EVOLVE 133 packed the Monaghan Knights of Columbus in Livonia, MI for the hall’s biggest crowd yet. Fans lined up around the building to meet-and-greet the likes of Tomasso Ciampa, Matt Riddle, and Austin Theory, while anticipating a big night of action. Saturday’s show was headlined by three main events while showcasing a mixture of NXT, EVOLVE, and local talents. And as always, Metro Detroit was a loud and energetic crowd for EVOLVE. Here are five memorable moments from my live experience at EVOLVE 133:
Curt Stallion costs himself the match
EVOLVE prospects Curt Stallion and “Retro” Anthony Greene went toe to toe in a grudge match. Both guys had something to prove, and a win over the other would elevate him through the rankings. It would have been an even contest until Stallion inadvertently clobbered the referee, giving Greene’s valet, Brandi Lauren, the chance to low blow Stallion. Greene took advantage of the downed ref by trying to hit his opponent with a chair. Stallion reversed and hit Greene with the chair without the referee noticing. However, instead of getting rid of the evidence, Stallion continued to attack Greene with his weapon until the referee made the decision to end the match. Stallion cost himself an opportunity to win by getting caught up in the moment — it didn’t seem to bother him though.
KUSHIDA brings the people to their feet — and Time stops
In KUSHIDA’s EVOLVE debut, he battled with “the blue collar badass” JD Drake. KUSHIDA made the latter entrance, and the crowd stood in respect for Japan’s former Junior Ace, now NXT wrestler. The two undoubtedly created the match of the night with their hard hitting styles, near falls, and dramatic maneuvers. KUSHIDA was victorious and soaked in Livonia’s affection until a masked man entered the ring. That man was revealed to be Alex Shelley — KUSHIDA’s former tag partner of the Time Splitters. Shelley gave a genuine speech because his appearance was a real surprise — even to KUSHIDA. Since EVOLVE was near Shelley’s home, he decided to drop by and praise his former partner and best friend for a “last chapter” of the Time Splitters. This was an emotional and rare moment that the live audience was fortunate to be apart of.
Anthony Henry possibly earns an EVOLVE title shot
Before Anthony Henry’s scheduled match against EVOLVE Champion, Austin Theory, Theory let everyone know that he was the future of professional wrestling. He brought up his appearance at NXT Takeover: Toronto and how Henry was stuck watching it on the WWE Network. Then, the two men put forth a physiological game plan, both targeting each other’s legs in a competitive match. In the end, Theory tapped out to Henry’s cloverleaf submission, but didn’t gain the title due to this being a non-title bout. Theory reluctantly shook his opponent’s hand after Henry demanded an EVOLVE title opportunity to reward his win.
Matt Riddle taunts Goldberg
The King of Bros, Matt Riddle, returned to the building where he had his final EVOLVE match before joining NXT. He faced a rising competitor in Josh Briggs and defeated him using the Bromission. Livonia was very enthusiastic about seeing Riddle live again and were chanting the entire match. One constant message they hollered was: “Goldberg, Goldberg, Goldberg,” referring to Riddle’s ongoing beef with the WWE Hall of Famer. To everyone’s surprise, Riddle hit Goldberg’s infamous Jackhammer on Briggs and popped the whole crowd.
Detroit’s Leon Ruff retains the gold
With every show that comes to Metro Detroit, Leon Ruff continues to evolve in front of his hometown fans. Saturday night, Ruff and his partner AR Fox withstood a tough match against The Unwanted — Joe Gacy and Sean Maluta. Fox and Ruff brought the intensity, immediately hitting simultaneous springboard cutters. Eventually, the tables were turned, and Ruff was sent through a table. Fox absorbed much of the damage until Leon Ruff made his big comeback. Ruff hit his signature Ruff Landing on Maluta to keep his tag titles and prove that he and Fox belong on top of the tag team division. The hometown hero made sure to celebrate with everybody in the building to close out EVOLVE 133.
– Anthony Gutierrez defeated Karam to win an EVOLVE contract
– Shotzi Blackheart defeated Camron Bra’nae
– Adrain Alanis defeated Brandon Taggart
– Arturo Ruas defeated Stephen Wolf
– Anthony Greene defeated Curt Stallion by disqualification
– KUSHIDA defeated JD Drake
– Anthony Henry defeated Austin Theory
– Matt Riddle defeated Josh Briggs
– Leon Ruff and AR Fox defeated Joe Gacy and Sean Maluta to retain the EVOLVE Tag Team Championships