7/13 Evolve 131 on WWE Network results: Moore’s live review of the 10th Anniversary show featuring Adam Cole vs. Akira Tozawa for the NXT Championship, Evolve Champion Austin Theory vs. WWN Champion JD Drake in a winner take all match, Matt Riddle vs. Drew Gulak


By John Moore, ProWrestling.net Staffer (@liljohnm)

Evolve 131 (10th Anniversary event)
Aired live July 13, 2019 on WWE Network
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at 2300 Arena

An intro video aired showing the many WWE stars that came from Evolve like Cesaro, Ricochet, Tony Nese, Drew Galloway, Apollo Crews, Daniel Bryan, and others. Daniel Bryan talked about how he was the person who came up with the “Evolve” name because he wanted to see pro wrestling industry evolve. Drew Galloway said Evolve is the company that gave us the Drew McIntyre we saw today (Uhm, I’d argue that Impact Wrestling did that)…

Commentator Lenny Leonard was the ring introducing the Evolve Show. He talked about how the wrestlers in the ring were the cream of the crop. This was to set up the first match of the night between Josh Briggs and Anthony Greene. Brandi Lauren (a.k.a. Ava Storie) was the valet of Greene…

1. Josh Briggs vs. Anthony Greene (w/Brandi Lauren). Brandi Lauren now has red hair and is a little bit more thicker (in a healthy way, she was way too skinny before) than the last time I saw her on TV. Josh Briggs manhandled the somewhat goofy looking Anthony Green around the ring with power moves. Briggs teased a chokeslam but Greene rolled to the apron. Green distracted the referee to allow Lauren to hold on to Briggs’s leg for a bit, this allowed Green to get the advantage and kick Green off the apron with a front kick. Green went for a suicide dive but Briggs caught Greene and chokeslammed Greene on the apron. Greene recovered and gave Briggs another front kick to knock him off the apron.

Greene caught Briggs in the ring with a tightrope walk crossbody for a two count. Brandi Lauren snuck in a cheap shot on Briggs while the referee was distracted. Josh Briggs got a window of opportunity after hitting Greene with a release front suplex. Briggs caught Greene with a flying lariat. Greene and Briggs traded kicks with Briggs getting several consecutive boots in. Briggs caught Greene with two backbreakers for a nearfall. Briggs hit Greene with a sitout side slam for a nearfall. Briggs nosold an Enzuigiri but Greene landed a second one and a back suplex for a one count. Green went right into a half crab.

Greene missed and rolled through on a 450 attempt. Briggs gave Greene a right hand to stagger him on the top rope. Briggs went for a top rope Razor’s Edge but Brandi Lauren distracted the referee and Briggs enough. The referee ejected Lauren but Greene hit Briggs with a Super Victory Roll for a nearfall. Both men traded knees with each other. Briggs fought through Greene’s offense several times and managed to land the chokeslam on Greene for the victory.

Josh Briggs defeated Anthony Greene via pinfall in 11:49. 

Commentator Lenny Leonard talked about how Josh Briggs won the first Evolve match on the WWE Network…

A recap video aired talking about “The Unwanted” stable which was a stable led by Eddie Kingston as their mouthpiece and leader. Kingston talked about how Sean Maluta has joined his group…

John’s Thoughts: A good opening match with a lot of good energy. Of course, I won’t be familiar with a lot of wrestlers on this show so it would be good to see how these new wretlers are introduced to non-Evolve viewers. So far, I got a good impression from both men and I really liked the aggression for Briggs. I also like that Lauren seems to have developed a bit. She showed great promise as a Girl Next Door type during her Impact Wrestling stint but she also showed good heel tendencies at times too which she’s expressing here.

2. Sean Maluta vs. Curt Stallion vs. Stephen Wolf vs. Harlem Bravado. Once things cleared up a bit Stallion and Maluta paired off. Stallion hit Maluta with a stomp for a two count. Maluta rolled through and hit Stallion with a kick and Final Cut suplex. Wolf came in the ring and gave Maluta a dropkick. Wolf kicked Maluta and hit him with a slingshot crossbody. Bravado shoved Wolf to the ground and bragged a bit. Bravado kicked Stallion down and did some posing. Bravado was sent outside by Wolf. Wolf hit Bravado with a Tope Con Hilo. Maluta hit both opponents with a top rope senton. Stallion hit the group of wrestlers with a Tiger Drop.

