This is the Fightful.com live coverage of EVOLVE 78! Tonight's card consists entirely of matchups that are happening for the first time under the WWN/EVOLVE banner. Be sure to come back here at 8 p.m. EST to follow all of the action.
Friday, February 24, 2017
MCW Arena in Joppa, MD
We are live and ready to go!
Matthew Riddle vs. Anthony Henry
Riddle is a Fightful.com podcast host looking to continue his recent win streak in EVOLVE.
Huge "Bro!" chants for Riddle during the entrances and as the match starts. Handshake between the two men and we're off. They immediately go to the mat. Riddle gets the better of the first exchange and hits a nice waistlock takedown. Henry makes it to the ropes to force a break. Riddle shoots for the single leg and dumps Henry on another takedown... looked like Henry landed on the back of his head, or sold it well. Riddle goes for an armbar, Henry gets free and counters into a lateral press, then goes for a guillotine before Riddle gets a foot into the ropes. Riddle catches Henry's leg on the kick, but he hits an enziguiri. Scoop powerslam off the ropes by Henry, but the pin attempt only gets 1. Henry lighting up the chest of a kneeling Riddle with chops and roundhouse kicks, then brings Riddle back standing and uncorks a forearm. He goes for a springboard off the ropes, no! Riddle catches him with a jumping knee, followed by a German suplex. Another "Bro" chant by the Maryland fans as Riddle charges for a leaping forearm in the corner, followed by an Exploder suplex and a senton. 1... 2... Henry kicks out. Now Henry with a stalling gutwrench suplex, rolls through, and hits another. Rolls through again... and powerbombs Henry. Riddle with another cover... only gets a two count. Riddle misses a charge into the corner, Henry unleashing with an onslaught of chops and forearms. Arm wringer, Riddle blocks the Irish whip attempt so Henry unloads with kicks to the chest. Now he Irish whips Riddle, who tries for the up and over, but gets caught by Henry in a fireman's carry. Henry dumps Riddle throat first into the top rope and he goes to the floor. Two big dives by Henry in succession onto Riddle on the outside! Back in the ring, Henry bloocks a Riddle kick, answers with a superkick, hits Riddle with an air raid crash and goes for the pin! 1... 2... Riddle gets a shoulder up! Riddle still down as Henry goes to the top rope. He leaps, but Riddle turns and catches Henry in a bodyscissors with a kimura. Henry able to counter into an armbar, Riddle rolls Henry back onto his shoulders for a two count. Henry with a tornado DDT off the springboard, then hoists Riddle for a suplex and transitions from it into an armbar. Riddle counters into another pin attempt, this time stacks Henry, picks him up... BIG sit out powerbomb! Cover! 1... 2... Henry with a shoulder up at two and a half! Both men down as the referee gives a 10 count, they get to their knees around 7 and start trading some vicious sounding strikes. Now stabnding as Riddle unleashes a series of forearms, but Henry answers with a spin kick, followed by two snap Germans! Henry hoists Riddle for the Kudo driver, Riddle drops down, drills Henry with an upkick! Riddle blocks the Bro To Sleep and hits a head and leg back suplex! Henry with a two-kick combo to the kneeling Riddle, hits a brainbuster! Cover! 1... 2... Riddle with a shoulder up JUST in time! Now Riddle on his knees again as Henry delivering kicks to the chest. Riddle answers with a wicked sounding overhand chop! Riddle fires up with a series of open handed strikes, Henry cuts him off with a charging forearm. Riddle answers with a charging forearm of his own. Henry hits another charging forearm, ducks Riddle's attempt and hits him again. Riddle hits a springboard jumping knee strike, then a brainbuster, followed by a tombstone piledriver, immediately into the Bromission! Henry taps!
WIN: Matthew Riddle
Definitely an entertaining opening match. Henry got a lot of offense in, which suggests he will remain a rather prominent part of the EVOLVE plans going forward.
Another handshake after the match and, after Henry exits, Riddle gets the microphone. He says he wants to enter the multi-man elimination match to crown the first WWN Champion on April 1 in Orlando, then he calls out Drew Galloway, who he's set to face in a grudge match tomorrow night. Instead, the rest of Catch Point comes out. Tracy Williams tries to get Riddle to calm down, mentions that the most important thing for Catch Point tonight is Yehi challenging Timothy Thatcher. Yehi gets the mic now and says he'll make Thatcher tap out tonight. Now Dickinson has the mic and he calls out The Gatekeepers for their already scheduled tag match.
