Mercury Rising was a show full of highs – and farewells – as Will Ospreay came achingly close to upsetting Matt Riddle in a violent main event.
Once more, we’re in a fuller-than-before Pontchartrain Center near New Orleans, with Trevin Adams opening up. See, I told you Joanna Rose was alive – she’s here for ring announcing! The main event tonight though will see Matt Riddle defending his EVOLVE title against Will Ospreay. Hoo! What was left of Lenny Leonard’s voice was on commentary with Ron Niemi.
AR Fox, DJ Z & Trey Miguel vs. Austin Theory, Travis Banks & Zachary Wentz
AR Fox was in for the injured Darby Allin, while Travis Banks was able to appear with a stitched up eyebrow after his injury at PROGRESS earlier in the day. This sure does feel… random?
Theory started out, but he wanted to punch DJ Z in time to that infernal airhorn. The action’s pretty thick and fast as Theory hit a rolling blockbuster, before we tagged out to Wentz, whose springboard crossbody took out Fox. Trey Miguel’s in too, scoring a nice headscissors before Travis Banks popped him up for a low dropkick.
DJ Z completes the set with a flapjack to Banks as a set-up for an Indian deathlock as the Kiwi Buzzsaw seethed in time to the airhorn. Wentz comes out with a dive onto a pile of bodies on the floor, followed by a step-up tope con giro from Miguel, and of course, Fox doesn’t want to be outdone, as he nails an imploding senton to the floor! Fox makes a point of going after Theory, kicking him into the corner for an attempted DDT, but this turns into a wacky chain of reverse DDTs instead. Banks is back with kicks and German suplexes, as he charges between DJ Z and Fox, setting them up for a cannonball, only for Miguel to come in with a cheeky… 619?
Miguel hits a nice springboard cutter to Theory as the ring stayed full and the action fast, with Banks eating some flips before Wentz was forced to kick out as Fox made a cover. Fox leaps into an Around The World from Theory, before Austin gets caught with a sweet DDT from DJ Z, who then takes a Slice of Heaven and a Kiwi Krusher as the Parade of Moves is in full effect. Wentz spikes Miguel with a cutter, then eats a boot from Fox as he has to avoid Lo Mein Pain… and fails as the flip comes off, before Miguel’s Cross Rhodes and a senton from Fox earned a near-fall as Banks broke up the pile-on.
The end comes when DJ Z nailed a picture perfect 450 to Wentz as Fox and Miguel connected with topes – bringing a hectic but fun opener to an end. Just what you want to get the crowd going… and I guess we’re getting DJ Z vs. Theory for a belt in the not too distant future. ***¾
Jason Kincaid came out for a match, but he got distracted by Candy Cartwright… as Jarek 1:20 came out to punch him out from behind. Ah, the EVOLVE pre-show feud makes it to the supershow! Jarek throws the referee into the ring post, and then grabs some handcuffs as Candy got excited… but he just cuffs Kincaid to the guard railings before choking him with a second pair of cuffs. Where’s the security? Or even, the commission? Finally referees come out to try and untie him, as this segment was a waste of time.
So I guess, that match is off!
Munenori Sawa vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
Hot footing it from the Sugar Mill where he’d wrestled for Rev Pro, Zack Sabre Jr’s back to try and get back to winning ways for the WWN group.
Sabre leaned in for a handshake, but Sawa just slapped him. Fair enough! These two have one prior singles meeting, which Sabre won all the way back at 16 Carat Gold in 2010, as Sabre defended wXw’s lightweight title (which was later merged into their unified title).
There’s ground grappling early, with both men heading into the ropes and to the floor, which even fired up Papa Hales at ringside as he wanted Sabre to hit back. Which he did, as they slapped the hell out of each other for his amusement, before agreeing to go back to the ring. Zack locks in a cobra twist as the pair go back and forth on the same move, eventually rolling into the ropes as we reached stalemate. More kicks follow as Sawa tripped Sabre and looked for a knee bar, but Zack’s having none of that, and goes for one of his own, only for Sawa to break free and land an elbow drop as he went to work on the former EVOLVE champ.