Bravado managed to hit Wolf and Stallion with an Flatliner and DDT at the same time. Bravado hit Wolf with a back suplex. Maluta tagged all his opponents with superkicks. He got a nearfall on Wolf. Leonard talked about how Maluta is a regular on NXT TV and lost to Kota Ibushi in his WWE debut. Stallion and Wolf trapped their oppoents in the corner and the two formed a temporary alliance. They got stereo pin covers and both Bravado and Maluta kicked out. Stallion and Wolf then had a strike exchange in teh center of the ring. Maluta and Bravado got up and strikes were traded. Maluta was left standing tall but he soon hit the mat after Wolf nailed him with a desperation lariat.

Bravado hit Wolf with a DVD. Stallion hit Bravado with a Air Raid into the knee. Maluta hit Stallion with a codebreaker (Leonard used the word Codebreaker). Wolf hit Maluta with a Blue Thunder Bomb. Bravado tripped Wolf off the top rope. Stallion caught Maluta on the top rope with a Super German. Many moves were traded. Wolf snuck in and caught Bravado with a 450 for the victory.

Stephen Wolf defeated Harlem Bravado, Curt Stallion, and Sean Maluta via pinfall in 9:19. 

Wolf high fived the fans in the front row (and I think I see Impact Wrestling’s regular fan, the EC3 Jacket Guy)…

John’s Thoughts: I usually get afraid of these multi person spotfest of not being able to keep up due fear of homogenization. This was fun and unique enough to stand out in a pretty good way. What helped there was the unique styles of each wrestlers and the familarity with Sean Maluta. It helped that Bravado was the clear heel and did a good job expressing that. Another note, this is the same 2300 crowd from the recent Impact Wrestling taping and I gave them credit there for showing a lot of good energy. They are showing a lot of good energy here too. If you want a high energy crowd, go to the former ECW Arena…

An Anthony Henry intro video package aired…

3. Anthony Henry vs. Arturo Ruas. Arturo Ruas is an NXT regular and was formerly known as Adrian Jaoude (I always called him the Fighting Game cosplayer because he always looked like a different fighting game character every week like Ken, Ryu, or Eddy Gordo). Arturo dominated in the standup with some nice strikes and integration of some of that Eddy Gordo Capoeira that I love seeing. Henry had a nice flurry of stiff slaps to Ruas’s head. Henry hit Ruas with a double stomp and spinning wheel kick. Henry hit Ruas with a missile dropkick.

After a few more strikes, Henry locked Ruas in a cross armbreaker. Ruas countered by getting Henry’s shoulders on the mat for the kickout. The match spilled to the outside with Henry hitting Ruas with a diving knee strike. Ruas dodged a double stomp in the ring. Ruas hit Henry with a three hit combo and a cartwheel into a knee for a two count. Henry reversed a suplex into a sleeper. Ruas tried to separate Henry from him with the turnbuckle but Henry didn’t relent. Ruas got out and nailed Henry in the head with a Capoeira Roundhouse for a two count.

Henry hit Ruas with a nice two kick combo to leave him lying. Henry hit Ruas with a double stomp. Henry botched a Tornado DDT attempt but then got it on the second attempt. Henry hit Ruas with a double stomp. Ruas kicked out at two. Henry locked Ruas with an ankle lock. Ruas and and Henry had a nice strong style punch exchange. Henry let out a roar but that allowed Ruas to nail him with a Capoeira Cross Kick for the victory.

Arturo Ruas defeated Anthony Henry via pinfall in 9:45. 

