The show begins just a few minutes after our scheduled bell time with Lenny Leonard and “Hardcore Giant” Ron Niemi in the ring to welcome us to the show. Lenny hypes up our main event and gives us some late-breaking news that DJ Z has earned an Evolve World Championship match. Ron talks the crowd up and we get right into the action!
Jaka vs. Saieve Al Sabah
Jaka on the offense early, trying to suffocate Al Sabah on the mat and bowl him over with power in turn. Arm drags into an armbar from Saieve, but the Smooth Savage backs him into a corner and hammers him with punches. Fast-paced jockeying for position, Jaka cracks him across the face with a pair of back elbows and sidesteps a dropkick, capitalized with multiple elbow drops.
Al Sabah gets a neckbreaker over the ropes, a diving lariat, only good for two but he’s rolling! Jaka cuts him off with a short-arm Hot Shot and presses the attack, literally stepping on the back of the man’s neck. Big slaps in the corner, whip across, spinning wheel kick in the corner, exploder, but none of it can put Saieve away! Grinding him down with a rear chinlock, dropping him with a DDT, but Sabah refuses to fall.
The Smooth Savage tearing at his face, disdainful slaps to the back of the head, drawing him up for uppercuts, Sabah practically out on his feet but he manages to hang onto the ropes and low-bridge Jaka to the floor! Off the ropes, he slides under Jaka, trips him into the apron, pops back up... MOONSAULT TO THE FLOOR! Back in the ring, perched up high... CORKSCREW DIVING LARIAT FOR TWO!
Big slaps, Jaka back in control, T’Challa ducked and Saieve gets a straight suplex off! Off the ropes, corkscrew elbow drop... NOPE! Whip across, Shotei from Jaka into a strike combo, Jaka Bomb countered, Sabah rolls through into a pin but can’t put him away! Superkick from the Smooth Savage can’t do it either! PEPSI TWIST! STILL NO! Lying in wait as Saieve rises, Jaka Bomb dodged again and Al Sabah pops up on the German suplex that follows!
Caught with the spinning wheel kick, just two, Jaka sets him up top and climbs to meet him. Shoved down, Saieve leaps over him, charges in, caught up in the corner, turning somersault leg drop gets another two! Following it up...
Saieve Al Sabah wins by pinfall with a blockbuster.
Really fun opener. Not everything he does is the most crisp execution possible, but there’s something about Al Sabah where he makes it feel like when something goes wrong it’s not “oh, this goofy high flying wrestling move didn’t happen the way it was supposed to” but rather “oh, man, this man in a legitimate fight and he didn’t get all he wanted of that” and that’s magic. Good stuff.
Stokely Hathaway gets on the mic to berate Jaka and says he’s not going to lose his career in a place as filthy as Livonia, Michigan.
Bryan Idol vs. Darby Allin
Idol from behind at the bell and pressing the attack on the floor! Back in the ring, Allin gets a small package for one, Bryan reverses to a brainbuster over the knee, half nelson knee lifts, a butterfly suplex, but Darby manages to get him out of the ring and dives on him! Cut off on his return, Idol wrenches his arm through the ropes and jacks his neck against the top before spearing him through the ropes!
Smashing his face into the apron, Bryan takes things back inside, back suplex dropped into an Ace Crusher... NOPE! Setting him up top, Allin fends him off, Coffin Drop, pick the legs...
Darby Allin wins by pinfall with the Last Supper.
Short and sweet, this did what it needed to do, following up on Darby’s victory over Riddle while establishing that he can still be nearly overwhelmed if he’s not prepared for a big fight.
Jon Davis vs. Josh Briggs
Briggs right in with a pump kick and a gutbuster, off the ropes, Mafia kick, only a one count! Whip across, charging back elbow, Davis shoves him away and gets a HUGE spinebuster off for a nearfall of his own! Clubbing away in the corner, he dumps Josh to the floor and stalks around the ringside area after him but Briggs gets back in the ring and cuts Jon off with a boot.
