August 11, 2017
From the MCW Arena in Joppa, MD
Lenny Leonard is your host
Tonight, we have a double main event. WALTER defends the PROGRESS Atlas Championship against Fred Yehi and Matt Riddle vs. Lio Rush.
Troll Boyz vs. Chris Dickinson & Jaka
The Troll Boyz are what Ethan Page & ACH are calling themselves now as they come out to a new theme that is takeoff of “Bad Boys” from Inner Circle. They also wrestle in t-shirts and basketball shorts. Page decides to do live commentary to start the match and they screw around as Dickinson & Jake are pissed. ACH then talks about having an issue going on in the 1st and 2nd match and his email was ignored like “Lio Rush falling off of a 20 foot ladder through a table.” Dickinson & Jaka beat on ACH as they are still pissed over losing the Tag Team Titles last month. ACH’s t-shirt gets yanked off as Page tells them they are not allowed to wear them while wrestling in EVOLVE as ACH says he is marketing himself. ACH finally fights back and hits a few double stomps on Jaka for a two count. The crowd gets behind the Troll Boyz as Page tags and beats on Jaka. Page does his own version of the People’s Elbow that misses as ACH said that was unnecessary. Dickinson tags and knees Page in the face as Page keeps telling him to hit harder. Dickinson kicks the Troll Boyz hard a few times then ACH pumps up and fakes out Dickinson with a low blow. Page tags but is beaten down in the corner. Jaka knocks ACH off of the apron then goes back to beating on Page. Dickinson tags then Page catches him with a kick to the face as both men are down. Jaka tags and knocks ACH to the floor but Page slams Jaka then crawls over and makes the tag. ACH takes both men down with several jabs as he dances around. Jaka then drops ACH with a headbutt as the ex-champs hit ACH with the hi-lo for a nearfall. ACH fights back then does a bunch of up-and-overs before missing a fallaway cutter. Page makes the save on a pinfall attempt but gets shoved outside. Page breaks up a Death Trap and hits the RK-Ego on Dickinson then ACH uses the Buster Call for the win (15:46) **. After the match, the Troll Boyz celebrate.
Thoughts: This was entertaining at times and the Troll Boyz entrance was a riot. The story of two guys pissed off over the way they are treated in EVOLVE who decided to team up and just f--- around on purpose to piss off the company brass does make sense. However, this match was too long and while the guys managed to entertain the crowd it’s not an act with a long shelf-life or any sort of mass appeal. The insider terms and spoofing Independent tropes can work for a bit though and the guys do them well at least.
Before the match, Allin grabs the mic and tells Timothy Thatcher that he has not grown complacent since his loss and has now moved into his car to travel the country in order to train and prove he is a wrestler, not just a “stunt dummy.” I do like this storyline of Allin on a mission to become a wrestler as opposed to a guy doing crazy s---. He brings passion in his promos of needing to prove himself as a wrestler, willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.
Craig Mitchell vs. Darby Allin
Mitchell is a WWN Tryout guy based out of Freelance Wrestling in Chicago. Mitchell cheap shots Allin against the ropes to start. Allin comes back with a rollup then works the arm a bit. Mitchell slaps Allin from the apron then hammers away in the corner. Allin avoids a charge but Mitchell cuts him off the top rope and hits a draping neckbreaker. He then hits a standing moonsault for a two count then catches a coffin drop and hits a German suplex. Allin fights back but Mitchell deadlifts him for a Michinoku Driver variation for two. Allin starts paintbrushing Mitchell and hits the Code Red before using the Gibson Lock for the win (4:35) **.
Thoughts: Brief but decent action here. Mitchell had some skills in the ring but is heel act is really hammy in a preliminary wrestler sort of way. He reminds me of a late 80’s WWF enhancement talent with his look and antics. Allin gets the win and moves on to a rematch with Timothy Thatcher tomorrow.
Austin Theory w/ Priscilla Kelly vs. Jason Kincaid
They end in a stalemate after some arm work. Theory slaps Kincaid as he was meditating so Kincaid turns the other cheek to get slapped again before shoving Theory. Kincaid hits a double stomp after a reversal sequence that gets two. Theory catches Kincaid with a half-nelson backbreaker then stomps away in the corner after taunting the fans. He tosses Kincaid with a gutwrench bomb that gets two then hits a basement dropkick for another nearfall. Kincaid escapes from Theory’s shoulders then follows him on a springboard attempt with a clothesline as both men are down. Theory spits in Kincaid’s face then gets shoved as Kincaid opens his mouth to catch the spit before running wild. Springboard neck snap gets two. Theory comes back with a blockbuster but misses a charge then Kincaid hits a springboard facecrusher for two. Theory avoids a double stomp and hits a neckbreaker as Kincaid rolls outside. Theory tries a tope but Kincaid catches him and hits a stunner. Back inside, Kincaid climbs the support beam but Priscilla starts screaming uncontrollably to distract Kincaid long enough so Theory can get up and catch the crossbody and hit the TKO for the win (12:14) **1/2. After the match, Kincaid sits on the ramp then tries to communicate with Theory, who is pulled away by Priscilla.
