Evolve 129 recap & review: It’s Tyler!

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The show opens just about ten minutes after the scheduled bell time with Lenny Leonard in the ring to welcome us to the show and thank us for helping them make history when the 10th anniversary show gets broadcast on the WWE Network.

The Skulk make their entrance and AR Fox gets on the mic to talk himself up, reminding us that he was the first Evolve Champion and then thanks us for getting Evolve on the WWE Network. But they can’t go to the Network with Austin Theory as champion and he tells Leon Ruff tonight is his time before moving onto his own match against Tyler Breeze and ceding the floor to his other proteges for their tag match.

Milk Chocolate (Brandon Watts & Randy Summers) vs. the Skulk (Adrian Alanis & Liam Gray) (Evolve Tag Team Championship #1 Contender’s Match)

Gray with a dive before entrances even finish and we’re off to a hot start! Crossbody / suplex combo isn’t enough so they start working Watts over, double-teams on Summers to boot, but soon enough Milk Chocolate take advantage of Liam and get him isolated. Gray breaks free, hot tag, Alanis in with power moves, lungblower into a discus lariat and it’s almost over but Randy kicks out!

Action spills outside, Summers with a double stomp to the floor to take Alanis out, tag made…

Milk Chocolate win by pinfall with a double stomp DDT on Liam Gray to become #1 contenders to the Evolve Tag Team Championship.

Bit shocked at the Skulk not winning this one, but it was a fun opener even if it didn’t really escalate to any great heights.

Babatunde vs. Harlem Bravado

Bravado game to test strength but the big man shoves him aside! Babatunde damn near bieled him up to the top turnbuckle! Harlem trying his luck with strikes, no deal and the giant swats him down! Bravado’s able to take him to the floor and start chopping him down but he wastes time jawing with the crowd and pays the price with a couple of huge chops!

Pop-up onto the apron into another huge chop to the chest, but Harlem is able to slip away and put Babatunde into the post! Back inside, the big man staggered as the Globetrotter attacks him from all angles, ducking shot after shot only to get caught into a body slam! Elbow drop, off the ropes…

Babatunde wins by pinfall with the big splash.

This was a lot of fun and did a great job making me look forward to Baba vs. Drake on tomorrow’s show. Babatunde doesn’t do too much, but he’s got some timing and he executes everything really well.

Post-match, JD Drake comes down and gets on the mic. First of all he gives credit where it’s due and thanks Babatunde for saving him in Detroit, but he takes issue with the suggestion that there was fear in his eyes, but he fears no man. Because either he’s gonna whip their ass or take an ass-whipping trying and he bids the big man good luck trying to take the title from him.

Babatunde shoves JD into the corner and goes for a chop before faking out and patting him on the cheek patronizingly. The giant leaves and Drake says if anyone can beat him in his four-way match coming up, he’ll give the title up to them.

JD Drake (c) vs. John Silver vs. Sean Maluta vs. Takuri (WWN Championship)

Everyone ganging up on Drake to start but the Blue Collar Badass shrugs ‘em off and chops ‘em down! To the floor, fountain of dives, pop-up haymakers for Silver and Takuri but Maluta wipes the champion out with a senton atomico from the top! Back inside, Sean looking to capitalize but JD fights back and the ring refills. Drake into the post, the Meat Man running wild!

Takuri and Maluta at it, hold for hold and shot for shot, Sean takes control and hits an Air Raid Crash that seems like a finish but the other two men return and John kicks his head in! Release German, cutthroat lungblower, and he runs right into a chop to the throat and a leg lariat from the New Age Enforcer! Takuri with La Mistica, no good, Maluta cuts him off, nobody home on the double stomp, Drake gets him up… AND SILVER GERMAN SUPLEXES BOTH MEN FOR A NEARFALL!

Cutthroat choke applied, Takuri adds a half-crab but Sean kicks his head in! Dumping Johnny to the floor, squaring up… STUNNER! JD up and over, huge belly-to-belly into the corner sets it up… CANNONBALL! DRILL BIT! IT’S OVER!

JD Drake wins by pinfall with Drill Bit on Takuri to retain the WWN Championship.

Frenetic four-way action here, a bit shallow but it was a good time.

Brandi Lauren vs. Shotzi Blackheart

Right into the brawling, Blackheart fired up, kick combo into a facebuster, only two. Lauren with a huge right, that gets a Lou Thesz Press into punches, but when the action heads to the floor Brandi is able to take charge. Shotzi reverses the momentum, big dropkick, they fight into the crowd and referee Stefan Smith has no choice…

The match goes to a no-contest.

This had some strong energy to start but fell apart a little and ended up being more of an angle than anything.

Post-match they keep brawling for a bit but referees swarm and pull them apart. Blackheart ends up in the ring shoving at them but Lauren comes from behind with her signature horned helmet in hands and clocks Shotzi across the head with it!

Arturo Ruas vs. Josh Briggs

Collar and elbow, Briggs shoving Ruas around, Arturo with a flying armbar but Josh gets the ropes and escapes. Jockeying for position, Ruas with a sleeper but Briggs turns it into a backbreaker and a slam. Arturo keeping it simple, looking to choke the life out of the big man but Josh starts bringing his elbows to bear and cuts the Brazilian right off.

More big strikes, hard backbreakers of every variety, but none of it is enough for Briggs! Chokeslam blocked, Ruas slides under, handspring heel kick into a low roundhouse, German suplex into the bridge for two! Josh clubbing away but Arturo keeps his cool, cartwheel into a boot to the face! Back to the backbreakers, Ruas with a kneebar attempt, denied, and a pump kick runs him over!

Chokeslam for two, into the turnbuckles, thinking about the avalanche M5… ARTURO RUAS ROLLS AWAY FROM THE IMPACT! CROSSLEG HEEL HOOK! BRIGGS SCREAMING AGONY… IT’S OVER! REFEREE JAKE CLEMONS CALLED IT!

Arturo Ruas wins by referee stoppage with the crossleg heel hook.

Now that’s more like it! This show had been leaning a little hard in the “slow and steady” lane, but this brought it. Especially that finish, revisiting the spot where he dislocated his hip can’t have been the easiest thing for Josh Briggs, but it was some real high-drama action. Great match!

Anthony Greene & Curt Stallion vs. the Unwanted (Eddie Kingston & Joe Gacy) (c) (Evolve Tag Team Championship)

Kingston and Greene to start, Anthony having a bit of fun but Kingston ain’t having it! Tag made, the match breaks down and the Unwanted pull ahead in the chaos. Quick tags, working Stallion over, Kingston blinding the young man with a rake of the eyes at one point only for a nearly-blind double stomp to land true! Tags made, AG running wild on Gacy, huge dive over the top rope, Stallion back in for double teams but Gacy pounces Greene to hell!

Tag champs nearly end it with a legsweep / STO combo and then again with a discus lariat / German suplex but Curt Stallion will not stay down! Into the “everybody do something cool” part of the match, Stallion running hot on Gacy but Eddie makes the save! AG slugging it out, Kingston throws him into his own partner, rolling elbow into the Saito suplex…

The Unwanted win by pinfall with a rolling elbow / Saito suplex combination on Curt Stallion to retain the Evolve Tag Team Championship.

I just wish this had had maybe five more minutes, because it was really good and fell *just* short of that fever pitch.

Stallion and Greene stick together post-match when here comes Brandi Lauren… ANTHONY GREENE DROPS CURT WITH A LARIAT! HE’S WITH LAUREN!

AR Fox vs. Tyler Breeze

Feeling out with a bit of grappling, lucha intensifies to the floor, Fox lands on his feet off a back suplex, stereo dropkicks into a stalemate! Dropkick takes AR off the apron, trading strikes on the floor and Tyler crotches him on the barricade! Jockeying for position over the ropes, Fox with a roll-through Ace Crusher… NOPE! Breeze gets a similar nearfall off the inverted lungblower!

AR trips him up in the corner, Tyler pulls him face-first into the ringpost and superkicks him off the Skulk and to the floor! Another superkick… STILL NO! Back and forth, trading covers and nearly doing it, AR up top… COAST 2 COAST! TOPE CON GIRO! TOPE SUICIDA… CUT OFF BY A GODDAMN SUPERKICK! Back inside, underhooks, swing him around…

Tyler Breeze wins by pinfall with an Unprettier.

This ruled and my recap really does not do it justice here. Tyler Breeze, turns out he’s kinda good at this whole wrestling thing when you let him be. (This would have more impact if he wasn’t just on a TakeOver, I know.) But just the sheer timing alone on the suicide dive > superkick counter spot, good lord. Fantastic match.

Anthony Henry vs. Roderick Strong

Henry going right for the legs in the feeling out, both men dodging hard strikes and we’ve got a shoving match! Chops and forearms, fast-paced, hammering at each other, hamstring kicks from the FIP World Heavyweight Champion set up an enzuigiri! To the floor, more brawling, Anthony charges in… BACKBREAKER OVER THE GUARDRAIL! Punishing Henry, fireman’s carry into the ringpost, just brutalizing him over the barricade, Strong is a man possessed!

A counter Stunner into a jawbreaker gets Henry an inch of breathing space and his educated feet turn it into a yard. A dragon screw, finally back to the leg damage, figure four leglock applied in the middle of the ring! Roddy gets the ropes and forces the break. They end up in the turnbuckles, jockeying for position, and the double stomp lands true! Tornado DDT follows but Anthony doesn’t want to end it yet!

Another double stomp… RODERICK STRONG LIVES! Ankle lock applied, Roddy out with kicks, jumping knee, Henry’s down and out as he applies Strong Hold with stomps to the back of the neck… IT’S OVER!

Roderick Strong wins by submission with Strong Hold.

So this was fantastic. Just pure back and forth grappling and striking violence of the highest caliber. Give me five more matches between these two men, please.

Post-match, Roddy gets on the mic and puts Henry over, telling him Evolve is in good hands with him, and that’s Undisputed.

Here comes this asshole.

Er, Austin Theory, that is. He tells JD Drake that he’s sick of hearing him talk about how he’s the best champion in WWN and cuts a promo continuing to run him down.

They leave, and Theory calls Leon Ruff out, saying he’s taking the title to the WWE Network and demanding he come out for their match.

Austin Theory (c) vs. Leon Ruff (Evolve World Championship)

Ruff in hard, all windmilling punches and backflip evasions! A back body drop to the floor doesn’t even slow him down as he continues bringing it to Theory! Off the ropes, double jump senton atomico to the floor but Austin reverses into an apron powerbomb! Slingshot stomp into a pop-up suplex, running hot, following with a huge release Doctor Bomb and a cutthroat choke.

Leon finally starting to recover, on his feet off a fallaway slam, enzuigiri into a leaping neckbreaker for two! Theory with a buckle bomb, crossleg brainbuster over the knee… NOPE! Ruff bounces off the ropes neck-first into a lariat and reverses the Argentine powerbomb into a headscissors takeover! Superkick, straitjacket German suplex… SO CLOSE!

Jockeying for position up top, Austin reverses…. AVALANCHE REVOLUTION ARGENTINE POWERBOMB ISN’T ENOUGH TO PUT THE SKULK’S SHINING STAR AWAY! Ataxia reversed into a knee, staggering the champ in the corner but he sidesteps Ruff into the post and gets the rolling thunder dropkick! Underhook… ATAXIA REVERSED INTO A DDT WHAT IN THE WORLD! THEORY KICKS OUT!

Austin with his belt in hand, Ruff staggered but refusing to give up his fight, he catches the title when Theory throws it at him and schoolboys him for two! Low blow, underhook…

Austin Theory wins by pinfall with Ataxia to retain the Evolve World Championship.

Leon Ruff, everybody! This kid is so good. His punches could use a little more weight behind them, but he just goes out there and GETS IT every time and he really made the most of this main event here. I’m not even sure the arc of his leap on that Ataxia > DDT counter is valid in Euclidean physics, but he made it happen. And credit to Theory, this is another in a nice long stretch of really good matches he’s had as he’s zeroed in on the complaints levied against him over the last year or so and really tightened his game up.

Post-match, Theory talks about how, since he retained his title, he’s gonna main event Evolve 131 on the WWE Network, and then a TakeOver, and then WrestleMania, and all this is is a stepping stone to the WWE Championship. He turns around and JD Drake is in the entryway staring him down and holding the WWN Championship high!

Josh Briggs is here, too, but Theory runs away from him! Briggs gets on the mic and says obviously he’s still not in a good mood and listening to Austin didn’t help, but, there’s a but, and they’re back here in La Boom on September 21 and he’s not wrestling anyone… because he’s fighting Austin Theory. No more running, no more hiding, he’s set the date for his public execution!

Overall

A bit of a slow start but this show ended really well with three killer singles matches right in a row.

And some interesting plot developments, with the Lauren/Greene alliance, Drake and Theory on a collision course primary amongst them. Overall, not the most exciting show on our way to the first-ever Evolve show broadcast on the WWE Network, but it did it’s job and was an easy watch start to finish.

Check the VOD out through the World Wrestling Network, whether as an individual purchase or at no additional cost with your Club WWN subscription.




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