EVOLVE 88

July 8, 2017

From the UptownLive Arena in Charlotte, NC

Lenny Leonard is your host

 

Jason Kincaid vs. Caleb Konley

These two start off on the mat and end in a stalemate. Konley works a cravate for a bit but Kincaid floats over in the corner then meditates on the mat. Kincaid blocks a kick then takes Konley over with a springboard arm drag. Kincaid takes Konley down on the apron with a forearm smash then hits a double stomp. Kincaid sets up the stairs then heads up the ramp but Konley ducks the attack and hits Kincaid with an apron bomb. Back inside, Konley gets two with an elbow drop. Knee drop gets two. Kincaid rolls up Konley after a tilt-a-whirl but Konley sweeps him down and gets a nearfall with a senton. Konley tosses Kincaid across the ring as he has taken control of the match. Kincaid comes back with a powerslam then hits a blockbuster as the crowd gets behind him. He sends Konley into the corner with a sunset flip then nearly puts him away with a coast-to-coast dropkick. Kincaid climbs up top but Konley avoids the attack before almost getting the win with a lungblower. Konley gets a few more nearfalls and grows increasingly frustrated then the two trade super kicks then Kincaid blocks a springboard move by jumping up with Konley and taking him down. Kincaid hits a tornado DDT then gets two with a slingshot falcon arrow. Konley rolls through a hurricarana then hits a buckle bomb and almost puts Kincaid away with a modified Orange Crush. Kincaid cuts off a dive to the crowd then springboards and grabs the rafters before dropping down with a double stomp. Kincaid covers but only gets two then he locks on the Compassionate Release and that gets the win (14:23) ***1/4. After the match, Kincaid bows to Konley then smiles as the crowd chants for him.

Thoughts: Good match. On commentary, they were playing up how a Konley win would get him back in EVOLVE. This was Konley’s first match here since EVOLVE 60 where he lost to Lio Rush as he faded away when the Premiere Athlete Brand broke up. Kincaid got a much needed win as they can continue to drag out the inevitable moment where he snaps and loses his mind.

 

Austin Theory is with Priscilla Kelly as they come out to face ACH. However, ACH says he refuses to wrestle on the second match and wishes him luck before leaving. However, Ethan Case comes out and says there are no forfeits in Charlotte. Case says he has waited a long time to show what he can do in EVOLVE then challenges Theory, in front of his hometown and family as we have a match.

 

Austin Theory w/ Priscilla Kelly vs. Ethan Case

Theory acts like a cocky jerk then takes Case down. He gives Case a chance to leave as the crowd chants “Austin sucks.” Case fights back and runs wild until Theory yanks him down. Theory hits a standing moonsault for a two count before he hammers away in the corner. Theory stays in control but Case manages to take him over with a backslide. Theory yanks Case outside as Kelly tells her man to go after him. Theory beats on Case then chokes him out with his boot. Theory becomes nonchalant and that allows Case to hit a cutter. Case runs wild then they work a reversal sequence until Case hits a cutter from the middle rope that did not look to good but Theory slips off of his shoulders and hits the TKO for the win (6:21) **.

Thoughts: Nothing special here. I’ve seen Case live and he’s alright but does not really stand out in anyway. He probably could be a lower card worker here but Theory is the one with more potential. Theory good a relatively quick win as he continues to gain momentum as a heel aligned with Priscilla Kelly.

 

Ethan Page vs. Keith Lee

Lee decks Page, who was running his mouth, then chops away in the corner. Lee tells us all to take just a moment to bask in his glory then slams Page down. Elbow drop gets two then blocks a hurricarana attempt. Page escapes a powerbomb attempt and hits a super kick for just a one count. Page hammers away on the mat then tells us he is “limitless” before stomping away. Page mocks Lee but misses a charge. Lee hits an avalanche then hits a double chop to the chest. Lee clotheslines Page but Page boots him from the apron then hits the RK-Ego for a nearfall. Lee hits Page with a Pounce after a reversal sequence then covers for a two count. Page breaks up a superplex attempt then flies off the top with a hurricarana. They slug it out with until Lee hits a discus forearm for the win (9:50) **1/2.

Thoughts: I thought this was a bit disappointing in the sense Lee has been on an incredible run of awesome matches and this one was nothing more than solid. Lee did win cleanly as he is still pushed as one of the top EVOLVE title contenders.

 

After the match, Lee calls out Tracy Williams and says if he gets in his business, there will be hell to pay. Williams comes out with Stokely Hathaway and is pissed that he called out his name. Lee beats him down then Timothy Thatcher runs in and stares down Lee, allowing Williams to attack from behind. They double-team Lee until Darby Allin runs out. They beat on Allin then Lee heads backstage after Hathaway as Williams and Allin are scheduled to wrestle. Good segment to build up more heat for tomorrow’s Lee vs. Williams match.

