With Joey Styles making his first post-WWE appearance on commentary, Timothy Thatcher walked out of EVOLVE 67 in Brooklyn, NY on Saturday afternoon still holding the EVOLVE Championship.
This weekend was teased as Thatcher’s redemption with title defenses against Catch Point’s Matthew Riddle on Friday and Drew Gulak on Saturday, but the live crowd didn’t seem to think Thatcher was redeemed at its conclusion.
Thatcher defeated Gulak with a stiff head-butt in a 20-plus minute title defense. The result is surprising given all the time spent on the Thatcher vs. Catch Point feud. And though the match wasn’t bad, it was clearly the wrong match in front of this crowd.
Thatcher showed more of a mean streak than usual, but the crowd struggled to retain much interest in the match. They were occasionally vocal in their dislike of Thatcher and actively booed him retaining at the finish. The post-match featured a possible heel turn as Thatcher locked in a sleeper on Gulak as he was trying to show Thatcher respect.
What’s next for Thatcher isn’t immediately clear. Zack Sabre Jr. mentioned challenging for the title earlier in the night and that's a potential direction. But it felt like a huge missed opportunity to come out of the weekend without a title switch.
There were exciting possibilities for the future if either Riddle or Gulak won the title, and Thatcher retaining feels like starting over after ending a program without the conclusion it required.
In stark opposition to the Thatcher vs. Gulak match, Chris Hero and Cody Rhodes worked the exact match they should have in front of the Brooklyn audience.
The match started with some wild crowd brawling and led to Hero obliterating Rhodes with strikes for much of the match. There was a spot where Hero grabbed a sign of Dusty Rhodes’ head from a fan in the crowd and started beating Rhodes with it. Rhodes made a comeback and kissed the sign.
Hero was able to pick up the win after interference from Drew Galloway. Hero capitalized by hitting three rolling elbows in the corner and following it up with a huge elbow to the back of the head for the victory.
Hero was fantastic in this match, which isn’t surprising given the outstanding year he is having. The dynamic of the match worked well with Hero playing the bully heel and Rhodes taking a great beating.
There was still much to be desired in Rhodes’ work as his offense looked unconvincing when matched against Hero’s, but this was a good second outing for Rhodes as he looks to find his footing outside of WWE. Whether he will be able to adapt when working against opponents that don’t compliment him as well as Hero remains to be seen, and there is still a clear learning curve ahead.
The show peaked in the middle of the card with back-to-back fantastic matches. Riddle followed up his incredible performance against Thatcher on Friday night to defeat Tommy End. The crowd was behind Riddle and it felt even more like not putting the title on him was a mistake given the reception he got.
They worked a hard-hitting match that saw Riddle again show how great he is at legitimately selling offense. Riddle was able to lock in the Bromission on End to pick up the submission win.
End said farewell to EVOLVE after the match as he gets ready to head to the WWE Performance Center soon.
Following that, Cedric Alexander took on Sabre in a WWE Cruiserweight Classic Spotlight match. The crowd was split early, but Sabre became the clear heel as the match went on. He interacted with the segment of the crowd that was taunting him during the match, then finished it in violent fashion as he delivered kicks to Alexander’s head.
The show’s main event featured an out of sync brawl pitting Galloway, DUSTIN, and Ethan Carter III against TJP, Fred Yehi, and Ethan Page with Galloway and DUSTIN’s EVOLVE Tag Team Championship on the line. “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams was supposed to team with his Catch Point partners, but was taken out by EC3 and DUSTIN before the match began.
Page came out during the match to even the odds, but Galloway and DUSTIN retained their titles when DUSTIN hit a second piledriver on TJP after a botched pin on the first one where the referee didn’t count the finish.
Galloway has been leading a crusade against EVOLVE and their relationship with WWE, and he tried to recruit a new member in Brooklyn as he asked Joey Styles to join his team. Styles made a surprise appearance earlier as he opened the show and was on commentary for the title match.
Styles seemed to consider Galloway's offer, but rejected the group after the match and took shots at Galloway and EC3’s employers in TNA Wrestling. Rhodes made the save after the main event concluded and sent the crowd home with a promo.
Rhodes said that he was born a wrestler and would die a wrestler, and just like the crowd, he was born a wrestling fan and would die a wrestling fan. He thanked the audience as the show went off the air.
Earlier in the afternoon, Page made quick work of Kobe Durst in the show’s opener. And Tony Nese defeated Peter Kaasa in a match that showed the athletic ability of both men.
For just Riddle vs. End and Sabre vs. Alexander alone, this show is worth watching. But the puzzling booking of the title match and the flat main event made it ultimately a disappointment.
EVOLVE will return to New York with EVOLVE 68 in Long Island on September 10th and EVOLVE 69 in Queens on September 11th. The latter show will see Johnny Gargano’s farewell to the promotion, and it was announced on Saturday that Gargano would team with Rhodes to take on Galloway and Hero in his final EVOLVE match.
EVOLVE 67 results:
- Drew Galloway, DUSTIN, & Ethan Carter III defeated TJP, Fred Yehi, & Ethan Page with Galloway & Dustin retaining their EVOLVE Tag Team Championship
- EVOLVE Champion Timothy Thatcher defeated Drew Gulak to retain his title
- Chris Hero defeated Cody Rhodes
- Zack Sabre Jr. defeated Cedric Alexander
- Matthew Riddle defeated Tommy End
- Tony Nese defeated Peter Kaasa
- Ethan Page defeated Kobe Durst