WWE Evolve 10th Anniversary Show Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction, Highlights

The Doctor Chris Mueller@@BR_DoctorFeatured ColumnistJuly 14, 2019

WWE Evolve 10th Anniversary Show Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction, Highlights

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    Adam Cole, Akira Tozawa, Matt Riddle and Drew Gulak.
    Adam Cole, Akira Tozawa, Matt Riddle and Drew Gulak.Credit: WWE.com

    For the first time ever, WWE aired another company's live show on its network, marking the beginning of what might be a trend going forward.

    Evolve Wrestling celebrated its 10th anniversary Saturday night with a star-studded show featuring several former Evolve stars who now work for WWE.

    The timing of this event is somewhat curious since All Elite Wrestling also held its Fight for the Fallen pay-per-view the same night, but we should expect nothing less from the biggest promotion in the world.

    WWE knows certain indie wrestling fans will not like its product, but giving those fans what they want on WWE Network could help drive up subscriber numbers.

    Let's take a look at what happened at the Evolve 10th anniversary show. 

    Results will be updated after each match. 

Josh Briggs vs. Anthony Greene

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    The show opened with a great video package highlighting several WWE Superstars who have worked for Evolve at different points in their career.

    Lenny Leonard welcomed us to the show and touted the Evolve roster as a look at the future of the industry. His promo was short and we got right into the first bout of the night.

    Josh Briggs and "Retro" Anthony Greene were tasked with kicking things off. Briggs took control immediately by throwing Greene across the ring a couple of times, showing off his strength in the process.

    Eventually, Greene was able to turn the tables and he controlled his powerhouse opponent for several minutes. Surprisingly, this felt more like a WWE match than you would expect to see on the indie scene.

    They let each move land and sold each other's offense well. The pace only picked up in the final few minutes when both stars were hitting all of their signature moves. 

    Greene's manager, Brandi Lauren, was eventually sent to the back after the ref caught her trying to cheat. Once she was gone, Briggs was able to hit a chokeslam into a powerbomb for the win.

    This was a solid match to start the show. Both guys clearly came to impress the crowd and they accomplished their goal. 


    Grade: B-


    Notes and Highlights

    • Briggs showed some power by catching Greene during a suicide dive to deliver a chokeslam on the apron.
    • Lauren played a good heel valet at ringside for Greene. She taunted Briggs at the right times and helped her client cheat when she could. 
    • Greene and Briggs traded some brutal kicks at one point. Greene's superkick was especially nice. 
    • With a few minor changes, Greene's gimmick would work well in WWE. The whole retro thing he has going on works for him. 
    • Briggs is someone we could see in NXT soon. He has the right look and athleticism to be a big star. 

Sean Maluta vs. Curt Stallion vs. Stephen Wolf vs. Harlem Bravado

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    The second match of the night featured Sean Maluta, who many WWE fans will recognize from his appearances on NXT, 205 Live and the Cruiserweight Classic.

    The other three competitors, Harlem, Bravado, Stephen Wolf and Curt Stallion, were looking to make their first impression on the WWE Universe with this bout.

    This contest delivered the kind of fast-paced action we expect to see at indie shows. Maluta, Stallion and Wolf all used their high-flying skills to excite the crowd while Bravado played a great heel.

    This was a fun match that showcased some hungry young Superstars. After a furious exchange involving all four competitors, Wolf came out the victor with a shooting star press.


    Grade: B-


    Notes and Highlights

    • Wolf's springboard crossbody was a thing of beauty.
    • Bravado must have thought there was a WrestleMania sign in the building because he kept pointing at something toward the ceiling. 
    • The announcers didn't do enough to acknowledge Maluta being a member of the A'noai family. 
    • Bravado played to the crowd more than the other three competitors. He definitely knew where the camera was at all times.
    • The only thing that hurt this match was a lack of story for the fans who are unfamiliar with Evolve's roster. We didn't really get to know anyone's character other than Bravado. 

Arturo Ruas vs. Anthony Henry

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    Evolve played a brief video package for each Superstar before this match, so we got to know a little about Anthony Henry and Arturo Ruas and what they represent.

    The announcers did a good job making it clear these two men have problems with each other. Henry's nose was bloody within a minute due to the stiff style they worked.

    These two came to impress the world and they did just that. Even if you came into this event with no prior knowledge of these two and their rivalry, you likely left appreciating the skills they displayed and the story they told.

