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WWE Evolution 2018
by Scrooge McSuck
- Presented on the WWE Network on October 28th, 2018 from the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, NY, IT'S THE FIRST EVER ALL-WOMEN'S PPV (except for the few times David McLane did it, TNA's All Knockouts shows, and the dozens of border-line softcore porn "wrestling" shows over the years, among others. No, WWE didn't say "first WWE women's only PPV", they've blatantly said "women's PPV" in general) and with a sell-out crowd of about 11,000 in attendance (don't be too impressed, tickets in the days leading into the show were on sale for as a low as $7). I have a bad feeling I'm just going to bash this show from beginning to end, but there's at least three matches I'm genuinely interested in.
- Michael Cole, Renee Young, and Beth Phoenix are Vince McMahon's three avatars for the evening. We're TRAILBLAZING with not one but TWO women calling the show (based on the Mae Young Season 2 commentary, we're not going to get much more than Cole talking over Renee's useless tidbits and Beth saying very little). No kickoff matches, and there's a chance this show only runs three hours, which makes me a lot happier committing to recapping this show.
Trish Stratus & Lita vs. Mickie James & Alicia Fox (w/ Alexa Bliss):
Lilian Garcia is doing ring introductions for this one and the Battle Royal. Bliss was originally advertised for the match, but a lingering injury ruled her out a few days before the day of the show, with Alicia Fox taking her spot. I guess she's the Savio Vega to Bliss' Shawn Michaels as far as name value to the card is concerned. Mickie and Lita start. Lockup into the corner and Lita decks her with a right hand. Whip to the ropes and Lita busts out a spinning head-scissors. Fox (and her awful wig) get pulled in and tossed across the ring. Trish comes in to assist Lita for some Poetry in Motion. Trish has her way with Fox, then wants some of Mickie James for old time's sake. Mickie with some violent finger pointing leads into an exchange of forearms that goes in Trish's favor. Double reversal to the ropes and Trish with the Thesz Press. Mickie surprises her with a kick in the corner. Trish tries the handspring head-scissors, but Mickie blocks, minus the crude gesture. Trish gets the better of a slug-fest and takes Mickie down with a Franken-Steiner for two. Team Bestie tease tope's, but the Bliss Battalion threaten to walk. Back inside, Lita teases a moonsault, but Bliss sneaks in to sweep her off the ropes. Lita escapes a chin-lock but takes a boot to the face. Trish comes in to help Lita out, but the comeback is quickly cut short with a neck breaker for a near-fall. Fox with a Northern Lights Suplex for two. Lita with a reverse DDT and tag to Trish. She runs wild on Mickie with right hands, a pair of headlock takeovers, and a sit-out spine-buster for two. Mickie with a low kick and rolling school boy for two. Trish with the Stratusfaction… and Fox mis-times breaking the fall, so everyone looks like an idiot. Lita with a DDT on Fox, Moonsault to both, and the Chick-Kick finishes Mickie at 11:04. Aside from the awful, AWFUL botch at the end, this was a decent nostalgia act, and to the surprise of nobody, everyone was working hard. **3/4
Women's Battle Royal:
(Participants: Naomi, Michelle McCool, Sonya Deville, Alundra Blayze, Carmella, Zelina Vega, Kelly Kelly, Tamina, Ember Moon, Lana, Maria Kanellis, Mandy Rose, Molly Holly, Dana Brooke, Nia Jax, Ivory, Asuka, Torrie Wilson, Peyton Royce and Billie Kay)
It's your typical "get everyone on the show" match because we had to find spots on the card for the part-timers and retirees. Kay and Royce cut a pre-match promo that guarantees they'll be eliminated within seconds of the match starting. Sure enough, they're ganged up on and tossed at 0:11 by the "old-timers" that includes 31-year old Kelly Kelly. Mandy and Sonya toss Molly at 1:35 after a failed attempt at a head-scissors/headlock combo. They take care of Kelly Kelly next, at 2:09. Torrie goes after Sonya but she's the next victim at 2:50, then Mandy eliminates Sonya at 2:59. Asuka and Naomi go after Blayze in on of those "we'd never see that" spots. Jax eliminates Alundra at 3:36. Maria tries her luck but Tamina makes the save for Nia. Maria busts out a Bronco Buster to set the women back a few years, then gets dumped by Nia at 4:26. Tamina runs wild as people casually roll out of the ring and into the corners for the Tamina/Jax confrontation that was surprisingly awesome at Survivor Series. Lana tries to take both on and they no-sell her before dumping her out at 5:55. About a dozen women pile in for the world's largest suplex spot. Carmella returns to have a DANCE BREAK. Ivory isn't impressed and does her own dancing. Mandy from behind but Carmella tosses her at 7:47. Moon suplexes Dana Brooke out at 8:18. Moon blocks a Powerbomb and back-drops McCool out at 9:09. Tamina launches Naomi out at 9:36. Ivory surprises Asuka with an X-Factor but doesn't eliminate her. Moon and Carmella botch something that I can't even describe. Charge to the corner and Carmella is back-dropped out at 10:30. Ivory fights off Tamina and hits a flying body press. Too bad pin-falls don't count. Asuka from behind to knock Ivory to the apron and a running hip attack finishes her at 11:35. Asuka and Ember Moon rekindle their NXT rivalry, with Moon tossing Asuka at 12:21 to finally redeem herself. Tamina with a swinging uranage on Moon and Super-Kick to Nia. Moon with the Eclipse on Tamina before tossing her at 13:34, leaving herself and Nia Jax. Moon fights back from the apron and uses a head-scissors to pull Jax out, but ZELINA VEGA is still in this and dumps both… to the apron. Jax tosses her clean over the top onto Tamina at 15:46. Moon recovers, hitting Jax with a dropkick and clotheslines. Jax comes back with a spine-buster and tosses Moon at 16:26 for the victory. I'm surprised, usually the large "odds on favorite" NEVER wins. Decent for a Battle Royal. The crowd was surprisingly into most of it.
