EVOLVE returned to La Boom for the first half of a New York double-header, featuring the return of Kyle O’Reilly and a bloody main event as Ethan Page looked to end Darby Allin once and for all.
For some reason we’ve got Trevin Adams and Timothy Barr doing the pre-show hosting duties. At least Timmy’s not swearing like a teenager. Adams brings out the inaugural WWN champion, Matt Riddle, who’s wearing the title around his neck like he usually does with the PROGRESS Atlas belt. Riddle calls himself the “champion of all champions”, before noting that he wants to face someone he’s never beaten: “Trashy Tim”. Ouch. Riddle’s interrupted by Stokely Hathaway, who’s joined by Faye Jackson (who seems to have jumped from ROH to EVOLVE… imagine the perception when yet another person-of-colour leaves a company). Hathaway moves the title match to now, since Timmy has a flight to England to catch!
WWN Championship: Matt Riddle (c) vs. Timothy Thatcher
Much like their outing for Rev Pro not even two months earlier (yet that match feels like a lifetime ago!), there was plenty of mat-based grappling in the early going, with Thatcher grounding Riddle after seeing an attempt at his gutwrench suplex blocked.
Riddle escapes a rear naked choke by throwing himself to the mat a la a back senton, but he’s quickly caught in a single-leg crab by Thatcher, earning the challenger a chorus of boos. Thatcher keeps up with a rear naked choke, but Riddle rolled out and into an armbar, before Thatcher regained the mount and went back to business as usual, including catching a back senton and turning it into a rear naked choke.
A butterfly suplex from Thatcher gets a near-fall, but that eventually prompts Riddle into action, only for a Bro to Sleep attempt to get turned into a Fujiwara armbar. Just like that though, Riddle escaped the armbar and drags Thatcher into the Bromission, and there’s the submission! Pretty short but really good… which shouldn’t surprise you! ***½
After the match, Stokely Hathaway entered the ring and tried to make a pitch to recruit Matt Riddle. Timothy Thatcher walked away in disgust, and in the end so did Riddle!
Austin Theory vs. ACH
I think Austin Theory is 19… going by how often they called that out in the early going! They tie up early as they worked largely around the basics – wristlocks, armdrags and the like, before Theory sits down on a cradle to nearly shock the more experienced ACH.
ACH comes back with dropkicks as the pace quickened, before an atomic drop stopped Theory in his tracks. Theory returned with a slingshot into a double stomp, then a suplex for a near-fall, before ACH did his 16 Carat trick of chopping Austin’s Theories. That set up ACH for a PK off the apron as the pair brawled around ringside, leading up to a slingshot flatliner back in the ring.
A swinging neckbreaker gets ACH a near-fall as he continues to get frustrated, which almost saw him lose via a standing moonsault from Theory. We almost see Theory get the win with a Destroyer, but of course, that move never wins matches, and ACH rebounds with an ushigoroshi, only to get caught up top as he’s planted with a Theory Driver (torture rack into a Blue Thunder Bomb) for another near-fall. ACH flips out of a cross-legged brainbuster as a flurry of back and forth strikes ends when ACH gets the brainbuster for the win. A really solid match that I felt did more to showcase Theory in defeat – this kid’s going to be a star if he keeps up on this rate! ***½
Drew Galloway vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
Billed as non-title, since this was Galloway’s final shows for EVOLVE, this never really got going. Of course, Drew has a pre-match promo where he gets chants of “you sold out” before he accosted referee DA Brewer on account of his perceived “screwing” of Drew last time he refereed one of his matches. Brewer gets punched out, which leads to Drew demanding a fight… and Zack Sabre Jr obliges.
Galloway easily throws Sabre aside, but when they headed to the outside, Sabre took over… until he was slammed on the apron. Drew slingshots Sabre into the ring supports, but Zack comes back with an Octopus hold in the barriers, and the fight continues as Sabre’s wrist-based offence ends with him rebounding out of the corner… into a snap piledriver. Our favourite non-sweary announcer Timothy Barr reckoned he was “in an alleyway in Queens right now” – although I don’t ever recall seeing any fight featuring a snap piledriver or an Exploder suplex. Out of nowhere, Sabre blocks a powerbomb with an armbar in mid-air… turning it into a Kimura, before the Ode to Breaks gets broken up by… Ethan Page and his Gatekeepers?!
Page powerbombs Sabre as his Gatekeepers waited on the ring apron, before giving Drew Galloway the EVOLVE title to… massage? The beatdown continues as Galloway slinks to the back to grab a sledgehammer. Page holds down Sabre, but it’s not him that Drew wants… he wants to smash the title belt, only for Keith Lee to barge through the Gatekeepers and make the save for the inanimate object.
