The show starts about fifteen minutes after the scheduled bell time with Lenny Leonard in the ring to welcome us to the show.
Adrian Jaoude vs. Josh Briggs
Briggs in hot but Jaoude’s got his wits about him and keeps his distance before shooting in for a kneebar and forcing Josh to the ropes. Adrian dodging, Briggs lays him out with a boot and goes to town but Jaoude is able to use the injured hip as a lever to come back with a series of hard strikes. Mounted punches, wristlock roll-through into a kick to the face, into a keylock, working Josh’s arm and hand over and really ruining his night here.
Cutthroat choke, grounding the big man but he’s able to come back by using his body as a battering ram! The Mafia kick, but a trip to the floor proves a bad idea for both men. Briggs gets the worst of it, hip clearly still bothering him after he gets hung up on the barricade... AUSTIN THEORY NAILS HIM WITH A CRUTCH BUT REFEREE JEFF BUNDY DIDN’T SEE IT!
Bundy checks on Briggs and somehow the big man makes it back in the ring on one leg. Jaoude going for a suplex, Josh shrugs him off and then kicks out of a reverse roundhouse to boot! Adrian follows it up...
Adrian Jaoude wins by submission with the cross heel hook.
Fun opener! Nicely played power vs. grappler match that pivoted around Josh’s injury in a kinda obvious but really well-executed way. Bit shocked by the Jaoude win but Theory’s interference made it make sense.
Post-match, Theory hits the ring and beats Briggs down... SPYDER NATE WEBB MAKES THE SAVE! He runs Austin off before helping Josh to his feet and embracing the big man before calling Theory out again. Referees block the door to backstage and escort Spyder out of the arena.
Liam Gray vs. Steven Pena
Pena aggressive and toying with Gray in the early goings but Liam asserts himself with a bit of classical mat grappling. Turning up the heat, faster exchanges, into strikes and Steve hits hard, particularly with a wicked northern lariat! Back and forth, tight nearfall off a small package, Gray follows it up with a really cool pumphandle straight suplex, a plancha that really nails him, diving crossbody... ONLY TWO!
Superkick sets him back up but he misses the frog splash and Pena German suplexes him hard into the turnbuckles...
Steven Pena wins by pinfall with a sitout powerbomb.
This was really good-- pretty standard “young guys feeling out” stuff early but it really ramped up well and the finishing stretch brought my attention back in despite drifting for reasons having nothing to do with the show.
Post-match, AR Fox gets on the mic and talks about how the Skulk is in a slump, especially Adrian Alanis, and he’s got a challenge for him...
Adrian Alanis vs. Babatunde
Alanis trying to bring it to Babatunde right off, big enzuigiri, discus lariat but the giant shrugs it off! Babatunde gets hands on him, big chops, turning it up with an elbow drop, off the ropes again...
Babatunde wins by pinfall with a big splash.
Nothing too special here, just a well-executed squash. Although I’d like to shout the low angle Babatunde attacks the ropes at-- such a big guy hitting them such that he’s almost equally hitting the second rope as the top really imparts some deadly-looking momentum and I’m into it.
Anthony Greene vs. Stephen Wolf
Grappling early, Greene having a bit of fun with a full nelson, a bit of “Hey! Ho!” but Wolf makes him take him seriously. Shifting gears, Anthony starts blasting him with chops so Stephen comes at him with the high flying in return, big slingshot stomp in the corner... NOPE! AG with a series of fakeouts, playing two steps ahead, he gets a really slick snap Flowsion at one point, all the while peppering Wolf with chops.
Stephen finally gets a dropkick off to turn the tide, and a wicked knee nearly wins it! Jockeying for position, Greene comes out of it hot, enzuigiri into a running neckbreaker, counter Ace Crusher over the ropes with Wolf on the apron and a suicide dive sets him up for a KILLER ropewalk springboard crossbody! Back suplex, Wolf lands on his feet but AG gets it the second time for a nearfall!