They headed onto the apron for more strikes, leading to a big headbutt from Sawa, and a nasty ankle hold as he tried to snap Sabre’s leg right there. Zack escapes and traps Sawa’s arm in the ropes, before switching it into a brief Octopus in the ropes, only for Sawa to nail a Dragon screw to keep the tide in his favour. Regardless, Zack’s right in with another Octopus, but another Dragon screw is the counter, before a Shining Wizard almost earned the win. A right hand keeps Sabre down, before an overhead kick’s caught and countered into a STF, then a leg-trap double armbar before Sawa got his foot to the ropes to save the match.
Sawa’s back in with an Octopus, but Sabre stands up and walks to the ropes, before countering a punch and going straight for the cross armbreaker. That’s escaped and returned in kind as they countered back and forth, almost leading to a cover as Sabre rolled up the veteran for a near-fall. Another punch gets countered as Sabre dragged Sawa down for a spot of Orienteering with Napalm Death, and that’s all! A low-key great match, and one that you’ll want to go back to, especially if you’re into ZSJ’s style. ****¼
Sabre quickly made a beeline for the back, so Sawa could get the standing ovation in the ring afterwards.
Street Fight: Catch Point (Tracy Williams & Dominic Garrini) vs. James Drake & Anthony Henry vs. The End (Odinson & Parrow)
Stokely did the “run to the back” gimmick again, but Henry and Drake jump The End as this got out of control from the off… Garrini nails a senton to the floor as the match broke down to Catch Point vs. Henry and Drake.
The End’s music kept playing for, reasons, as Williams looked in vain for something under the ring. He eventually found it: a table! In the meantime, Garrini was getting dissected by Drake and Henry, just as my feed froze. Yay. For some reason The End watched on from the aisle, but decided they wanted in as the feed again went to hell. Sigh. It picks up again as Parrow chops Williams, before Garrini swung a ladder at Odinson like he was swinging for a home run. Jesus Dominic! The sound’s gone out of sync again as Drennen hit the ring with his baton, only to get caught as Henry hits a head kick ahead of a Drake lariat as the former champs picked him apart.
Odinson and Parrow come in to set some retribution, press slamming Henry into his partner for a near-fall, before the match ground to a halt as they brought a table into the ring. Parrow tries to shove Williams, but instead the big guy took a powerbomb onto a table that didn’t budge as he bounced off it instead. Ouch. A suplex on Odinson did break a table, but Henry broke up the cover, before a double-team Dominator almost got the win. Garrini gets thrown into a Drake dropkick for a near-fall as The End were seemingly out of the picture… as was Garrini as his foot got Pillmanised repeatedly in a ladder. Shoulda worn shoes Dom, shoulda worn shoes.
Drake and Henry keep up on Garrini, lifting him to the top rope, but Williams is back for the save as we ended up with a pair of mini Towers of Doom, sparked off by The End, who followed up with Super Colliders on Catch Point for heavily-delayed near-falls. They grab another table, and it’s quickly uses as Garrini is rudely POUNCED through it, forcing Williams to go it alone… before he’s lifted up into a sit-out powerbomb from Parrow for another near-fall.
A chair from Drake’s thrown at Odinson as they went for a Doomsday Device, and that left the former EVOLVE tag champs free to double-team Parrow with an Ace crusher and a moonsault, as aerial Drake looked to take home the win… but Henry held up the count?! Henry wants an exclamation mark, so Drake whacks The End with chairs before yet another table is dragged out. Parrow’s put under the table, and Odinson on it, as Henry looked to hit a massive stomp… the table doesn’t break, so they flip it onto The End and get the pin. This was wild, and although some stuff didn’t come off as they wanted, this was a really good brawl that re-established Drake and Henry as a threat in EVOLVE. ***¾
SHINE Championship: Holidead vs. LuFisto (c)
It’s a second crack at the SHINE title for Holidead, who lost out in a three-way last year with Ivelisse.
Holidead creeps around the ring as she tried to play mind games with the champion, and almost succeeding with a trip and roll-up out of the corner. LuFisto scores with a baseball slide and a cannonball after putting LuFisto in a Tree of Woe, and it’s looking rather easy early on as the stream plays silly buggers… to the point where it died at LuFisto screaming to the crowd. Huzzah!
We finally return as Holidead scores a swinging side slam for a near-fall, but she misses a Tennessee Jam and gets clobbered into the other corner as LuFisto hits the Burning Hammer for the win. We’ll need to go back to this one before we rate, seeing how much of it was lost to issues, but an expected win as LuFisto stands alone in SHINE.
