Sports Entertainment Review: "WWE Evolution" (2018)
History. It’s a word that gets thrown around a hell of a lot, but it gets thrown around exponentially more in the wrestling business than in other places. Two wrestlers are in a type of match they’ve never been in before? It’s history. Monday Night Raw or Smackdown Live have a big match planned? It’s going to be a historical night. A wrestler of European origin captures the U.S. Title on Australian soil? By God, history has been made tonight!
However, calling WWE Evolution truly historic is not a misnomer or an oversell. There has never been an all-women’s PPV event in the history of the biz. Hell, it wasn’t until recent years that a women’s match (title or not title) was the true main event. Nowadays, the women are stealing the show night after night. It’s a beautiful thing.
There was a time when the women’s match (especially during the Divas era) was your “piss break” match; there was more of a focus on beauty and good wrestling seemed secondary! Or, even worse, there was a time (during the Attitude Era) when you could pull out your dick and jerk off to that week’s Bra & Panties on a Pole in Pool of Chocolate Pudding Match. Back in the 80’s and before, the women’s matches were (as Alundra Blayze put it) the “and more” match at the very bottom of the card.
So, yes- WWE Evolution is historic. It is a big fucking deal. Also, this one is the inaugural outing, so it’s extra historic. Let’s get to the results and my not-so-humble take, shall we? If we don’t, I’ll keep wearing out the word historic, and I’ll have to give myself a low-blow or thumb to the eye as punishment.
Besides, I didn’t say it anywhere near as much as Mr. Subtle as a Hammer to the Skull, a.k.a. Michael Cole, did….
Trish Stratus & Lita vs. Mickie James & Alicia Fox: The opener was a solid, by the numbers match that would have been roughly 1000 times better if it had Alexa Bliss in it (as originally planned before her injury). I don’t mean offense to Alicia Fox; she’s a solid hand, but Bliss is money and pairs beautifully with the highly undervalued Mickie James. Trish and Lita both look like they haven’t missed a beat and are in phenomenal condition. It also goes without saying that it’s a real treat to see the Hall of Famers together. Nice move by WWE to have Bliss do the intros for Fox & James and be ringside to keep the story build up. Winners: Trish Stratus & Lita
20-Woman Battle Royal for a future Women’s Championship Shot: This one was pretty loaded (albeit with the same faces from the Women’s Rumble). Alundra Blayze looked positively ageless, as did Hall of Famer, Ivory (the longest lasting legend). Michelle McCool needs to lace the boots back up and go full-time again! With a final four of Asuka, Ember Moon, Nia Jax, & Tamina Snuka there were future storylines materializing right before your eyes. I think this go-round will open a ton of eyes for Tamina if she can stay healthy. In the end, though, the smartest thing was done: reestablish the sheer dominance of Nia (a.k.a. the Andre the Giant of women’s wrestling). Winner and New #1 Contender: Nia Jax
2nd Annual Mae Young Classic Final Match; Toni Storm vs. Io Shirai: I have no complaints about the quality of the match; the length is a different story. I feel like there was much more that could have been done by these two excellent athletes (like another 10 or more minutes worth). That being said, they made the most of their high spots, especially that nasty German suplex on the apron and the (slowly becoming passe) moonsault to the floor outside. Shirai is an aerial wizard, but I was impressed with Toni Storm’s legitimate “It factor”. You can see that intangible thing that goes beyond mere charisma. Yes, she’s gorgeous, but that’s not it. Her facial expressions and movements are hypnotizing and unorthodox. Renee Young said “she drips cool”, and she’s utterly correct. I want to see more (no pun intended). Winner of the 2nd Annual Mae Young Classic: Toni Storm
6-Woman Tag Team Match: The Riott Squad vs. Sasha Banks, Bayley, & Natalya: Probably my least favorite match of the night for the entertainment value, but I am really starting to dig the trio of Liv Morgan, Sarah Logan, and Ruby Riott. They are all unique entities that make a nasty group. To me, they stole the show in this match against much “bigger” names and established veterans. By the way, what has happened to the meteoric rise of Sasha Banks? Winners: Sasha Banks, Bayley, & Natalya
NXT Women’s Championship Match: Shayna Baszler (Challenger) vs. Kairi Sane (Champion): This rivalry has developed into one of the best things coming out of NXT this year. Kairi Sane is the definition of the plucky and uber-resilient grappler, a force of good with a slightly silly gimmick. Shayna Baszler is the polar opposite, a physically intimidating and ruthless fighting machine, a natural heel that’s highly comparable to Brock Lesnar. For my money, the Queen of Spades is better than Ronda Rousey (yeah, I said it). Her look is so different and striking. The difference between the two told a great story. I absolutely loved the classic heel finish! Winner and NEW NXT Women’s Champion: Shayna Baszler (first 2-time NXT champ)
Last Woman Standing Match for the Smackdown Women’s Championship; Charlotte Flair (Challenger) vs. Becky Lynch (Champion): Often times in the world of professional wrestling there is a “show stealer” match, and it’s common for it not to be the one you expect. For WWE Evolution, everyone knew what the show stealer would be. Oh dear, sweet, 8 pound, 6 ounce baby Jesus…did this match ever deliver on the hype! I don’t know if there are two male wrestlers working at this level right now, let alone two women. Many people have already called this one a Match of the Year candidate for damn good reason. Becky’s rise to CM Punk-like popularity has been nothing short of breathtaking to watch. You know your game is on-point when your popularity can turn an otherwise popular top star like Charlotte into the one being booed out of the building. The flavor of the Dusty Rhodes vs. Ric Flair feud is all over this one. I know that’s a bold statement, but it’s a new day and age, and these two are operating on another plane altogether right now. This match was Attitude Era brutal and told an incredible story. Charlotte will be feeling that finish for quite some time. It is very cliched to say, but both of them will never be the same. It’s that damn good. Winner and STILL Smackdown Women’s Champion: Becky Lynch
RAW Women's Championship Match: Nikki Bella (Challenger) vs. Ronda Rousey (Champion): The evolution of Ronda Rousey is fascinating to watch. You’d have to be a blind and mentally deficient imbecile not to see that her ceiling is crazy high. However, she’s still very raw at this stage. She’s also a cash cow, so I totally get why she is the champion so early on in her career. I mention that because if you look closely you can see where the veterans are helping her progress. I am a notorious non-fan of the Bellas, but they were worth every penny in this one. Nikki has become a very solid wrestler, and the twin evil is a great heel foil to stretch out a match. They made Ronda look like the dominant freakshow that she will become. This one was much better than I expected. I’m not sure I’d want to work with Ronda; she’s insanely forceful and scary strong. Winner and STILL Raw Women’s Champion: Ronda Rousey
All in all, this was a stellar way to kick off a new WWE tradition. It’s about damn time we progressed to this place, but you still have to go out there and perform at that top level and earn the praise. The women of WWE went out there tonight and set an entirely new bar. I’m curious to see how the men follow it, honestly.
They’ve been solidly shown up. Your move, boys.