Here’s my final thoughts on NXT, Raw, and SmackDown Live’s WWE Evolution 2018!
Trish Stratus and Lita vs. Mickie James and Alicia Fox (with Alexa Bliss)
Reactions: This is exactly what I expected it to be – a “greatest hits” presentation of two WWE lady legends. James and Fox were put in place here to play the part of crash dummies for their opponents. The match overall was pretty basic and by-the-numbers, to be honest. Trish and Lita started out hot, Bliss’ duo finally got in some offense, then the babyface Hall of Famers made a comeback. Nothing shocking there. It was what it was. It’s the type of match that’s pure house show material – non-offensive, but nothing extraordinary by any means.
Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars
Alundra Blayze vs. Asuka vs. Billie Kay vs. Carmella vs. Dana Brooke vs. Ember Moon vs. Ivory vs. Kelly Kelly vs. Lana vs. Mandy Rose vs. Maria Kanellis vs. Michelle McCool vs. Molly Holly vs. Naomi vs. Nia Jax vs. Peyton Royce vs. Sonya Deville vs. Tamina vs. Torrie Wilson vs. Zelina Vega (Historic Women’s Battle Royal for a Future Women’s Championship Opportunity)
Reactions: This was pretty fun. This Battle Royal featured the past, present, and future stars of WWE’s Women’s Division and let them run wild. The Iiconics promo at the very start provided a quick burst of humor, the random dance break featuring Carmella and Ivory gave the crowd something else to cackle at, and the rest of the pack fought hard all the while. And how about that multi-women suplex spot?
Asuka and Naomi worked well together, plus Tamina and Nia Jax looked strong as a Samoan unit. Ember Moon looked great out there as well and looked close to victory near the match’s closing moments. Jax was the heavy favorite here and she made sure to please everyone who placed their bets on her. I enjoyed this a little bit more than I thought I would (that’s probably because Ivory, Alundra Blayze, and Molly Holly were in there. I love them!).
Rating: 2 & a Half out of 5 Stars
Toni Storm vs. Io Shirai (Mae Young Classic 2018 Finals)
Reactions: Well, I was clearly wrong! I thought Io Shirai was a surefire pick for the winning spot here, but Toni Storm ended up shocking me by getting the Finals victory. And it came at the conclusion of a good matchup between two uber-talented lady performers.
Both women hit hard and delivered some gasp-worthy moments, like Storm’s German Suplex on the apron spot and Io’s impressive high-flying offense. I’m not shocked by the fact by this bout delivered on its promise of providing quality women’s in-ring action. I’m just shocked by the winner! Congrats to both women for putting on a hot contest and getting to show their all on WWE’s main stage.
Rating: 3 & a Half out of 5 Stars
Sasha Banks, Bayley and Natalya vs. The Riott Squad (Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, and Sarah Logan) (6-Woman Tag Team Match)
Reactions: I’m not gonna sit here and say I was excited to see this match. Watching all combinations of The Riott Squad vs. any three ladies from the babyface Raw squad got real old real fast. This was another case of that, which caused me to be a bit down on this bout before it even took place. But it actually ended up being good after all. Now mind you, there were some noticeably messy spots strewn throughout. So I’d have to knock off an extra point due to those errors.
But the match still managed to bring out the best in all six ladies. There was even a bit of storytelling put in place here to continue the “friend or still foe?” dynamic between Bayley and Sasha Banks. The Riott Squad looked pretty strong here as they got a lot of time to work their in-ring stablemate magic. Banks, Bayley, and Natalya also made sure to look good against their stable foes with some equally impressive team offense. This one was an entertaining slow burner, but was still marred by some key moments being a tad off in actual execution.
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Kairi Sane (c) vs. Shayna Baszler (NXT Women’s Championship)
Reactions: This one was turning into your usual classic NXT TakeOver matchup…but then it adopted the lame element of interference. Before all of that outside madness came into play, Kairi Sane and Shayna Baszler were representing their developmental brand in the best way possible – through sheer will, determination, and great in-ring work. Baszler brutalized Sane’s arm for a good while, while Sane battled back with quick strikes and her own submission work. There was even an extra brutal moment within this match that saw Baszler grab hold of Sane’s arm while she was dangling off the ring apron!
After Sane came flying off the top rope onto Baszler on the outside, the unwanted shenanigans began. Baszler’s fellow MMA and now NXT trainees stepped in to throw Sane off her game, which was pretty lame to be honest. Because of all that outside interference, Sane ended up getting choked out. And that’s how Sane’s reign came to an end – via (unnecessary) illegal stable tactics. What could have been great here just ended up being good. For an NXT Title match, that’s kind of a letdown.
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Becky Lynch (c) vs. Charlotte Flair (Last Woman Standing Match for the WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship)
Reactions: THE TRUE MAIN EVENT OF EVOLUTION! For such a hot feud featuring two of WWE’s best women’s athletes, this match ended up perfectly encapsulating Becky Lynch and Charlotte’s greatness. What we got here was an intense LWS match that featured everything (but the kitchen sink, of course). Lynch’s cocky, egocentric demeanor made her the clear favorite of this bout. But Charlotte ended up garnering some support from the audience as she got extra hardcore with her former best friend. The element of intense hatred shared between both women pushed this one to extreme levels, which was needed. Props to Charlotte for fixing her moonsault through a table spot and getting the crowd back into the match with a sick Senton Bomb.
There were a ton of other great moment to recall here – Charlotte’s ladder assisted Figure Eight Leglock, Lynch crashing through Charlotte on an announce table, Charlotte and Lynch brawling in the crowd, Charlotte spearing Lynch after she hyped herself up etc. The finish was the best moment of all though – Lynch recovered in time to viciously Powerbomb Charlotte through a table. This match got the extra runtime it deserved and fulfilled its promise of giving everyone an amazing match. Lynch and Charlotte have officially attained women’s wrestling GOAT status. Please watch this one if you somehow missed it the first time around!
Rating: 4 & a Half out of 5 Stars
Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Nikki Bella (with Brie Bella) (WWE Raw Women’s Championship)
Reactions: Well…color me surprised. This ended up being pretty good. Not better than the match that took place before it mind you, but still good nonetheless. Ronda damn near killed herself to make this one work (peep her going full force into the steel pillar on the outside). All that fine selling from Rousey did enough to make it seem like Nikki actually had a chance at beating her.
The use of extra shenanigans added some oomph to this one, plus the closing moments of it made the crowd truly come alive. I hate the Bella’s with passion, but I have to give credit where credit is due. They weren’t as botchy and terrible as they usually are. Ronda kicked all the asses tonight during a surprisingly good main event!
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Match of the Night
Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair!
Thanks to the great performances from tonight’s first-ever all women’s WWE PPV, Evolution will definitely get a sequel! Expectations were set pretty low coming in due to a less than stellar buildup to this event, but the show itself delivered in spades. We got a fun battle royal, the appearance of several lady legends, good to great bouts from some lesser known female talent, a solid 6-woman tag, an incredible LWS title match, and a shockingly good main event. WWE Evolution currently stands as one of the best WWE Network exclusives (and wrestling events, period) of 2018.
Final Score: 4 out of 5 Stars