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Thread: EVOLVE

  1. #1
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    EVOLVE

    This past weekend at EVOLVE 108 in the old ECW Arena, EVOLVE crowned a new Champion as Matt Riddle dropped his title to Swerve himself, Shane Strickland in the third of their series of fantastic matches. Strickland is quickly becoming one of the best guys on the Indy circuit, and quite frankly it's only a matter of time before he gets on the WWE radar, if he's not already. For those unaware, Shane Strickland is also Killshot in Lucha Underground.

    As for Riddle, it's looking more and more like the King of Bros is headed to the WWE, which would be the second EVOLVE Champion to head to the WWE in the last few months, with Keith Lee about ready to debut on NXT television.

  2. #2
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    How is the relationship with WWE affecting Evolve?

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

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    The Brain
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    Just speaking personally, it does make them feel more and more like a feeder territory... I know WWE is signing guys from everywhere with reckless abandon, but EVOLVE has started to feel a bit like a pipeline to NXT. To some that might be a draw, but to me it makes it hard to invest in the guys they bring in as I know there's a good chance they'll be gone soon.

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    I get what you're saying. With Riddle, Rush and Keith Lee moving on they're relying on Austin Theory, Darby Allin and now Shane Strickland to carry the load. But Theory has been on the WWE radar for a while and with his manager Priscilla Kelly in the MYC, it's probably only a matter of time. Velveteen Dream wrestled Theory and Allin this past weekend, probably to get a feel for the WWE on how they worked. Wouldn't be surprised to see Shane there sometime next year as well.

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    Not only is Shane Strickland signed with LU, he's also signed with MLW for the next several years. WWE in fact got in trouble recently by trying to talk to Strickland, who told them he couldn't because he was signed, and when WWE tried to brush it off they were threatened with contract tampering issues. He's definitely on their radar but it's at least a few years away from happening if at all.

    I've never really gotten into EVOLVE. Like mizfan said it's basically a WWE feeder system at this point, not to mention that Gabe Sapolsky is so in bed with WWE that he actually stooged off negotiating talks Riddle was having with New Japan to Triple H, who then suddenly offered Riddle a deal despite being able to do so for the past several years (Riddle's wife confirmed this herself). So it's hard to get into them or support them, especially since you can also catch most of the talent elsewhere. They do have good talent though. Strickland has been awesome for at least two years now, Darby Allin (who has wrestled in AAA a few times) is fun and holy shit Austin Theory. I just caught the dude last weekend on a show at Expo Lucha where he took on Laredo Kid and Rey Horus (LU's El Dragon Azteca Jr.). Not only is Theory in his early 20's while looking like a cross between Mark Jindrak and Randy Orton, he's got great athleticism, lots of charisma and can work. He's going to be a star.


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    From what i've seen from Evolve, I like Gabe but he seems to struggle with making a product people can invest in.. This is before and after WWE's involvement. Every mania weekend, his shows are overshadowed by other indy shows when really, given the talent he's had access to, that should never be the case. People will like the matches that Riddle had.. or Ospreay coming in but people will CARE when joey Janela throws a spring Break show and its the most fun show of the weekend.

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    The Brain
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    I really have to check out Austin Theory, it seems...

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    So while Evolution was going on, big happenings occurred at EVOLVE 104. It appears that EVOLVE may now be a feeder INTO NXT as the Street Profits won the EVOLVE Tag Titles, Dan Matha showed up and tore up some people, and Fabian Aichner beat Shane Strickland for the EVOLVE title.

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    The Brain
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    On the one hand I think it's cool that EVOLVE is getting something more out of the WWE relationship, and the idea of WWE doing cross-promoting (of sorts) on this level is pretty big. On the other hand, I'm not thrilled with the possible idea that WWE/NXT is going to co-opt unique indy products. I guess we'll see how it goes!

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    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    Does anyone know how their being a feeder into the feeder is working out for them?