A video package aired to spotlight the feud between Brandi Lauren and Shotzi Blackheart (both former Impact Wrestling Knockouts form 2017)…

John’s Thoughts: A good match from both men. Arturo Ruas has improved a lot since we saw him last on NXT TV. Henry looked like the more experienced wrestler, but he did slip up on a few moves (Maybe due to Ruas inexperience? Or maybe he is just having a bad night). Ruas showed me some promise here that I didn’t see before. If this guy can do some cool ass Eddy Gordo s–t in the ring, this guy can stand out immensely in pro wrestling due to people not using Capoeira a lot on pro wrestling. Ruas was smooth in his Capoeira here. This is a similar situation to John Morrison who stands out due to be one of the few Traceurs in Wrestling.

Well… they tried to air a video package, but the video package cut off to go right to the match…

John’s Thoughts: Cool to see Shotzi again who I’ve followed for a long time in the Bay Area indie scene. She was actually brought in by WWE for Tough Enough and I think she was a favorite of Triple H who complemented her on her alternative badass look (It might have been Matt Bloom, but because it’s metal I think it was Hunter). Shotzi ended up being released by WWE due to medical issues in regards to her heart, but they did tell her that they would allow her a second chance if the medicals improve.

4. Shotzi Blackheart vs. Brandi Lauren in a no-DQ match. Some new lady named Natalya Markova attacked Blackheart from behind as Lauren bragged that this was a no DQ match. This essentially became a two one one handicap at the moment. Blackheart was plucky though and managed to get both heels outside. Blackheart hit an ugly looking suicide dive on both opponents and stood up with blood coming out of her nose. The heels regained control. Lauren did a dropkick from the ring to the outside and dropkicked a chair into the head of Blackheart (hopefully that was protected?).

Blackheart recovered and handled Lauren around the ring. Blackheart put Lauren on a chair and hit her with a Shining Wizard. Not sure where Markova is? Maybe I missed the spot where Blackheart took her out. Lauren turned the tide and hit Blackheart with a power bomb on the apron, leading to a two count. Shotzi got Lauren in the corner and hit Lauren with a imploding cannonball.  Shotzi set up a bunch of chairs outside. Anthony Green tried to run out for the interference but Shotzi took him off the apron. Shotzi tried to tope Lauren but Lauren got out of the way and Shotzi crash and burned on the chairs for a nasty but epic bump (hopefully she got the front bump in). Lauren got a nearfall on Blackheart. Greene tried to interfere again but Curt Stallion ran out and brawled with Greene to the back. Lauren nailed Blackheart with a Kendo Stick to defeat her via pinfall.

Brandi Lauren defeated Shotzi Blackheart via pinfall in 9:49. 

The crowd gave Shotzi a standing ovation as she was carried to the back. They gave Lauren boos…

Ads for upcoming Evolve live events aired…

John’s Thoughts: A really hard worked match by the women. I really like the improvement I’ve seen from Lauren. Shotzi never fails to impress me with the heart she exhibits in the ring. That said she is oft injured and just like Flash Morgan Webster of NXT UK I really hope she tones things down, maybe 25%? For her health sake? I hope she was “working” on those very dangerous spots we saw. This was probably one of the more violent matches we’ve seen on WWE TV in a long while too.

5. Babatunde vs. Colby Corino. Babatunde is an NXT wrestler and a huge ass man. Colby Corino is Steve Corino’s son and a tiny ass man compared to the giant Babatunde (Hopefully BJ Whitmer isn’t around. Any time I see Colby, I think of that bad Whitmer feud). Colby acted like a pest but was manhandled by Babatunde. The commentator noted that Babatunde stood face to face with Braun Strowman at the Greatest Royal Rumble. Corino’s stablemate Sean Maluta tried to run out to help Corino but it didn’t help much because Babatunde overcame. Corino went high risk but right into a chokeslam from Babatunde. Babatunde did a few power moves and running splash to pick up the win on Corino.

Babatunde defeated Colby Corino via pinfall in 3:09. 

Eddie Kingston walked out and said “naw” several times. Kingston and his tag partner Joe Gacy walked out with their tag titles. Kingston called Babatunde “Baba bowie”. Kingston talked about how Babatunde gets things handed to them because of size and being a NFL Player. Kingston talked about doing things the right way, and from the street. Kingston called Babatunde a bastard. Kingston and Gacy were about to attack Babatunde but their actual opponents ran out to start the scheduled tag title defense…

John’s Thoughts: Basic squash. The real highlight there should be Eddie Kingston’s promo who I would argue is one of the best promos in the business. Kingston is a hidden gem in pro wrestling and I’ve been astonished every time they allow him to speak. This guy also has a nice realism about him. Not sure if WWE would allow him to say “bastard” on their TV though.