Instead, Larry Dallas is out now. He says that this will be a possible No. 1 contender match for the EVOLE Tag Titles, trying to sow some seeds of dissension. Williams responds and says that Catch Point is all about competition.
The Larry Dallas segments the last few shows have done absolutely nothing for me.
Rather than get the tag match, all of Catch Point leaves and we get...
Darby Allin vs. Austin Theory
This is the EVOLVE debut for Theory.
Collar and elbow, and Theory bulls Allin back into the corner for a clean break. As the feeling-out process continues, Priscilla Kelly (who's been part of recent SHINE and FIP events) makes her way to ringside. Knuckle lock, and Allin hits a monkey flip. Theory sends Allin out onto the apron when he chjarges for a follow up, Allin leaps back in and hits another monkey flip. Allin misses a springboard moonsault. Theory misses a springboard of his own. Allin hits a bottom rope springboard cross body onto a seated Theory, who powers up only to have Allin get free. Allin gets sent into the near corner, leaps to the pillar behind that turnbuckle corner and clobbers Theory with a coffin drop! Cover gets a two count. Theory now has the upper hand as Allin bails out to the floor. Theory goes for a springboard moonsault suicida, but he over shoots and goes OVER the rail and hits sternum first across the rail! Theory shrugs it off, gets Allin back in and the match continues. Now Theory measuring Allin, back inside the ring... charges into the corner, Allin misses. Allin from the apron leaps in with a rolling cradle for a two count. Theory charges Allin, who low bridges the top rope, but Theory saves himself on the top rope, yanks Allin back down to the mat, and leaps in with a double stomp, followed by a standing shooting star press for a two count. Both men back standing, Theory uncorks with a snug-sounding left forearm uppercut. Allin feeds into the corner, blocks a charging Allin with a big boot, arm drags him back into center ring, hits a dropkick, and then a springboard huracanrana off the second rope. Allin charging in, goes for another coffin drop off the second rope. Theory catches him in an Argentine backbreaker, flips him over into a fireman's carry, and hits a cutter for the 1... 2... 3!
WIN: Austin Theory
Both guys worked hard and were going for an aerial showcase type of match but it felt like they didn't really connect and hit that next gear, for whatever reason.
Ethan Page (w/ The Gatekeepers) vs. Jason Kincaid
This might be their first meeting in EVOLVE, but Kincaid and Page were part of a match this past weekend to crown the first-ever Glory Pro Champion, which Kincaid won. Kincaid is a contributor to the Fightful.com Pro Series.
During the entrances, commentator Lenny Leonard pushing the Allin vs. Page grudge match tomorrow and how Kincaid's off-beat style is comparable to that of the daredevil Allin.
With a bellow, Kincaid charges into a collar and elbow. Page bulls him back into the corner and Kincaid ends up seated on the top turnbuckle before Page makes the clean break. Another collar and elbow ends with a quick scoop slam by Page. Kincaid with a reverse go behind. Page breaks his grip and hits a butt bump, pulling Kincaid into a side headlock. Kincaid goes into a handstand to escape, then forward and into a seated meditation. Page tries for a running kick off the ropes, but Kincaid catches his foot, back to his knees and bridging up. Kincaid driving Page crazy with these counters, but he low bridges Page, who lands on the top rope, then springs off the near corner for a forearm! Kincaid with a back elbow, into a handstand and kicks his legs back into a headscissors. Walks up the ropes using his hands and flips Page over to the mat. Page powders out to the floor, and now Kincaid out to follow. Kincaid turns his back and Page clobbers him from behind, then hits a release vertical suplex that drops Kincaid on the apron! Page fires Kincaid into the ringside barricade, then shoves The Gift back into the ring. Kincaid tries to fire up with a forearm but Page drops him. Kincaid fights back again, but once more cut off with a headbutt. Page stomps on the left hand of Kincaid, and now mocking him with a bow. Page with a measured stomp to the leg, followed by a kick between the shoulder blades and a fist drop for a two count. Now Page pulls Kincaid into a chinlock. Crowd clapping and trying to fire up Kincaid, who breaks the hold with a chin breaker as Page rolls out to the apron. Page goes for RKEgo leaping through the ropes but Kincaid blocks by going into a handstand. He catches Page for a springboard blockbuster and the cover gets two and a half! Kincaid with three forearms followed by a European uppercut. Kincaid with an overhead kick. Page cuts off Kincaid with a running