The show begins a few minutes after the scheduled bell time with Lenny Leonard in the ring. He welcomes us to the show and hypes up the card a bit before Anthony Henry makes his entrance. He gets in the ring and stares Lenny down before reaching for the mic and beginning.
He says that he’s sacrificed everything for the Evolve fans, repeatedly given us four and five-star performances month-in, month-out (absolutely true, sir!) and he’s never ever received anything in return. So as far as he’s concerned, we don’t deserve anything else from him and that’s exactly what we’re going to get-- nothing. He wants his opponent and he’s going now!
Anthony Henry vs. KC Navarro
Henry falls back and invites Navarro in. Cover...
KC Navarro wins by pinfall with a lateral press.
Post-match, Anthony lays Navarro out with a kick and repeatedly hits running knees to the head in the corner! Cannonball for the big finish, he draws KC up, underhooks... DRILL BIT SENDS A MESSAGE TO JD DRAKE! Headed up top... DOUBLE STOMP ADDS AN EXCLAMATION POINT!
Obviously not much of a match, but as an opening angle this done got me fired up plenty!
Alex Gracia vs. Avery Taylor vs. Brandi Lauren vs. Natalia Markova vs. Shotzi Blackheart vs. Vanity
Chaos to start, settling down, Gracia on Blackheart, Shotzi taking control and putting boots to her. Vanity in, Blackheart knocks her around even after she runs into a wicked forearm! Shotzi with the Cannonball, Markova cuts her off mid-Tarantula and hits an awkward spinning one-handed bulldog. Taylor in with a chance to shine but Lauren won’t let her get so much as a one-count!
Alex cutting Brandi off, big lungblower in the corner but Vanity keeps her from capitalizing and they get into a battle of strikes! Avery and Natalia join the fun, Blackheart with an enzuigiri but she runs into a knee from Taylor! Avery follows it up with a senton to the floor into the mass of other women, Shotzi comes off the ropes with a suicide dive!
Back inside, Markova and Blackheart trading heavy chops, rolling elbow and a superkick from Shotzi sets up a Tiger suplex... NOPE! Jockeying for position in the turnbuckles... DOUBLE DROPKICK DOOMSDAY DEVICES! Lauren picks the bones but can’t get a pin! Into the “everybody do something cool” section of the match, Blackheart with a wicked Saito suplex on Gracia to set up the Tiger feint kick!
Headed up top, Brandi pulls Shotzi down... APRON POWERBOMB! Lauren covers Alex but Taylor breaks the pin up, and hits a followup...
Avery Taylor wins by pinfall with a Glam Slam on Alex Gracia.
So this prettymuch ruled! Non-stop action, no real weak points, not everything landed perfect but it was well-executed and gave us a good taste of all the new women here.
Post-match, Lauren attacks Taylor!
Arturo Ruas vs. John Silver
Silver right in with a dropkick, a running knee, and a brainbuster... NOPE! Armbar on the injured hand, Ruas tries to shrug it off but John keeps hammering away at him! Trading strikes, Arturo with fight left in him, and he nails Silver with a jumping knee! Grounded punches, John turtling up, cover for two! Raining more strikes, a shoot Russian legsweep leads to him working Silver’s hand over!
Jawing, John takes advantage, kicks from the apron but Ruas catches him into a spinebuster for two! Kicks, back to the wrist, wristlock chest kicks into a snapmare and boots gives way to trading strikes again. Silver using the wrist for leverage, kicks to the arm, Argentine powerbomb... STILL NO! Cutthroat choke, the Meat Man wrenching it in but Arturo gets to his feet and they resume trading.
Off the ropes, Silver with a lariat, Ruas with a kick into a German suplex, only two and he grabs the heel hook! Hammerfists, John turtling up but he gets the ropes! Superkick connects, but Arturo has his wits about him...
Arturo Ruas wins by pinfall with a crescent kick.
This went a little longer than I’d have liked with the back and forth strike exchanges, but I mean, Arturo Ruas in a grapping/striking contest, it’s good stuff.
Post-match, Anthony “Sharkbait” Gutierrez gets into the ring to tell Ruas that he appreciates his martial arts but maybe he should watch Evolution’s Edge to learn a thing or two.
Anthony “Sharkbait” Gutierrez vs. Curt Stallion vs. Daniel Garcia vs. Karam (Evolution’s Edge Tournament First Round Elimination Match)
Stallion dumped to the floor early, Karam hammering Sharkbait and Garcia, big spinning side slam nearly puts Garcia away! Karam just holding court until Curt slides back in and nails him with a German suplex! Trading shots, Stallion gets the Reverse Neckbreaker and a pop-up stomp to set up the Ode to Luigi...
Curt Stallion eliminates Karam by pinfall with Ode to Luigi.