The Unwanted’s opponents were AR Fox (a.k.a. Dante Fox) and Leon Ruff…

6. “The Unwanted” Eddie Kingston and Joe Gacy vs. AR Fox and Leon Ruff in a Tornado Tag Team Match for the Evolve Tag Team Championships. I didn’t write down a lot of the beginning of the match because of how there was no transition. The Fox and Ruff team did a lot of fast paced high flying moves. The Unwanted teamed up and managed to dominate their opponents with power. Kingston gave Ruff a superplex into a spinebuster from Gacy. Fox saved Ruff and the faces kicked the heels. Ruff hit Kingston with a Tornado DDT. Fox hit Gacy with his signature sitdown springboard Spanish Fly on Gacy for a nearfall.

Kingston hit Fox with his signature backfist. The Unwanted hit Ruff with a German Suplex and lariat combo to give Gacy a nearfall on Ruff. Fox hit Gacy with a coast to coast. Ruff hit Gacy through a table with a senton. AR Fox hit Kingston with a 450 for the victory.

AR Fox and Leon Ruff defeated The Unwanted via pinfall in 5:25 to become the new Evolve Tag Team Champions. 

Fox and Ruff’s party entourage (?) celebrated their title win. This turned into a freestyle dance party…

John’s Thoughts: A good fast paced tag team match. I like that AR Fox has improved his look since the last time I saw him. He looks more rugged where he looked like a generic enhancement wrestler/gymnast before. That’s no slight against him because AR Fox can rival Ricochet for some of the cool things they do in the ring and it was a treat watching Ricochet and Fox in Lucha Underground for several years. Kingston has the biggest star potential out of everyone here in my opinion because this guy is a king on the microphone, pun intended. What might hold him back is his obvious gut, which is why he usually wears a chest protector, but it fell off here. That’s no slight to him, but WWE might slight him for that.

A video package aired to talk about the history of Drew Gulak’s amateur wrestling faction called “Catch Point” from back in the day…

Matt Riddle made his usual NXT entrance. After Riddle’s entrance a bunch of guys in “Catch Point” sweaters ran out and did a lap around the ring saying the words “Catch Point”. They formed a line to lead the way for Drew Gulak…

John’s Thoughts: Drew Gulak was so generic and boring the last time we saw him in Evolve all those years ago. I used to call him a subdued Tom Green. He has evolved, no pun intended, so much since that time and has become one of the best overall wrestlers and character actors on the WWE roster with his submission style and quirky comedy at times.

7. Matt Riddle vs. Drew Gulak. Both men traded ground submissions early on. Gulak went for an ankle lock but then Riddle slipped out. The commentator noted that Drew Gulak has a tough weekend since he’s wrestling Tony Nese tomorrow on the Extreme Rules PPV. Gulak went for the Gu Lock but Riddle got to a standing position and cornered Gulak to nail him with strikes. Riddle caught Gulak with a knee. Riddle then hit Gulak with a Bro Ton for a one count. Riddle got the Bromission on but couldn’t lock it in because of Gulak’s mobility.

Both men then had a standing slugfest. Gulak quickly went for the clinch into a suplex for a one count. Gulak trapped Riddle on the ground with a headscissors. Riddle used a downward dog to escape. Gulak dodged Riddle’s PK. The fighters went back into a slugfest. Gulak quickly went to the grapples with Leonard noted was the only reason why Gulak would use strikes since Riddle has a stiking advantage. After a bit of separation. Riddle planted Gulak with a power bomb. Gulak caught Riddle’s kick and hit Riddle with a power bomb.

