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Csonka’s Evolve 78 Review 2.24.17

February 24, 2017 | Posted by Larry Csonka
Timothy Thatcher
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Csonka’s Evolve 78 Review 2.24.17  

Csonka’s Evolve 78 Review 2.24.17

– Matt Riddle defeated Anthony Henry @ 10:45 via submission [***¼]
– Austin Theory defeated Darby Allin @ 5:25 via pin [**]
– Ethan Page defeated Jason Kincaid @ 10:55 via pin [**¾]
– Chris Dickinson & Jaka defeated The Gatekeepers @ 9:33 via pin [***]
– ACH defeated Tracy Williams @ 18:30 via pin [**¾]
– Drew Galloway defeated Jeff Cobb @ 11:30 via pin [***]
– Keith Lee defeated Zack Sabre Jr. @ 12:30 via pin [***½]
– Champion Timothy Thatcher defeated Fred Yehi @ 19:00 via submission [**¾]

Matt Riddle vs. Anthony Henry: Riddle has become the face of EVOLVE. Henry has impressed with his showings in Style Battle and FIP and earned a shot in EVOLVE. This is a big test and opportunity for Henry here. They work a basic back and forth to begin, with Riddle controlling early. Riddle works his grappling looking for an early arm bar. Henry hits an enziguri and powerslam, taking control and then laying in some chops and kicks. Big forearms follow, but Riddle cuts him off with a knee strike and German. The XPLODER follows, and then the running senton for 2. Riddle hits rolling gut wrench suplexes and a powerbomb for 2. Henry fires back with strikes, kicks follow and sends riddle to the floor and hits a suicide dive followed by a flip dive. Back in they go, superkick by Henry and then an air raid crash for 2. Henry heads up top, but jumps down into a kimura, but transitions onto an arm bar. Henry hits a DDT and rolls into an arm bar, a bit sloppy in the transition there. Riddle powers him up into a single arm powerbomb, and we get a double down. They trade slaps and strikes, Riddle fires up with repeated strikes, but Henry hits the snap German and another. Riddle counters the kudo driver, bro to sleep countered into a suplex and superkick. Fisherman buster by Henry gets 2. Henry works kicks, but Riddle fires back. They trade forearms, but Riddle hits the springboard knee strike, fisherman buster and rolls into the tombstone an the bromission for the win. Matt Riddle defeated Anthony Henry @ 10:45 via pin [***¼] This was an overall good opening match, with Henry getting a lot and getting to go move for move with Riddle. This did a good job of showing that they see a lot in Henry. This would have been better had Henry’s work in the middle been cleaner. There was nothing bad, it just needed a smoother flow to be more than “good” in my opinion. Still, the effort did a ton of good for Henry’s standing in Evolve, doing that well against Riddle. He has a ton of upside.

– Riddle wants all of the belts and wants to kick Galloway’s ass right now, but Catchpoint is out and Williams tells him his night is done and that this is Yehi’s night as he will challenge Thatcher for the title. Yehi loves this building, because he tapped out Tony Nese to win the tag titles. It will happen all over again when he taps out Thatcher to win the Evolve title. Dickinson wants to go to war with the Gatekeepers right now.

– Larry Dallas arrives, noting that if Jaka & Dickinson win tonight, they should get a tag title shot. Williams says Catchpoint is all about competition, but that tonight is about Yehi. Williams and Dickinson shake hands.

Darby Allin vs. Austin Theory: Allin has created a buzz for himself as a Spike Dudley like cult figure while he targets Ethan Page, who tried to end his young career. Theory is only 19-years-old and just signed a WWN contract. This will be his EVOLVE debut where he hopes to make a big impact. They worked a fun, fast paced and athletic opening stretch, leading to a stand off. Allin gets launched into a post and hits the coffin drop. Theory then hits running knees, sending Allin o the floor. Priscilla Kelly is at ringside; Theory went for a moonsault to the floor and ate more barricade than Allin. Back in the ring, Theory took the heat, hitting a running shooting star press for 2. Good control by Theory, working with some good aggression until Allin hits a dropkick and RANA. Coffin drop caught, and Theory hits a TKO and picks up the win. Austin Theory defeated Darby Allin @ 5:25 via pin [**] This was a short match with a good energy, but it felt largely disjointed. Allin losing the night before his big match with Ethan Page comes across as a very questionable booking choice to me. My guess is that they want to keep framing Allin as the true underdog as he faces Page the next night.

