May 20, 2017
From the Summit Park District in Summit, IL
Lenny Leonard is your host
Keith Lee vs. Donovan Dijak
This is a rematch from EVOLVE 81, which took place during WrestleMania weekend. Lee catches a kick then takes Dijak down with a clothesline. They have a bit of a miscommunication during a backdrop then Lee knocks Dijak onto the apron with a pounce. Dijak fights off a piledriver then lifts Lee up on his shoulders and hits a fireman’s carry slam onto the apron. Dijak targets the back then starts laying into Lee as we see Stokely Hathaway watching from the back of the crowd. Dijak flies out with a Fosbury Flop but Lee catches him and slams Dijak onto the apron as the crowd chants for Lee. Dijak catches Lee with a big boot and rolls him inside where he misses a second charging elbow attempt. Lee pancakes Dijak then catches him with a slam but that only gets two. Lee calls out for the moonsault but Dijak gets to his feet. Lee fights off Dijak and hits a knee smash for two. Dijak avoids a Spirit Bomb then catches Lee with a sitout powerbomb but that only gets two. Both men are slow to get up then Dijak gets elbowed on a charge. He runs into a boot then Lee heads to the middle rope but Dijak grabs him by the throat and hits a chokeslam backbreaker for a nearfall. Dijak now heads up top but misses a moonsault then Lee hits a Canadian Destroyer for a two count. Lee then hits the Spirit Bomb but Dijak was just able to kick out again as Lee is in a state of disbelief. The crowd chants “this is awesome” as Lee drags Dijak to the middle of the ring before heading up top for the moonsault but took too long as Dijak kips-up then flips Lee off of the top rope. Dijak then hits a reverse hurricarana for two as that ended up looking a bit ugly. They head outside where Dijak beats on Lee then places him on the other side of the guardrail. He knocks Lee into the seats but Lee comes back with a double chop. Dijak sends Lee back down with a big boot then heads inside and flies over the guardrail with a springboard somersault plancha as the crowd goes nuts. Okay, that was impressive. Back inside, Dijak yells at Lee to stay down after shoving him into the corner. He places Lee up top then slips off of his shoulders. Dijak slips on the ropes trying a springboard move then takes Lee down with a hurricarana. Dijak tries a corkscrew press that he overshot as that gets two. Dijak gets Lee on his shoulders but Lee comes back with a reverse hurricarana of his own as both men are down. Lee is up first and puts Dijak on his shoulders as he heads to the middle rope. Lee then lifts Dijak up and hits a super Spirit Bomb for the win (18:43) ***1/2. After the match, Lee puts over Dijak then leaves as the crowd chants for Dijak.
Thoughts: A really good match. However, it was not as good as their first encounter. Part of that was that they tried to do too much at times and it resulted in sloppiness. It was still a highly competitive match that the crowd loved though and both men came out of it as big deals in the eyes of the fans. Lee gets another big win as he’s being built up for an eventual title shot, whether its the EVOLVE or WWN Championship. He is a star and Ring of Honor letting him walk is one of the more baffling things in wrestling that I’ve seen this year. I also hope that Dijak does more shows with EVOLVE as he has acclimated himself well into the company in the few dates he has worked.
