Choad’s Review of WWE Evolution
*SPOILERS FOR WWE EVOLUTION BELOW*
Growing up in the middle of nowhere (Northern Minnesota), one of my favorite memories was watching WWF (now WWE) Superstars on Saturday mornings. Even though it was all squash matches against jobbers, it was wrasslin'!
But there were never any women's matches. Were girls just too delicate for pro wrasslin'? Of course not. They just weren't being marketed. Women kick a**, too! And last night, women were FINALLY center stage for an entire pay-per-view (PPV)! So being a typical man, I've rated the matches (on a scale of one to four stars)!
WWE Evolution: The First-Ever All-Women Pro Wrestling PPV!
The open was frustrating to watch. Whenever a wrasslin' event goes to air, the cameras pan around the crowd while the announcers set the stage for the night. For WWE: Evolution, the cameras were panning, but the announcers could barely be heard. Before the opening cut to the event kickoff, a voice saying that the microphones couldn't be heard (probably from a production technician) aired. I was hoping it wasn't a foreshadow of things to come. One Star for the bad omen.
The cameras cut to the ring, where world-renowned hard rock guitarist Nita Strauss dove into some hot riffs. Lzzy Hale of Halestorm then joined her from the wrestler's entrance area to bolt into a track I'm pretty sure was called "Evolution". It'd make sense. It rocked. Four Stars because Lzzy didn't lip sync and Strauss didn't fake shred.
Trish Stratus & Lita vs Mickie James & Alicia Fox
Stratus & Lita are both WWE Hall-of-Famers, while James & Fox are current superstars of the WWE roster. Alexa Bliss was supposed to be James' partner but suffered an injury prior. Bliss is a perfect pro wrestling heel; she's funny, expressive, and a jerk. The match itself was well done until the end, when Fox was supposed to 'save' James from a pinfall, but Fox was late. The camera actually showed Mickie James with eyes wide open yelling at Fox to get over to her. The referee stopped short of a three-count without James' shoulders leaving the mat. That's what's called a botch. It was a shame that the opening match suffered a big botch like that. The HOFers were victorious in the end, which felt right. Also: I <3 Lita. Two Stars because of the wretched botch.
Women's Battle Royale
How do you cram as many superstars as possible into one event? Schedule a battle royale! Up the stakes with a guaranteed title-shot to the winner. Screw it up by giving the victory to the woman that's not being cheered by the crowd. Nia Jax is a former champ whose title reign was cut short far too early. Ember Moon is a rising star in the company with electric charisma. Jax outlasted 20 other former, current, and future WWE stars for the victory and the guaranteed title shot. Meh. Two Stars for predictability.
2018 Mae Young Classic Finale: Toni Storm vs Io Shirai
This was an amazing match. Two up-and-coming performers on a big stage (or...ring) put on a dazzling show. Storm came out victorious. Four Stars for a great performance from both.
Sasha Banks, Bayley & Natalya vs The Riott Squad
Full Disclosure: I have a huge crush on Sarah Logan of The Riott Squad. I don't care if The Riott Squad are heels. Swoon.
This was a well-executed match. Near-falls, unexpected reversals, and a furious comeback at the end. Banks, Bayley, & Natalya got the victory. However, all six women put on a Four Star performance.
Shayna Baszler vs Kairi Sane (NXT Women's Championship Match)
FINALLY. A championship match! I knew very little about these two. I knew that Baszler is a former MMA fighter/bada**. Sane's gimmick is...The Pirate Princess. Ooookay?
Gimmicks aside, it was a brutal (the good brutal) match to watch. Baszler treated Sane like a rag doll. Sane made some fantastic comebacks. Baszler was the beneficiary of outside interference from a couple of MMA friends.
The classic pro wrestling trope The Distracted Referee needs to be eliminated forever. It's so overdone and just doesn't work with today's wrestling. Baszler gets the victory after the referee gets "distracted". This could've been another four star match, but using a tired trope that leads directly to the end of the match knocks it down a notch. Three Stars.
SmackDown Women’s Champion Becky Lynch vs Charlotte Flair (Last Woman Standing Title Match)
Becky "The Irish Lasskicker" Lynch's heel-turn had been wrecked by WWE. When she turned, she seemed like the anti-hero (think Deadpool). Then WWE turned her into a closet champion, which is an insult to her talent. She tried to run away midway through this Last Woman Standing match (a Last Woman Standing match where the winner is able to incapacitate their opponent for a ten count). Charlotte Flair (wrestling icon Ric Flair's daughter) put on a great performance, but...I don't like her character. It feels like the ol' given-everything-because-of-her-father's-legacy bit overshadows her talent. And even the crowd booed the babyface Flair and cheered the heel Lynch. When Lynch finished off Flair to win the match, the crowd popped. Kudos to both performers for a great back-and-forth match. Four Stars because Becky won (swoon again!).
Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey vs Nikki Bella
This was a match that could've set women's wrestling back a decade. When WWE finally started promoting women's wrestling in 1993, it was a big step in the right direction. Then, they started promoting the sex appeal more than the talent of these women (the Divas Era), and thus the women's division became more of a novelty than real sports entertainment. Current Monday Night Raw Women's Champion/former MMA bada** Ronda Rousey took on former Divas Champion Nikki Bella. Bella's entrance is all about the sex appeal, despite possessing wrestling talent. If Bella were to win this match over a former MMA legend, I really believe that it would send a message that T & A beats talent. It was an entertaining match, and fortunately Rousey won to retain her title. Four Stars for an unexpectedly competitive/entertaining match.
Overall, the PPV felt like WWE was using its B Squad for production. Production seemed clunky and out of sync, and the announcers were boring. The women more than made up for the bad production. Well done to all of the performers, and hopefully this becomes a yearly (and better-produced) tradition!