Sunday, April 23, 2017

Evolve 82 Review

Evolve 82
April 22nd, 2017 | La Boom in Woodside, New York

Another Evolve double shot weekend is upon us. This time, it features the culmination of the Ethan Page/Darby Allin feud, a final appearance by Drew Galloway, the return of Kyle O’Reilly and more. No Lenny Leonard on commentary, so we got the shitty dude from FIP.

WWN Champion Matt Riddle came out to cut a promo. He talked about being the champion of champions and starting things off by beating “trashy” Tim Thatcher, who he’s never beaten.

WWN Championship: Matt Riddle (c) vs. Timothy Thatcher w/ Stokely Hathaway
They grappled from the start, which made sense since it’s what they’re best at. The crowd popped for every advantage Riddle got. They love him and hate Thatcher. Thatcher took control with a crab and gutwrench suplex for a near fall. He worked an armbar into a triangle choke that Riddle powerbombed out of. Even so, Thatcher caught his BIG BOY SENTON into another sleeper. But again, Riddle learned from past matches and found a way free. They continued to counter each other, with Thatcher turning the Bro to Sleep into an armbar, complete with his ugly mug screaming at the camera. Riddle fought, turning it into the Bromission. That move has been built as a big deal and Tim tapped at 10:14. I liked this. It was kept short and physical. It felt like a struggle between two guys who knew he each other well with Riddle finally getting the monkey off his back. [***¼]

Thatcher and Hathaway had an awkward face off after the match. Tim left and Hathaway pitched himself to Riddle. He wanted Matt to do the wrestling and he could market him. Matt said he kicks it with the fans because it’s fun and he does whatever he wants.

ACH vs. Austin Theory
Without a history between them, this was played like a straight match of two guys trying to gain momentum. They worked a fast paced opening until ACH stopped Austin with a kick. ACH revved up the aggression and started hitting some of his signature stuff, including the apron soccer kick. His uranage got two and each time Theory kicked out, he grew more frustrated. As if he felt he should be putting down this rookie easier. Theory showed fire in a comeback attempt, busting out a rolling blockbuster for a near fall. ACH made Mauro Ranallo proud with USHIGOROSHI! They traded stuff down the stretch and Theory came close a few times. They rocked each other with forearms and then ACH hit a brainbuster to take it at 13:41. They told a simple, yet effective story here. ACH grew frustrated at the youngster’s resilience. He had to get more violent to put him down. Theory continues to impress at just 19 years of age. [***½]

Drew Galloway came out for a promo and said he was done with Evolve. He said he gave everything to Evolve but was constantly disrespected. Galloway said he’ll be happy not to return to this shitty nightclub and will burn it to the ground over the next two days. Drew laid out the referee and promised to make Zack Sabre Jr. quit the business. Sabre came out and they began brawling.

Non-Title Match: Drew Galloway vs. Evolve Champion Zack Sabre Jr.
The first few minutes of this brawl went down before the bell rang. To combat Drew’s harder strikes and size, Sabre used the guardrail to get leverage on an octopus hold. Once back inside, Drew went back to work but Sabre fired off European uppercuts. Galloway went for a choke bomb only for Zack to catch him in an armbar. Before Drew could tap, Ethan Page and the Gatekeepers ran out to jump him. Page picked up the Evolve Title and handed it to Drew, who grabbed a sledgehammer. Keith Lee charged out and made the save for the Evolve Title. Sabre grabbed a Gatekeeper and snapped his arm in a strange way, which commentary sold like it was broken. Lee picked up the title and placed it on his shoulder. I can’t really rate this since it wasn’t a match. It was more of an angle. [NR]

