It’s been a while, but we’re back onto our EVOLVE backlog, as we go to a show that threatened to be more memorable for the events preceding it.

Coming from Livonia – on the outskirts of Detroit – this was the first show after the FloSlam party came to an abrupt halt. A lawsuit from FloSlam led to the end of the relationship between these two parties, forcing WWN to scramble to get this show available live on their old WWN Live platform, minus any and all Flo branding… Going in, the big news was that WWN had Cedric Alexander available for the weekend – albeit for the live crowd only.

Jason Kincaid vs. Zack Sabre Jr
Before the match, Zack grabs the mic and refers to the current situation… saying that tonight he’s going to show everyone how much he loves wrestling, no matter what’s going on. It’s a rousing speech for the live crowd before he has a little wrestle with Kincaid.

It’s Sabre’s first match back in EVOLVE after taking part in the G1, and he’s easing through as he grounds Kincaid with his wacky headscissors submission… but it’s a fairly easy escape in the end. Sabre goes through his usual array of submissions, but Kincaid’s starting to bug Zack with those escapes… before his roll into a meditating pose just earns him an instant PK. Yeah, Zack’s not gonna look a gift horse in the mouth, is he?

After receiving – and giving – some kicks to the leg, Sabre’s back on Kincaid with a surfboard, but the spiritual one’s able to escape as he took Zack into the corner for a diving dropkick through the ropes… but his return to the ring ends up going wrong as a tornado DDT back in is countered into a cross armbreaker, then a Fujiwara armbar and eventually a pinning predicament for another two-count.

Another Kincaid comeback sees him take Sabre outside, where the ring steps come into play for a run-up into a 619 on the apron. A little anticlimactic, all things considered, as was Sabre’s escape from a submission as he flipped himself and wrapped himself around the ropes. Another hybrid of submissions almost gets Sabre the win, flipping between an STF and a double armbar until Kincaid ends up in the ropes… but Kincaid again fires back with a sunset bomb into the bottom turnbuckles, before planting Sabre with a double stomp of the ringpost to come within a hair’s breadth of a shock.

Sabre clings on when Kincaid tried for a Blockbuster, and it’s not long after when we have the final decision when Sabre sits on Kincaid, pulling him back into a CFS1 (seated double armbar – aka “what did Flash Morgan in”) for the submission. It’s not a shock, but Sabre is so damn fluid in the ring – stripping him of the Rev Pro “dickhead hunter”/Suzuki-gun antics may make him a little bland for some, but at his best, Sabre is a joy to watch. Although quite why Sabre was pushed to the limit against a guy whose entire gimmick here is “he’s always on the bubble” is curious… ***½

Stephen Wolf vs. Austin Theory
An EVOLVE debut for Wolf, whose biggest fame to date was some appearances for AAW. He got here after impressing at a tryout earlier in the day, so that might be a tip-off that he’ll be little more than a warm body here. When we last saw EVOLVE, Austin Theory had been turned to the dark side by Priscilla Kelly – in lieu of any explanation, the story was that Theory had his head turned and became a bad guy because he hooked up with Kelly.

Wolf howls early, which doesn’t impress Theory… who takes a springboard ‘rana as the newcomer started decently, only to get barged down by Theory pretty soon thereafter. It’s fairly one-sided too but Theory took his time before launching Wolf across the ring with a release standing gutwrench powerbomb. While Theory does have some impressive move, the inbetween stuff really doesn’t befit an explosive squash, and it’s more of a mercy killing when Wolf eats a TKO. Well, they painted Theory as the dominant one here, but the kid needs to work on how to do squashes if this is going to be a thing. **

Darby Allin vs. Tracy Williams
A rematch from EVOLVE 88 – a contest I wasn’t exactly enamoured with… and we’ve got commentary focusing more on Stokely Hathaway, as he’s apparently mourning the loss of Timothy Thatcher.

Allin keeps the pace high early on, escaping some of Williams’ holds with relative ease – and almost snatched a win with a La Magistral… but this crowd is almost deathly silent as Williams worked through Allin with submissions and strikes… until Darby lands the springboard back elbow Coffin Drop. It’s a temporary respite though as Williams hits straight back, only to get taken outside for a Darby tope con giro as commentary again focuses on Stokely. They stay outside as Allin misses a charge into the guard rails, before Williams dumps him in the crowd as the match slowly became one-sided, with strikes knocking Darby down in the corner, almost forcing a knockout decision.

