Stacey O’Loughlin and JA D’Amato bring us this recap of WWE Evolution 2018. Stacey is the purveyor of all things women’s wrestling in WWE and JA was live in the arena so each brings a different perspective for us. Enjoy!
First of all, I’m trying to find the words to explain what an all-women WWE PPV means, and finding it impossible. Seeing the overwhelming emotions from all of the women; the women on this card, in wrestling at large, and in the crowd, should give you some idea though. Before a bell was rung it was already a victory, a celebration, and by the final bell it was an indisputable triumph.
Trish Stratus & Lita vs. Mickie James & Alicia Fox
As if this PPV wasn’t exciting enough already, it begins with the Greatest of All Time, my sun and stars, moon of my life, Trish Stratus. This was a fun way to kick off the show, with the crowd super hot and treating them like legit WWE Legends. Trish and Lita hit all their Greatest Hits like the good ol’ days – with Trish even hitting a Frankensteiner off the top rope for the heck of it, and Lita nailing the Moonsault. Trish and Mickie had another awesome face off that the crowd ate up, and then started punching on like only they can. Mickie James in particular deserves a ton of props for working for about a hundred women here. Nice finish, and just a super fun opener.
Battle Royal for a Women’s Title shot
All I really wanted for this match was to see everyone’s entrances, including all of my faves from the DIVAS INVASION, so this was already a winner before nary a punch was thrown. My girls. My heart. An entire shipload of cool moments in this – the IIconics promo and immediate tossing; Carmella’s DANCE BREAK with Ivory; Nia Jax and Tamina having a hoss battle; the big quadruple suplex; Mandy & Sonya vs. The Legends. Big shoutout to the oldest woman in the match, Ivory, who went long and looked absolutely fantastic. The entire finishing stretch with Ember fighting against all odds for a victory was amazing. What a gloriously entertaining battle royal.
Toni Storm vs. Io Shirai – Mae Young Classic Final
If you haven’t been following along with the Mae Young Classic, you have been missing out. This is why. The two brightest stars in the tournament just going all out to put on a great wrestling match. Crazy ass spots up in this like Io’s moonsault from the top to the floor, and Toni’s brutal German Suplex on the apron. These kids ain’t mucking around man. Anyone could have won this thing until Toni MURKED Io getting the knees up for the moonsault, before nailing her finish for the second time to win. Toni was hugely over in my Aussie household and I had picked Io to win, so this was an awesome surprise. And then of course tears, trophies, flowers, Papa and Mama, Sara Amato, and more crying. Mostly by me. I loved everything about the MYC and this was a fitting final.
Riott Squad vs. Natalya, Bayley & Sasha Banks
I’m sorry but literally everything on this card is ruling the world. This was a great trios match. Sasha and Bayley very visibly trying not to cry set me off all over again on a show where literally everything set me off. The Riott Squad are on a hell of a roll and looked unbelievable on offense working over Bayley and then Sasha. Sarah Logan is awesome, and just quietly how good is Liv Morgan going these days. Twists and turns and teases galore in this, plus fun little tag team spots like the Hart Attack and the Doomsday Device. I loved Nattie busting out the Double Sharpshooter From Hell as well. And just when I had started to breathe, Bayley LIES ON TOP OF SASHA TO SAVE HER LIFE and then Sasha wins with the Eddie Guerrero Tribute frog splash and there I go again.
Kairi Sane vs. Shayna Baszler – NXT Championship
And now this! The good stuff just keeps on coming, I can’t cope. They had a great title match at the last Takeover, and since then Pissed Off Shayna has been murdering folks for sport so I was hyped for this. Clearly so was Kairi the Pirate with her elaborate new entrance. And then Shayna Baszler took Kairi’s arm, removed it from her person, put it in her pocket and went home with it. Nasty, brutal and creative arm work here. Kairi managed to fight back tremendously well with only one arm, until the action spilled outside and OH GOD THE HORSEWOMEN! Kairi STILL kept fighting all three of them off valiantly until she got caught and choked out until she died. Shayna makes history by becoming the first ever two-time NXT Women’s Champion AND by pissing off my mother for life in record time.
Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte – SmackDown Women’s Championship Last Woman Standing Match
AND NOW THIS. WAR BECKY FREAKING LYNCH. Argh. I mean, just get a load of Becky here. She is well and truly The Man. Ridiculously so. Charlotte for her part was SUPER up for this too, and man did this BANG. What a bloody war. I’m talking tanks, machine guns, dive bombers, the works. A war. So, so many weapon shots, just hard, hard shots. A nice ECW tribute with tossing the chairs into the ring and then hilariously whiffing on a big table spot. The senton that sent them through the table was baller though. As was Becky’s leg drop through the announce table, the Backdrop Driver From Hell onto the pile of chairs, the Figure-Eight inside the ladder, Charlotte being buried alive, and all the other dope ass highlights. The selling of exhaustion and pain and flat out refusal to lose was tremendous from both women. I thought Charlotte’s big Charlotte Up on a cowering Becky at the end was it, but Becky powerbombed her to HECK through the table and survived. And thus, my poor heart also survived. This was everything promised and more.
