by Patches Chance
The wait is finally over! WWE brings us their first-ever all-women pay-per-view event WWE Evolution! Regardless of WWE’s missteps when it comes to handling female superstars in the past or their current morally questionable business decisions overseas, tonight isn’t about any of that. Tonight is about the women who paved a way for today’s female superstars. Tonight is about the women who fight hard to be the standard bearers of today’s division. Tonight is about the future of women’s wrestling.
This landmark event features the past, present, and future of women’s wrestling. Hall of Famers Lita and Trish Stratus will return to take on Mickie James and Alicia Fox. Alexa Bliss was initially scheduled for the match but had to be pulled due to injury. The future will be firmly on display as Kairi Sane defends the NXT Women’s Championship in the continuation of a heated rivalry with Shayna Baszler. In the night’s two marquee matches, Ronda Rousey defends her Raw Women’s Championship against Nikki Bella while Becky Lynch defends against Charlotte in a Last Woman Standing Match.
The Kickoff Show begins at 6 PM Eastern Time, while the main show airs on the WWE Network at 7PM Eastern Time.
The following article will be updated throughout the broadcast of WWE Evolution with ongoing results and analysis. Please refresh this article to get the most recent version.
Honoring the past
The night opened with a great exhibition of two legendary women, but it wasn’t the only moment that showed an homage to the history of women’s wrestling. From the shots of female superstars of old in the video package to Beth Phoenix wearing a Bull Nakano shirt under her leather jacket, the past is well represented at Evolution. It was clear that Lita and Trish did have a little ring rust, but they still worked their asses off and hit some great spots. Alicia and Mickie played the perfect foils, and Alexa ran interference at ringside.
That recognition of the past continued in the 20-woman battle royal to earn a future shot at the Women’s Championship. About a third of the field was returning legends, and all of them got their moments. The IIconics were last to enter and got some classic heel heat by insulting the legends, but it came back to bite them as those same legends made them the first two eliminated.
Many stories were at play throughout the match. Tamina and Nia Jax were impressive powerhouses all through the match. Ember Moon got some old NXT revenge by eliminating Asuka. Finally, Zelina Vega pulled a classic ploy by hiding on the outside and rolling in at the last minute to take advantage. Unfortunately, her ploy failed to eliminate Ember Moon and Nia Jax, and Vega didn’t last long after that. Nia finally eliminated Ember for the win, and the emotion she had after the match really drove home the importance of this event. Now, Nia gets to put her focus on the Raw Women’s Championship and whoever holds it by the night’s end.
Showcasing the future
Younger competitors such as Zelina Vega, The IIconics, and Lana all got to make their mark during the battle royal. Following that match, we got to see the final of the 2018 Mae Young Classic. If you haven’t taken the time to watch the Mae Young Classic on the WWE Network, set aside a night and do that. If you have watched it, you know exactly what Io Shirai and Toni Storm are capable of. The two former World of Stardom Champions brought everything they had into the ring right from the opening bell.
Storm initially looked to keep the high-flyer grounded, but Io Shirai’s submission skills kept things balanced. Both women got the upper hand at different moments, but Toni Storm looked to finish things off as she nailed Io with Storm Zero. Shockingly, Io Shirai kicked out of the move Storm used to finish off opponents all throughout the Mae Young Classic. Io Shirai fought back, going for her top rope asai moonsault, but she came crashing into the knees of Toni Storm. After the impact, Toni immediately hit a second Storm Zero for the pinfall to become the winner of this year’s Mae Young Classic.
The final spotlight on the future came as Kairi Sane defended the NXT Women’s Championship against former champion Shayna Baszler. Like many great rivalries, it’s the history between these two that really makes things special. Sane defeated Baszler in last year’s Mae Young Classic, but Shayna captured the NXT Women’s Title before Kairi did. Ultimately, The Pirate Princess was able to take the title from Shayna at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn 4.
The Queen of Spades was as vindictive as ever tonight as she sought to regain her championship. Shayna continued to use the submission skill and violent body part manipulation that helped make her champion, leaving Kairi Sane nursing an injured arm throughout the contest. Shayna Baszler even went so far as to dangle Kairi like dead weight from the top rope by her damaged arm. Sane fought through it and looked poised for the victory when suddenly Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke (half of the MMA Four Horsewomen with Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler) got involved. Kairi tried to fend it off, but the distraction allowed Shayna to lock in the rear naked choke to become the first ever two-time NXT Women’s Champion.
The power of the present
As great as it was to see an acknowledgment of the past and desire to support the future of women’s wrestling, the best thing about WWE Evolution was definitely seeing the present day stars work their asses off in some fantastic matches all throughout the show. In the six-woman tag match between The Riott Squad and the trio of Sasha Banks, Natalya, and Bayley, everyone brought their A-game. The Riott Squad was on fire as a team, but their opponents stayed strong and ultimately came out victorious. Even in that moment of the present, Sasha Banks paid homage to the past by finishing off Liv Morgan with a frog splash reminiscent of her hero Eddie Guerrero.