Drew Gulak quickly transitioned a pin attempt into a half crab which Riddle escaped. Both men then rested a bit. Riddle dominated Gulak with his strikes. Riddle hit Gulak with the V-Trigger for the two count. Riddle hit Gulak with a running senton. Gulak ran to the top rope to give Riddle a Super Back Suplex for a two count. Riddle and Gulak then battled from their knees with chops. Riddle hit some fun kicks with his heel to the back of Gulak. Riddle hit Gulak with a PK for a two count. Both men were slower in the strikes and Gulak grounded Riddle with a series of tackle. Riddle locked in a few submissions on Gulak but Gulak wiggled his way to the ropes for the break.

Gulak got a nearfall from a Small Package. Riddle got a nearfall from a Fisherman Buster. The crowd gave the fighters an ovation. A unified “Gulak-Bro” chant ensued. Gulak used the ropes to stagger Riddle so he could get a moment of respite. Riddle quickly recovered and hit Gulak with a deadlift German Suplex from the apron to the ring. Gulak hit Riddle with a twisting senton but Gulak used the move to lock Gulak in the Gu-Lock. Riddle fought his way out and hit Gulak with the “Bro Derek” (reverse Neutralizer) for the victory.

Matt Riddle defeated Drew Gulak via pinfall in 13:37.

Drew Gulak talked about how Catch Point was built around respect. Gulak said as WWE Cruiserweight Champion he respects Matt Riddle and it’s always an honor to wrestle. Riddle and Gulak did their Catch Point pose. Gulak called Curt Stallion over to the ring and hyped up Stallion’s match with Riddle for tomorrow on an Evolve show…

John’s Thoughts: An amazing match you should go out of you way to see. Definitely Takeover worthy if on NXT. Going into the match, given how much NXT protects Riddle (and probably given how WWE doesn’t give a Damn about 205 Live) I felt like Gulak had no chance. Gulak lost as expected, but he managed to make that match really compelling. As a martial arts practicioner, these more realistic “fights” really allure to me. Why can’t all wrestling be like this? I kid. I like me some high spots too. We’ve seen Gulak and Riddle several times on WWE TV already and I wouldn’t mind seeing it again. Gulak has had a nice tear of great matches recently. You also know that this guy might be given a shot on the main roster because Vince loves his comedy (but I fear that they’ll make him a comedy goof, so keep him the hell away from there).

An Austin Theory and JD Drake video package aired…

Bryan Idol was brought out to be the ring announcer for the next match. The commentator noted that it was odd that Idol was in ring gear. Idol was purposefully coughing in the ring (hey! I know how this guy feels after almost losing my voice at karaoke last night). The lights suddenly went out and when then came back on Bryan Idol was gone and in the ring was Paul E Heyman. Since this was the 2300 Arena, the crowd erupted and went into the obligatory EC-Dub Chant…

John’s Thoughts: Wow! Nice surprise! Suddenly, an ECW show?

A “Holy Shit” chant ensued. That then turned into a “Welcome Back” chant. Heyman did his usual introduction. Heyman then said he was honored and privileged. He was cut off by the crowd saying “Thank You Heyman”. Heyman then said “no Thank You” as he said he was honored to be home. Paul Heyman talked about how he doesn’t do conventions or signings. Heyman said he wasn’t invited to this show because everybody knows he turns these down. Heyman said he wasn’t invited, he chose to be here.  Heyman comically called one guy in the crowd a schmuck for being rude. Heyman told the guy that Heyman is the Extreme Dude with a Microphone.

Heyman said “This” right here, is the future. Heyman said he doesn’t want to be that guy who watches old tapes and stuff, but rather the guy seeing the future of the industry. Heyman said for that reason, and the fact that he’s fat and sweating his ass off, he would like to hang around and ring announce for the next match. Heyman said in the future on YouTube people will watch this match and say that this match is when you knew that the industry will “evolve”. JD Drake and Austin Theory made their entrances…

Paul Heyman handled the formal ring introductions for the title unification match. Heyman joked around and said “Oh my God! You guys have pyro here? We don’t have pyro [in WWE]”. Heyman introduced both champions just like he introduces Brock Lesnar as champion…

8. Austin Theory vs. JD Drake for both the WWN and Evolve Championships. Dueling chants ensued. Theory and Drake both went for their finishers but they both escaped. Theory landed a dropkick on Drake. Drake came back with his own dropkick to send Theory into retreat at ringside. Drake went for a dive but he ran right into the right hand of Theory. Drake gave Theory a few stiff Walter-like chops around ringside. Both men made their way to the stage. Theory gave Drake a back body drop. Leonard pointed out that there are no countouts in Evolve but you still have to win the match in the ring.