Post-match, LuFisto labelled everyone else “Barbie dolls”, and promised to be ready for whomever her opponent would be at SHINE 50. It turned out that might be Kimber Lee, who popped up in the ring and stared her down as LuFisto just left.
During the downtime in the last match, WWN revealed that Zack Sabre Jr. was stepping away from the group – which explains THAT title change…
Daisuke Sekimoto vs. Keith Lee
Last summer I saw these two have an absolute banger of a match at the Resistance Gallery… can they top it here?
Both men came into this on the back of losses earlier in the night, and we had a tense opening spell as Sekimoto tried to ground Lee with a side headlock, before we shifted to the big lads’ shoulder tackles, ending with a ‘rana from Keith Lee. Yup. Sekimoto’s shocked as he’s squashed and chopped in the corner, before Lee decided to drill him into the other corner with some forearms.
Lee dragged Sekimoto to his feet so he could chop him again, but Daisuke’s making that face, as the comeback begins with a chop to the throat. Goddamn. They’re eventually replied to, as a single chop got a near-fall for the former WWN champion, who keeps up with some clotheslines as the pair continued to tee off. A headbutt from Sekimoto sees him avoid the double-handed chop, but they continue to throw bombs, before Daisuke countered Ground Zero with a slam! An abdominal stretch follows from Sekimoto, only for Lee to escape and nail a pounce for a near-fall, before Lee’s suplex attempt got reversed big-time!
Sekimoto heads up top and nails a missile dropkick that almost took Lee to the floor… it gets a near-fall, as does Lee’s diving crossbody as they went tit-for-tat, just as the feed dies. We’re back with Lee teasing a Spirit Bomb, but Sekimoto backdrops free, only to get caught with it anyway for a near-fall! Lee heads up top as he tried to finish off Daisuke, but his moonsault narrowly missed, as Sekimoto throws in a headbutt, and a strait-jacket German suplex… and that’s your lot! A pretty great match, exactly what you’d expect… but tellingly, it’s another loss for Keith Lee, who’s jumped instantly by Nick Gage to build up their Style Battle match tomorrow. It’s a shame they rushed to it so quickly as it took all off all the gloss from what we just saw, and made THAT your lasting memory. ****
Sekimoto wandered to the back, without so much of a chance of getting any applause for his weekend’s work, as Gage battled with WWN’s trademark iffy sound system as we barely understood what he was saying, before Keith Lee replied by vowing to win Style Battle. As an alternate, I guess, since he was inserted in as a replacement!
EVOLVE Tag Team Championship: RINGKAMPF (WALTER & Timothy Thatcher) vs. Catch Point (Jaka & Chris Dickinson) (c)
C’mon, let’s keep the run of hot matches alive! RINGKAMPF were out in their olden trunks from 16 Carat Gold weekend… hopefully they have more luck here!
Thatcher and Jaka got us going, with the former looking for an early cross armbreaker as they kept it on the mat, with Thatcher raining down blows from above as he isolated Jaka. WALTER’s in to keep up the pressure as RINGKAMPF made use of frequent tags, while somehow keeping the pace slow and deliberate. WALTER makes a point of kicking Dickinson off the apron as the challengers almost won the belts, before WALTER took it to the chop game. Jaka fights back with savate kicks and a German suplex, sending Thatcher crawling to the corner as Chris Dickinson got the tag in… and clobbered Thatcher with a lariat. There’s a receipt for WALTER too, as a suplex to Thatcher gets a two-count, and as Dickinson threw chops, our feed went. Yay!
Thatcher finds himself in the wrong corner as the champion keep him isolated now, with a big elbow drop from Jaka forcing a two-count before he went to a… Kona Crush head squeeze? Alright… A kick from Dickinson gets another two-count, and in comes WALTER to kick away a submission attempt as Dickinson was trying his best to take away Thatcher’s arm.
The build-up to the WALTER hot tag continued, with Thatcher nailing the RINGKAMPF belly-to-belly on Dickinson… and in comes the big guy with loads of chops! Clotheslines take down the champions as WALTER goes to town, before goading Dickinson into a chop battle… kick kick kick, chop chop chop, and WALTER… decks Dickinson with a big boot, just as Jaka ran in to try and intervene.
A spinning heel kick from Jaka on Thatcher eventually left all four men laying, but we’re back to the big guys as Dickinson tries an O’Connor roll, before landing a dropkick and a Falcon arrow, picking up a near-fall from that. WALTER’s big powerbomb nearly wins him the titles as Jaka and Thatcher went at it in the corner… but Dickinson’s able to land a tornado DDT as the balance of the match was delicately poised.
