SHANE MERCER vs. MIKEY WEBB - 5/10
They tried to do a bit of a story with the power differential, but neither guy impressed me much.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - The End jump both guys. They even beat up the referee, which was quite unexpected, considering how EVOLVE has harshly dealt with attacks on referees in the past.
BRANDON WATTS vs. JAREK 1:20 - 6.25/10
For those who have never seen Jarek before, in addition to being a magician, he is also the middle size between JT Dunn and Chris Hero. This was a fine showing from both men, with Jarek picking up his first EVOLVE win. Shockingly, The End did not attack anyone after this match.
CYRUS SATIN vs. DOMINIC GARRINI (w/Stokely Hathaway) - no rating, good little squash.
This wasn't exactly a squash as Satin got a bit of offense in the beginning, but the way they set it up was wonderful. Garrini immediately went for the flying knee just like last night against Rayo, but Satin had it scouted so he was able to avoid it and get some offense in before Garrini managed to nail the flying knee on his second attempt and got the win very soon thereafter with an armbar. Stokely cut a promo putting over Tracy Williams, who challenges Zack Sabre Jr. for the EVOLVE World Title later tonight.
JASON KINCAID vs. AUSTIN THEORY (w/Priscilla Kelly) - 7.25/10
We had a little graphics screw-up in the beginning where they put Theory's graphic up for Kincaid. Whoops. Kincaid told Theory at the outset that for him "this match is about brotherly love and respect." Priscilla Kelly then yelled at Kincaid, which distracted him, and Theory took advantage of that distraction to attack him from behind. So much for brotherly love and respect, I guess.
These two guys had a pretty great match, although I was hoping Gabe would give these guys, who he clearly sees as name players in a year or two, more than just about twelve minutes. The finish saw Kincaid manage to lock in the Compassionate Release, but for the first time this move did not get him the victory, because as the referee was checking on Theory, Priscilla Kelly jumped up onto the apron and raked Kincaid's eyes, causing him to break the hold. Theory was then able to hit the Theory-KO for the win. This thing got MAJOR heat, which shows that the old methods of getting heat still work as long as you use them sparingly enough to make them feel special and focus on them in a way that makes them feel like they really matter when you do use them.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Kincaid was obviously unhappy so he went into his meditation pose to calm himself. Theory slapped him in the face. Kincaid got up and got angry and got in Kincaid's face... but then found his peaceful center again... and Kincaid slapped him again. Kincaid got angry again but Priscilla Kelly put herself between Theory and Kincaid to prevent Kincaid from getting at Theory (smirking all the while)... but Kincaid just went around her. The process repeated, but this time it was Kelly who slapped Kincaid. It happened again, but this time Kincaid caught her arm and when it looked like he was about to do something to her, he changed his grip and just shook her hand. Theory nailed him from behind and laid him out with the Theory-KO once again, and Kelly pulled Theory to the back.
The idea and its execution here were great, but I'm running out of patience with the story itself. We've been building up the idea of "what will happen when Kincaid finally snaps and loses his inner peace and goes to his very dark place?" for almost a year now, and while this definitely feels like a segment that is meant to show us that we are now a step closer to that happening, segments giving me that feeling have been few and far between. I'd like to see some real movement, but there are definitely totally logical ways to stretch this out for another six months, and if I can think of them, then Gabe can definitely think of them. For perhaps the first time in my watching of EVOLVE, I'm worried that Gabe will take an angle that needs to move forward and drag an out for way too long.
DARBY ALLIN vs. KEITH LEE - 7/10
Another relatively short match as compared to my expectations (just over ten minutes), but these guys did an excellent job telling their story of size and power vs. speed and agility. I loved the way they even used the pacing of the match to help with the story, as every time Lee was on offense things were slow and methodical but every time Darby was on offense the paced picked up to match Darby's strategy in this match. Lee won clean, but showed Darby respect after the match, as did the crowd.
