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EVOLVE 81

March 31, 2017

From the Orlando Downtown Recreation Complex in Orlando, FL

Lenny Leonard is your host

 

The show starts off with Lenny Leonard and EVOLVE Champion Zack Sabre Jr. in the ring. Sabre talks about last night’s show ending with Michael Elgin punching him in the face. He calls him out as Elgin appears as they start their match.

 

Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Michael Elgin

This is a non-title match. Elgin overpowers Sabre to start as the crowd is cold. Sabre lands a kick after avoiding a charge and tries for the octopus hold but Elgin reaches the ropes. Elgin blocksĀ  a Penalty Kick then slams Sabre onto the apron and tosses him on it again with a back suplex. He rams Sabre into the post as he is continues to target the back. Back inside, Elgin remains in crowd. He misses a slingshot splash but is able to ram Sabre into the corner then fights him off and hits rolling German suplexes. He gets two with a tiger suplex as the crowd gets a little bit louder. Sabre fights and hits several uppercuts but Elgin comes back and hits a few lariats. Sabre kicks Elgin’s arm away then locks on a guillotine. He is able to stay in control then both men are down after Sabre hits a tornado DDT. Sabre hits some more uppercuts then gets two with a Penalty Kick. Elgin catches Sabre with a backbreaker then hits a Falcon Arrow for two. Sabre’s has a cut above his eye as that’s pouring blood while Elgin hammers away. Sabre escapes from a Boston Crab then they trade strikes until knocking each other down. Elgin catches him with a Splash Mountain for a nearfall as the crowd starts getting behind Sabre now. Elgin picks Sabre up on his shoulder and climbs the middle rope but Sabre escapes and puts on a triangle hold. However, Elgin lifts him up and takes Sabre off with a sitout powerbomb as that gets two. Elgin is in a state of disbelief as he sits on the mat and it allowed Sabre enough time to put the triangle hold on again. Elgin lifts him up but Sabre locks on a Kimura then starts yanking the other arm back but Elgin was able to get his foot on the ropes. Sabre works the arm again on the apron but Elgin fights him off and hits a super kick before hitting a Death Valley Driver on the apron. Elgin takes a breather then brings Sabre back in with a Falcon Arrow for another nearfall. He drops Sabre with a rolling elbow then a spinning back fist before hitting a buckle bomb. Elgin now tries for the Elgin Bomb but Sabre counters with a victory roll then uses a bridging pin for the win (16:38) **3/4.

Thoughts: Elgin did some cool moves and Sabre showed a lot of resilience but for some reason the match did not click. The crowd was surprisingly dead for this one too and you would figure they’d get up for an opener with this much star-power.

 

Lio Rush comes out and introduces himself to Sabre. He says last time he checked, there match at scheduled for EVOLVE 83 was not for the Title and after some thinking suggests Sabre put the Title on the line. Sabre calls Rush a “young man” and says he has a Title Match tomorrow against Mark Haskins at the Mercury Rising Supershow and after beating him, will gladly give Rush a title shot. Drew Galloway comes out now and refers to himself as the “locker room leader” and said he has to educate these men as he demands the attention of his younger opponents. He says you dont just ask for title matches or give them out like “beads at Mardi Gras” before saying he built EVOLVE up and does not want to see it get ruined. He then asks Rush why he is more concerned about a future title match instead of facing himself tonight and calls it disrespectful and promises to mess Rush up like he did to Matt Riddle last night as the theme here is Galloway injured his back and neck. Sabre then cuts off Galloway and calls him a “dickhead” before telling Rush to “smash” Galloway.