WALTER rattles Jaka with a slap and a lariat, before WALTER escaped a Death Trap chokeslam with a Gojira clutch, dragging Dickinson to the mat before a splash from Jaka broke it up. Thatcher’s back in with an enziguiri, but Dickinson returns to set up for the Death Trap, this time connecting as the champions retain! A really good tag match that just stopped just short of finding that extra gear – and I guess with RINGKAMPF defeated, there may be a pair of Work Horsemen who’ll be angling for another shot? ****
Tracy Williams came out after the match to celebrate with the champs, before he put them over as the spirit of Catch Point. He then turned the topic over the “elephant in the room” – Stokely Hathaway. Williams fired Stokely, who then claimed that be ought and owned Catch Point… that was the cue for Dominic Garrini to return and low blow Williams, who’s now been excommunicated, as we’ll be getting Williams vs. Catch Point for the forseeable.
EVOLVE Championship: Will Ospreay vs. Matt Riddle (c)
As you’d expect for someone working as much as him, with his injuries, Ospreay looked in bad nick coming out… even wincing as he did his entrance poses. So it’s just as well he’s not in a no rope-break match against someone who could dissect you with ease.
Riddle tries a Tiger knee from the off, but Ospreay’s already fallen for that against Riddle before, and instead comes back with a German suplex. Of course, that doesn’t work, and we go outside as Ospreay connects with a tope before reaching for that neck of his. Ospreay teased another Spanish fly off the apron, but instead he took a German suplex there instead, because why not? Back inside, Riddle keeps up with forearms, then dumps Ospreay with an Exploder out of the corner for a near-fall, before we went to some rolling gutwrenches, causing Will to reach for that shoulder yet again.
Riddle begins to pepper Ospreay with kicks to the chest, and that eventually fired up the challenger… only to get rocked by a forearm as Ospreay finally connects with a handspring enziguiri. Will trips Riddle into the corner for the Shibata-ish dropkick, then a springboard forearm as that neck continued to cause problems ahead of a standing shooting star press for a near-fall. A lifting reverse DDT comes close too, as we swing and miss, with Riddle connecting with a powerbomb and a violent knee for a near-fall.
Ospreay headed up top but was stopped by a gamengiri, before he slipped free and looked for a Cheeky Nando’s. Riddle avoids that and locks in a rear naked choke, before turning it into a sleeper suplex for a near-fall as those head drops kept on coming. From there, it’s the small matter of elbows to the side of the head and a Bromission… but Ospreay tried to hang on, even standing up and taking Riddle up the turnbuckles before a back bump off the top almost went awry, with Will again landing on his head.
— JJ Williams (@JJWilliamsWON) April 7, 2018
Instantly the referee called for support – in the form of three more refs – as Ospreay looked to be in trouble. Riddle tried to take advantage, noting that the match hadn’t been waved off… which is my thought exactly. Ospreay shoves away the refs, and gets a knee to the back of his head before Riddle finished him off with a tombstone slam… but Will kicked out?! Good Lord! From there, Riddle ripped off the KT tape to prove that that wasn’t the only thing holding Ospreay’s head on, before he peppered Ospreay with stomps – prompting boos from the crowd. Another running knee somehow only gets a one as the crowd are on their feet, as Ospreay countered a Gotch piledriver into a triangle armbar, throwing elbows for dear life…
…and then counters a lift free into a Rainmaker! More Rainmaker lariats follow, but Riddle kicks away the arm before Ospreay nailed a sit-out powerbomb for another near-fall! Dear God, are we getting a title change?! Nah, an OsCutter’s caught and turned into a BroMission, and that’s the tap. Holy hell, that was amazing! Easily the best thing on a WWN show this weekend, and that is not hyperbole. Somehow, with a dodgy neck, Will Ospreay has stolen the show! ****¾
This year’s WWN Supershow was another great show, but for some reason – in spite of that wild main event – it left me feeling a little hollow. The departure of Zack Sabre Jr. felt massively underplayed in the show proper, while Sekimoto not even getting a “thanks for your weekend” just felt wrong to me. “An EVOLVE show with women” was one way I’d heard this card described, and that’s not far off. This is the show EVOLVE 103 should have been as without any other hook, this was a great EVOLVE show on steroids.