forearm, but Kincaid answers with a lariat through the ropes, followed by a slingshot neckbreaker for another two and a half count. Kincaid gets Page back standing, Page blocking an Irish whip by Kincaid, reverses, sending Kincaid back into the near corner. Kincaid evades a charge by Page, out to the apron, flips back in and springs off the corner ropes for a tornado DDT that gets a two count. Kincaid went for the Compassionate Release submission, Page able to block and fight out of it. Kincaid feeds into the corner, gets a boot up to drill a charging Page, but when Kincaid tries to scale to the top, Page catches him with a strike then an Iconoclasm, followed by a big running boot that only gets a two count. A series of counters now between both wrestlers, Kincaid ducks a clothesline by Page, Page catches him off the ropes for a tilt-a-whirl reverse slam. Kincaid hooks Page for maybe a sliced bread No. 2... no! Pushes his feet off the ropes and flips back forward into a stunner! Page to the floor, Kincaid goes for a dive. Page ducks it, Kincaid able to catch himself, springs off the second rope and delivers an X-factor to the floor! I've never seen that before! Kincaid rolls Page to the floor and now scaling that post... Page cuts him off and power bombs Kincaid into the mat. RKEgo promptly follows and that's enough for the three count for Page.
WIN: Ethan Page
Page has just a couple of seconds to celebrate before Dickinson and Jaka storm the ring, calling out The Gatekeepers.
Jaka & Chris Dickinson vs. The Gatekeepers
All four men start brawling even though the bell hasn't rang yet. The brawl continues as the bell rings and all four spill out to the four, with Jaka paired off against Rumblecrunch while Dickinson goes against McMassive. Now Jaka shoves Rumblecrunch back into the ring, and the Catch Point duo double teaming him. Double flying shoulder block off the Irish whip, and Jaka exits as we finally have two in the ring. Dickinson immediately hoists Rumblecrunch for the doomsday chokeslam, but McMassive cuts it off and dumps Jaka to the floor. Rumblecrunch shoves Dickinson forward into a forearm by McMassive, then hits a discus lariat for the two count. Dickinson firing back with a couple of chops, but Rumblecrunch cuts him off, sends Dickinson headfirst into the top turnbuckle in the Gatekeepers' corner and tags McMassive. McMassive Irish whipped by his partner into an avalanche splash on Dickinson, that gets a two count. Another tag by the Gatekeepers. They go for a double chokeslam, Dickinson breaks free, and now Jaka in and they hit stereo German suplexes on the Gatekeepers. Jaka with a pescado, Rumblecrunch catches him, drops Jaka facefirst on the apron, then shoves him headfirst into the steps. Back in the ring, McMassive drills Dickinson with a big boot that gets a two count. Another tag by the Gatekeepers, working over Dickinson in their own corner. Dickinson ducks a short-arm clothesline, snap mares Rumblecrunch and blasts him with a kick to the back that only gets one. Rumblecrunch cuts him off again, a double team in their corner once again as Dickinson goes to his knees. Rumblecrunch covers for a two count. Rumblecrunch chokes Dickinson against the bottom rope, then distracts the ref so McMassive can hit a legdrop. Dickinson firing back again and now he and Flex trading shots at center ring. "Boo-yay" forearms by both men, and the exchange ends with a double clothesline that lays out both individuals. Standing 10 count by the referee, and Dickinson reaches his feet first and tags Jaka. He ducks a clothesline by Rumblecrunch and dropkicks McMassive off the apron. Rolling corner kick by Jaka, followed by a head and leg exploder. Cover gets broken up by McMassvive. Now Dickinson and Jaka double team McMassive, and a super kick by Jaka sends McMassive to the floor. Rumblecrunch goes for a chokeslam on Jaka, Dickinson breaks it up with an enziguiri. Now Dickinson tagged back in, measured kick to the head of a kneeling Rumblecrunch. Jaka tagged in again, hits a running knee off the ropes. McMassive breaks up the pin. Dickinson charging back in and the Catch Point duon double teaming him. McMassive cuts off the double team, sends Jaka shoulder first into the ring post. He hit hard. McMassiven with a spinning sidewalk slam on Dickinson, brings him to his feet, and the Gatekeepers hit a double chokeslam. Rumblecrunch with the pin, hooks both legs in a deep grapevine for 1... 2... NOOO Dickinson kicks out just before 3! Good false finish there, I thought that was it! Now McMassive to the top. Rumblecrunch hoists Dickinson for a possible belly to back, Dickinson floats through and crotches McMassive. Now Dickinson gets Rumblecrunch up in an electric chair... Jaka is back and on the top rope! Doomsday Chokeslam! 1! 2! 3!