Ethan Page with The Gatekeepers vs. Jason Kincaid: Kincaid is a gloriously wacky and unique performer, with a style that really sets him apart from the rest of the roster. Kincaid meditated early, while Page mocked him and then slammed Kincaid to the mat. Page took control, but Kincaid chilled on the mat and Page got upset, calling him a weirdo. Page got frustrated and eventually sent to the floor. Kincaid keeps frustrating Page, and teases a dive. Page hit an apron suplex and beat down Kincaid on the floor. Page takes the heat back in the ring, and stomps on the hands of Kincaid. Kincaid fires up, drops the straps and counters RKEGO. The springboard blockbuster follows for the near fall. Kincaid keeps attacking, hits a clothesline in the ropes and follows with a slingshot neck breaker for 2. Page tries to overpower Kincaid, but Kincaid hits a tornado DDT for the near fall. Page fights off the submission, hits an iconoclasm and follows with the bicycle kick for 2. Kincaid fights off the spinning Dwayne, but Kincaid hits a slingshot stunner. To the floor as Kincaid hits an x-factor. Back in they go, Kincaid up top and then climbs the pole and Page cuts him off and slams him to the mat; RKEGO finishes it for Page. Ethan Page defeated Jason Kincaid @ 10:55 via pin [**¾] This was a pretty good back and forth match; Page winning was the right call to position him as dominant heading into the next night’s match against Allin. The last few minutes felt really slow and a bit disjointed, hurting the overall quality.

– Dickinson & Jaka hit the ring and their match is next.

Chris Dickinson & Jaka vs. The Gatekeepers: Dickinson & Jaka have been a force in tag team action, and the newest members of Catch Point. Ethan Page’s Gatekeepers are badasses; someone may die here. Dickinson and Jaka attack, running wild on the Keepers early. Jaka sent to the floor, allowing the Keepers to take control of things and beat down Dickinson. The Keepers work quick tags, Jaka returns and that leads to he and Dickinson hitting Germans. Jaka caught on a dive and then slammed to the steps. The Keepers maintain control on Dickinson, working the double teams as they keep Jaka away so they can work the heat. Dickinson finally fires up, they trade clotheslines and we get a double down. Jaka gets the hot tag, runs wild with chops and kicks on the Keepers. The XPLODER connects, it breaks down and Jaka send a keeper to the floor with a superkick. Dickinson and Jaka run wild, Jaka hits the running knee strike for the near fall. It breaks down again, Jaka gets posted and Dickinson has to fight on his own. He runs into a bossman slam, eats a double team chokeslam but kicks out. Dickinson fights off the double team, slams the keepers together and then he and Jaka hit the death trap for the win. Chris Dickinson & Jaka defeated The Gatekeepers @ 9:33 via pin [***] This was a good tag match, with a great tease of Dickinson losing when Jaka was taken out. The win should lead to Jaka and Dickinson getting a tag title shot, where I can see the turn happening, as they have always been an odd fit for Catchpoint. They have been a welcomed addition to the roster, especially as a team. Despite the size difference, they matched up well with the Keepers, and can easily work with anyone on the roster.

