I have been critical in the past about the WWE creating an all-women’s pay-per-view event due to its suspicious timing. It’s just a little too convenient that Stephanie McMahon, the “innovator of the Women’s Revolution” (when we all know it’s really AJ Lee as she called the head of WWE Creative about how the company was treating women wrestlers) and the entire WWE would give us the show just before we would get another all-male event at Crown Jewel.
That didn’t mean that I wasn’t looking forward to Evolution. Quite the opposite, actually. I was really interested but, at the same time, rather hesitant. The card didn’t seem all that special on paper, especially since it included a three-woman tag match and a battle royale just to ensure that every WWE female Superstar could be involved instead of actually booking more meaningful matches.
Thankfully, WWE’s Evolution, the first all-female pay-per-view event, was good. Scratch that, it was great! Probably the best one all year. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s go break down each and every match, shall we?
Match #1: Trish Stratus and Lita vs Mickie James and Alicia Fox (with Alexa Bliss)
Really disappointed that Alexa Bliss couldn’t be in the actual match because of an injury. It wouldn’t have mattered anyway since there’s no way Trish Stratus and Lita, two returning WWE Hall of Famers would lose to her.
It’s actually kind of weird as this was the only match on the card that really felt like an old-school WWE match. That’s probably because it kind of was since 3 of the 4 women in the ring came from WWE’s Attitude Era! It’s nice to see that both Trish and Lita still could wrestle despite being away from the ring. They still showed great insight and good in-ring psychology. Good call on referencing Trish Status and Mickie James’ big time feud during the match. Nice little Easter Egg for longtime fans.
The finish came shortly after Trish connected with Stratusfaction on Mickie James. Alicia Fox came in with a very late save (did the referee pause and wait for Fox to break up the count?). Lita then came in and delivered a Twist of Fate to Fox. Lita then scaled the top turnbuckle to nail both Mickie James and Alicia Fox with a moonsault (which looked amazing!). Mickie popped up but Trish was waiting for her and took out Mickie James with a Chick Kick to get the pinfall victory.
This was an incredible match but there were a few hiccups here and there. There were some moments where there was some hesitation while they were coordinating what to do and that very late Alicia Fox pinfall break was just awkward. These didn’t affect how the match flowed and it still was fantastic to see Trish Stratus and Lita show that they can still perform in a WWE ring. Great way to start Evolution.
Rating: 7.5 of 10.0 late Alicia Fox pinfall interruptions
Match #2: The 20-Women Battle Royale with the winner getting a future title shot
Matches like Battle Royales and Royal Rumbles are either easy to pick a winner or very hard. WWE’s Evolution Battle Royale falls in the latter category as I’m just going to guess and say it’s Ember Moon.
While I do appreciate the WWE invited some of their Legends to participate, I also hated it as this was just after Trish Stratus and Lita’s match. I kind of had my fill of nostalgia and wanted the spotlight to be focused on the current roster. Nevertheless, most of the performers had their time to shine in this Battle Royale. The IIconics putting the Legends on blast as they entered the ring was great. Mandy Rose betraying her bestie Sonya Deville. Tamina and Nix Jax cleaning proverbial house. I could’ve done without the Ivory and Carmela dance break but it was a welcome distraction, I guess.
The final four in the Battle Royale seemingly came down to Ember Moon, Asuka, Tamina and Nia Jax. A scuffle between NXT veterans Asuka and Ember Moon broke out with Ember Moon getting the better of the Empress of Tomorrow (in a rather unceremoniously tossing). Moon blocks a kick from Tamina and tries to counter with a crossbody block but Tamina snatches Moon in midair and slams her into the ground with a spinning side slam. Jax tries to get involved but Tamina decks her with a superkick. Moon strikes Tamina with a springboard forearm and then combos it into an Eclispe, stunning Tamina enough to allow Moon to dump her over the top rope, eliminating her.
Nia Jax bulldozes through Moon. The Irresistible Force tries to toss Moon but Moon lands on the apron. Moon attempts to drag Jax over the top rope but Zelina Vega sneaks in and tries to dump both of them at the same time! Unfortunately for her, Moon and Jax lands on the apron. Jax gorilla presses Vega to the outside (and onto Tamina). Moon tries to power Jax over the top rope but Jax was just too powerful. After a flapjack slam, Jax throws Moon out and wins the Battle Royale.
This was a fun Battle Royale in general. There were enough highlights and spots that were fun to watch. I do wish the current roster was featured a little more prominently and I’m left scratching my head as to why they had Nia Jax win. I would’ve liked it better if they gave the future title shot to someone who hasn’t been the women’s champion for either RAW or Smackdown. Well, it is what it is.