Gutierrez and Garcia run Stallion off and get into it themselves, Dan with a buckle bomb and Sharkbait gives him a huge knee in return! Spanish Fly into a running shooting star press, no good, Gutierrez rolls him right into a triangle choke! Garcia posts to his feet, Stallion lines ‘em up...
Curt Stallion eliminates Anthony “Sharkbait” Gutierrez” by pinfall with Ode to Luigi.
Garcia running hot, trading suplexes and lariats, wailing on each other with haymakers! Daniel with chops on chops, but all it takes is one from the Lone Star to knock him on his ass! Big German suplex, Garcia pops right back and delivers one of his own! Dan takes a shot and wants another, trading ‘em hard and getting fired up! Dan gets a big counter into the Sharpshooter and bridges back!
Stallion breaks with a basket full of elbows but Garcia absolutely NAILS him with a Blu-Ray and follows it with a powerbomb! Roll through but Curt is ready...
Curt Stallion wins, last eliminating Daniel Garcia by pinfall with Ode to Luigi.
Fun times! Daniel Garcia was super impressive in that final stretch there, especially.
Austin Theory comes down to mock Curt Stallion for wearing a headband and thinking he can share the same ring with him. Stallion calls him handsome and points out where the hardcam is (so helpful!) before saying when he wins the whole damn tournament he’s coming for him, but right now he’s got bigger things to worry about.
Austin Theory vs. Babatunde
Theory keeping his distance, staying out of the big man’s grip, but when he tries to bail the Unwanted show up on the stage and Austin changes his mind. Back inside, Babatunde catches him with the goozle and biels hi into the corner! Theory ducks a backhand, throwing punches, big one to the neck but the Polish giant stands firm! Low bridge sends the big man out, superkick from the apron!
Babatunde scoops him up, Theory slips out and puts him into the post, trading shots, stomps to the back of the knee to cut the big man to size! Babatunde fired up, pop-up chop to the midsection! Coming back inside, Austin goes after him and gets a Hot Shot into a rolling thunder dropkick! Left hands and rights, basement dropkick sets up a DDT, standing moonsault... NOPE!
Off the ropes, big man clubs him down, Stinger Splash, big side slam and the Polish giant is fired up! Off the ropes, big splash... and the Unwanted hit the ring!
The match goes to a no-contest, presumably.
This was a bit of a by the numbers David and Goliath situation, but not in a bad way by any means.
The Skulk hit the ring for the save!
The Skulk (AR Fox, Leon Ruff, & Liam Gray) (c) vs. the Unwanted (Donovan, Eddie Kingston, & Joe Gacy) (Evolve Tag Team Championship)
Action all over the place, spilling to the floor and finally Kingston and Fox come back in together. Ruff with some really impressive evasion, Gray tags in with a diving crossbody and Donovan’s legal. AR takes over, kickflip moonsault on the newcomer, Gacy unloads on him and Fox nearly loses the tag titles. Working AR over, quick tags, Liam ends up in the hot seat next and the Unwanted just go to town on him at length.
Black Magic gets Gray some room and he tags Ruff in! Leon hammering away, bridging German suplex but Eddie won’t let it lie! Backfist to the Future ducked, set up our “everybody do something cool” section, the Unwanted with kicks and the Skulk with Ace Crushers! AND THEN THE DIVES! Up top...
The Skulk win by pinfall with a bunch of moves all at once to retain the Evolve Tag Team Championship.
This was absolutely pyrotechnic but fell a little flat to me in the middle sections when the Skulk were working Gray over at length.
And so we go to intermission.
Adrian Alanis vs. Harlem Bravado
Shoving match heating things up in the feeling out, trading hard shots, Alanis with the pop-up drop into a dropkick that sends Bravado to the floor. Big man off the ropes and he runs right into an uppercut! Chops on the floor, Adrian with a backbreaker on the apron to fight back into it! Back inside, Harlem with a DDT, no dice! Big bodyslam on the floor, jockeying for position back inside, trading strikes and Alanis gets a northern lariat!
Spinebuster connects, Harlem fights back, Tower of London... NOPE! To the apron, Adrian with a lariat, a suicide dive, back inside, discus lariat... STILL NO! Alanis up top, Bravado cuts him off, Adrian has Straight Cash, Homie scouted and blocks! Harlem gets a boot, back to the underhooks...
Harlem Bravado wins by pinfall with Straight Cash, Homie.
This did very little for me and I think I’m just kinda over this attempt at making Harlem a singles guy.
Anthony Greene vs. Big Game Leroy vs. Brandon Taggart vs. Sean Maluta (Evolution’s Edge Tournament First Round Elimination Match)
Everybody ganging up on Taggart to start, Leroy playing something or other on his Switch, even through a side headlock and a shoulder block! Holding onto it even through a tijeras, but Maluta kicks it out of his hands! Jumping neckbreaker, Sean works him over until Brandon comes back in and pops Maluta up! Greene with an enzuigiri from the apron, diving crossbody, only two!