Dumped to the apron again, block a forearm, smash Davis’ face into the buckle but Briggs takes a nasty spill on the apron thanks to a lariat! To the floor, Jon throwing chops, Josh returns in kind but Davis has the last laugh with a back suplex into the apron! Back in the ring, kicks to the back, Briggs fires back with forearms and gets a leaping lariat off the ropes!
Corner uppercut, Davis cuts the “I don’t like you!” kick off but Josh is able to score an uppercut all the same and get another nearfall. Jockeying for position in the middle of the ring, huge Blue Thunder Driver from Jon... NOPE! Struggling on the apron, Davis cracks him in the face and scolds him like a naughty dog but Briggs blocks whatever he’s planned and slams him into the apron!
Back inside, Josh heads up top, diving splash... NOT ENOUGH! Drawing him up, Jon is spent and stumbles back to the ground but has the werewithal to kick at him from the mat! Back on his feet, Briggs ducks a lariat, they struggle, swinging backbreaker into the reverse STO... NOPE! Davis with a German suplex but Josh rolls to the floor to avoid the pin!
Slugging it out on the floor, they fight deep into the floor, by the merch table and the referee decides he’s had enough...
The match goes to a double disqualification due to referee discretion.
Hey, our new countout rule finally came into play! Anyway, this was a real fun HOSS FIGHT, just two big sweaty dudes clubbing the crap out of each other, doing power moves, and tossing in the occasional bit of insane athleticism. Good stuff.
The brawl continues and officials take Briggs out the side door in an effort to separate them!
Anthony Henry vs. WALTER
Henry offers a handshake and WALTER kicks his hand away! Charging in with a kick and the Ring General throws him aside! Looking to shoot low, intense mat grappling and WALTER just cold HOSSES him over the ropes and onto the apron! Back inside, new strategy, Anthony throwing hamstring kicks but the Austrian catches his boot and is only stopped from applying the Boston Crab by the proximity of the ropes.
Arm wringer into an elevated wristlock, WALTER steps on Henry’s head repeatedlybut the Lethal Lover throws overhand chops in return! Guillotine choke in the ropes, referee Brandon Tolle orders him to back off and WALTER changes tactics, haard whip, up and over, Anthony tries a crossbody, gets caught, floats over and nails a series of hamstring kicks!
Slide low, enzuigiri ducked, jockeying for position over a waistlock, off the ropes, WALTER lays him out with a boot! Stepping on his face, Henry tries to fight back in with another hamstring kick but gets his block knocked off with a slap to the face! Twisting stomp to the face, but the Lethal Lover keeps it together, more leg kicks only to get shoved to the mat and put in the Boston Crab!
Henry posts on his hands and crawls for the ropes and the break! Again stepping on his face, following it up with his first chop of the match and the action spills to the floor. WALTER with a boot, back suplex into the apron, but when he tries to come back into the ring, Henry gets a dragon screw and follows with a dive! WALTER CATCHES HIM AND CHOPS HIM TO THE FLOOR!
Throwing Anthony about into the third row, clubbing his back, the Ring General sets a pair of chairs up and goes for the powerbomb but Henry blocks and stomps his chest in! Perching up top, missile dropkick into a kip-up and WALTER returns right away with the shotgun dropkick! Another dragon screw, hamstring kicks, WALTER with a cracking elbow, off the ropes, duck a lariat, dropkick takes the Austrian’s knee out!
Off the ropes, Penalty Kick into a double stomp, figure four leglock is applied! Kicking at the knee after the break, ducking chops, Gojira Clutch, in the ropes, WALTER pulls him back, true uranage... NOPE! Vertical drop brainbuster, shades of his trainer Tomohiro Ishii... STILL NO! Some trash talk from Henry, WALTER chops him in his damned face!
Full of steely resove, Anthony takes two more and brawls the crap out of him! Up for the powerbomb, Henry reverses... YOSHI TONIC! THE CROWD IS ELECTRIC BUT THE MATCH IS NOT OVER! Into the corner, throwing kicks, diving double stomp into a schoolboy... NO! Figure four the legs, WALTER counters...
