By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WWE Evolution Hits
Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair in a Last Woman Standing match for the Smackdown Women’s Championship: The highlight of the night. Lynch and Flair belonged in the main event as far as I’m concerned and they stole the show with their efforts. It was refreshing to see a match of this kind end in clean fashion rather than in with duct taped or some other finish designed to protect the loser rather than to reward the crowd with a satisfying outcome. It was a straight forward finish to a match that deserved one. Flair turned in one of her stronger in-ring performances to date and she didn’t need protection, as this was a case of the loser gaining something in defeat.
Ronda Rousey vs. Nikki Bella for the Raw Women’s Championship: Charlotte and Lynch stole the show, but Rousey an Bella delivered a satisfying show ending match. The Bellas were good sports throughout the build and Nikki did a very nice job with Rousey. And while I feel Lynch and Flair should have been the main event, I understand WWE choosing to showcase their top female star and the stars of their reality television shows as the featured attractions. I could have done without the show closing curtain call moment and especially Charlotte being all smiles given the nature of her character’s loss, but I did enjoy Rousey and Lynch knocking their title belts together.
Kairi Sane vs. Shayna Baszler for the NXT Women’s Championship: A terrific match between two of NXT’s finest. Baszler regaining the championship disappointed me if only because I assume it means she won’t be heading to the main roster anytime soon. Putting that aside, I enjoyed the involvement of Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir, and I like the way babyface Sane passed out rather than tapped out to Baszler’s submission finisher. I continue to hope we eventually get Stephanie McMahon introducing Baszler as her hired gun or chosen one in her ongoing war with Rousey.
Toni Storm vs. Io Shirai in the Mae Young Classic finals: The only negative is that they didn’t get more time because they surely could have filled it. I’m hesitant to call anyone from NXT a can’t miss star given the way the company has dropped the ball with Sasha Banks, Bayley, Asuka, and many of the male stars, but if Storm isn’t a can’t miss star than I don’t know who is. She has the look, charisma, charm, and in-ring ability. Storm is the total package and a great pick to have win the second Mae Young Classic.
Trish Stratus and Lita vs. Mickie James and Alicia Fox: A fun show opening match and a pleasant surprise. Raw fans were flat and cold to the legends during the build to this match, but this crowd treated them like the returning stars that they are. Lita had some clunky moments, but the match went longer than I expected and it got the show off to a strong start.
Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Natalya vs. Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, and Sarah Logan: I would have shaved a couple minutes from this match and given it to the MYC finals. While the six women were deserving of the time, the matchup on paper felt like something we could see on Raw any given week. I wonder if there was some concern that the live crowd wouldn’t be receptive to Storm and Shirai because they haven’t been on the main shows. Either way, everyone involved worked hard and this was a quality match even if it felt thrown together to get the women on the show. I hope the company eventually gets it right with Banks and Bayley.
Battle Royal for a future shot at a women’s championship: A fun battle royal with a mix of current and past stars. It was encouraging to hear the live crowd back Ember Moon and hopefully this will lead to bigger things for her even though she wasn’t booked to win the match. Jax going over didn’t do much for me if only because we’ve already seen her work with Rousey and I’ve despised how awkward her character has been since she was up for that game changer award that only WWE officials seemed to care about. On the bright side, Rousey and Jax worked well together the first time around and hopefully the build to their next match will get the Jax character back on track.
WWE Evolution Misses
None: A very good show. I enjoyed some things more than others, but I can’t really say that any of the matches were truly Miss worthy. I liked the stripped down house show look without the LED ring post casing, the standard WWE barricades, and even the darkened crowd. I could have done without the constant mentions of how historic the evening was. Even so, it did feel special even if the cloud of Crown Jewel hung over the event in terms of creating the obvious question of whether Evolution took place for the right reasons or because it served as a corporate distraction from the women not being allowed to work Friday’s show in Saudi Arabia. Putting that aside, the women deserved this and it was nice to see some of the returning faces who deserved better during their in-ring days. I sincerely hope this event leads to bigger and better things for the women. In the short term, I would settle for Vince McMahon breaking away of his formula of focusing on the champions and challengers while everyone else on Raw and Smackdown spin their wheels. The women getting their own show was a step forward regardless of why it may have happened, and one can only hope that WWE has a plan in place to keep the momentum going coming out of Evolution.
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The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell and guest Colt Cabana on his role in ROH, the state of the independent wrestling scene, the future of his podcast, the ROH Global Wars tour, the new ROH television format, Starrcast III, and much more...