WIN: Jaka & Chris Dickinson
Good action in these two matches and some innovative stuff from Kincaid, but neither match really seemed to connect with a crowd that has seemed just as concerned with cracking jokes as they are watching the action. Might we see a Catch Point vs. Catch Point tag title match in Orlando?
Tracy Williams vs. ACH
ACH takes on Williams, the de facto leader of Catch Point and one half of the current EVOLVE Tag Champions. If ACH wins both this match and his bout at EVOLVE 79 against Jason Kincaid, he will get an EVOLVE title shot during WrestleMania weekend in Orlando.
Williams has his right shoulder taped. Very cautious feeling-out process here as we get under way, but off the collar and elbow, ACH into a hammerlock that brings Hot Sauce down to the mat. Williams flips forward to escape. Knuckle lock, ACH uses Williams' own back to vault backward, landing in front of Williams, who takes down ACH with a side headlock. ACH tries to roll Williams onto his shoulders a couple of times, unsuccessfully, for the pin. Sends Williams off into the ropes, and Hot Sauce drops him with a shoulder tackle then picks the left leg. ACH kicks free, goes for a leapfrog, Williams evades it and pulls ACH down into a rollup. One count, Williams then evades an ACH dropkick and we have a stand off. Now ACH with the single leg takedown, cranking the left ankle of Williams. Williams counters into an ankle lock, ACH counters with heel kicks to break the hold and gets Williams in a standing side headlock. ACH with a big shoulder tackle of his own, cart wheel into a backflip and unloads with a dropkick on Williams, followed by a pin attempt that gets two. ACH lights up Williams with a chop, snap mares him over and hits a short knee, makes a pin attempt that gets one. Scoop slam by ACH, then a fist drop. Pin gets one, Williams bridges free, then unloads with a nasty sounding chop. ACH answers as Williams feeds to the corner. ACH sends Williams headfirst into the top turnbuckle as they feed to the adjacent corner, another chop, Williams gets a boot up after the Irish whip to the far side, then runs off the ropes with a shotgun dropkick. Clothesline in the corner by Williams, who sets ACH on the top turnbuckle, hits a forearm, then a butterfly suplex off the top! Williams stomping the shoulder of ACH, now going to work on the left arm. ACH with a chop, but Williams shrugs it off and drops ACH with a forearm, followed by a leaping stomp to the left bicep. Grinds an elbow into the shoulder joint before an elbow smash to the left arm. ACH with a chop and a forearm, but Williams wrings that left arm, scoops ACH and takes him down with a modified slam before transitioning to a belly-down armbar but ACH able to get to the ropes. ACH with a heabdutt, sends Williams' head into the turnbuckles. They work to the opposite corner and down to the floor where ACH ducks a few strikes and sends Williams' head into the apron. ACH with a tope from the ring that levels Hot Sauce. Back into the ring, ACH goes for a flying springobard, Williamns answers with a dropkick and ACH crumbles to the mat. ACH gets a shoulder up just before 3 on the pin attempt. Williams wrings the left arm again, hooks it between his legs and now grabs ACH under the chin in an innovative submission. Williams hooking the good right arm and bends it back before transitioning into a Russian legsweep, rolls through and uncorks a forearm to the back of the head, then covers for a two count. Williams with a reverse chinlock briefly but they work back to standing. Cuts off a quick comeback bid by ACH then starts unloading with wicked forearms. Sends ACH to the afr corner, where he goes up and over on Williams three times before getting cut off. Williams goes for an Irish whip, ACH into a baseball slide, stops himself by planting one foot against the bottom turnbuckle, then hits a turning upkick that drops Williams and gains him some breathing room. Both men slowly work to standing, and here we go with the strike exchange. Trading forearms, and then an ACH chop, followed by Williams kicking that bad left arm, before ACH fires back with three nasty sounding chops. ACH trying to hit a back suplex but Williams elbows his way free. ACH flips Williams out to the apron, dropkick takes out his legs, and a springboard dropkick off the corner ropes sends Williams to the floor. ACH fakes a springboard dive off the top rope, lands on the apron and delivers a running penalty kick to Williams! Action continues on the floor as ACH smashes Williams across the arm then sends him back in. ACH to the top rope, blocks Williams' kick attempt, trips Williams hits a double stomp, low dropkick combo. Series of forearms by Williams, but his Irish whip gets reversed. ACH catches Williams' cross body attempt, drops Williams in a backbreaker, hangs on and hits an Exploder for a two count. Big chop by ACH after Williams works to his feet. ACH sets Williams on