February 25, 2017
From La Boom in Woodside, NY
Lenny Leonard is your host
ACH vs. Jason Kincaid
They end in a stalemate after a quick back-and-forth sequence as Kincaid sits cross-legged in the middle of the ring. ACH tries to kick him after a bit but Kincaid rolls out of the way and gets pissed off. ACH takes Kincaid down with an armdrag then bows to the crowd as Kincaid ducks out for a breather. ACH catches Kincaid with an atomic drop after an Irish whip sequence but gets cocky and walks into a spin kick. ACH dodges an attack and takes Kincaid off of the apron with a dropkick then follows with a soccer kick. Back inside, Kincaid comes back with a clothesline then a slingshot neckbreaker. ACH avoids a springboard move by rolling onto the apron but Kincaid flips over the ropes with a double stomp for two. Kincaid hits an enziguiri but ACH dodges a clothesline with a matrix and runs wild. Kincaid blocks a soccer kick outside and yanks ACH down then leaps from the stage to the ring with a dropkick. Back inside, Kincaid gets a nearfall with an inverted DDT. ACH catches a coffin drop attempt and hits a release German suplex and shortly after that hits his brainbuster for the win (7:12) **3/4.
Thoughts: Really good action here. It was a good, clean win for ACH but Kincaid did not come out of this looking like a pushover or anything. ACH now heads into the WrestleMania weekend show with some momentum for his EVOLVE Title match against tonight’s winner.
Four Way Freestyle: Anthony Henry vs. Austin Theory vs. Chris Dickinson vs. Fred Yehi
Yehi and Henry stare down after taking the other two down with dropkicks. Henry chops away as Priscilla Kelly is back at ringside. Yehi is now stomping Henry but Theory takes him down. Theory and Henry work a very nice sequence until Dickinson knocks them down. The action maintains a solid pace as Yehi & Dickinson are double-teaming Theory until they break up their pinfalls and argue until Henry takes them both down with a double missile dropkick. Henry kicks them both and gets a nearfall on Dickinson with a tornado DDT as Theory breaks up the pin. Yehi runs wild for a bit as the crowd is behind him. Dickinson stares down Yehi then they give each other the Catchpoint handshake and immediately try to attack each other as they go back-and-forth. Dickinson hits Henry with three powerbombs but Theory makes the save on the pin attempt. Yehi takes Dickinson and Theory off of the apron with a shotgun dropkick then lays into Henry, who fights back and hits a roundhouse kick. Henry hits a brainbuster for a nearfall but Yehi is able to catch him with the Koji Clutch. However, Dickinson hits Theory with the Border Toss and launches him over the other men and covers for the win as Henry still did not tap out (8:14) ***1/2. After the match, Henry & Theory get a “please come back” chant.
Thoughts: This was a really good match. The pacing was good and all four men got a chance to shine. Henry had an impressive showing here as the crowd really dug him tonight. Theory is someone else to keep an eye on, especially since he is just 19 years of age as he has a lot of potential. I also liked how they teased some issues between Yehi and Dickinson as Dickinson and his partner Jaka want a Tag Title match against Yehi & Williams.
Jaka vs. Jeff Cobb
This match was the result of what happened at EVOLVE 78 where Cobb dropped Riddle, who accidentally bumped into him, then Catchpoint came to the ring where Jaka and Cobb got into a heated shouting match. These two mix it up to start. Cobb backs Jaka into the corner and rams him but Jaka wants him to hit harder as they start trading strikes and really lay into each other. Jaka takes Cobb down and drops an elbow but it only gets a one count. Samoan Drop gets two. Cobb fights back and then hits Jaka with a delayed vertical superplex as the crowd goes nuts. An incredibly impressive move as the crowd is chanting for Cobb, who hits a slam then a standing moonsault for two as he used a nonchalant cover. Cobb misses a standing shooting star press then Jaka takes him down with a running knee strike. Jaka follows with a German suplex for two. Jaka fires away in the corner then takes Cobb off of the apron with a super kick and flies out with a tope. Jaka heads back in and tries a pescado but Cobb catches him. Jaka escapes and they trade strikes outside until Cobb knocks Jaka down with a forearm. Back inside, they trade more strikes until Cobb hits a pumphandle toss. Jaka avoids a charge and hits a spinning heel kick. They trade German suplexes then keep getting right back up until Cobb hits a crazy pop-up gutwrench suplex. Jaka comes back with a spin kick but Cobb catches Jaka and hits the Tour of the Islands for the win (8:50) ***3/4.
