Evolve (professional wrestling)

Industry Professional wrestling
Founded 2010
Founders Davey Richards
Gabe Sapolsky
Sal Hamaoui
Headquarters Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Key people
Gabe Sapolsky
Sal Hamaoui
Parent WWNLive[1]
Website EvolveWrestling.com

Evolve Wrestling (stylized as EVOLVE) is an American professional wrestling promotion founded in 2010 by former Ring of Honor booker and Dragon Gate USA vice president, Gabe Sapolsky.

The company features a roster of wrestlers from all over America, as well as several competitors from Japan. The promotion had a close working relationship with sister promotion Dragon Gate USA until Dragon Gate USA's closure in August 2015.

In 2015, Evolve formed a relationship with WWE, allowing WWE to scout Evolve talent to sign for their NXT division, and eventually the main roster.[2]


In 2009, Gabe Sapolsky announced a new wrestling promotion via some viral videos featuring one of the company's competitors, Jimmy Jacobs. After this more videos were produced promoting more performers, as well as featuring blogs written by the wrestlers about their feelings regarding the company. The first show, Evolve 1: Richards vs. Ibushi, was held on January 16, 2010, in Rahway, New Jersey at the Rahway Recreational Center.[3]

During interviews with wrestling newsletter Figure 4 Weekly on its radio show, Sapolsky told editor Bryan Alvarez that Evolve would have stronger emphasis on rules and would not limit anyone based on their own respective style of wrestling in favor of showcasing the talent's individual strengths and covering up their weaknesses.[4] On January 29, 2010, Sapolsky announced that Evolve would no longer be booking Davey Richards as he had signed a new contract with Ring of Honor.[5]

The concept of the promotion was initially an emphasis on the wrestlers' win-loss records. They divided the company into two divisions: singles wrestlers and tag teams. As per the website, some wrestlers would need to earn their way onto the roster by winning a qualifying match, but that since has been dropped.[6]

On November 25, 2011, Evolve and Dragon Gate USA announced the unification of the two promotions. Evolve and Dragon Gate USA will still promote separate events, but the two share rosters, including stables, and Evolve recognizes Dragon Gate USA's Open the Freedom Gate Championship and Open the United Gate Championship as its top two championships.[7]

In February 2013, Evolve announced that they would be holding a tournament to crown the first Evolve Champion as they were eliminating the records system at that time. The tournament was held in Secaucus, New Jersey, at WrestleCon in April 2013. Evolve used the records of the talent to determine the seedings in the tournament; the top two were Chuck Taylor (10–5) and Ricochet (5–2), and both received byes into the second round. On April 5, AR Fox defeated Sami Callihan in the final to become the inaugural champion. On September 18, 2013, Vito LoGrasso announced that his new Wrestling School signed an agreement to be the Development Center for Evolve.[8]

In November 2014, Evolve, along with Dragon Gate USA (DGUSA), Full Impact Pro (FIP) and Shine Wrestling, all under the WWNLive banner, held a tour of China.[1] The following month, WWNLive announced a long-term deal with Great-Wall International Sports Management for regular tours of Asia, starting in the spring of 2015.[9]

In 2015, WWNLive opened a training facility in Trinity, Florida named "World Wrestling Network Academy", which Evolve shares with DGUSA, FIP and Shine.[10]

During 2015, Evolve entered a relationship with WWE. Evolve's wrestlers were featured on WWE.com,[11] while NXT wrestlers Sami Zayn, Chad Gable and Jason Jordan took part in Evolve events in non-wrestling roles.[12][13] In January 2016, NXT General Manager William Regal and WWE COO Triple H attended Evolve 54.[14] As part of the relationship, it was announced in March 2016 that Evolve would hold qualifying matches for WWE's Cruiserweight Classic.[15]

On April 1 and 2, 2016, Evolve held shows at Eddie Deen’s Ranch in the build-up to WrestleMania 32.[16]

On October 24, 2016, WWNLive and FloSports announced a new streaming service, which would host events held by the WWNLive promotions, including Evolve.[17]


Ring name Real name Notes
Chris Dickinson Evolve Tag Team Champion
Darby Allin
Austin Theory
Mike Parrow
Walter Walter Hahn
Timothy Thatcher Timothy Moura
Thomas Sharp Thomas Stintsman
Jaka Evolve Tag Team Champion
Jason Kincaid Jason Kincaid
Jeff Cobb Jeff Cobb
Joey Janela Joey Janela WWN Champion
Shane Strickland Evolve Champion
Stokely Hathaway
Tracy Williams