2nd Annual Mae Young Classic Tournament Finals:
Toni Storm vs. Io Shirai:
Kayla Braxton has assumed ring introduction duties for the next few matches. Storm defeated Jinny, Hiroyo Matsumoto, Mia Yim, and Meiko Satomura (as well as going to the Semi-Finals last years), while Shirai defeated Xia Brookside, Zeuxis, Deoona Purrazzo, and Rhea Ripley to get here. Lockup and Storm grabs a side headlock. Shirai counters and they fight over a wrist-lock. Storm with a takeover and Shirai with a head-scissors. Storm escapes and offers another handshake. Storm escapes a wrist-lock with a combination of slaps and basement dropkick for our first pin-attempt of the match. Shirai with a pair of handsprings and a dropkick. She drives a knee into the midsection and hooks both arms for a modified Octopus hold. Storm rolls through, but Shirai keeps with her, forcing Storm to get to the ropes to force a break. Storm avoids a charge into the corner and folds Shirai over with a release German suplex. Storm with a running hip attack. Shirai surprises her on the top turnbuckle, knocking her to the floor with a springboard dropkick. Shirai follows, leaping to the top rope and crashing down with a moonsault. They fight for position on the apron, with Storm blasting Shirai with a headbutt and slamming her onto the apron with another German suplex. Back inside, Storm covers for two. Shirai makes her comeback but is turned inside out with a clothesline. Storm with a Tiger Driver for two (seriously, how many of her moves are called Storm Zero?). Shirai hangs Storm across the top rope and quickly follows with a 6-1-9 and springboard sunset flip for two. Shirai with the double knees in the corner. She takes too long going to the top rope and the moonsault meets knees. Storm with another Tiger Driver, and that gets the three-count at 10:08. Surprisingly short match and lacked much crowd heat. That's not meant to take away from the work, it was good for the time allotted, but it didn't have a chance to find the next level. ***1/2
Bayley, Sasha Banks, and Natalya vs. The Riott Squad:
I guess the Riott Squad (Liv Morgan, Ruby Riott, and Sarah Logan) all came out with Horror inspired gear, but damn if I didn't notice any of them other than Logan's subtle Leatherface. I can't tell whether Sasha has her "jobbing" face on or not. Seems leaning towards "yes." Natalya and Morgan start. Lockup to the corner and Morgan with a slap. She mocks Natalya and gets a slap in return. Sasha in to hit Morgan with the Hart Attack. Logan hits Sasha with a dropkick. Sasha with her own dropkick that has a good 6-8 inches between contact. Bayley comes in with a running high knee and Sasha adds double knees in the corner. Bayley hangs Logan across the middle rope, knocking her to the floor, and hits a baseball slide around the post. Riott with a distraction, allowing Logan to sandwich Bayley against the post. Morgan works the arm, and disappointingly doesn't show off a blue tongue tonight. Not the most impressive example of cutting the ring off and doing much of interest. Bayley launches Logan onto the turnbuckle, but the tag is cut-off. Bayley fights out of the Riott Squad corner but gets tripped up from the floor. We tease another hot tag spot that doesn't come to fruition. Sasha finally gets the hot tag, running wild on Ruby. Sasha with the double knees for two. Riott fights off the Back Stabber but is caught with a crucifix cradle for two. Bayley with the blind tag and the Back Stabber/Bayley-to-Belly only gets two thanks to a save from Morgan. Sasha with a butt-ugly somersault that gets caught (and quite easily in the world of reality) and she's slammed into the security wall for a near-fall. Modified Doomsday Device on Sasha, but Natalya saves her from a pin attempt. Bayley covers Sasha for protection, but Riott hits both with a senton that only gets two. Natalya with the hot tag, hitting Logan with a clothesline and German suplex. She stacks Logan and Riott up for a Double Sharpshooter, but Morgan saves with a knee to the face for two. Natalya, Bayley, and Sasha quickly make the trio comeback, wiping out Morgan with a flying elbow and Frog Splash for the victory at 13:35. Perfectly acceptable wrestling, but the pacing could've been sped up to keep me engaged. The Riott Squad have to win a meaningful match eventually, right? **1/2
