Evolve comes to the WWE Network!
A major milestone of 10 years is worth celebrating in a big way! And so the WWE brings Evolve’s anniversary special to the Network, and puts together sensational crossovers such as Adam Cole VS Akira Tozawa for the NXT Championship!
- Josh Briggs VS Anthony Green w/ Brandi Lauren; Briggs wins.
- Four Way Freestyle: Sean Maluta VS Curt Stallion VS Stephen Wolf VS Harlem Bravado; Wolf wins.
- Arturo Ruas VS Anthony Henry; Ruas wins.
- No Disqualifications: Brandi Lauren VS Shotzi Blackheart; Lauren wins.
- Colby Corino w/ Sean Maluta VS Babatunde; Babatunde wins.
- Evolve Tag Team Championships: The Unwanted VS AR Fox & Leon Ruff w/ Ayla Fox; Fox & Ruff win and become the new Evolve Tag Team Champions.
- Matt Riddle VS Drew Gulak; Riddle wins.
- Evolve and WWN Championship Unification: Austin Theory VS JD Drake; wins and is the undisputed Evolve and WWN Champion.
- NXT Championship: Adam Cole VS Akira Tozawa; Cole wins and retains the NXT Championship.
PLAY BY PLAY
Many WWE Superstars owe a lot to Evolve Wrestling.
For 10 years, Evolve has been a place for wrestlers to hone their craft and find themselves. In the days before NXT, Cesaro, Daniel Bryan, Ricochet, Drew McIntyre and many others came through Evolve. It was named for the need to evolve and adapt to the changing landscape of pro-wrestling, and that is what it represents to this day. And so, to give back, WWE brings Evolve LIVE from the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia!
Lenny Leonard shows us the future here tonight as many Evolve stars are ready to fight. They’re ready to evolve and achieve dreams! But as the wrestlers slowly exit the ring, there’s a low blow with the ropes! The cheap shot artist, Harlem Bravado, is told to get out while his victim, Stephen Wolf, is checked on. But the last one in the ring is Josh Briggs, the Professional Disliker of People. He takes the mic to say that “Tonight is about opportunity!” Tonight, he takes HIS opportunity! Briggs demands that Anthony Greene get back in the ring to face him now! Greene’s manager says for Greene to go, so he gets in the ring, and tears off the pants! The referee keeps the peace while we get a proper introduction.
Josh Briggs VS Anthony Green w/ Brandi Lauren!
Chances are, Briggs does not like #RetroAG, but maybe he just has a thing against fanny packs. Brandi helps AG with his jacket and pack and we begin this opening match!
Briggs and AG tie up as fans duel. Briggs just tosses AG to a corner! Then he tosses him out of the corner across the way! Briggs runs corner to corner but misses, but he puts AG on the apron. AG swings but Briggs blocks to slingshot AG into a backbreaker! Fans cheer as Briggs sneers at AG. Briggs drags AG to whip and swing but AG ducks to huricanrana! AG clutches his back as he walks into another backbreaker, then sidewalk slam and splash! Cover, TWO! Briggs grins as he waits for AG to stand. AG sees the choke slam hand and bails out! But Briggs chases after, only for AG to slip back in. AG runs into a boot, but Brandi anchors Briggs’ feet! Briggs shakes her off but AG kicks him at the ropes.
AG has a leg and DDT’s it into the mat! Then AG hops to the apron, only to get grabbed around the throat! AG kicks out the bad leg then boots Briggs down! AG builds speed to DIVE, into Briggs’ hands! For an apron choke slam! Philly is fired up for Briggs, who glares at Brandi as she checks on AG. Fans duel as Briggs gets back on the apron. Briggs drags AG up but AG blocks the kick to kick the leg out, then SUPERKICKS Briggs down! Briggs slowly stands up, to get AG’s springboard cutter to the apron! Brandi cheers AG on as AG clubs away on Briggs. AG drags Briggs up for a swift right hand! Briggs staggers around the corner but AG bumps him off the apron. AG puts Briggs in then climbs up top, to springboard twisting crossbody! Cover, TWO! Fans rally for Briggs as AG catches his breath.
AG stalks Briggs to a corner to throw big hands and a CHOP! Briggs’ bad shoulder comes into play but he holds onto the ropes. Briggs whips AG but AG elbows back and snapmares Briggs into buckles! AG stomps a mudhole into Briggs’ legs! The ref backs AG off but Brandi gets a cheap shot in! AG comes back and drags Briggs to a cover, TWO! AG smirks as he looms over Briggs. Fans build to a rally and Briggs pushes AG down. Briggs runs but into a jawbreaker and neckbreaker! Cover, TWO! Brandi grows frustrated for AG, but fans say “Retro Sucks!” AG ignores them to drag Briggs up. He suplexes but it’s Briggs with the X-Plex! Briggs catches his breath while AG slowly stands.
AG runs in but into an elbow. Briggs dodges AG and sends him out, then is ready when he returns. Briggs breaks through the lariat for a leaping lariat of his own! AG is in a corner and Briggs runs in for a big back elbow. Briggs goes side to side to get a SUPERKICK from AG! Brandi taunts Briggs but Briggs revives to boot wash AG over and over! Briggs brings AG out, whips, backbreaker to butterfly backbreaker! Cover, TWO!! AG survives and Brandi is relieved. Brandi talks smack to Briggs but Briggs just gets angry. Briggs drags AG up and back suplexes, but AG fights out. AG trips Briggs to go for the leg, but Briggs throws him off. AG cartwheels through to forearm Briggs in the corner! Then AG runs, but into a BOOT!
Briggs scoops AG and hits a crucifix Michinoku driver! Cover, TWO!? Briggs is shocked that AG still lives! AG crawls to ropes and Brandi coaches him up but Briggs whips. AG kicks Briggs but it barely does a thing! Briggs blocks another kick but takes the enziguri! He’s still up! Briggs fakes AG out but AG enziguris again! Back suplex and hammerlock to chickenwing DRIVER! Cover, TWO, into a Half Crab! AG has the bad leg but Briggs endures to get the ropebreak! AG lets go reluctantly, but he stomps the bad leg. Brandi talks more smack while AG climbs up top. AG leaps for a 450 but rolls through as Briggs dodges! Briggs puts AG in a corner, blocks a kick but takes another enziguri. School boy into buckles! AG grins as he climbs up again. But Briggs revives to rock him with a right!
Briggs climbs up and brings AG around like a backpack. But Brandi anchors them down! The referee EJECTS Brandi! But in the meantime, AG gets on Briggs’ shoulders for a SUPER VICTORY ROLL! Cover, TWO!? Now AG is shocked, but he SUPERKICKS Briggs, then SUPERKICKS again! Briggs blocks the third into the pump-handle GTS, the Go To HELL! Then the choke grip, but AG slips out! AG fakes Briggs out, grabs a leg, but Briggs fights free. Briggs grabs AG, AG breaks free and throws a big haymaker! But Briggs grabs with the other hand, so AG punches with his other hand! Briggs switches back to the right hand, but so does AG! Briggs still gets AG with the choke slam POWERBOMB! High stack cover, Briggs wins!!
Winner: Josh Briggs, by pinfall
And the Professional Disliker takes the first win on this anniversary card! Surely he has to like that. Will this lead Briggs towards a title in the near future?
Evolve looks back on The Unwanted’s history.
As of Evolve episode 123, The Unwanted’s Eddie Kingston and Joe Gacy became the NEW Evolve Tag Team Champions after dethroning NXT’s Street Profits. And even after giving up Isaiah “Swerve” Scott, they reloaded with Sean Maluta. However, they know now from Evolve 131, their new contenders are AR Fox and Leon Ruff. In the present, Eddie Kingston warns Fox and Ruff that he, the Unwanted King, and the Unwanted Maniac, Gacy, will take all those years, all those miles, all those hot dogs and handshakes, they’re not going to let anyone beat them! “Understand something: you may not know us, but you can ask those ‘superstars’ about me.” The world will finally see what the Unwanted can do, but will they retain their titles under these brighter lights?
Four Way Freestyle: Sean Maluta VS Curt Stallion VS Stephen Wolf VS Harlem Bravado!
Speaking of the Unwanted, the Samoan Dragon and their newest member is here to grab his own opportunity with his own hands. But so are the Lone Star, the Leader of the Pack, and the Globetrotter! Who makes the biggest impact on this 10th anniversary special?
Wolf wants at Harlem after that cheap shot to start the show, but the ref keeps the peace again. Each man has a corner and the bell rings. Wolf goes right at Harlem and throws hands! Maluta has Stallion to deal with and Stallion throws big rights and CHOPS! Wolf brings Harlem out while Maluta reverses a whip to back kick. Maluta goes to bomb but Stallion back drops. Maluta sunset flips but Stallion rolls through to stomp! Harlem stomps Wolf into barriers while Stallion covers, TWO! Stallion throws more heavy hands on Maluta then whips. Harlem returns just as Maluta reverses. Harlem grabs Stallion and holds him there for Maluta. Maluta runs in but Stallion gets clear, and Maluta’s forearm hits Harlem!
Stallion waistlocks but Maluta switches. Stallion bucks Maluta off but he runs into a kick. Maluta backslides but Stallion rolls through, to get a buzzsaw! And twisting suplex! But Wolf returns to dropkick Maluta! Wolf runs corner to corner but Maluta dodges to whip Wolf away. Maluta misses in the corner now, and Wolf kicks him away. Wolf springboards to crossbody Maluta down! Wolf howls but Harlem clubs him down! Harlem soaks up the heat but gets CHOPS from Stallion! Harlem ducks the third chop to roundhouse Stallion down! Fans boo but Harlem just soaks up the heat. Wolf gets up and baits Harlem in to dump him out. Wolf builds speed to FLY! Direct hit wipes Harlem out and the pack howls with Wolf. But Maluta climbs to LEAP onto him and Harlem! But Stallion builds speed to FLY onto all three!
Fans fire up behind the Lone Star as he gets Maluta back in. Stallion waistlocks, deadlifts and German Suplexes! Bridge cover, TWO! Stallion keeps his cool as he drags Maluta up again. Maluta throat chops Stallion! Maluta CHOPS Stallion back then runs, but Harlem dumps him out! Harlem waves bye before giving Stallion CHOPS of his own. Then he fakes a chop to give a jab. Harlem sees Wolf jump in and gets under to scoop Wolf to a dragon sleeper. Stallion runs in, but gets caught by Harlem, for Harlem to DDT and complete shot them both! Harlem covers Wolf, TWO! Fans say “You Still Suck!” to Harlem, and then Wolf fights back. Harlem still fits Wolf for a big back suplex and cover, TWO!