Some really tight exchanges, Wolf gets a SUPER close nearfall out of a spinning Blue Thunder Driver and then a standing shooting star press but the Retrosexual will not stay down! Jockeying for position in the turnbuckles, superplex, small package... NO! Superkick sets him up...
Anthony Greene wins by pinfall with the step-up Killswitch he calls So Much Prettier.
Back to the really good stuff! Some cool stuff here, some good escalations, they kept it tight and prettymuch didn’t waste a second, and the result is a very good match at the perfect spot on the card. No contract for Wolf, but here’s hoping this weekend isn’t the last we’ve seen of him.
Anthony Henry vs. Juntai
Juntai going right after the arm, a battle plan in mind, but Henry won’t just hand it over and we get some slick back and forth mat grappling that Anthony punctuates with a kick. Juntai uses his size to trip Henry up, they trade pins and the FIP World Heavyweight Champion barely evades a roundhouse kick! Turning the speed up, Juntai connects with a spinning wheel kick and gets at him!
To the floor, Anthony gets a double stomp on the apron and heads to the back for a better run-up on a leg lariat against the barricade! Henry takes him right back out for another double stomp when he comes back in. Back inside, the Lethal Lover definitively in charge until Juntai gets a small package, trading hard strikes, Henry with the Tenryu powerbomb... NOPE!
Toying with him, yelling at Juntai to get up and fight, chest kicks ensue but a smile cracks across his face and he’s just getting fired up! Catch the kick, strike rush, Anthony cuts him off but eats a hard roundhouse kick! Double knees, suicide dive nobody home, suicide dive blocked, slingshot DDT comes so close but Henry won’t stay down! Roll-through, enzuigiri, snap German suplex, up top, nobody home!
Juntai with a wicked stomp into the turnbuckles, Dragon suplex into a knee, another stomp to the back of the head... SO CLOSE AND YET SO FAR! Jockeying for position, O’Connor roll comes up empty but Henry turns it right into the ankle lock! Middle of the ring, nowhere to go, Juntai posts up and rolls out! To the apron, arm wringer plants the local, Penalty Kick to the elbow, La Mistica into Rings of Saturn, stomps to the head... IT’S OVER!
Anthony Henry wins by referee stoppage with a Rings of Saturn with stomps to the head.
I think you can always tell I’m super into a match when the recap kinda zooms in to liveblog level detail, and this certainly fits the bill! Fantastic stuff, heavy grappling with a solid dose of kitchen sink will to win action courtesy of Henry, I enjoyed the hell out of this and I think you will too.
Harlem Bravado & Kassius Ohno vs. the Skulk (AR Fox & Leon Ruff)
Bit of stalling early and we end up on Fox and Bravado, ducking and dodging, AR playing around a little, malfunction at the junction and Harlem pulls Fox into Ruff’s way on an axehandle! Finally, Ohno in, offering a handshake as a ruse before slamming Leon! Ruff trying to chip away, side headlocks and shoulder blocks, going for the old “run the ropes” gimmick and getting his foot stomped!
Leon with repeated flying forearms... AND HE TAKES THE BIG MAN OFF HIS FEET AT LAST! Tag to Fox, Skulk running hot, Bravado interferes but AR swats him aside and dives on him! Ruff gets the multi-jump Frankensteiner off on Hero! Stereo suicide dives! Apron leg drop, Fox follows it up by getting decked by a right hand from KO! Boots in the corner, Harlem joining the fray to work the first Evolve Champion over at length.
Finally Fox gets the tag and Ruff comes in hot, just devastating forearms on Kassius and a knockout dropkick on Bravado but all it takes is one kick from KO’s concussive feet to cut him down to size! Ohno stretches Leon a bit, tag to Harlem and he keeps the pace as they continue to work the young man over and deny him the tag. Finally Fox has had enough and springboards over referee Jake Clemons into a dropkick!
Tag made, hammering away at Ohno, Lou Thesz Press into mounted punches! Fox manufactures a malfunction at the junction and clears house. Back and forth, Bravado blocks Lo Mein Pain and ends up on the floor where Ruff dives on him! The match breaks down, spider German suplex from Fox on Bravado, tag but Bravado gets the knees up on the dive! Vets double-teaming Ruff, rolling elbow sets up a German suplex but Leon kicks out of the bridge!
