Sure, maybe WWE really is just trying to hurt the viewership numbers for AEW‘s Fight For The Fallen by offering an indie-smark-targeted show at the same time, but that doesn’t change the fact that Evolve 131, the Evolve 10th Anniversary Celebration, offers a previously unheard-of opportunity to see real indie wrestling live on the WWE Network.
The show starts Saturday night at 8pm, and features mostly Evolve matches, plus two matches in which NXT Superstars go up against guys from 205 Live. Of course, some of the regular Evolve matches feature NXT guys who aren’t really prominent on that show, because that’s just how intertwined Evolve and NXT are these days. Let’s take a look at the card, and at which guys you might recognize even if this is your first Evolve show.
Current WWE Cruiserweight Champion Drew Gulak is going up against Matt Riddle in a non-title match that’s sure to be quite a thing to see. Evolve is advertising this as a Catch Point Reunion Match, because Drew and Matt both belonged to a stable called Catch Point during their time at Evolve. Catch Point was dedicated to old-fashioned technical wrestling, and there should be plenty of that on display in this match.
Adam Cole will be defending against former WWE Cruiserweight Champion Akira Tozawa for the NXT Championship. Obviously the chances of Cole losing the NXT Title to a 205 Live star at an Evolve show are pretty slim, but it should be a really good match, and it makes Cole look a bit more like a fighting champion, even if we know deep down how it will end.
In addition to those big matches, here are three more that feature NXT performers:
- Arturo Ruas, the NXT Superstar formerly known as Adrian Jaoude, has a grudge match against Evolve star and Full Impact Pro World Champion Anthony Henry.
- NXT Superstar Babatunde, who took part in the Greatest Royal Rumble in Saudi Arabia last year, faces Colby Corino, son of ECW star Steve Corino.
- Sean Maluta, longtime NXT Superstar and member of the Anoa’i family, takes part in a Fatal Four-Way with Curt Stallion, Stephen Wolf, and Harlem Bravado.
Finally, here are four all-indie matches, all of which should be worth your time:
- Josh Briggs faces Anthony Greene in a Future Is Now Showcase Match. You can watch Anthony’s promo in the tweet above.
- Brandi Lauren fights Shotzi Blackheart in a women’s match that fans had to vote for on Twitter to get it on this show.
- Eddie Kingston and Joe Gacy defend their Evolve Tag Team Championship against AR Fox and Leon Ruff, who will be accompanied by Ayla and The Skulk.
- WWN Champion JD Drake is up against Evolve Champion Austin Theory in a winner-takes-all match to unify their belts. WWE helpfully shared a video to catch everyone up on this match, which you can check out below.
Tomorrow evening we’ll have a live thread (although both shows will have to share) and results posts. And hopefully this isn’t a one-time thing to get under AEW’s skin, because it would actually be awesome to see future Evolve shows on the WWE Network.