Out of nowhere, Darby gets a springboarded tornado DDT for a near-fall… but another Coffin Drop off the top rope sees him crash and burn into Williams’ knees. Lucky, he’s in the ropes as a crossface is quickly broken, but “Hot Sauce” stays on top of him, before he takes a shortcut, raking Darby’s eyes to escape a Gibson lock before a thunderous lariat gets the win. Despite Williams having most of the match, Allin never really felt out of it, but this felt like the right result… even if I could have done without the “poor Stokely” act on commentary. ***

DJZ vs. Fred Yehi
2017 was a rather momentous year for the former Zema Ion – leaving Impact, being forced onto the sidelines for several months after fracturing his colon in Mexico… DJZ’s forging a new career on the indys. So… Fred Yehi is not exactly the first guy I’d have picked as a showcase opponent for DJZ’s return.

DJZ’s forced to escape Yehi’s stompy offence straight away, before eventually succumbing to those stomps, as Yehi initially went for the hands and eventually working his way to the gut. That’s a bit low… Yehi keeps targeting that midsection, but DJZ gets back into it, leaping over Yehi before landing a springboard back elbow off the middle rope. They head outside, where DJZ leaps over a guard rail to take Yehi down with a shoulder tackle, but back inside a flapjack puts the former X-Division champion down as Yehi decides to go for a spot of gutwrenching, eventually taking DJZ down with a suplex for a two-count. More back-and-forth sees DJZ go flying again with a tope, followed by a Quebrada back inside for another near-fall, before he pulled Yehi into the old Lasso from El Paso!

After releasing the hold, DJZ finds himself on the defensive as he’s pulled into some up-kicks from Yehi, but an Awful Waffle onto the knee turned things back around… until DJZ rolled into a low dropkick. Ouch. A series of chops and forearms looks to put Yehi ahead, as does a back cracker and a release German suplex… but DJZ counters a rolling elbow into a chinbreaker before another back cracker looked to hit the hips of DJZ.

Somehow DJZ kicks out from a Fisherman’s buster after Yehi’s latest burst of offence, and he’s able to mount one last comeback, nearly beating Yehi with a tornado DDT… before falling into a Koji Clutch as DJZ was forced to submit. Fantastic stuff here, with DJZ looking good… but with Yehi in that bucket of established guys waiting for something to come up, the win did more for him than it would have for DJZ. ***½

Yehi stayed in the ring for a long period of time, which means we’re getting some afters. Out comes a guy who looked like a skinny Chris Hero – it’s actually Jarek 1:20. He’s a newcomer to EVOLVE, having appeared in a Style Battle, ironically losing to Yehi in August. Apparently Jarek’s been told to come out and give Yehi a bonus based on the crowd’s reaction to that last match.

I’m guessing Jarek has the last of the FloSlam money in his hands, as he surveys the crowd on how much to give him, going as high as $500. The punchline is that Jarek only thought it was only worth 500 pennies (or $5 for those who deal with currency in a normal way), and proceeds to throw what I assume were dollar bills at Yehi before leaving. Gabe, you don’t have to make your bonus scheme quite so public.

Catch Point (Chris Dickinson & Jaka) vs. Matt Riddle & Keith Lee
A wacky match for the former EVOLVE tag champions, as Catch Point try to reassert themselves. Lee sort-of interrupts Riddle’s entrance, since I guess a mash-up of the two songs was too much effort for a one night only team.

There’s something simmering here, as Keith Lee has his eyes set on Riddle’s WWN title, so expect some dissension between these guys in this one. We start out with the jovial Lee pulling Jaka into a powerbomb… but it’s escaped as Lee keeps Jaka on the back foot in those early exchanges. Tags take us to some grappling between Riddle and Dickinson, which surprisingly didn’t go exactly as you’d think, with Riddle taking a while before getting the mount, with Dickinson trying to resist armbars and the like. Eventually Riddle’s able to get into gear, throwing Dickinson around before landing some back sentons for a two-count.