    Both men utilized several submissions in an attempt to make each other tap out, but they also used plenty of strikes and high-flying offense to show off their versatility. 

    Ruas finished Henry off with a spin kick to the face after a brutal exchange of punches that looked more like a boxing match than anything else. We should expect big things from both of these guys in the future. 


    Grade: A


    Notes and Highlights

    • Ruas looked great in this match. Everything he did was smooth.
    • Henry did not let a broken nose stop him from hitting some impressive moves. 
    • The triple northern lights suplex from Henry was awesome. 
    • Ruas should teach Shane McMahon how to throw a pro wrestling punch. 

Brandi Lauren vs. Shotzi Blackheart

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    After appearing with Greene earlier in the night, Lauren was back for her own contest against a green-haired ball of fire known as Shotzi Blackheart. 

    Before they could even make contact, a woman named Natalia Markova attacked Blackheart from behind. This was turned into a No Disqualifications bout, which basically made it a handicap match.

    Blackheart recovered and ended up taking out Markova and Lauren with a suicide dive. The crowd was clearly in Blackheart's corner as she started grabbing chairs from under the ring. 

    They set out to have the most hardcore match of the night, and thanks to some unique offense involving several steel chairs, they accomplished their goal. 

    Greene came out to help Lauren avoid a suicide dive. Unfortunately, Blackheart ended up crashing into the pile of chairs she had set up for Lauren and took a nasty fall.

    Greene's assistance worked and Lauren was able to pick up a win with some help from a kendo stick. This was a great performance from everyone involved.


    Grade: B


    Notes and Highlights

    • Blackheart had a bloody nose after a few minutes.
    • They botched a Sliced Bread No. 2 attempt on the apron but nobody was hurt. 
    • Blackheart should never try the suicide dive into a pile of chairs again. It looked like she almost killed herself. 

Colby Corino vs. Babatunde

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    NXT Superstar Babatunde is a name some WWE fans will be familiar with after his appearance at The Greatest Royal Rumble where he was eliminated by Braun Strowman. 

    His opponent for the night was the much-smaller Colby Corino, who was accompanied by his The Unwanted stablemate, Maluta. 

    Corino made the mistake of trying to go right at his 357-pound opponent with some chest chops. Babatunde made him pay with a few stiff strikes of his own.

    Despite Corino receiving some help from Maluta, Babatunde picked up an easy win. The rest of The Unwanted came out after the match to introduce themselves to the WWE Universe. 

    Eddie Kingston did all of the talking before everyone surrounded the ring to attack. Before they could make their move, a few other people showed up to stop them and initiate the next match. 


    Grade: C


    Notes and Highlights

    • Babatunde slapped Corino so hard that you could see several ounces of sweat fly off of his body. 
    • The camera didn't catch Maluta superkicking Babatunde at ringside while the ref was distracted. 
    • Corino reminds me of Spike Dudley in a good way. 

The Unwanted vs. AR Fox and Leon Ruff (Evolve Tag Team Championships)

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    The first title match of the night saw The Unwanted defend the Evolve Tag Team Championships against two high-flyers named AR Fox and Leon Ruff.

    Fox and Ruff helped Babatunde before the match officially got underway. This was high-energy from start to finish. Other than a few rough spots, these four men worked well together.

    Kingston and Joe Gacy slowed things down a bit while they were in control since they work more like brawlers. It gave everyone some time to recover from the opening salvo.

    There weren't any actual tags in this match because all four men agreed to a looser set of rules. Unfortunately, nobody ever made it clear how far they could go in terms of weapons and cheating.

    After Gacy and Ruff went crashing through a table at ringside, Ruff finished off Kingston with a 450 splash from the top rope to win the Tag Team Championships.


    Grade: B+


    Notes and Highlights

    • Fox almost went into the crowd when he hit a suicide dive. He also came close to hitting his head on the barricade when he hit a move from the top turnbuckle to the floor.
    • The Unwanted's superplex into a powerbomb looked good. They should be using it as a finisher if they aren't already.
    • Ruff and Fox held a little dance party with several other Superstars in the ring to celebrate their win.

Drew Gulak vs. Matt Riddle

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    Two former Evolve Superstars who now work for WWE took center stage when Matt Riddle battled his former Catch Point stablemate, Drew Gulak. 

    The crowd gave both competitors a warm welcome before they locked up for the first time. They kept things grounded with some nice technical exchanges early on.

