By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Evolution 2018
Uniondale, New York at Nassau Coliseum
Aired live on October 28, 2018 on WWE Network and pay-per-view
A video package opened the show… Michael Cole checked in quietly on commentary (his volume was low, which must have made everyone involved in the NWA 70th Anniversary show production feel a little better)… Nita Strauss played a guitar in the ring. There was a male drummer on the stage playing along and then female singer and guitarist Lizzy Hale sang a song over them about evolution… Cole was joined on commentary by Renee Young and Beth Phoenix…
1. Trish Stratus and Lita vs. Mickie James and Alicia Fox (w/Alexa Bliss). Lilian Garcia was the ring announcer. The legends received strong reactions, especially compared to how the Raw crowd reacted to them. Bliss cut a brief promo and labeled her team the real pioneers.
At 3:00, Mickie tagged into the match and jawed at Trish, which got a reaction from the live crowd. They traded punches and forearms. Trish got the better of it. After the initial babyface flurry, Lita was isolated by the heels. Later, Lita performed a moonsault onto James, then Trish caught James a short time later with a kick and pinned her…
Trish Stratus and Lita beat Mickie James and Alicia Fox in 11:05.
Nikki Bella and Brie Bella were interviewed by Kayla Braxton backstage. Nikki took exception to Rousey saying she will end her. She spoke about winning the women’s championship…
Powell’s POV: The opening match was entertaining and the live crowd is super hot for everything. They have the lights on over the ring and the fans are not lit up like a typical pay-per-view. Dot Net Member Don Murphy is in attendance and noted that it’s a nice crowd, but there are some pockets of empty seats. He said it has a house show feel in the building.
2. Battle Royal for a future shot at a women’s championship. R-Truth was shown in the crowd. The Iiconics cut a pre-match promo and were immediately eliminated. Molly Holly was among the first to be eliminated. Torrie Wilson was also eliminated. Mandy Rose eliminated her partner Sonya Deville.
Later, Nia Jax and Tamina had a standoff. It resulted in a big multi-woman suplex spot, which was followed by a Carmella dance break. Ember Moon eliminated Michelle McCool. Tamina eliminated Naomi. Moon performed a really bad twisting move on Carmella. Moon eliminated Carmella. Asuka’s ass eliminated Ivory.
The final four were Asuka, Moon, Jax, and Tamina. Moon eliminated Asuka. Tamina performed a twisting side slam on Moon and then superkicked Jax. Moon came back and hit the Eclipse and eliminated her moments later. The final two were Moon and Jax.
Hold the phone. Zelina Vega returned and tried to eliminate both women. It failed. Jax tossed Vega onto Tamina, who appeared to catch Vega with her face. Jax powerbombed Moon inside the ring and then eliminated her to win the match…
Nia Jax won the battle royal to earn a future title shot.
Afterward, Charly Caruso interviewed Nia Jax in the ring. Jax was emotional and the fans chanted “you deserve it.” Jax said she’s one step closer to regaining her championship. She was asked who she would rather face. She said she wishes them both the best of luck and hopes they have a good match, but she warned that the winner’s moment won’t last long…
Powell’s POV: The match came down to the favorites. I missed Zelina hiding, though I must admit that I was a bit distracted because Dot Net staffer Will Pruett arrived right before the match so I may have missed something. He’s never been here before. Don’t believe anything he tells you about my living quarters.
A Girl Up charity video aired…
3. Toni Storm vs. Io Shirai in the Mae Young Classic finals. Cole said the winner would receive “a wonderful trophy.” Jessika Carr was the referee and some of the women from the tournament were shown in the crowd. The women shook hands prior to the match.
Storm performed a nice suplex at 4:30. Shirai caught Storm on the ropes and knocked her to the floor. Shiriai performed a great moonsault onto Storm on the floor. They fought on the apron and Storm performed a German suplex. Wow.
Storm performed a clothesline and Storm Zero for a near fall at 8:15. Shirai came back with a 619 and then performed a nice springboard sunset flip for a near fall. Shiriai performed a moonsault, but Storm put her knees up and hit Storm Zero for the win…
Toni Storm defeated Io Shirai in 10:20 to win the Mae Young Classic tournament.
