WWE Evolution Review, Analysis & Looking to the Future | Smark Out Moment

WWE Evolution Review, Analysis & Looking to the Future

Posted by Gabriela Velasquez Thursday, November 1, 2018
Hello, everyone! It’s your friendly neighborhood Women’s Wrestling Weekly columnist Gabby Velasquez and contributing writer Jordan Chaffiotte! Three guesses as to what we’re discussing today.

Alright, take a deep breath. That pay-per-view really did just happen. Wipe away your tears from the promotional material, pick your jaws up from the floor and join us for a review of the action. It’s been a few days, so we’ve had time to really digest what went down and discuss it here!

For this review, Jordan Chaffiote will be tackling the build to the show, the battle royal, the Mae Young Classic final and the NXT Women's Championship match while Gabby Velasquez will cover the two tag matches, the Raw and SmackDown Women's Championship matches and where women's wrestling goes from here.


The Build

Chaffiotte: When Evolution was first announced, we were months away and I, being the sweet summer child that I am, assumed that meant they would use the time to build multiple storylines. They instead chose to tread the same ground over and over, announce matches via Twitter, and throw everyone in the hot tub once we got close to the event. The exception to this critique is Becky and Charlotte who proved to be the most intense feud of 2018. They spent their time wisely and used external means, namely social media, to really give this a big fight feel. If they had done this across the board, we wouldn't have been so distracted by Crown Jewel.

The Battle Royal 

Chaffiotte: This was my big surprise of the night. Battle Royals feel a little inconsequential in WWE, most of the WrestleMania winners have gotten a brief push before falling further down the card. It was disappointing not to see any NXT/NXT UK women in it, but the women who did participate really gave it their all. I'm a theater nerd turned wrestling fan, so stories are always the best way to get my attention. They managed to tell multiple great stories throughout this match. It was fun to see a little bit of dissension between Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville, Ivory dance with Carmella, and Ember Moon eliminate Asuka. Zelina Vega almost winning was a jump out of your seat moment and overall, Nia Jax is a solid choice. This was one of the best Battle Royals I've seen and well exceeded my expectations.


The Tag Matches 

Velasquez: Women’s tag matches hold an interesting spot in the history of women’s wrestling, especially in WWE. Typically, tag matches are used as an excuse to bundle women in a neat little match and lump several feuds together. However, in Evolution, it felt like it was something more. Trish Stratus and Lita bring a sense of bigness to every appearance they give. They wrestled like it was still the easiest thing in the world for them. And although it was disappointing to not have Alexa Bliss in the match, Mickie James and Trish Stratus reuniting was reason enough to have me in tears of nostalgic joy.

While one tag match was about appreciating the trailblazers of the past, the six-woman tag between Sasha Banks, Bayley and Natalya and the Riott Squad was about the women of the present. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this class considering we’ve been bogged down with variations of this exact six-woman tag for so long. The main difference here, I think, was time. These women are all exceptionally talented, and they were given the chance to showcase that.



The Future 

Chaffiotte: What a great showing from the future of WWE. Io Shirai and Toni Storm tore the house down with their performance. I have been incredibly impressed by Toni throughout the MYC, how she expresses her emotions in the ring and sells like a boss for everyone else. This wasn't my favorite match of the tournament, but it was still truly excellent. I had called Toni Storm as my winner early on after seeing her match against Shayna Baszler at the UK Tournament. She continues, time after time, to prove that she is one of the brightest stars WWE has at the moment.This clearly meant the world to her, and it was the only match on this card to make me cry. Which, of course, isn't to discount Io's contribution to the match. If she had come out on top, it would've been totally earned and believable.

Meanwhile, the character development for Shanya was incredible. Let's face it, heels are easy. It's not hard to slap a "just a mean dude" label on someone and have them cheat and say mean things on Twitter. Heels that feel real, that's hard. Shayna feels real. The video promos they did for her were excellent, they made me believe her. For a moment, I almost was rooting for her, because she was right, she made a mistake and it cost her the title. Of course, she's enough of a classic heel to remind me I don't like her a moment later, but that doubt is crucial in wrestling. If I have one compliant, I thought the interference of the other 2 Horsewomen went on maybe one or two too many. Really they only needed to do it once at a pivotal moment to get the point across. It didn't need to directly impact the finish. Kairi is great but she needs more of a climb right now. Or, when WWE gets it together and makes women's tag belts, she and Io can team up and run roughshod.



The Title Matches

Velasquez: I’ll save the best match for last, so let’s tackle Ronda vs. Nikki. My issues with how their match was built are well-documented, so I’ll just say this: it still feels weird to somehow frame Ronda as the central figure of the women’s wrestling movement. Did her pop culture rise contribute to WWE changing its stance on women? Perhaps, and if so, then good. But she’s still new. She arrived in an environment that was ready for her aura because of the foundation laid by the likes of Sasha Banks, Charlotte, Becky Lynch, Bayley and the like. She and Nikki put on a good match, but they did not steal the show.

That honor goes right to Becky Lynch and Charlotte, who put on one of the best women’s matches I have ever seen...ever. It was brutal, physical and emotional. Charlotte was like the Terminator rising from the ashes and reminding everyone why she’s a mainstay at the top of SmackDown. Becky Lynch was a bonafide star. The crowd was absolutely behind her, and she played into it with the type of egotistical pride that has made her “heel” turn so incredible. I’ve re-watched this match several times, and I will probably watch it again before the end of the year. This is everything women’s wrestling in WWE can and should be. Becky and Charlotte should be proud.



Where Next?

Velasquez: The cynic in me says that the women of WWE will still be plagued by the same issues: over-focus on Ronda Rousey, clunkily written feuds that show no understanding of how women actually interact and, of course, six-woman tags for women who don’t have any actual storylines going on.

But here’s the thing: this still happened. It’s still incredible.

I will continue to critique how WWE presents its feminism to the world and its lack of female voices in its writing rooms. But it would be unfair to dismiss the work of Performance Center coaches like Sara Amato and the company's female referees. And though change is slow, this is something to build on. I believe that we will look back on this event as one of the things that led to women main-eventing WrestleMania. This was a product of a changing outlook on women in sports and entertainment both.

We're on our way, folks. I truly believe that.

All that being said...screw Crown Jewel. Women's wrestling forever.
THIS POST WRITTEN BY: GABRIELA VELASQUEZ

Gabby Velasquez is the owner of the pro wrestling site Girl Talk With Gabby. You can follow her on Twitter and her podcast on iTunes.

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