Evolution 2018: Preview and Predictions

Before I start and you can read the blog I’ve written to preview the Evolution PPV, I couldn’t write about WWE at the moment and not mention Roman Reigns. For some reason I woke up at about 2.30am on Tuesday morning and checked my phone for the time, and I found a good dozen or so notifications telling me things I couldn’t believe I was reading. Seeing it was even more shocking. Roman Reigns announcing to the world that he once again has Leukaemia and is vacating the Universal Championship whilst he battles this form of Cancer for the 2nd time. His speech was an incredibly brave thing to do in front of the world on live TV. And when Dean and Seth came out to join him on the ramp and Rollins was in tears I know it was too much for me that’s for sure. I only cried more as I watched the video of him backstage being greeted by the likes of Triple H, Paul Heyman, Nia Jax and Braun Strowman. But if any of us take anything from this I think we should watch an incredibly brave and strong human being who as he was leaving the arena was still able to make jokes and smile with the cameraman as he was making his way to his rental Car. If that doesn’t show strength in adversity I don’t know what does. This is so far beyond what any of us (me included) may think of him as a performer or a character, I’m sure we can all agree as wrestling fans he has given us all so many memories and moments none of us will ever forget. And I know for one I am already looking forward to seeing him beat Leukaemia and come back and do what he does best. Like he alluded to himself be it boo or cheer EVERYBODY watching WWE reacts to Roman Reigns, he makes us invested in the product more than anyone, I think it’s the least any of us can do is to give him a few extra thoughts and prayers in the times ahead. Us as fans all owe it to him to ensure we are still here as passionate as ever towards the product ready to welcome him back when he is able to return. Thank you for everything you gave for us Roman and I speak for us all when I say I look forward to seeing you back in a WWE ring soon.


Well, it’s finally time! So let’s for the sake of my own sanity forget about that show where none of the women on this card will feature and instead look forward to the first ever all women’s WWE PPV event. When this was first announced I did think it was a bit forced, in the sense it’s doing it for the sake of doing it. But I’m not against it completely, and have long been an advocate and a glass-half-full person when it comes to women’s wrestling. We should all be grateful both women’s wrestling and the WWE female roster is at a place of strength, enough to be able to put this event on. It’s a pretty strong card too as expected with each match featuring some kind of hook; great story, ongoing rivalry and a few huge name stars returning along the way. SO without further or do let’s get right in to it and preview WWE Evolution!!!

Natalya, Bayley & Sasha Banks V ‘The Riott Squad’ (Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan & Liv Morgan)

Wow talk about a filler, run-of-the-mill, nothing kind of match. If this exact match was on any random episode of Raw it wouldn’t exactly jump out to me as a big deal. It was probably this match that jumped out to me as showing how little some of the more talented female performers on the roster have to do in terms of stories as of late. Yes the top end and the title feud’s are often done well or at least made to feel like they’re a big deal. But below that? Not too much going on is there really. The Riott Squad for starters other than messing up a few papers and getting sauce on a door backstage haven’t exactly gone close to starting a ‘riot’ any time recently. They just come across as 3 mates together as opposed to a heel female faction and a major threat. Just look how easily Ronda and The Bellas put them in their place. As for the babyfaces it was pretty clear as soon as WWE stopped and started and never pulled the trigger on what seemed like an impending Bayley – Sasha split and feud for about 3 month straight that they had no idea what to do with two of the most popular and talented performers on the entire women’s roster. They haven’t even gone close to teasing a Natalya – Ronda feud as they seemed to be doing when Rousey first cam in, I guess there’s still time but in the meantime Natalya has become another of those women that just… appears on TV every week without much of story for them. Result wise? I can’t even pretend that I think it matters too much, would it surprise anyone if they did the same match on Raw the next night and the other team won? Or maybe… there’s a very slim chance they do a heel turn for someone here. It’d certainly be what i’d do to salvage it for all involved. Riott Squad win (they DEFINITELY need it more) and someone on the losing team turns heel? That’d be nice.