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

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    Well they've got Chris Hero and Street Profits working some of their shows, if that floats your boat. LAX also pulled out of a show recently due to complications working with WWE and Impact contracted wrestlers, but then again I heard Eddie Kingston showed up recently, so who knows. Can't say I hear much hype about them these days, they seem to be pretty off the radar.

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    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    Given no one else has chipped in there 'off the radar' seems to be about right. I guess that was always going to be the risk of pairing up with the 'E, right? I imagine there's got to be a big chunk of fans out there for whom the whole point of being 'indy' is that you're as far away from those guys as possible.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

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    The problem isn't that Evolve is associated with WWE; Progress and ICW are associated with WWE and fans haven't turned on them, at least because of that. The problem is that Gabe Sapolsky has disappeared so far up Triple H's ass he's nearly come out the other side. If they just had a working arrangement I don't think anyone would care, but the fact that Gabe goes out of his way to accuse other companies (like AEW) of killing the indies when he's the same guy who a) stooged Matt Riddle going to New Japan off to WWE to prevent that, b) blocked guys from going to other indies and c) is on the WWE payroll just leaves a horrible taste in everyone's mouth. He's the problem, at least with me.


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    And his booking isn't that good anymore from what i've seen.. There's nothing fresh and doing things in a way that gets more eyes to the Evolve product. Its more stale than ROH

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    I can buy that. I mean, not so much the comparison with the British thing because I can think of a whole bunch of reasons why the situation here wouldn't be comparable to the situation there. But the general point seems fair enough.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Prime Time View Post
    Given no one else has chipped in there 'off the radar' seems to be about right. I guess that was always going to be the risk of pairing up with the 'E, right? I imagine there's got to be a big chunk of fans out there for whom the whole point of being 'indy' is that you're as far away from those guys as possible.
    I've never understood this line of thinking. Why is being a struggling indy something to be relished? Outside of PWG (whose whole gimmick is being "indy") I can't think of a single independent promoter on the planet who would say no if Mark Cuban came to them tomorrow with an open cheque book and said "be the next WWE". Or is it just that WWE is the "evil empire", so associating with them specifically is bad?

    I don't get it, or the idea of selling out.

    You know, who cares that Gabe allegedly told Triple H that Matt Riddle was planning on going to NJPW? It probably got Matt a better deal in the end and meant that he didn't have to travel to Japan (where he's going to have MAJOR TROUBLE with his "extracurricular" habits) all the time to make a living. Who cares if he's on the WWE payroll?

    I just really don't understand that "indy" mindset, and know personally maybe one promoter tops who values being a traditional independent and wouldn't rather they, and everyone that they book, make a strong living working for them.

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    It's not just this line of thinking that was a problem. If Gabe decided to work with WWE and just kept his head down, fine. But you can't claim to be independent when you're actively on the WWE payroll and you then can't go out there and say that AEW is trying deplete the indies while you are actively helping the biggest promotion in the world sign everyone. It's the hypocrisy that's the problem. Gabe tries to paint himself as this visionary trying the help the indies when in reality he's in WWE's back pocket and his main agenda is making sure he can get as much independent talent away from other promotions and into WWE as possible. If he just admitted that he'd get far less flack. But because he still tries to paint himself as something else and then slags other promotions for doing the same thing he does, he comes across as a hypocritical sell out. The fact that, in many people's view, his show peaked a few years ago and got worse after WWE involvement, doesn't help his cause.


  18. #18
    The Brain
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    Quote Originally Posted by Team Farrell View Post
    Who cares if he's on the WWE payroll?
    Get where you're coming from Coach, but I do want to focus in on this. I care as a fan who's on the WWE payroll and who isn't because I don't usually like the way WWE handles and presents talent at this point in time. I don't begrudge any talent or promoter for going along with WWE if they get the opportunity, it's the smart choice for many, but I do often lose some interest in guys who go into the WWE machine. That may well make me a hipster and that's fine, it's just what I'm interested in as a fan.