 

Lio Rush vs. Drew Galloway

Rush frustrates Galloway with his speed at the beginning. He then kicks Galloway, who rolls outside and starts slamming the guardrail. Rush slides out but Galloway sidesteps him and gets chopped down. Rush fights Galloway off and hits a quebrada before flying out with a tope. Back inside, Galloway catches Rush and hits a backbreaker. He continues to overpower Rush then tosses him outside and roughs him up out there. Galloway yells at Rush for overlooking him and says he will “fuck him up” but Rush fights back. He gets just a one count with a spin kick then tries an inverted hurricarana but Galloway catches him and hits a wheelbarrow slam for a two count. They head up top as Galloway slaps him around but Rush drops down and kicks him off. Rush rolls through a frog splash but runs into a kick as that gets two. Piledriver gets two. Galloway goes nuts on the ref as we get a dueling chant from the crowd. Rush comes back with a swinging DDT then heads up top for an elbow drop as that gets two. Rush is now in control as he starts laying in Galloway, who is on his knees. Galloway catches Rush by the throat and calls him a bitch before hitting a headbutt. Galloway then hits a swinging Future Shock DDT and puts Rush away with the piledriver (9:25) ***.

Thoughts: Good match. The story was simple as the larger Galloway bullied his much smaller opponent who refused to back down. Rush also came out looking credible in defeat as Galloway stays strong.

 

Donovan Dijak vs. Keith Lee

Dijak pie-faces Lee before the bell. Lee fights back but Dijak lands on his feet after a hip toss then cartwheels to avoid another attack. Lee picks Dijak up for a powerbomb but Dijak is able to punch away and get himself to the turnbuckle. Lee lands on his feet after Dijak uses a monkey flip. Lee asks Dijak to bask in his glory then hits a dropkick after an Irish whip sequence. Dijak rolls outside as Lee teases a dive then Lee flies out with a corkscrew pescado as the crowd goes nuts. The crowd starts a “Bask In My Glory” chant as Lee tries to powerbomb Dijak on the apron but that fails as Dijak hits a super kick then chokeslams Lee onto the apron. Dijak yells at the crowd to “Feast Their Eyes” then fights Lee off before hitting a springboard corkscrew moonsault. Back inside, Dijak hits a top rope elbow for a two count. Dijak taunts the crowd then hits a splash but Lee rolls through and tries for the Spirit Bomb but Dijak flips out. Lee takes Dijak down with the Pounce then goes up for the moonsault but misses. They have a reversal sequence that ends with Dijak hitting the Canadian Destroyer for a nearfall then a “this is awesome” chant breaks out. Lee slips off of Dijak shoulders then they trade strikes until he slams him down. Lee takes a breather and goes back up top for the moonsault but takes too long as Dijak nips up and cuts Lee off before hitting the Feast Your Eyes but that only gets two. Dijak slowly gets up as Lee rolls outside then he tries a springboard flip dive but Lee catches him, falls into the guardrail but manages to hold onto Dijak and powerbombs him on the apron. Lee rolls Dijak inside where he finally hits the moonsault but Dijak is able to get his shoulder up at the 2.999999 mark as everyone is in shock. Lee then tells Dijak its time to bask in his glory but Dijak puts his hands around Lee’s throat. Lee removes Dijak’s hand and tries a chokeslam but Dijak flips out. Lee also flips out of a chokeslam attempt then hits the Spirit Bomb for the win (12:11) ****. The crowd gives both men a standing ovation after the match. Lee helps Dijak to his feet and they both hug as Lee also raises Dijak’s hand.

Thoughts: These guys did some incredible stuff considering their size and the crowd loved it all. It was excellent to watch but it did get a bit too cute down the end. Still, do yourself a favor and check this out as Keith Lee has been phenomenal in EVOLVE and Dijak deserves to be a regular after this performance too.

 

Stokely Hathaway comes out before Timothy Thatcher’s match against ACH. He tells the crowd they do not need him and ring announcer Joanna to leave as the crowd calls him an asshole. Hathaway talks about tomorrow marking the one-year anniversary of his Dream Team in EVOLVE and how he called Triple H and gave him TJ Perkins, who won the Cruiserweight Classic and became the Champion. ACH now takes a seat in the corner as Hathaway tells us he came to EVOLVE for an opportunity. He now talks about what he needs and addresses Kyle O’Reilly and wants him as part of the Dream Team then tells O’Reilly to take a lot at Thatcher, whose career he saved. I liked this promo a lot and it also set up O’Reilly as a big deal in his return to EVOLVE.