Drake nosold Theory’s chops and responded with a stiff knife edge chop to send Theory to the mat. Theory managed to slam Drake to the mat and put the boots to him. Theory gave Drake a suplex and got a two count. Theory locked Drake in a Triangle chinlock. Theory hit Drake with a standing moonsault for a two count. Drake ate some of Theory’s strikes and nosold them Hulk up style. Drake yelled “you can’t hit me harder that life has”. Drake grounded Theory with a shortarm lariat. Drake planted Theory with a power body slam to give himself a moment of respite. Both men beat the ten count.

When both men stood up, Theory hit Drake with a rolling shotgun dropkick. Theory missed a stomp. Drake threw Theory on the ropes like a backboard and then punched him midair at ringside. Drake hit Theory with a suicide dive. Drake hit Theory with a Vader Bomb to lead to a nearfall. Theory met Drake on the top rope during Drake’s next Vader Bomb attempt. Drake got Theory to fall and nailed him with a leg lariat. Drake crash and burned on a cannonball attempt. Theory hit Drake with a delayed blockbuster for a nearfall. Drake gave Theory a series of chops while he was seated on the top rope.

Theory recovered and hit Drake with a helicopter into a Blue Thunder Bomb for a nearfall. A Mamma Mia chant ensued. Drake hit Theory with a back drop after Drake ranted a bit. Drake ran right into a boot. Drake surprised Theory with a Stunner which Theory oversold. Drake hit Theory with a cannonball. Drake hit Theory with the Final Cut which he calls the Drill Bit. Theory kicked out at two. Drake hit Theory with a moonsault. Theory kicked out at two. Both men brawled to their feet with alot of fatigue. Theory landed a few clean strikes. Drake hit Theory with a shortarm lariat. Drake crash and burned on a moonsault attempt. Theory hit a cool looking finisher, a leg hook into a flatliner, for the victory.

Austin Theory defeated JD Drake via pinfall in 16:22 to win both the WWN and Evolve Championships. 

Theory cut a promo after the match. he said everybody knows that Evolve is where it’s at. Theory said people are going to try hard to get here and chase their dreams. Drake slammed the WWN belt on the ground and stomped on it. Theory talked up the Evolve Championship and talked about how you have to go through Theory to get to the championship. Suddenly the lights went out. When the lights appeared Josh Briggs was suddenly in the ring. Josh Briggs gave Theory a chokeslam (and the crowd was somewhat quiet for this)…

A Josh Briggs video aired…

John’s Thoughts: A good main event type of match. That said it wasn’t too mind blowey, and my un-familiarity with the wrestlers did hurt the match from being spectacular. That said, it was a good main event type of match with a NXT main event to follow this.

The ring announcer, not sure his name, handled the formal ring introductions for the NXT title match. Adam Cole got the most favorable reaction of course…

8. Adam Cole vs. Akira Tozawa for the NXT Championship. Dueling “Undisputed” and “Tozawa” chants ensued. Leonard noted that Tozawa was a pioneer in Dragon Gate USA which was the name of Evolve before they changed it into Evolve. Cole bowed to the crowd after the lockup separation and did his Bay Bay thing. Tozawa got Cole to the ground and locked in a side headlock. Cole tried to lay some hands on Tozawa but after running a bit, Tozawa locked Cole in the octopus hold. Cole broke it with the rope break. Tozawa hit Cole with a roundhouse. Cole tripped Tozawa off the top rope. Cole hit Tozawa with a running pump kick.