the top turnbuckle and scales the corner himself. Hooking Williams, who's trying to counter the suplex. Now hitting ACH with a forearm and a headbutt, then an open handed strike to the throat. Williams tries for an armbar on that left arm, ACH fights free, and Williams shoves him off the ropes. ACH back up the ropes and the battle continues, but Williams hooks ACH by the head and drops down, DDTing ACH into the top turnbuckle! Running lariat by Williams, and both men are down! Intense match so far, but the crowd remains in and out of all the action so far. Referee checking on ACH to see if the can continue, he's good to go but rolls to the floor when Williams advances to follow up. Williams pulls ACH up to the apron by that bad left arm, ACH cuts him off with a shoulder block, then a front kick, but Williams counters ACH with a German that gets two. Three nasty forearms by Williams, as ACH trying to fire up. He's egging on Williams and eats two more forearms before unleashing a palm strike. Williams answers. ACH misses a scissor kick, Williams whiffs a lariat, and ACH hits a lariat of his own! That proimpts a "Go Go ACH" chant. Running discus lariat into the corner by ACH, then another lariat, into the Buster Call brainbuster! That does it!
Match of the night so far. ACH really has shown his versatility as a performer since coming to EVOLVE.
Drew Galloway vs. Jeff Cobb
This is the first EVOLVE match for Galloway since September, and he makes his return against Cobb, who is coming off a loss in his attempt to win the EVOLVE Title last month.
Galloway very methodical at the start, going to one knee after the bell and sizing up Cobb before advancing out of his corner. Crowd definitely behind Cobb as this one gets going. Collar and elbow ends with Cobb shoving off Galloway. Another tie up, and again Cobb throws him off. Cobb then with a reverse waistlock and a takedown. Deadlifts Galloway up off the mat and just throws him to the side, and Galloway shoots a look of astonishment at his opponent. Galloway goes low with a kick, hits Cobb across the back with a couple of forearms and now blasting him with two chops in the corner. Whips Cobb off, Cobb reverses, Galloway with the up and over, off the ropes, cross body... Cobb catches him! And transitions INTO A VERTICAL SUPLEX! Crazy strength! They go to the outside, where Galloway kicks an approaching Cobb in the head, but Cobb reverses an Irish whip and Galloway eats the ringpost. They work their way around the ringside area with more strikes by Cobb, who rolls Galloway into the ring at the 16 count of 20. Galloway cuts off Cobb before he gets back in, sends Cobb down the apron and into the ring post, left shoulder first. Back to the floor, and Galloway with a reverse neckbreaker on the floor. Galloway pulls up the apron, and slingshots Cobb's neck into the support cable that runs under the ring! That's a new one, to me... Galloway gets Cobb back in and going to work on the left arm. Fist drop by Galloway, who appeared to land a bit awkward. Cobb trying to fire up as he works back to standing but Galloway answers with a Divorce Court arm DDT. Cover gets two. Galloway winds up for a couple of chops in the corner, now piefacing Cobb, before another chop. overhand right by Galloway sends Cobb to his knees, then hooks his left arm in a submission attempt. Cobb powers out of the hold, Galloway feeds to the near corner, Cobb charges in, gets cut off, catches Galloway with a boot, but when he goes to the top rope, Galloway flips him down to the mat with an arm wringer. Cover gets only a 2 count. Now back standing and Galloway with more chops in the corner, three in a row this time, and flips off the referee for trying to get him to break. Running forearm by Gallooway, momentum sends him out to the apron. He flies off the top rope, gets caught by Cobb and airlifted in an overhead belly to belly suplex. Both men to their feet and Cobb unleashes a furious combo with a clothesline, dropkick, a senton and a back moonsault press that gets two! Crowd is really behind Cobb now. Cobb shoots Galloway off the ropes, going for Tour of the Islands, Galloway counters dropping back and driving both knees into the arm of Cobb. Another cover by Galloway gets two. Cobb fights out of a Future Shock DDT attempt and now both trading shots. Cobb with a headbutt, Galloway answers. Galloway with a short, single-leg dropkick, and covers Cobb for two and a half. Now Galloway to the far corner, measuring Cobb, who catches him in a spinning back suplex. Deadlift German suplex by Cobb, who bridges for 1... 2... Galloway escapes! Cobb brings Galloway up, shoots him off, Galloway grabs the top rope to block. Cobb scoops Galloway for a slam, Galloway drops down, goes for a backslide, Cobb blocks it, and now trying to pull Galloway into a backslide. Galloway pushes off the middle turnbuckle, flips in front of Cobb, Future Shock DDT! Hooks the leg and scores the pin...