Keith Lee vs. Kyle O’Reilly
It’s Kyle’s return to Evolve. I’m much happier having him here than ROH. Kyle played it smart, avoiding Lee’s grasp and kicking at his legs. It reminded me of the first Danielson/Morishima match from ROH. Keith continued to show off his athleticism with a spin kick attempt and leap frogs. Kyle grounded Lee at every chance but then Lee would just throw him like he weighed nothing. It was quite funny watching Kyle latch onto Keith’s leg and be dragged like a child. Though he had a smart game plan, Kyle made his fair share of mistakes. He turned to trying to lift Lee, which consistently failed. Each shot from Lee sent Kyle to the mat but he wouldn’t stop getting up and firing off his own strikes. They fought outside and took out the guardrail with a Kyle knee off the apron. Lee still fired up and came close with a huge spinebuster. They battled up top and Kyle went for a quad kick but missed and kick Lee in the dick, resulting in a DQ at 16:11. Kyle told the ref it was a mistake. Lee took a microphone and didn’t want this to end that way. He called it an accidental kick to the “people’s anaconda.” As soon as the bell rang, Kyle viciously stomped on his head. He got more heat as the match progressed. More came when he interrupted Keith’s “bask in my glory” stuff with a submission. Lee fought out but Kyle finally got him up with a brainbuster to win at 19:44. The crowd booed the result and though I love Kyle, Lee shouldn’t be losing as often as he does. He should’ve beaten Ricochet during Mania weekend for sure. Kyle had a game plan and executed it early but got pulled into trying to one up Lee. Lee has been awesome since arriving in Evolve. I’m a sucker for a good “cut the big man down to size” match. Not a fan of the mid-match DQ stuff though, keeping this from being in great territory. [***¾]

Evolve Tag Team Championship: Fred Yehi and Tracy Williams (c) vs. Chris Dickinson and Jaka
This has been built up for quite some time as Catch Point takes on Catch Point. There’s tension among the champions after Tracy was a dick to Yehi in the WWN Title match. Jaka and Yehi started and they know each other well, so Jaka managed to avoid Yehi’s signature stomps. Tracy and Dickinson went at it as well. Jaka ran wild, so Yehi busted out a top rope stomp on his exposed feet. Even Tracy got involved in the stomping. The referee allowed a lot of leeway, as both teams did a fair amount of tandem offense. The champs applied their signature submission at the same time, then switched opponents and put them back on, which was cool and different. Yehi surprised by kicking out of the death trap. Tracy got tagged and came in hot but got in trouble. Dickinson hit the Pazuzu Bomb at 15:03 to capture the titles. I like Yehi and Williams but am still not sold on Dickinson and Jaka. The match was good and advanced the Catch Point story. I’m intrigued that they haven’t gone with the obvious Dickinson and Jaka turn, instead slow burning what seems to be a Tracy turn. [***]

Post-match, the four men did the Catch Point handshake. Shit stirrer Larry Dallas came out with rumors that Stokely Hathaway is in talks with Tracy Williams to become Catch Point’s agent. Hathaway showed up and told Dallas to shut up. Catch Point is pissed as Tracy and Stokely left. Yehi hit Dallas with a dropkick and German suplex before also taking out Earl Cooter. The crowd wanted more, so Yehi hit two more Germans and another running kick.

Last Man Standing Match: Darby Allin vs. Ethan Page w/ A Gatekeeper
I was surprised this was booked considering their match at Evolve 81 felt like a blowoff. Page brought a shovel out with him. Right from the start, they went to war. Allin showed off his madman tendencies by diving out onto the stage. Page tried taping a chair to Allin’s back but failed at it so he just slammed him onto it. Darby brought out the Coffin Drop with a chair to the outside. At some point, Page got busted open, which made for a cool visual. Allin looked to hurt his leg and slipped off the top, leading to a package piledriver. Paige whacked him with the shovel, which cut Allin’s arm badly. After the show, it was tweeted that Allin went to the hospital and wouldn’t be doing matches like this going forward. Not content, Page got thumbtacks, put them in the body bag with Allin and zipped it up. He rolled him around and then powerbombed the body bag! Still not done, Page unzipped the bag to show Allin’s cuts. Austin Theory ran out for the save but the Gatekeeper battled him. Priscilla Kelly came out, looking hot as hell, and distracted Page. It went nowhere as Page just tossed Allin into her. He powerbombed Allin onto an open chair, had a bunch of chairs thrown in the ring and hit the spinning Dwayne. Page buried Allin with the chairs and tossed Kelly and Theory onto him, finally winning at 18:48. I liked this match but nowhere near as much as their Evolve 81 outing. The run-ins near the end were kind of odd since the Kelly/Allin/Theory group has never been explained. They did their best to one up the violence factor and accomplished it at parts. [***¼]

Overall: 7/10. Another good effort from Evolve. As usual, there was nothing bad on the card, though this show was missing something to make it great. Every match gets at least three stars. There’s good tag wrestling, a violent brawl, grappling and some good storytelling throughout. Evolve also managed to advance several angles, from the Catch Point stuff to Drew McIntyre’s farewell.