Evolution always makes me think of Pokemon (take that, Darwin!) and this show was essentially a mega evolution. Let’s break down an awesome night of wrestling.
A Wrestling Clinic
There was that report earlier this week that Ronda Rousey and Nikki Bella had been practicing their match to prepare to main event Evolution.
Guess what? Practice definitely makes perfect.
I want to highlight a couple of things that stood out to me. First of all, the works of villainy from the Bella Twins throughout the match were a work of art. Rousey demolished Nikki Bella for the first minute or so of the match. Three vicious judo throws had Nikki kicking the bottom rope in frustration and grasping at her back.
So what do you do when you’re outclassed by a heroine? You cheat. Nikki consulted with Brie and they quickly hatched a plan to smash Rousey into a ring post several times. Brie was quick to interfere from this point on and the duo were able to keep the Champ at bay.
Second – and this was a HUGE factor all night – the booking was incredible. This match called back to so many factors in their feud. Rousey criticized the Bellas for living off the reputations of their men. Brie proved her right, so quickly starting a Yes chant in her sister’s favor.
...Rousey got her back for that, though, chanting “Yes!” in Brie’s face as she threw her over the table.
Rousey paid back that slap on the go home show and Nikki was quick to use Rousey’s mother as ammunition in her countless rest holds.
In the end, the match rocked. It didn’t try to do the same stuff as Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch – and more on that in a moment! Instead, it worked on telling a seamless story, hitting all the high notes, and going home with a fun finish.
And guess what? That‘s pro wrestling at its finest. Fantastic match.
The God Becky Lynch Prevails
That’s right. I upgraded her from “The Man” to “The God.” You might even say she’s...evolved. Deal with it.
I was mentioning this to a friend before this match started. Evolution felt like a fairy tale, for most of the show. It was a land of accomplished dreams and smiles.
It needed something gritty. It needed something unremorsefully violent. And ooh boy, did Charlotte and Lynch deliver.
This felt almost Ciampa/Gargano-like to me...you know, except for the violence bordering on murder attempts. It was so real and visceral; WWE struck gold with Lynch’s attitude change and every match she has at this point is just so fun. I can’t even count the times I cursed in sympathy or laughed in delight during this match.
And again, I just have to come back to the booking decisions. Charlotte and Becky had this chair-throwing fit early on that eventually devolved into Charlotte bringing out a table. That very same table is what was used to end the match. The crowd brawling! The Figure Eight through the ladder! The leg drop and powerbomb through tables!!!
What I loved about this match more than anything was simply that it got the time that is usually reserved for a Seth Rollins or AJ Styles, you know? You generally only see women get that much time one, maybe two times a year. And even with the lofty expectations and the challenge of exploring unchartered territory, Charlotte and Lynch found a way to tear the house down.
Let’s just give this one 5 Straight Fiyah emojis and move on.
Damn you, Four Horsewomen!
I’m always game for some Kairi Sane vs. Shayna Baszler. These two are perfect foils for one another. And with that said...y’all. I was not prepared for this.
Baszler’s violence, you ask? Nah, I’m pretty much used to that. She’s delightfully vicious and she can continue channeling Pentagon Jr. with that arm spot, thank you very much. The crowd gasped in a way that was just...a different sound than anything heard all night, you know? It was a moment of actual shock.
So yeah, keep doing that move.
Her arm-targeting was brutal all match and yet Sane just kept plugging away, kept coming back for more and getting the best of Baszler. It was part of the story, after all: Did Sane possess the “killer instinct” to defeat Baszler once again? I really loved this one moment where Sane smashed Baszler with a backfist and just crumbled from the pain. A perfect example of killer instinct.
This match had all those moments that you need for a match to become a classic. Baszler’s turnbuckle spot where she lifted Sane off the ground with an armbar, for example. Sane countered a suplex attempt into the most brutal DDT I’ve ever seen, as well.
And in the end, the booking was once again the story. Things escalated and escalated, the crowd growing louder and louder with the match, and then...
Those damn Four Horsewomen. With Baszler on the ropes, Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir interfered from ringside and gave Baszler the edge she needed to put Sane into a Kirifuda Clutch. The lights turned out. The champion was defeated.
...Damn this was good.
A...good thrown-together battle royal?!
I know I keep going back to booking, but my goodness. This might have been my favorite “we all start in the ring” battle royal of all time.
WWE gave every woman a proper entrance and time to be put over by the commentary table. I thought that was an inspired decision. It felt like a parade of awesome, you know? Every single entrant got cheers...until the last two.
With mics in hand, they made fun of all the other entrants and struck the most incredible pose of all time. Someone make that moment into a statue. Please.
The women eliminated them first.
The whole match was like that, mixing in so many moments and themes. First it was past vs. present, then it was the Mandy Rose betraying Sonya Deville. Lana tried to take down Tamina and Nia Jax on her own and all it did was make me want a Tamina/Jax tag team.
TEAM HEADBUTT BABY!
Ivory and Carmella had a fantastic dance break with R-Truth dancing along in the crowd. But do you know my favorite booking decision? Selina Vega rolled out of the ring very early into the match. There was no special camera angle to show it happening and commentary never mentioned it.
That’s so odd for them, and such a welcome change. I noticed it in real time and the longer they didn’t mention it, the more I anticipated the finish. And what a finish it was!
The match came down to Ember Moon versus her friend Jax. Vega came out of hiding to try to eliminate them both, but was unsuccessful. Jax launched her into the first row before finding a way to overcome Moon for the victory.
I expected Moon to win so I enjoyed the misdirection, even if I’m puzzled by Jax getting another shot at Rousey. Perhaps Moon might make a heel turn after getting bested by her friend? Hmm.
Lita and Trish Stratus def. Mickie James and Alicia Fox - Trish Stratus and Lita opened the show in what I thought was another excellent booking decision. They got the crowd hyped and delivered a fun match that hit all the spots you were hoping for. The crowd came unglued for the first James/Stratus stare down. There was a moment late where Fox was late to interrupt a pin attempt, but it was no big deal; it just gave us more time for a Litasault and Chick Kick, after all.
Toni Storm def Io Sharai to win the Mae Young Classic – This was a very good match that was hindered a bit by a crowd that didn’t know the two performers very well. But with that said, this was a “mid card match” that featured moonsaults to the floor and German suplexes on the ring apron.
Women’s wrestling is nuts, y’all.
Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Natalya def. The Riott Squad – Is there anything more heart-warming that Bayley protecting Sasha Banks by covering Banks with her own body?
You know, I watched this match thinking that it’s a shame that this match had no real stakes. But the longer it went on, the better it got. And the emotion on Banks’ face as she hit the Five Star Frog Splash can’t be denied; these women tore it down.
This wasn’t a perfect show. I mean, WWE thrust their Crown Jewel in my face. That alone shows that things aren’t perfect. But there was so much talk going into this show about the women’s revolution and history and all that.
Coming out of the show, screw all that noise. The only thing we should be talking about is how freaking incredible this PPV was. One of my favorite shows all year.
WWE should definitely do this again. And WWE? Can we have some Women’s Tag Team Championships next time?