The SmarK Rant for WWE Evolution 2018 – 10.28.18
Hey, at least it’s a DIFFERENT concept for a PPV, even if they seemed to be making no effort in promoting it for the past month.
Live from Uniondale, NY
Your hosts are Michael Cole, Beth Phoenix & Renee Young. We get some immediate technical issues as Michael Cole’s intro is drowned out by the music and you can hear a producer saying “Looks like your mike’s stopped working.” Whoops. Also, am I the only one who’s noticed how much the new Sabrina the Teenage Witch looks like Renee?
Trish Stratus & Lita v. Alicia Fox & Mickie James
This arena is pretty blacked out for a “sold out” show. This is a weird dynamic where it’s supposed to be “old v. new” but Fox and James are almost as old as Trish and Lita and have been around for just as long. Lita slugs away on Mickie and gets a headscissor takedown, and hauls in Alicia for a corner clothesline. Over to Trish and they do a tentative Whisper in the Wind on the heels. Trish takes Alicia down with some snapmares and the crowd is incredibly hot for this. Over to Mickie and Trish wins a slugfest and gets a Thesz Press, but walks into a superkick. Trish tries the headstand rana, but Mickie blocks her, so Trish gets a regular rana off the top instead, for two. The heels try to run away, but the faces haul them back in, allowing Alexa to trip up Lita and make her botoxed-face-in-peril. Mickie with a chinlock for the heat, and after annoying Trish, she gets a neckbreaker for two. Fox with a northern lights suplex for two and she goes to her own chinlock. Trish gets the hot tag and the crowd is kind of losing interest. Spinebuster gets two on Mickie, but she gets a rollup for two. Trish with the bulldog for two as they completely botch the fall and Mickie forgets to kick out. Lita finishes with the moonsault into Trish’s Chick Kick at 11:03 anyway. They went way too long and it kind of fell apart, but it was OK. Really needed to be 5:00-7:00 minutes and then out. **1/4
Meanwhile, the Bellas are going to dedicate tonight’s match to Ronda Rousey’s mom.
Meanwhile, the various women celebrate all the huge changes happening thanks to this show. Did you know they’re letting women into HOLLYWOOD now? Mind blown.
20 Woman Battle Royal for a future title match:
We’ve got Naomi, Michelle McCool, Sonya Deville, Alundra Blayze, Carmella, Zelina Vega, Kelly Kelly, Tamina, Ember Moon, Lana, Maria Kanelis, Mandy Rose, Molly Holly, Dana Brooke, Nia Jax, Ivory, Asuka, Torrie Wilson, Peyton Royce and Billie Kay. The Iconics cut a lengthy promo running everyone else down on the way to the ring and they both get thrown out immediately at 0:15. The crowd actually BOOS that. Alundra looks like someone’s grandmother. Molly gets thrown out at 1:39. Mandy & Sonya double-team Kelly Kelly out at 2:17, and then team up on Torrie and boot her out at 2:49. Then Mandy turns on Sonya and throws her out at 3:00. Nia gently slams Blayze out at 3:35. Maria holds her own with Tamina and Nia, but gets put out by Nia at 4:24. Nia and Tamina do the big staredown and then decide to beat everyone up, but not actually throw anyone out. Lana tries to declare peace in the name of Rusev Day and she gets tossed out at 5:56. We get a wacky quadruple suplex spot and Carmella stops for a dance off with Ivory, but Mandy tries to throw out Ivory and then gets tossed by Carmella at 8:00. Ember suplexes Brooke out at 8:20. McCool gets backdropped out at 9:22, and Nia backdrops Naomi at 9:37. Carmella and Ember botch some kind of spinning sideslam, and Ember slugs Mella out at 10:32. Ivory and Tamina slug it out in the corner and Ivory gets a bodypress, but goes up to celebrate and Asuka boots her off the apron at 11:33.
