wrestling / Columns

Csonka’s EVOLVE 115 Preview

November 9, 2018 | Posted by Larry Csonka

WELCOME back to column time with Larry! Today, I am going to discuss and preview EVOLVE 115. It’s funny, for the past 18 months, I find myself discussing the next stage of EVOLVE, how the company will change following the latest departures and who will be the next Hero, Sabre, Riddle, or Lee. But things weren’t picking up this time like the company had hoped, so at EVOLVE 114, the script got flipped big time as the stars of NXT invaded, taking the WWE/EVOLVE relationship to another level. NXT talents will now appear on iPPV and have won championships, the game has changed, and EVOLVE will never be the same again. EVOLVE has had to continually change and evolve as talent comes in and eventually leaves for NJPW, WWE, or other places; the loss of Joey Janela due to injury was also a big blow to the promotion. It’s hurt and stifled the overall growth of the product and this is a move that has been a long time coming and something I speculated on in the past, especially with Gabe working for WWE. EVOLVE has unofficially been a feeder for WWE, allowing talent out of contracts to sign, so the writing was on the wall, especially following the announcement that the WWE talent matches would be airing on iPPV going forward. I don’t hate the idea of EVOLVE being WWE’s official AA club so to speak, but it certainly changes things going forward. EVOLVE will never be the same again, but for now, it will still exist. It’s a great opportunity for NXT to get more work and especially to work with new talent. You can only improve so much working the same guys over and over again on the coconut loop. Also, it will give people like the Profits & Aichner experience working as a champion, something they just won’t get in NXT right now. It’s a fascinating time, lets see how it shakes out. Today, I will give my predictions, and break down the show match by match. Feel free to make your picks in the comment section. Thanks for reading! It’s wrestling, we love it and will disagree. The only rules are “have a take, be respectful, and don’t be a dick.”

SHINE Title Match: Champion Allysin Kay vs. Shotzi Blackheart: This was a late addition to the card, in order to get the hometown girl in Kay on the show and to hopefully get some eyes on the SHINE product. Kay is really good, and in what I’ve seen of her, Blackheart has potential. With Kay just winning the title in September and being in her hometown, I see her retaining here. WINNER: Allysin Kay

Grudge Match: AR Fox with Ayla & The Skulk vs. Austin Theory with Priscilla Kelly: This is a feud that has been ongoing for months, with the story being the overconfident student in Theory thinking he’s better than and has surpassed his teacher, Fox. They’ve done a good job of largely keeping them apart, with many of their interactions taking place in multi-man matches, where they have continually cost each other championship opportunities and generally pissing each other off. Fox has been really great since returning to EVOLVE full time, the guy is just great and makes things look so easy. Theory is an odd case with me. There are times where he comes off as nothing more than an early 2000s WWE create a wrestler, with a good look, basic skills, and lackluster in ring skills. But then he steps up and delivers the occasional banger and shows flashes that he can be great. With Theory being one of the chosen ones by the company, and the fact that he has a title match the next night, Theory should pick up the win here. WINNER: Austin Theory

Harlem Bravado vs. Jason Kincaid vs. Josh Briggs vs. Leon Ruff: AT EVOLVE 116, Jason Kincaid vs. Josh Briggs is set, Ruff is in a tag title match, and JD drake will defend his WWN Championship against Austin Theory and Harlem Bravado. From the outside looking in, Ruff comes off as an expendable man along with Kincaid. Josh Briggs has been cooled down after a hot start with the company and needs to NOT LOSE this weekend. The goal of the match should be to make Harlem Bravado look like a legit challenger and threat at EVOLVE 116. On top of that, you need to add in some build and teases for Harlem Bravado, and if Ruff has to lose, make sure that he shines here like he usually does. Stylistically, this has a fun mix of characters and could be a lot of fun, but Harlem Bravado should win here since he has a title match the next day. WINNER: Harlem Bravado

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EVOLVE Championship Match: Champion Fabian Aichner vs. Kassius Ohno: Fabian Aichner is an extremely talented wrestler who had got lost in the shuffle in NXT due to their being so much talent under contract. But at EVOLVE 114, Aichner made his EVOLVE debut and answered Shane Strickland’s open challenge. They had a great match, and Aichner scored the big upset, changing the face of the EVOLVE title picture to the dismay of many fans that were into the Darby Allin title chase story. Strickland seemed like the perfect big bad for Allin to overcome following the departures of Riddle & Lee, and seemed primed to win, but the change to Aichner will result in new paths for everyone. The former Chris Hero is back in EVOLVE, returning to the place he put on several classics before heading to NXT for a second chance with WWE. Ohno has taken a player’s coach role in WWE, working with guys WWE looks at as potential top stars and also getting the occasional TV feud to kill some ham & eggers before working with a new big name signing. Kassius Ohno is still an extremely smart and talented performer, but all the “cool kids” want to talk about is his weight. In my opinion, I don’t care as long as he delivers kick ass matches that I enjoy. If his weight starts ruining that, then I’ll care. His return to EVOLVE will likely be met with a “Hero’s” welcome, and he will get a chance to really open up and deliver outside of the NXT coconut loop. I’m anticipating, at the very least, a good match with Ohno doing everything he can to help establish Aichner as a legit champion for EVOLVE. WINNER: Fabian Aichner

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Mustafa Ali vs. DJZ: DJZ has been a complete joy in his EVOLVE appearances, which for me only serve as a cruel reminder about how Impact Wrestling has continually underutilized him over the years. I see him in EVOLVE. AAW, and other places absolutely killing it but Impact just haven’t capitalized on his talents for some reason. Mustafa Ali has been one of the very best and most consistent performers for WWE 205 Live, the guy just regularly kills it and is a complete joy to watch. Knowing what he does on a weekly basis and the fact that he’ll have more freedom here, I expect a banger here. These are two guys that mirror each other in many aspects, and I feel that will make for some great stuff here and a potentially show-stealing match. Getting Ali matches on EVOLVE iPPV is a tremendous bonus of the new arrangement between the two companies. WINNER: Mustafa Ali

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EVOLVE Tag Team Championship Match: Champions The Street Profits of Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins vs. WWN Champion JD Drake & Anthony Henry: At EVOLVE 114, The Street Profits made their EVOLVE debut, and put an end to the 400 day tag title run of Doom Patrol. The change was needed as the tag ranks re beyond thin in EVOLVE and The Street Profits stepped up, delivered and added some life to the division. They now have to defend against former tag champions in WWN Champion JD Drake & Anthony Henry. The former champions had amicably split in order to peruse singles success, which Drake attained at 114. But the prospect of winning tag team gold once again brings them back together as they look to bring the titles back home to an EVOLVE based team. Drake and Henry always deliver, and the Street Profits looked great at 114, so this has the potential to be great. I’m sure that Drake and Henry will put up a good fight, but they had issues during the 114 ladder match, which I feel will spill over into this match, costing them their chance at the tag titles, leading to the Profits retaining. WINNERS: Champions The Street Profits

– End Scene.

– Thanks for reading.

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“Byyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyye Felicia!”