Harlem keeps on Wolf with a stomp in the corner. He drags Wolf up to CHOP, then whip corner to corner. Wolf reverses and runs in but gets an elbow. Harlem hops up but Maluta forearms him down onto ropes! Stallion returns but gets a SUPERKICK! SUPERKICK for Harlem! Wolf springboards into a SUPERKICK! Fans fire up for the Savage as he covers Wolf, TWO! Maluta keeps his cool as he BOOTS Stallion down. Maluta drags Wolf up but gets a jawbreaker! Wolf runs, Maluta dodges, and they both crossbody! Both men are down gasping for air, but Wolf is up first .Fans rally and Maluta follows. Harlem runs in but gets Wolf’s enziguri. Stallion has Maluta for a Snap German! Stallion and Wolf stare down, but BOOT the others!
Wolf and Stallion sweep the legs, and then corner to corner, dropkick and swinging bronco buster! Stallion fires up, but fakes Harlem out to Sole Food! Wolf monkey flips Maluta down and a double cover, TWO!! Now Wolf and Stallion stare down. Philly duels between them, so they start brawling! Wolf kicks but Stallion CHOPS away! Stallion whips but Wolf reverses and rolling elbows! Wolf runs but into Harlem’s BOOT! Stallion HEADBUTTS Harlem, but Maluta enziguris Stallion! Maluta rips off the wrist tape and whips Wolf. Wolf tiger feints to a lariat! All four men are down and the fans are loving it! Wolf is up first as the fans rally. Wolf drags Maluta up but Maluta blocks the suplex. Harlem throws Maluta out and ducks Wolf’s kick to shove and pop-up to a Death Valley Driver!
Harlem is fired up but fans boo as he drags Satallion up. Double underhooks but Stallion breaks out, jackknife to Alabama, Air Raid Crash! But Maluta hits a FLYING code breaker on Stallion! Stallion gets out of the ring so Maluta goes at Wolf. Wolf ducks the kick and hits a Blue Thunder Bomb! Maluta is in the drop zone and Wolf heads up top. Harlem trips Wolf up! Fans boo but Maluta decks Harlem. Maluta climbs up to join Wolf, but Stallion is back! SUPER INVERTED SPANISH FLY! Harlem has Stallion, butterfly driver! Shooting Star from Wolf to Harlem! Wolf wins!!
Winner: Stephen Wolf, by pinfall
The Leader of the Pack gets the better of all three opponents! And now he’s howling all the way to the back! Will the Globetrotter be back for payback?
Evolve hears from Anthony Henry.
A wrestling veteran of over 16 years, the Patron Saint of Wrestling promises to show the world high impact strikes, slick submissions, and a little bit of everything. His MMA and amateur wrestling makes him a violent hybrid, but it will always be a fight.
Arturo Ruas VS Anthony Henry!
The Brazilian Tiger lives by the code of #TechniqueisEverything and believes his own technique is better than everyone’s. However, we just heard from the Patron Saint of Wrestling, and we know now that Ruas is in for a fight! Who fights harder to prove themselves to the world?
The bell rings and the strikes are swinging! Each man gets clear and now they both know they’re serious. Ruas throws hands and then tackles Henry to the mat. Ruas has the armbar but Henry gets the ropebreak. Henry is let go and Ruas eggs him on in Portuguese. Fans rally as Henry fires off on Ruas! Henry tackles Ruas now and throws his own hands! Henry wants the armbar but Ruas rolls out to go for his own! Ruas clubs and hammers but Henry, bloody nose and all, stands up and slips out. Henry gets through the leg guard to rain down hands. Ruas pushes Henry away and gets him down with a body scissor catch! Ruas has the arm but Henry stands again to go for Ruas’ arm! Henry pulls but Ruas has the monkey grip.
Henry clubs away on Ruas but Ruas stands up and deadlifts! Ruas slams Henry with a powerbomb! But Ruas rains down hands before the cover, TWO!! Henry just escapes but Ruas is laser focused. Ruas kicks Henry in the back, then taunts him more. Ruas toys with Henry before throwing hands in the corner. The ref backs Ruas off and checks on Henry. Henry refuses to back down so Ruas chinlocks him in the ropes. Henry eggs Ruas on so Ruas knees him back down. Ruas talks trash as Henry flops down. Ruas brings Henry up but Henry fires off palm strikes! Henry kicks but Ruas ducks to waistlock. Henry wheelbarrows through to double stomp Ruas down! Ruas and Henry are both reeling from respective damage, but fans fire up for Henry as he hits a windmill kick!
Henry fires himself up as he gives Ruas muay thai knees. Ruas whips Henry into a corner hard, but Henry boots and climbs at the same time! Missile dropkick! Fans are fired up as Henry kips up! Henry runs corner to corner for a big forearm smash, then whips Ruas into a hammerlock back suplex! Henry Northern Lights and floats over to the armbar! Ruas resists but Henry pries that grip apart!! Ruas slips around to a cover, ONE and Ruas bails out. Henry goes to the apron and leaps with a knee! Ruas gets wrecked into railing and Philly fires up again! Henry gets Ruas in and climbs, double stomps but he has to roll through. Ruas dodges again then blocks to counter punch away. Ruas knees, cartwheels and shotgun dropkicks! Cover, TWO!! Henry survives and Ruas is furious.
Ruas drags Henry up for another rain of rights. Ruas soaks up the heat as he drags Henry back up. Cravat scoop but Henry slips into a sleeper with body scissors! Ruas bumps Henry on buckles but Henry is back on! Ruas tries again, but Henry won’t let him be! Henry has Ruas fading, then sweeps the legs! Ruas ducks the Penalty Kick to give an Eddie Gordo Kick! German Suplex and bridge, TWO!! Henry survives again and Ruas is furious. Fans rally up for Henry as Ruas stalks him to the ropes. Ruas throws hands from all sides. Henry boots back but Ruas smears him into ropes. Ruas kicks the legs out but Henry blocks the knee! Henry kicks that leg out to buzzsaw Ruas down! Ruas is down and Henry fires the fans up again.
Henry climbs but Ruas intercepts with big haymakers. Ruas climbs up to join Henry and clubs away on the back. Henry hits back and hits dumdum stomps! Then a tornado DDT! Henry keeps moving as Ruas is down. Henry’s back up top, BIG double stomps! Cover, TWO!? But Henry is right on the Ankle Lock! Ruas endures as Henry twists and wrenches! Ruas rolls and gets Henry down to go at the leg. Both men have a leg lock, but realize this won’t do it. So they start throwing SLAPPING palm strikes! Ruas backs off and fans rally up again. Ruas and Henry throw hands fast and furious and the fans are loving it! Henry gets the edge, but runs into the capoeria heel kick!! Cover, Ruas wins!!
Winner: Arturo Ruas, by pinfall
The Tiger may have even knocked Henry out with that heel kick. Ruas gets a big win in a truly big fight. Will Ruas find himself fighting for a title in the near future? And is there still plenty of fight left in Henry?
No Disqualifications: Brandi Lauren VS Shotzi Blackheart!
To say there is history between the Retro manager and SHINE Wrestling’s Nova Champion would be an understatement. They tried settling things at Evolve 128, but the Pizza Cat would not let Brandi off so easily, and a brawl broke out afterward. Referees would not #LetThemFight back then, but now they have no choice! Will things finally be settled when the gloves are off and the rules are out of the way?
The bell rings and fans cheer for “Pizza Cat! Pizza Cat!” Shotzi and Brandi approach, but someone attacks Shotzi for Brandi! Natalia Markova is on Brandi’s side!? Brandi says this is a No DQ, after all. So the ruthless Russian does all the dirty work with her roundhouse, boot and running X-Factor! Then a running heel kick in the corner! But Shotzi fights back! Shotzi chops away and boots Natalia, and Brandi bails out! Shotzi springboard enziguris Natalia to the corner! Then hits a corner 619! Fans fire up with Shotzi and climbs up, for a big missile dropkick! Natalia is taken care of, and now Shotzi builds speed to DIVE onto Brandi! Direct hit but not without its consequences as Shotzi now has a bloody nose.
Shotzi drags Brandi up to bump off the apron, then walks around the way to look under the ring. She brings out chairs, but as always, “We Want Tables!” For now, Shotzi sticks to the chairs as she sets them up by the ramp. Brandi grabs one but Shotzi mule kicks her down! Shotzi puts Brandi back in the ring, but Brandi wrecks Shotzi with a dropkick into those chairs she set up! Fans are reminded of “E C DUB! E C DUB!” as Brandi brings Shotzi over to whip right into the apron. Brandi grabs those chairs from earlier and reorganizes them. She drags Shotzi over and suplexes, but Shotzi blocks. Shotzi fights back and punches Brandi, but Brandi whips Shotzi into the post! If that nose wasn’t bleeding before, it is now.
Brandi grabs another chair and brings Shotzi over. “I’m giving you exactly what you wanted.” But Shotzi fires off palm strikes and a SUPERKICK! To then run in for a senton onto the chair!! Both women are down but somehow okay to continue. Shotzi drags Brandi onto the apron, but Brandi shoves her into another post! Then grabs her for an apron powerbomb! Fans are reminded of “Kevin Owens!” now as Brandi covers, TWO! Shotzi survives and Brandi grows frustrated. Brandi drags Shotzi up and to a corner to bump off buckles. Brandi whips Shotzi corner to corner but Shotzi goes up and over to roundhouse Brandi! Shotzi runs and dodges Brandi to mule kick then front kick. Rolling elbow to enziguri! Brandi flops into a corner and fans fire up with Shotzi.
Shotzi runs corner to corner for another senton! Brandi slips out to the apron but Shotzi follows. Shotzi grabs Brandi, but Brandi denies Sliced Bread. Brandi kicks Shotzi into this post, then gets to the floor. Brandi brings Shotzi around back to those chairs, but Shotzi bumps her off the apron. Shotz bounces Brandi off those chairs, and then goes under the ring again. She brings out even more chairs, and starts stacking them on the other chairs! Shotzi brings Brandi around, lifts, and sits Brandi on the very top. Fans ask Shotzi, “Please Don’t Die!” but Shotzi fires herself and howls to the moon. Shotzi builds speed but Anthony Greene returns! Shotzi boots him down, then builds speed again, to DIVE! She only gets chairs!! AG moved Brandi out of the way and Shotzi crashes and burns!
