EVOLVE 98 review (1.13.18)

EVOLVE 98 review (1.13.18)



January 13 2018


We’re in New York City, New York at La Boom. Incidentally if you go to WWNLive.com you can get a free month, as long as you hit it before the end of January.




Jason Kincaid vs. Brody King vs. Jarek 1-20 vs. Snoop Strikes

Brody King is a big dude, covered in tattoos. This is a prelim to get the crowd warmed up and it achieves that with a fast pace and a bunch of flips and such.


This dude is 280lbs but quite happily hits a dive. This is perhaps an issue in wrestling. Who gives a rat’s ass about smaller wrestlers when everyone is flipping? This is something that Bill Watts brought up back in 1992. But hey, flips pop the marks and puts you on the train to Cashville. Strikes has the match won but Kincaid comes out of nowhere and double stomps him for the win. I like how everyone got logically eliminated right before the finish, making the three count work.

Final Rating: **3/4


Video Control kicks us off on the main show with Big Stoke.


Stokely gives Jaka his private dressing room tonight, as he’s facing Keith Lee and needs to wear him down for Team Stoke. Hathaway next wants to chat with Ringkampf, offering them a spot in the Dream Team. WALTER rips it up.


Ringkampf vs. Tracy Williams & Dominic Garrini

I hear good things about Garrini, this is my first look at him. His mat work against Tim Thatcher is fucking great. Tim was a bore during his big title run in EVOLVE but he’s gained a sense of what’s important in Germany and that’s a sense of realism, combined with timing of bad-assery. Ringkampf as a team are total badasses. Especially in the world of modern wrestling where everyone is small and work a hybrid style. Ringkampf are smash-mouth pure technicians, bringing the ultra-violence. Tracy irritates me by deciding to do a 619. It’s a move that winds me up greatly and I’d rather never see anyone do it, ever again. Tim does a fine job of taking a beating, leaving WALTER as a virtual cheerleader. Ringkampf are generally at their best when WALTER is about to murder someone. There’s no rampage quite like a WALTER rampage. At one point they’re both sets of guys in the ring chaining submissions around each other. It’s wild but technically sound! That’s my jam! WALTER spikes Tracy with a powerbomb for the win. This worked. Tim Thatcher was roundly hated during his EVOLVE run and with good reason. Teaming him with WALTER is the beginning of the healing process for Tim in EVOLVE.

Final Rating: ***1/2


Post Match: The End run in to destroy Catch Point. This segues right into….


Chris Dickinson vs. Parrow

In order to contain this within a match it’s declared as no DQ. Parrow looks like the kind of guy you’d give the heavy machine guns too in an army battalion. He looks like he’s been carrying something heavy his whole damn life. Dickinson is a good old fashioned brawler when he wants to be so we have ourselves a fight. I like the impromptu feel of the weaponry with Dickinson at one point grabbing a broom. It’s a fairly organic feeling brawl, with Dickinson at one point grabbing Parrow’s crotch to save himself a beating. The execution is less good. It feels pretty sloppy. Parrow makes the mistake of asking for chairs and almost gets buried a la Terry Funk in the ECW Arena. He stacks them up but fucks about too much up top and gets the pin with the Pazuzu Bomb.


Final Rating: **1/2


Post Match: The End run in again and someone botches a move on Dickinson, which looked outright dangerous.


AR Fox vs. Matt Riddle

AR Fox has a “crew”, which is all his students and his wife. Fox is in a playful mood, mocking MMA, which results in Matt immediately switching his game up. Angry, driven Riddle comes out of nowhere! He switches moods quicker than Ken Shamrock. They have some wonderful sequences where Fox flips around Riddle and Matt finds technical counters for it. It’s all very smooth and logical and it doesn’t look like dancing. Riddle’s aggression helps in that department.


Fox is impressive too and his series of dives, at high speed, are hugely impressive. The DDT on the apron spot from this match is so clever. Showcasing Fox’s speed and innovation. This approach is met at every turn by Riddle’s MMA Hybrid style, frequently sliding into submissions out of nowhere. The transitions are excellent throughout, proving that Riddle has learned a lot in the past 3 years. Riddle’s Tombstone, powerbomb, knee strike combo should win it but Fox is too close to the ropes. The frustration boils over as Riddle shows his first signs of irritation at Fox’s guys being at ringside. It’s a tidy piece of storytelling from Riddle. Fox gets off his own flurry, culminating in a 450 Splash for the win. The Canadian Destroyer off the ropes setting everything up. The opening provided by Riddle losing focus. Good storytelling and two guys who meshed well here.