WIN: Drew Galloway
Really enjoyed this one, in what was a fine return to EVOLVE action for Galloway. Solid psychology employed, and a win Galloway needed to build to tomorrow night's grudge match with Riddle.
Now it's Galloway's turn on the microphone, responding to Riddle's challenge earlier in the night, and tells Riddle to come out and fight him. Riddle answers the challenge, coming down the ramp grinning. Staredown between these two as Cobb is still down inside the ring... and they start firing away with punches on each other! Series of open hand strikes by Riddle, Galloway shoves Riddle back into Cobb... who hits Tour of the Islands on Riddle?!? Do we have a heel turn? The rest of Catch Point is in now, and Jaka and Cobb get into it and Catch Point has to pull them apart. Galloway powders out, a satisfied smile on his face, and taunts Riddle briefly on the floor before leaving.
Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Keith Lee
This is the beginning of Lee's "trial series" in EVOLVE, which will consist of a series of singles matches against some of the promotion's top talent.
Big, big, size differential between these two. Lenny Leonard on commentary says Sabre is giving up about 150 pounds to Lee. Sabre evading a couple of early charges by Lee, then wraps up his left leg trying to bring him down. Lee pulls Sabre's legs free of his own, hooks a knuckle lock and lifts Sabre back to his feet. Now Lee trying to bridge Sabre back down to the mat and does for a one count before Lee bridges up-... Lee leaps ONTO Sabre to force him into a pin, and Sabre bridges up with the 300-plus pound Lee on top of him! Two uppercuts by Sabre barely faze Lee, who hits a backbreaker, then comes off the near ropes and trucks Sabre with a clothesline. Lee says "that's what I do" to the crowd, perhaps mimicking Mark Henry, then adds "wrong, I do it better." Lee now working over Sabre in the corner, brings him back to center ring for a scoop slam. Lee grinding his left boot into the chest of Sabre. Brings him up for a measured right forearm in the corner. Another scoop slam attempt at center ring, Sabre escapes, seated on Lee's shoulder, trying for a submission and transitions into a sleeper, then floats around Lee's body and has the left arm. Sabre trying for a guillotine now but Lee with a bearhug, Sabre blocks it and still trying for that left arm but Lee pulls free and finally hooks the bearhug. Lee with a short headbutt to the shoulder of Sabre, and TOSSES him with an overhead belly to belly throw. Now Lee with a boot choke on a prone Sabre in the corner, pushing Sabre out of the ring, and Sabre hooks the ankle while hanging outside the ring, doing some damage. Sabre has to break because of the five count, though, and an angry looking Lee gets Sabre up and blasts him with a chop in the corner. Now another bearhug at center ring by Sabre. Sabre with a series of back elbows to the head to finally escape the bearhug. Repeated European uppercuts by Sabre. who feeds into the corner. Lee with an up and over! Off the ropes and barrels over Sabre. Pin attempt gets two. Another boot choke by Lee, and now a ring-rope-assisted choke chinlock. Sabre trying to fight back, bending Lee's left wrist at an unnatural angle. Lee pulls free, fires Sabre into the far corner and charges with an avalanche. Double overhand chop by Lee! Lee fires Sabre to the far corner, leaping splash... Sabre moves! Sabre now with a series fo forearms to Lee, who shrugs them off and drives Lee back into the corner. Sets him on the top turnbuckle, bear-paw-like overhand left. Sabre with a kick fends off the charging Lee, then leaps with a flying forearm uppercut, followed by a basement dropkick to the left knee. Lee is down! Penalty kick! Cover! 1... 2... Lee kicks out, launching Sabre OVER to the far side of the referee! Sabre with an arm wringer, then an upkick to the left elbow. Now Sabre trying for the octopus! Lee heaves Sabre up onto his shoulder... powerslam! Cover! Only a two count. Two kicks by Sabre, who leaps and goes for an armbar... Lee hoists Sabre back up... into a sitout powerbomb but it only gets two! Both men down for a few seconds after the false finish. In the silence, a fan yells out "never give up! Hustle loyalty respect!' to HUGE crowd heat. Back to the action, and Sabre has Lee reeling after two running forearm uppercuts from corner to corner, a series of forearms... Sabre goes for the European clutch, Lee able to kick out. Now Sabre on Lee's shoulders, trying for the armbar, Lee gets Sabre in a fireman's carry, and hits a modified powerslam. Leonard calls it Ground Zero. It's also the finish.
