OPENING VIDEO PACKAGE - Full disclosure: I watched this- and every other video package during the show with the sound off, because I knew the sh*t they were going to say would get me in a mood where I was too angry to watch the show. I'm... really not in the mood to deal with WWE propaganda bullsh*t today. Between the Saudi show and the way WWE has handled it, the fact that this entire show is a propaganda exercise thought up to mitigate criticism for going back to Saudi Arabia, and the fact that they couldn't go an entire day after Roman Reigns told us he had to take a leave of absence because he has a life-threatening cancer before they made a video package where they just HAD to show us how many media outlets were paying attention to them because of it.
We open with... a live concert. They do realize that people are paying for this show, right? We're not paying for a f*cking concert; we're paying to see professional wrestling.
The stands are barely lit up at all, which is the way I prefer a wrestling show, but is against WWE's M.O., which tells you that there are A LOT of empty seats. But that's what you get for running Nassau Colosseum.
TRISH STRATUS & LITA vs. MICKIE JAMES & ALICIA FOX (w/Alexa Bliss!) - 5.75/10
It's almost Halloween, so the heels are wearing costumes to the ring, because nothing says "serious wrestling" like wearing Halloween costumes.
Lita looked a lot less rusty than the last time we saw her wrestle, so I wasn't fearing for her life every time she left the ground. Trish looked great, and Mickie was great and Fox... was Fox. There was one really bad spot where she was WAY too late to break up a pin she was supposed to break up. I understand that they were in a bind between Alexa's concussion and the fact that they had advertised that Lita was wrestling, but the Trish/Mickie sequences made it clear that making this a tag match dragged it down. Mickie got pinned, which is baffling because Mickie has actual value as an uppercard character while Fox is a goofball jobber who isn't hurt by losses. Hopefully we will get a singles match between Alexa and Trish at some point. If Trish is willing to come back, there is no reason not to do whatever you can with her to get the new talent over.
BELLA TWINS INTERVIEW - This is taking place on a "red carpet." Because, again: nothing says "serious athletes" more than a "red carpet" interview. Nikki's promo in which she dedicated her match tonight to Ronda's mom, was a good heel promo, though.
"WHAT DOES EVOLUTION MEAN TO YOU?" VIDEO PACKAGES - Total filler, and occasionally immersion-killing via breaking kayfabe.
BATTLE ROYALE FOR A FUTURE WOMEN'S TITLE MATCH - 4.75/10
It's the big show to celebrate women, but they still can't make up entrance music so that Vega doesn't have to have her male client's entrance music. At least with Maria Kanellis, the music has been portrayed as just as much hers as it is Mike's.
Someone felt that even after sitting through twenty entrances, it was necessary to delay this match even more so that The IIconics could cut a heel promo. This was all done so that the others could gang up on them and eliminate them... which, unless I'm mistaken, was the same way they started off the last big women's battle royale they did (the Formerly-Fabulous Moolah Memorial Battle Royale at WrestleMania).
Mandy eliminated Sonya. If they want me to think this might lead to them splitting up, their criminal mishandling of Sasha and Bayley earlier this year totally killed that. Carmella's big spot was that she got to dance. How far she has come. Ivory danced, too. Because that's definitely what we came here to see Ivory do. I popped when Mandy Rose took advantage of her tomfoolery to nearly eliminate her. Pretty much all of the women making their big returns did very little that was in any way memorable. The thing the fans were most into was Asuka vs. Ember Moon.
This was... a battle royale. There were all the standard battle royale spots, and the cutesy CHIKARA multi-person suplex chain spots and so forth. Vega was your coward who hid on the floor until the end, Nia and Tamina were your two giants who eventually faced off. You know the drill. The Rock's Cousin Nia Jax got the win, because even when it's an all-women show, Vince McMahon is still in charge, and thus the larger person who is a relative of The Rock and has nice, long hair, is going to win. Speaking of The Rock, after the Nia's victory, they pointed out Ata Johnson in the crowd, and, of course, identified her "The Rock's mother" rather than letting her be "Nia Jax's aunt" here on this all-women's show.