Sabre takes down Not Bald Gatekeeper and snaps his arm with the leg trap thing, and that looks to be the way he’s written out, as Not Bald (or Flex Rumblecrunch from back in CHIKARA) posted on social media later in the weekend that due to a culmination of injuries, he’s done with wrestling.
Keith Lee gets the microphone after the ring clears, acting bemused as to why they ran away from him. He’s got a scheduled match, and it’s the EVOLVE return of Kyle O’Reilly!
Keith Lee vs. Kyle O’Reilly
Last time Kyle was here, he wrestled (and lost) to future reDRagon partner Bobby Fish, and the Canadian started by kicking away at Lee’s legs. Good Lord, Lee tries to reply with some similar kicks, including a high kick that Kyle had to duck, lest he be beheaded.
Kyle took the initiative by grabbing Lee’s arm as he told him to “bask in his glory”, and that’s where Kyle took over, grabbing a knee bar that forced Lee to the ropes, before going after Lee’s arm with knees. A nonchalant belly-to-belly overhead suplex sees Lee throw down O’Reilly, where a series of forearms follow from both men as this turned into what JR would have called a slobberknocker. Eventually, O’Reilly charged at Lee in the corner with a forearm as he tried to set-up for a side suplex… it didn’t work as Lee elbows free, before Lee replied with some suplexes of his own, scoring a belly-to-belly for a near-fall that some in the crowd swore was a three-count.
More strikes from O’Reilly finally take down Lee, with a Shining Wizard doing the trick, before Lee rebounded and shrugged off a kick as a lariat took down the former ROH champion. Imagine having BOTH these guys and letting them walk… Both men finally pulled themselves up using the ropes, before O’Reilly low bridges Lee to the apron, where a big boot knocked him to the floor for a Meteora that wrecked the timekeeper’s chair that Lee had flopped into.
O’Reilly takes Lee back inside, but Keith rolls back to his feet from a missile dropkick as he followed up with a spear and a chokeslam that O’Reilly barely kicked out of. Lee tries to follow up with a top rope moonsault, but he’s crotched via a kick from O’Reilly… O’Reilly tried for a belly to back superplex that failed, so he goes for another kick, and it looks like Kyle went low. The referee agrees that it was a kick to the ding ding, and Brandon Tolle calls for the DQ?! Ahh, weak…
Lee takes the microphone and demands that the match doesn’t end because of a kick to “the people’s anaconda”… and we have a restart. O’Reilly stomps away on the downed Lee almost immediately, then grabs an armbar as the crowd chanted “anaconda”, because wrestling! Keith makes the ropes to break up the armbar, and the pair just beat the heck out of each other some more before Lee almost snatched the win with a Spirit Bomb out of nowhere.
O’Reilly kicked out, before jumping Lee with a guillotine… that he swiftly backdropped out of. A tiltawhirl DDT takes down Lee, and Kyle manages to get him up for a brainbuster that proves to be enough for the win. I wasn’t too struck with the cheap finish and restart, but I guess it’s an out… good action, as you’d expect from these two, but this crowd hated that result. ****
EVOLVE Tag Team Championships: Chris Dickinson & Jaka vs. Tracy Williams & Fred Yehi (c)
Catch Point exploded with this match, as Dickinson and Jaka finally got their tag title shot. Jaka’s got the EVOLVE logo shaved into the back of his head for some reason, and he starts by yelling back and forth with Yehi. Alrighty then!
When they get going, it’s a bunch of shoulder blocks before Jaka avoids the stomp from Yehi, but eventually those connect as Yehi lands on Jaka’s knee. Dickinson and Williams come in next, with some nice back and forth as a Pazuzu bomb’s blocked by “Hot Sauce”, who manages to roll-up Dickinson for a near-fall, only to fall into a La Magistral for a two-count as well.
That roll-up seems to shift things in the challenger’s favour, as Williams gets caught in the wrong corner… and I will say this, for a match between stable mates, there was precious little of that being played up in the match or commentary. We go back to Yehi and Jaka, but Jaka manages to outlast the double-team, only to get caught out by a stomp off the top rope by Yehi.
Eventually Dickinson gets the hot tag back in and he goes straight for Williams, hitting a superkick-assisted wheelbarrow suplex… but Yehi jumps in before there’s even a count. The champions catch their challengers in separate Koji Clutch and crossface submissions, but they’re forced to swap around after realising the legal/legal pairings weren’t quite right. I’ve lost track of who’s legal at this stage, and I’m guessing it’s Dickinson and Williams, as they break free, only for Yehi to make the save on an apron piledriver attempt.