Fans lose their minds over the carnage! AG drags Shotzi from the wreckage and puts her in the ring. Brandi covers, TWO!?! But how?! No one can believe it but the fans are loving it! AG hurries to find anything to give to Brandi while fans rally up for Shotzi. AG finds a kendo stick and hands it to Brandi! But now AG has to fight off Curt Stallion! Brandi SMACKS away on Shotzi while the Lone Star makes sure AG can’t do anything more. Shotzi is down, just taking those kendo stick strikes! Cover, Brandi wins!
Winner: Brandi Lauren, by pinfall
There should be an asterisk here that it was almost a handicap match. Shotzi has the fans on her side, so Brandi’s win rings hollow. Will this settle anything between Brandi and Shotzi?
Colby Corino w/ Sean Maluta VS Babatunde!
The Unwanted Son has the Unwanted Savage by his side as he looks to make his own impact on tonight’s anniversary show. But how well will he do against a truly massive opponent?
The bell rings and Colby talks trash to big bad Baba. Colby chops but they don’t do a thing! Fans know Colby messed up, and Babatunde crushes Colby’s hand. Colby punches with the other hand, but Babatunde just LAUNCHES Colby! Colby bails out and regroups with Maluta, but Babatunde hurries out to fetch Colby. Babatunde tells Maluta to back off, and Colby runs at him! But he’s still not big enough! Babatunde grabs Colby, tosses him up onto the apron, and CHOPS him against the ropes! Colby feels his soul leave his body, then Babatunde tosses Colby into the ring. The ref keeps Maluta back, but Colby gets Babatunde with a shotgun knee! The giant is finally rocked, and then Maluta gets a cheap shot SUPERKICK in!
Babatunde staggers into the ring and Colby fires off forearms. Babatunde pushes Colby away, but Colby quickly goes to the corner. Colby springboards and swantons onto Babatunde’s back! Fans duel as Colby covers, TWO and with force! Colby gets mad now as he climbs back up. Colby leaps but into Babatunde’s hand! Babatunde lifts Colby with both hands, to buckle bomb! Then Babatunde runs in for a big corner splash! Babatunde SWATS Colby with one hand, then runs to drop a HUGE elbow! Colby gasps for air but Babatunde isn’t done, HUGE splash! Cover, Babatunde wins!
Winner: Babatunde, by pinfall
The Unwanted still want to fight the big man, so out comes the King and the Maniac. They check on Colby, but he’s still breathing. Eddie Kingston gives a role call, reminding everyone they are the Evolve Tag Team Champions. Maluta takes Colby to the back while Kingston mocks “Bababooey.” “People like you make us sick.” Babatunde gets handed opportunities just because he played football and is 7-foot-whatever. But the Unwanted traveled the road and did things the “right” way. The Performance Center handed Babatunde everything, but the Unwanted will take the “big goofy bastard” out to take his spot.
But wait, here comes their challengers! AR Fox and Leon Fox, along with Ayla Fox and The Skulk, won’t let The Unwanted do what they want. They DIVE onto the Unwanted, wrecking them to the barriers! Babatunde takes his leave so Fox and Ruff can handle their business right here and now!
Evolve Tag Team Championships: The Unwanted VS AR Fox & Leon Ruff w/ Ayla Fox!
No need for introductions or raising the belts here, the fight continues where it left off! Fox and Ruff build speed again, but The Unwanted get clear. So they just change direction and DOUBLE DIVE anyway! Kingston and Gacy are taken out and Philly fires up with the challengers. Fox and Ruff get back in the ring, but Kingston and Gacy drag them out for big haymakers. The Unwanted regroup, and Gacy DIVES, but misses Fox to only get Kingston! Ruff runs over to climb up and FLY onto The Unwanted! Ruff holds onto the Unwanted, and Fox springboards for an IMPLODING CANNONBALL! It proves a little double-edged as Fox clips the barriers, but he’s up on his feet! Philly is thunderous as Fox and Ruff put Gacy in.
Ruff CHOPS Gacy, then goes acrobatic and even shows off a little for the huricanrana! SUPERKICK and buzzsaw from Fox, then Ruff adds an Eddie Gordo kick before Fox hits a cutter! Ruff German Suplexes and bridges to a cover, with Fox on top! But Kingston breaks it up! Kingston throws hands on Fox and Ruff, but they duck his double clotheslines to double enziguri! Ruff brings Kingston up as Fox goes to a corner. But Kingston shoves Ruff forward to get Fox’s cutter! Gacy handsprings to give Fox a cutter!! Then the Unwanted combine, discus lariat to saido suplex! Ruff is all alone as the Unwanted hit a corner train, and double forearms! Cover, TWO! Ruff lives and Kingston is seething.
Fans rally for Ruff as the Unwanted coordinate again. Scoop slam from Kingston, then from Gacy. Kingston gets up top and Gacy suplexes Ruff up there for him. SUPER POWERSLAM! Cover, TWO!! Fox returns but gets the Russian Leg Sweep STO combo! Kingston has Gacy go at Ruff but Ruff fights back! Ruff throws hands and chops but the Unwanted mug him in the corner, and CHOP away! Kingston even headbutts Ruff before he hoists Ruff up top. Kingston climbs up to join Ruff, and SUPERPLEXES Ruff into Gacy’s powerbomb! Cover, TWO!! Ruff shocks the Unwanted with his resilience! Ayla and the rest of the Skulk rally for Ruff, as do the fans. The Unwanted toy with Ruff and then bring him to a corner. Gacy hops up top and Kingston suplexes, but Fox saves Ruff. Kingston turns around into Fox’s SUPERKICK while Ruff enziguris Gacy!
Ruff climbs, but Kingston body checks Fox! Gacy and Ruff brawl, and then Ruff kicks Kingston, for a backflip DDT! Fox hits the springboard Spanish Fly on Gacy! Double covers, TWO!! They were so close but still so far from winning! But Philly still believes in Fox and Ruff as they regroup. Fox drags Kingston and whips, but Kingston blocks. Kingston backhands Fox right down! Gacy runs at Ruff, but Ruff goes to crucifix. Kingston drags Ruff off Gacy and into a half nelson. Discus Half ‘n’ Half combo! Gacy covers Ruff, TWO!! Ruff is proving to be superhuman and it infuriates Gacy. But Gacy and Kingston coordinate. Kingston looms over Ruff as Gacy gets a table! Gacy sets that table up while Kingston keeps Ruff in a corner.
Kingston sits Ruff up top to CHOP, then climbs up to join him. He wants to bomb Ruff! Fox goes Coast 2 Coast on Gacy! Ruff fights back and hits a SUPER CRUCIFIX, the Ruff Ride! Ruff then DIVES onto Gacy, through that table!! Fox gives Kingston the 450 Splash! Cover, Fox & Ruff win!!
Winners: AR Fox & Leon Ruff, Fox pinning; NEW Evolve Tag Team Champions
The Skulk has gold! Philly is ready to celebrate along with them as they dance it out in the ring! But will this be the last The Skulk has seen of The Unwanted?
Evolve looks at the history of Catch Point.
The now WWE Cruiserweight Champion, Drew Gulak, founded a team of “like-minded wrestlers” in Evolve, all the way back in 2015. Catch Point was a philosophy. The style was all about isolating weakness, and taking back what is the heart of pro-wrestling. Gulak wanted his group to be strong, so he recruited Matt Riddle into the fold. Riddle agreed that wrestling is about taking the opponent down by any means necessary. You beat someone down, make them submit, or just knock them out.
And so when NXT returned to Philly recently, Drew Gulak threw out an open challenge! Who answered? Matt Riddle, naturally. Riddle said the 10th Anniversary was the perfect place to do this, bro. Now Catch Point partners face off in a match four years in the making. Who will prove themselves the superior submission specialist?
Matt Riddle VS Drew Gulak!
This #CatchPointReunion doesn’t need to be for titles or anything like that. It is all about both men’s pride and skill as true wrestlers. Will the Original Bro slow the Philly Stretcher down on the way to Extreme Rules? Or will Gulak make Riddle simply tap out?
Catch Point trainees take a jog around the ring, and then stand at attention for the captain! Philly’s own walks in and his trainees give the Catch Point salute before taking their leave. The bell rings and the Catch Point founders stare down. They circle and tie up. Gulak keeps Riddle off him, and they go again. Gulak spins around but Riddle trips Gulak up, but Gulak kicks Riddle away. Fans are loving this as Riddle and Gulak test the waters. Riddle throws hands and gets Gulak down but Gulak is ready with a facelock. Riddle rolls Gulak and gets a rear mount but Gulak slips out the back. Gulak has a leg but Riddle rolls through to escape the ankle lock. Philly sings for their hometown hero as he and Riddle approach again.
Riddle and Gulak tie up and go around, and Riddle pushes Gulak against ropes. Riddle backs off and Gulak circles with him again. Gulak gets caught in a waistlock and Riddle slams him down! Riddle keeps on that rear mount but Gulak endures as Riddle grab the arm. Gulak stands up out of the hammerlock but Riddle holds on. Riddle chinlocks but Gulak pries the hands away. Gulak turns Riddle around and into the GuLock! But Riddle rolls off! Riddle has the arm but Gulak has the ropebreak right away. Fans cheer as Riddle backs off. Gulak and Riddle circle and tie up again. Riddle powers Gulak to a corner but the ref gets them apart, only for Riddle to throw hands. Riddle kicks away on Gulak, but Gulak boots back! Gulak hops up and leaps, into a Bro-Trigger!
Both men are down but Riddle is up first to hit the Bro-Ton! Cover, ONE, but Riddle is on the arm again. Gulak endures but Riddle wants the Bromission! Gulak pops out to a cover, ONE! The two back off and fans cheer this technical exchange. Gulak and Riddle circle again as fans duel. Riddle throws jabs and kicks but Gulak throws haymakers. Gulak gets knees in then snap suplexes Riddle to a cover, ONE! Gulak and Riddle glare as Gulak gets a cravat. Riddle fights back but Gulak snapmares to a cover. ONE, but Gulak CHOPS Riddle on the back. Gulak puts on a headscissor and grabs a leg to deny Riddle’s escape. Riddle moves up and around, pops out, but Gulak ducks the Penalty Kick! Gulak and Riddle circle again and start throwing hands!
