Gary watches…WWE Evolution

Ah, Evolution…

The first ever all women’s WWE card is an odd one for me. It should be a bigger deal than it is, but it’s been overshadowed by the controversial Crown Jewel show that’s taking place in Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, WWE have barely promoted Evolution themselves.

The card wasn’t grabbing me going in. On paper, Evolution’s matches aren’t the matches I want to see from the women’s division. Don’t get me wrong, there are some good matches, such as the Smackdown and NXT Title matches. However, there are some matches that I find uninspiring. I always see Battle Royals as a waste of talent and a lazy attempt to get as many people on the show as possible. I’ve also got little faith in the tag matches delivering – I like all involved, but I have the feeling they will be stuck in a RAW style five minute tag match.

I want to be wrong and for Evolution to be brilliant – women’s wrestling is one of the reasons I stuck with the WWE Network in 2015 after my free trial ended. I loved watching the Four Horsewoman of NXT and watching the female roster grow has been a highlight of the past few years. There’s some great talent on this show and I went into this show wanting them to succeed in putting on a great show.

WWE Evolution 3

Trish Stratus & Lita vs. Mickie James & Alicia Fox

This was a great choice for the opener – the action was quick and the crowd were completely behind Lita and Trish. The match was predictable, but frankly it worked. No-one watching this event wanted a competitive match here, they just wanted to see Lita and Trish bust out all their old moves and get the win. Mickie and Alicia played their part well and even the mix up with Alicia being late breaking up one of the pin attempts at the end didn’t matter. A 3/5, better than I thought it would be and a good start to the show.

20 Women Battle Royal

I wasn’t sure what to make of this battle royale…there were things I liked and things that frustrated me. Generally, the action was fine and there was a pretty good field of participants involved, but a few things bothered me during the match. From Asuka being an afterthought to Ivory’s bizarre elimination to the legends involved going out fairly easily, I was a little nonplussed at points.

I wasn’t too fussed on Nia Jax winning either…I like her, but WWE has never fully pulled the trigger on her and it’s hurt her momentum. Plus, after her dragged out run with Alexa six months ago, I’ve no real desire to see Nia on top of the Raw Women’s division again. I would have had Asuska vs Ember Moon as the last two, with Moon winning to finally get one over on Asuska and get a title shot against Ronda. That would be a fresh match and I reckon it would be excellent. I’ll give the battle royal a 2.5/5, there were a few too many things I didn’t like for me to go any higher.

Io Shirai vs. Toni Storm (2018 Mae Young Classic final)

I haven’t really followed the Mae Young Classic since the opening shows of the first round, but I did like this match. Lots of crazy moves here (the release German Suplex on the apron looked brutal) and Toni Storm is swagger personified, so this match couldn’t really fail. It did feel abbreviated though – I think it could have been done with being longer. A 3.5/5, but this could have broken 4/5 with an extra five minutes or so.

Sasha Banks, Bayley & Natalya vs. The Riott Squad

I was worried about this match going in – I’m a big fan of Sasha and Bayley and was worried that this match would be a waste of their talents.

I needn’t have worried. I love good tag team wrestling and really enjoyed this match, with the Riott Squad dominating with quick tags and sneaky teamwork, before the faces overcame them. The finish was great, with Liv Morgan taking a Natalya powerbomb, a Bayley elbow drop and a Banks frog splash in rapid succession.  I’ll go to 3.5/5 for this, it greatly exceeded my expectations and I was engrossed throughout.

 Kairi Sane (C) vs. Shayna Baszler (NXT Women’s Championship)

I loved this match until the finish – while I understand the reasoning for Baszler winning via Horsewomen interference, it seemed a shame not to have a clean finish in this match as it was excellent. The finish was a bit silly too, surely the referee should have disqualified Baszler due to such obvious interference? I guess I would have preferred  the finish if it was a NXT TV match.

The rest of the match was really good, these two have great chemistry and the little details (such as Kairi’s attempts to escape the Kirifuda Clutch) were excellent.  I think this is the point in the show where I realized how well Evolution was turning out. I’ll go 4/5 for this match, a grand match let down by a dumb finish.

Becky Lynch (C) vs. Charlotte Flair (SmackDown Women’s Championship –Last Woman Standing Match) 

This was the match I was looking forward to the most on this card and it didn’t disappoint. The intensity was great and both women took some big risks to make this math work. I know Becky has had a lot of acclaim of late, but I thought Charlotte was excellent here too. That said, I was made up Becky won – her title reign has an unpredictable feel to it and her crowd support is infectious.

I would grade this match at 4.5/5 – as good as the match was, it was let down by WWE hardcore wrestling cliches…the kendo stick under the ring, stacking chairs on top of people, jumping off ladders through announce desks. I’d probably put this match on the same level as the Ciampa v Gargano matches from NXT, both had great character work and action but were let down by a few redundant tropes.

 Ronda Rousey (C) vs. Nikki Bella (Raw Women’s Championship)

I was surprised by this match – maybe it was too long, but it was actually a pretty good match. I was expecting a quick Ronda victory, but this was actually a back and forth contest and a convincing one too. The right person won too – while I appreciate Nikki’s efforts, I didn’t want her winning the title again. I feel like The Bellas have had their day in the sun and it’s time for others to be champion. I don’t agree with how quickly WWE has made Ronda champion, but there are some great potential matches lined up for her. I’ll go 3/5 for this one – I think Becky vs Charlotte should of ended the show, but this was a good main event.

Verdict –I couldn’t have been more wrong about Evolution -it’s probably the best WWE ”main roster’ show this year. The ratings totaled 3.42/5.00 which is pretty good for a WWE show in 2018.

I think Evolution was a great showcase for the women of the WWE and proof that, if matches are given time, they can succeed. A shout out to the crowd as well – they were up for every match and super positive, which added to my enjoyment of Evolution. Pro wrestling is best enjoyed with a hot crowd and this crowd were enthusiastic about every match.

In in all, I thought Evolution was fantastic and I hope this isn’t a one off. If this event was created just to appease some of the outrage over the Saudi shows then that’s a shame – Evolution has been a positive thing for fans and the wrestlers involved.

Evolution 2

 

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Author: Gary Heneghan

I write about video games and wrestling at https://gamesandgrappling.game.blog/ and moonlight as the The Hopeful Sega Mage at https://thewellredmage.com/

2 thoughts on “Gary watches…WWE Evolution”

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