Thoughts: I like both guys but this match did not connect with the crowd or myself viewing at home. There was some innovative stuff but the stuff in between was lackluster. The end was a rare distraction finish from EVOLVE with Priscilla screaming at the top of her lungs in order to get her man the win. I did like the post-match interaction with Priscilla pulling Theory away before Kincaid could reach out to him as it shows Priscilla is the one controlling Theory.
EVOLVE Tag Team Title Match: “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams w/ Chris Dickinson & Jaka & Rory Gulak vs. Anthony Henry & James Drake (c)
Yes, Rory is the brother of Drew. Henry and Gulak go back-and-forth to start. Gulak yells “amazing” a few times after a few moves then after pulling back his hand on a handshake attempt. Henry catches him with an enziguiri then kicks him into the corner. Drake tags and tosses Gulak around for a bit. Williams tags and slugs it out with Drake. Williams works the arm but Drake chops him a few times and they trade strikes for a bit until Williams hits a dropkick. Gulak tags but is hit with a double-team move as the champs work him over for a bit. We get more double-team moves by the champs but Gulak tags out as Williams starts working over the legs of Henry. Gulak gets two with a splash after tagging in then works the arm as Leonard lets us know he is an amateur wrestling coach in the Philadelphia school system. Henry remains in trouble as Williams tags back in to work the leg. Henry manages to catch Williams with a slam then tags out as Drake runs wild on Gulak. He gets a nearfall with an exploder but almost is put away after being caught with a German suplex. Williams tries to climb up top but Henry cuts him off and they fight up top. Williams hits a DDT on the turnbuckle then a missile dropkick. He hits a brainbuster and covers but the ref lets him know Henry’s not the legal man as Drake surprises Williams with a spinebuster for two but Williams was not the legal man either and the ref counts anyway despite chastising Drake for it later a few seconds later. The match breaks down with Gulak fighting off both men until Henry hits a step-up enziguiri then the Chaos Theory. Drake is in now and chops Gulak before hitting a double underhook DDT for two then he holds up Gulak so Henry can hit a roundhouse kick and that gets the win (18:37) **1/4. After the match, Dickinson & Jaka get in the champs faces but Williams intervenes and calms down his teammates. Williams then offers his hand and they shake.
Thoughts: Another long and disjointed EVOLVE tag match. I fail to grasp the hype surrounding Anthony Henry. Not that he was necessarily bad but I never see him standout and his facial expressions are terrible. Gulak was alright but having him team with Williams, a guy battling for the WWN Title, was random and seemed like a waste.
After the match, Williams grabs the mic. He talks about Rory’s brother founding Catchpoint and how they exploited weaknesses and its time they get rid of the weakness before he clotheslines Rory down. Dickinson & Jaka then beat on Rory before leaving. The turn on Gulak was fine but he meant little to Catchpoint or even EVOLVE for that matter.
Timothy Thatcher w/ Stokely Hathaway vs. Keith Lee
Lee knocks Thatcher into the corner to start. Thatcher fights back but Lee absorbs the damage and knocks him back down. Thatcher now tries to target the arm but Lee chops him down. Thatcher knees Lee in the gut but his butterfly suplex attempt fails as Lee slams him with one arm. Lee drops an elbow for two then he uses an overhead toss when Thatcher tried for a German suplex. Thatcher cuts off a charge with an uppercut then smashes his head against the ring apron. He now grapevines Lee’s leg and continues to target it before using a reverse chinlock. Lee gets to his feet but Thatcher gets off and hits a few clotheslines then some uppercuts to Lee just gets angry and sends Thatcher across the ring with the Pounce. Both men are down then Thatcher gets up and hits a belly-to-belly before applying the Fujiwara armbar. Lee gets up and hits a side slam that gets two as both men are down on the mat. Thatcher hits an enziguiri then locks on a sleeper. Lee breaks out and they trade strikes until Thatcher gets tossed off Lee’s shoulder and hit with a rolling elbow as Lee falls on top of Thatcher and gets the win (10:48) **3/4. After the match, Darby Allin heads out to the ring. Hathaway screams at him to leave then looks over Thatcher as he apparently wants him okay for their match tomorrow afternoon. Allin helps Thatcher up along with the referees but Thatcher comes through and sees Allin then takes him down and puts on a cross armbreaker. Thatcher is pulled off then yells at Allin to stay away from him.
Thoughts: Solid back-and-forth match but nothing to go out of your way to see and the ending was weak. The post match stuff with Allin wanting to make sure he has Thatcher healthy enough to wrestle tomorrow once again shows his willingness to become a better wrestler by wanting to face opponents at their best.
