Friday, June 9, 2017
Evolve 85 Review
Following their best show of the year, Evolve returned with the second half of a weekend double shot. Like the night before, the Evolve and WWN Championships were on the line.
This was billed as a WWN seminar tryout match. Apparently, both men were trained by WWN icon Johnny Gargano and appear in AIW. Garrini wore no shoes and continually went for submissions. Daniels showed a little more versatility in his game. However, it was Garrini who picked up the win with a triangle choke and some elbows at 3:36. It was short, but fun. Garrini fits into Evolve and I can certainly see the Gargano influence in Daniels. I’d like to see more from both and people who impress in these seminars we hear about often.
Catch Point came out and Tracy Williams congratulated Garrini. Stokely said Garrini isn’t marketable and called Catch Point the only stars around. They made Garrini leave, but a fan stole the show by shouting that Stokely was a midget Charles Barkley. Of course, that led to a “Charles Barkley” chant. Jason Kincaid and Austin Theory interrupted, looking for a Tag Team Title shot. Stokely agreed, but wanted more money from Evolve.
The tandem of Kincaid and Theory is an interesting one. Theory has shown a ton of potential and is just nineteen years old. Dirty hippie Kincaid used his unique offense and it made sense here. He wasn’t just doing it to do it, he had to use it to overcome the size disadvantage. Theory played face in peril and the champions had fun throwing him around. Kincaid’s hot tag was fun, but then the math broke down into everything getting their shit in. Though the outcome was obvious, the fans bit on a near fall after Kincaid hit a double stomp. The champs hit the Death Trap shortly after, to retain in 16:25. I thought this was fine. I think Kincaid taking the heat would’ve worked better though. The finishing stretch was fun, but I do think it went too long.
It’s a Shine showcase match! I love me some Priscilla Kelly. This was the first women’s match in Evolve since 2010. They should it more often. It’s a nice way to promote Shine and get variation on the card. Kay dominated early, which made sense since Priscilla is relatively new and Kay is a Shine main eventer. Priscilla went high risk for some hope spots and nailed an impressive code red. Still, Kay put her down with a discus lariat in 5:01. Fine little match here. It went how it should have and I like it since Priscilla has been on Evolve shows lately.
Both men are coming off losses in great matches at Evolve 84. There were some surprisingly fun moments here and some good crowd interactions. Page has portrayed more of a serious heel lately, so seeing him go this route was a nice change of pace. I particularly loved Page taking a phone from a fan to see what was trending and seeing a post that said Dijak was making him look like a good wrestler. He proceeded to stuff the phone in his trunks before handing it back to the fan. With that out of the way, they progressed to a more traditional match and each guy threw some of their best shots at the other. Page hit the Spinning Dwayne to win in 16:06. This was two guys doing their best to entertain the fans and having a fun time. I was very much okay with this and it was different from the rest of the show.
Surprisingly, no Stokely with Tracy here. These guys have similar styles, so this should mesh well. They worked at a much slower pace than the awesome O’Reilly/Riddle match from Evolve 84. O’Reilly focused on the arm, but he didn’t go after Tracy’s taped up arm. You’d think he’d focus on the injury. There was some strong technical wrestling throughout. The crowd kept trying to chant different things, including calling for “Sleazy Kyle”, to get things going. Instead, this seemed to drag on and never fully clicked with me, despite being a fan of both guys and the style. The intensity finally picked up near the end, just before Hot Sauce won with a crossface in 18:22. It felt way longer than it was and didn’t do enough to hold my interest.
I was more excited for this match than any other on Evolve 85. Yehi showed no fear despite a massive size disadvantage. He refused to “bask in Keith’s glory” and had a smart strategy when he hit stomps and strikes on Lee’s foot. Lee shook it off and started to dominate. The crowd ate up everything he did on offense, even though Yehi is a popular guy. Yehi fought back, hitting a top rope suplex and even locking in the Koji Clutch. It was fun watching Yehi utilize his unique offense to combat the size and power of Lee. Still, Lee won with a jackhammer at 18:10. I enjoyed most of what they did, but there are a lot of matches that have gone a bit too long already, so this one dragged at points too.
Post-match, Keith Lee asked the fans which title he should go after, since he now has a shot at the WWN or Evolve, whichever he chooses. They seem to say the Evolve Title, but he tells them to continue telling him on Twitter tonight.
Okay, so Riddle was the most over guy on the show by a fair margin. He and Cobb have recently teamed up in PWG. Right from the start, they showed they knew each other well and both men went to their strengths. Cobb threw Riddle around, while the champion went for several submissions. Riddle started moving to strikes and used them to set up a fisherman buster. Cobb launched him for a huge gutwrench, but Riddle then blocked the Tour of the Islands. He busted out a goddamn Destroyer! I’ve never seen Riddle do that. Cobb kicked out of a Tombstone at one, so Riddle used the Bromission to retain in a short, but eventful 6:21. More of this please! Some would be upset with the length, but it allowed them to go full tilt and it worked very well.
This is a rematch from Evolve 83. In that match, Sabre wisely went after the leg to neutralize Lio’s speed. This time around, Lio had a taped shoulder and Sabre, unlike O’Reilly earlier, targeted it like a shark smelling blood. He just went after it and was in firm control. Rush could only get in a few hope spots, but refused to stay down. Sabre got worried as Rush kept kicking out and bringing more offense down the stretch. The fans believed in a few near falls, which showed they did a great job in investing the audience. The shoulder work came into play in the finish as well, because it was a shoulder submission that made Rush tap at 19:19. I preferred this to their first match because the limb work paid off and was sold better. The crowd was hotter here too. Lio’s so good as the plucky underdog and it worked against the smug champion in similar fashion to his match with Jay Lethal last year.
Keith Lee came out after the match to challenge Zack Sabre Jr. However, Matt Riddle arrived to say his title was superior. That led to Riddle and Sabre having a staredown. Catch Point also came out, before Ethan Page snuck in to hit Lee with a low blow. He took out Sabre with Spinning Dwayne, while Catch Point attacked Riddle. Jason Kincaid saved Riddle from a Hathaway slap and everyone fought outside. Lee got up, alone in the ring, and busted out a tope con hilo! He slid Tracy Williams into a Bro to Sleep. Riddle and Lee agreed on a title match and shook hands. Hot ending to the show.
Overall: A good show from Evolve, but not up to the high standard of Evolve 84. The two main events certainly delivered and did so in different ways. One was an energetic sprint and the other was a great underdog battle. My only gripe with the show was that some of the matches went and felt too long. With shorter matches for Yehi/Lee and Tracy/O’Reilly, this could’ve been nearly as good as Evolve 84.