WWE Evolution—2018's PPV of the Year
This past Sunday, WWE created a format in which many were quick to shoot down. “An all-women’s event inside Nassau Coliseum? How could that possibly work?”
It turns out that one event, which was a major step for change, ended up being the pay-per-view of the year. Evolution was a chance to showcase the present while celebrating the past. The event did both, in a way that gave fans from all different backgrounds something to enjoy.
Throughout the entire night, the crowd inside the Nassau Coliseum were as passionate as ever. The Old Barn truly cared, as the buzz inside the building before the event started was unmistakable. When looking around, you had little girls who look up to several of these women. Their mom and/or dad were there just for them and to be a part of the moment.
How about the actual event?
Trish Stratus and Lita started things off, putting the crowd in a frenzy. Whether it was a face or a heel, every single woman got an ovation from the fans. When Trish and Mickie James faced off for the first time since 2006, it was almost as if time stood still. Their feud was a classic and was one of the premier women’s feuds during the divas era. Having Lita and Trish, who looked very good in the ring, win the match made sense, starting the night off with a bang.
Some battle royal’s can be robotic and can fade a crowd fast. The 20-Women Battle Royal was not one of those. It was a trip down memory lane, as old-school fans saw those who helped pave the way, while young kids were able to see them for the first time. You had Michelle McCool, Molly Holly, Ivory, Maria (who is an active roster member), and Alundra Blayze. The latter received one of the loudest ovations of the night.
Ember Moon and Asuka proved once again why they are the top females in pro wrestling today. If they ever get a proper continuation of their epic NXT feud, watch out.
Nia Jax ended up winning the bout, making things interesting if she were to challenge the Raw Women’s Champion, whoever she ended up being (Spoiler: It was going to be Rousey all along)
*Side note: Let’s get a “Molly Holly for WWE Hall of Fame!” push going*
From there, it was time for the finals of the Mae Young Classic. In what was a stacked tournament that featured the top women wrestlers from all over the world, it came down to Toni Storm and Io Shirai. Where I was sitting, various WWE talent came out and watched from the side, in order to keep the focus on the girls in the ring. Corey Graves (with his daughter) and Finn Balor were some of them. Unfortunately, not many people within the WWE Universe knew about the two stars. Fortunately, by the time the night ended, none of that mattered.
Like the entire MYC, these women put on an absolute clinic. They showcased strong style wrestling mixed with everything they have learned while traveling all over the world. As the match went on, moves most women don’t use were stunning to watch.
Toni ended up winning the whole thing, embracing Io afterward to the delight of the crowd. This was the best way to showcase the future of pro wrestling in WWE. We’ll get to that last part in a bit.
While the next bout has been used many times on Raw, Sasha Banks, Bayley and Natalya v. The Riott Squad was still an enjoyable affair. Innovated moves were utilized and the crowd seemed to enjoy it. The former team won, which was the theme of the night so far. The booking of some of these stars may have been lacking leading up to this, but the chance to be on a history-making show was the only motivation they needed. Also, Sasha can now properly celebrate the Red Sox winning the World Series.
Coming back to the future, the NXT Women’s Title match was the ultimate grudge match between Kairi Sane and Shayna Baszler. It is worth pointing out that the NXT Women’s Title may be the most prestigious title in all of WWE. Knowing the history between the two, you expected this to be technical. What Shayna did however in this match was innovated all the way up.
Creating storylines during events is WWE’s bread and butter, and Evolution was no exception. Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir, members of MMA’s Four Horsewomen group along with Baszler and Rousey, were in the audience. Kairi catapulted Shayna on top of both. That only upset the duo and they distracted Kairi enough to give Shayna the advantage. She put Kairi to sleep to become the first two-time NXT Women’s Champion. The Four Horsewomen stable has officially gotten the green light from WWE.
In what very well could, and should, have been the main event, Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair had the definitive match of WWE’s women’s evolution. A last woman standing bout for Becky’s SmackDown Women’s Title, this feud was the best thing in pro wrestling heading into Evolution. Literal blood, sweat and tears were put into making this match possible, and the outcome did not disappoint.
What makes a great story in pro wrestling? Making it feel all too real. Becky’s rise to the top / her and Charlotte’s rivalry felt personal, thanks to the work of everyone involved. The match itself was an instant classic. It was one of the most brutal women’s matches WWE has had, and holds up to a lot of fights women in the independent scene have. Tables, ladder, chairs and kendo sticks were used, almost to perfection. The move of the night? Charlotte busting out a Swanton Bomb. Still waiting for her to do a 450 Splash.
The crowd, who was very pro-Becky, ending up giving standing ovations to both ladies as the match reached its apex. After a lengthy table spot, Becky miraculously retained her title, further proving she was the better woman. This match will go down in the history books. An answer to NXT’s Sasha v. Bayley feud, WWE’s other two members of the pro wrestling Four Horsewomen are proving every single day that women’s wrestling matters.
The main event was Rousey v. Nikki Bella. While it was not a technical classic like Becky and Charlotte was, it did establish Ronda as a fighting champion. She is a name that creates buzz, and until that changes, she will get the main spots.
After the main event, every woman, from the battle royal to the NXT and NXT UK stars sitting in the audience, came out to celebrate their accomplishment. In the end, it didn’t matter who won an individual match. Evolution worked, and it kicked down the doors that tried locking women in WWE out. For a brief moment, nobody was even thinking of the controversial Crown Jewel event. If the company can stay this consistent with their general programming for the women, the sky is the limit.
While they aren’t the first promotion to feature an all-women event (Shimmer, Shine, Impact, etc.) this did feel important. For one night, everything seemed right with the world. Now, let’s get ready for the next one, or three.