Final four: Asuka, Ember Moon, Nia Jax & Tamina. So pretty much exactly what you’d expect. Asuka charges and gets tossed out by Ember at 12:17, but Tamina hits Ember with a uranage and superkicks Nia. Ember fights back and goes up with the Eclipse on Tamina and throws her out at 13:33, leaving Nia v. Ember. Nia powers her onto the apron, but Ember pulls herself up, only to have Zelina Vega reappear from wherever she’s been. She tries to throw both out, but that doesn’t work, and Nia hurls Vega out of the ring at 15:48, only to have Ember dropkick from behind. Nia no-sells it and throws Moon out to win at 16:32. Another one where they went way longer than they needed, but it was mostly OK. Crowd was super hot throughout, though.
Mae Young Classic finals: Io Shirai v. Toni Storm
They trade headlocks to start and Toni offers a handshake of sportsmanship. Sportspersonship? See, I feel myself changing and growing just watching this show. Storm with a low dropkick for two, but Shirai handsprings into a dropkick and drops a knee for two. She wraps Storm up with a submission on the mat, but Toni makes the ropes. Storm ducks a charge and gets a german suplex, but goes up and takes too long, allowing Shirai to dropkick her to the floor and follow with a moonsault to the floor. They fight on the apron and Storm gets a german suplex on the apron, which Renee would like to remind us is the HARDEST PART OF THE RING. Back in, they slug it out and Shirai beats her down, but walks into a lariat. Storm Zero gets two. Shirai comes back with a 619 and a sunset flip for two. Double knees sets up the moonsault, but she takes too long and hits the knees, and Storm Zero wins the tournament at 10:03. Boy, this was a HUGE disappointment after the performances in the semi-finals. The crowd just wasn’t into it and it was kinda slow and never really got rolling. **3/4
The Riott Squad v. Bayley, Sasha Banks & Natalya
Liv annoys Nattie to start, but the faces double-team her and then work Logan over in their corner. Bayley tries a sliding dropkick on the apron and gets posted as a result, and Logan gets two. The announcers point out that the Riott Squad are “another extension of where the evolution can go.” What does that even MEAN? Logan chinlocks Bayley and gets a forearm for two. Bayley fights them off, but they cut off the tag and this is already going too long. Hot tag Sasha and she runs wild with dropkicks and clotheslines and suchlike, and a top rope senton on Ruby gets two. Rollup gets two. Backstabber into Bayley’s suplex gets two. Banks gets the double knees on Morgan and tries a dive onto the heels, but completely botches it and gets caught anyway. Back in, Logan gets two. “That was brutal!” notes Renee. Very true. Morgan and Logan do a Doomsday Device on Banks for two and continue working her over, but Bayley puts herself on top of Sasha to protect her from a Riott splash. So that somehow allows Banks to kick out at two. This is turning into a complete disaster. It’s just a mess and dragging on way too long. Natalya gets a hot tag and slams the heels onto each other to set up the double Sharpshooter, but Liv breaks it up and gets two on Natalya. Liv stupidly goes into the babyface corner to try to finish, but Bayley drops the big elbow on her and Sasha finishes with the frog splash at 13:37. Ironic that 2 of the people actually responsible for the “Evolution” of the division are buried in the midcard in a nothing match that should have been left on the drawing board. *1/2
NXT Women’s title: Kairi Sane v. Shayna Baszler
Shayna takes out the knee with a pair of kicks and Kairi returns fire, then counters a takedown attempt with a stunner. Shayna bails to the floor and Kairi evades her out there and throws chops, but Shayna sends her into the stairs. Back in, Baszler throws knees in the corner and follows with a front powerbomb for two. She does some SMALL JOINT MANIPULATION and stomps the hand to take over, and that gets two. Kairi with a rollup for two, but Shayna goes back to the arm and cranks on that. They slug it out as Sane comes back, but Baszler hits a knee to the arm and Sane responds with a backfist. Both are down and Sane tries the submission hold, but the arm gives out and Baszler powers out. Sane slugs away in the corner and follows with a spear as she fires up again and hits a neckbreaker for two. She goes up for the big elbow, but Shayna armbars her from the top to counter and Sane lands on the floor. Back in, Sane comes back with a DDT and goes up again, but Shayna bails to escape and Sane gets a crossbody to the floor instead. Shayna sends her into the railing and they fight into the front row, where Shayna’s friends run interference, and Shayna gets the choke before Sane rolls it over for two. Sane with a rollup, but Jessamyn Duke kicks her from the floor and the choke regains the title at 12:28. Not really a fan of the Horsewomen and all the outside interference, but the work was solid. I’m kind of mystified at the booking of the title as of late, since they never really do the short fluky title reigns like that in NXT and Shayna doesn’t really need it back. ***1/4
