Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Evolve 89 Review

Evolve 89
July 9th, 2017 | Marietta Event Hall in Marietta, Georgia

At Evolve 88, surprising new Tag Team Champions were crowned. Could the Evolve Championship change hands as well when one of the top WWN guys gets a shot at Zack Sabre Jr. This would be Evolve’s first trip to the Atlanta area.

Lenny Leonard did his typical introduction stuff until Darby Allin showed up, demanding Timothy Thatcher right now.

Darby Allin vs. Timothy Thatcher w/ Stokely Hathaway
I don’t know if it’s just FloSlam or what, but the video quality on this show is pretty bad. I stream stuff before and after it and it’s all perfect, except this show. Thatcher applied a sleeper early on and Allin looked out of it. Thatcher walked out, thinking he won, but Allin held his arm up despite looking dazed. Allin came at him with a dive, but once back inside, Thatcher took him to the mat. Allin was as resilient as ever, but made the mistake of trying to strike with Thatcher, who beat his ass. Thatcher turned the beating into a pinning combination, but Allin had his shoulder up. They had to re-position so Thatcher could win at 8:26, but it seemed like he had him down for a seven count or something. No reaction from the crowd for the finish. Good ideas in this match but things like the finish and the crowd, hurt this. [**½]

ACH vs. Ethan Page
The guys were friendly before the match. ACH cut a promo, thinking he would main event against Page, but instead they’re going on second. So, he promised to give number two effort. Before starting, Page said ACH’s promo was bad last night, so he offered to help him with promos if ACH helped him with wrestling since he’s apparently “a bad wrestler.” They proceeded to mock pro wrestling as ACH did a ton of flips for no reasons, while Page threw money at him. They even did a play off the Okada/Omega matches with a ridiculous amount of Rainmaker reversals. ACH eventually won via rollup at 8:01. People will have mixed feelings about this. It was funny and was a surprisingly strong parody of wrestling in 2017. I was entertained, but I could see why some would hate this. [***]

Jason Kincaid vs. Jon Davis
Davis holds the FIP Florida Heritage Title and had a great match with Matt Riddle for the WWN Title a few weeks ago. Kincaid had to utilize his unique offense to combat Davis’ power. Davis took him outside and battered him with strikes, chops and kicks. He had Kincaid’s stuff well scouted, but Kincaid didn’t do enough to change things up in my view. There were some impressive moments, like Kincaid hitting a falcon arrow (HE DID THE DEAL), allowing him to show some strength. Kincaid won with the double stomp at 15:32. It felt like a long fifteen minutes. Davis looked good, but I wasn’t big on Kincaid in this one. It’s a shame because I’ve enjoyed both guys in 2017, they just didn’t click very well together. [**¼]

Keith Lee vs. Tracy Williams w/ Stokely Hathaway
Tracy’s been on a hot streak en route to a showdown with Matt Riddle next month. These two met in a damn good match at Evolve 79. They took it right to one another here, bringing hard hitting offense from the go. Lee’s power was enough to stop a lot of Tracy’s submission attempts. Williams did his best to exchange strikes and showed zero fear (CERO MIEDO) despite the size difference. Their brawl became so intense that the referee’s attempts to keep them out of the corner were futile. They charged at each other and squashed the referee in between them. The fight moved outside and the locker room had to show up to separate them. The match was thrown out around 8:00. Lee took out the locker room with a big dive over the top. This was fun while it lasted. The finish sets up another match at some point, which is fine. [***]

Lee and Thatcher ended up brawling before things calmed down. Stokely got on the microphone and wanted a Tag Team Title rematch. Dickinson called the new champs jobbers. Before the match started, the debuting Ugly Ducklings, Lance Lude and Rob Killjoy, showed up to also accept the open contract.

Evolve Tag Team Championship: Anthony Henry and James Drake (c) vs. Chris Dickinson and Jaka w/ Stokely Hathaway vs. The Ugly Ducklings
There was a third person with the Ugly Ducklings, but I’m unfamiliar with them. This was wild action from start to finish. The crowd was way into the Ducklings, quacking at every chance. Jaka showcased his aerial skills with a dive onto everyone. Dickinson did a more impressive one, but it got less of a pop. Drake and Henry got to showcase their offense a bit more, while the Ducklings were kind of the stars. The former champions took a bit of a backseat until Dickinson busted out a springboard into a Canadian Destroyer. It didn’t come off too well. The Workhorses (Henry and Drake) retained after a Drake moonsault on the Ducklings at 8:14. Great sprint. Lots of wild action, with each team getting their chance to shine. The tag division finally looks to have some direction and intrigue. [***¼]

Austin Theory w/ Priscilla Kelly vs. Trent Beretta
Kelly cut a promo before the match about Austin joining her to avoid being weak like the people in the crowd. This is a rematch from Evolve 87, when Austin lost and turned heel. Wisely, this began with a brawl as Trent had every right to be pissed. His elbow was heavily taped, by the way. They fought in the crowd for a while and once in the ring, Theory took over by attacking the elbow. The crowd was way into this, loving Trent and giving a ton of heat to Theory. Trent refused to die and the crowd even chanted “you can’t beat him” at Theory. After a lot of action, Theory countered a super rana by rolling through it. He hoisted Trent up and hit the TKO to win at 16:06. Really good stuff. Theory is doing very well in his new persona, while Trent continues an impressive 2017. His resilient babyface work is great whether it’s here, PWG, NJPW or anywhere else. [***½]

Evolve Championship: Zack Sabre Jr. (c) vs. Fred Yehi
At Evolve 86, Sabre beat the WWN Champion and here, he took on the FIP Champion. They met back at Evolve 71 (***¾), so I came in excited for this one. The expected tons of mat work opened this and continued throughout. Unfortunately, the crowd seemed to die again during it, meaning a lot of this work was done to silence. It’s a shame, because the exchanges on the mat were good. Sabre brought his aggressive style, and Yehi was able to combat it with his unorthodox offense. He applied the Koji Clutch late and some fans bought that it could be the finish. Sabre managed to counter it into his famous pinning combination to retain at 23:06. A high quality match that just happened in front of the wrong crowd. Put this match in La Boom in Queens and it would’ve gone over better. Plenty of great exchanges and with a better crowd, it would be one of the top Evolve Title matches this year. [***½]

Overall: 6.5/10. Like Evolve 88, this was a solid and consistent event that didn’t have quite enough to stand out as one of the better Evolve shows this year. The final two matches are good, but had things to keep them from being great. The Tag Title match was fun, but a few matches missed the mark. However, there are signs of things moving in the right direction (heel Theory and ACH, the tag division), which is always good.