NIA JAX INTERVIEW - Good. Charly Caruso immediately congratulates Nia on having "just made history." Cool it, Charly. It's just a #1 contendership battle royale. Nia's promo saying she would beat whoever left the building tonight with the Raw Women's Title was good.
VIDEO PACKAGE FOR STEPH'S CHARITY - I couldn't escape this one because it had subtitles. I'm not objecting to anything the charity does, but I do find it really annoying that on these shows (meaning really anything they're hoping to get extra attention for, like Mania, SummerSlam, or a show like this), WWE treats their paying customer fans like members of the media who they are trying to con with their PR. You have our money; just give us the wrestling we're paying you for. We know what you guys do in terms of charity just as well as we know the sleazy bullsh*t you get up to.
2018 MAE YOUNG CLASSIC FINALS:
Toni Storm vs. Io Shirai - 8/10
They had the awesome match you'd expect them to have. Toni worked over Io's head and neck with lots of sick stuff like a German Suplex on the apron and several Storm Zeroes (the Tigerbomb version, not the Air Raid Crash version) and got the win. Io got to get her high-flying in as well and looked like a total babyface, but Toni was the one who came out of this match looking like a megastar.
They had Death Rey, Steph, and Hunter out to present the flowers and trophy... and Steph apparently cannot help but look like a heel. She seems to have this triumphant evil smirk plastered onto her face.
CROWN JEWEL PLUG - Yup. On the show where they are celebrating women, they are making sure to balance it out by advertising the show in the country that won't even let women wrestle there. And of course they neglected to mention what country the show was in, as if they think we don't know.
THE RIOTT SQUAD vs. SASHA BANKS, BAYLEY, & NATALYA - 6.75/10
The announcers kept insisting to us that "there are so many layers to Liv Morgan," and all I can think is "then why have you done absolutely nothing to show them to us?"
This match was great, but at the same time, my major feeling coming out of it is that it could have been a lot better than it was. It was a little sloppy, felt like it went a little too long (especially when you realize the previous match didn't even go eleven minutes) and was something of a victim of overthinking. They started off well and that "intercepting dropkick into the ringpost" spot to get the heat on Bayley was awesome, but Bayley made the hot tag WAY too quickly, the part of the match with the heat on Sasha was sloppy, and that "I'm covering my friend so that you don't hurt her!" spot just made Bayley look like an idiot because she could have just as easily pushed Ruby off the top rope instead of lying on top of Sasha and yes taking some of the force of the senton for Sasha, but while reducing the momentum Sasha would be hit with, she didn't reduce it that greatly because whatever speed reduced was just replaced by her own mass crushing Sasha as well. I think this would have been a lot better if they had just let Bayley be the babyface in peril, and Sasha winning the match with the move of her male hero instead of her own finisher seemed like the wrong finish to me on this particular night. If she used the Frog Splash as a finisher all the time it would be one thing, but she doesn't. That's her special "I love Eddie Guerrero" finisher that she only pulls out at certain times.
Cole gave Death Rey and her crew a verbal shout-out. Do you know what would have been better? Giving them their own video package instead of all of this "what does Evolution mean to you?" branding bullsh*t?
NXT WOMEN'S TITLE MATCH:
Kairi Sane(c) vs. Shayna Baszler - 8.25/10
The announcers basically buried Kairi the moment she came out by talking about her "pirate persona" and basically said "don't worry, everyone. We know she's a gimmick and we think it's dumb, too" which is an astounding judgment for WWE to be making, considering all of the sh*t they have on their TV. Also, quite frankly it's pretty sh*tty of them to be doing this to Hunter's NXT talent when you never see the NXT announcers burying main roster stuff as they plug it.
I'm also pretty sure that Cole called "KAIRI!" chants as "NXT!" chants. Not to be outdone, Renee let us know that "it wouldn't be an upset" if Kairi- THE CHAMPION- won this match.
Baszler worked the arm with her usual vicious array of submissions, while Kairi was her usual awesome babyface self. The big story here is Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir interfering to help Baszler win the belt. The fans were extremely unhappy with this, but this is as good a point as any to start using the Horsewomen as a unit on NXT TV, and this is as good a way as any to introduce them.
