The historic night has finally arrived. We can put aside the issues with the build and just enjoy it. It’s been a long time coming.
Nothing much to report from the Kickoff show. Renee Young, Beth Phoenix, and Paige formed the kickoff panel for the usual mix of interviews and hype package, with the added extra of a red carpet. Unusually, there was no Kickoff show match. I can’t remember the last WWE PPV that didn’t have one.
Trish Stratus and Lita def. Mickie James and Alicia Fox
Nia Jax won the 20-woman Battle Royal
Toni Storm def. Io Shirai
Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Natalya def. The Riott Squad
Shayna Baszler def. Kairi Sane
Becky Lynch def. Charlotte Flair
Ronda Rousey def. Nikki Bella
Trish Stratus and Lita vs Mickie James and Alicia Fox, with Alexa Bliss
They gave Alexa Bliss a microphone to welcome everyone to Evolution, insult Stratus and Lita, then introduce Mickie James and Alicia Fox (who came out to Mickie James’ music).
As an opener to get the crowd going, it did its job. The nostalgia value of seeing Stratus and Lita fighting side by side carried the match through some sticky bits. I wanted to love it, social media seemed to enjoy it, but I just wasn’t feeling it the way I’d hoped.
Trish Stratus against Mickie James was fun. All that history brought into the present. With Stratus firmly in control, Mickie James, Alicia Fox, and Alexa Bliss decided to leave. Stratus and Lita retrieved them after a brief exchange at ringside.
Back in the ring, Alicia Fox tried to kick Lita. She moved out of the way and Mickie James took Fox’ boot to the face.
The ref didn’t see Alexa Bliss get into the ring and pull Lita off the top turnbuckle as she set up for the Lita-sault. That put Mickie James and Alicia Fox in control as they isolated her from Stratus. She finally made it back to Trish Stratus at the same time Fox tagged James back in.
Mickie James did all the work for the Stratusfaction. Alicia Fox was very late to break up the pin, but the ref helpfully stopped counting.
Lita hit a Twist of Fate on Fox, then went up and got the Lita-sault on both James and Fox. Trish Stratus chick-kicked Mickie James for the win.
Twenty-woman Battle Royal for a Women’s Championship Match
The line up, in order of entrance, was; Naomi, Michelle McCool, Sonya Deville, Alundra Blaze, Carmella, Zelina Vega (who doesn’t have her own music yet), 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.
The IIconics had microphones. They insulted the crowd, then insulted their competitors, then got in the ring, briefly. They were out as soon as the bell went, courtesy of the veterans in the ring.
Molly Holly and Kelly Kelly went out thanks to Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville. They also eliminated Torrie Wilson before Mandy Rose pushed Deville off the apron. There will be repercussions from that later.
Nia Jax eliminated Alundra Blaze and Maria Kanellis.
Tamina and Nia Jax alternated between teaming up and beating people up for a while. A full-on feud is definitely in the cards for them. They didn’t throw anyone else out, they just put them all down so they could fight uninterrupted. Lana tried to restore the peace, then tried to take them both on and very quickly found herself on the floor at ringside.
There was a big four on four suplex spot, with Mandy Rose, Dana Brooke, Nia Jax, and Michelle McCool taking over Asuka, Naomi, Ember Moon and Tamina. Carmella had a dance break while everyone else was down, Ivory joined in.
Mandy Rose was eliminated by Carmella after trying to eliminate Ivory.
Dana Brooke’s elimination was not pretty. She was put over the top by Ember Moon, but she hit the apron hard. I hope she’s ok. Moon then took out Michelle McCool. Naomi flew over the top rope at Tamina’s hand. Ember Moon kicked Carmella out.
The final five were Ember Moon, Tamina, Nia Jax, Asuka, and Ivory.
Ivory went out via an Asuka hip attack and Moon and Asuka faced up. There’s respect there, but there’s unfinished business too. Moon has never beaten Asuka, but she eliminated her tonight.