Pressing the attack, Fox with the save but he gets knocked aside, Ohno with a wicked jackknife powerbomb, another one, Bravado in for the old Gentleman’s Agreement... LEON RUFF KICKS OUT! The Skulk catch Fox... AND OHNO DIVES ON THEM! RUFF LANDING! IT’S OVER!
The Skulk win by pinfall with Ruff Landing from Leon Ruff on Harlem Bravado.
So all the parts with Ruff and Ohno working together in this were really excellent, but the match as a whole was limp at times and I think ran a little long. It’s totally speculative of me but I can’t help but feel like this told a story that, if Ohno were still a regular roster member, would have been told over the course of like three singles matches between he and Ruff, but since Kassius has his NXT obligations, they had to do it all in one tag and it suffered slightly.
Brandi Lauren vs. Randi West
Lauren putting boots to West right away, choking her over the middle rope but Randi fires back with a barrage of forearms! But alas...
Brandi Lauren wins by pinfall with the diving blockbuster.
This served a purpose, nothing more.
Post-match, Lauren gets on the mic and talks about how she’s the biggest star here and she’s debuted on NXT multiple times (hold on, lemme get the abacus) and has even beaten an NXT superstar. Her point here is that we don’t have to worry about the Evolve women’s division, because she is the woman’s division.
SHOTZI BLACKHEART IS HERE! Enzuigiri to a Saito suplex and she gets on the mic to tell Brandi that the division is hers to build!
Curt Stallion vs. Eddie Kingston
Kingston blasts Stallion during his entrance but can’t find Curt flat footed and he fires back! Suicide dive connects, more forearms, but Eddie turns him around on the floor and hangs him over the barricade throat-first! Trading chops, Stallion’s neck and collarbone area already red and raw, back inside for charging strikes as Curt pulls back ahead only for a lariat right to the throat to knock him back down!
Kingston pressing the attack, nothing pretty but he’s making Stallion feel it. Curt fighting back, Cobra Twist applied, shift to an octopus hold that Kingston breaks with a side slam. Back hurting but he’s rallying, dropkick in the corner, the pull-up DDT connects... NOPE! Eddie fighting back, trading chops again and he hits a backbreaker, a spinebuster, but he refuses to capitalize, choking Stallion and egging him back into the fight!
Kingston with vicious headbutts, brainbuster blocked, jockeying for position, big pop-up stomp for two! Diving headbutt comes up empty, Falcon Arrow but King can’t put him away! Thunder Fire Powerbomb... SO CLOSE! Screaming mad, Eddie hoists him up, true uranage... STILL NO! Thinking about a piledriver, Stallion blocks, reverses, Air Raid Crash neckbreaker!
Duck the backfist, headbutt...
Curt Stallion wins by pinfall with the Ode to Luigi!
Holy hell this was great. An “on” Eddie Kingston has long been one of my favorites and here he was very on, switching with aplomb between beating the hell out of Stallion and being taken aback by his rallies, and that ending! Curt squeaks one out and gets the biggest win of his Evolve career!
Post-match, Joe Gacy hits the ring and beats Stallion down! Eddie gets on the mic and asks the crowd how they dare boo him and the Unwanted after he stayed on the indies and turned down contracts because he’s not a mark and he’s trying to get paid. He calls Babatunde out and says he’s got a spot that he and Colby Corino and Joe Gacy deserve and they’re gonna kick him out the same as they kicked Street Profits out.
Gacy calls JD Drake out, he wants his title match now!
JD Drake (c) vs. Joe Gacy (WWN Championship)
Drake wasting no time, getting Gacy in the corner and beating the crap out of him! On the floor, pressing the attack when Eddie Kingston gets involved while referee Jake Clemons checks on Gacy, but JD fends Eddie off with the pop up haymaker before wiping Gacy out with a dive over the barricade! Back inside, hammering away, Drake tells Joe he’s never taking the title away!
