Evolve 81 Review

Non-Title Match - Zack Sabre Jr vs. Michael Elgin

Not the hot start to the show that I had hoped for. The crowd is absolutely dead for this. Sabre reopens a cut he suffered earlier in the day. There were some nice spots here and there, such as a super powerbomb and a DVD on the apron but it never really reached the standards it should have. **1/2

Following the match Lio Rush comes out to challenge Sabre to a title match at a later date. This brings out Drew Galloway, who tells Rush he needs to concentrate on him.

Drew Galloway vs. Lio Rush

The winner of this match was supposed to get a future title shot but considering Galloway is heading back to NXT that won't be happening. This was a fun big man vs. small man match with Galloway throwing Rush around like a rag doll and Rush selling like a champ. Rush was a believable underdog here. Galloway won with a headbutt followed up by a great looking spinning Future Shock DDT. ***1/2

Keith Lee vs. Donovan Dijak

Before you read this bear in mind that these are some big dudes. Lee is 350 pounds and Dijak is 6'7. Keith Lee lands on his feet from a monkey flip and does a corkscrew plancha to show his athleticism early. Dijak hits a chokeslam on the apron in retaliation and follows that up with a springboard corkscrew moonsault. Some crazy athleticism from the big men. Canadian Destroyer by Dijak. Lee catches Dijak on a dive and powerbombs him into the apron and follows it up with a moonsault but that only gets a 2 count. The finish comes when both men counter a chokeslam by back flipping out of it and Lee catches Dijak with the Spirit Bomb for the 3 count. That was fucking great. You will struggle to find a more athletic big man match than this. ****1/2

ACH vs. Timothy Thatcher

I really like ACH but somehow Thatcher managed to make this match boring. There was a time when I looked forward to Thatcher's matches but that hasn't been the case for some time. Thankfully ACH won. *1/2

Catch Point (Tracy Williams, Chris Dickinson & Jaka) vs. Jason Kincaid, Sammy Guevara & Austin Theory

This was one of those match matches that was perfectly fine but also perfectly forgettable. It suffered from a dead crowd and it was too long at nearly 20 minutes. On the other hand it featured a couple of nice spots. There is a really good looking triple coast to coast and Guevara does a shooting star press to the floor, which nobody seems to want to catch him on. In the end though it won't last long in the memory. ***

Larry Dallas comes out to X-Pac heat and says something about something. Fred Yehi accepts a tag title match from Dickinson & Jaka. Then Matt Riddle turns up and tells Yehi that it's time for a ruck.

Matt Riddle vs. Fred Yehi

Both of these guys have tremendous upside and they show that here. Riddle, in particular, is going to be a star. I would love to see him get a shot in NJPW, especially the G1. They wrestle a mostly mat based match with the odd suplex thrown in and it's high quality stuff. They have a reversal for everything and that keeps the match flowing well as nothing feels like a rest hold. Yehi even throws in a Lui Kang style bicycle kick for good measure. Yehi reverses a Bromission into a Koji Clutch for the win and Riddle goes into the WWN Title match with back to back losses. ****

Anything Goes - Ethan Page vs. Darby Allin

This rivalry started with a squash match at Evolve 59 on WrestleMania 32 weekend and now, a year later, they are in the main event. That is good long term booking right there. This was a wild brawl. Allin gets gorilla pressed from the ring to some chairs at ringside and thrown into a wall, he is bleeding heavily. Darby rallies but gets cut off with an Iconoclasm through a ladder. Darby rallies again but gets distracted by the Gatekeepers and eats a chair to the face. Page goes for the RKEgo but gets thrown through a chair then rammed through a table. Allin sets up a ladder but gets distracted by the Gatekeepers again which gives Page enough time to press slam him from the ropes through a stack of tables on the floor. Page then gives him a package piledriver through 2 set up chairs and Allin kicks out. Priscilla Kelly and Austin Theory come out to even the numbers before Allin takes the Gatekeepers out of the equation by diving on them from the balcony whilst wearing a trash can. He then finished the match by splashing Page through a table from a ladder. He got some impressive height on it. All in all this was a spectacular, crazy, bloody, wild encounter and I recommend it to everyone. ****1/2

Overall Score - A

If you take the ACH vs. Thatcher match out of the equation this is a great card. Three ****+ matches including a spectacular big man match and a bonkers main event. On a side note I was at the Evolve show that featured the start of the Page vs. Allin feud and not in a million years did I see it getting to this point but I'm glad it did.