NXT Women's Championship Match:
Kairi Sane (c) vs. Shayna Baszler:
Sane won the Championship at Takeover: Brooklyn IV (The Quest for Peace) and also defeated Shayna in the 1st Annual Mae Young Championship Finals, so something has to give. How many times are they going to switch back-and-forth with Kairi's theme music?! Kairi grabs a waist-lock but doesn't get very far with it. Lockup into the corner and Baszler with a low kick to knock Kairi off her feet. She misses a charge and Kairi returns the favor. They go through a quick series of blocks and counters. Kairi avoids the rear choke, hitting Baszler with a jaw breaker, and following with the sliding forearm. She follows Baszler to the floor and decks her with a big chop. Baszler counters a second sliding forearm and tosses Kairi into the steps. Back inside, Baszler with a pair of knees to the face, followed by a gut-wrench slam for two. JOINT MANIPULATION! She stomps the twisted hand to get some heel heat. Kairi with a surprise roll-up for two. Baszler remains in control, snapping back the arm of the Champion. Kairi tries trading blows, but Baszler wins that battle. Baszler meets Kairi in the ropes with a high knee but is quickly stunned with a back-hand. Kairi tries to fold Baszler over with a Boston Crab, but Baszler counters and goes back to the hand. Whip to the corner and Kairi with the Spear. She marches into the corner, hits Baszler with a shoulder to the midsection, and bounces off the ropes with a neck breaker for two. Kairi positions Baszler with an Alabama Slam, but she pops right up and lifts Kairi off the apron with the arm-bar. Kairi counters a suplex with a DDT. Baszler rolls out of the ring to avoid the Insane Elbow, but Kairi follows her out with a flying body press! Baszler recovers first but gets dumped into the crowd into the hands of her Four Horsewomen pals. Jessamyn Duke grabs her by the hair, but Sane levels her with a back-hand. Back inside, Marina Shafir with another distraction that buys Baszler time to recover and hook the Kirifuda Clutch. Sane counters, but this time it only gets two. Sane with an O'Conner Roll. Baszler kicks her off, into a roundhouse from Duke, and she hooks the Kirifuda Clutch a second time for the victory at 12:29, making her the first-ever 2-time NXT Women's Champion. Over-booked enough at the end to not feel over-booked, if that makes sense. Probably Baszler's best match in her run (so far). ***3/4
WWE Smackdown Women's Championship, Last Woman Standing Match:
Becky Lynch (c) vs. Charlotte Flair:
JoJo is finishing the night up for ring intro duties. I can't think of any other storyline in recent memory where the heel, in the eyes of the WWE story-telling, is the beloved face who is doing everything with complete justification, and the fans are the ones being told they're making up their own story and are wrong in their thought process. Cole notes in their 11 head-to-head meetings, the record is a convenient 5-5-1. Somehow, I feel like Charlotte scored more than 5 based on her reign as Divas Champion leading into WrestleMania 32 alone. Flair shoves Becky on her butt and referee Mike Chioda starts counting. Crisscross and Becky with a diving forearm, followed by a leg drop. She mocks the "Flair strut" (I thought it was the Fargo strut) and drops another leg. Charlotte flips to the apron and drives a shoulder into the midsection. Becky interrupts her ascension to the top rope, slamming her off in typical Flair style. Becky with an exploder suplex into the corner. Flair avoids a dive from the top and lays Becky out with a boot (to a chorus of boos) for a 5-count. Becky whips out a kendo stick and treats Charlotte like a Pinata with it. Charlotte goes all No Mercy on N64, blocking a strike, but Becky boots her down and looks for more toys, ultimately producing a chair. Meanwhile, Charlotte tosses her own chair into the ring, and they add to the pile to draw an ECW chant from fans who likely weren't watching when ECW was still a thing almost 18-years ago. Charlotte tries to one-up Becky by producing a table, so Becky decks her with a diving forearm. Charlotte quickly recovers, tossing Becky with her own exploder suplex. Becky with repeated chair shots across the back.