    As expected, Riddle eventually used his MMA background to incorporate some strikes. Gulak adjusted and began peppering some punches and kicks into his offense, too.

    The crowd was into this match from the opening bell, and the two men in the ring gave them nothing short of everything they had to make this a performance worthy of a WWE PPV.

    This match played to both WWE fans and longtime Evolve loyalists. You could see how much it meant to Gulak and Riddle to represent both companies.

    Gulak blocked the Floating Bro and applied his patented Gulock, but Riddle was able to counter into the Bro Derek for the pin and the win. After it was over, Riddle grabbed a mic and gave it to Gulak so he could talk about Catch Point. He and Riddle embraced and posed for the crowd.


    Grade: A+


    Notes and Highlights

    • Riddle took a full lap to make sure he gave everyone at ringside a fist bump. He seemed to recognize a few fans and took a moment to hug them. 
    • Gulak was accompanied to the ring by several people wearing Catch Point hoodies. 
    • It was great to see Gulak treated like a big deal for his return to Evolve. He was even allowed to bring his cruiserweight title for his entrance. 
    • Riddle's strikes always sound a little better because he has bare feet. He doesn't need to slap his leg to make the slapping sound. 

Austin Theory vs. JD Drake (WWN and Evolve Championships)

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    A special video package aired before this match and it gave us a good idea of who Austin Theory and JD Drake are as people and competitors. 

    This was a unification match for the WWN and Evolve Championships, so both men came in with one belt and one man left with two. 

    Bryan Idol came out for a promo before the match, but the lights went out and he was replaced by Paul Heyman. The crowd went wild and started an ECW chant along with a few chants we can't repeat here. 

    You would be hard-pressed to find two Superstars who are more different than Theory and Drake. Their looks, styles and personalities were polar opposites. 

    Theory took control when the fight spilled out of the ring but Drake's significant size advantage allowed him to stay in the fight no matter what his opponent threw his way. Evolve gave these guys a lot of time to tell their story and they used every minute to make an impression. 

    Drake was unable to put his opponent away with his Drillbit finisher and a surprising moonsault from the top rope. Theory waited for his moment to strike and hit three superkicks followed by his Ataxia finisher for the win and claimed the Evolve and WWN Championships. 

    The lights went out during Theory's post-match promo. When they came back on, Briggs delivered a chokeslam before posing with the Evolve title to let everyone know what his intentions are. 


    Grade: A


    Notes and Highlights

    • The surprise appearance from Heyman was a great moment. He roasted some guy who tried to interrupt his promo. 
    • Heyman calling out WWE for not having pyro anymore was hilarious. 
    • Drake calls himself The Blue Collar Badass. He should team up with Heavy Machinery at some point.
    • Drake's upper body was already bruised from a recent match but he is going to have a few more after this one.
    • Theory is going to end up in WWE someday soon. He has everything the company looks for in a Superstar. He may have oversold a stunner from Drake, though. 
    • Theory might have been the third wrestler to break their nose on this show. 

Adam Cole vs. Akira Tozawa (NXT Championship)

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    The main event of the night saw Akira Tozawa battle Adam Cole for the NXT Championship. Tozawa only worked for Evolve once or twice but Cole spent some time with the promotion early in his career.

    They spent a few minutes sizing each other up with basic holds and counters before picking up the pace. Once they shifted gears, this became the kind of match you would expect from Cole and Tozawa.

    Both men favor a quick pace that includes technical offense, strikes and high-flying maneuvers, so their styles complemented each other well.

    They kind of worked this match in chapters. Every few minutes, Cole or Tozawa would change the flow of the match with a big move to put themselves in control.

    When Cole grabbed the NXT title to use as a weapon, Johnny Gargano came out to distract him so Tozawa could hit a German suplex. For a moment it looked like the Japanese Superstar was going to win the NXT title but in the end, Cole put him away with The Last Shot.

    Cole left with his reign intact but Gargano and Tozawa were the ones who closed the show in the ring. Johnny Wrestling delivered a speech thanking the crowd for making Evolve what it is today. 


    Grade: A


    Notes and Highlights

    • The back of Tozawa's head hitting the top turnbuckle looked nasty.
    • Cole is a great heel. He knows exactly when to taunt his opponent to get a reaction from the crowd.
    • Tozawa hit a senton from the apron and his leg got caught in the guardrail. He seemed fine after it happened.
    • Gargano should have wrestled on this show. The crowd would have loved it.