Distractions from Jaka allow Chris Dickinson to clock Riddle and throw him in from the apron with a Falcon arrow, putting the WWN champ briefly on the back foot. Jaka tries to maintain that as the former champions exchange frequent tags and double-teams as Riddle’s in a rather unfamiliar position. A powerbomb from Dickinson forces a kick-out at two, as does an Exploder from Jaka, before a tag brings in Keith Lee for a rather monstrous comeback.

Avalanches in the corner flatten Jaka and Dickinson, but they return to try a double-team suplex… which gets reversed with ease. Another tag brings Riddle back in fairly quickly, but he accidentally wipes out Lee with an errant flying knee, and almost pays for it after an Exploder from Dickinson gets a near-fall. Lee returns in time to save Riddle as he gets Dickinson up for a Doomsday Knee, but Jaka breaks that particular cover up, only to watch as a Bro to Sleep and a Pounce gets another near-fall as Dickinson refused to lay down.
Dickinson finally hits back, countering a Spirit Bomb into a facebuster as Jaka and Riddle left each other laying with kicks, before things broke down a little. Another errant strike, this time in the form of a forearm from Lee, leaves Riddle down, before Catch Point finished things off with a folding powerbomb to Riddle for the win. An unpopular win, but Dickinson and Jaka remain strong as they look to find a path back to tag team gold. ***½

After the match, there’s the obligatory staredown between Lee and Riddle, which led to Riddle shoving away Lee as their path to a title match continued unabated.

EVOLVE Tag Team Championship: Troll Boyz (Ethan Page & ACH) vs. Anthony Henry & James Drake (c)
The last time we saw EVOLVE, ACH and Page were generally being pains in the arse of EVOLVE management. Think original DX-style… and somehow their sarcastic ways has gotten them a title shot against the “Work Horsemen”. Yep, that’s still a bad team name.

After months of wrestling in shorts “because he’s not in the main event”, ACH finally had gear… as did Page, although these two didn’t seem to be taking things at all seriously here, as witness when Page told the crowd to make noise, deeming it “awkward” for folks to go to shows and stay silent.

Once they’d stopped dicking around, ACH and Page got the match going… then quickly paused it so they could troll some more. It clearly aggravates Henry, who tags in James Drake… and in comes Ethan Page too for more stalling, which gives way to comically-slow shoulder tackles as Drake decides to just go full-force. More dicking around ends badly for the challengers, as Drake obliterates ACH with a sliding lariat, before keeping up with a kick to the head as a double-team from the champions sees ACH eat a spinebuster as the match was firmly in the control of those “Work Horsemen”.

ACH has to shove away Henry to begin a fightback from the wrong corner, but he’s quickly dumped with an Exploder. Eventually bad timing leads to Drake colliding with Henry in the corner, as ACH shows impressive strength as he stacked up Drake and Henry in a Samoan drop. Good heavens, that’s strength – ending with Drake being dumped onto Hendry in the end. Page comes in to land an inverted tiltawhirl on Henry, then the Tanned Sheamus kick to Drake, but a Spinning Dwayne doesn’t come off as Page has to make do with another tiltawhirl onto Drake. Henry responds with a missile dropkick and a snap back suplex before a Northern Lights collected a two-count… but another double-team gets cut-off as ACH fires in with a snap German for a near-fall.

Drake counters by tripping ACH into the corner for for avalanches, culminating in a cannonball before a death valley driver/powerbomb double team almost led to another successful defence. Things break down into a mini Parade of Moves, before Page clocks Henry on the top rope and follows up with a Vanity Search (Iconoclasm) to the floor! Back inside, Page follows up with a senton bomb off the top, but ACH can’t add the exclamation mark just yet, as he hits a 450 splash onto Drake after another Tanned Sheamus. After the kick-out, Page double-legs Henry as ACH hits the Buster Call brainbuster… and the Troll Boyz win the tag titles! Pretty slow to get going, but once it did it was a solid main event. It’s pretty ironic in hindsight that on the day that marked the beginning of the end for FloSlam – what some people called a troll job in itself – was the night the Troll Boyz took the gold. ***½

Amid a lot of turmoil, EVOLVE 92 was a pretty solid show – a typical “first half” of their weekenders, with good wrestling but very little standing out from the pack as the WWN stable of promotions would start to, erm, evolve into another form that would require them to build more for individual show purchases than longer-form storylines.