Gulak facelocks, then Gotch holds. Riddle fights his way out but Gulak headlocks. Philly decides they love “Both These Guys!” as Gulak drags Riddle down. Riddle endures the chinlock crank and works out the back. Riddle throws big hands but Gulak standing switches and rolls, but into Riddle’s powerbomb! TWO, Bro-Trigger blocked! Into Gulak’s bomb! High stack, TWO, but into a Half Crab! Fans are loving this back and forth as Riddle endures. But Riddle powers up and gets the ropebreak! Gulak falls off the hold, just as tired as Riddle right now. Gulak goes right at Riddle and throws big uppercuts! He drags Riddle up but Riddle throws hands back. Riddle CHOPS away from both sides, then ducks Gulak’s lariat. Ripcord Bro-Trigger! Cover, TWO!!
Gulak survives and goes to the corner, but Riddle drags him out to drop another Bro-Ton! Riddle goes to a corner and climbs up top. But Gulak grabs him for a SUPER BACK SUPLEX! Cover, TWO!! Both men are down but fans still duel and rally. Riddle crawls as a standing count begins. The count reaches 5 before Gulak sits up. Gulak and Riddle head for each other, and Riddle CHOPS Gulak around. Gulak grabs a leg but Riddle sprawls. Riddle clubs and ax kicks away on Gulak’s back! Penalty Kick! Cover, TWO! Gulak grins and Riddle scowls as the two stand up again. Philly says “This is Awesome!” as Gulak and Riddle throw hands again. Gulak headbutts low then does it again. He waistlocks Riddle up to a full nelson. Riddle resists and slips around to the GULOCK!? He’s taking Gulak’s move!!
But Gulak knows how to get out, only for Riddle to get a triangle! Gulak gets the ropebreak and Riddle holds on until 4. Riddle stomps Gulak down then drags him up, but Gulak cradle counters! TWO, and Riddle CHOPS! Fisherman buster and cradle cover, TWO! Philly is on their feet as Catch Point’s battle continues. Gulak rolls to the apron as fans duel harder than ever. Riddle drags Gulak up for a sleeper at the ropes, but Gulak hotshots him away! Gulak gets up as Riddle gasps for air. Gulak grins, but Riddle is right on him for a deadlift SUPER German!! Like a certain Golden Star! Riddle climbs as fans chant “Yowie Wowie!” FLOATING BRO, into the GULOCK!! Gulak has Riddle flailing and reaching, so far from ropes! But Riddle flips over, to gut wrench Gulak, BRO DEREK! Cover, Riddle wins!!
Winner: Matt Riddle, by pinfall
The Catch Point reunion did not disappoint, and Riddle can say he beat the Cruiserweight Champion! But will Gulak have better luck against the Premier Athlete, Tony Nese, at Extreme Rules?
Gulak grabs a mic to speak. “Catch Point was founded on three things: competition, opportunity, and respect.” Fans cheer those pillars. Gulak tells Riddle that as Cruiserweight Champion, in an Evolve ring, “bro, you are a hell of a competitor. I respect you, and it is always an honor.” The two shake hands and even hug it out. They give their Catch Point salute, and Philly joins in. Gulak even tells Curt Stallion something real quick. “I’ve got news for you. Matthew Riddle handpicked you to be his opponent tomorrow,” so hopefully the Lone Star is up to the task. Stallion and Riddle will have their showdown, will it become a #Brodown?
Evolve welcomes Bryan Idol.
Apparently, “Evolve wouldn’t be where it is without Bryan Idol,” but only Idol seems to think that. Fans boo this special guest ring announcer even as he struggles to make the introduction for the next match. Fans even tell Idol to STFU. Idol has a dry throat it seems. He refocuses, but then the lights go out? When they come back up, Idol isn’t in the ring, it’s PAUL HEYMAN!! Philly loves Heyman and “E C DUB! E C DUB!” Heyman bows to his Philly faithful and then sees the mic Idol left behind. Fans tell Heyman “Welcome Back!” and Heyman introduces himself. He is honored and privileged to be back, especially after fans chant, “Thank You, Heyman!” Heyman thanks them in return, because he is honored to be home.
Heyman lets us in on a personal secret that Heyman has always been offered all sorts of guest spots on all sorts of shows, but he doesn’t really do that kind of stuff. To be honest, he wasn’t actually invited here. But don’t boo, it was because Evolve just knew Heyman doesn’t do this. But this time, Heyman asked Evolve if he could be here tonight. Heyman has to tell the “shmuck” in the corner to shut up, because he’s the “extreme due with the microphone.”
But to the reason why Heyman is here, it’s because the Evolve fans and roster are the future! Heyman won’t be one of those old guys watching the glory days. He wants to know more about the future of this industry than when he walked in here. But given that Heyman is fat and sweating his ass off, he wants to hurry up and announce this next match. Because a few years from now, when fans watch this back, they’re gonna be thinking, “That was the moment we all knew this industry is going to evolve.”
Evolve and WWN Championship Unification: Austin Theory VS JD Drake!
The Blue Collar Badass from Shelby, North Carolina is seen as the underdog against the #FutureLegend. At least, the Future Legend thinks so. Theory is ready to prove he is worthy of his title, JD’s title, and of every spotlight and big stage from here to Wrestlemania. JD says he’s the better man, but Theory wants to prove he’s put in just as much work. Both men have fought and sacrificed, from losing loved ones to battling inner demons. JD is the every man, but Theory wants to be the man. Whose journey has made them the stronger man as they battle for both belts?
Heyman marvels at the fact Evolve has pyro. But Heyman does his duties as the ring announcer, framing this as a title for title, winner takes all match. Foreshadowing for Extreme Rules perhaps? He also introduces the “reigning, defending, undisputed Evolve Champion, AUSTIN! THEORY!” and “a man who only needs one damn nickname, the Blue Collar Badass” and “reigning, defending, undisputed WWN Champion, J! D! DRAKE!” Fans chant “Thank You, Paulie!” as Heyman makes his exit. With that, the belts are raised, and the bell rings as history begins!
Drake and Theory stare down as fans duel. The two approach and then Drake shoves Theory. Theory SLAPS Drake, so Drake swings punches. Theory ducks, kicks low and underhooks Drake! He wants his finisher, Ataxia, already, but Drake powers out to underhook Theory! Theory denies Drillbit, then starts counter punching. Theory whips but Drake blocks with power. Drake whips but Theory goes up and over then ducks to dropkick! Drake stays standing but Theory dodges, only to get Drake’s dropkick! Theory bails out and shakes out the cobwebs, but Drake builds speed. Drake runs into Theory’s forearm! Theory drags Drake out to throw hands, but then he misses and forearms the post!
Drake CHOPS Theory back and Theory goes reeling. Drake drags Theory up for another CHOP and Theory flops to the floor. Fans want “One More Time!”, so Drake drags Theory up to shove him against the apron, and CHOP again! Theory falls to the floor and crawls away to the ramp. Drake stalks him and throws more hands. Drake wants to bomb, but Theory back drops Drake onto the ramp! Fans fire up as Theory stomps Drake. Theory mocks Drake’s journey of 15 years compared to his sensational 3. Theory drags Drake in and covers, TWO! “C’mon, that was five!” The ref says it was not, and Drake hits Theory back. Theory clubs Drake to a corner then CHOPS. But it only makes Drake made! Theory wants Drake to take it easy, but chops again! Drake doesn’t flinch as he CHOPS Theory again!
Theory gets up to club Drake down and stomps him to ropes. Theory kicks Drake against the ropes, then snap suplexes him down. Cover, TWO! Theory keeps on Drake with a half straitjacket. Fans rally up as Drake endures. Drake throws hands and gets free, but Theory blocks a kick for a saido suplex! Theory hops over to hit the standing moonsault! Cover, TWO! Theory keeps his cool and catches his breath. He stalks Drake to a corner and throws forearms in. Theory drags Drake into the ropes and mocks him, “Tell them a sad story!” Drake CHOPS Theory back, but Theory runs in for a stiff forearm to the back. Theory throws more big forearms, but Drake just feeds off it.
Fans rally up and Drake stands. Drake dares Theory to really hit him. “You can’t hit me harder than life has!” Theory tries with another chop, but Drake CHOPS Theory off his feet! Theory gets up again and clotheslines, but Drake stays up. He keeps trying but he just gets Drake down to a knee. Drake blocks the next clothesline to give one back! Fans fire up as both men slowly stir. They stand on opposite ends of the ring, and Drake runs in, only to get an elbow. Theory runs in but into a BIG scoop slam! Both men are down again while Drake rolls to the far corner. Fans continue to duel as the standing count begins. Drake heads for Theory as they both stand at 6. Theory drop toeholds Drake into buckles, then slingshot shotgun dropkicks!
Drake is in a corner, Theory runs corner to corner, crossbody splash and then a float to a sweep. Slingshot stomps miss and Drake drags Theory out, to toss him up. Theory bounces off the ropes and Drake ROCKS him with that right! Drake rests against the post to catch his breath. He gets Theory back in but Theory rolls out the other end. So Drake DIVES! Direct hit right to the railing! Drake puts Theory back in and runs at the corner, to CHOP! Then he scoops and slams Theory into a drop zone. Drake hops up, Vader Bomb! Cover, TWO!! Theory survives but Drake keeps his focus. Drake sees an opening so he climbs up again. But Theory is up and clubs Drake’s back. Theory climbs up behind but Drake elbows him away. Drake turns around, leaping leg lariat!
Theory is down in the corner, but he gets clear of the cannonball! Then Theory somersaults, for the blockbuster! Cover, TWO!! Both Drake and Theory are down but fans know “This is Awesome!” The referee checks on Theory but he’s okay to continue with a bloody nose. Theory storms over to Drake and drags him up. Theory underhooks, but Drake resists to tackle Theory to a corner. Drake stands Theory up to CHOP him again! Drake hoists Theory up top to CHOP yet again! Theory gasps for air, and Drake chops even more. Drake climbs up but Theory fights back. Theory slips down, but Drake holds on to punch Theory down. Theory leaps to club Drake on the back! Then he gets Drake in a torture rack!