That left Ember Moon with Tamina and Nia Jax. Moon Eclipsed Tamina and threw her over the top, which left Nia Jax and Ember Moon. They’re friends, but you definitely couldn’t tell by the way they went for it. Moon ended up on the apron and tried to lever Jax over the top rope.
Apparently, Zelina Vega hadn’t been eliminated, she tipped Jax over the top rope but didn’t notice she hadn’t gone to the floor. She paid for her mistake by being lifted over Nia Jax’ head and thrown over the top. Unfortunately, she hit Tamina square in the face and they both hit the floor with force. Hopefully they’re both ok.
Ember Moon got powerslammed into the canvas so hard I’m surprised there isn’t a human shaped dent in the ring. Then Nia Jax picked her up and threw her over the top rope. Nia Jax is back in the title picture.
After the match, Jax was asked who she would prefer to fight for the title. Instead of answering, she wished them both luck and told whoever wins to enjoy the moment because it won’t last long.
Toni Storm vs Io Shirai – Mae Young Classic Final
I went into this one fully expecting it to be incredible, and I wasn’t disappointed. A slow and technical start with both competitors giving each other the respect they deserve, and a gradual build as Storm tried to keep Shirai grounded and under control.
As the pace built, Io Shirai dropkicked Storm out of the ring from the top turnbuckle. Shirai’s moonsault to the outside was a thing of exquisite beauty. Toni Storm’s German suplex on the apron an ugly brutality. Shirai made it back into the ring on nine.
Io Shirai kicked out of Storm Zero and took a breather under the ropes. She bounced Storm’s neck onto the middle rope when she tried to retrieve her which set her up for Storm to take a 619.
Shirai waited too long on the top turnbuckle when she went up for the Asai moonsault and Toni Storm got her knees up. She followed up quickly with another Storm Zero for the win.
Toni Storm is the winner of the Mae Young Classic 2018.
After the match Storm comforted Shirai and they hugged and cried together before accepting their flowers and Storm receiving the trophy.
The Riott Squad vs Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Natalya
Liv Morgan was living up to her self-professed immaturity at the start of the match, mimicking Natalya and slapping her. Sasha Banks assisted Natalya with a Hart Attack on Morgan that sent her to her corner to tag in Sarah Logan.
Sarah Logan looked to be in trouble until she cut Bayley off as Bayley slid through the corner to get to Riott. Bayley ended up folded around the ringpost and spent a long time isolated in the Riott Squad corner after that. Things turned in her favour when Logan slammed her into the Riott Squad corner and Bayley knocked Riott and Morgan off the apron. Logan had already tagged in Riott, then Morgan tagged herself in, but Bayley managed by accident or design to take them all down and struggle to her corner.
Sarah Logan took Natalya out before Bayley could get to her then Morgan prevented Bayley getting to Sasha Banks, for a while.
Banks came in with the intent to clear up. She tagged Bayley back in before she hit the backstabber into the Bayley to Belly on Riott, but Liv Morgan shoved Sasha Banks onto Bayley to break the pin.
Banks got tangled in the rope throwing herself over the top rope. The Riott Squad caught her and threw her into the barricade (fabric covered metal guardrails for Evolution for some reason). As if that wasn’t enough she took triple and double team moves before Natalya pitched up for an unsuccessful rescue attempt.
Bayley laid over Banks as Ruby Riott came off the top turnbuckle so Riott landed on both of them. Logan and Morgan dragged Bayley off for Riott to make the pin on Banks, but Sasha Banks kicked out.
Natalya got her moment too. She laid Ruby Riott on top of Sarah Logan and put them in a double Sharpshooter, but Liv Morgan was there to break it up.
A series of quick tags saw Liv Morgan take a powerbomb from Natalya, an elbow off the top from Bayley, and a frogsplash from Sasha Banks for the pin.