Prediction: The Riott Squad to win

Mae Young Classic 2018 Final: Toni Storm V Io Shirai

This is just going to be a tremendous wrestling match. My only fear is they don’t give it much time, however I have no doubt both of these excellent talents will put on a great show. And it’s only now as we approach the event that I’m so pleased they made the choice to put the MYC2 final on a big PPV as they have done. It will present both Io and Toni to a much wider audience than they may have got previously exposed too. I imagine Io will move on after to make big waves in the NXT women’s division, and Toni has already made appearances on the NXT UK show so I would presume she will be a mainstay of that brand. But I will presume that some, if not most of the audience for the Evolution PPV may not have seen or heard of either woman before. So I will offer a brief explanation; Io Shirai is regarded as the best female wrestler in the world, and would’ve competed in the first Mae Young Classic last year had it not been for an injury issue, and her apparently getting cold feet on the idea of moving to Orlando and the PC etc. But then I also heard how she was a bit upset when she saw Kairi Sane (who she’s actually good friends with if you follow them both on social media so take this with a pinch of salt) presented as WWE’s big female Japanese new signing. I don’t know personally if she’s better than Kairi but it’s very close and I’ve no doubt that is a future NXT Women’s championship match. Toni Storm on the other hand at 23 YEARS OLD is seen as a potentially huge star of women’s wrestling. And trust me she’s one of the top all round workers right now in the women’s division so with even more years behind her she will be an absolute world beater. This is simply 2 really popular babyfaces in probably the biggest match of both their lives, on the biggest stage both have probably ever performed on. So there’s a lot of spotlight, attention and pressure on them. I hope, pray and do actually believe they will do just fine. I would give Shirai the edge as I see them pushing her more on the main NXT and Toni will be on the UK brand, so purely for that fact alone I’ll say we get a Japanese winner of the Mae Young Classic for the 2nd year running.

Prediction: Io Shirai wins the 2018 Mae Young Classic

NXT Women’s Championship: Shayna Baszler V Kairi Sane (C)

In my personal opinion this match seems a foregone conclusion result-wise, I just don’t see why they would take the title from Shayna and give it to Kairi just to switch it back again. Maybe they could, there is yet to be a 2 time NXT Women’s Champion it should be noted, but I’d see it unlikely. And whilst I have no doubt that it will once again be a great match (their Takeover: Brooklyn 4 match was the WWE women’s match of the year so far to me) I just can’t see Sane losing the title so soon. It’s not completely clear though what is the future for the NXT Women’s Championship in terms of contenders as, especially with the Mae Young Classic bringing in so many new talents, it’s not clear totally who will be next in line for a shot. I’d presume Bianca Belair if Sane was to keep the belt, and unless they want to go with Sane vs Baszler again if they do the switch back maybe they give the MYC winner the next shot? Anyway they’ve done a really good job in making Sane a top babyface and Shayna the top heel in NXT Women’s division as the female roster as a whole has gone from strength to strength and the depth now is absurdly strong. Maybe we get a few call ups on the female side sometime after Evolution to make room, and then we have a whole load of new match ups possible. Overall with everything taken into account I’d say Kairi to retain… and POSSIBLY Baszler finding a new home not long after… MAYBE to link in some way to another Women’s champion whom she has an affinity with… or MAYBE a couple of her friends make an appearance on this show to give her a helping hand… Intriguing indeed…

Prediction: Kairi Sane retains the NXT Women’s Championship

Alexa Bliss (or Alicia Fox) & Mickie James V Trish Stratus & Lita

Well this will be fun. I’d have this to open the show, just for the pop for Trish and Lita. And unless one of the regular roster women is next in line to challenge Ronda (unlikely at the moment) then the two hall of famers kind of have to go over. The reason by the way I have it listed as Alexa OR Alicia Fox is that after she was kept out of action after he rematch with Ronda in which she got an injury, Bliss returned last weekend at a live event… and got injured again. Some reports said it was a concussion and some said it was a broken nose but regardless her status for Evolution is very much up in the air. This was why Alicia Fox was the one who attacked Trish and Lita on Raw with Mickie James and Bliss was nowhere to be seen. As a match I’d presume Trish and Lita (who both certainly look in shape and both performed more than admirably in the Women’s Royal Rumble in January) have been training an awful lot for this match, and whilst Alicia as a worker has been around a while without being really good she is at least passable, James is about as solid an in-ring performer on the women’s roster so no surprise they have put her in this match to make it as good as possible. Given most of the early build was the angle between Alexa Bliss and Trish Stratus it would be a shame if Bliss couldn’t make the match. I guess you could have Bliss as a manager for the heels or even do a run in, but I really don’t see them bringing Trish and Lita in to do the job… unless they want to do the Bliss vs Stratus and/or Lita singles match later down the line, which I would certainly be all for.

Prediction: Trish Stratus and Lita win

Battle Royal for a future Women’s Championship Match: Alicia Fox V Asuka V Billie Kay V Carmella V Dana Brooke V Ember Moon V Lana V Mandy Rose V Naomi V Nia Jax V Peyton Royce V Sonya Deville V Tamina V Torrie Wilson V Michelle McCool V Alundra Blayze V Ivory V Kelly Kelly V Maria Kanellis V Molly Holly V Zelina Vega

Oh boy… firstly where are all the NXT women at? Secondly… this really is just a ‘everyone gets a slice of the pie’ sort of match isn’t it? I don’t know how they’ll go with it, I’d hope it’s taken semi-serious and we have one of the bigger names in the match win it; Asuka immediately jumps out to me as a choice. But this match just comes across to me as the Wrestlemania Women’s Battle Royal Mark 2, and that did next to nothing for Naomi’s career other than the moment itself. I think the shorter this is the better it’ll be for us all, at least I’d hope they get it down to the contenders to win the whole thing fairly soon in. But yes it is what it is, I imagine it’ll come just after one of the big matches on the show and the crowd will have little or no investment in it (aside from the nostalgia of seeing some of the returnees). I don’t know if you can tell but I don’t harbor much expectations for this match.