WALTER wins by pinfall with a small package, countering a figure four leglock.
Excellent match. Henry spending the whole match picking away at the legs, trying to avoid being completely overwhelmed by WALTER’s strength advantage and nearly managing to put him away... just beautifully structured and well executed. A great counterpoint to Drake’s match against WALTER yesterday, to boot.
Post-match, Henry offers the handshake again, WALTER accepts... AND CHOKES HIM OUT WITH THE GOJIRA CLUTCH ANYWAY! JD DRAKE MAKES THE SAVE! HUGE LARIAT RUNS THE RING GENERAL OFF!
JD gets on the mic and tells WALTER he sure likes to take shots when folks aren’t looking and challenges him to another match right now! But if he doesn’t want to, he knows there’s a man in the back ready for him and he wants to beat the hell out of Matt Riddle right now!
JD Drake vs. Matt Riddle
Jawing, Drake throws the first chop, Riddle returns in kind and we’ve got a slugfest on our hands! Full-on rush from the King of Bros, knee in the corner, charging forearms, piefacing the New Age Enforcer and JD gets a lariat off to end the sequence! Matt rolls to the floor, Drake follows and kicks at him, striking against the apron, Riddle returns a pump kick, chest kicks on the apron but JD catches the finish and hits his pop-up haymaker!
Big sentons from the big man, only two, Riddle with palm stikes, Drake catches him with an exploder suplex, again just a two count. Huge knees to the ribs, stepping on his neck, the King of Bros hits a slap rush, Pele kick, the fisherman buster into a small package... NOPE! High jump senton, to the second, diving senton, more sentons, maybe five or so in total but JD won’t stay down!
Hard overhand chops in the corner, into the ropes, Drake fights back, knee lift and a sliding lariat only get two! Bro 2 Sleep, German suplex,the New Age Enforcer rises and throws machine gun chops in the ropes! Belly-to-belly suplex, it’s Riddle’s turn to rise, jumping knee strike, Drake off the second with a leg lariat... NOPE! Backslide, Riddle slips out, powerbomb into the knee strike... NOPE!
Stern resolve fills JD’s face, the King of Bros with a pair of sentons as Drake rises, floats over, Bro lands on his feet off a German suplex, Matt hosses him up... TOMBSTONE PILEDRIVER CANNOT PUT JAMES DAMN DRAKE AWAY! Stomps and kicks against the ropes, Riddle starting to get frustrated and they move into exchanging cold hard slaps to the face!
Slap rush into a roundhouse kick, Matt has Drake staggered but the New Age Enforcer manages to find enough gas for a roundhouse kick to even the score. Block the single leg... MY GOD BIG BOY FLIP PILEDRIVER JAMES DRAKE! CANNONBALL IN THE CORNER, HEADED UP TOP! MOONSAULT CAN’T QUITE FINISH MATT RIDDLE! HEADED BACK UP, ANOTHER MOONSAULT... STILL NO?!
One more try, Riddle gets up and cuts him off, in powerbomb position... BIG BOY FRANKENSTEINER! Running knee from the King of Bros, Drake on his knees, he catches a second knee strike and hits one of his own! Powerbomb into the knee into... STYLES CLASH! RIDDLE KICKS OUT AT THE LAST POSSIBLE SECOND! Matt fighting from guard, the New Age Enforcer with clubbing hammerfists, Riddle struggling but he gets the Bromission on!
Slaps to the ribs, Drake fades... IT’S OVER!
Matt Riddle wins by referee stoppage with the Bromission.
Two for two on incredible matches from WorkHorsemen tonight! An interesting mirror to Henry/WALTER with a similar “smaller grapplier guy vs. bigger more powerful guy” vibe, but here it was straight-up shot for shot violence, no fighting from underneath. Beautiful.