Thoughts: Awesome power match here. Both guys hit each other hard and Cobb did some impressive stuff with Jaka, who is not a small man. Cobb has really gotten himself over in EVOLVE and should be a major player for them going forward.
Keith Lee vs. Tracy Williams
Williams charges Lee and chops away in the corner. He stays on the attack and keeps going after Lee, who pushes him away. Williams remains relentless as he keeps going after his much larger opponent. Lee doesn’t budge on an Irish whip attempt then connects with a dropkick after a leapfrog in a very impressive sequence. Lee beats on Williams and places him up top but Williams works a hanging armbar. Lee catches Williams coming off the top with an overhead suplex and covers for a nearfall. Lee goes back to beating on Williams and hits him with an avalanche. He stalls but misses a corner splash as Williams fights back. Lee then splats Williams with the Spirit Bomb as both men are down. Lee places Williams back up top and heads up but Williams fights back and knocks him off. Williams takes Lee down with a missile dropkick then staggers him with a few clothesline. Williams gets two with a lariat then works the arm. Williams flips out of a slam and lands some forearm smashes but Lee starts overpowering him. Lee plants Williams with a slam then smiles as he adjusts his knee pads. Lee heads up top but took too long as Williams runs up to hit a Super Angle Slam. He covers but Lee is just able to kick out as both men are down. They get up and trade strikes for a bit until Williams works an armbar but Lee picks Williams up and hits the Ground Zero for the win (11:39) ****. After the match, Williams gets a round of applause from the crowd.
Thoughts: Excellent match. Williams as the smaller but relentless opponent worked great here but at the end the monster Lee was too much to overcome. These guys have great chemistry together. I loved the pacing of this match too as Lee gets his second win of the weekend and also primed for a push with the company. This is also Williams’ second loss of the weekend but this match was a lot better than his match at EVOLVE 78 against ACH.
Grudge Match: Darby Allin vs. Ethan Page w/ The Gatekeepers
Allin comes out wearing a mask of Page’s face. Page laughs at Allin before the match and stares him down but becomes pissed off after that. Page knocks down Allin, who removed the mask and is back to his face half-painted. Allin escapes a package piledriver then takes out everyone with a top rope coffin drop. Page yells at one of the Gatekeepers then walks into a dropkick. Page yanks Allin off of the apron and against the stage then heads up there and press slams Allin off the stage and into the ring post. Back inside, Page covers for two then gets a pair of handcuffs from one of the Gatekeepers and cuffs Allin’s hands behind his back. The ref asks Allin if he wants to quit and he says no as Page backs Allin into the corner and starts slapping him around. Page sends Allin head over heels in the corner as Allin lands flat on the mat. Allin gets his foot up on a charge but runs into a backdrop then gets turned inside out with a Mafia kick. Page taunts the fans who are loudly booing him as Allin is out on the mat. Page pulls Allin up as Allin uses a few headbutts. Allin ducks an attack and flips over Page before taking him down. Allin hits a top rope hurricarana then starts headbutting away like crazy. The Gatekeepers are up on the apron but Allin takes them off with a double dropkick. Page fights back then hits a top rope powerslam and covers but Allin kicks out as Page is beside himself. Page then hits the RK-Ego and a release powerbomb for the win (8:50) ***1/4.
Thoughts: The story they told in this match was great. Page is bigger than Allin and hides behind two giants in the Gatekeepers yet still has to resort to tactics such as handcuffing his opponent to win the match. Allin took some truly insane bumps here and even managed to stuff some crazy stuff on offense with his hands cuffed behind his back. He is the best underdog character in wrestling today and in quite some time for that matter. He’s fearless like Spike Dudley but has more impressive looking offense and is a unique character with charisma. I’m a big fan of him at the moment.