Jason Kincaid vs. Fred Yehi
Yehi tells Kincaid that he is in big trouble then grabs a waistlock. Kincaid breaks cleanly after backing Yehi into the corner but Yehi takes him down and works the leg. Kincaid works the arm and takes Yehi down but Yehi comes back to ground him with a side headlock. Kincaid avoids a stomp then rolls through a Koji Clutch and hits a leg sweep. Yehi is on the mat but grabs Kincaid’s arms and kicks him in the chest. He then catches Kincaid with an exploder and after that chops him hard across the chest before hitting a basement dropkick for just a one count. Yehi now puts Kincaid in a stump puller then stomps his ankles as Kincaid is in pain. Yehi cuts off a comeback and chops Kincaid down but Kincaid rolls through a tilt-a-whirl and applies a knee bar. Kincaid goes back to the knee bar after an unique arm drag but Yehi is able to reach the ropes. He continues to target the knee of Yehi then tells him he hates his “ugly face” but Yehi flips him over and stomps his leg. Yehi then hits a straight-jacket German suplex as the crowd rallies behind Yehi. He hits another suplex for a nearfall but Kincaid fights out of a cravate. Kincaid lands on the apron then comes in with a springboard DDT then a Falcon Arrow for two before locking on the knee bar. Yehi reaches the ropes then Kincaid comes back with a jawbreaker. He takes Yehi back down after a few kicks and lowers his straps but runs into a boot. Yehi hits a cravate suplex then tries to suplex Kincaid back into the ring but Kincaid turns that into a neck snap. Kincaid then springboards back inside but Yehi catches him in midair with an Ace Crusher then locks on the Koji Clutch for the win (14:48) ***1/4. After the match, Kincaid is sitting cross-legged and is rocking back-and-forth while clutching his beads. He then gets up to yell at the referee before leaving.
Thoughts: Good match. Yehi needed a win since he is now on his own. Kincaid looked good in his return from injury and showed some anger here, which has been out of character for him. It appears that they are going to follow up on this in future shows.
Austin Theory vs. Lio Rush
Both men shake hands before the match. They work a nice, fast-paced Irish whip sequence that ends in a stalemate. Rush comes back with a pair of kicks to send Theory outside but Theory runs back in to prevent a dive. Theory clotheslines Rush then gets two with a suplex. Rush leapfrogs over a charge then takes Theory out on the outside with a quebrada. Back inside, Rush kicks Theory across the chest and asks the fans if they want to see a third attempt but he spent too much time messing around as Theory ducks a kick and comes back with a dropkick. We get dueling chants as Theory catches a kick but gets slapped across the face. Rush hits a few kicks to take down Theory then hits a pair of clotheslines. Theory comes back with a pair of release German suplexes as that gets two. They go back-and-forth until Rush hits an Ace Crusher then flies out with a tope. Back inside, Rush gets a two count with a clothesline from the middle rope. They fight up top until Rush kicks Theory down then rolls through a frog splash but Theory catches a hanspring and hits a spinning rack bomb for a nearfall. Rush gets turned inside-out with a clothesline then Theory heads up top and lands on his feet after a moonsault attempt but gets hit with the Rush Out then Rush puts Theory away with a frog splash (9:01) ***1/4. After the match, both men shake hands then Priscilla Kelly comes out in a pink dress. She grabs the mic and gets into the ring as Rush leaves. She puts her hand on Theory’s chest and says she sees something in him and that he belongs with her before leaving. Theory ponders what just happened and slowly makes his way to the back.
Thoughts: Another good match between two young talents that both seem to have a bright future ahead. Theory is just 19 and Rush at 22 years of age as both men continue to improve with each performance. With Rush getting an EVOLVE Title rematch with Zack Sabre Jr. at tomorrow’s show, as long as Sabre retains here against Ethan Page, he needed to win here. We also finally got some storyline advancement regarding Priscilla, who looked great coming out here to say the least.
“Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams w/ Stokely Hathaway & Catchpoint vs. Jeff Cobb
They start off by trading holds then end in a stalemate. Cobb catches a crossbody attempt then deadlifts Williams, who escapes and starts laying Cobb with elbow strikes. Cobb then blocks a suplex and tries to hit a wheelbarrow suplex but Williams takes him down with an armbreaker. Cobb fights off an ankle lock then blocks a sunset flip and pulls Williams up for an overhead suplex. Cobb tosses Williams across the ring then follows with a headbutt. Williams fights back but Cobb uses a pumphandle toss to break that up. Cobb eats boot on a charge then Williams uses a hanging armbar then heads up top but Cobb cuts him and they fight up there until Williams hits a missile dropkick. Williams face-washes Cobb in the corner then goes back to the arm using a variety of holds. He then takes down Cobb with a bicycle kick and starts stomping the back. He follows with a double throat thrust but Cobb yanks him off of the top and catches him with a sidewinder suplex. Williams is able to catch Cobb with a clothesline for a two count then goes back to the arm. Williams eventually hits Cobb with an Olympic Slam but that only gets two. Williams measures Cobb but misses a rolling elbow and gets hit with a suplex. Cobb then has Williams up for the Tour of the Islands but Williams turns that into an inside cradle and gets the win (10:03) ***.