Big splash gets two, Gacy fires back and gets a two count off a running knee! Mounted punches, forcing the champ to turtle up, charging strikes in the corner, still just the two! Arm-trap overhead elbows, Russian legsweep armbreaker and Joe is going to town on the champ’s arm! Slugging it out as the armwork interlude comes to a close and Gacy gets a tight nearfall off of a reverse STO!
JD gets a Truck Stop off and both men are down and out! Shining Wizard to add to the violence, Drake follows it up with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex and a diving leg lariat to set up a big spinebuster! Drill Bit denied, Saito suplex connects but Drake just pops up and German suplexes him! Joe works through, discus lariat for two, fireman’s carry Michinoku driver can’t get it either!
JD DRAKE NEARFALL OFF A STYLES CLASH! Cannonball misses, handspring Ace Crusher... YOU CANNOT PUT THE BLUE COLLAR BADASS DOWN SO EASILY! Drawing him up, kick to the gut, Stunner, cannonball! Up top...
JD Drake wins by pinfall with the moonsault to retain the WWN Championship.
So this ruled! I could quibble and wish the arm stuff mattered more in the end, but it’s two big dudes beating the hell out of each other with some high drama nearfalls throughout. Sidebar, I just watched a match Gacy had against Sami Callihan back in 2010 the other day and he’s come so far, it’s super impressive to see him go from being an awkward rookie with a buzz cut to the complete performer he is now.
Post-match, Kingston hits a Backfist to the Future on Drake! Gacy joins him for a beatdown... BABATUNDE MAKES THE SAVE!
Adam Cole vs. Austin Theory
Theory stalling and playing chicken early, trying to get Cole mad and finally Adam just blasts him with a boot and dumps him to the floor! Austin gets a back heel trip on the apron and rams Cole into the barricade to start coming back. Back inside, boots in the corner set up a backbreaker that only gets one. Running combinations, Theory staying dominant until Cole gets back into with an enzuigiri into a lungblower that gets him a nearfall!
Rolling thunder countered into the brainbuster over the knee but Theory’s still in it! Argentine powerbomb connects, Adam kicks out! Hammering forearms, fakeout superkick, Cole off the ropes but Austin hooks him for Ataxia! Slips out, brainbuster over the knee a second time... STILL NO! Going for Last Shot, Theory slumps to the mat to avoid it, rolling thunder... SUPERKICK COUNTER!
Panama Sunrise connects... AUSTIN KICKS OUT! Knee pad down, off the ropes, countered with a schoolboy and a handful of tights but Cole kicks out! Rolling thunder dropkick hits this time, still just two! Telling Adam he’s beaten Roddy and Kyle and he can do this all day, kick caught, dodge, low blow with referee Brandon Tolle occupied, buckle bomb, crossleg brainbuster over the knee... ADAM COLE LIVES!
Title in hand, but Spyder Nate Webb jumps the rail! SUPERKICK! NORTHERN SUPERKICK! ADAM COLE BAY BAY!
Adam Cole wins by pinfall with Last Shot.
This started a little slow but I was super into it by the end. Neither guy here works my favorite style but once they threw caution to the wind and just went for it, I had a good time and I think this is a match that may well appeal to others more than it did me.
This was a good show without any real negatives to speak of, even if maybe I don’t think it quite crossed the line to greatness. Henry/Juntai, Stallion/Kingston, and Drake/Gacy all stand out as good to great matches, and nothing on the show was bad.
Storyline wise, Babatunde taking center stage is an interesting development, Greene continues to cement his spot on the roster, Stallion got a huge win that should hopefully propel him into the one of the title scenes, and nearest and dearest to my heart, Shotzi Blackheart made a big statement about the future of women in Evolve. As much as I’d most like to have her competing with the men and kicking ass and winning titles, I will gladly take a women’s division lead by the Ballsy Badass any day.
Check it out on VOD through the World Wrestling Network, whether as an individual purchase or at no additional charge through your Club WWN subscription.