 

ACH vs. Timothy Thatcher w/ Stokely Hathaway

Thatcher starts off by working the arm. ACH counters with a headscissors as these two start trading holds. Thatcher now hammers away then applies a chinlock as Hathaway taunts ACH. Thatcher methodically works the back but ACH comes back with a neckbreaker then follows up with a second one as that gets a two count. ACH is now the one aggressively going after Thatcher but gets caught with a belly-to-belly as Thatcher goes back to the chinlock. ACH makes it to the ropes after Thatcher applies a sleeper but Thatcher puts the hold back on even after ACH put him on the apron. Thatcher breaks the hold as ACH takes him off then hits a Soccer Kick. ACH takes a breather then limps towards Thatcher and rolls him inside. He heads up top and tries to get the crowd into this but rolls through a dive and hits a Death Valley Driver on his knee for a two count. Thatcher goes back to the sleeper then hits a butterfly suplex for two. He puts on another sleeper but ACH takes him over with a snapmare then hits the Buster Call out of nowhere for the win (9:08) **.

Thoughts: Technically this was fine but it was not all that exciting. I felt it a bit weird to see ACH use a mostly mat-based offense here as he’s known for his high-flying moves and athleticism. With the win over Thatcher it appears that ACH is being groomed as one of the top guys in the company.

 

After the match, Hathaway comes into the ring and tells Thatcher the Dream Team will not stop but Thatcher cuts him off and takes the mic. He tells Hathaway if he does not get him into tomorrow’s WWN Title match at the Mercury Rising Supershow, then he can find a new client as he heads backstage. They teased some potential conflict between the two here.

 

Jason Kincaid & Sammy Guevara & Austin Theory vs. Tracy Williams & Chris Dickinson & Jaka

Dickinson works over Guevara to start as he targets the arm. Guevara flips out as the pace picks up with Dickinson hitting a clothesline. Jaka tags in and hits a chop but Guevara comes back with a rolling elbow and tags Theory, who runs wild. Jaka hits a spinning heel kick but Theory comes back with a dropkick then hammers away. Kincaid is in now but Jaka hits them both with a chokeslam. Williams tags and hits a backbreaker then Kincaid floats over and sits down Indian style. Kincaid ends up taking down all three men as Catchpoint is in trouble. Williams catches Kincaid with an elbow and dropkicks him outside as Dickinson & Jaka try to take advantage of him but Theory & Guevara make the save. Williams & Jaka run in and end up hitting them with German suplexes as Dickinson hits Kincaid with a powerbomb onto the apron. Kincaid is getting beat down now as Catchpoint is in control of the match. They beat on Kincaid for a while then he counters a top rope splash mountain attempt from Dickinson with a hurricarana. Kincaid finally tags out as Theory runs wild. Guevara comes in for some double-team moves too as they beat on Jaka. Guevara places Williams up top but gets knocked down. Theory runs up as Williams take him off with a DDT onto the turnbuckle then a dropkick as he applies the crossface until Kincaid makes the save. Kincaid low-bridges Williams and takes Dickinson & Jaka off as Guevara flies out with a top rope shooting star press. It looked great but the other guys barely broke his fall and they were all in position. Theory looks at everyone down and flies out with a quebrada then Kincaid prays before lowering his straps and runs as he kicks Dickinson, who was on the apron, then takes him off with a blockbuster as they fall onto the pile outside. We finally settle down inside where the Guevara, Theory, and Kincaid all hit Dickinson & Jaka with coast-to-coast dropkicks. Williams comes back in as everyone trades strikes and fast moves. Guevara heads up top and says this is over but misses a shooting star press. Kincaid as Williams in the Compassionate Release but as that goes on, Dickinson & Jaka hit Guevara with the Doomsday Chokeslam for the win (17:19) ***1/4.