With wobbly legs, Theory powers Drake through Three Seconds Around the World! Cover, TWO!! Drake survives Theory’s tower hacker bomb and Theory can’t believe! Fans chant “Mamma Mia!” as Theory talks to himself. Theory shouts at Drake, “Your kids are going to watch me!” He drags Drake back up, underhooks, but Drake back drops out! Drake staggers to a corner, but so does Theory. Drake runs in but into a boot! Theory somersaults, into a STUNNER!! Theory flops around, Drake runs in for the CANNONBALL! Then underhook, lift, DRILLBIT! The butterfly neckbreaker hits! Cover, TWO!!! But Drake doesn’t even question it, he just climbs! MOONSAULT! Cover, TWO!?! Theory still lives and Drake is just exhausted! Philly still loves this match because “This is Awesome!”
Drake and Theory stir, then sit up. They lean on each other, then Drake CHOPS Theory down. Theory sits back up to forearm Drake back. Drake CHOPS again, but Theory comes back with forearms. They stand and pick up steam, Drake CHOPS again. Theory still keeps throwing forearms, Drake ducks one but gets an elbow, to SUPERKICK! Underhook, inside fisherman, and Theory flips Drake, only for Drake to land on his feet?! Drake LARIATS Theory down! Drake hurries to a corner and climbs up again, MOONSAULT FLOPS! SUPERKICK, and another! And another! ATAXIA!! Cover, Theory wins!!
Winner: Austin Theory, by pinfall; still Evolve and NEW WWN Champion
History has been made, and the unified titles belong to the #REALSuperstar! Is this just the beginning of the legend that is the Future Legend, Austin Theory?
Theory takes a moment to soak in the moment before he gets a mic. “Everyone knows that Evolve Wrestling is where it’s at. And everybody’s gonna try their hardest to get here.” Theory tosses down the WWN belt and steps on it as he continues. “They’ll chase their dreams, and realize that the Evolve Championship symbolizes that your dream must go through me if you want to get to where you want to go!” Because Theory is the measuring stick of Evolve! Theory is the standard of Evolve! Theory is the REAL SUPERSTAR of Evolve!
But wait, the lights go down and… Josh Briggs appears! Theory turns around, into the choke slam! Briggs sees the Evolve title and picks it up. He has staked his claim and has sent his message. When and where will Briggs get his shot at his dream?
Evolve takes a closer look at Josh Briggs.
“I get to show the world why I’m the best in Evolve.” This towering titan got into pro-wrestling because “it’s one of the only legal ways to get into a fight with someone.” The Disliker of People is coming for the title, who here can stop him?
NXT Championship: Adam Cole VS Akira Tozawa!
This main event practically epitomizes the potential Evolve brings out of its wrestlers! The Stamina Monster of Dragongate USA and former Cruiserweight Champion returns to an ovation of “AH! AH!” But the Panama City Playboy returns to #ShocktheSystem, BAYBAY! Will Cole’s Championship Celebration Tour stay spotless? Or will Tozawa bring that title with him to 205 Live?
The introductions are made, the belt is raised, and this incredible crossover main event begins!
Cole and Tozawa stare down as fans duel. They circle as the dueling gets louder. Cole and Tozawa tie up and go around the ring. Cole gets Tozawa in a corner, but backs off, “BAYBAY!” Fans cheer as Cole takes a bow. Tozawa just smiles and circles with Cole again. Cole waistlocks but Tozawa counters with a wristlock and shoulder breaker. Cole rolls around to wrench Tozawa back. Tozawa rolls and trips Cole to a headlock. Cole fights against the hold but Tozawa holds on. Fans echo “AH! AH!” for Tozawa as he cranks Cole more. Cole headscissors but Tozawa powers out to the headlock again. Cole works his way out of the headlock to get his own. Tozawa powers out but Cole runs him over. Cole brushes his shoulder off but things speed up.
Tozawa slips out of the back suplex and shoves Cole to dodge and tilt-o-whirl into the Iron Octopus! Cole hurries to the ropes and Tozawa lets him go. Tozawa kicks Cole around the ropes and throws hands. He whips Cole corner to corner but Cole tosses him to the apron. Tozawa kicks Cole away then climbs up top. Cole trips Tozawa and Tozawa hits buckles on the way down! Cole bicycle boots Tozawa down! Fans cheer as Cole drags Tozawa back up, and drops him with a neckbreaker. Cole looms over Tozawa as fans duel again. Cole brings Tozawa up and throws a big forearm. He stomps Tozawa in the corner then drags Tozawa up to wrench and whip hard! Tozawa bounces off buckles while Cole flexes.
Cole drags Tozawa up for a snapmare, then drives his knee in. He slaps Tozawa in the head, then wraps on a chinlock. Tozawa endures and fans rally up. Tozawa works his way around and reaches, but Cole wrangles him from the ropes. Fans rally and duel more as Tozawa flops around. Tozawa gets up and fights free, only to run into Cole’s back elbow. Cole catches his breath and looms over Tozawa. “I’m the man now. You hear me? I’m the man. I’m going to be the NXT Champion forever. And you, Tozawa? You suck!” Tozawa SLAPS Cole! Cole throws a forearm but Tozawa gives it back. They brawl now, and Tozawa gets the edge. Cole knees low then runs, but into Tozawa’s fireman’s carry! Cole fights with elbows, but Tozawa still tosses him!
Tozawa runs to shotgun dropkick Cole out! Then Tozawa runs to DIVE! Direct hit with the Tozawa Torpedo! But he’s not done there, Tozawa goes again. But Cole gets clear, so Tozawa becomes a CANNONBALL! Fans rally with “AH! AH!” as Tozawa has to pull his leg from the railing’s gap. Tozawa is free and puts Cole back in. Tozawa climbs high and hits a missile dropkick! Cover, TWO! Tozawa keeps his focus as fans “AH! AH!” again. Tozawa drags Cole up into a waistlock. Cole standing switches but so does Tozawa. They go back and forth, Cole breaks free to enziguri! And backstabber! Cover, TWO! Tozawa is tougher than that, and Cole keeps his cool.
Cole drags Tozawa back up, fireman’s carry of his own, but Tozawa fights out. Tozawa runs, but into the BOOT! Fireman’s carry, Ushigoroshi! Cover, TWO! Cole gets to a corner as fans duel again. Tozawa sits up and Cole throws forearms on him. Tozawa just feeds off them! He gives them back and it’s a brawl as fans still duel. Tozawa gets an edge and he beats Cole down to a knee! HE runs, but into another BOOT! Only to fire up more! Another BOOT, and Cole runs, into Tozawa’s boot! Enziguri, then run, but he falls for the feint! JAB rocks Cole, but he still SUPERKICKS Tozawa! Tozawa’s mouth piece flew out!! Fans chant “Yowie Wowie!” for that exchange.
Tozawa and Cole crawl to the same corner, and Tozawa climbs up top again. Cole stops him with a forearm to climb up and join him. Tozawa resists the superplex, but Cole throws body shots. Tozawa throws his own with every “AH! AH!” Cole resists Tozawa’s counter and throws more forearms. Tozawa knocks Cole down with one! Then leaps, into a SUPERKICK! Last Shot brain buster! Cover, TWO!! Tozawa survives and Cole is in disbelief. Cole rolls out of the ring and wants to quit? He takes the title and brings it into the ring! The referee reprimands Cole, but wait! It’s Johnny Gargano!! Gargano distracts Cole, Tozawa rolls Cole! TWO, Snap German!
Tozawa is all fired up and Gargano is fired up with him. But Cole fights out of the waistlock to run. But Tozawa kicks, swings, slips under, rolling roundhouse! Tozawa puts Cole in a drop zone and climbs up again, for the SUPER SENTON! But Cole gets knees up! Cole hops up, DESTROYER! Knee pad down, Last Shot shining wizard! Cover, Cole wins!
Winner: Adam Cole, by pinfall; still NXT Champion
Cole stays your champion, BAYBAY! But Gargano now enters the ring as fans duel between him and the champ. They stare down, and Gargano dares Cole to put the belt on the line between them. Cole refuses, he does things his way and on his time. But the decision is ultimately up to NXT General Manager, William Regal. Will Regal determine if Johnny Wrestling gets another shot at Adam Cole BAYBAY?
While Cole leaves, Gargano checks on Tozawa. Fans chant for them both and Gargano wants a mic now. Gargano appreciates the chants for him, but he wants them to cheer Tozawa again. Fans do with “AH! AH!” Gargano says, “Every single time I step back in this building, I’m reminded how much I truly love what we do.” Gargano was at Evolve 1 in 2009! And 10 years later, Evolve 131 on the WWE Network tells Gargano two things. One: he’s getting old. Two: pro-wrestling in 2019 is “pretty freakin’ cool!” It’s cool because of the fans, so Gargano gives his thanks.
But thinking back, Evolve would close with a particular question. It’s been awhile since Gargano’s done something like this. But does Tozawa remember the question? Maybe. “Did you enjoy the show?” Philly says “YES! YES! WoooooOOO~!” Well give a round of applause for that guy at the end there. And can he do that again? “WoooooOOO~!” Philly loses their minds for that one. But Gargano wants to be serious. There would be no Akira Tozawa, no offense, or Adam Cole, or Johnny Wrestling, if it wasn’t for the Evolve fans. “We all started here, and you let guys let us live our dreams, and we can’t thank you enough for that.”
But there’s one more thing the fans need to do. Tonight wasn’t about WWE, NXT and the crossover, but about the true Evolve Wrestling roster. They are the future of this industry! JD Drake, Austin Theory, Shotzi Blackheart, and the rest! Support them as much as you supported the previous stars. Gargano thanks them on behalf of everyone else. The fans love him and he loves them! But they’re running out of time so let’s wrap this up. Gargano loves the fans, he loves Evolve, thanks so much! With that, Gargano and Tozawa hug and Gargano lifts Tozawa’s hand. Tozawa bows in thanks to the fans while Gargano gives out high-fives to the fans. Evolve has made it 10 years, here’s to another 10!
I’m sure covering this event comes as a surprise. This was my first Evolve event ever, and to be honest, I decided to watch this one because of the crossover with WWE/NXT, and because it was going to be on the Network. But I’m sure like me, many WWE fans heard about this, got curious because of said crossover, and took the time to watch this almost-3-hour event during this already busy wrestling weekend. And if not, they might find time later in the week to do it, when there isn’t something they watch. Whenever someone watches this, I’m confident they will be as blown away as I was by pretty much everything they saw tonight!
