Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Evolve 83 Review

Evolve 83
April 23rd, 2017 | St. Finbar Catholic Church Gymnasium

Due to an injury suffered in the main event of Evolve 82, Darby Allin is off the card. He’s replaced by David Starr.

Austin Theory vs. Ethan Page w/ Gatekeeper McMassive
Theory interfered on Allin’s behalf in the main event last night against Page. He took out the Gatekeeper early but still ended up in trouble. As Page wore him down, he talked trash to Zack Sabre Jr., telling him Evolve is his company. Priscilla Kelly came to the ring to get a closer look. Theory got a few hope spots in but Page kept control. The fans gave “we want Darby/no we don’t” chants. Theory managed a standing SSP for a near fall but then rolled into the Spinning Dwayne, ending things at 7:33. Fine little opener. Theory got to look good against a top guy, while Page won heading into an upcoming Evolve Title match. [**½]

Stokely Hathaway and Tracy Williams came out. Tracy said managing isn’t his job and it’s time Catch Point got one. Hathaway now officially represents the group, including Matt Riddle. Chris Dickinson, Jaka and Fred Yehi showed up. Yehi said Tracy lost his way and quit the group. The Tag Champions agreed to stick around if it was still about competition. I’m all for Yehi being on his own.

Chris Dickinson w/ Jaka vs. Tracy Williams w/ Stokely Hathaway
This is a friendly Catch Point exhibition. They worked a clean opening until Dickinson got a bit aggressive with a big clothesline. Tracy’s strategy was to go after anything that could weaken his stronger opponent. The arm, the leg or whatever he could get a hold of. They traded more offense, with Williams hitting a brainbuster and buckle DDT and Dickinson hitting a falcon arrow. HE DID THE DEAL! The two went into a forearm battle that Dickinson won. He tried a springboard clothesline but Tracy caught him in the crossface and made him tap out at 10:39. I liked the small touches throughout of Tracy doing a few underhanded things to gain advantages. His heel turn is being handled well. This was a good back and forth match. [***]

ACH vs. Jaka w/ Catch Point
Jaka got on the microphone and called out his opponent to start their match now. I don’t care much for Dickinson, but Jaka has impressed me in short stints. Their early exchanges saw them fight to a stalemate, with each guy having counters for the other. They continued to play up Jaka’s tolerance for pain. Chops, strikes and especially shots to the head don’t seem to bother him much. The frustration we saw from ACH at Evolve 82 spilled over, with him going quite low on a kick. To combat Jaka’s aggressiveness, ACH used his athleticism. Like last night, every ACH near fall seems to get to him. The finish came from out of nowhere, with Jaka hitting a tiger drive to take it at 13:26. A rather surprising result but one I like. At least one tag champ won and it keeps ACH frustrated. The match was better than expected and both guys have been welcome additions to Evolve. [***]

David Starr vs. Keith Lee
Starr is not an Evolve regular, last competing on Evolve 69. Starr used his speed early only to run into an apron bomb within minutes. Back inside, Starr fired up and ran off a series of forearms to try and wear Lee down. That plan wasn’t working well for Kyle O’Reilly at Evolve 82. He made similar mistakes when trying to suplex Lee. It led to Starr taking a MASSIVE bump on a uranage. Starr knocked him down with a big lariat following a great DDT. The fans were way into Starr. He pulled out a destroyer for a near fall before Lee busted out a goddamn flying headscissors! Lee went into a flurry and won with a jackhammer at 8:50. I liked this sprint and it could go a long way towards getting Starr a more permanent spot with Evolve. Lee got to be dominant enough in a needed win after losses to Ricochet and O’Reilly. [***¼]