Afterward, Storm and Shirai embraced. Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, and Sara Amato entered the ring and presented Storm with flowers and the MYC trophy.
Powell’s POV: A very good match. Both women should be stars on the main roster. Of course, I probably said the same about Bayley, Sasha Banks, and Asuka, so it’s all about how they are booked, but they certainly have the talent to be stars for years to come.
A WWE Crown Jewel ad aired… A video package aired with Alundra Blayze, Eve Torres, and others talking about what Evolution means to them…
4. Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Natalya vs. “Riott Squad” Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, and Sarah Logan. At 6:50, Banks performed a top rope double knee press on Riott and they had a great camera shot facing her leaping off the ropes. At 8:30, Banks set up for a flip dive. It was awkward, but Riott Squad caught her and threw her into the barricade. Back inside the ring, Logan covered Banks for a near fall.
Later, Bayley covered Banks to shield her. Riott performed a top rope elbow drop onto them, which led to near fall. At 11:55, Natalya put Riott and Logan in a double Sharpshooter. Morgan broke it up with a Codebreaker. The babyface trio came back. Bayley performed at wild dive onto Logan and Riott at ringside, then Banks performed a frogsplash onto Morgan and pinned her…
Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Natalya beat Riott Squad in 13:10.
Powell’s POV: A quality six-woman tag match with everyone working hard and the babyface getting the crowd pleasing win. By the way, the other differences with this set compared to the usual set is that they don’t have the LED ring post covers and they don’t have the usual barricade.
Another video package aired with Molly Holly, Nia Jax, and others discussing Evolution…
5. Kairi Sane vs. Shayna Baszler for the NXT Women’s Championship. Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir were at ringside. Baszler twisted Sane’s arm and then stomped it. Sane fought back and performed an Alabama Slam. When Sane went to the ropes, Basler cut her off from inside the ring and picked her up by the arm and held her in the air before dropping her to ringside at 9:00.
Shayna set up for a suplex, but Sane DDT’d her. Baszler rolled to the floor. Sane performed a top rope cross body block. Baszler was dumped onto Duke, Shafir and others in the front row. Duke reached out and grabbed Sane by the hair, then followed Shafir interfered on the apron before being kicked away. Baszler applied her finisher, but Sane ended up countering it into a pin to break it. Baszler came back and reapplied the hold again. Sane passed out…
Shayna Baszler defeated Kairi Sane in 12:10 to win the NXT Women’s Championship.
Powell’s POV: A terrific match and the absolute show stealer thus far. My only disappointment is that Baszler winning means she’ll likely be sticking around NXT for the time being. Don’t get me wrong, she’s great and the NXT women’s division is a blast, but I’m anxious to see her play a heel foil for Ronda Rousey if that’s the direction they take. In the meantime, it’s interesting that they had the other two Four Horsewomen of MMA get involved in this match.
Another video package aired on legends and current wrestlers discussing Evolution. This one included Ata Johnson, Maryse, Ember Moon, Vickie Guerrero… A video package set up the Smackdown Women’s Championship match…
6. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair in a Last Woman Standing match for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. JoJo delivered in-ring introductions for the title match. Lynch pulled out a kendo stick from underneath the ring and hit Flair with it early on. Both women reached under the ring and threw roughly a dozen chairs into the ring.
Charlotte ended tup dropping Lynch onto the stack of chairs with a side suplex. A table was also set up inside the ring. Lynch placed her on top of it and went up top, but Flair cut her off. There were some boos as Flair regained offensive control and placed Lynch on the table. Charlotte performed a moonsault and overshot it enough that the table merely tipped over. Ugh. Charlotte put Lynch back on the table and then performed a swanton that put Lynch through the table around 14:00.
Lynch came back and slammed Charlotte onto a ladder that was lying in the ring. Charlotte recovered and wrapped Lynch’s leg in a rung of the ladder and stomped it. Charlotte then applied a figure four with Lynch’s legs between the ladder and arched into a Figure Eight. Lynch grabbed a chair and jabbed Flair’s leg to break the hold.