Kairi Sane (C) vs Shayna Baszler – NXT Women’s Championship match
This one changed the feel and tempo of the show. There was no respect and camaraderie, this was a straight-out fight. Baszler likes to play mean, and Kairi Sane seemed to want to see if she could match her at her own game.
They ended up on the outside and Sane had Baszler down against the steps. Baszler put a foot up to stop Sane’s charge and threw her into the steps.
Back in the ring Baszler started with the joint manipulation and used the ropes for extra leverage to bounce onto Sane’s hand. After that, Sane’ hand appeared to be bleeding.
Sane fought her way back into it, blow for blow, and went for her anchor submission but Baszler rolled out of it and went back to Sane’s arm. At one point she dangled Sane over the edge of the ring by it.
A DDT put Baszler down long enough for Sane to ascend to the top turnbuckle, but Baszler rolled out of the ring. Kairi Sane throwing herself off the top turnbuckle to the outside was spectacular.
Shayna Baszler ended up in the front row on top of a row of NXT superstars they’d been careful to show earlier, including two of the other horsewomen of MMA. Jessamyn Duke interfered by grabbing hold of Sane. She got a backfist for her trouble. Marina Shafir got up on the apron. Sane had to kick her then punch her to get rid of her. Off the distraction, Shayna Basler got the Kirifuda Clutch in but not properly because Sane rolled out.
Once again Jessamyn Duke got involved. This time she kicked Sane in the face. The ref didn’t see it and Sane ended up back in the Kirifuda clutch again. She didn’t tap, and the ref waited until she was completely out before calling for the bell.
Shayna Baszler collected her friends on her way out and the horsewomen left together. That’s three of them, the fourth could probably use some backup tonight.
Becky Lynch (C) vs Charlotte Flair – Last Woman Standing match for the SmackDown Women’s Championship
This should have main evented. It’s had the best build of any match on the card, and they are always great together. The animosity they’ve put into the build is perfect for the Last Woman Standing format. It’s not the first Last Woman Standing, but it is the first for a main roster title, so it’s no less historic.
A kendo stick came out relatively quickly after the initial exchange. No reason not to when the only rule is you have to keep your opponent down for a ten-count. It was Becky Lynch who used it, until Flair grabbed it and it went flying when Lynch kicked her in the stomach.
Chairs were piled up next, way too many to be sensible, with them both throwing them into the ring from opposite sides. Then Flair tried to add a table. Becky Lynch launched herself off the steps and punched Flair while she was setting it up and that idea was shelved for a while.
Lynch took a suplex and the ref counted five before she got up. Flair was back to setting up the table, so Lynch grabbed a chair and slammed it onto Flair’s spine.
Back in the ring full of steel chairs, Charlotte Flair was thrown onto them then Lynch piled them up and went for a Bex-ploder. Flair countered and suplexed Lynch onto the pile instead. It took Becky Lynch to eight to get up this time, meanwhile, Flair was on the outside getting a table. Lynch ended up setting it up after kicking Flair out of the ring.
Becky Lynch took too long going to the top after she laid Flair on the table and wound up on it herself. The table didn’t break when Flair moonsaulted off the top turnbuckle onto her, so Flair went for it again. This time she went for a senton rather than a moonsault and the table broke. It took them both until nine to get up.
Because there clearly hadn’t been enough hardware involved, we got a ladder next. Lynch slammed Flair onto it. Flair locked in a figure four through the ladder, bridged into the Figure Eight, and Lynch tapped for all she was worth. Obviously, that didn’t matter, so she grabbed a chair and hit Flair with it until she let go.
After more vicious brawling on the outside, during which Flair was thrown into the steps and post, Becky Lynch grabbed the championship belt and started to leave. Flair chased her down and they fought through the crowd, or the nice wide aisles at least, and back to ringside.