Thoughts: Really fun match. Some of it was way too choreographed and contrived but it was fun and never a dull moment. It probably would have came off better with a few minutes taken off as well. Guevara & Theory really impressed here and did some double-team moves that looked great. With EVOLVE short on tag teams I’d like to see them paired up going forward. The crowd was not really into this though, however.

 

After the match, Jaka yells for the music to stop as he asks Williams for a Tag Title shot. Williams tells him to focus on tomorrow’s match against the South Pacific Power Trip as Kincaid is going mental and now shaking as he sits Indian style. Yehi then says if they want a shot at the titles, then they are on as we get the Catchpoint handshake. However, Larry Dallas & Earl Cooter come out with some “scoops.” He tells Williams the Tag Team Title match has been signed but the crowd taunts him and says he will not tell us the news until they be quiet. Dallas then says the match will take place on April 22nd in Queens, NY then tells us another scoop and that is where has Matt Riddle been. He suggests he might be scared of Yehi’s Koji Clutch and that is why he is not out here now. Dallas then turns his attention to Kincaid and wants to know about his medication. Kincaid pops up to his feet when Cooter tries to grab his beads as he bails with Dallas. As that happens, Riddle heads out to the delight of the crowd. Riddle tells Yehi “let’s do it, bro” as they start their match. Williams remains over his head as the leader of Catchpoint as he struggles to keep the group focused while Dallas makes his job harder by constantly stirring up trouble.

 

Fred Yehi vs. Matt Riddle

They start off the match on the mat as Riddle gets the best of him. They go back at it again and trade more stuff until they end up in the ropes. Yehi stretches out Riddle and pretty much ties him up in a pretzel but Riddle escapes and works a cross armbreaker but Yehi is able to roll into the ropes as the mat work has been great. Yehi trips up Riddle and works the leg as the rest of Catchpoint comments and tells Yehi to take advantage of the fact that Riddle is not wearing shoes. Riddle tries to fight back but Yehi stomps his foot and trips him up before hitting a shotgun dropkick. Suplex gets two as Yehi now goes after the injured neck of Riddle. He uses the stump puller and stays on the attack but Riddle manages to land on his feet during a suplex and hulks up. He gets two with a fisherman buster and follows with an exploder than a senton that gets two. He hits some gutwrench suplexes then a Doctor Bomb for a nearfall. Yehi tries to fight back but gets knocked down. He does come back with a Dragon Screw and blocks an upkick before stomping the ankle. They work a reversal sequence that ends with Riddle hitting a Bro to Sleep then a German suplex that gets a nearfall. Yehi comes back with rapid kicks from the mat and hits a rolling elbow. He powerbombs Riddle for two then hits a pair of German suplexes but that only gets two. Riddle counters a tombstone to hit one of his own but Yehi kicks right out. Riddle hits another Tombstone then locks in the Bromission but Yehi counters and locks on the Koji Clutch as Riddle screams in agony. Riddle tries to reach the ropes but is fading then passes out as the ref rings the bell, with Yehi winning (17:18) ***3/4. After the match, everyone tends to Riddle except for Williams, who is standing on the apron. Williams then makes his way to the back as everyone else engages in the Catchpoint handshake.

Thoughts: Really good match. I thought some of Riddle’s selling was off here but these two are great on the mat and delivered an intense, hard-fought match. Yehi gets a big win and Riddle does not lose anything in defeat as he came into the match with an injury and did not submit. Williams really distanced himself from the rest of the group afterwards and did not look pleased, either. The dynamic between Catchpoint now is really intriguing as since becoming the leader once Drew Gulak left for the WWE, Williams has struggled to fill the role.

