Riddle begins his reign with a battle
This one promised to be hard-hitting and it didn't disappoint. The newly crowned Evolve Champion, Matt Riddle made his first defence against the legendary Daisuke Sekimoto. Riddle announced before the match that all future title defences would be no rope break matches, playing into the story he has had in Evolve of late. This started off hard and it finished exactly the same, with the exquisite grappling exchanges soon accompanied by a chop or two. Riddles MMA experience lends him so well to the Japanese style of wrestling and this match was perfect for him.
If seeing two guys trying to chop and kick each the life out of each is to your liking, then is the match for you. A flurry of strikes to the head of Sekimoto led to a referee stoppage and a first successful defence for the King of Bros. I thoroughly enjoyed this match and I would love to see them do it again in the future.
New champion crowned as Lee says goodbye
Austin Theory had challenged Keith Lee to put his WWN Championship on the line at Evolve 102, which Lee accepted making this match a WWN vs FIP Championship match. Big opportunity for Theory against a man who seems to be on his way to a certain developmental brand in Florida. Lee Controlled most of the match, using his size to overpower his younger opponent. The match ended when Theory followed up a low blow with a TKO to pin the big man and become the new WWN Champion.
Chants of “Thank You Keith” came from the fans afterwards and if this is the end of Keith Lee in the independents, then he will certainly be missed.
WALTER kills another
A change to the original billing, as Tracy Williams replaced Darby Allin, who had injured himself at the Progress show earlier in the day. Poor Tracy. WALTER has been the star of the weekend in New Orleans and he pulled a good match out of Hot Sauce here. It's no surprise there was a chop of two and I'll say it again, poor Tracy.
After a brutal beating from the big Austrian his chest did not look chest like. There were chants of WALTERMANIA from the crowd and it certainly has been his Mania with great performance after a great performance it's hard to argue that there many better than WALTER right now. The commentary noted that he does nothing fancy, but what he does looks like it could kill you.
This was a matter of Williams trying to survive but he certainly had his moments, hitting a Maltese Falcon to a close two count but it wasn't enough and he soon succumb to a Gojira Clutch, tapping out quickly to give WALTER yet another win in New Orleans. A very good match with a good showing from both.
There was another replacement as Travis Banks had to pull out of his match with Chris Dickinson due to him also suffering an injury at the Progress show. Mark Haskins took his place and went on to have a superb match against the Dirty Daddy. Haskins is a better opponent for Dickinson and this was a superb match from two very intense wrestlers. Dickinson had worked over the knee of Haskins throughout and took advantage by making Haskins tap out to the leg lock. A very good return to Evolve for Haskins and another good showing from Dickinson.
Munenori Sawa defeated Jaka in an entertaining match that had plenty of hard-hitting and stiff moments. Sawa had returned to wrestling just for the weekend and he hasn't missed a step, putting on two great matches for Evolve and showing a lot of charisma which has made him an instant fan favourite. A great exchange towards the end where both men took it in turns to batter the other with a mixture of head butts, chops and punches. Sawa used his technical knowledge to lock in the Octopus Stretch for the win. More shenanigans after the match when The End attacked Jaka, which then brought out Garrini, Williams and Dickinson to further continue the feud that never ends.
Timothy Thatcher defeated Dominic Garrini in a rather underwhelming grapple fest that would have been better suited to the Blood Sports show a day earlier. I'm a big fan of Thatcher and can help feeling that he deserved a better opponent here. I just don't get Garrini. He's obviously a very good grappler but outside of that he just bores me to death.
AR Fox picked up the victory in a four-way freestyle over Jason Kincaid, DJZ and the debuting Chris Brookes. This was a fun, fast paced match with a lot of action that showcased each competitor well. AR Fox was again on top form and he is Fastly becoming one of the most entertaining aspects in Evolve.
Austin Theory def Keith Lee to win the WWN Championship
Timothy Thatcher def Dominic Garrini
AR Fox def DJZ, Jason Kincaid and Chris Brookes in a four-way freestyle
Chris Dickinson def Mark Haskins
Walter def Tracy Williams
Munenori Sawa def Jaka
Matt Riddle def Daisuke Sekimoto to retain the Evolve Championship
What did you think of Evolve 103? Let us know in the comments below!