At 19:40, Lynch tried to leave with the championship. Charlotte caught up to her and chopped her in the crowd. Charlotte eventually tossed Lynch back over the barricade and then tore the German broadcast table apart. Charlotte set up a ladder. Lynch bounced back and hit her with the title belt and jawed at her. Lynch placed Charlotte on the German broadcast table and then climbed up the ladder and performed a legdrop that put Charlotte through the table. A “this is awesome” chant broke out.
Charlotte got to her knees and started yelling at Lynch, who ran over and kicked and her and then threw punches at her. Lynch placed tables and broadcast team tables on top of Charlotte. Flair got to her knee and the referee stopped his count. Lynch begged off. Charlotte hit her with a kendo stick several times and then speared her on the floor at 26:15.
Charlotte placed Lynch on top of a table on the floor. Flair went to the ropes and set up for a moonsault, but Lynch cut her off and powerbombed her through the table. Awesome spot.
Becky Lynch defeated Charlotte Flair in 28:40 in a Last Woman Standing match to retain the Smackdown Women’s Championship.
Powell’s POV: A new best match of the night. I loved the intensity and that it was different compared to everything else on the show. Will Pruett just said this is Charlotte’s best match on the main roster. I’m struggling to think of something better. I really enjoyed it. I have no idea how Rousey and Nikki will follow that match.
Cole, Young, and Phoenix hyped the WWE Crown Jewel event for Friday. John Cena is still advertised… A video package set up the Raw Women’s Championship match…
7. Ronda Rousey vs. Nikki Bella (w/Brie Bella) for the Raw Women’s Championship. Brie carried a “Bellalution” flag to the ring. JoJo delivered in-ring introductions and there was different lighting for the intros. Rousey performed a couple of early arm bosses. Nikki went for a takedown.
Rousey stuffed it and grabbed Nikki by the arm and jawed at her from behind before releasing the arm. Nikki spoke to Brie. Rousey took Nikki down. Nikki ended up at ringside and Rousey followed. Brie walked toward them and created the distraction that allowed Ronda to run Nikki into the ring post. Moments later, Brie also ran Nikki into the post while Nikki distracted the referee.
Nikki was on the offensive for the next couple minutes. Cole said he didn’t expect to see Nikki dominate Rousey. There were chants for both women and it sounded like there were more women chanting for Nikki, though the pro Ronda camp was louder. Rousey went for a top rope cross body block. Nikki moved and Rousey crashed onto the mat at 8:20.
At 9:35, Rousey hoisted up Nikki on her shoulders. Brie climbed onto the apron, and Ronda hoisted her up on top of Nikki. Ronda tossed both women to the mat awkwardly. Rousey went on the offensive and teased hitting Nikki, who begged off in the corner. Ronda slapped Nikki, then suplexed her. Nikki rolled to the floor. You could see over the shoulder of the broadcast team as the match was at ringside and Cole was texting someone.
Back in the ring, Nikki performed and Alabama Slam for a two count. Nikki hit her Rack Attack 2.0 for a near fall at 13:00. Rousey caught Nikki on the ropes and performed an inside cradle type of takedown and then applied an armbar for the submission win…
Ronda Rousey defeated Nikki Bella in 14:15 to retain the Raw Women’s Championship.
Afterward, Ronda went to ringside and kissed her husband. Rousey celebrated with her title in the ring. Nia Jax was shown watching the monitor backstage, as she earned a shot at Rousey’s title by winning the battle royal. Rousey went to the stage where most of the women were waiting for a group shot. A video package recapped the event. The final shot was of Rousey and Lynch standing in the middle of all the women and slamming their title belts together…
Powell’s POV: From a match quality standpoint, this was low on the list for the night. At the same time, the match worked for what it was and that’s what counts. I would have closed with Lynch vs. Charlotte, but I’m sure WWE officials view Rousey vs. Nikki as bigger, and in their minds Rousey winning is a happy ending, whereas they still think Lynch is a heel. Overall, this was a very enjoyable show. Everyone rose to the occasion and it important. Will Pruett and I will be by on Monday morning with an audio review of this event.
Check below for the latest Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Jerry Lynn.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Vice TV's "Dark Side of the Ring" executive producers Evan Husney and Jason Eisner discussing the March 24 second season premiere focusing on the Benoit family tragedy, plus their pro wrestling fandom, the show's name and origins, highlights of season two, Chris Jericho becoming the narrator, and much more...