 

Anything Goes Match: Darby Allin vs. Ethan Page w/ The Gatekeepers

Allin has half of his face and shoulder painted with “Ethan” written all over it as Page comes to the ring carrying a chair. Page swings and misses but Allin avoids him and hits a coffin drop. Allin takes The Gatekeepers off of the apron but gets whacked in the ribs with a chair. Page then tosses Allin with a running press slam onto a pile of chairs at ringside. Page now heads out and throws a table on top of Allin and after that launches him into the wall. Allin crawls towards the guardrail as he is wearing a crimson mask then Page charges at him with a ladder to knock him over to ringside. Page continues to brutalize Allin as puts a chair over his head and rams him into the post and guardrail as Page poses and gets booed. Page pulls another ladder out from underneath the ring then picks Allin up and yells since he asked for this, he will get it now. The action heads back inside as Page presses Allin over his head again but Allin slips out and hits a pair of dropkicks. Allin then hits a springboard crossbody as he is starting to beat on Page with the ladder. The crowd is chanting for Allin to fuck up Paige as he heads up top. Page cuts Allin off then takes him off with an Iconoclasm as Allin lands on the ladder. Page covers but it only gets two as he now sets up a chair but folds it back up as he says it will not work and hits Allin. He sets up another chair and tries to hit a pop-up powerbomb but Allin counters with a hurricarana onto the chair as Page’s bump looked really contrived. Allin hits Page with a tornado DDT onto the chair then takes his time climbing up top and gets a chair thrown into his face. Page now pulls out a table from underneath the ring and lays it in the corner. He roughs up Allin against the ropes but misses a chair shot and the rebound hits him in the face. Allin tries to put Page through the table but runs into a knee smash. Page puts Allin’s head through the back of the chair for the RK-Ego but misses and lands on the chair. Allin then drives Page through the table in the corner and covers for a two count. Allin sets up a really tall ladder in the corner and fights off The Gatekeepers as he climbs but Page cuts him off with a low blow then tosses him outside through a pair of stacked up tables. Page rolls Allin back inside and has two chairs face each other and stands on top where he hits a package piledriver. Allin is just able to kick out as the crowd chants for him. Priscilla Kelly now comes out as The Gatekeepers get involved and distracts then all as Austin Theory surprises Page and The Gatekeepers. He takes them outside then flies out with a somersault plancha as The Gatekeepers chase follow after him. Allin has a trash can and heads up to the bleachers and puts the can over his head and dives off of the balcony onto The Gatekeepers. Allin then straggles back to the ring with the trashcan and starts beating on Page. He lays Page on top of the table then climbs to the very top of the ladder and stands where he jumps off with a splash and covers Page for the win (20:09) ****. After the match, Allin gets a standing ovation as he heads backstage. Page is being helped up as the crowd heckles him then he pulls himself up and leaves.

Thoughts: This was an excellent spectacle and a great way to blow off a feud. Well, they had another match at EVOLVE 82. Anyway, the pacing here was fantastic and Allin’s one of the best underdog wrestlers going today. Page is also turning into a great heel worker that can get the crowd to hate him real quick. The Priscilla Kelly stuff is intriguing and I have no idea why Austin Theory came out for the save but I assume he will be feuding with Page soon enough. Another match worth checking out.

 

Final Thoughts: Another really strong show. The crowd was much less lively than usual but taking place during WrestleMania, with fans attending multiple shows per day, that is to be expected. They had three matches I encourage everyone to see and continued the storylines with Catchpoint, Galloway/Riddle, and everyone gunning for Zack Sabre Jr. and the EVOLVE title. The Keith Lee run has been a blast too and with Kyle O’Reilly coming in they have another talented worker in the mix. EVOLVE has been one of the best promotions going for the past year and you should all check it out.

 

Here is my schedule for the next several days:

Thursday: Highspots Enhancement Talent Roundtable (George South, Barry Horowitz, Salvatore Bellomo)

Friday: WWF Wrestling Challenge 11/19/89

Sunday: Mid-South Wrestling 8/19/82

Sunday: WWF 1989 Survivor Series

Monday: WWF Superstars of Wrestling 11/25/89

Tuesday: WWF Madison Square Garden 11/25/89

Wednesday: PROGRESS: Orlando 3/31/17