Rating: 6.5 of 10.0 dance breaks with Ivory and Carmela
Match #3: Io Shirai vs Toni Storm in the Mae Young Classic Finals
Sorry, but I haven’t been following the Mae Young Classic as intensely as I should have. But I have heard of Io Shirai so I’m guessing she’s going to win?
The overall pacing was kind of weird. There were seemingly a lot of rest holds, especially at the start, but not exactly enough to make the match seem slow. There was also some really good spots, which was evident during the closing moments, but not enough to really make it come off like it was fast paced. It was like Toni Storm was hesitating quite a lot when setting up for those spots as well. The moves didn’t just flow together as well as I wanted it to go. Also, while I do think Toni Storm is pretty and has the look of a main eventer, she makes this weird frowny face of intensity often, which just looks strange.
The finish came after Io Shirai kicked out of Toni Storm’s Storm Zero double underhook powerbomb. Shirai manages to stun Toni on the second rope and follows it up with a 619. The Genius of the Sky performs a picture perfect springboard sunset flip but Toni kicks out. Toni rolls to the corner but Shirai strikes with double knees and sets up Storm for the Asai Moonsault. Toni counters by putting up both knees up at the last second and she takes the opportunity by connecting with Storm Zero for the pinfall victory and to win the entire Mae Young Classic.
This was a good match but, like I said, the pacing and the fluidity of everything just made me feel uneasy. I will say that Io Shirai was phenomenal and Toni Storm looked great in the ring… except for the frowny face thing. The match just needed a few tweaks but it still was good overall.
Rating: 7.0 of 10.0 Toni Storm frowny faces
Match #4: Natalya, Sasha Banks and Bayley vs The Riott Squad (Ruby Riot, Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan)
May I just say… what a waste of Sasha Banks and Bayley! The first ever WWE all-woman’s pay-per-view event and they’re just in a three-women tag match? Oddly enough, I expect the Riott Squad to squeak out a win here.
The match was generally standard house show schlock. The good guys took advantage early on with one-on-one tactics then the heels took over with some double-team and interference. Face wrestler gets the hot tag, yadda yadda yadda. Not that the action wasn’t good. It just looked like standard fare. I will give props to the Riott Squad as they did look like a cohesive unit throughout the match.
The finish came after Bayley shielded Sasha Banks from Ruby Riott’s top rope senton. The Boss manages to avoid several double team moves, allowing Banks to make a tag to Natalya. Natalya starts cleaning house and applies a stacked Sharpshooter to Sarah Logan and Ruby Riott. Liv Morgan, who was legal, breaks it up with double knees to Natalya’s face. Morgan charges and strikes at Natalya with a double foot stomp. The WWE’s Juvenile Delinquent charges at Natalya once again but she gets caught and powerbombed. Bayley tags in and connects with an elbow off the top rope. Banks tags in and performs a (sloppy looking) frog splash for the pinfall victory.
House show match. It wasn’t a bad match. It wasn’t a good match. This was a glorified house show match. It was put together to jam as many Superstars in and have the good guys/gals win to make the crowd feel good. I feel sorry for the Riott Squad as they’ve become the de facto jobber squad of the RAW Women’s division and this match shows it’s not going to change anytime soon.
Rating: 5.0 of 10.0 house show matches in a pay-per-view event
Match #5: Kairi Sane vs Shayna Blaszler for the NXT Women’s Championship
We haven’t seen any heels win a match yet in Evolution, have we? Guess Shayna Blaszler’s going home with the NXT Women’s belt around her waist!
I always have loved matches where the wrestlers have contrasting styles. I especially love it when the face is a high-flyer and risk-taker like Kairi Sane and the heel is a brute who loves punishing his or her opponent like Shayna Blaszler. Blaszler was in top form tonight as she demonstrated her strength throughout the match and Kairi Sane sold the pain in a believable fashion. There were some really hard-hitting and painful looking holds by The Queen of Spades, such as her lifting The Pirate Princess by the arm. But Kairi was no slouch as her high risk attacks looked great as well.
The finish came right after Sane tossed Blaszler into her NXT pals at ringside. Blaszler manages to get to her feet and Jessamyn Duke grabs Sane, which should have been an automatic disqualification but the referee just disappeared for some reason. Sane fights her off and climbs the top turnbuckle to perform the InSane Elbow. Before she could, Marina Shafir distracts Sane by standing on the ring apron. Sane knocks her off but the distraction allows Shayna to lock in the Coquina Clutch. Sane rolls through and tries to convert it into a pin but Blaszler gets out. Sane tries a rollup pin but Blaszler kicks out, sending Sane into one of Jessamyn Duke’s kicks… which the referee didn’t see again. The Queen of Spades locks in the Clutch once again and Sane loses consciousness. Blaszler get the submission victory to become the NEW NXT Women’s Champion once again.
