EVOLVE 127 took over the Monaghan KOC Hall of Livonia in Michigan. EVOLVE packed the building to witness the headlining, non-title bout of NXT’s Adam Cole against EVOLVE’s Champion Austin Theory. Friday night’s show also included a variety of NXT and Evolve stars including Kassius Ohno, WWN Champion JD Drake, Babatunde and many more. Whether it was screaming for the hometown hero Leon Ruff or booing the tag champion Eddie Kingston, the fans in Metro Detroit gave EVOLVE 127 their all.

Josh Briggs and Adrian Jaoude do battle. Photo: Brad McFarlin, SLAM! Wrestling.

Here’s five things I learned while attending EVOLVE 127

5. Austin Theory Spoils The Opening Contest

It was the opening contest and the crowd was excited. Josh Briggs is the first entrant for EVOLVE 127, who just recently returned from a hip injury. He faced off against NXT roster member Adrian Jaoude. Jaoude tried to show off his martial arts skills but Briggs had no time for that. A big boot to the face connected. Later on, Briggs was found outside the ring and when the ref wasn’t looking Austin Theory attacked Briggs with a crutch. Jaoude capitalized on the attack and submitted Briggs for the win. From out of the crowd, GCW’s Spyder Nate Webb rushed the ring looking to get his hands on Theory. Theory managed to escape and headed to the back until his main event match.

4. NXT’s Babatunde Stands Tall

The Skulk’s Liam Gray had just lost his match to Steven Pena and

Babatunde towers over JD Drake. Photo: Brad McFarlin, SLAM! Wrestling.

a disappointed AR Fox got on the microphone. Fox said that The Skulk has been on a losing streak so he’s going to give Skulk member Adrian Alanis a challenge. Out comes the ginormous Babatunde of NXT: a man that stands nearly 7 feet tall. While in the ring he literally hits the chandelier of the Monaghan KOC. Babatunde was a giant compared to Alanis, who’s actually seen as the big man of the group. It was an entirely one-sided match-up as Babatunde squashed Alanis for the win. Babatunde would come out later in the show to save JD Drake from a beatdown from Eddie Kingston and Joe Gacy. 

3. Detroit’s Leon Ruff Does The Unthinkable

In what was arguably the best match of the show The Skulk’s AR Fox and Leon Ruff took on the towering team of NXT Superstar Kassius Ohno and Harlem Bravado. The NXT team had the definite size advantage with the hometown favorite Leon Ruff being the smallest of them all. Ruff’s entire family watched at ringside as Ruff

Kassius Ohno is in trouble. Photo: Brad McFarlin, SLAM! Wrestling.

and Fox got mauled by their opponents. Ohno and Bravado’s size and ring psychology made it nearly impossible for their opponents to gain the upper hand. Whenever they did get any offense though it was an example of spectacular ability and heart. Ohno and Bravado tried to pin Ruff over the course of a 20 minute thriller because the hometown hero would not stay down. Finally, Leon Ruff connected with his signature Ruff Landing on Bravado for the win. Ruff’s family and Detroit faithful all gave an incredible reception for the hometown hero. Leon Ruff did the unthinkable while living his dream. 

2. JD Drake and Joe Gacy Have a Big Hoss Battle

In a WWN Championship bout, champion JD Drake stood toe-to-toe with half of the EVOLVE tag team champions, Joe Gacy. Eddie Kingston was at ringside. Kingston had just previously lost his match against Curt Stallion. The size of both competitors matched with how hard they hit each other. Both

Eddie Kingston lends some support to Joe Gacy. Photo: Brad McFarlin, SLAM! Wrestling.

men were relentlessly throwing fists, forearms and of course, loud chops. The two brawled together until later in the match when they started to show how agile they really were. Gacy pulled off an impressive handspring cutter but it wasn’t enough to stop Drake. Drake cannonballed Gacy in the corner and hit a huge top rope moonsault to retain his title.

1. Adam Cole Reigns Undisputed Over Austin Theory

In usual EVOLVE fashion, the main event was cued and everybody rose to their feet. Evolve Champion Austin Theory made his entrance but the

audience was only waiting for Adam Cole. When Cole strutted to the ring, the Monaghan Hall erupted with his signature “Boom!” and “Adam Cole Bay Bay!” catchphrases. After the pre-match introductions, the match began

Adam Cole plays to the press at ringside. Photo: Brad McFarlin, SLAM! Wrestling.

at a high pace with both men trading blows. While Adam Cole is known for putting on stellar matches, Austin Theory seemed to hold the candle in this bout. To name a couple highlights, Cole pulled off his infamous Panama Sunrise and shortly after Theory connected with his front-roll jumping dropkick. Nearing the end, Theory grabbed his EVOLVE Title, looking to hit Cole with it. From the crowd, Nate Webb distracted the referee allowing Cole to low blow Theory. Adam Cole followed up with The Last Shot to earn the victory. Webb and Cole then made their way through the crowd to celebrate their victory and an awesome closing to EVOLVE 127.

All in all, EVOLVE 127 was a solid event. Over the years, the EVOLVE roster has lost many of their top stars but people like Austin Theory and JD Drake are holding up the company and the locker room. Plus, with the addition of NXT superstars, it makes for new, fresh match-ups that you can’t see anywhere in the indies. Adam Cole was by far the star of the show, as people were lined up to meet him and were completely invested in his match. Something that really stuck with me was when I

Adam Cole rocking and rolling. Photo: Brad McFarlin, SLAM! Wrestling.

was standing next to Leon Ruff’s family. Ruff pulled off a springboard hurricanrana on Kassius Ohno as the crowd went nuts while Ruff soaked it in. Ruff’s mother turned to her family and said,  “He’s living his best life.” It was definitely an emotional and thrilling night.


Adrian Jaoude defeated Josh Briggs
Steve Pena defeated Liam Gray of The Skulk
Babatunde defeated Adrian Alanis of The Skulk
“Retro” Anthony Greene defeated Stephen Wolf
Anthony Henry defeated Juntai
Leon Ruff and AR Fox of The Skulk defeated Kassius Ohno and Harlem Bravado
Brandi Lauren defeated Randi West
Curt Stallion defeated Eddie Kingston
JD Drake defeated Joe Gacy
Adam Cole defeated Austin Theory

Matthew McFarlin has been contributing to SLAM! Wrestling, with the help of his dad, Brad McFarlin, for over four years now.

Austin Theory clobbers Adam Cole. Photo: Brad McFarlin, SLAM! Wrestling.

Josh Briggs and Adrian Jaoude do battle. Photo: Brad McFarlin, SLAM! Wrestling.