DJ Z vs. Shane Strickland (c) (Evolve World Championship)
Strickland reminds him that this is his house before they get into the grappling, trading advantage back and forth, trying to suss out weak spots in each other. From there into the lucha libre, turning the heat up, jawbreaker from DJ, air horn, springboard back elbow and he’s rolling! Shoulder thrust, springboard arm drag into a cradle, only two!
Jockeying for position, Zema with a stepover armlock, rolling it into an omoplata, folding the free arm before his back and leaning back for pressure. Letting go of the free arm, turning it into an armtrap cloverleaf, into a deathlock before Swerve escapes and cracks him in the face with an uppercut. Back elbow, Ion gets a powerbomb out of the corner and rolls through... but Shane rolls to the floor.
Baseball slide, DJ off the ropes, fakeout in the ropes, to the apron, suicide dive through the corner! Fighting on the floor, Zema hits a crossbody into the seating, he tries to take things back inside but Strickland rolls out. Ready to counter the slide, trapping DJ in the ring skirt and he takes his head off with a kick! Back inside, cover gets two, half nelson top wristlock applied, crossface strikes, tearing at his face and following it up with a big stomp.
Facewash, pull-up back suplex out of the corner, again just two. Japanese stranglehold applied, reversed, another set of tight exchanges and both men end up down and out. Off the ropes, big lariat for Zema, back elbow, quebrada... NOPE! Huge slingshot inverted DDT still can’t do it! Up top, diving crossbody countered into a gutbuster! Kick exchange, Ace Crusher countered, pin comes up empty and DJ has an arm-trap Fujiwara armbar on!
Rolling through, shifting to a grounded octopus hold, Swerve rolls through himself and rises to his feet, huge discus lariat! Pop-up electric chair... COUNTERED TO THE POISON FRANKENSTEINER! ZDT... STRICKLAND’S FOOT IS ON THE ROPES! DJ stepping on his foot, putting him into the corner for strikes, shoulder thrusts, but Shane catches him with a kick to the legs and a knee on the charge.
Up top, Zema cuts him off, jockeying for position in the corner, Swerve gets a fireman’s carry... DJ REVERSES TO AN AVALANCHE FRANKENSTEINER! ZDT COUNTERED INTO AN ARMBAR! Reaching out, referee does the arm test... AND ION GETS THE ROPES! To the apron, struggling, Shane floats over a fireman’s carry, right hand, a kick, DJ hanging off the apron... SWERVE STOMP TO THE FLOOR!
Back in, up top, another Swerve Stomp... DJZ FINDS THE WILL TO KICK OUT! Looking to set the Ode to Jim Breaks up, stomping away... HE BROKE ZEMA’S DAMN ARM! Short armscissors applied, repeated stomps...
Shane Strickland wins by referee stoppage with a short armscissors and repeated stomps to the ribs to retain the Evolve World Championship.
Really good match, Swerve making it clear that as champion he’ll fight fair... until it looks like you might be putting something together, and then it’s time to break your arm and finish things early.
Darby Allin makes his way to the ring before our three-way for the WWN Championship and gets on the mic and says he wasn’t going to sit in the back and accept going on second, he’s here to win championships, and he asks Joey Janela to make it a four-way. Joey says he earns his respect every time he gets in the ring, so he’s in the match!
AR Fox vs. Austin Theory vs. Darby Allin vs. Joey Janela (c) (WWN Championship)
Janela dives on Theory, Allin dives on them, and Fox dives on them all! Joey back in, up top... SENTON ATOMICO TO THE FLOOR! DARBY WITH THE COFFIN DROP! AR OVER THE RINGPOST TOPE CON GIRO! Fox and Janela the first back in the ring, AR with a pump kick before rolling Joey into the turnbuckles. Back suplex, land on his feet, Darby sunset flips in and assists a German suplex only to get tossing Thunder Fire Powerbombed by Austin!