In what was poised to be a highlight of the night, Becky Lynch defended her SmackDown Women’s Championship against longtime friend turned rival Charlotte Flair. Even before tonight, this rivalry was extremely personal. It seemed nothing could contain them. In the hope of allowing them to finally settle things, their clash was made a Last Woman Standing Match. What followed was one of the most brutal matches of this kind I’ve ever seen.
Just to name a few moments: Becky gave Charlotte stripes with a bunch of kendo stick shots, both women demolished each other with chairs, Charlotte put Becky in a Figure Eight with Becky’s leg pulled through a ladder, Charlotte put Becky through a table with a swanton, Becky put Charlotte through an announce table with a leg drop off a ladder, Becky buried Charlotte in chairs and debris but Charlotte still got up.
In the end, it was one last effort by Charlotte Flair that proved her undoing. With Becky laying on a table on the outside, Charlotte went for a moonsault. Before she could come off the top, Becky got to her feet and grabbed Charlotte, putting her through the table with a huge powerbomb off the top rope. Charlotte failed to answer the count of ten, and Becky Lynch retained her championship. In reality, both women barely survived, and the carnage of this match has surely left them forever changed.
In the night’s main event, the past, present, and future converged as Ronda Rousey defended her Raw Women’s Championship against Nikki Bella. As things got underway, Ronda’s submission skill was on display as she manipulated Nikki like a mere puppet. Of course, it was a distraction from Brie Bella that helped Nikki take control. With that one advantage, Nikki proceeded to dominate the match while Brie’s distractions continued to help out. Nikki looked close to victory when she hit the Rack Attack 2.0, but Ronda kicked out. After fighting back and dragging Nikki off the top rope with a huge throw, it was Rousey’s armbar that finished off Nikki Bella.
- Inside the first five minutes, WWE Evolution feels special. Lillian Garcia is back as ring announcer. Beth Phoenix and Renee Young are on commentary surrounding Michael Cole. Lizzy Hale and Nita Strauss opened the show with an epic rock performance. The night’s first match features Trish Stratus and Lita. This is Evolution.
- Every single entrant in the battle royal got their own entrance, as is only right.
- The IIconics are impressively obnoxious, which means they’re doing their jobs.
- Tamina and Nia Jax stared each other down and suddenly went into some sort of Samoan rage and destroyed everyone else still in the battle royal. It was terrifying and amazing.
- Io Shirai’s moonsaults are gorgeous, and Toni Storm’s german suplexes hit with back-breaking impact.
- The Riott Squad operates like a well-oiled and vindictive machine, and they would be favorites to win Women’s Tag Titles if WWE introduces them.
- Despite all their issues, Bayley literally threw herself onto Sasha Banks to save her from Ruby Riott’s top rope senton.
- Kairi Sane grabbed some gold coins from the treasure chest that holds her title and tossed them to the crowd during her entrance. She truly is The Pirate Princess.
- Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir (half of the MMA Four Horsewomen with Shayna Baszler and Ronda Rousey) have finally made their presence felt and could be debuting in NXT sooner rather than later.
- The live crowd was 1000% behind Becky Lynch. After Becky delivered a handful of chair shots, the crowd chanted “you deserve it” at Charlotte.
- Former best friends (Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, Triple H and Shawn Michaels, Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch) seem to have the best matches. But they also nearly kill each other.
- Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair should have been the main event. Period.
- Twin Magic was on display all throughout the main event, and it really brought home what makes The Bella Twins unique.
- Ronda Rousey somehow hit her spinning samoan drop with both Bellas on her shoulders.
- Trish Stratus & Lita def. Mickie James & Alicia Fox (with Alexa Bliss)
- Nia Jax won the battle royal to earn a future Raw Women’s Championship shot
- Battle Royal Order of Elimination: The IIconics by the legends, Molly Holly by Sonya Deville & Mandy Rose, Kelly Kelly by Sonya Deville & Mandy Rose, Torrie Wilson by Sonya Deville & Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville by Mandy Rose, Alundra Blayze by Nia Jax, Maria Kanellis by Nia Jax, Lana by Tamina, Mandy Rose by Carmella, Dana Brooke by Ember Moon, Michelle McCool by Ember Moon, Naomi by Tamina, Carmella by Ember Moon, Ivory by Asuka, Asuka by Ember Moon, Tamina by Ember Moon, Zelina Vega by Nia Jax, Ember Moon by Nia Jax.
- Toni Storm def. Io Shirai to win the 2018 Mae Young Classic
- Natalya, Sasha Banks, and Bayley def. The Riott Squad (Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, and Sarah Logan)
- Shayna Baszler def. Kairi Sane to become the new NXT Women’s Champion
- Becky Lynch def. Charlotte Flair to retain the SmackDown Women’s Championship
- Ronda Rousey def. Nikki Bella to retain the Raw Women’s Championship