THREE-WAY ELIMINATION MATCH FOR THE EVOLVE WORLD TAG TEAM TITLES:
Catchpoint (Chris Dickinson & Jaka)(c) vs. The Ugly Ducklings vs. The Gym-Nasty Boyz (Timmy Lou Retton & White Mike) - 7/10
This was originally booked as The Ugly Ducklings vs. the Gym-Nasty Boyz in a #1 contendership match. I have no idea what any of these challengers have done to earn such a major opportunity, but they're lucking out because Jaka & Dickinson came out and after The End wouldn't answer their challenge for a fight as revenge for last night's assault, they decided to try to lure them out here by putting the titles on the line and making this an elimination match. EVOLVE management was okay with it so we now had a title match.
The Ugly Ducklings barely got a reaction from the crowd upon their entrance. Both them and the Gym-Nasty Boys are fine, but the inherent goofiness of their gimmicks does not fit in with the serious tone of EVOLVE. The Gym-Nasty Boyz were eliminated first, then we got some pretty good stuff between the Ugly Ducklings and Catchpoint until Jaka & Dickinson made their comeback and just went nuts on the Ugly Ducklings, totally obliterating them.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Dickinson was frustrated that The End wouldn't come out to fight them so he went to attack one of the Ugly Ducklings but Stokely Hathaway calmed him down.
PAPW HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Richard Holliday(c) (w/Eric Essex) vs. RJ Rude - 6.75/10
A very good showing from both men. Rude had the match won but Essex pulled the referee out of the ring, which should have been a DQ but wasn't. Holliday then knocked Rude into the turnbuckle, then hit his finisher and got the win (although I have no idea how the referee could possibly have seen both of Rude's shoulders from his position when he made the count.
MATT RIDDLE vs. FRED YEHI - 8.5/10
Excellent wrestling! That Yehi is one tenacious little bastard.
EVOLVE WORLD TITLE MATCH:
Zack Sabre Jr.(c) vs. Tracy Williams (w/Stokely Hathaway) - 8.75/10
Even more excellent wrestling! This was two guys who really didn't like each other going in there to fight over the world title, in a purely clean professional wrestling match. They hit each other hard and wouldn't let the other knock them down, and they grabbed whatever limb of their opponent's body that was within reach and twisted it in whichever way they could. This was a match with a real "world title" feel about it. Go watch it!
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Good. After Zack left, The End showed up to attack Tracy Williams. He showed no fear and charged right at them but got taken out quickly with an assisted pop-up powerbomb. Stokely's bodyguard Dominic Garrini was next, also charging at The End, but thankfully his Catchpoint pals Chris Dickinson & Jaka quickly came out to even things up. Then all of the other people The End had attacked this weekend aside from Mikey Webb came out to join the fray and we got a big schmoz with dives and stuff, including Darby Allin doing a Coffin Drop off of the backboard of a basketball hoop.
Catchpoint eventually beat The End back with chairs, and after The End retreated, Catchpoint headed back to the locker room, leaving the group of Brandon Watts, Shane Mercer, Jason Kincaid, and Darby Allin standing tall in the ring (well... Darby was actually lying down to sell his exhaustion, but you get my point). Kincaid grabbed a mic and declared that "that was just the beginning" before cutting the standard "thanks for coming!" show-ending babyface promo.
Another GREAT show from EVOLVE, although I think that in this case less of that falls on Gabe's booking that usual. We once again got an uncharacteristically short undercard, but tonight the wrestlers were able to make more of their time than they did last night. The tag team division continues to be a weak point- not in terms of the actions, but in terms of what seems to be an inability to find teams that fit in with the EVOLVE style. We've got Catchpoint, Drake & Henry... and that's really it. They're taking November off and Gabe says that December will have some more changes, including the continued establishment of new talent, which this show- and particularly the ending segment- seemed oriented towards, so we shall see what will come.