WIN: Keith Lee
I'm a sucker for big guy vs. little guy matches, and this was one of the better versions of it I've seen in quite a while.
After Lee leaves, Thatcher's representative, Stokely Hathaway, is out on the microphone. Hathaway is wearing the EVOLVE Title belt around his waist. Hathaway talks about all the chatter about this being a new era for EVOLVE, full of change, with new faces and how he doesn't care. Hathaway gets in the ring, saying Sabre is in his spotlight, drops an Omar Little line ("when you come at the king, you best not miss") and introduces Thatcher to a hearty round of boos. After Thatcher enters, Sabre gets the microphone and says that, no matter who wins tonight, Sabre will be handed the EVOLVE Title tomorrow.
EVOLVE Title Match: Timothy Thatcher (w/ Stokely Hathaway) defends vs. Fred Yehi
Yehi submitted Thatcher with his Koji Clutch in an EVOLVE Tag Title match last month at EVOLVE 76. The winner of this match defends against Sabre tomorrow night at EVOLVE 79. If Thatcher can survive this weekend with his title reign still intact, his championship reign will surpass the 600-day mark.
Yehi accompanied to the ring by his Catch Point teammates. To no one's surprise this one immediately goes down to the mat. Thatcher comes up with Yehi's left arm ensnared in a modified hammerlock, flips Yehi over into a cover attempt but he immediately gets a shoulder up. Thatcher still working that left arm as Lenny Leonard runs down the laundry list of names who Thatcher has beaten and successfully defended the title against. Now Thatcher has the left leg of Yehi and going to work. Yehi grabs both ears briefly to try and get Thatcher to break, which is not something you see often. Yehi finally works to the ropes as Thatcher gets that left ankle. Back to their feet and another tie-up. Yehi with a nice reverse waistlock. A couple of switches. Yehi trying to turn Thatcher over with an amateur style cradle, has both legs pretzeled around Thatcher's right leg. You can hear Tracy Williams "coaching" Yehi, along with the other Catch Point guys. Both Thatcher and Yehi going for open hand strikes and they're blocking most of them. Thatcher with a knee and an elbow to the ribs from the side, then hooks Yehi by the head. Yehi with a reverse waistlock, Thatcher grabs the top rope to break, Yehi tries to slap his arms free, and Thatcher blasts Yehi with a slap to the face, then a kick to the head. Pin attempt gets one, and Thatcher hooks the head again. Series of forearm shots by Thatcher to Yehi. Hathaway is enjoying it out on the floor. Yehi trying to fight back with a chop, Thatcher shrugs it off and blasts Yehi with a forearm uppercut. Yehi on all fours as Thatcher delivers a measured knee to the ribs. Yehi feeds to the corner and eats another forearm uppercut. Yehi fends him off with a kick, and now a chop, blocks a Thatcher kick, swings his leg down, stomps both feet, sweeps Thatcher's legs and hits a basement dropkick. Delay before a pin attempt that gets two. Yehi smashes Thatcher into the top turnbuckle, hits a chop, hooks Thatcher for a snap suplex and floats over for a two count. Yehi into a chinlock now. Thatcher gets out of the hold, knee to the gut of Yehim, then an elbow smash across the back of the head. Yehi fights back with a big chop, then a double axehandle across the back. Yehi going for a piledriver now, but Thatcher blocks. Thatcher spins out, has Yehi's left arm. Thatcher blocks a foot stomp, takes a chop, ducks a Yehi clothesline and hits a German suplex that dumps Yehi on an awkward looking landing. Now Thatcher mugging Yehi in the corner, first with forearms, then stomps. Thatcher hooks Yehi's head, dragging him out and driving him sternum-first down into the apron. Snap suplex at center ring by Thatcher, who floats over into a pin that gets a two count. Thatcher immediately into a sleeper, then replaces it and starts mauling the nose of the