Prediction: Asuka wins the Battle Royal for a future Women’s Championship Match

Smackdown Women’s Championship: Charlotte Flair V Becky Lynch (C) – Last Women’s Standing Match

I stand corrected. As a story they’ve really done well with this. But it’s blatantly obvious that this feud has done as much good for Becky Lynch as it has done BAD for Charlotte Flair. Becky has shone so brightly during this feud, I think we’ve move past the stage where we can moan about her being a face or a heel. I think they saw the error of their ways when they removed the stuff where she slagged off the fans from the YouTube clip of her very first promo after the initial turn. This Stone Cole-like no F’s given, just go around and kick ass character that she has become, referring to her struggles and journey to get where she is, it really doesn’t take much for them now to turn her back face when they need or want to. It does feel even before this feud began that the crowd had started to change from Team Flair to Team Lynch. I know me for example as a huge Charlotte fan was amongst a group of people watching Summerslam, we all wanted Becky to win. But she didn’t, and as is normal for wrestling fans when they don’t get what they want, they can often take it out on the person’s whose fault it absolutely is not. And that person is the talent in the spot that the ‘favorite’ of the people is. In this situation it’s clear that the company before wanted Charlotte as top female to counteract a certain Rowdy one. The people slowly started to want Becky instead, reality is people will take this out on Charlotte. Charlotte Flair whom has long been rumoured to be one half of a possible Wrestlemania main event… and she’s been the absolute second fiddle. You shouldn’t have anyone who you want to main event Wrestlemania playing second fiddle to anyone. So you either change your main event, or you change your booking. The volume of the voice of the people and the support of Lynch has already meant Charlotte by being booked against Becky is indirectly losing potential supporters. So my question is this, at this stage now how on earth could you still get to Charlotte vs Ronda whilst Becky (the most popular woman on the roster with Rousey) is in another match? You can’t surely? People would reject it. And nobody wants the big Ronda Wrestlemania match being filled with boos. They’ve booked themselves long term into a corner. And as has been the case for me in this whole story and long term now, Charlotte Flair loses, Becky Lynch wins.

Prediction: Becky Lynch retains the Smackdown Women’s Championship

Raw Women’s Championship: Nikki Bella (with Brie Bella) V Ronda Rousey (C)

You know what? They’ve actually done a really good job of building this match up and making it feel like it is worthy of main eventing this historic event. They’ve got very personal in the build up and it has really shone as spotlight on the two very contrasting sides in this tale. On one hand you have the fiery yet fierce babyface champion of the people Ronda Rousey who stands for woman empowerment and is presented as a champion for the ‘new’ generation of female athletes. On the other we have the pioneer of the previous incarnation of women in WWE, the ultra ‘diva’ mainstream-crossover star Nikki Bella. The ‘cool’ kids will be on Ronda’s side and the villainous, mean-girls side of the support will be with the Bellas. A classic tale really. The promo work from both sides has been surprisingly excellent, rumours abound that Paul Heyman no less has been working with Rousey to come up with lines that sound very real coming form the former UFC champion and all time great mixed martial arts athlete that she is. Ronda has also taken shots at the Bellas essentially living off their men to get to the top in WWE, I particularly rated her line regarding the John Cena – Nikki Bella split (No I’m absolutely not over it, love isn’t real). Nikki has definitely shown in recent weeks she is the more accomplished an perhaps confident one of the two twins in-ring, and is undoubtedly the bigger star of the two. But it remains to be seen if the chemistry between Rousey and Nikki Bella that has been evident in their verbal wars will crossover to in between the ropes. I think it will, I don’t know if it’ll be a classic but it’ll be fine I’ve no doubt. Given Rousey is the biggest star in the company and Nikki Bella is the one the company want to be their big ‘homegrown’ cross-over female star it’s hardly a surprise this match up was rumoured a long time back, lets just hope it ends up being as good as WWE seem to ant us all to think it will be. Oh and for the record Ronda will retain, I say that with around a 98% certainty.

Prediction: Ronda Rousey retains the Raw Women’s Championship

All I feel going into this show is that it has kind of been forgotten and hidden behind Super Show Down, Hell In A Cell, Crown Jewel and the weekly shows in terms of a build up. Neither Raw or Smackdown this week (the go home shows, although Raw could probably be excused this week for obvious reasons) closed with an angle to go into Evolution. But the card whilst some matches are a bit… erm… shoved together… there is a great deal of good wrestlers on this card. Every match features one or more very good to excellent in ring-workers so as long as each match ois given enough time then it SHOULD be a fine show. And my oh my I do hope it is good, if this show sucks (it wont) then it would really set the women’s division back a bit after all they’ve done. Be prepared for plenty of patting on the back as per WWE with these sort of events but besides that be as equally prepared for a great show of women’s wrestling.

Josh.

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