Thoughts: Good match. I liked the finish as Williams needs a big win since he will now be pushed as a singles act while leader of Catchpoint and Cobb was protected in defeat. A good first step in putting over Williams as a heel.
After the match, Catchpoint & Hathaway get into the ring. Hathaway tells us that Catchpoint is the greatest faction in wrestling. He then says that Chicago is not as good as New York and its just “a’ight” as he points out how all of Catchpoint are from New York, prompting the crowd to chant “F--- New York.” He then talks about the Freelance Wrestling Promotion in Chicago, which is the homebase of their opponents tonight, before telling Keith Lee & Matt Riddle that he is watching them. Chris Dickinson grabs the mic and says he is ready to kick some “Chicago Ass” to set up their match. Good job getting heat by heeling on the crowd.
EVOLVE Tag Team Title Match: Chris Dickinson & Jaka w/ Stokely Hathaway & Tracy Williams vs. Matt Knicks & Isaias Velazquez
A loud “Freelance Wrestling” chant from the crowd. Knicks uses his agility to get the best of Dickinson. Jaka tags in then headbutts Knicks, who was attempting a crossbody. Dickinson and Velazquez are now in the match then it breaks down as Dickinson hits both of his opponents with a double back suplex. Jaka is in now and hits a power drive elbow on Knicks for a two count. The champs cut off the ring for a bit then Knicks comes back with a German suplex then an upkick as both men are down. Both men tag out as Velazquez runs wild on Jaka. Velazquez gets a nearfall with a Shiranui as the challengers are now in control. We then a bad spot where the champs catch a dive from Velazquez and eventually toss him over their shoulder then just stares at Knicks, who takes them down with a quebrada. Way too telegraphed. They head back inside where things break down again. The champs clean house then Velazquez kicks out of a choke bomb just in time. Velazquez is up on Dickinson’s shoulders then counters with a reverse hurricarana. Knicks almost gets the win with a frog splash then Jaka fights off both guys and Dickinson trips up Knicks as the champs put Velazquez away with the Death Trap (10:05) **1/4.
Thoughts: I did not really care for this match. Knicks & Velazquez appeared timid and nervous. They tried some faster-paced stuff but it was not smooth and they lacked the speed of the more dynamic wrestlers. I’d still welcome them back to EVOLVE as the Tag Division is lacking but they did not stand out here and the fact they got a title shot in their debut is a little odd.
EVOLVE Title Match: Ethan Page vs. Zack Sabre Jr. (c)
Page gets in Sabre’s face then they start trading strikes as Page keeps yelling at Sabre to hit him harder. Sabre locks on a guillotine then Page runs them outside where they go back to trading strikes. Page ends up kicking Sabre over the guardrail then tries to suplex him back to ringside but Sabre counters and locks on an octopus hold. Sabre then flies over with an uppercut off of a chair then uses a guillotine after Page caught him. Page then drapes Sabre over the guardrail and hits a backbreaker before using a powerbomb on the ring apron. Back inside, Page almost gets the win with the RK-Ego. Leonard informs us that Page sent the Gatekeepers home because he can win the EVOLVE Title all by himself. Page stays in control for a bit but Sabre fires away then hits a tornado DDT as both men are down. Sabre fires away then takes Page down with a leg sweep. Sabre slaps Page across the chest and follows with a German suplex. Sabre hits a running uppercut but Page blocks a tornado DDT attempt and comes back with a super kick for a two count. Sabre counters the Spinning Dwayne with a bridging clutch for two but Page goes back on the attack. He places Sabre up top but ends up getting put in the Octopus Hold. Page escapes then hits a super powerslam but that only gets two. Sabre manages to put on a triangle hold but Page lifts him up and hits a buckle bomb then gets two with the Spinning Dwayne. Page now tries for a package piledriver but Sabre gets out and they have a reversal sequence that ends with Page finally hitting the move but Sabre once again is able to kick out. Page is beside himself and tries for another package piledriver but Sabre escapes and eventually puts Page in a Dragon Sleeper. Sabre then elbows Page in the head repeatedly and follows with a Penalty Kick. He hits three more Penalty Kicks and that gets the win (13:54) ***3/4. After the match, Darby Allin comes out with his arm in a sling. He tells us about coming back and re-inventing himself as a wrestler and come back to do what Page could not, which is beating Sabre to become the EVOLVE Champion. Sabre thinks that is cute and playfully smacks Allin on the cheek before leaving.
