It’s fitting that, on the night of WWE’s first-ever all-women pay-per-view Evolution, one of the feature matches is a rematch.
Not just from a cynical point of view where WWE always leans on the champion’s contractual rematch as a trope to stretch feuds out and seemingly would prefer to focus all of their storytelling energies currently on the Saudi blood money spectacular that is Crown Jewel as opposed to the event the week before that will actually go down as a positive in the history books no matter how cackhandedly they build it, but also legitimately.
Women’s wrestling has had a long and rocky road in WWE, but this most recent revival can be fairly safely divided into three phases. First, the women of NXT, lead by Emma, Paige, and the Four Horsewomen (WWE edition), pioneered a more exciting style divorced from Diva-era matches full of hair pulls and catfighting and established themselves as the equals of the men’s roster.
Then, after most of those women were called up in the summer of 2015, the so-called women’s revolution kicked into gear on the main roster— sure, they were initially tossed into nonsensical factions and it was kind of a mess, but match quality steadily improved, stories gradually rose to the level where they were (for better or worse) the same quality of the men’s stories, the wave of historic first-time women’s gimmick matches began swelling in the harbor, and eventually the Divas branding was finally tossed out the window with the reintroduction of the WWE Women’s Championship.
And now, as the branding has shifted to women’s evolution (hence the title of the PPV!), we can point to last year’s inaugural Mae Young Classic as the latest fulcrum, heralding a shift in scouting and hiring practices for the women where top indie and international women are being brought in for showcase matches and signed to contracts at roughly the same rate as their male counterparts.
So, on the first-ever all-women WWE PPV, what could be more fitting than a rematch of the finals to that tournament?
Beware of the Queen of Spades
Since losing the NXT Women’s Championship to Kairi Sane at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn 4, Shayna Baszler has become increasingly unhinged.
Sure, she always had a hair-trigger temper and a willingness to break bones and dislocate joints in the quest to hold and then to retain the title, and that hasn’t changed, but she’s managed to find another level of intensity as she destroys arms on her way to her rematch, leaving Violet Payne and Britt Baker destroyed even worse than she did Dakota Kai. That might not even be the disturbing part, however, compared to the dedication with which she’s set herself to training for tomorrow night.
Shayna blames her loss to Sane in Brooklyn not on the Stardom vet’s sheer talent, but on her own personal mistakes. To try and rectify this, she’s set up a full-blown MMA-style training camp for herself, holing up with fellow Four Horsewomen (MMA edition) Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir, relentlessly honing her edge, trying to sharpen out the impurity, unconcerned with how much metal she may have to take off the blade in order to be rid of it.
Kairi, for her part, has remained cool and confident, fending her challenger off in brawls and claiming she’ll beat Baszler in the rematch in interviews.
Her black widow’s curse might find you yet
So let’s take a look at the numbers, shall we? Both women have similar records in straight singles matches on WWE TV, with Baszler going 14-3 and Sane at 17-2. But where one of Kairi’s losses came at Shayna’s hand, the Pirate Princess is up two on the Queen of Spades. This statistic is even more telling when you consider that the one match where Baszler beat Sane was the one with nothing on the line.
And where Sane’s other loss came to Lacey Evans by way of a right hand outta nowhere, the other loss on Baszler’s record is Ember Moon snatching victory from the jaws of defeat at NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia, reversing a cross armbar into a folding press despite nearly ten minutes of arm-targeting destruction beforehand.
Now, history doesn’t dictate the future, but what’s past is prologue, and what that says to me is that the Kairi has a much better chance to fight from underneath and still pull out the victory and retain her title than Shayna does of getting the kind of lucky shot in on the champ that seems likely to bring about the end of her reign.
Unless, of course, that training camp really has sharpened the steel without too much material lost in the process.
Can the Pirate Princess keep her ten pounds of gold locked up safe with the rest of her booty or will the Queen of Spades reclaim her prize?
Who will win?
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