Jumping right in without any real knowledge didn’t hurt this event at all, because everyone was on their game, and like all wrestling promotions, it did as much as it could to give context while you’re watching and listening. It was clear from the opening the animosity between Harlem Bravado and Stephen Wolf, and the animosity for everyone from Josh Briggs. It was also great to see a lot of familiar faces like Babatunde, Sean Maluta, Arturo Ruas (Jaoude) and even Colby Corino. Maluta getting to be part of a group like The Unwanted is going to be good for him to really spark something in him, since he’s just been jobber Cruiserweight for 205 Live and NXT. It was also good to see other faces from other non-WWE related things like AR Fox (Dante Fox when he was on Lucha Underground).
Briggs VS Greene was a solid opener with the usual but still well done manager tropes. Briggs wins because obviously we see later, he’s on the rise. That Fatal 4 Way with Wolf, Bravado, Stallion and Maluta was incredible, and it feels pretty big for Wolf to win that. And clearly they’re planning ahead to give Wolf and Bravado a bigger feud. Henry VS Ruas, holy hell, can NXT get these guys going more once we’re past Summerslam? Ruas/Jaoude is clearly better than he’s been on NXT, just because NXT’s been stacked. If Velveteen Dream keeps the North American Championship, give the Brazilian Tiger a chance. Or even if it’s Roderick Strong, let Anthony Henry come up with an NXT name and give him a go. Babatunde has a great story building with The Unwanted, he and Colby made that squash match a lot better than normal.
The Unwanted VS The Skulk (I guess is the team name) was a great tag match. It really fits in an apparently tag heavy weekend when you factor in WWE Extreme Rules and AEW Fight for the Fallen. Perhaps tag team wrestling is finally getting some respect. But it was also a great move for this anniversary special to give us new tag champions, this will be big for Fox and Ruff. And depending on how things go, I wonder if Babatunde works with them against The Unwanted for a match or two. The women’s No DQ match was insane, but totally fitting of this Extreme Rules weekend, too. I didn’t know much about Shotzi before this, but she earned major respect doing that tope suicida into the tower of chairs. And while she loses, it works for both her and Brandi to get the right kinds of heat with the story of the match.
Then the last three matches were all so great, with or without the history. Catch Point Reunion, Gulak VS Riddle, wow! This is why Gulak is Cruiserweight Champion and why Matt Riddle needs to be a champion at or after Toronto. It was great to have Heyman back, he’s amazing, and the title unification match was killer. With Briggs on the rise, it works for the Heel to win so now the Face is in the chase. Then the NXT Championship involving alumni was good stuff, but obviously Cole was going to retain with Tozawa being more involved with 205 Live, and with NXT advertising the defense for Wednesday. Gargano showing up was a nice surprise, even though he wasn’t going to cost Cole. Gargano seems to want another shot, maybe he’s the one on Wednesday? And Gargano’s closing speech was great, that seals the deal on both new and longtime Evolve fans sticking with this promotion.
My Score: 8.6/10
Mitchell’s WWE 205 Live Results & Report! (4/9/21)
205 Live nostalgia, anyone?
The Cruiserweight Division looks back before moving forward!
Now that there is ONE TRUE Cruiserweight Champion, the division moves forward. But with that, we also take a look back at some classic title matches!
- WrestleMania 34, WWE Cruiserweight Championship Tournament Finals: Cedric Alexander VS Mustafa Ali; Alexander wins and becomes the new WWE Cruiserweight Champion.
- WrestleMania 35, WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Buddy Murphy VS Tony Nese; Nese wins and becomes the new WWE Cruiserweight Champion.
- TakeOver 31, NXT Cruiserweight Championship: Santos Escobar VS Isaiah “Swerve” Scott; Escobar wins and retains the title.
PLAY BY PLAY
Nigel McGuiness opens the show!
“On the heels of the instant classic ladder match between Santos Escobar and Jordan Devlin, welcome to 205 Live!” Tonight, we revisit some of the very best Cruiserweight title matches of all time! And not many come better than the WrestleMania 34 showdown!
WWE Cruiserweight Championship Tournament Finals: Cedric Alexander VS Mustafa Ali!
Months before April 8th, 2018, this title had been vacated and a tournament had been put in place! Before they were #PRIMED and the (former) leader of Retribution, they were the Heart and Soul of 205 Live! The then 205 Live General Manager, Drake Maverick, stands with the title belt to watch as theses two finalists battle it out for that very prize!
The bell rings and we begin. The fans are thunderous for them as they high-five and circle. Ali gets the waistlock but Alexander the standing switch and slam. The fans cheer for “Both These Guys!” while Ali gets up and puts on a headlock. Alexander lifts but Ali holds on. Alexander powers out, they collide, Alexander shoulders Ali down on the rebound. He wants Ali to show that heart, and they speed up. Ali headscissors Alexander and then dares Alexander to show the soul. They tie up and go against the ropes and into a corner. Neither man backs down until the referee separates them, then Ali shoves Alexander.
Alexander shoves back and dares Ali to hit him. Ali does with a chop, so Alexander responds with a kick. Alexander whips but Ali kicks him back, so Alexander rolls under and headscissors and dropkicks Ali down. Cover, TWO! Alexander puts Ali right in an armlock, but Ali works his way up and out. Ali whips but Alexander reverses, flapjack dropkick! Alexander staggers, Ali runs in but Alexander puts him on the apron to block a kick and hit a kick. Ali goes down, Alexander builds speed and FLIES! Down they both go, but Alexander is up first. He puts Ali in the ring, covers, TWO! Alexander keeps on Ali with a rear bearhug. Fans rally while Ali endures the squeeze.
Ali gets up and fights out of the hold, rocking Alexander with a forearm. Alexander responds with a running European Uppercut! He whips Ali corner to corner then throws him with a big back body drop. Cover, TWO, but Alexander keeps his cool as he puts Ali back in the bearhug. Ali endures the squeeze while fans rally again. Ali gets up and fights back but Alexander knees low. Alexander chops Ali, then brings him up for a suplex, but Ali slips out. Alexander knees low again, then runs, but into Ali’s lariat. Ali starts to rally and chop, but Alexander reverses the whip. Ali slides to a stop, and intercepts Alexander with a ROUNDHOUSE!
Alexander staggers, Ali rolls in for the facebuster! Cover, TWO! Ali brings Alexander up, but Alexander blocks and counters with a EuroUpper. Ali yanks his waistband and counters a kick with a kick! He runs, but into Alexander’s Spanish Fly! Both men are down and fans build to a rally. Alexander gets up while Ali gets to a corner. Alexander runs in, but into Ali’s boot. Ali hops up, tornado DDT blocked! Alexander hangs Ali up on the ropes, then catches his breath before climbing up to join him. Fans anticipate something, and Ali resists. They brawl on the top rope, but Alexander gets the better of Ali, only for Ali to almost send Alexander tumbling down with his counter.
Ali and Alexander brawl more while trying to stand up, Ali hits Alexander with a SUPER SPANISH FLY! Even John Cena watching from the audience is stunned seeing that! Cover, TWO, and Ali can’t believe it! He shakes his head as he watches Alexander flounder about. Ali brings Alexander over to a corner but Alexander knows what that means and resists. Ali kicks Alexander, then climbs, but Alexander gets up to throw him off! Maverick and the referee check on Ali after his crash landing, but Ali is still good to go. Alexander waits as the count begins, but Ali dares Alexander to finish him. Alexander takes the bait, he puts Ali in the ring and covers, TWO!
Alexander gets frustrated, but tells Ali it’s already over. Ali shakes his head, it’s not over. Alexander kicks Ali and then stomps away in a rage! He yanks Ali up, back suplex lift but Ali slips out! Ali hits the Reverse-Rana! Alexander is dazed, and Ali gets going. Ali hops up, flying tornado DDT! Alexander lands in a drop zone! Ali goes up, and hits the 0-5-4! Cover, ROPEBREAK! Alexander survives with a foot on the ropes! Ali shouts for Alexander to stay down before he stomps him back. Ali climbs up again, 0-5-4 FLOPS as Alexander moves! Alexander scrambles to his feet while Ali drags himself back up. They run at each other, Alexander’s big back elbow rocks Ali, but he still gives another.
Alexander tells Ali “This is enough!” But clearly, it isn’t, and the third back elbow flips Ali over! Alexander lifts Ali up, for the LUMBAR CHECK! Cover, Alexander wins!!
Winner: Cedric Alexander, by pinfall (NEW WWE Cruiserweight Champion)
The Carolina Kid didn’t want to go that far, but he had no choice but to break the Heart of 205 Live. More importantly, Alexander finally proves he can win the big one! Drake Maverick personally presents the belt to Alexander, and the true celebration begins! The Age of Alexander would go on for quite a run, before running into an Aussie Juggernaut, who is featured in our next match!
Nigel McGuiness introduces the next match.
We fast forward an entire year to WM35, and Nigel was again there to see Tony Nese in his home state taking on the Australian Sensation, Buddy Murphy, in another incredible Cruiserweight kickoff to the Showcase of the Immortals!
WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Buddy Murphy VS Tony Nese!
The Aussie Juggernaut proved himself against some of the best in the Cruiserweight Division, from Cedric Alexander to Mustafa Ali to three opponents at the same time. And on the Grandest Stage of Them All, he went toe-to-toe with the Premier Athlete, a man who is a parallel to him in physique, a man who used to be his friend, and a man he betrayed over the greed for this title! But Nese had homefield advantage, and it came in handy!
The introductions are made, the belt is raised, and we begin this battle of Body Guys!
Murphy runs right at Nese but Nese dodges the knee trigger! Nese fires off furious hands then counter punches. Murphy boots then goes up and over, but Nese keeps up to trip him up! New York fires up with their hometown kid, but Murphy dodges the triangle moonsault. Nese lands on his feet to slingshot and somersault to rock Murphy with a left! Nese puts Murphy in but has to push Murphy away on the top rope. Murphy comes right back but Nese resists the fireman’s carry. Nese fights back but still gets a gut buster drop on the buckles! Murphy checks his teeth while we go picture in picture.
Murphy stomps a mudhole into Nese but backs off at 4. Nese staggers up but Murphy is on him with a snapmare. Murphy swiftly kicks then covers, TWO! Murphy wraps Nese up in a chinlock but Nese endures. New York rallies behind Nese as Murphy shifts to a stretch. Murphy drives his elbow in again and again then wraps the chinlock back on. Nese fights his way up, we return to single picture as Murphy wrangles him back down. Murphy cranks Nese’s neck and leans his weight on him. Murphy’s eye is bloody but he ignores it while holding Nese down. Nese powers up and bumps Murphy off buckles. Murphy holds on but Nese bumps him again.