 

“Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams vs. Darby Allin

Allin’s arm is bandaged up. Williams takes Allin down and grapevines the leg as Allin reaches the ropes. They work a reversal sequence that ends with a stalemate after Allin got a nearfall with a La Magistral. Williams bails after an arm drag then Allin heads out after teasing a dive and ends up getting destroyed. Allin fights back as they head inside but Williams counters a coffin drop with a cross armbreaker. Allin reaches the ropes then Williams targets the injured arm. Williams hits a DDT on the top turnbuckle then hits a brainbuster for a nearfall then goes back to attacking the arm as Hathaway is now back at ringside, yelling at his client to make Allin suffer. The crowd rallies behind Allin as he breaks out of a chinlock then he fights out of a suplex only to get dropped with a forearm smash. Williams slaps Allin down but Allin gets up and fights back. Allin gets two with a Code Red but Williams clotheslines him for a two count. Allin avoids a charge as Williams dumps outside then flies out with a tope con hilo. Back inside, Allin gets a few nearfalls but cannot put Williams away. Allin tries a coffin drop but Williams sidesteps him and uses a rollup then puts on a crossface. Williams cannot believe Allin will not give up so he completely bends back Allin’s injured arm as Allin as no choice but to tap out (13:07) ***.

Thoughts: The story of Allin trying everything he can to prove himself as a wrestler opposed to a guy doing crazy shit continues. His arm is still a mess but Allin is resilient and was able to sell the injury well. Allin’s matwork on offense looked better than usual here but he still was a while to go before he can comfortably add this to his repertoire. Williams winning this match makes sense as he will be facing Lee on the next show.

 

Fred Yehi comes out to the ring. He lets us know that Trent Baretta is unable to compete tonight due to an injured elbow. Trent is shown in the background and gets an applause as his elbow is all bandaged up. What happened was Baretta ended up with an infection after wrestling in a triple-threat the previous night against Lee and Lio Rush at PWG’s Pushing Forward Back event. However, Yehi says he has an open contract tonight as ACH’s music plays. ACH comes out and says when he cancelled his match earlier, management told him he gets paid to wrestle and not per appearance. So, since Yehi needs an opponent and is the #1 contender, they can wrestle and Yehi can put the #1 contendership on the line as he brings up beating Yehi at EVOLVE 77 then suggests they wrestle now. Seems like ACH is in the midst of a heel turn based off of his current position on the card. He’s trying but his mic work isn’t the greatest.

 

Fred Yehi vs. ACH

ACH stalls to start off the match. He ducks out on the apron after Yehi took him down then slowly heads back inside. Yehi takes him down and hits a double stomp then yanks off ACH’s shirt and stomps away. Yehi chops ACH down then stomps his foot but ACH comes back with an enziguiri. ACH stomps away then hits a backbreaker. He targets the back then works a chinlock for a bit. ACH gets two with a basement dropkick then goes back to working over Yehi’s back. Suplex gets two as ACH remains in control. Yehi blocks a back suplex attempt then starts to fight back but clutches his back. Yehi hits bicycle kicks to the chest then sweeps ACH down before hitting a shotgun dropkick. Yehi catches ACH with an overhead suplex then gets a nearfall with a fisherman’s suplex. ACH fights back and takes Yehi down. Yehi rolls outside where ACH flies out with a tope that sends Yehi into the chairs. ACH hits another tope then a running soccer kick from the apron. Back inside, ACH gets a nearfall with a German suplex then comes off of the middle rope with a Codebreaker as that gets two. ACH slaps Yehi then heads up top but Yehi avoids a double stomp then fights back. He hits ACH with a lungblower then a snap German suplex for a two count. They trade strikes until Yehi’s back gives out. ACH hits a clothesline for two after they traded German suplexes and follows with the Buster Call. He heads up top and tries the 450 splash but Yehi got his knees up then locks on the Koji Clutch as ACH taps out (16:38) ***1/4.

Thoughts: ACH wrestled a more grounded style and has been doing that more in EVOLVE over the past few months. He’s not terrible at it but gets more over as a face who flies around. Yehi gets a clean win over a credible opponent and still faces Zack Sabre Jr. tomorrow night for the EVOLVE title.

 

EVOLVE Tag Team Title Match: Anthony Henry & James Drake vs. Chris Dickinson & Jaka (c)

