EVOLVE 82 on April 22, 2017
LaBoom – Queens, NY
Coming off the heels of two good shows in Orlando during WrestleMania weekend, EVOLVE returned to iPPV with a show that, while entertaining, seemed to drag on quite a bit.
EVOLVE 82 started with WWN Champion Matt Riddle defending the title he won back at Mercury Rising against former EVOLVE Champion, Timothy Thatcher. This was a match you would expect these two men to have, featuring some great chain wrestling right out of the gate. The commentary team deserves a lot of praise for this match, in particular, making a great effort to play up Thatcher’s three previous victories over the champion, and making the idea that Thatcher could come away the victor in this one. In the end, though, Riddle makes successful defense number one of his newly won championship after countering a submission from his challenger into the Bromission for the win.
The young upstart, Austin Theory was out next to take on ACH in a solid match that had a lot of fun individual sequences, such as ACH tricking Theory into looking away by literally yelling “Hey, what’s that”, before a strike, and Theory hitting a rolling Canadian Destroyer out of the corner. This match ran a bit long but ended out of nowhere with ACH hitting the Buster Call to get the victory.
Next up was supposed to be Drew Galloway facing EVOLVE Champion Zack Sabre, Jr. one-on-one, however, this never got started, as Galloway took out the referee before the match and challenged Sabre to a straight up fight, which the champ heartily accepted. The two brawled around the ringside area and into the crowd, and at one point Sabre put Galloway in an octopus stretch with an assist from the guardrail. ZSJ gained the upper hand and threatened to break Galloway’s arm with a hold before the Scotsman got an assist from “All Ego” Ethan Page and the Gatekeepers, who beat the champion down and teased destroying the EVOLVE Championship belt, prompting Keith Lee to make the save. In the melee, Galloway, Page and one of the Gatekeepers managed to escape, but the remaining Gatekeeper wasn’t so lucky, having his arm broken by Zack.
Keith Lee presented ZSJ with his championship and stayed in the ring for his match with the returning Kyle O’Reilly. The beauty of Lee in the ring is his ability to wrestle anybody’s style, in this case going strike for strike with O’Reilly. O’Reilly made the most of his return to EVOLVE, using a bevy of strikes and holds to the leg of The Limitless One, which appeared to backfire a bit, getting him disqualified after an unintentional low blow. However, Lee wouldn’t let this stand and demanded the match be restarted. This would prove to be a mistake for him, as O’Reilly managed to get the big man up for a brainbuster and the 1-2-3.
The penultimate match was Catch Point vs Catch Point, as “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams and Fred Yehi defended their EVOLVE Tag Team Championships against stablemates Chris Dickinson and Jaka. Tag matches in EVOLVE are historically long and could be described as four people having three individual matches with each other, and while the first proves true, the latter was more so false as time went on, with some great cooperation down the stretch. The high point of the match was a suicide dive from Jaka to Williams that looked like Jaka got shot out of a cannon, into Hot Sauce, over the barricade and landing right in the lap of some fans. Fred Yehi managed to kick out of the Death Trap from the challengers and the champions locked in stereo submissions for a great false finish before Jaka escaped and eventually hit the Pazuzu Bomb on Williams, leading to the crowning of new champions. After the match, nationally syndicated radio host and habitual pot-stirrer Larry Dallas hit the ring to claim that Tracy Williams was in talks with Stokely Hathaway about the latter becoming Catch Point’s agent. This time, though, Dallas running his mouth ended poorly for him, as he wound up on the receiving end of three German suplexes from Yehi.
In the main event, Darby Allin looked to finally put an end to his long rivalry with Ethan Page in a last man standing match that had to top the chaos from their no-holds-barred match at EVOLVE 81; and in the beginning, it seemed to be well on it’s way to doing so. Darby reminds me a lot of a young Jeff Hardy, with his willingness to sacrifice his body in pursuit of victory, in this case diving from the ring to the stage with a headbutt to Ego and later doing a trust fall with a chair on his back to take out Page and the Gatekeeper who didn’t have his arm broken earlier in the night. Ego revisited his desire to try and murder Allin, hitting him with a wicked shovel shot and putting him in the same body bag he put him in before, filling it with thumbtacks and giving him a powerbomb and a package piledriver while still inside. Eventually, Austin Theory tried to make the save, as did Priscilla Kelly, which is where things go a bit off the rails. This is extremely similar to the way things went down in Orlando at EVOLVE 81, but with the twist that Theory and Kelly’s interference blew up in their faces and lead to them and a mountain of chairs being stacked on top of Darby as the referee counted ten. The story being told is apparent, with the same people that helped Darby even the odds before failing to do so this time, however, since that was just three weeks ago, it doesn’t have the same impact it could have.
EVOLVE 82 ON APRIL 22, 2017
Strong Effort - 7.0/10
On the whole, EVOLVE 82 was an okay show, with a stellar match between Lee and O'Reilly, and a good main event that gets brought down from being a great one because of all the interference. With a great card coming up tomorrow, EVOLVE 83 very well has the chance to blow this one out of the water.