Murphy is still caught so Nese tries again, but Murphy uses that to throw Nese into buckles. Nese staggers into Murphy’s grip, tornado DDT denied with a snap suplex into the buckles! Murphy is down and Nese crawls to the opposite corner. Both men stand slowly, but Murphy walks into Nese’s elbow. Murphy comes back again but gets a haymaker! Nese rocks Murphy again, then again! Nese counter punches and snapmares to a facebuster. He runs, hits a knee lift and a heel kick! Murphy flounders to a corner while Nese nips up and fires up! New York fires up with him as he runs in for a big back elbow. Nese keeps moving but Murphy throws him to the apron.
Murphy turns around to counter and rock Nese, then climbs up for a suplex chance. Nese sweeps the legs and rocks him with a roundhouse, DRAPING triangle moonsault! Cover, TWO! Murphy survives, but Nese keeps his cool. Nese drags Murphy up for a whip but Murphy holds the ropes. Nese tries again but Murphy holds on. So Nese mule kicks Murphy into a whip. Murphy reverses but Nese slips under, pump handle but Murphy slips out. Murphy boots Nese away! He hops up but Nese SHORYUKEN! Nese climbs up to join a dazed Murphy, but Murphy resists a superplex. Murphy bumps Nese on a buckle, then sunset flips over. Nese denies the powerbomb but gets the SUPERKICK!
Murphy brings Nese out, AK-DDT! Cover, TWO! Nese survives but Murphy keeps his focus. Murphy drags Nese up by his hair and prepares the pumphandle. Nese victory rolls through, TWO! Murphy fireman’s carry to the TKO knee to knee trigger! Murphy suplexes but Nese slips out and shoves. Nese hits a REVERSE-RANA! Both men are down and New York cheers for this kickoff to the kickoff! Nese and Murphy get to opposite corners. Both men slowly stand as fans rally up. Nese and Murphy bob ‘n’ weave but Murphy gets his strike fest. Nese dodges the knee and goes Matrix to mule kick! Knee lift and roundhouse but Murphy jumps the sweep for buzzsaw, mule kick, but runs into Nese’s left forearm!
Nese runs but fakes Murphy out for an elbow. Murphy rebounds to LARIAT Nese off his feet! Murphy keeps going, but Nese back drops, to a VERTABREAKER! Cover, TWO!! Nese cannot believe Murphy survives! Murphy crawls to a corner but Nese pursues. Nese runs side to side but Murphy bails out, so Nese FLIES! The flop takes Murphy out and New York fires up as Nese puts Murphy in. Nese climbs up high, 450 splash! Cover, TWO!! Murphy survives again and Nese is beside himself. Murphy gets back to a corner and Nese brings down the knee pad. But Murphy grabs Nese’s leg, so Nese stomps a mudhole into him. Nese runs but into a KNEE TRIGGER!
Murphy pump handles, Murphy’s Law!! Cover, ROPEBREAK!! Nese still lives! Murphy is shocked but then he gets an idea. Nese is in the corner, and Murphy brings down his knee pad. Murphy runs side to side, but Nese SUPERKICKS him! German Suplex into buckles! PREMIER KNEE!! Cover, NESE WINS!!
Winner: Tony Nese, by pinfall (NEW WWE Cruiserweight Champion)
The unstoppable HAS been stopped! The Premier Athlete was the Juggernaut’s kryptonite, and now he is the new champion! We know the Premier Era ended with a Triple Threat involving Akira Tozawa and Drew Gulak, and the title itself would be integrated into the NXT system, eventually leading it to where it is today! As such, we relive a highlight of the NXT Cruiserweight Championship era!
Nigel McGuiness returns again for another match introduction.
The Cruiserweight title didn’t just make it to WrestleManias, it finally made it to NXT TakeOver thanks to Santos Escobar and Isaiah “Swerve” Scott!
NXT Cruiserweight Championship: Santos Escobar VS Isaiah “Swerve” Scott!
The year 2020 was certainly a mess, and the Irish Ace being isolated in the UK further complicated how this division worked. El Hijo del Fantasma won the “interim” title at the end of the Cruiserweight Championship Round Robin finals, with some controversy to it, but there was one man who did defeat him along the way! Swerve got his shot but was screwed over by El Legado and a loaded lucha mask! Swerve wanted revenge, but that is always hard to come by!
The introductions are made, the title is raised, and the Cruiserweight Division finally gets to TakeOver!
Escobar and Swerve circle as the crowd rallies up already. They approach, tie up, and Escobar gets the arm. Swerve hooks a leg to trip Escobar, cartwheels over but Escobar arm-drags Swerve away. Escobar runs but Swerve dodges, Escobar huricanranas but Swerve handsprings through! Swerve says HE is Cruiserweight wrestling, and that upsets Escobar. Escobar rushes Swerve, Swerve dodges and Eddy Gordo headscissors Escobar away! Escobar gets up and Swerve smirks. Swerve then trips Escobar, turns him over with leg hooks and goes to dead lift, but Escobar victory rolls through, TWO! Escobar sweeps the legs to cover, ONE! Swerve sweeps the legs to cover, ONE! The two stand off in fighting stances and the crowd loves it!
Swerve blocks Escobar’s punch, fakes him out to mule kick, and then runs, into a forearm! Escobar runs into a monkey flip! Escobar just barely gets his feet under him but Swerve handsprings and MOONSAULTS him down! The crowd is fired up as Swerve watches Escobar flounder. Escobar leans against the post, and pulls down the crossbar cover. Swerve gets in the ring to refresh the ring count, and he goes to the corner to CORKSCREW SENTON! Down goes Escobar and the crowd fires up again! Swerve puts Escobar in the ring but Escobar bails out the side. Swerve runs and FOSBURY FLOPS Escobar down! The fans are thunderous as Swerve is showing he can do it all!
Swerve puts Escobar in, covers, TWO! Escobar bails out again but Swerve pursues. Swerve drags Escobar up to go after the arm. Swerve wraps the arm around the very crossbar Escobar exposed! He’s showing Escobar what bending the rules gets you as he bends the arm! The ring count is at 7 but Swerve puts Escobar in at 8. Cover, TWO! Swerve grows annoyed with Escobar and he pulls Escobar around to go after the bad arm! Escobar endures as Swerve pulls it way back to drop down on it! Escobar puts a leg on the rope, Swerve stomps him anyway! Swerve brings Escobar up to Northern Light takedown into an ARMBAR! Short Arm Scissor, even, as Escobar resists.
Escobar gets legs under the ropes, Swerve lets off but goes to the apron. Swerve drags Escobar up to hotshot the arm! Fans rally as Swerve brings Escobar up again, but now Escobar hotshots Swerve! And KICKS him off the apron! Escobar runs and builds speed to DIVE! ARROW FROM HELL!! Swerve gets sent into the fencing, Escobar puts Swerve back in, covers, ONE?! Escobar is furious that Swerve kicks out so he KICKS Swerve in the face! Escobar waits for Swerve to stand and he LARIATS Swerve back down! Swerve gets to a corner, Escobar runs and DOUBLE KNEES! Escobar puts Swerve up top and SLAPS him!
Escobar climbs up and SUPER STEINERS! Then somersault and elbow drop! Cover, TWO! Swerve still lives and the fans stay fired up! Escobar stomps away on Swerve at the ropes but the ref counts. Escobar stops at 4 because he still doesn’t want to be disqualified. Escobar stands Swerve up and tells him, “Yo soy Lucha Libre!” Escobar SLAPS Swerve, kicks him, and says maybe if he spits in Swerve’s face will make him understand. Escobar reels back but Swerve puts a hand on Escobar’s mouth! No spit flies, but the fists do! Escobar clubs Swerve, reels him in, but Swerve frees himself to ROCK Escobar! And again! Swerve fires off heavy haymakers in the corner!
The ref counts, Swerve stops at 4 to throw Escobar down, for a DISCUS! The crowd is thunderous as Escobar flounders up. Swerve runs in to uppercut! Swerve snapmares Escobar for the falling EuroUpper! Escobar bails out but Swerve BOOTS him from the apron! And then again! Escobar goes down in a heap, Swerve puts him in, slingshot to somersault, ROLLING THUNDER SHOT! Cover, TWO!! Escobar survives but Swerve doesn’t lose focus. Swerve aims from the corner, hops up again and waits for Escobar to stand. Escobar is up but he climbs up to join Swerve! So Swerve slips under, only for Escobar to kick him away. Escobar turns around, Swerve dropkicks the legs out! DRAPING DDT! Cover, TWO!!
Escobar survives again but Swerve grits his teeth. Swerve drags Escobar up with a half nelson but Escobar gets the ropes! The ref counts, El Legado returns! The ref stops Wilde from getting in, Escobar shoves Swerve and Mendoza trips him up! Gut wrench, SHOULDER BREAKER! Cover, TWO!! Swerve survives the screw job attempt! Escobar goes to the apron to follow Swerve, runs side to side, but into a pop-up that puts Escobar on the ropes! Escobar is stuck on his fantasma, Swerve throws haymakers! Swerve then hops up, and STEINERS Escobar onto Legado!! They catch him, help him up, but here comes ASHANTE “THEE” ADONIS!!
From what’s been happening on 205 Live, Adonis isn’t a fan of Legado del Fantasma, either, and he goes up to TORNILLO! Adonis wipes out Mendoza and Wilde! The crowd is thunderous as Escobar is in shock! Adonis and Swerve run off the henchmen before Swerve hurries into the ring. Escobar runs over, gets a back elbow, and Swerve goes up and in to somersault, into a CALF KICK! Fireman’s carry, PHANTOM DRIVER!! Cover, TWO!??! How?!!? Escobar doesn’t know how, but the crowd is electric! Escobar is fuming as he stomps away on Swerve over and over! Escobar drags Swerve back up, suplexes, uno amigo! Then a roll over, dos amigos!
Fans boo, they don’t think Escobar is worthy of Eddie Guerrero but he still hits all three amigos! Escobar goes up top, FROG SPLASH FLOPS!! Swerve evades and denies Escobar his Latino Heat! Swerve gets the arm, POP CULTURE!! Escobar clutches his arm but Swerve gives him a HOUSE CALL!! But that’s not it, Swerve goes up for the 450 SPLASH!! Cover, TWO!?!?! Escobar survives all of that and Swerve is losing his mind! The crowd hopes they “Fight Forever!” because “This is Awesome!” But this will end somehow, and Swerve drags Escobar up. Escobar flounders, throws Swerve out and hurries back up.