Tracy Williams vs. ACH: ACH made a big impression in his EVOLVE debut last month. It’s clear he wants an EVOLVE Title shot. If he wins both his matches at EVOLVE 78 and EVOLVE 79, EVOLVE officials say he will get one on WrestleMania weekend in Orlando. They worked a slow beginning, where Williams looked to ground ACH. ACH did well on the mat to avoid the submissions of Williams, but Williams has done a good job of not allowing ACH to pick up the pacing. Williams tried to target the leg, but ACH used his speed, finally picking up the pace and putting some offense together. They traded strikes, battled to the corner, and Williams followed with a superplex for the near fall. Williams slowly looks to work the arm, but ACH sends him to the floor and follows with the slingshot plancha. Back in the ring, ACH off the top but dives into the boots of Williams, and that gets a near fall. Williams back to work on the arm, grounds ACH and stops things from getting too exciting. They trade strikes, but ACH picks up the pace and fires back with an enziguri. More back and forth strikes, ACH dropkicks Williams to the floor. ACH then hits a PK, and Williams is down. Back in they go, ACH up top, drops down and hits a double stomp. Forearms by Williams, ACH hits a back breaker and an XPLODER for 2. They battle up top, Williams fights off ACH, but they again trade strikes. Enziguri by ACH, but Williams hits the buckle DDT and then hits the clothesline for the double down. ACH rolls to the floor, Williams pulls him back to the apron, but ACH returns but eats a suplex for 2. Go home boys, you’re already past the point of no return. ACH fired up, more strikes traded, they worked counters and ACH finally hit a lariat. ACH hit a series of lariats and then the brainbuster to put Williams away. ACH defeated Tracy Williams @ 18:30 via pin [**¾] The work was technically clean and well done, but the match went way too long and lacked a real sense of urgency. It got a bit repetitive, they kept going and worked well past where they needed too. I kept waiting for it to pick up, for them to change the tone to get me invested, but it never happened. Trim 5-6 minutes from this, add in some urgency from both guys and this would have come off much better. This came off as disappointing to me, as I really like both guys, but simply feel they worked the wrong match.

– Larry Dallas returns to stir the pot and annoy Williams.

Drew Galloway vs. Jeff Cobb: Galloway returns to action in EVOLVE after an injury and suspension; Cobb came up short in his title match against Thatcher, and is looking to defeat a former EVOLVE champion here to get back into the title mix. Galloway looks to pick up a big win to get back into the title mix as well. They battled power vs. power early, with Cobb finally rag dolling him around a bit. Galloway picked up the pacing, used his strikes but Cobb caught him on a cross body try and slammed him to the mat. They brawled to the floor, Galloway finally cut off Cobb and posted him. Galloway slowly worked over Cobb, catapulting him into the ring supports and then rolling him back in. Galloway grounded Cobb, working the heat and working the arm a bit. Galloway keeps control but can’t put Cobb away, and is getting frustrated. Cobb then caught Galloway coming off the top and hit an overhead belly to belly for the double down. Cobb hit clotheslines, the dropkick and standing shooting star press for 2. Galloway counters the tour of the islands, attacking the arm with divorce court. Cobb manages to fight off future shock, they trade head butts and Galloway hits a claymore for 2. Galloway sets, but Cobb catches him and hits a suplex. Swinging German from Cobb follows, also for 2. Galloway attacks the arm once again, but Cobb fights off the backslide; Galloway counters off the ropes, hits the future shock and picks up the win. Drew Galloway defeated Jeff Cobb @ 11:30 via pin [***] This was a good match, with Galloway winning as he should have, since he faces Riddle tomorrow. Galloway’s work on the arm felt odd and out of place early, but played a part in the match as it went on. The finish was creative, and it had a nice back and forth flow and didn’t overstay its welcome.

– Galloway calls out Riddle and they brawl. Galloway shoves Riddle into Cobb, who then hits Riddle with the tour of the islands. Catchpoint arrives to make the save. Galloway loves this whole scene as he again has caused mayhem.

Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Keith Lee: Lee made his EVOLVE debut at EVOLVE 76 last month in a losing effort against Chris Hero in a brutal match that saw the ropes break. Sabre Jr. came in to challenge Hero after the match, but the look on Lee’s face told the whole story. He didn’t appreciate ZSJ coming into the ring after his match. Hero told Lee he needs to show more killer instinct. Sabre Jr. is heading to an EVOLVE Title Match at EVOLVE 79, and Lee wants in the title picture and this is the fastest way to get there. Lee walks out of his corner, resembling a movie monster. ZSJ wants to ground him, but Lee’s size and power is too much early on. ZSJ delivers uppercuts, but gets leveled with a lariat. Lee transitions into monster mode as he mauls ZSJ in the corner and starts to slam him around. ZSJ tries to work the hanging kimura, but Lee locks in a bear hug to stop that. Lee then hits an overhead toss, keeping control with ease. Lee looks to choke out ZSJ, but ZSJ works a heel hook in the ropes. ZSJ works elbows and escapes another bear hug, but lee drops him with a shoulder block. Lee dominates for a bit, but misses the corner splash. ZSJ fires up but gets set up top. Kicks to Lee follow, an uppercut off the ropes and then clips out the knee, and the PK gets 2 as Lee tosses ZSJ off of him on the kick out. Octopus hold by ZSJ, but Lee powers out into a powerslam for 2. Lee fights out of an arm bar into a sitout powerbomb for 2. ZSJ pulls himself up, escapes a powerbomb, hits repeated charging uppercuts and lands a series of strikes, rolls into the prawn hold for 2. ZSJ works a hanging arm bar, but Lee counters with the powerslam for the win. Keith Lee defeated Zack Sabre Jr. @ 12:30 via pin [***½] This was the best match on the show up and to this point, as they worked the clash of styles really well throughout. The work came across as effortless, both guys looked good, but I question the booking as ZSJ has a title match on the next show and was coming off of the big win over Hero. I think the best part about this is that this didn’t feel like the usual ZSJ match.

