First of two shows for Evolve in New Orleans, with the Evolve Championship on the line, Will Ospreay making his return and a tag team dream match all taking place.
The King of Bros becomes the king of Evolve
In the main event, Matt Riddle finally ended the year long reign of Zack Sabre Jr. in a technical masterpiece. These two have fought each many times before and their recent match at PWG earned rave reviews from many. Their styles suit each other so well and as expected this was grapple heavy with a few strikes and kicks thrown in for good measure.
Riddle spent a good portion of the match trying to overpower the champ, using his strength to counter the technical prowess of his opponent. Zack is such a clever wrestler, working the legs of the former UFC fighter, even bending his toes back to the disgust of the fans.
It soon became a battle of Zacks submissions against Riddles strikes, with Riddle eventually coming out on top doing what few others have done and making Zack tap out to the bro-mission. So after over 400 days, Evolve finally has a new champion. Great match that was everything you would expect from these two stars.
Dream match turns into hoss fight
Billed as a tag team dream match, the Ringkampf duo of Timothy Thatcher and Walter went up against the Japanese legends Daisuke Sekimoto and Munenori Sawa in one of the weekends most anticipated matches. WALTER and Sekimoto have battled each other many times in the past and they are almost made to fight each other. While they chopped the crap out of each, Sawa and Thatcher put on an exhibition of the Battle Arts fighting style they both abide by. This was Sawa's first appearance for Evolve since Evolve 4, where he wrestled Bryan Danielson almost 8 years ago and his charisma was evident here as the crowd loudly got behind him.
I could personally watch WALTER and Sekimoto fight all day, every chop sounding like a car crash and the Japanese legend held his own against the ring general, with both their chests being destroyed by the end of the match. Sekimoto showed his incredible strength by somehow getting WALTER up on his shoulders for a torture rack.
This was a big old fight between four tough bastards that involved nothing fancy, yet everything look brutal. WALTER got the Gojira Clutch on Sawa to get the victory for his team by submission in a fantastic and hard-hitting match. Darby Allin confronted WALTER afterwards ahead of their match at Evolve 103, to which WALTER quickly dismissed him with a powerbomb.
Well, he's still alive. After all the rumours and concern, Ospreay showed up and in typical Ospreay fashion had one of the most entertaining matches of the night. AR Fox was again accompanied by his posse while Ospreay was accompanied by a lot of surgical tape, obviously feeling the effects of that nasty-looking apron bump he took at Sukara Genesis.
This was Ospreay's first match in Evolve since Evolve 59 and even with the injury he didn't miss a step, with flips aplenty throughout. Ospreay played up the injury a lot and while Fox is quite the highflyer himself, he kept it more grounded, working over the neck of Ospreay.
This was a very impressive match between two of the best flyers in the business. Ospreay proved his toughness here, even hitting a Spanish fly at one point almost as a message to the fans that his injuries were not going to slow him down. Ospreay came out victorious after hitting the Oscutter in a great match.
A very good and fast-paced opener saw DJZ return to Evolve to pick up the win over the always impressive Austin Theory after hitting the rolling DDT. No Priscilla Kelly in the corner of Theory as she is currently on tour in Japan and the commentators played up her absence as being a reason for the lose. Theory took to the mic afterwards to talk about Keith Lee, saying he wanted their match at Evolve 103 the next day to be a title vs title match.
A lot of chaos here as Doom Patrol defended their titles (kind of) against The End, The Work Horsemen and for some reason Dominic Garrini & Tracy Williams. This was a culmination of a feud that has lasted quite a while now and I was happy to see it end. The stipulation also left a lot to be desired, with the title only being on the line if Doom Patrol themselves were pinned. Yeah that makes no sense.
The match was entertaining if a bit difficult to keep up with. Everybody got their stuff in and there was yet more descension between Catch Point members Doom Patrol and Williams & Garrini. The End picked up the victory The Worke Horsemen meaning the titles didn't change hands. Entertaining if a little confusing with Anthony Henry the standout performer.
Darby Allin continued his weekend theme on taking on the big men by going up against Keith Lee, who was fresh from defending his WWN Championship against Kassius Ohno earlier in the day at Axxess. Lee was the heavy favourite here and he threw Allin around like a rag-doll. Allin is so fearless that he took it to his much bigger opponent early on, using his speed to dodge the attacks from Lee. This only angered the big man and the more Allin seemed to survive, the angrier Lee got. He almost broke him in half with a massive powerbomb and it was eventually the Ground Zero that finished off the crazy underdog.
Superb match that told a good story of Allin just not knowing when to give up. After the match, Lee answered the challenge from Austin Theory from earlier, telling him he accepts his challenge for Evolve 103. While Darby Allin was trying to leave the ring he was attacked by Jarek 1:20.
DJZ def Austin Theory
Will Ospreay def AR Fox
The End (Parrow & Edinson) def The Work Horsemen (Anthony Henry & James Drake), Doom Patrol (Chris Dickinson & Jaka) and Tracy Williams & Dominic Garrini in a tag team scramble match
Keith Lee def Darby Allin
Ringkampf def Daisuke Sekimoto & Munenori Sawa
Matt Riddle def Zack Sabre Jr. to win the Evolve Championship
What did you think of Evolve 102? Let us know in the comments below!