Ronda Rousey vs. Nikki Bella – Raw Women’s Championship
Did y’all hear the little girls pop for the Bellas? Yeah, don’t question Nikki headlining this PPV ever again. Besides, this was everything it was meant to be. Ronda got to play with her early and toss her around, looking every bit the killer, until she ATE the post three whole times and set about selling her damn ass off. Nikki was great on top, being a dick and laying her stuff in, while Brie trolled expertly on the outside. Frankly this may be the heel performance of Brie’s career. They kept it up and Ronda kept selling and selling and pulling you along until FINALLY, she found an opening to RONDA UP and kill some folk. The double Ronda slam thing was nuts. This was entertaining as all get out, and it ended perfectly with Ronda grabbing Nikki and tapping her out. Hugs, tears, confetti, sunshine, rainbows, peace on earth. What a PPV. That I’m able to type all this out is a minor medical miracle since I’m pretty sure this show killed me and I am dead. I love absolutely, positively everything.
On April 22, 1974, the Nassau Coliseum hosted its first women’s pro wrestling match when “The Fabulous” Moolah and Donna Christanello took on the tag team of Sharon Brooks and Daisy Mae on the undercard of a World Wide Wrestling Federation event headlined by Bruno Sammartino. As was the case then with women’s pro wrestling in the United States, the match was meant as little more than a titillating sideshow on a card otherwise dominated by men. 44 years later brings a completely different vibe to my Long Island home as we are fortunate hosts of Evolution the first all women’s Pay Per View/Special Event. A curious choice for a venue by the WWE powers that be maybe more influenced by convenience as Mr. and Mrs. Levesque are only a one hour limo ride from home. Ticket sales on the secondary market have been tepid as upper level seating was available for under $10 and lower level in the $50 range on broker sites. This indicates low interest from the casual fan base but the loyal fans grabbed up the quality tickets priced at typical B PPV prices.
Entering the building was quite a joy to see the most diversified crowd ever. Obviously tons more women than any event ever attended. A wonderful mix of all age ranges, mothers and daughters and more couples on date nights than usual. I immediately ran into a Bellalution pep rally with an army of Bella faithful led by an energetic young gentleman in tremendous physical condition. NYCB security had to intervene and break them up for causing arena traffic.
Stace would have been right at home in my section as they were handing out “Becky, Becky, Becky” signs with “I Boo the Woo” on back. Ronda shirts dominated the masses with Becky second and the Bellas third. Nary a Charlotte shirt was located.
Here is my live stream of in the moment thoughts:
Pre-Show: Rhea Ripley vs. Dakota Kai
Both ladies got a warm response. Ripley’s delayed duplex got the biggest pop which is ironic because Lashley gets crickets with the same move. Ripley won in quick fashion with her pump handle slam.
Nita Strauss and Lzzy Hale ripped pure fire to intro the show.
Lita & Trish Stratus vs. Alicia Fox & Mickie James
The fans ate up every move from Lita and Trish. Alexa got some nice old lady jokes in to make her presence felt. Foxx and Mickie sold their asses off and despite a ref botch the finish was well received. The arena is ¾ full but it’s 100% positivity.
The IIconics talked some trash and were the first to go out. Great mini stories involving Mandy Rose eliminating Sonya and Carmella’s dance off brought the house down. Ivory joined her but apparently she went to the Elaine Benes dance school. Even Tamina got a response from this crowd as her and Nia dominated. A huge “NXT” chant erupted when Ember and Asuka squared off. It came down to Nia and Ember and Nia prevailed although the crowd favored Ember. Nia still got a warm response and heat from her post match interview. I wish she would have dedicated her win to Nate Milton but no such luck.
Io Sharai vs. Toni Storm – Mae Young Classic Final
The crowd was split 50/50 for this fine battle. Io’s moonsault on the floor and Toni’s back duplex on the apron generated the first, lazy “This is Awesome!” chant. Toni’s victory was greeted warmly as Triple H and Stephanie but that didn’t overshadow the post match ceremony. The hits keep coming.
Riot Squad vs. Sasha, Bayley & Natalya
Bayley and Sasha still get huge star treatment from the fans despite being de-emphasized on the pecking order. Sasha reverted to her Super Dave Osborne imitation with a scary dive outside while Nattie took a long cat nap before awakening and delivering a double sharp shooter in a memorable spot. Bayley saved Sasha by lying on top of her and the faces showed great continuity in successive tags leading to Sasha’s dive and pin.
Shayna Baszler vs. Kairi Sane
Old school face/heel reactions for this one. The crowd hated the interference from Baszler’s crew and the lack of assistance from the gang of NXT women at ringside.
Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte
The audience got fully amped when the promos hit signaling this match was next. Ridiculously pro Becky house with everyone on their feet for the introductions. “ECW” chants for the chairs thrown in and “You deserve it” for Charlotte getting racked by chair shots. Poor Charlotte managed to elicit a few cheers only when she chased Becky down for trying to bail. The crowd was pissed when Charlotte survived a 9.75 count before erupting for the table crash and Becky victory in a match that delivered in every way like just about everything all night.
Ronda Rousey v. Nikki Bella
How do they follow that? The Bellas enter to a strong response as nobody appears to be exiting. Crowd was about 60/40 for Rhonda and reacted to all the high spots including Brie’s interference, the Double Bella throw and Brie getting tossed. Rhonda got the win as expected and this historical night ended with no drama as all the women converged on the entrance to congratulate Rhonda and each other on a successful night. Evolution produced the best crowd reactions since SummerSlam 2002 and I had absolutely no regrets about attending. In spite of the usual WWE weaknesses regarding booking and over saturation they pulled out a big W and surely Evolution will be a yearly event.