Flair cleared off an announce table, then bounced Becky Lynch off one she hadn’t cleared and set the ladder up. Lynch hit her in the back of the head with the title belt while she was making sure it was secure and laid her on the cleared announced desk. Becky Lynch came off the ladder onto Flair and the announce desk collapsed. She kicked Flair buried her under announcer’s chairs and not only did Flair get up, she came after her with a kendo stick then speared her at ringside.
Flair dragged Lynch closer to a table, laid her on it and went to the outside of the middle turnbuckle. Becky Lynch jumped up and powerbombed Flair through the table. Charlotte Flair tried to struggle to her feet but was unable to beat the count.
Ronda Rousey (C) vs Nikki Bella, with Brie Bella – RAW Women’s Championship match
Honestly, I’m not sure how they were supposed to follow Flair and Lynch but it turned out decent after a slow-ish start.
Ronda Rousey was firmly in control until Nikki Bella enlisted her sister’s help. Brie Bella’s distraction enabled Nikki to shove Rousey into the post. Brie also drove Rousey into the post while Nikki distracted the ref.
With Rousey weakened, Nikki Bella enjoyed a period of dominance in and around the ring. Rousey got thrown into barricades and Bella went for submissions, mocking Rousey by doing push-ups with her legs wrapped around Rousey’s neck. When Rousey managed to break away, she took a cheap shot from Brie Bella.
Nikki drove Rousey’s face into the post again and went back to wearing down the champion with submissions. That didn’t work, neither did a springboard kick to Rousey’s head. She hoisted Rousey onto the turnbuckle and went for a superplex, but Rousey blocked and pushed her away. Rousey had to kick out at Brie, on the apron which gave Nikki the chance to kick her in the face. Again, Bella went for the superplex, and again Rousey pushed her away. Rousey launched herself high off the top turnbuckle, but Nikki Bella got out of the way.
Nikki Bella missed with a baseball slide and ended up sat outside the ring holding her neck. She took some big impacts on her surgically repaired neck in this match. I hope she’s ok.
Rousey’s expression changed as Nikki Bella got back in the ring and she started to take over. When she had Nikki on her shoulders Brie got on the apron to intervene and Rousey grabbed her too. Rousey eventually managed to get both Bella Twins on her shoulders and dropped them to the mat. It looked awkward but I guess it had to be done.
Then it was Rousey’s time. She threw Nikki Bella around and landed all the punches, and a slap, then tossed Nikki over her head. Wisely, Nikki Bella rolled out of the ring and tried to escape over the barricades. Rousey retrieved and rolled her back into the ring, but she caught another cheap shot from Brie so Rousey sent Brie Bella flying over the announce desk.
Back in the ring, Nikki Bella had had a bit of time to recover. She delivered an Alabama Slam and got a two count. She threw Rousey into the post again then hit the Rack Attack 2.0 but, to her utter disbelief, Rousey kicked out. Nikki climbed the turnbuckle and Rousey punched her in the stomach. Bella shoved her away but Rousey came back, wrapped them into a small package and dropped to the canvas like that.
Without releasing her hold, Ronda Rousey locked in the armbar and Nikki Bella taped out.
Nia Jax was shown watching Rousey celebrate.
In the closing shots of the show, all the competitors gathered on the stage with Triple H, Stephanie McMahon and Sara Amato.
WWE Evolution was, overall, a good PPV. It had its problems, as all PPVs will, but it was extremely watchable. It was disappointing that there was no NXT or MYC involvement in the battle royal. And WWE missed their ‘over 50 women will compete’ target – I make the total in-ring competitor count to be 38 (39 if you count Alexa Bliss, 41 if you count Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir).
The emotion-filled clips of the women talking about what Evolution means to them were very sweet. It was good to see Jessika Carr officiating for the MYC and NXT matches, she’s always great. Renee Young and Beth Phoenix are both very welcome additions to commentary. Renee Young especially has flowed into the role and is quickly becoming indispensable.
I was wrong about the match of the night. I thought it would be the MYC final, which was incredible. Match of the night, possibly match of the year, went to Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair.