Ringkampf def. Catch Point (Tracy Williams & Dominic Garrini)
Before the match, Catch Point manager and national treasure Stokely Hathaway tried his hardest to create a new Dream Team and combine Ringkampf and Catch Point. WALTER, however, did not cooperate with this, ripping up Hathaway’s offer right in his face. As the match got going, it became very apparent that this was personal. Thatcher and Williams had unfinished business from last year, and Garrini was out to prove himself within Catch Point, the group that Thatcher once reigned leader for. One thing I noticed throughout this match is Garrini’s wrestling style. Though he’s in his late twenties, he wrestles like a very young man, with absolutely nothing held back. He didn’t get into pro wrestling training until 2015, so while inexperienced, he had a lot of intent in his strikes, and that’s something I can appreciate. The true star in this match, however, was WALTER. I know, shocker. After having a breakout 2017, WALTER continues to absolutely shine no matter the situation. Here, he was mostly used as a hot tag, a great one I might add, with his chops shining through more so than his wrestling acumen. His dominance just on size alone really won the match for he and Thatcher, as his powerbomb of Garrini onto Williams to break up the submission near the end saved the match for Ringkampf. Eventually, WALTER threw Garrini aside, tagged in, and hit a massive Tiger Bomb on Williams for the win ***¾
Post match, The End come out and attack Catch Point, leading to a very impromptu match between The End’s Parrow and Catch Point’s Chris Dickinson.
No Disqualification: Chris Dickinson def. Parrow
This was so weird. The impromptu variety of the match combined with it being made no DQ really helped make the match, and while it was rather short, it was still a ton of fun. This was a solid way of making Dickinson appear strong against a massive wrestler prior to his title match the following night against the one and only Keith Lee. Also, seeing Dickinson wrestle in Zubaz is genuinely one of my favorite things ever **¾
AR Fox def. Matt Riddle
This was terrific from bell to bell, and the story of Riddle wanting rope breaks banned from EVOLVE developed even further here. AR Fox also permanently re-established himself atop EVOLVE upon his return a month ago with a win here against someone the caliber of Riddle, but it wasn’t without a little help from the ropes. Bro had the match won following a tombstone, powerbomb, and one of the stiffest knee strikes you’ll ever see, but Riddle making the initial cover too close to the ropes led to him having to drag Fox into the middle of the ring, allowing him to recover just enough to kick out. Riddle, clearly, flustered, sets Fox up on the top turnbuckle, but Fox is able to counter with a top rope Canadian Destroyer!!! This sends Riddle staggering back to the other corner, allowing Fox to hit Lo Mein Pain and a 450 Splash for the upset win ****
AR Fox celebrates the win with his posse, and lays out the challenge to whomever will be the WWN Champion come EVOLVE 100. The first ever EVOLVE Champion wants some gold back around his waist.
FIP Heavyweight Championship – Anything Goes: Austin Theory (c) def. Fred Yehi
This was a solid match that used the FIP standard rules that anything goes to its advantage. Priscilla Kelly and Austin Theory continue to be a great duo as Kelly not only does a good job as a manager but an even better job at being a difference maker for the young rising star. Yehi, however, comes up short yet again, and I can’t help but wonder where this leads him. Hopefully EVOLVE have something in plan for him because he’s a tremendous talent that needs to be utilized as proficiently as possible ***¼
Grudge Match: Jaka def. Keith Lee
Everything was going right for Keith Lee; then everything went wrong. For most of this match, Lee dominated, using his size and ridiculous athleticism to control Jaka every which way he wanted to. However, in what seemed to be an instant second, everything flipped on The Limitless One. Jaka began to absorb Lee’s powerful strikes and hit harder back, and AR Fox’s goons certainly didn’t help matters, distracting Lee long enough for Jaka to hit the T’Challa Kick and pin the WWN Champion, softening him up before his teammate Chris Dickinson’s title shot at EVOLVE 99 ***¼
EVOLVE Championship: Zack Sabre Jr. (c) def. Darby Allin
The rise of Darby Allin and his desire to do absolutely anything to his body to win is something I’ve grown to appreciate and love. This match was absolutely spectacular and showcased every reason why everyone who ever doubted his ability atop the card is wrong. He, as well as Sabre Jr., was damn near perfect. Darby had tried to show that he could hang with Zack on the mat early on, but as the middle stages came, that idea proved to be flawed and Darby had to use what got him to the dance to create a comeback. However, Sabre Jr. was able to gain control once again, hitting the PK, but Darby kicks out. Zack would then lock in the European Clutch, but Allin continued to kick out and fight. This was clearly flustering Zack, and he began slapping Allin which is very out of character for him in EVOLVE. Allin fired up and began slapping himself, showing Zack that his slaps meant nothing. The ever resilient Allin was able to get enough momentum to lock up Sabre Jr. in the Last Supper, but Sabre Jr. kicks out! He followed that up with a Code Red, but again the champion would kick out. Allin then went for the Coffin Drop, but Sabre had it scouted and tried to lock Darby in an armbar. This would get transitioned into a very deep triangle choke that Zack probably could’ve won with, but he decides to transition into the Uma Plata. It took nearly a minute and a half for Zack to gain control of Darby’s left arm because Allin knew that no matter how much he fought, once Sabre Jr. has control of both arms in the Uma Plata, it’s game over. However, Sabre Jr. was able to gain control of that left arm, but the always defiant Darby Allin refused to tap and eventually passed out. A dream crushed at the hands of the best technician in the world ****½
Following the match, the FIP Heavyweight Champion Austin Theory attacks Sabre Jr., causing Jason Kincaid to come out and confront Theory yet again. Kelly charges him, but Kincaid steps aside as she goes flying. Finally, Kincaid snaps and attacks Theory, letting out weeks worth of anger towards him even as a look of regret settled upon his face following his actions.
Show Grade: B (8.2/10)
Nothing on this show is passable content. Everyone did their part and absolutely crushed EVOLVE 98. From the start of the first match to the final bell of the EVOLVE title match, the stories told were very good and well thought out, and the matches were equally as impressive. Ringkampf, AR Fox’s unique gimmick, Riddle’s feud with the ropes, and the EVOLVE Championship epic between Sabre Jr. and Darby Allin are all things that stood out more than the rest on this show, with the main event delivering brilliantly. I’m very curious as to where Darby goes from here as well as Keith Lee should he defeat Dickinson at EVOLVE 99. It seems everyone wants a crack at the Limitless One.