challenger. Thatcher just slaps a kneeling Yehi, who works back standing and slaps Thatcher. Forearms and uppercuts by Thatcher, who fires back with a palm strike and a chop, then cuts off Yehi with an elbow under the chin. Pin attempt gets another two count. Thatcher tying up the head of Yehi once more. Yehi works back standing, still in the hold, and punching at Thatcher's left leg with his free hand. Yehi blocking attempts at an underhook suplex by Thatcher. Arm breaker across the shoulder, chop, takes out the legs of Thatcher, and another basement dropkick. Yehi covers, deep grapevine, only gets a two count. Yehi now with some ground and pound MMA elbows on Thatcher, followed by a series of driving knees. Thatcher covering up, and Hathaway is looking anxious at ringside. Yehi into a body scissors now. Yet more ground and pound by Yehi. Thatcher on his back, covering up as Yehi dropping the hammer with elbow smash after elbow smash. Thatcher on his belly now, and another measured elbow by Yehi, as Thatcher finally grabs the bottom rope. Thatcher fights off Yehi with an upkick to the face. Now Yehi with the stomps... first to the left ankle... now grinds his heel into the left knee. Measured stomp to that left knee. Yehi to the mat, tying up both legs in a submission attempt. Thatcher trying to fight free of the hold with slaps and forearms but Yehi gets standing with the hold still applied and out of Thatcher's reach. Thatcher postures up and hits Yehi with a couple of forearms. The second one echoes and Yehi crumples, releasing the hold. Big forearm uppercut in the corner by the champ. Irish whip, Yehi up and over, forearm off the ropes by Yehi. Now has Thatcher hooked for a possible gutwrench, Thatcher counters with a gutwrench of his own, Yehi gets free and drops Thatcher with a German suplex. Pin attempt gets two. Now Yehi trying for a piledriver but Thatcher blocking. Comes up with Yehi's left arm grabbed, into a forearm, then a belly to belly suplex off the ropes. Thatcher with the lateral press and a grapevine... only a two count. Stalling gutwrench suplex by Thatcher gets a two count, as does a double underhook suplex. Thatcher looking frustrated at not being able to put away Yehi. Standing reverse waistlock by Thatcher, Yehi elbows free, Thatcher blocks an O'Connor roll, Yehi ducks a slap, hits a roaring elbow. Yehi going for the Koji Clutch, instead rolling Thatcher over into a pinning predicament... just gets two! Reverse waistlock by Yehi, standing switch and a back chop by the champ. They work to the corner, Yehi up and over to the apron, back in, Thatcher blocks a German suplex attempt. Yehi with a powerbomb, goes for the stack pin... Thatcher kicks out, and Yehi immediately to the Koji Clutch! But Thatcher is close enough to the ropes to force a break... Yehi with a running forearm in the corner, Thatcher ducks a lariat and hooks Yehi in a sleeper. Yehi breaks free by grabbing the left arm, trying to position for the Koji Cutch again, Thatcher goes for the sleeper, takes Yehi down and quickly transitions ito a bully choke! Yehi taps after just a couple seconds!
Thatcher makes a very fast exit, and the crowd chanting for Yehi as the other members of Catch Point into the ring. Jaka and Dickinson pick up the tag title belts and gaze at them for several seconds before handing them to Yehi and Williams. All the Catch Point guys shake hands before leaving the ring.
That's all, folks.
WIN: Timothy Thatcher
Crowd did not like that outcome at all, but I thought this was a very fine, technically-based, grapple-heavy matchup. Yehi was a very very game challenger. Thatcher is a very polarizing figure among wrestling fans, and several of his recent matches have come off flat (his title match with Cobb last month, for example) but I think this one is definitely worth watching.
Lee-Sabre was my pick for match of the night, with Yehi and Thatcher a very close second.