Tonight, is the WWE’s Evolution event, their first all women’s show and been promoted by the company for months as its historical foot forward. The show is being built around several factors, the biggest being Ronda Rousey’s match with Nikki Bella, the return of Trish Stratus & Lita and the concept itself.
Wai Ting and I will have an Evolution POST Show late tonight on the site. If you are a Double Double, Iced Capp or Espresso member of the POST Wrestling Café, you will receive a link during the event to stream the video of our POST Show live as soon as Evolution ends.
All the titles will be defended tonight, and we were told that as of Saturday, the plan was to have an NXT UK women’s title match that would be taped in front of the audience but won’t air on the show. This is to avoid giving away who the women’s champion is since the tournament hasn’t aired yet.
In terms of an experiment, I can’t see the WWE not making this an annual event. It isn’t a major A show or even at the level of a big TakeOver, but they did sell over 10,000 tickets to the show. The show will be full but its struggled on the secondary market with Dave Meltzer reporting this week that secondary markets are unloading tickets under $10.
The crowd in Long Island could make or break some of the matches. This show has a positive feel to it and a supportive audience could take average matches and make them very good, and above average matches into great matches. Historically, Long Island is a very tough crowd, but I feel tonight is going to be better as the fans buying tickets for this show were buying tickets for a show they perceive is historic and important.
RONDA ROUSEY VS NIKKI BELLA FOR THE RAW WOMEN’S TITLE
This match has been built best on the card with a good angle for the breakup, both have cut strong promos, and played their roles effectively. This should be closing the show and I cannot see any other finish than Rousey submitting her. On a show like this, where it’s more about the concept of the show and presenting a “feel good” event, there is only one finish to do.
Angle wise, they could do something interesting with Shayna Baszler coming to Rousey’s aid and offset Brie Bella, especially if Baszler is losing on the show.
For Rousey’s big singles matches, they are put together and executed well and it’s a matter of crowd heat and how strong the matches they are following will be.
BECKY LYNCH VS CHARLOTTE FLAIR IN A “LAST WOMAN STANDING” MATCH FOR THE SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S TITLE
I would imagine this one gets the most time of anything on the show and will be the end of the feud.
Becky Lynch is amid the best run of her career and it wouldn’t be my decision to take the title off her, even if throw other plans out the window. She has something special and it’s because the audience believes in her confidence and doesn’t want to see her fail so soon.
I always believed this feud was ending with Flair winning the title and likely winning it on this show with Rousey and Charlotte coming out of the show as the two female superstars on the roster.
While the two aren’t always smooth together, for this big a match, I’m sure it’s going to be solid and could be the best match on the show as it will have the time necessary.
Charlotte may have a tough time with the audience as I expect Becky to be the overwhelming favorite.
TRISH STRATUS & LITA VS MICKIE JAMES & ALICIA FOX
With Alexa Bliss off, it takes away the desired pairing with Stratus and takes the edge off this one as Bliss was the focal point.
The nostalgia of Stratus and Lita will be the litmus test for the match. I don’t think the build-up has enhanced this one. I think fans really wanted the singles match with Stratus and Bliss and shrugged their shoulders when it made a tag.
I would expect Stratus to look tremendous as she doesn’t come back for matches without putting all her focus into it and making it feel special. She was great at the Rumble and I would expect similar here. Lita frighten me whenever she tried a moonsault these days, so I just hope they get it over with as she has to do it. Easy win for the babyfaces.
KAIRI SANE VS SHAYNA BASZLER FOR THE NXT WOMEN’S TITLE
I’ve enjoyed their matches a lot and the promotion of this match has been simple and effective. Baszler has responded like Conor McGregor losing to Nate Diaz and obsessed with the rematch and training to beat Sane. I don’t think they will have the same atmosphere as a big TakeOver event, but this should be very good as Baszler is constantly improving and has her character down pat.
I’m assuming Sane retains the title and if so, could mean Baszler is being called up as the formula is for a former champion to get the rematch, lose and that’s is their send off. Baszler will be a very interesting case whenever she gets to the main roster.
TONI STORM VS IO SHIRAI IN THE FINALS OF THE MAE YOUNG CLASSIC
If the audience is familiar and enhances the match, this could be the best one of the night.
I do expect them to get time because this isn’t a deep card and the matches should have enough time.
I like the idea of Shirai winning the match and announcing Sane vs. Shirai at TakeOver. It might be the only chance they have to do that match at NXT and it’s one you can present cold without a storyline beyond the two Stardom rivals meeting in a WWE ring. They are pushing Bianca Belair for the next shot on television, but Belair is in no rush and should be in NXT for a while with the push that she is constantly jumping through hoops until she gets the big match. It would also give Belair a reason to challenge Shirai after TakeOver for taking her title match.
THE RIOTT SQUAD VS BAYLEY, SASHA BANKS & NATALYA
I would place this as the opener and it should get a great reaction as the first match of the night.
Most people are disappointed because of Bayley & Sasha Banks being in a throwaway match on this show, but it’s indicative of where they’ve been all year. The feud never took off between them and there are so many missteps between them in how their main roster runs have gone. Both can be salvaged and placed higher, although I’m skeptical this version of Bayley is ever going to come near the heights she hit in NXT. Banks is a strong character with a weak presentation.
I enjoy the Riott Squad a lot and Ruby is very underrated on this women’s roster. This should be a fine opener.
WOMEN’S BATTLE ROYAL
Announced: Tamina, The IIconics, Ember Moon, Nia Jax, Dana Brooke, Asuka, Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville, Lana, Carmella, Naomi, Zelina Vega, Maria Kanellis, Torrie Wilson, Kelly Kelly, Michelle McCool, Madusa, Ivory, and Molly Holly.
There are scheduled to be 20 women in the battle royal, so I don’t expect any more added.
The winner receives a future title shot, so in theory, sets up the next title program for either champion. On the Raw side, Ember Moon is the only one I can see them going to as Jax had her feud with Rousey. On SmackDown, Asuka desperately needs something and the rematch with Charlotte could be worth going back to. I guess Naomi is possible if you need a challenger for Survivor Series.
Of the women returning, I would say if Becky was retaining the title, it could be a fun program to have a Molly Holly or Michelle McCool win and then be put down by Becky, who has lots of material to run down the ex-Divas.
I don’t expect much as a match, it gets all the main roster women on the show but doesn’t add interest to the show.