  • Lenny Leonard – Commentator
  • Ron Niemi – Commentator
  • Timothy Barr - Ring Announcer
  • Brandon Tolle - Referee
  • Jake Clemons - Referee
  • Priscilla Kelly - Manager of Austin Theory
  • Gabe Sapolsky – Headbooker & Co-Owner
  • Sal Hamaoui - Co-Owner


As of September 5, 2018

Current champions

Championship Current champion(s) Reign Date won Days held Location Notes
Evolve Championship Shane Strickland 1 August 4, 2018 32+ Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Defeated Matt Riddle at Evolve 108.
Evolve Tag Team Championship Doom Patrol
(Chris Dickinson and Jaka)
2 September 23, 2017 347+ Livonia, Michigan Defeated The Troll Boyz (ACH and Ethan Page) at Evolve 93.
WWN Championship Joey Janela 1 June 23, 2018 74+ Brooklyn, New York Defeated Austin Theory at Evolve 106.

Retired championships

Championship Last champion(s) Date retired Location Notes
Open the Freedom Gate Championship Timothy Thatcher August 15, 2015 Woodside, Queens Defeated Drew Galloway at Evolve 45. Thatcher handed the title to Johnny Gargano, rendering it vacant and inactive.
Open the United Gate Championship Ronin
(Johnny Gargano and Rich Swann)
May 30, 2015 Woodside, Queens Defeated Premier Athlete Brand (Anthony Nese and Caleb Konley) at Evolve 42. Gargano vacated and retired the titles.


See also


  1. 1 2 Johnson, Mike (2014-09-19). "Evolve heading to China (no, really)". Pro Wrestling Insider. Retrieved 2014-09-19. WWNLive, the parent company of Evolve, Shine, FIP and Dragon Gate USA.
  2. WWE relationships leads to changes within Evolve - PW Insider.com
  3. "Schedule". Evolve Wrestling. Retrieved 2010-01-11.
  4. Alvarez, Bryan (2009-01-14). "Jan. 13 Figure Four Daily: Gabe Sapolsky on DGUSA, new EVOLVE promotion, ROH memories, booking, more". Figure 4 Weekly. Retrieved 2009-01-14.
  5. Caldwell, James (2010-01-30). "ROH/DGUSA News: Davey Richards re-signs with ROH, dropped from DGUSA shows including WrestleMania weekend shows". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved 2010-01-31.
  6. Mr. C.C. (2010-10-19). "Breaking Kayfabe #2 w/Gabe Sapolsky". Retrieved 2010-10-21.
  7. "EVOLVE evolves -- now unified with DGUSA". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. 2011-11-25. Retrieved 2011-11-25.
  8. http://www.pwinsiderxtra.com/ViewArticle.php?id=26221
  9. Caldwell, James (2014-12-03). "Newswire: WWNLive announces long-term China plan, Ross talks importance of Tokyo Dome, New Japan's subscription goals, latest World Tag League standings, more". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved 2014-12-04.
  10. Caldwell, James (2015-02-19). "WWNLive news: Official new training facility announced". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved 2015-02-19.
  11. Melok, Bobby (2015-10-15). "NXT's next breakout stars?: Meet the 5 Evolve wrestlers you need to know". WWE. Retrieved 2016-01-24.
  12. "10/17 Evolve 49 Results – Zayn, Gargano, more". Pro Wrestling Torch. 2015-10-17. Retrieved 2016-01-24.
  13. "NXT GM & Tag Team to appear at Evolve show". Pro Wrestling Torch. 2016-01-11. Retrieved 2016-01-24.
  14. "Evolve 54 iPPV results: HHH & William Regal make an appearance". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. 2016-01-24. Retrieved 2016-01-24.
  15. "WWE to hold GCS matches at future EVOLVE event". Pro Wrestling Torch. 2016-03-19. Archived from the original on 2016-03-20. Retrieved 2016-03-20.
  16. "Complete Schedule of Events Taking Place During WrestleMania 32 Weekend in Dallas". Wrestlezone. 2016-02-25. Retrieved 2017-01-17.
  17. Nason, Josh (2016-10-24). "FloSports announces deal with WWNLive, launches pro wrestling streaming service". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Retrieved 2016-10-24.
  18. "Announcers/Referees". Dragon Gate USA. Archived from the original on 2010-07-26. Retrieved 2010-09-19.
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