LAST WOMAN STANDING MATCH FOR THE WWE SMACKDOWN WOMEN'S TITLE:
Becky Lynch(c) vs. Charlotte Flair - 9.25/10
In short, these two tried to kill each other. Becky worked on Charlotte's back and just kept beating on her and beating on her and Charlotte made several AWESOME comebacks until they built to a finish that felt HUGE.
That being said, the match would have been more enjoyable with a different commentary team. First of all, the word "interesting" needs to be permanently removed from both Michael Cole and Renee Young's vocabularies. Cole also, needs to stop asking rhetorical questions, because if you don't realize they're rhetorical it makes him sound like an idiot, and if you do realize they're rhetorical, it makes you feel like he thinks you are an idiot who needs the obvious spelled out for you.
Then there was that ladder. When Becky pulled the ladder out, Cole's response was to say "and TLC's not until December." Why would he say this? The only reasons I can come up with are as follows:
1. He thinks this is somehow a witty comment, to which I would respond that not only is it pretty obviously not, but even if it was, is this really the time for jokes, Cole?
2. He has been so mentally conditioned by his years of working for Vince that upon seeing a ladder, his immediate instinct was to plug the PPV that has a Ladder Match on it.
Neither of these two things are good.
CROWN JEWEL CARD RUN-DOWN - This got booed. As well it should have, for exactly the reason I stated above.
WWE RAW WOMEN'S TITLE MATCH:
Ronda Rousey(c) vs. Nikki Bella (w/Brie Bella) - 7/10
Renee's attempts to justify the Bellas' bullsh*t involved her saying so many things that are so clearly either false or WWE-edited history (specifically one that doesn't include AJ Lee) that it almost made me turn the show off right then and there.
Cole claimed that this was "Nikki Bella's first title opportunity since 2015," which I can assure you is false because she was originally drafted to Smackdown and thus, like every other woman on the Smackdown roster, involved in the match to crown the first-ever Smackdown Women's Champion at Backlash 2016.
This was a great match, but I will admit to being put off by the fact that it was basically the same match Ronda had with Alexa Bliss! at Hell in a Cell: The heel takes advantage due to a distraction by her buddy on the outside and works over Ronda's ribs until Ronda makes her comeback and wins, although this time we got a double-heat because they got two more minutes that Alexa and Ronda got. I probably would have gone up to 7.25/10 on this if some of Brie's interference hadn't been stuff that the referee clearly should have called a DQ for and didn't even though he clearly saw Brie making contact with Ronda. And, for those wondering, Nikki Bella also failed to last as long in Ronda Rousey's armbar as non-wrestling executive Stephanie McMahon did.
POST-MATCH STUFF- They show us Nia watching backstage, then spoon-feed us their Kool-Aid by telling us how much everyone looks up to Ronda Rousey and how much they made history tonight. Everyone came out to celebrate together... and of course we couldn't end the show without another "what does Evolution mean to you?" video package.
This was a pretty great show from WWE in the ring, but so much of what surrounded it made it frustrating to watch. The reason I've been harping on those video packages is not just because they're PR bullsh*t but because they were PR bullsh*t that was eating up time that should have gone to the wrestling matches (the MYC finals went 10:20, the NXT Women's Title match went 12:10, only the Becky vs. Charlotte and the Battle Royale went over fifteen, and this was a seven-match show in a time slot that ran closer to three and a half hours than to three). It's a fine microcosm for what their Divas'/Women's R/Evolution truly is: PR that they want us to buy. If it was actually about the wrestling they would have given this time to the wrestling rather than these stupid video packages. But don't let that stop you from watching the show, and the SD and NXT title matches as well as the MYC finals were all awesome (okay, Charlotte vs. Becky was better than just "awesome"), and Ronda vs. Nikki was great as well. The wrestling on this show was great, and if you want some great women's wrestling, you probably won't be disappointed. But if you're sensitive to the other... baggage, then do yourself a favor and fast forward through that stuff.