After the match, Page asks for the mic. He then orders one of the Gatekeepers to get someone as he asks the crowd to give it up for Allin……………the biggest loser in EVOLVE. He stands over Allin and talks about this being his third straight victory over him and that he only won while teaming with Zack Sabre Jr. Page then calls Allin “trash” and that he wants to take the trash out of his company as The Gatekeepers open up a bodybag as they stuff Allin inside. Page then asks Allin why he hates him and how it does not make any sense and brings up how the crowd feels sorry for him and that is the only reason fans even care about him, because he beats him all of the time. Page then brags about taking Johnny Gargano out of EVOLVE and will give Allin’s life some meaning and value as he reads Allin’s chest tattoo “Nothing over until you’re underground” and that tattoo has value now as he can consider his career dead as Page zips up the bodybag and the Gatekeepers carry him away. Page then tells the crowd to say goodbye to the first dead career of “All Ego” then talks about being the next EVOLVE champion. An incredible promo here by Page. The crowd really hated this guy by the end and with good reason. Its clear that EVOLVE has big plans for Page in 2017.
Matt Riddle vs. Drew Galloway
Riddle catches a charging Galloway with a knee strike for a nearfall right after the bell. Riddle hits an exploder then a senton for another two count. Riddle beats on Galloway but runs into a Sick Kick as Galloway is now in control. Galloway hits an overhead suplex then stomps a mudhole into Riddle then they mix it up outside as Galloway wins that battle. Galloway slams Riddle on the stage then rolls in to break the count as he goes back to beating on Riddle, who fights back. Riddle hits a running knee strike from the apron then tries to kick Galloway underneatht hte ring but gets knocked down. Galloway drops Riddle across the guardrail then heads back in where he stomps Riddle’s ankle. Riddle fights back but Galloway cuts him off and gets two with a short piledriver. Galloway hits another Sick Kick but Riddle counters a move and gets two with a fisherman’s buster as both men are down. They trade strikes from their knees then Galloway hits an inverted Alabama Slam for two. Riddle counters a Future Shock DDT attempt and hits the Bro to Sleep for a nearfall but Galloway gets his knees up on a senton attempt. They head up top and fight until Galloway takes him down with an Air Raid Crash but that only gets two. Galloway slowly gets up and tries the Future Shock DDT again but Riddle counters and gets two with a jackknife cradle. Galloway gets up and goes for a tombstone but Riddle counters it taking him down by the leg then locks on the Bromission as Riddle fires away at Galloway’s ribs as the ref rings the bell as Leonard explains was correct as Galloway could not defend himself (12:11) ***1/2. After the match, Galloway attacks Riddle then grabs the PROGRESS Atlas Championship as he tries to piledrive Riddle onto the belt but Williams runs out for the save as Yehi follows.
Thoughts: This was a pretty good match but the crowd was quiet towards the end and I was not that big a fan of the finish. In fact, these two will have a rematch during WrestleMania weekend so the finish was done for that
Larry Dallas comes out next. Dallas promises us a hot scoop but has to address his safety first as he calls out Williams for shoving him last night and that he now has to create his own protection agency as he welcomes about “Big C” Earl Cooter as they both head into the ring. Dallas talks about a major announcement tomorrow but he will break it first. He says all three men in the ring are added to the WWN Title Tournament WrestleMania weekend, along with Drew Galloway. Riddle tells Dallas all of the titles are his, including the WWN Title, as he leaves while spurning Yehi’s handshake attempt. Yehi then calls out Riddle for being selfish and says its not the “Matt Riddle” show and its about Catchpoint. So, he issues Riddle a challenge and that he wants him in the ring as Riddle tells him anytime before he heads through the curtain. Williams tries to keep the peace but Yehi remains pissed. This time, Dallas did not even have to do much to stir the pot as Yehi took offense to Riddle blowing him off, they played it off on commentary that Riddle simply did not see Yehi as he left the ring, then started calling him out for being selfish. They started to show some cracks within Catchpoint the past two weeks between this and the two tag teams within the stable and with two losses tonight you have to wonder if they are going somewhere with Williams cracking under pressure as the leader. They have a lot of interesting dynamics here.
