Kyle O’Reilly vs. Tracy Williams (Evolve 85- May 21, 2017)

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Definitely an obvious match to get to before O’Reilly departs the indies. Lots of mat wrestling as you might expect but no Stokely Hathaway. O’Reilly avoids the crossface early. After Williams strikes O’Reilly in the face, O’Reilly comes back with a kick and turns his attention to the left arm as he did the previous night. Williams hits a back suplex and focuses on O’Reilly’s neck. This is almost a callback to some of the more grappling style matches a couple years as they very much concentrate on the mat work and less so on strikes or using the ropes. Williams hits a DDT on the top rope and then connects on a brainbuster. O’Reilly continues going for the cross armbreaker, but Williams continues to get to the ropes. Things get hard hitting as they connect on a series of lariats. Williams actually taps O’Reilly out to the crossface in a big victory for him.

I walked away with some disappointment, perhaps because this felt like a midcard time killer than something really important and tangible. Williams is clearly being built for a WWN or Evolve title match with his new attitude and Stokely Hathaway in his corner. The execution was solid, and the counters came off naturally. Higher stakes and a more lively crowd would have helped this out a lot.

Winner (s)/Rating:  Tracy Williams/***1/4

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