Janela striking Theory, Fox gets into it with Austin but he can’t bring himself to take his student out at first and dives on Joey! Darby with an O’Connor roll into a tornillo, no good, jockeying for position with Fox, springboard arm drag, Janela with a superkick, Allin hits a Yoshi Tonic on him... NO GOOD! Up top, Theory cuts him off, Argentine backbreaker rack... AVALANCHE ARGENTINE POWERBOMB, FOX HITS A 450 SPLASH ON JANELA AT THE SAME TIME AND AUSTIN PICKS THE BONES... NO!
Trading shots on the apron, fireman’s carry, AR with a tope con giro over them to take Allin out and Janela drops Austin with the Death Valley Driver on the apron! Fox with the cannonball off the apron, back in, rolling thunder, Joey counters with the package piledriver but can’t put him away! Priscilla Kelly and Penelope Ford get into it at ringside, brawling in the front row!
Here comes Ayla Fox... SUICIDE DIVE! Janela in the ring, Fox hits a springboard Ace Crusher, Darby with a dropkick, Theory’s back in and TPK shields him. Allin shoves her aside, Austin takes advantage, buckle bomb but Darby’s got gas in the tank, standing Diamond Dust! Rolling elbow from Joey, setting him up top but Fox hits Meteora! Springboard Spider German suplex!
Theory hits Ataxia... FOX BLOCKS THE PIN! Scolding his student, Austin begs off but AR’s had enough and destroys him with kicks! Foxcatcher! IT’S OVER!
AR Fox wins by pinfall with Foxcatcher on Austin Theory, but Joey Janela is still WWN Champion since he wasn’t involved in the finish.
Holy crap what an intense fast-paced match! Nonstop action in the classical Dragon Gate USA style, great stuff. And now Fox/Theory is poised to kick off with some real heat to it, to boot.
Post-match, Theory attacks Fox until the Skulk run him off!
Chris Dickinson & Stokely Hathaway vs. “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams (“I Quit” Career vs. Career Handicap Match)
Dickinson and Williams brawling away with Stokely hanging back at ringside! Chris hammering away at the bad eye as they club at each other and Hathaway comes in to hold Tracy’s leg and cut him off. Heading to the back for some kinda plunder while the Dirty Daddy steps on Hot Sauce’s head, Stoke returns with a table in hand and sets it up on the floor.
Chris well in charge, alternating between straight-up pummeling and tearing at the eye, suplexing him up top. Jockeying for position, Tracy knocks him down and Dominic Garrini runs in for the assist but he can’t get the superplex either! A PUNCH SENDS DOM OFF THE SECOND ROPE AND THROUGH THE TABLE! Dickinson charging in... SUPERPLEX! Hathaway provides a chair and Chris waffles Hot Sauce in the back but he won’t quit!
Tearing at the eye, still he won’t quit! Kicks in the corner, holding the chair over the injured eye... DROPKICK FROM STOKELY THROUGH THE CHAIR! Stepping on his eye, again with the chair and the dropkick! A pump kick, chair to the midsection, Hathaway has a chair of his own now and they clobber Williams together. Stoke holding the chair in place this time, big hesitation dropkick from the Dirty Daddy!
Still no quit in Hot Sauce, he’s got the chair and cracks it across Dickinson’s back a few times but Hathaway’s got a ladder! Tracy with a chair-assisted stepover toehold, enough to make Chris scream but not to quit. Wedging a chair into the turnbuckles, but he turns around into a low blow from Dickinson! Stoke passes the ladder into the ring and Chris leans it edge-up in the corner.
Clubbing and tearing the eye again, but Hot Sauce escapes whatever they’ve planned... DEATH VALLEY DRIVER INTO THE LADDER! CROSSFACE APPLIED BUT STOKE HAS A SCREWDRIVER! TRACY CATCHES HIS HAND AND TAKES IT FROM HIM BUT CHRIS WAFFLES A CHAIR ACROSS HIS BACK AND SAVES HIS MANAGER! Deathlock bow-and-arrow... HATHAWAY’S TEARING AT THE EYE BUT HE WON’T QUIT!