Thoughts: Excellent match. There was a bit of a deadspot in the middle but Sabre was a great ring general and Page can have a really good match with the right opponent too. Also, Allin coming out and promising to reinvent himself as a wrestler was intriguing. Watching him nearly kill himself each time out is getting to be too much so seeing him tone down is a welcome change. I thought he came across well here.
Joanna Rose lets the crowd know they will be back here in September.
WWN Championship Match: Kyle O’Reilly vs. Matt Riddle (c)
These two had an excellent match in the first round of the 2016 PWG Battle of Los Angeles Tournament. These two square off then Riddle locks on a triangle choke until O’Reilly lifts him up and they go to the ropes. O’Reilly takes a breather then goes inside and works a knee bar as Riddle grabs the ropes. They slug it out until O’Reilly kicks Riddle down. Riddle comes back with an upkick then an exploder. Riddle then hits another suplex and follows with a senton for a two count. Riddle knees O’Reilly in the ribs then hits rolling gutwrench suplexes but still cannot put away the challenger. O’Reilly blocks a suplex then fires away. He sweeps down Riddle then works the arm on the mat. O’Reilly then sends Riddle back down with a knee strike then puts Riddle in a body scissors while nailing Riddle with crossfaces. O’Reilly once again targets the arm then switches to a knee bar but Riddle manages to escape. Riddle fires up and drops O’Reilly then hits the Bro to Sleep and follows with a bridging German suplex but that only gets two. Riddle gets to his feet after getting hit with a German suplex then O’Reilly grabs a guillotine. He takes Riddle down but Riddle gets up and hits a Northern Lights suplex but O’Reilly hangs on with the guillotine. Riddle finally breaks it up with a Fisherman’s buster as both men are down. O’Reilly takes Riddle down after a flurry of strikes then hits a clothesline as both men are once again down on the mat. They get up and trade foreman strikes from their knees as they are really laying into each other. Riddle gets out of a rear choke then hits a Ligerbomb for two but O’Reilly locks on a triangle hold. He nails Riddle with elbow strikes but Riddle gets out and hits a jumping tombstone then puts on the Bromission and O’Reilly has no choice but to tap (16:14) ****1/4. After the match, Riddle thanks the crowd then O’Reilly.
Thoughts: Excellent match. The striking and grappling here looked great as these two went out and had a battle for the WWN Title. This was one hell of a main event and definitely worth watching.
Final Thoughts: Overall, I thought this was a very good show. They added some new storylines and had a great main event too. Despite adding Stokely, Catchpoint still feels like it is lacking though. Maybe Williams as a singles heel act takes off with Stokely as a mouthpiece but if not, then the reinvention of the group feels like a waste. Regardless, there was a lot of good wrestling and solid storylines that what help make EVOLVE run strong in 2017.
Here is my schedule for the rest of the week:
Thursday: Kayfabe Commentaries Presents: YouShoot with 2 Cold Scorpio
Friday: WWF Saturday Night’s Main Event 1/27/90
Sunday: Mid-South Wrestling 10/13/82
Sunday: WWF Wrestling Challenge 1/28/90
Monday: WWF Superstars of Wrestling 2/3/90
Tuesday: WWF Wrestling Challenge 2/4/90
Wednesday: EVOLVE 85 5/21/17