Swerve hurries after him, half nelsons him, but Escobar holds ropes for dear life! Escobar pushes Swerve back, Swerve falls and hits the bare crossbar!! It comes into play after all!! Escobar drags Swerve in, brings him up, underhooks and lifts, BUTTERFLY FACEBUSTER ACROSS THE KNEE! Cover, Escobar wins!!
Winner: Santos Escobar, by pinfall (still NXT Cruiserweight Champion)
So much fight from Swerve, and he even had a new ally fight against the minions, but Escobar always has a back-up plan! And he would continue to rule over the division in this way, even to the point of having Wilde & Mendoza help at TakeOver: Stand & Deliver! Will the tyrannical Emperor of Lucha always have this crown?
Nigel McGuiness returns once more to wrap up the show.
It has been a great experience on 205 Live to see some of the greatest title matches of all time. But speaking of great title matches, that makes you think of great champions. Just last night at TakeOver: Stand & Deliver, Escobar proved he is a great champion by winning the Cruiserweight Championship Unification Ladder match! Relive that and both nights of TakeOver on Peacock in the US and the WWE Network everywhere else! But what will see now in the future was we continue in the Era del Fantasma?
Recap episodes are always fun for looking back, but also because it’s super easy for me to cover them since it’s just copying, pasting and editing. I like the three they selected, basically giving us a look back at the last three years of the Cruiserweight Division, but it also makes us see how far 205 Live has dropped off in the WWE because Alexander, Ali and Murphy were so awesome in 205 Live. Nese is still here but more for lack of WWE/NXT not giving him more to do. Admittedly, Murphy has dropped off on RawDown, too, but at least WWE has tried with him. I almost feel like worst case scenario for Murphy is to come back and be the Aussie Juggernaut again. Escobar’s a beefy Cruiserweight, so is Murphy, let’s get something like that going again.
I am also disappointed, because it was advertised that we’d get a special look at Escobar VS Devlin, but that wasn’t there. I couldn’t have gone through the content too fast, a segment like that wouldn’t be just a few seconds long. Maybe there was another “right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing” moment and that information was put out without knowing what the final episode would look like. I wouldn’t mind if they gave us that segment for the aftermath NXT on Tuesday, and encored it on next week’s 205 Live, but WWE/NXT needs to get 205 Live going like how it was when Ali, Murphy and Alexander were here.
My Score: 8.1/10
Andrew’s AJPW Champion Carnival Results & Match Ratings: 4.9.2021
All Japan’s Champion Carnival kicks off today! The Triple Crown Champion Suwama is in action as well as the Ace of the company Kento Miyahara! Check it out!
All Japan’s Champion Carnival kicks off today! The Triple Crown Champion Suwama is in action as well as the Ace of the company Kento Miyahara! Check it out!
Now I haven’t kept close eyes on the product last few months, because personally, they weren’t grabbing my interest post Quarantine Comeback. But since my Puro Patronus Mathew Sarpraicone is having some computer issues, I guess I’m covering the first couple of these!
Let’s see how the tournament starts!
- Shuji Ishikawa vs Koji Doi: Ishikawa wins via Thesz Press @9:09 – ** ½
- Suwama vs Kohei Sato: Sato wins via German Suplex Hold @10:49 – ***
- Yuma Aoyagi vs Shinjiro Otani: Otani wins via Overhand Chop @9:51 – *** ¼
- Jake Lee vs Shotaro Ashino: Jake wins via D4C @3:44 – **
- Zeus vs Kento Miyahara: Zeus wins via Jackhammer @18:16 – **** ¼
Shuji Ishikawa vs Koji Doi
Doi is the least recognized name in the tournament this year, and last I was aware of his was during the closure of Wrestle-1. Most of his success has come in the tag team division, but he’s no real slouch. Interestingly, Ishikawa is the newest Gaora TV Champion, but also was tied heavily to Suwama and their Violence Giant tag team.
We see Doi come out fast trying to throw Ishikawa into the corners and take him off his base. Ishikawa towers over Doi, so Doi was underneath, literally and figuratively the entire match. As Ishikawa hit most of his signature spots, including the Mushroom Stomp from the middle rope, Doi had a moment where he locked in the Rings of Saturn; but Ishikawa is just too big.
As Doi tried to keep the pressure up, rope runs, big strikes, Murder Lariat attempts from Doi but Ishikawa stifles the surge with a Fire/Thunder Driver. They both stumble up, run the ropes a bit trading lariats and charges, Ishikawa jumps, hits a Thesz Press and manages to keep Doi down for the 3 count!
Suwama vs Kohei Sato
An early card match gives us the Triple Crown champion against one of his more recent challengers! Falling short for the Triple Crown a few months ago, Sato has a little bit to prove.
The match opens as a slugfest, Suwama gets the best of things and rides the power advantage over Sato for a long time. Sato is taller than Suwama but Suwama is more powerful and controlled the pacing. Things went to the outside and the former Violence Giant kept up to the name.
When the match came back in to the ring Suwama looks to try and finish things, goes for the Rolling Lariat, but it gets blocked. Sato starts fighting back, hits a Falcon Arrow for a near fall, and then Suwama starts looking like he’s in trouble. Suwama hits the Double Chop comeback, and tries a Powerbomb, but Sato blocks it, Sato goes for a Powerbomb, but Suwama blocks it. The power struggle is tangible, but Suwama seems to be losing some of the back and forth. Sato rocks Suwama, locks in the German Suplex, and hits the German Suplex Hold.
Kohei gets on the board and avenges his loss! Depending on how the tournament shakes out, Kohei might get another shot at the title in the future.
Yuma Aoyagi vs Shinjiro Otani
The veteran Otani is putting Yuma through the paces early. He’s side stepping Dropkicks and just kicking Yuma to prove a point. Yuma tries to fire back, and then Otani continues to push off certain moves and be funny.
Yuma does manage to take advantage of his youth, but when he goes for the disrespect by attempting the Bootwash, Otani fires, lays out the younger wrestler and hits the Wash. Yuma goes to the outside, and when he turns back to the ring, Otani charges and hits a running Bootwash straight to Yuma’s face.
As Otani takes the role of the cagey veteran punishing the Young Boy, Yuma tries to find ways to come back, but things Otani stays a little ahead of the younger wrestler. Yuma gets a close moment where he locks in End Game, but Otani fights to the ropes. Otani then backs the younger wrestler down, hits Dragon Suplex, then goes for another, but Yuma blocks. Otani counters the block with a lariat, then another Dragon Suplex but Yuma kicks out at 1! Refusing to stay down, Otani goes into his bag of tricks and hits Yuma twice with Hashimoto style Overhand Chops, to finally keep the younger man down.
Jake Lee vs Shotaro Ashino
So there is some fun history between these two when Ashino brought Enfantes Terrible over to AJPW and took JIN down a peg. But then recently, Jake stole the Enfantes members from Ashino and betrayed JIN. Ashino is looking to avenge the turnabout, but Jake is trying to craft his Carnival masterpiece.
Jake definitely has the swagger of an anime villain. He widens his arms like he’s conducting a symphony and moves slowly yet deliberately. Ashino starts quick, hitting a Drop Toe Hold and going to the ground game, but Jake stabilizes. Ashino again brings Jake down after successive German Suplexes and goes for the Ankle Lock! Jake has trouble navigating it for a while, but eventually finds the ropes.
Retreating to the corner, Jake sees the referee, Ashino charges, Jake uses the referee shield and starts taking advantage. A few direct blows to the head, Giant Killing to the back of the head, followed by D4C. Jake drags the referee back, picks up the win and leaves cackling. He’s limping heavily, selling the viciousness of the Ankle Lock even in a short match, but yeah, not what I expected.
The match was used to help build Jake’s new persona and possibly give Ashino a steeper mountain to climb. But the length and abrupt end was definitely not expected. Interesting, but also a little off putting.
Zeus vs Kento Miyahara
Zeus and Kento have had great wars. There was a point a few years ago where Kento was Zeus’ hurdle, but after beating him for the Tag titles, he then gathered momentum. Zeus has beaten Kento for the Triple Crown before, has beaten him in the Carnival, and this has been one of the best rivalries of the last few years in current AJPW. Kento is of course the current generation Ace, and everyone knows that; but given Zeus’ track record and Kento’s stagnation the last year since losing the Triple Crown to Suwama, we could get something interesting.
The match starts with their usual sarcastic respect to one another during breaks and outside the ring moments. Given that they’ve had 2 5 Snowflake classics in the last 3 years, this had a lot to live up to. But at no point did it feel like retreading, since they are both in different positions comparatively, this felt like a whole new book, not an additional chapter. Zeus landed a lot of power spots while Kento combated everything with his Knees.
Kento’s usual attack of Blackouts from different angles rocked Zeus pretty hard. Zeus ate a few, grabbed a Chokeslam and they both landed for a rest spot. Zeus drives Kento into a corner, goes for an Outside-In Brainbuster and starts trying to end things. Kento goes for the Shutdown Suplex, Zeus fires out, a few big Lariats and a Jackhammer from Zeus…AND ZEUS WINS!
Overall Score: 7.25/10
Now this wasn’t a bad start to things! Sure the Ashino/Jake Lee match did not go the way I expected, it definitely told enough of a story to prove it’s going somewhere. Shinjiro Otani gets a solid start to things, Shuji Ishikawa won a match he was supposed to and Zeus/Kento ended up being a solid day 1 main event.
Kento has started on the back foot before. I guess we get to see if he wins out until the Final Day, or if he has a larger struggle. Let’s check out the Day 1 Standings!
- Zeus: 1-0 – (2 Points)
- Shuji Ishikawa: 1-0 – (2 Points)
- Shinjiro Otani: 1-0 – (2 Points)
- Kohei Sato: 1-0 – (2 Points)
- Jake Lee: 1-0 – (2 Points)
- Kento Miyahara: 0-1 – (0 Points)
- Suwama: 0-1 – (0 Points)
- Yuma Aoyagi: 0-1 – (0 Points)
- Shotaro Ashino: 0-1 – (0 Points)
- Koji Doi: 0-1 – (0 Points)
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