Yehi and Dickinson fire forearms at each other on the apron, and we just catch Jaka crashing and burning as his tope took him over everyone and into the front row! Somehow, Jaka recovers to hit a Doomsday Chokeslam for a near-fall on Yehi, but we get Yehi coming back to force the challengers to give each other a Stunner, only for Dickinson to get the last laugh with a Pazuzu bomb (Border Toss) as the newer members of Catch Point scored the pin to unseat their stablemates! A fun, back-and-forth outing that I’d have liked to have seen go longer… but real good while it lasted. ***¾
Dickinson makes a beeline for (who I assume was) his daughter after the match, before all four members of Catch Point figuratively kiss and make up. Then we get Larry Dallas, because of course we do. Dallas is out with The Big C – or Bryan Idol, if you want his other generic name on the indy scene. The scoop this time is that Dallas is claiming that Stokely Hathaway’s been talking with Tracey Williams to “agent Catch Point”. Naturally nobody believes him, but Yehi reacts worst, knocking down Dallas with a shotgun dropkick before a pair of German suplexes and another dropkick kills EVOLVE’s most loathed.
Speaking of Larry Dallas, he’s left laying in the ring as they do some admin, plugging shows and DVDs, before we are left with the wondrous visual of him being cocooned as they changed the ring canvas. Apparently that’s a sign of the main event being “not sanctioned”, I guess? Insert your favourite shoulder shrug GIF here…
Last Man Standing: Darby Allin vs. Ethan Page
For some reason we’re getting this again after Darby beat Page at EVOLVE 81 – a match that went all over the place, but was hampered by the random involvement of Austin Theory and Priscilla Kelly, the latter of whom hasn’t appeared on this card so far.
“All Ego”’s out in jeans like this is an 80s Bunkhouse Brawl, wearing jeans (with knee pads over them!), a black t-shirt and he’s carrying a shovel. There’s only one Gatekeeper now, so we no longer have to dance around that particular issue. It’s the bald one who’s still around, for those wondering.
Plenty of brawling to start, as all blood feuds should, before Darby pulls out a snap ‘rana and a dropkick to take the match to the outside… where he tope’s Page into the guard railings. Page decides to wander into the crowd, where Allin joins him as the stage ends up being the venue for this part of the match… before Darby decides to hit a swandive headbutt off the top rope onto the stage!
Page gives Allin an Iconoclasm into the crowd after Darby’d raked away on his eyes, before throwing Darby onto the apron with a powerbomb after the Seattle native had dragged himself back towards ringside. There’s a weird spot where Page tries to tape a chair to Allin’s back, but the tape’s tearing too easily so instead Ethan just gives him a chair-assisted slam. Neither of those options would have been good for his back…
Somehow, Allin mounted a comeback with a step-up back senton and a coffin drop off the ropes, before mounting another coffin drop, this time holding a chair to his back as he continued his seeming wish to shorten the time he can walk. Apparently that busted up Page, who emerged from the floor with the shovel… which Allin tried to counter with a chair. Allin narrowly avoids a shovel shot and connects with several chairshots before grabbing the body bag that he was apparently in at EVOLVE 80.
You can see Drew Galloway and the other Gatekeeper laughing and joking from backstage as Allin slips off the top rope and gets planted with a package piledriver. From there, Ethan wipes out Allin with a shovel shot… Darby takes a flip bump but his arm’s cut open badly from it, which prompts referee DA Brewer to try and stem the bleeding rather than, you know, start counting? Page tries to throw Darby into that bodybag to make taking the win easier, and now Page gets a tub of thumbtacks, which he pours into the bag.
Page zips up the bag with Darby and pins inside, before picking him up for a powerbomb… WHY WOULD ANYONE DO THAT?! Ethan Page stops the referee’s count so the Gatekeeper can join in the fun, and we see Darby’s punctured back bleeding… but here comes Austin Theory to make the save for some reason. Again. Theory dropkicks the Gatekeeper before Page pump kicks him off the apron, and now we get Priscilla Kelly for the repeat of last month’s match.
Kelly enters the ring and distracts Page by just being there… Ethan responds by back body dropping an onrushing Darby into her in the corner. The carnage continues with a powerbomb through an open chair to further test Darby’s pain threshold, and somehow Allin’s getting back to his feet, only for some more chairs to get thrown on him. More chairshots follow until Austin Theory tries to make the save… he gets a Spinning Dwayne (that wasn’t quite so spinny), before Theory, then Kelly were thrown on top of Allin to bring this to a close. Ehh… this felt like a more violent repeat of what happened in Orlando, and I don’t know what the plan was, but it looked as if the arm injury to Allin derailed things. Good effort, but my God, it’s not easy watching Darby Allin killing himself in these matches. **¾
After the match, we get shots of the carnage in the ring with Allin, Theory and Kelly left laying…
As a show, this was good but not great – Kyle O’Reilly and Keith Lee were on the way to a really good outing before the weird finish and restart took my enjoyment down a notch, whilst the main event was certainly a spectacle. Don’t get me wrong, EVOLVE 82 is by no means a waste of time, particularly with the tag title change, but if you’re pushed for time… this is one to pick and choose from!