Big Game has his Switch back, jockeying for position with the Retrosexual and following with a suicide dive! Back inside...
Sean Maluta eliminates Big Game Leroy by pinfall with a kick.
Maluta into it with Taggart, trading shots, Greene joines the fray, Brandon stacks ‘em both up... CANNONBALL! He gets Sean up but Anthony hits a superkick that gets Maluta a two-count off a Yoshi Tonic! Teaming up to work the big man over, he manages to create a malfunction at the junction and Rock Bottoms Sean into Anthony! Hard strikes, Lawn Dart, big lariat but Maluta rolls to the floor!
Brandon charges in, Greene with a schoolboy...
Anthony Greene eliminates Brandon Taggart by pinfall with a schoolboy pin and his feet on the ropes.
Maluta running hot, Death Valley Driver... NOPE! Anthony rams him into the corner, jockeying for position, diving Codebreaker... STILL NO! Frog splash, Greene gets the knees up! Straight suplex, roll right into the gourdbuster, Shining Wizard, only two! Anthony tries the schoolboy trick again but the referee catches it! Sean from behind, schoolboy of his own for two!
Greene sidesteps the charge, step-up Killswitch...
Anthony Greene wins, last eliminating Sean Maluta by pinfall with his step-up Killswitch.
Much like the other Evolution’s Edge match, this was delightful. Big Game Leroy, especially, never even heard of the dude before but the Switch stuff was SUPER fun. Good stuff, looking forward to Greene/Stallion tomorrow even if it’s a little on the predictable side.
Josh Briggs vs. Kassius Ohno
Grappling in the feeling out, Ohno coming to be in enough control to start tearing Briggs apart, working his arms and neck, but Josh turns the heat up and decks him with a straight right hand! No cover, Kassius in the ropes, and he resumes control with an armbar. Side slam and a big splash, Briggs refusing to just sit and take it, wristlock kicks follow!
Back and forth, Briggs has an answer for almost everything, he gets a big enzuigiri that staggers the erstwhile Chris Hero! Both men increasingly spent, slow to rise, Briggs clubbing away, Go to Hell... NOT QUITE! Looking for a suplex... CRASH LANDING FOR TWO! Cyclone Kill blocked, Ohno leveraging the arm, back suplex, he lands on his feet and decks Josh with a series of boots!
Briggs back at it, chokeslam gets a nearfall. Kassius takes charge...
Kassius Ohno wins by pinfall with the Hero’s Welcome.
I mean, it’s Evolve #1 gatekeeper Chris Hero slamming the door in a title contender’s face. This is classic Evolve action, even if I wish it had maybe gone five minutes longer and really picked up into gear.
Post-match, Austin Theory attacks and beats on Briggs, leading Hero to make the save! Josh turns and nails KO with an elbow and apologizes before Theory fights him up into the crowd!
JD Drake vs. WALTER
Bull moose strength testing to start and then into the grappling... AND THEN THE CHOPS BEGIN! Two huge throat chops send Drake to the floor and WALTER follows out after him, ducking one that leads the Blue Collar Badass to chop the post! JD taking everything WALTER gives him and standing tall, trading right back, the crack of flesh on flesh reverberating around the arena!
Red angry welts rising up where WALTER’s fingertips came across Drake’s collarbone, back inside, looking to move onto the big bombs, and the Blue Collar Badass gets a suplex for breathing room! Clubbing away, atomic drop sets up a back suplex on the rebound, James Damn Drake is running hot! Popping up after WALTER catches him with a German, Drake hits one of his own and both men are down and out!
The Ringkampf man up and at ‘em, chops on chops, WALTER blocks the Stunner, Gojira Clutch denied, the Stunner connects! CANNONBALL! Up top... NOBODY HOME ON THE MOONSAULT! Shotgun dropkick sets up a powerbomb... STILL NO! Chests red and raw, Drake defiant but spent, WALTER catches him...
WALTER wins by pinfall with a short-arm lariat.
In a word: YES! A visceral, violent match, building to a brilliant crescendo of pain and raw meat. I could have done with a more escalatory finish, but this was basically perfect. 10/10, lads, well done.
Post-match, Anthony Henry shows up and Drake rolls out of the ring after a beat.
A damn fine show from Evolve. The Evolution’s Edge tournament matches were fun as hell, Drake/WALTER and Briggs/Ohno delivered, AND to top it all off, the women’s scramble was a hoot and a half.
Storyline-wise, Josh Briggs stumbled in the final build-up to give some color to his title match tomorrow, Drake and Henry had vastly different losses ahead of their grudge match, and Blackheart and Lauren ended up taking each other out of contention. Nothing too too exciting, but the stage is set for tomorrow nicely.
Check it out on Club WWN, folks.