    I also think there's a difference between associating with big money in general, like Mark Cuban or the Khans, and associating with WWE in particular. A lot of that may just be perception but there are some concrete differences as well.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cult Icon View Post
    It's not just this line of thinking that was a problem. If Gabe decided to work with WWE and just kept his head down, fine. But you can't claim to be independent when you're actively on the WWE payroll and you then can't go out there and say that AEW is trying deplete the indies while you are actively helping the biggest promotion in the world sign everyone. It's the hypocrisy that's the problem. Gabe tries to paint himself as this visionary trying the help the indies when in reality he's in WWE's back pocket and his main agenda is making sure he can get as much independent talent away from other promotions and into WWE as possible. If he just admitted that he'd get far less flack. But because he still tries to paint himself as something else and then slags other promotions for doing the same thing he does, he comes across as a hypocritical sell out. The fact that, in many people's view, his show peaked a few years ago and got worse after WWE involvement, doesn't help his cause.
    See, I would agree that it's silly as fuck for anyone to claim that AEW is depleting the indies. Technically, the statement isn't incorrect, but it's really silly to look at it like that. No promoter should ever begrudge a talent from signing with someone who is going to make them money, and the indies will always be fine. It just means that indy promoters will have to work a little harder to establish talent and that cycle of talent will pick up speed a little.

    I'm a little concerned that it's going to lead to more gross out stunts, unnecessary extreme bullshit or video game wrestling silliness just from guys hoping to go viral and break through for their fifteen minutes of indy fame before getting scooped up, but that's another conversation for another day.
    Quote Originally Posted by mizfan View Post
    Get where you're coming from Coach, but I do want to focus in on this. I care as a fan who's on the WWE payroll and who isn't because I don't usually like the way WWE handles and presents talent at this point in time. I don't begrudge any talent or promoter for going along with WWE if they get the opportunity, it's the smart choice for many, but I do often lose some interest in guys who go into the WWE machine. That may well make me a hipster and that's fine, it's just what I'm interested in as a fan.

    I also think there's a difference between associating with big money in general, like Mark Cuban or the Khans, and associating with WWE in particular. A lot of that may just be perception but there are some concrete differences as well.
    See, opinion is what it is and I wouldn't hold it against you, but it just seems a little bit like the fans of a band who turn on them when they make it big because they sold out.

    At the end of the day, EVOLVE's association with WWE is nothing groundbreaking or new. Save for a brief period during the Johnny Ace days, WWE has always maintained relationships with smaller organizations. Jim Cornette was just talking on his podcast about how in the early 90s he'd work in the office to book out their lower level guys -- ostensibly what NXT talent is -- to a limited handful of outside promotions in order to get them a payday on their days off. But they were only loaning them out, at that time, to companies that they vetted as legitimate and with the understanding that the promoters would keep their eyes out for up and coming talent to funnel them to the WWE. Then there was ECW in the mid 90s. OVW in the early 00s which went as far as becoming an actual developmental system.

    On the Matt Riddle front, I in no way look at that as him being "stooged out" to WWE. If he really wanted to go to New Japan, he would have. But the guy's no idiot. I know a guy who did okay for himself in the UFC, and according to him you have to learn to play politics there like its wrestling in the 90s. You don't mention to a guy who's associated with WWE and effectively working as a scout for them that you have an offer on the table if you don't want that getting back to them.

    EDIT: In the course of this, I Googled Gabe. That lead me to r/SquaredCircle. I am glad I've never been there. That place is a toxic cesspool. People shitting on guys for signing with WWE basically because they don't want to watch WWE and don't like the style.

    I see that is where everyone who was hanging around places like this 10+ years ago, made is difficult to try and get into indy stuff with their "gatekeeper" attitudes, and openly accused every indy guy WWE or TNA signed back then of "selling out" have migrated to.

  20. #20
    The Brain
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    I get it, and to be clear I don't think anybody who goes to WWE has sold out. I sort of get why some fans feel that way, even though I strongly agree some express it way too virulently. But then again it's really tough if you're a big fan of, to use the most obvious example, Mascara Dorada, and there's no guarantee that your favorite guy won't arbitrarily be treated the same way.

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