This was a fantastic match with lots of drama and action. I’m not normally a fan of screwjob finishes and when the referee acts like an idiot for not seeing all of the shenanigans of the heels. But the buildup and the in-ring action made me invested with what was happening. Kudos to Kairi Sane and Shayna Blaszler for putting on a fantastic and exciting match!
Rating: 8.5 of 10.0 blind referees
Match #6: Becky Lynch vs Charlotte Flair for the Smackdown Women’s Championship in a Last Women Standing Match
I usually mention the face first then the heel when mentioning who’s in the match. And I still did because Becky Lynch is the face here… who is going to retain because she’s the best face the Smackdown Women’s locker room right now.
This was the match I expected to be the match of the night. I wasn’t disappointed. I always liked Charlotte Flair and, especially the best face in the WWE right now, Becky Lynch. They’ve been known to bring out the best of their opponents and, since they’re already extremely good, things were really elevated into the stratosphere when it came to greatness. Lots of great spots and both Charlotte and Becky Lynch even made it a Table, Ladders and a whole lot of Chairs match! This was something I was expecting but not at the magnitude both of them were willing to go!
The finish came after Becky Lynch’s huge legdrop off the ladder onto Charlotte on an announcer’s table. Becky pummels Charlotte and buries The Queen under various chairs and broken tables but Charlotte still manages to get up! Charlotte gets her hands on a kendo sticks and wallops Lynch with it. Charlotte with a spear to Lynch. Charlotte sets Lynch up on a table on the outside and sets up for a moonsault. The Irish Lass Kicker manages to get up and slams Charlotte threw the table before that could happen. Charlotte tries to get to her feel but couldn’t, meaning that Becky Lynch is still your Smackdown Women’s Champion! And deservedly so!
This was an extremely hectic and fun match. Amazing performances from both Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch. Both females played their roles to a hilt. I really liked Becky Lynch’s shocked expression when Charlotte busted out of the rubble of chairs and tables. The match wasn’t flawless as there were a couple of botches, including a spot where Charlotte tried a moonsault on Lynch who was set up on a table but the table didn’t break. But these are just nitpicks to an otherwise glorious match.
Rating: 9.0 of 10.0 Becky Lynches who are the best face in the WWE of all time
Match #7: Ronda Rousey vs Nikki Bella (with Brie Bella) for the RAW Women’s Championship
It would be foolish for the WWE to take off the belt from Ronda Rousey, even it’s going to be put around the waist of (ugh!) WWE “fan favorite” Nikki Bella. Rousey’s gonna win this and retain.
It may be my personal bias against Nikki Bella in general but, this match, it wasn’t great. I will give credit where credit is due and that this didn’t follow the usual pitfalls of a Nikki Bella match… that much. She was still “spotty” with her work, as in she would do a “spot,” pause to collect herself before continuing her offense. It wasn’t all that obvious this time around, however. Ronda Rousey looked really good, though. However, I do have to question her in-ring persona. She’s supposed to be the one fans cheer on. The problem is she acts like a cocky bully early in the match. And I get that her opponent has to dominate her at times but they have to make it look more organic. It looks so unrealistic that Nikki Bella would impose her will over Ronda Rousey for that long stretch of time!
The finish came after Ronda Rousey kicked out of Nikki Bella’s Rack Attack 2.0 fallaway stunner. Nikki went to the second turnbuckle but The Baddest Woman on the Planet scaled the ropes herself. After an awkward scuffle, Rousey got the upper hand and did some weird fallaway judo throw into an armbar. Nikki taps and Ronda Rousey gets the submission victory to still stay your RAW Women’s Champion.
Color me impressed but I actually liked this match, even if it did have Nikki Bella in it. I guess a part of me enjoyed it because Rousey just ragdolled her with judo slams for the first few minutes. But props to Nikki for taking the slams. I still can’t say this was an excellent match, though. It was going to be a tough sell for me, especially since it had to follow the excellent Last Woman Standing match. Still, it was good for what it was.
Rating: 6.0 of 10.0 Nikki Bellas getting slammed over and over again
Overall rating for WWE Evolution
This was probably the best pay-per-view the WWE has put out in a long time. Usually, they would have some matches that just plain sucked. Not in Evolution! Everyone brought their A-game and the worst match was just okay and didn’t suck. Great show and I hope the WWE puts on another Evolution next year because it’s a good idea and a good show… and not because they want to avoid any controversy of putting on an all-male show again.
Rating: 8.0 of 10.0 future all-women pay-per-view events
What did you think of Evolution, the WWE’s very first all-female show? Let me know in the comments section below!