Last Woman Standing: Becky Lynch v. Charlotte
Supposed heel Becky is wildly cheered and Charlotte is booed out of the building. Great job, creative team! Becky takes her down and drops elbow for the first count, but Charlotte fights up and gets a big boot on Becky for a 4 count. Becky tosses Charlotte and it’s a 4 count, and Becky finds a kendo stick for some abuse. They both throw chairs into the ring and Becky beats on her with those as Cole explains that “some” people in the audience have developed into a “cult following” for Becky while the entire crowd cheers for her. Becky makes a pile of chairs, but Charlotte gets a backdrop suplex onto them and both are out. Charlotte heads out and finds a table, but Becky dropkicks her off the apron and sets it up in the ring. Becky gets her own suplex onto the chair pile and Charlotte is down for 8. Becky puts her on the table and goes up, but Charlotte brings her down to thunderous boos and gets her own moonsault. And of course the table doesn’t break. It’s been that kind of night. So Charlotte puts her on the table again and this time does a senton, which thankfully breaks the table. Both are up at 9 after that. Next up, Charlotte finds a ladder, but Becky slams her onto it for a count of four. Charlotte clips the knee and wraps her knee in the ladder and we get a wacky figure-four in the ladder, which of course means nothing in this type of match. So they head to the floor and fight into the crowd and back to ringside as the announcers are STILL trying to push what a coward and betrayer that Becky supposedly is. They’re gonna make Charlotte into the new Roman Reigns. Charlotte manages to set up a ladder on the floor and Becky nails her with the belt and comes off the ladder with a legdrop through the announce table. Charlotte makes it up at 9, so Becky boots her in the face and buries her under a pile of office chairs. WHY ISN’T THE REFEREE COUNTING ALREADY? And Super-Charlotte of course emerges from the pile from 9 as the crowd boos that bullshit out of the building. Charlotte comes back with kendo stick shots and spears her on the floor, then sets up another table out there and follows with a moonsault off the top, but Becky powerbombs her through the table and retains the title at 28:40. This was a pretty great throwback brawl on its own, but the incredibly tone deaf commentary was like nails on a chalkboard. Also, they missed the peak because there was no way they were topping the chair pile spot at the end and they kept going for a different finish anyway. Still, hell of an effort here from both and clearly the match of the night and something that would contend on any WWE PPV. Seriously though, that’s gotta be it for the feud, right? ****1/4
So much for wrapping this one up in three hours.
RAW Women’s title: Ronda Rousey v. Nikki Bella
Ronda takes her down with a pair of judo throws, but Brie runs interference and Nikki takes over after a shot to the post. Back in for the chinlock and the Bellas torment Ronda while Nikki works her over as the announcers ponder the “social media barrage” if the title changes here. How could I ever use Twitter again? Nikki with an abdominal stretch, but Ronda creates separation, so Nikki gets a springboard kick for two. Ronda fights them off and gets an amazing Cena-like double fireman’s carry on the Bellas and then makes the comeback with ground and pound while adjusting her gear. Can we PLEASE get her some tights for under her shorts already? Ronda with a sloppy throw to put her on the floor and she gets rid of Brie out there, but walks into a whiplash slam in the ring that gets two for Nikki. Rack Attack gets two. Nikki goes up and Ronda follows her up with a flying armbar, and then reapplies for the tapout at 14:08 to retain. This was well and good and exactly what we were expecting going in, if a little long like everything else on the show. ***1/4
A pretty enjoyable show overall, with the top matches delivering what we expected in a good way and undercard matches delivering what was expected, in not such a good way. But the top 3 were really good and this warrants a pretty easy thumbs up with everything at least decent and nothing bad.