EVOLVE Title Match: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Timothy Thatcher (c) w/ Stokely Hathaway
Sabre gets a great reaction from the crowd during his entrance. Thatcher attacks Sabre then they trade submissions on the mat before getting up and trading strikes. These two keep slugging away until Sabre works a guillotine. Thatcher escapes and hammers away as the crowd boos whenever Thatcher is on offense. They end in a stalemate as these two are ultra aggressive to start. We get more matwork as both men still cannot gain the advantage here as the crowd is ragging on Thatcher, who hits Sabre with a Saito suplex. Thatcher smirks as he is now in control. He beats on Sabre in the corner then gets two with a suplex as he then applies a rear chinlock. Sabre escapes with an upkick then tries to work the arm but Thatcher takes him down and goes back to the chinlock as the crowd boos as Thatcher taunts them back. He gets just a one count with a belly-to-belly suplex as the camera shows a worried Hathaway on the outside. Sabre starts firing away with elbow smashes then kicks Thatcher down as the crowd cheers. Sabre twists Thatcher’s neck then uses an octopus hold after Thatcher broke out of a full nelson. Thatcher counters with an ankle lock then Sabre gets out of that and stretches out Thatcher as Hathaway is going nuts for Thatcher to grab the ropes. Thatcher breaks with a cradle but runs into a dropkick. Sabre gets two with a bridging German suplex but Thatcher fights back with a Dragon Screw. Thatcher locks on the Fujiwara armbar in the middle of the ring. Sabre reaches the ropes then Thatcher stomps away. Butterfly suplex gets two but Sabre gets two with a bridging O’Connor roll. Sabre gets another nearfall as the crowd is really into this match. Sabre hits a soccer kick then Sabre tries for the Triangle choke as the crowd chants for Thatcher to tap. Thatcher reverses as they now jockey for position in an incredible sequence. Thatcher takes Sabre down with a knee smash then works a sleeper but Sabre escapes and starts throwing elbows but Thatcher gets up with Sabre hooked on him. Sabre kicks Thatcher then bends him back for the Hurrah and kicks him in the head while holding back both of Thatcher’s arms and ends up getting the win and the EVOLVE Title as the fans go nuts (18:48) ****3/4.
Thoughts: What an incredible match. The hot crowd made it even better as they were all over Thatcher, whose lengthy title reign has come to an end. The Thatcher title reign has drawn a lot of criticism over the past several months but it has at least improved since Hathaway became his manager. This match had a lot of drama and featured great brawling and matwork. Just a perfect way to kick off a new title reign.
After the match, Thatcher hands Sabre the EVOLVE Title (Its a company tradition) but Page runs out and attacks Sabre from behind until ACH makes the save. ACH then asks for the mic as he congratulates Sabre and says that match even gave him goosebumps. He puts over Sabre for doing things no one else on the planet can do and that he deserves this moment. He wants Sabre to stand tall and proud as the EVOLVE champion to show us what hard work and dedication looks like. However, ACH then tells Sabre on March 30th, he will be handing him that title as Sabre tells him “Good luck, darling.” The locker comes out after that to congratulate Sabre, who gives a speech thanking the fans. Sabre then shakes hands with the other wrestlers and when he gets to Keith Lee, who beat him last show, Lee smiles and grabs on to his hand.
Final Thoughts: What a tremendous show. In fact, the only show better than this that I saw so far this year was NJPW Wrestle Kingdom. Despite losing a lot of talent over the past several months, EVOLVE has been able to re-stock its roster and push newer talents. This weekend really put over Keith Lee and Ethan Page as major threats to new champion Zack Sabre Jr., who will have his first defense against ACH. Besides the title picture they also have another key story with the internal conflict within Catchpoint. By all means seek this show out. Even those who have not watched EVOLVE before would really enjoy this show.
Here is my schedule for the next several days:
Wednesday: WWF Wrestling Challenge 9/17/89
Thursday: RF Video Shoot Interview with Eddie Guerrero
Friday: WWF Superstars of Wrestling 9/23/89
Sunday: Mid-South Wrestling 7/8/82
Sunday: WWF Wrestling Challenge 9/24/89
Monday: WWF Superstars of Wrestling 9/30/89
Tuesday: WWF Madison Square Garden 9/30/89
Wednesday: PWG Mystery Vortex IV 12/16/16