As stated before, I wasn’t happy with the build to Evolution, but the show itself was mostly good.
Trish Stratus and Lita vs. Alicia Fox and Mickie James
This was fine. It was a nothing match. No stakes, a couple of messy spots, but not a disaster. Sure, it pops the crowd to see Stratus and Lita in the ring again, and they fared better than other legends brought in for a nostalgia match, but it wasn’t my favorite if only because I have zero to little investment in those two (as someone who watched WWE before and after their tenures), and Fox and James bump like wild but rarely get a win. Tonight was no exception.
20 Woman Battle Royal
As a battle royal, it was okay. Nearly all of the legends were tossed out right from the start. Kudos to Alundra Blayze for knowing where hardcam was and soaking in it. It had the (now required) spot where someone who rolled out of the ring early in the match makes a sudden re-appearance at the end of the match, and it was the tiny Zelina Vega attempting to toss out Nia Jax and Ember Moon before Nia overhead presses her and throws her at Tamina Snuka on the outside of the ring. Nia gets the victory and that’s a good pick, though I would’ve preferred Ember.
Mae Young Classic Finals – Toni Storm vs. Io Shirai
The match was shorter than I would’ve liked, but it was still fun. Storm and Shirai are both incredible wrestlers, so there was no wrong choice here, but Storm got the victory. I’m looking forward to seeing a lot more of them in NXT.
Bayley, Natalya, and Sasha Banks vs. The Riott Squad
Bayley and Sasha Banks were out here to remind everyone just how absolutely awesome they are when they’re let off the leash a little bit. There were some excellent tag team spots from all of the competitors, and it was infinitely better than the matches they’ve had on Raw recently. Banks pinned Morgan for a victory after a powerbomb by Natalya, an elbow drop by Bayley, and a frog splash by Banks.
NXT Women’s Champion Kairi Sane vs. Shayna Baszler for the NXT Women’s Championship
As I said earlier this week, another great match from Sane and Baszler, with a small tweak. Baszler did some real nasty spots working Sane’s arm, which isn’t new to her repertoire but mean looking nonetheless. This time around, Baszler’s MMA girl squad were ringside and interfered after Sane threw Baszler at them. There was a bit of ref blindness as Sane was attacked three times before Baszler locked in the Kirifuda Clutch for a victory. I can’t tell if this makes Sane look like a stronger competitor or Baszler look like a weaker champion but this locks Baszler in NXT for a while longer and frees up Sane for an upwards (or is it sideways?) move to Raw or Smackdown.
Smackdown Women’s Champion Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair for the Smackdown Women’s Championship in a Last Woman Standing Match
Holy hell, this is why we got Evolution. Lynch and Flair are both incredible, they’ve been incredible for years, and they took each other to hell and back. Though this isn’t the first WWE Last Woman Standing match (I guess commentary are pretending NXT, who did Asuka vs. Nikki Cross Last Woman Standing, doesn’t count), it definitely set a high bar for any future Last Woman Standing matches. After beating each other with kendo sticks, chairs, ladders, tables, the Smackdown Women’s Championship belt, and (of course) the commentary table, Lynch throws Flair off the top rope onto her back through a ringside table, and Flair fails to get to her feet before the 10 count. This match mattered and both women fought like it mattered and it was amazing.
Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey vs. Nikki Bella for the Raw Women’s Championship
This should not have had to follow the Last Woman Standing match. Everyone knew this would be the main event, but did anyone booking this think that it’d be a better match? Rousey judo-threw Nikki left and right before Brie Bella (ringside) interfered to give Nikki an opening. Nikki put in some offense before we went back to the judo throws and, finally, an arm bar. Every Rousey match could be summed up as “judo throws, selling, judo throws, arm bar”. It gave us nothing new and it was mercifully short.
This was a good WWE show, with the six woman tag match and the Last Woman Standing match taking a clear spotlight. I did notice that production on it was a lot less stable than usual, with some obvious hiccups and lower value, such as the ringside barriers being the cheap stuff they use at house shows, and the apron being a normal cloth apron and not the LED boards they use on Raw and other PPVs. I obviously wasn’t into Rousey vs. Bella but the rest of the card was fun. I hope WWE makes this an annual event, but I want even more for it to be booked properly, given an appropriate build up, and an A-team for production. Now excuse me while I ignore main roster WWE until after Crown Jewel. When’s Survivor Series?