Henry and Jaka end up in a stalemate then go back to some more mat work. Henry sends Jaka down with a dropkick but runs into an elbow smash then Jaka hits Henry with an exploder. Dickinson tags in and beats on Henry for a bit. Henry does not tag out when given a chance as Dickinson kicks him hard in the back and asks if that is what he wants. Henry comes back with a snapmare then tags out. Drake and Dickinson start beating on each other after a tense staredown. Drake wins that battle then tags out as Henry hits Dickinson with several kicks. The challengers cut off the ring until Dickinson catches Henry, who gets hit with a super kick/half-nelson suplex combo after Jaka booted Drake off of the apron. Henry is trapped in the opposing corner and tries to fight out but Jaka hits a capture suplex for a two count. Dickinson hits Henry with a superplex then kicks him off of the apron. Henry gets up and starts to fight back but Dickinson lands a roundhouse kick as that gets two. Jaka is in with the crowd getting behind Henry. Jaka beats on Henry until he misses a spin kick then gets hit with an enziguiri. Henry crawls over to makes a tag but is cut off by Jaka. Henry blocks a tree slam with a hurricarana then catches Jaka with a powerslam before tagging out. Drake runs wild but Jaka yanks Henry off of the apron then the champs hit Drake with a double back suplex for a two count. Henry gets in but is caught with a buckle bomb then the champs head up top until Drake makes the save and we get a Tower of Doom spot as everyone is down. Drake covers Dickinson for a two count then the champs regain control as Dickinson nearly kills Drake with a Burning Hammer with Henry breaking up the pin. Henry runs wild now then Drake gets up as the challengers are the ones in control. Drake knocks Jaka off of the apron then Henry flies out with a tope con hilo before Drake hits a moonsault for two. Dickinson gets right up and paces around but Drake hits him with the Drill Bit then makes the cover as Henry stops Jaka from making the save and we have new tag team champions (19:14) ***1/2. After the match, Dickinson starts going out of his mind on the floor as Jaka tells Henry & Drake they are getting a rematch.

Thoughts: This really started off slow but the fans were getting behind Henry and really got into the overall match near the end where things got a lot more interesting. The fans popped for the finish and it was a genuinely surprising moment. Henry gets a lot of buzz among fans of the Southern Independent scene. I’m personally not his biggest fan. His strikes look good (he’s a former MMA competitor) but his facial expressions are terrible and his overall psychology seems to be lacking if you ask me. He’s also terrible on the mic but he can have a really good match with the right opponent and he’s getting more opportunities elsewhere. I did not have much of an opinion on Drake as Henry did most of the work but he seems decent enough I suppose as I expect these two to be used here going forward. And that’s a good thing with the lack of teams in EVOLVE today.

 

EVOLVE Title No Holds Barred Match: Timothy Thatcher w/ Stokely Hathaway vs. Zack Sabre Jr.(c)

Sabre defeated Thatcher for the title as Leonard tells us Sabre has not forgotten the fact Thatcher never handed him over the title after the match. They start off by trading uppercuts until Sabre grapevines the leg. Thatcher bails but Sabre follows out and the two start trading armbars until Sabre puts on a single leg crab. They start brawling now and end up near the back of the arena and eventually in front of the bar. Thatcher slams Sabre’s face off of the bar then fights off an armbreaker attempt. Things finally return to the ring where Thatcher hits a belly-to-belly suplex then stomps away in the corner. Thatcher hits mounted strikes then tries for a cross armbreaker but Sabre blocks that then bends Thatcher’s leg all the way back before working the arm. Thatcher fights back and hits a gutwrench suplex but Sabre starts kicking his arm. Sabre sweeps Thatcher then connects with the Penalty Kick and uses a guillotine choke on the top rope that turns into a triangle hold. Thatcher then gets out and takes Sabre down with a single leg crab. Thatcher hammers away but Sabre ducks an enziguiri then hits another Penalty Kick before applying a cross armbreaker. They end up in the ropes now and start trading strikes as Thatcher has Sabre hanging by his leg but Sabre starts peppering Thatcher with strikes then works an Octopus Hold in the ropes as Thatcher has no choice but to give up (17:56) ****.

Thoughts: Excellent main event. They took full advantage of the match stipulation and beat on each other all over the arena with both guys just hating each other and giving it their all. A match I would go out of my way to see.

 

After the match, Sabre tells Thatcher he respected him for presenting class, skill, and grace but that is no longer the case as when a champion loses he gracefully hands over the title. Sabre tells Thatcher this rivalry is over and he is still the champion and because he admired him in the past, he will give him the chance to hand over the title so they can go back to being “two blokes” who loved and respected wrestling. Thatcher then extends his hand as Hathaway, who has tears down his face, hands him the title and Thatcher gives it to Sabre before leaving. Sabre then sits down and asks the crowd how they are doing and if they had fun and promises they will return again. Good ending here with Sabre getting what he wanted, which was respect from a former friend and a man he defeated for the title earlier this year.

 

Final Thoughts: Not a blowaway show but we have an excellent main event and a surprise title change to make things interesting. They also built up a few of tomorrow night’s matches too. In case you were wondering, Matt Riddle was absent this weekend due to wrestling in the UK for both RevPro and PROGRESS, where he dropped the Atlas Championship to WALTER.

 

Here is my schedule for the next several days:

Thursday: Highspots Presents: Developmentally Speaking with John Morrison & Brian Cage

Friday: WWF Wrestling Challenge 4/8/90

Saturday: Mid-South Wrestling 12/2/82

Sunday: WWF Superstars of Wrestling 4/14/90

Monday: WWF Wrestling Challenge 4/15/90

Tuesday: WWF Prime Time Wrestling 4/16/90

Wednesday: EVOLVE 89 7/9/17