Joppa, Maryland 11/13/16
Originally, Timothy Thatcher was scheduled to defend his Evolve Title against Tony Nese on this show, but Thatcher suffered a concussion the night before at Evolve 72 in his Squared Circle of Survival Match against Drew Gulak. This meant that, going into the show, there were only five matches on the card, with a number of competitors without any scheduled matches, but that would change later on in the show. What would happen was actually teased right at the beginning of the event, as Lenny Leonard said they had something special planned for the Evolve Tag Team Titles. It was at this point that Stokely Hathaway came out wearing the Evolve Title, and made the announcement regarding Timothy Thatcher. Darby Allin then came out, and called out Jaka for their match.
1.) Darby Allin vs. Jaka: **3/4
I thought this was a fine opening match. It was by no means spectacular, but it was a decent showcase for both guys. In the end, Jaka picked up the victory. It’s nice to see Jaka getting more regular work in a company like Evolve.
2.) Icarus vs. Jason Kincaid: ***1/4
Here we have a very interesting matchup, as the unorthodox Jason Kincaid went up against a former CHIKARA Grand Champion, and a CHIKARA original. It was really odd to see Icarus (of all people) on an Evolve show, but at the same time, it’s nice to see him outside of the CHIKARAverse. I really enjoyed this match. It was another opportunity for Kincaid to showcase his unique offense, and Icarus really sold his offense well. At the same time, Icarus also did a fine job here. From start to finish, this was simply a fun match to watch. Kincaid ultimately won the match after hitting a double stomp from one of the building’s supports, which was right next to the ring.
3.) “All Ego” Ethan Page (with The Gatekeepers) vs. Chris Dickinson (with Jaka): ***
This wasn’t exactly the most appealing match on paper, since both are heels, but when the dust settled, this was actually pretty solid. They could’ve shaved off a minute or two, but that’s only a minor complaint. There was some solid back & forth action throughout most of this match, and both guys looked relatively good. Eventually, Ethan Page managed to just get the victory over Dickinson.
4.) Drew Gulak vs. Zack Sabre Jr.: ****1/4
These two actually met in the second round of the WWE Cruiserweight Classic. Zack Sabre Jr. got the win in that encounter, but now, they’re facing off in Evolve. I thought this was an excellent match! There was great technical wrestling throughout, as you would’ve guessed. The action was smooth and clean from start to finish, and honestly, those are the kind of technical/grappling matches that I really enjoy. Additionally, while the match went about twenty-five minutes or so, it certainly didn’t feel like it, which is always good. Both men did a great job here, and it produced one of the best matches on the entire show. In a bit of an upset, Gulak managed to score the submission victory over Zack Sabre Jr. here. That was definitely a much-needed win for Gulak, but this meant that Zack Sabre Jr. went 0-2 on the weekend.
5.) Chris Hero vs. Matt Riddle: ****1/4
This was the third match in the series between these two. Riddle scored an upset victory over Hero at Evolve 57 back in March, but Hero evened the score when he defeated Riddle at Evolve 71 in a fantastic match. I thought this match was better than their first match, but it wasn’t quite as good as their second match. Essentially, the story was that Hero went after Riddle (who was oddly wearing black trunks instead of his usual fighting shorts) right at the start of the match, and gave him an immense beating. Even though Riddle managed to fight back, Hero ultimately got the win after hitting three consecutive piledrivers on Riddle. This was definitely the shortest of their three matches, clocking in at eleven minutes or so, but it was still a great match. These two have some amazing chemistry, and once again, they delivered an incredible match.
After the match was over, Drew Galloway & DUSTIN came out. Galloway was still out with an injury, and mentioned this in his promo, talking about the sacrifices he’s made to save Evolve. After Chis Hero defeated Matt Riddle, he claimed that the war had been won, but they were soon interrupted by Tracy Williams & Fred Yehi of Catch Point. They wanted to get their shot at their Evolve Tag Team Titles, but that title match had been delayed once or twice already due to Galloway’s injury. Galloway says that since he can’t compete. Hero agreed to, but warned Galloway by saying that he’s nobody’s soldier. Drew Gulak then came out, and once again told Williams & Yehi that Catch Point was dead. He then announced that he was going to compete in this match alongside Tony Nese, who is his regular partner in the Cruiserweight Division on RAW. Ethan Page then came out, and announced that he was inserting his Gatekeepers into the match, meaning that this is now a four-way elimination match.
6.) Evolve Tag Team Titles – Four-Way Elimination Match – Chris Hero & DUSTIN (with Drew Galloway) vs. Catch Point (Tracy Williams & Fred Yehi) vs. Drew Gulak & Tony Nese vs. The Gatekeepers (with “All Ego” Ethan Page): ***1/4
So I’ll just start this off by going over the eliminations quickly. The first team to be eliminated was The Gatekeepers, after Darby Allin came out and clipped the knee of Flex Rumblecrunch, which allowed DUSTIN to roll him up. Then, after some miscommunication between DUSTIN & Hero, Tracy Williams was able to take advantage, and scored the submission on DUSTIN to eliminate the champions!! It came down to Catch Point vs. Drew Gulak & Tony Nese, and in the end, Catch Point captured the Evolve Tag Team Titles, proving that, despite what Drew Gulak said, they were still very much alive. As a whole, I thought the match was….interesting, to say the least. It was far from a bad match, but as a main event, I thought it was relatively disappointing. The biggest issue was that the match was very long, going around twenty-five minutes or so. I get the need for a match like this to be long, but it didn’t need to go that long. The action was mostly fine, but they never seemed to really get into that second gear. Again, it was a good match, but definitely disappointing for a main event.
Catch Point celebrated after the matches, but Gulak bails on them, further showing that there were still unresolved issues between Gulak and the rest of his former stablemates.
After the show went off the air, NXT General Manager William Regal came out, and officially offered Tony Nese his WWE Contract.
This show was very similar to Evolve 72 from the night before. For the most part, the undercard was fine, but unspectacular (I would say the undercard from Evolve 72 was better). You also had two great matches towards the top of the card (Drew Gulak vs. Zack Sabre Jr. & Chris Hero vs. Matt Riddle, in this case) that are definitely worth checking out. Unfortunately, what takes this show down a little bit, especially compared to Evolve 72, was the main event. While it was still a good match on its own, in addition to featuring new Evolve Tag Team Champions being crowned, it was disappointing as a main event. Still, with all of that being said, Evolve 73 was still a solid show to watch from start to finish, and another good outing in the promotion’s first weekend on FloSlam.