WWE Evolution 2018
October 28, 2018
NYCB Live/Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Uniondale, NY

Watch: WWE Network

Meet our previewers:

  • Suit Williams: Suit Williams is excited to see the women really get a chance to shine, five days before they won’t be allowed to appear on the Crown Jewel show. Hmm, that’s odd timing. Anyway, follow Suit Williams on Twitter @SuitWilliams. You can listen to him try to convince his co-host to watch 205 Live on the Smark Sports podcast, available on Apple Podcasts.
  • Lawson Leong: Co-host of the Talking Smark and Talking Naruto podcasts, this is the first WWE main roster show all year Lawson is looking forward to watching. He also writes the Match of the Month column for this very site. Follow him @Lawsoncomedy89.
  • Barry Hess: Voices of Wrestling columnist; he’s neither pithy nor quick to turn a phrase so he never has anything interesting to say in these intros. Follow him on Twitter @BFHess171

Womens Battle Royal for Women’s Championship Opportunity

Suit Williams: It’s funny that every woman on Smackdown, other than Charlotte and Becky Lynch, find themselves in the warm body battle royal. Congratulations ladies, you have your own show! You’ll be doing what you would’ve been doing anyway. Joining the also-rans of Raw and Smackdown are legends of the past like, uh, Kelly Kelly and Ivory. Anyway, it’s a fucking travesty that Asuka is in this thing, so she might as well win the thing. Prediction: Asuka

Lawson Leong: Here I was all excited for this show and we’re starting off with an absolute atrocity. Even the women involved didn’t hide their disappointment in this being the match they’d be taking part in. If they had thought this through ahead of time they could’ve come up with a more special way to include a lot of women on the show. Too bad they didn’t. Prediction: Naomi

Barry Hess: I’ve always been a battle royal mark; it’s so intrinsically pro wrestling and one of the last vestiges of the old days that still hold up in today’s product. When booked well they can be a lot of fun so I’m always ready to give a battle royal the benefit of the doubt. I was pretty pessimistic about the quality of match the women’s Royal Rumble would produce, but that match way over delivered and so I’m optimistic this will as well. I suppose I can understand the disappointment associated with the match. Sure, it would have been nice to see many of the women who have worked so hard leading up to this event get to shine in singles matches, but at the same time do we really need two or three more matches on this card? I’d argue no. I’d much rather see some of the more high profile matches get extra time than sit through a 10-12 match show. Prediction: Nia Jax

Trish Stratus & Lita vs. Alexa Bliss & Mickie James

Suit Williams: These were originally two singles matches, but was turned into one tag match. I was hoping to see Trish and Mickie tie it up one more time on this show, so I’m happy we’re gonna get that in some way. Alexa should be able to handle herself, and Lita…well it’ll be good to see her. My guess is that we get a Raw tag match that the legends win, because they’re legends, and as Triple H said on Monday’s Raw, “maybe old means we’re better.” Prediction: Trish & Lita

Lawson Leong: I had interest in Alexa/Trish but no interest in Mickie/Lita. Now as a tag, I have little interest, so I can’t tell if this booking change helped or not. Even though Mickie may well be the best worker in this match I expect her to eat the fall to the woman whose crotch she grabbed before winning the Women’s title all those WrestleMania’s ago. Prediction: Trish & Lita

Barry Hess: I was very happy to see these two singles matches condensed into one old school versus new school showcase. I quite enjoyed Trish Stratus as a character for most of her run, however, I never enjoyed her work in the ring. I didn’t need to see Lita in the ring in 1998 and I don’t need to see her in the ring in 2018. Likewise, I’ve always found the Trish/Lita feud to be far less important than the company has presented it to be (even before the Women’s Revolution began). As far as I’m concerned, if everyone walks away from this match is one piece it’s a win. It will be interesting to see what Alexa Bliss can do in this tricky situation. I suspect she’ll find a way to turn this stack of lemons into lemonade, but at the same time this thing could easily slide off the rails and turn into a mess. Prediction: Trish & Lita