Final Rating: ****


FIP World Heavyweight Championship

Austin Theory (c) vs. Fred Yehi

Theory has had a sensible hair cut since I last saw him, so he looks less like a miniature Baron Corbin.


Priscilla Kelly has added to her look as well. Always nice to see wrestlers adapting. Theory only won this title, from Yehi, in December. Yehi had held the belt for a staggering 562 days. This bout is ‘Anything Goes’, which allows Priscilla to interfere from the bell. It also allows Yehi to get a submission in the ropes and Kelly has to rake the eyes to prevent a submission. It’s virtually a two on one. Theory’s execution is really good throughout. His work has gotten super clean over the past 12 months. Yehi fights a solid underdog battle. It’s easy to invest in it when he faces such hardship. A throwaway Destroyer irks me slightly. That move should always mean something and its getting overdone. Yehi’s comeback is almost complete when Kelly again interferes, while he’s doing his upside down stomps thing. This opens up Yehi for the finish and Theory retains. Jason Kincaid tried to get involved, but was completely ineffectual, setting up a potential Kincaid-Theory bout. Although having more of an impact would have been useful. He was almost laughed off.

Final Rating: ***1/4


Jaka vs. Keith Lee


Keith is defending his WWN title against Dickinson tomorrow so Jaka is here to soften him up. It’s kinda hard to soften up Keith though, because he’s fucking huge. Keith Lee is built like a brick shithouse. Jaka spends a lot of his time stalling too, which does nothing to help Dickinson out. Keith does more to wear himself out, at one point hitting a flying rana. You can’t tell me that was necessary! Jaka eventually sorts his shit out and pounds on Keith with strikes before attacking his leg. Now you’re being useful! Keith mostly shrugs this off but at least Jaka found a purpose after a lot of aimlessness. Jaka is an excellent striker, not like the Undertaker or anything, and uses those educated feet to get Keith into trouble. He needs some sort of tactic because in a straight up fight Keith murders the poor bastard. The pounce in this match is absolutely sick. I love it. AR Fox comes down to distract, which Dickinson could have been doing the lazy bastard, and Jaka peppers Keith with strikes for the win. I didn’t buy into the finish and this disappointed me with a meandering narrative. That pounce though!

Final Rating: **3/4


EVOLVE Championship

Zack Sabre Jr (c) vs. Darby Allin

Sabre has held that belt for almost a year after dethroning Tim Thatcher. If he defends here, it’ll be his 12th successful defence. Quite the run.


Allin is the underdog. He only has a few years experience and most of that has come under the WWN family tree. He has an interesting look; “champ” written all over his face and body and almost amateurish ring gear. That coming up against one of the world’s best technical wrestlers. Allin starts at breakneck speed, aiming to unsettle Sabre and it works. Very few people ever rattle someone as calm and composed as Sabre. Sabre’s response is to brutalise Darby, cripple his legs and limit his movement.


While Allin impresses in the early going he then has to endure torture at ZSJ’s hands. Not only does he have to find a way to escape and deal with the pain he also has to find a chink in Sabre’s technical armour. Something everyone who wrestles him struggles to do. It’s a compelling story. Sabre just dismantles this poor bastard though. It’s a massacre at times. Allin does an excellent job of looking legitimately hurt, especially with his arm and wrist that Sabre messes up. Then he’s hobbling around because Sabre messes his leg and ankle up too. Allin’s battling spirit is the focal point of the match with Sabre playing a bully role, almost irritated that Allin won’t just quit. When he refuses to quit Sabre goes after pins and Allin won’t stay down, bringing some excellent drama with his last gasp kick-outs. Allin’s eventual comeback is sensational. All rage and energy, focused into counters and pinfall attempts. Sabre makes him pay for it by stomping on his head until the ref has seen enough and stops the match. Allin never quit or got himself pinned. What a performance from Darby, matched by a subtle outing from Sabre. One that alternated between pity and aggression.

Final Rating: ****1/4



I don’t often watch EVOLVE as I find the programming to be a bit dry. It’s never been an issue in terms of match quality and that was true here. Especially of the way Riddle and Fox gelled and Darby Allin put in one hell of a shift against Sabre. I enjoyed this show but I think I’ll end up cherry picking my way through EVOLVE this year.


Leave a reply