Fred Yehi vs. Kyle O’Reilly
Once it was announced Kyle would return to Evolve (last night was his first show since Evolve 6), a match with Fred Yehi was the one I wanted to see most. As expected, we were treated to some grappling exchanges to start. Kyle went after the arm, while Yehi brought his unique offense to an attack on the knee. In between the mat work, they brought both kicks and strikes. Kyle wanted the arm so badly he shrugged off Yehi forearms to continue the work on it. Yehi retaliated with his signature stomp and a figure four. Each time Kyle seemed to get something going, Yehi went back to the leg with things like a dragon screw or a basement dropkick. Kyle sold the legs to the point where he fell trying to hit the ropes. As this neared its conclusion, both men showed exhaustion. They countered one another and fought off signature moves. Both men paid attention to detail in their moves. Yehi delivered knee strikes to avoid a Kyle submission but took a brainbuster. When that got a near fall, Kyle transitioned to Armageddon and won via submission at 20:36. My kind of match. They blended striking with submissions well and both men sold their asses off. I loved how they made sure to do all the little things to add something to this. The match of the weekend. [****]

Evolve Championship: Zack Sabre Jr. (c) vs. Lio Rush
Simple setup here where Rush asked for a shot and Sabre, impressed by him, accepted. Knowing that Lio’s much faster, Sabre look to take out the legs. Lio would try to utilize it and Sabre would just wrap him up. He’d go for a kick and Sabre would catch it. The more aggressive Sabre we’ve seen in other companies (RevPro, NJPW) was eminent here as he fired off hard uppercuts and kicks in between torturing Lio’s legs. Everything was going fine until Lio started his comeback. He didn’t sell the leg. He didn’t struggle to hit his stuff, shake his leg out or anything. Lio had his first frog splash caught into a triangle choke, but escaped. His next flurry saw him hit a Spanish fly and succeed with the frog splash for two. After a battle of strikes, Sabre countered a kick into the prawn hold for the three count at 19:10. With better selling in the second half from Rush, this could’ve been great. Without it, it just remains a good title match. Rush’s resiliency was played well and Sabre continues to find ways to win.[***¼]

After the match, Ethan Page came out and ran down Sabre for ending the career of one of his Gatekeepers. Page fired the Gatekeeper and brought out a new one, who attacked Sabre. He and McMassive laid the Evolve Champion out.

WWN Championship I Quit Match: Matt Riddle (c) vs. Drew Galloway
Commentary hyped how WWN spent years building their brand and if Galloway wins, he could take their title to NXT. That begs the question, why change it to a title match before the show started? They came out of the blocks firing away on one another. Like their Mania weekend outing, Galloway overwhelmed Riddle to take control. He kept the focus on Riddle’s neck, which was good. They used some creative spots including Galloway using the turnbuckles for leverage on a submission and instead of quitting to the Bromission, Galloway took the microphone and blasted Riddle in the head. Galloway tied Riddle up at one point and the referee untied him. I don’t know if that was meant to play into Galloway’s conspiracy theories that Evolve was out to get him. It should’ve been clearer. Galloway got a sledgehammer, which led to Riddle saying, “You ain’t Triple H, bro.” When Riddle refused to quit, Drew argued with the referee. That gave Matt the opening for the Bromission and Galloway quit at 17:37. I felt this needed to be shorter. With the way Galloway dominated Riddle during Mania weekend, a turnabout for Riddle would’ve been cool. The finish fell flat and some of what they did was awkward but there were also good ideas in there. [***]

Post-match, Stokely Hathaway and Catch Point came out to make their deal official but Riddle declined. Galloway attacked and Catch Point left their former brother behind. Keith Lee ran out to make the save. Galloway bailed and Riddle nailed Hathaway with a Bro to Sleep. Lee picked up the WWN Title, put it on Matt’s shoulder and let him know he was coming. They fist bumped to end things.

Overall: 7/10. This show had a higher ceiling than Evolve 82 but also a lower floor. As usual with Evolve, most of the card was good. The two title matches, Starr/Lee and the two matches involving the Tag Team Champions were all solid. Yehi/O’Reilly was certainly worth going out of your way to see. I also liked how Evolve advanced some storylines like ACH’s frustrations, the Catch Point stuff and Lee looking for a title shot.

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