– Stokley Hathway is out, and doesn’t care about the new guys coming in, This is his street and when you come to his street, you step to the king, his champion, Timothy Thatcher.

EVOLVE Championship Match: Champion Timothy Thatcher w/Stokely Hathaway defends vs. Fred Yehi: Yehi made Thatcher tap in a tag team match at EVOLVE 76 to the Koji-clutch. In fact, Yehi has had great success with the Koji-clutch in recent months, earning him his title shot. They grapple right away, with Thatcher working the arm and taking Yehi to the mat. They continue to grapple back and forth, but Yehi starts to work in some strikes, but Thatcher again goes for the arm and mixes in some knee strikes. Thatcher slaps the shit out of Yehi, lands the big boot and again grounds Yehi. Thatcher works a very deliberate pace here, continuing to deliver knees and then forearms. Yehi fires back with chops and stomps; the shotgun dropkick follows and the cover gets 2. Yehi grounds Thatcher with the chinlock, but Thatcher escapes. Thatcher then hits the German, cutting off Yehi. Thatcher lays the boots to Yehi in the corner, and then slams him off of the apron. Thatcher works the sleeper, follows with slaps but that just fired up Yehi. Thatcher looks annoyed anytime that Yehi fights back in any way. Yehi blocks the suplex attempt, takes out the knee and hits the basement dropkick and covers for 2. Yehi works the body scissors, takes the back f Thatcher and rains down elbows. Yehi transitions to mount, works ground and pound until Thatcher finally escapes. Yehi goes to the stomps, working the knee of Thatcher. Yehi goes into a leg lace submission out of the spinning toehold, Thatcher tries to strike his way out but Yehi stands and continues to work the hold. Thatcher just slaps the hell out of Yehi and that allows him to escape. Thatcher with uppercuts, misdirection by Yehi, and hits a shoulder block and then a German for 2. Thatcher hits the belly to belly for 2. The gutwrench suplex by Thatcher follows and gets another cover for 2. Butterfly suplex by Thatcher, and again he covers for 2. Yehi fires back, hits the rolling elbow and that gets a near fall. Yehi hits a dropkick off of the misdirection, hits the German and hits a powerbomb for 2. Koji clutch by Yehi, but Thatcher gets the ropes. Thatcher counters a forearm, gets the sleeper, but Yehi powers out and Thatcher hits the sakatoshi, and Yehi taps. Champion Timothy Thatcher defeated Fred Yehi @ 19:00 via submission [**¾] At the end of the day, this was a cleanly worked and pretty good but disappointing main event. It felt rather flat, as the crowd never was really into it and they never once made me think Yehi had an actual chance at winning; they never got me emotionally invested in what they were doing. It was far from bad, but it was another bland and emotionless Thatcher title defense for sure.

– Williams consoled Yehi post match, Jaka and Dickinson slowly handed them their tag titles and they all shook hands.

– End scene.

– Thanks for reading.

 photo fe36ffd0-0da4-4e3b-a2d3-b026b341dd87_zps41ef5d61.jpg
“Byyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyye Felicia!”

The final score: review Average
The 411
Unfortunately this was one of the weaker Evolve show in some time, as the show came off as largely flat in the ring with a disinterested crowd. There was nothing bad on the show, but at the same time, this is the first Evolve show in some time that I don’t feel that there was anything here to recommend. The one thing I know about Evolve is that if they have an off or flat show, they usually rebound strongly on the next show. Hopefully tomorrow night will see the company return to form. I tend to really love Evolve shows and feel that they have a great atmosphere and vibe, but simply felt that tonight’s show was missing that.