PROGRESS Atlas Championship Match: Fred Yehi vs. WALTER (c)
WALTER takes Yehi down after a test-of-strength and works the arm. Yehi gets up and takes WALTER down but ends up getting placed on the apron as Yehi is trying to use his amateur ability and speed to counter WALTER’s strength and size. WALTER misses an elbow drop then Yehi stomps his leg and hits a shotgun dropkick for two. Yehi stomps WALTER’s foot several times and hits some chops. Yehi keeps stomping on WALTER’s hands but that just pisses him off as WALTER starts pummeling on Yehi in the corner. They are outside now where WALTER hits some more vicious chops. Yehi fights back and stomps WALTER’s hands on the ring steps but ends up getting dropped on the apron with a back suplex. They head back inside where WALTER chops down Yehi before hitting a gutwrench suplex. Yehi tries to fight back but is knocked down where WALTER almost puts him away with a sit-down splash. Yehi fights back and hits bicycle kicks but WALTER locks on a sleeper. WALTER then hits a pair of suplexes for a two count. Yehi is able to fight back again and hits a pair of double stomps on the back. He then hits a bridging German suplex for two and tries to put on the Koji Clutch but WALTER blocks that then kicks out Yehi’s legs on a rolling elbow attempt. WALTER gets a nearfall with a powerbomb then puts on a choke. They fight up top where Yehi falls in the tree-of-woe but is able to hold himself up and use rapid-fire bicycle kicks. Yehi gets a nearfall with a superplex then flips over for the Koji Clutch as the crowd is cheering for WALTER to tap. WALTER gets out and flattens Yehi with a powerbomb then starts to run wild. He gets two with a clothesline then locks on a sleeper and gets the win (15:07) ***3/4. After the match, WALTER leaves as Yehi gets a nice ovation when he gets to his feet.
Thoughts: By far and away the best match on the show at this point. Both guys looked great as the relentless Yehi was unable to overcome the size and strength of WALTER, who shined in his EVOLVE debut. Yehi is great as an underdog heavyweight and believable enough where you can buy him as a threat whenever he wrestles. WALTER is a guy who will have his stock rise in the USA after this weekend and the PWG BOLA Tournament in a few weeks.
Lio Rush vs. Matt Riddle
Riddle’s WWN Championship is not on the line. Rush gets a nice reaction in his hometown. We get a dueling chant after the bell then both guys feel each other out. Riddle puts on a cross armbreaker as Leonard tells us Rush is looking to “move on” from Independent wrestling. Rush then connects with a leg lariat after a fast-paced reversal sequence but Riddle fights back. He catches a kick and puts Rush in an ankle hold until a rope break occurs. Riddle hits a pair of forearm smashes in the corner then an exploder before getting two with a senton. Riddle hits rolling gutwrenches then kicks Rush around. Rush fights back and starts to fire up but Riddle catches a kick and hits the Bro to Sleep. German suplex gets two as Riddle is frustrated. Rush takes Riddle off of the apron with a kick then takes a breather. Riddle gets back in but Rush hits a Spanish Fly for two. Rush blocks an upkick then hits a super kick but Riddle hits a fisherman buster then rolls through for another one but cannot put him away. Riddle tries a tombstone and its reversed but Riddle reverses and hits it for a one count as Rush fires up. They trade strikes then Rush hits a twisting Unprettier for a two count. They get back up to trade more strikes until Riddle hits a tombstone then puts on the Bromission (10:50) ***.
Thoughts: I thought it was a good match but the ending was abrupt and it certainly did not blow me away or anything. I appreciate Rush getting his moment before heading off to NXT. He was not a major player in EVOLVE but did enough to warrant a proper sendoff.
After the match, we get a handshake then a hug as Riddle lets Rush soak in the cheers from the fans. He leaves but WALTER comes out and stares down Riddle, the man he recently beat for the Atlas Title. WALTER taunts Riddle with the belt as that allows Catchpoint to attack from behind. However, WALTER starts attacking Catchpoint until he gets outnumbered. Lee now comes out and cleans house as Riddle and Williams brawl on the floor. We are left with WALTER and Lee in the ring (both men will be facing off in the 1st Rd. in this year’s PWG Battle of Los Angeles) as the others fight up the ramp. Lee and WALTER stare each other down as WALTER takes off his shirt and Lee follows as WALTER picks up his belt and tells Lee “anytime.” Lee pats the belt but WALTER removes his hand as Lee now wants the mic. He welcomes WALTER to EVOLVE then tells him he’s the “King of the Business” but since he respects a big man like WALTER and there is a big match tomorrow, he’ll let WALTER get his moment now because tomorrow, everyone will bask in his glory. Lee leaves but WALTER extends his hand. Lee turns around as the crowd chants “its a trap.” Lee then eventually shakes his hand as the two leave before the show ends. Great job at building up tomorrow’s WWN Title Fatal Four Way match and heating up the Riddle/Williams feud.
Final Thoughts: There was one match (Yehi vs. WALTER) that I would go out of your way to see but the rest of the action was underwhelming. The middle of the show dragged too. By no means was this a bad show but I’d call it one of the least inspired EVOLVE efforts this year with the highlights being the WALTER vs. Yehi match and the angle to close out the show.
Here is my schedule for the next several days:
Thursday: RF Video Shoot Interview with Simon Gotch
Friday: WWF Saturday Night’s Main Event 4/28/90
Saturday: Mid-South Wrestling 12/16/82
Sunday: WWF Wrestling Challenge 4/29/90
Monday: WWF Madison Square Garden 4/30/90
Tuesday: WWF Superstars of Wrestling 5/5/90
Wednesday: EVOLVE 91 8/12/17