Cole hit Tozawa with a neckbreaker. Cole then went into his usual methodical offense, headlocks and such. Cole yelled “I’m going to be NXT Champion forever. You suck!”. Tozawa came at Cole with forearms. Cole tried to fight his way out of fireman carry but he took a press slam and running boot. Tozawa hit Cole with one of his signature awesome Topes. Tozawa then hit Cole with a cannonball from the apron. The commentator noted that Tozawa got tangled in the barricade a bit. Tozawa brought Cole in the ring and hit him with a missile dropkick for a two count. Tozawa led an “ah” chant.

Cole staggered Tozawa with an enzuigiri and then hit a lungblower on Tozawa for a two count. Cole hit Tozawa with a Fireman Carry Neckbreaker for a two count. Tozawa hulked up and hit Cole with a series of forearms. Tozawa no sold Cole’s pump kicks. Tozawa hit Cole with his signature fakeout punch. As Cole was falling to the ground, Cole superkicked Tozawa to leave both men on the mat. A “yowie wowie” chant ensued (is this a regular thing? To do Bray Wyatt’s new chant?). Adam Cole hit Tozawa with the Ushigoroshi Last Shot for a two count. Cole teased hitting Tozawa with the title belt but Johnny Gargano walked out to distract Cole. This allowed Tozawa to get in a small package for a good nearfall. Tozawa roundhouse kicked Cole and got him to the mat. Tozawa went for his finisher Senton but Cole got the knees up. Cole hit Tozawa with the Panama Sunrise/Canadian Destroyer and Shining Wizard for the victory.

Adam Cole defeated Akira Tozawa via pinfall in 13:15 to retain the NXT Championship. 

Johnny Gargano entered the ring to confront  Adam Cole. Gargano wanted to brawl, but Cole rolled away and said he only does things on his time. Gargano asked for a microphone after Cole left. Cole told everyone to give Tozawa an ovation. They gave Tozawa an “ah” chant as Tozawa was emotional. Gargano said this was awesome and reminds him why he did what he did. Gargano said he was at the first Evolve show in 2009 and is back today on the WWE Network. Gargano said that means Gargano is getting old and “Pro Wrestling” (he didn’t say sports entertainment) in 2019 is pretty freakin’ cool.

Gargano thanked the fans for making this what it is. Gargano talked about how they had this tradition to close the show and that was to ask the crowd the question. Tozawa revealed the question as “did you enjoy the show?”. Johnny Gargano called out one loud fan for letting out a fun yelp. Gargano also joked that he might get in trouble for encouraging a “holy shit” chant. Gargano went back thanking the fans. Gargano said it isn’t about he and Tozawa, but rather the Evolve locker room. Gargano talked named wrestlers like JD Drake, Austin Theory, Shotzi Blackheart, and others. Gargano said to give them a chant. An “Evolve Wrestling” chant ensued. Gargano said thank you for allowing Gargano to live his dream. Gargano pointed at specific fans and said he loves them all. Gargano joked that he’s running out of WWE Network time. Gargano said he loves Evolve wrestling. Gargano’s entrance music played as he and Tozawa did a bow to the crowd to close the show as Lenny Leonard handled the outtro…

John’s Thoughts: The match was good, but it didn’t have that compelling component that the Riddle vs. Gulak had to make you suspend your disbelief that Tozawa had any chance of winning the NXT championship where Riddle and Gulak made it look like Gulak had a chance to beat Riddle. That said, it was fun and added some star power to close out the show. Where the last match was unfamiliar to WWE viewers, this one was very familiar. The Johnny Gargano post match stuff was solid. Gargano is really good at cutting a sappy babyface promo.

Overall, this was a great pro wrestling show. Better than I expected going into reviewing this. This reminded me of the Progress shows that I used to watch on a regular basis. Where that hurts the show is the focus on workrate in all the matches makes it exhausting by the end of the show, and I think that crowd fatigue showed in the last two matches. Poor Josh Briggs got a mute reaction. That said, this was a good show and I hope some of the unknown commodities got to get themselves over to the WWE audience. Thankfully for me, I’m familiar with a lot of these wrestlers from the promotions I cover and I tried to translate that somewhat to you guys. A recommended show. It was good. I’ll be recording my audio review of the show right after submitting this review; and why not, this show deserves a hit list which I’ll have out in the next few days.



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