Back inside, Becky stacks a pile of chairs. Charlotte fights off an Exploder and instead drops Becky's head onto the pile with a back suplex. Charlotte tosses another table into the ring but is knocked to the floor with a springboard boot to the chest. Back inside, Becky with a spinning super-kick to the midsection and a uranage onto the pile of chairs. Becky climbs the ropes, but Charlotte knocks her down and stomps to more boos. She lays Becky across the table and hits a moonsault, but the table doesn't break. Charlotte sets the table up again, and this time comes off the top with a Swanton Bomb to break the thing. Both get to their feet at 9 and quickly fall back down. Here's a ladder to give us an unofficial TLC Match. Props to the ladder for standing up without being properly positioned. Becky with a slam across the ladder. Charlotte counters a second attempt, clipping the knee and using the ladder to punish the leg, including an assisted Figure-Eight. Becky taps, but that doesn't matter. Becky gets a chair (thanks to the assist of the referee kicking it) and bops Charlotte to break the hold. To the floor, Becky gives Charlotte a taste of the steps and ring post. Becky tries taking off with her title, but Charlotte runs her down and lays into her with chops. Charlotte tosses her over the barricade and undresses the German commentary table. Becky decks her with the Women's Title as she wastes time setting up a ladder. Becky sets her across the table and comes off the top of the ladder with a guillotine leg drop. I honestly expected Charlotte to move. Becky uses the ladder to prop herself up while Charlotte climbs out of the wreckage. Becky pounds away and buries her underneath chairs and broken pieces of table. Charlotte does her best Braun Strowman impression and fights to her feet. Charlotte pummels Becky with the kendo stick and hits her with a Spear. She lays Becky across the table and climbs the ropes for a moonsault, but Lynch recovers and Powerbombs her off the ropes, through the table, and that finally keeps her down for the 10-count at 28:41 (despite being "on her feet" enough that broke the last few teased finishes). I applaud them trying to get the crowd to turn on Becky, but it's not happening. Great match that gave us a much-needed "clean" finish (as in "no tie"). ****1/4
WWE Raw Women's Championship Match:
Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Nikki Bella (w/ Brie Bella):
I have a horrible feeling we're getting a screw-job finish to put Nikki Bella over tonight, but who is the mastermind, and why will it be Stephanie McMahon? Lockup and Rousey with a takedown. Rousey toys with her, offering to help her up. Rousey with another throw and more mercy shown. Nikki goes for the leg, but Rousey easily counters. Isn't Ronda supposed to be the babyface? Brie with a distraction on the floor, allowing Nikki to send Rousey into the post. Brie gives her second helpings as the referee flirts with Nikki in the ring. Back inside, Nikki works a chin-lock. They take it to the floor again, with Nikki throwing Ronda into the barricade. Rousey fights out of a head-scissors but takes another cheap-shot from Brie. Rousey tastes the post a third time. Nikki with an abdominal stretch that somehow impresses Beth Phoenix. Rousey escapes by dumping Nikki on her head. Nikki elbows her charging into the corner and hits a Disaster Kick for two. The crowd does a 50/50 split chant for this, because making Ronda sell this much is a great idea. Nikki takes advantage of another distraction, but Ronda fights out of a Super-Plex and coms off the top, missing a flying body press. Nikki misses a baseball slide and sells the neck. Rousey blocks a kick, sweeps the leg and scoops Nikki up. Brie tries to save and gets brought in on her shoulders too for a Super-Sized Twisting Samoan Drop. Rousey with strikes in the corner, a throw, and more mounted strikes. Ronda with a sloppy throw from the corner after calling the spot loud enough for half the arena to hear her. Ronda finally has enough of Brie and tosses her over the commentary table. Back inside, Nikki with the Alabama Sam from out of nowhere for two. Nikki with the Rack Attack (2.0) for two. Rousey catches her on the top rope with a nasty throw and hooks the arm-bar for the victory at 14:10. Fine work and they clearly went into great lengths of mapping the match out, but I don't buy Ronda selling this much being a good way to keep her value up, regardless of the niche fanbase the Bellas have because of a cable TV reality show watched weekly by half-a-million people. ***
Final Thoughts: This build-up for the show was poor, but everything delivered at reasonable levels of expectations. Only one "great" match, but all the key matches are worth checking out and the worst match would still be considered "good" under normal circumstances. It wasn't a blow-away show by any stretch of the imagination, but is strangely one of the better shows WWE has put on in 2018 (keeping the run length at a sane level probably helps, as well as a crowd that wasn't overly obnoxious).
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