “Independent Wrestling.” Sabre then wishes Hero the best and tells him to show the whole world what he can do. He leaves as we see the rest of the locker room in the aisle.
Hero talks about being released from the WWE in November 2013 and puts over the support from fans, other wrestlers, and even those in the WWE but he doesnt like to focus on the negatives so he decided to go out and attack the Independent scene. He puts over his fans again then mention how his critics think he is a big “fat ass” and how that’s okay too because everyone can have their opinion but that he has a much larger contingent of people who want to see him than do not as he thanks his supporters for helping him get a second chance with the WWE and to never underestimate what a little support can do then he leaves as his theme plays. This was a great segment and a nice passing of the torch moment to Sabre. I put the link to Hero’s speech down below as it was a great moment
Final Thoughts: Overall, this was a very good show with a great ending. EVOLVE has set up a lot of nice feuds and the farewell for Hero was a once in a lifetime type of sendoff. I’m glad for Hero and think he is a great addition to NXT. Despite the loss of talent over the past few months, EVOLVE keeps turning out a quality product. I recommend this promotion for all wrestling fans.
As for next week I am undecided on whether or not I will review an AAW show, Rev Pro show, or Episode Two of WWN Style Battle. I’ll let you know later on in the week or let me know which of those shows you would like to see recapped.