Dream Team wedging a chair in the corner, but Hot Sauce puts Dickinson into it! He blocks another stabbing and gets Stoke in the crossface... JAKA MAKES THE SAVE! He sets up two chairs and clubs away at Tracy, setting him up top but Williams blocks the superplex and hits the half-halch DDT into the turnbuckle! Holding on... HALF-HALCH SUPLEX THROUGH THE CHAIRS!
Dickinson recovers just as Tracy is about to lay hands on Hathaway and hits a half nelson suplex! He sends Stoke to the floor for more goods and tries to jam the leg of a chair into Hot Sauce’s eye! Hathaway gets another table and they bring it into the ring. Williams puts hands on Stokely and gets smashed in the eye with a chair but will not quit! They set the table up and bridge the ladder between it and the turnbuckles!
Up for the Pazuzu Bomb... Hot Sauce slips out! Back elbow, front elbow for Hathaway, charging in... BACK BODY DROP PUTS TRACY INTO THE LADDER BUT HELL NO HE WON’T GIVE UP! Dickinson hits him with the ladder a few times and climbs on the table with him but Williams hits a low blow... SITOUT PILEDRIVER THROUGH THE TABLE! DICKINSON’S BEEN NEUTRALIZED!
Hot Sauce retrieves a sock full of something and dumps it out in the middle of the ring... OH IT’S TACKS! Big Stoke is cowering in the crowd as Tracy drags Chris back inside and he returns with the screwdriver! Hot Sauce gets a sleeper hold on him! Bodyscissors applied, but Hathaway falls back and Tracy falls in the tacks! Evil intentions on his face with the screwdriver... BUT HOT SAUCE HAS LIFE LEFT IN HIM!
THE SLEEPER HOLD IS REAPPLIED! STOKE QUITS! IT’S OVER!
”Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams wins when Stokely Hathaway quits in a sleeper hold.
Brutal, violent, but surprisingly light on eye-stabbing, this was a pitch-perfect end to this story. I do think the No Holds Barred Williams and Dickinson had last week was a smidge better in an objective sense, but regardless, this was quite excellent in its own right. Especially the finish, which was a brilliant piece of work that made Stoke look canny as hell but Hot Sauce out to be inexorably driven.
Dickinson makes like he’s comforting a dejected Hathaway only to deck him! Stokely gets in the ring and stumbles before getting on the mic. He says the crowd was right, he did have it coming. He’s been at Evolve for two and a half years, but it’s been some of the best two and a half years of his life. He’ll make it as brief as possible, but when you’re a manager, it’s difficult to find a spot in pro wrestling, but Evolve gave him an opportunity when no one else would.
His relationship with WWN has come to a close, he loves Gabe and Sal but his relationship with the company has come to an end and he had to go. He says he loves every one of us and thanks us for the opportunity.
A hell of a finish to Evolve’s two week, four date August tour. Match-wise, Henry/WALTER and Drake/Riddle were clearly on top of the mountain and two of the most compelling matches I’ve seen anywhere this month, but the WWN Championship four-way and the main event weren’t far behind, either.
And storyline-wise, well, the big beat is that we say goodbye to an absolute legend. Mr. Hathaway, from your debut managing TJ Perkins through to taking Timothy Thatcher under your wing at the nadir of his title reign, through to buying out Catch Point and this blood feud against Hot Sauce, you’ve never been anything but an absolute asset and a high point on any Evolve show you’ve been on. Thank you, and see you later, sir.
Plus, Fox and Theory’s feud is really getting going, Saieve Al Sabah picked up a huge win over one half of the tag champions, and in victory, Tracy has earned a title shot of his choosing which, based on last week’s events, would seem to indicate that he’s going to cash it in on Shane Strickland ASAP.
And one more thought— Matt Riddle ending a weekend that many expected might be his last on the indies with a big victory, commentary talking about him wanting to get back into the title scene, and no farewell speech is, well, it’s interesting, isn’t it?
Check the VOD out when it hits Club WWN, folks.