2018 Mae Young Classic Tournament Final
Io Shirai vs. Toni Storm

Suit Williams: We get a match plucked right from out of Stardom’s hands, as the popular Australian Toni Storm takes on the tournament favorite Io Shirai. Shirai has been very impressive, but Storm has had the better matches in the tournament in my opinion. These two should tear the house down if they have the time. I’ll pick Toni Storm to win this year’s tournament, but this one really is a coin flip. I surely won’t be upset either way. Prediction: Toni Storm

Lawson Leong: Now we’re getting to the good stuff. This will likely steal the show, and may end up being one of the better women’s matches in WWE history, or at the very least main roster. Not to put too much pressure on it. You can’t go wrong with either winner here, and since these two are familiar with each other and have chemistry, I expect this to be a home run. Prediction: Toni Storm

Barry Hess: Toni Storm is tremendous, she has been among the top performers I’ve gone out of my way to follow over the last two years or so. She has a solid persona, is tremendously athletic and comes off as a star no matter where she’s working. With the debut of NXT UK it made sense that she would earn one of the top spots in the finals and that’s exactly what happened. Io Shirai, like Asuka and Kairi Sane before her, was someone I had never seen prior to her WWE debut, but was very excited to see based upon what I heard from respected opinions. Unlike Asuka and Sane, however, I’ve been quite underwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think she’s terrible, not even close. However the hype surrounding her signing has not translated in any of her three matches for me. I’m hopeful this match will change that sentiment. Prediction: Toni Storm

NXT Women’s Championship
Kairi Sane © vs. Shayna Baszler

Suit Williams: The best feud on NXT makes its way to the main stage, as these two go head-to-head for the third time. It’s somewhat fitting that these two have a match on the same show as the second Mae Young Classic final. I appreciate the symmetry of the present and the future of women’s wrestling with these matches. Anyway, I see Shayna as the bigger star of the two, and this could be a big launching pad for her. However, Kairi did just win the title at the last Takeover, and NXT isn’t known to have their titles trade around often. I’ll say that Shayna gets a ton of shine, but Kairi pulls out a definitive win to put this feud in the rear view. Prediction: Kairi Sane

Lawson Leong: This has been a sneaky good feud heating up the midcard segments of NXT over the last few months. The matches these two have had together have all been quite strong, and I could see this being their best one yet. I expect Kairi to put Shayna away definitively this time, with that beautiful elbow drop. Prediction: Kairi Sane

Barry Hess: Don’t be surprised if this match sneaks its way to match of the night status and steals the show. The first match, last year’s MYC final, was very good and their rematch earlier this year at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn 4 was tremendous. Sane and Baszler share a great chemistry together, which still surprises me somewhat, though I’m not really sure why. Prediction: Kairi Sane

WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship – Last Woman Standing
Becky Lynch © vs. Charlotte Flair

Suit Williams: These two have put in some exceedingly good performances in the past, however the stipulation could do more to get in the way than help. Last Man (or woman in this case) Standing matches tend to run on the tedious and trope-heavy side of things, and that can end up hindering these two. Stipulation aside, Becky Lynch has gotten over a lot with this new selfish character, and the New York crowd will almost certainly be on her side. But if you think Charlotte is losing this match, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. She’s the face of the women’s division, and would break Trish Stratus’s record for title wins if she wins on Sunday. Becky’s done well to get herself over, but she can ask Braun Strowman how well getting over as a heel works out for you. Prediction: Charlotte Flair

Lawson Leong: This could be excellent, or it could not work at all. Usually, the matches these two have are consistently good, with them never being noticeably exceptional or terrible. But the stipulation I think will push them over the edge in one of those directions, here’s hoping it’s the former. Either way, Becky’s work in this new character has been great, despite the company’s refusal to just let the fans embrace her. I expect her working with this new edge will enable her to hold up her side of this match. The problems could arise if the match structure attempts to babyface Charlotte too much, which the fans will assuredly reject. Prediction: Charlotte Flair

Barry Hess: I have very little to add to what I’ve already stated in previous show previews in terms of critiquing the inner mechanics of this program. This continues to be the best story WWE has produced this year. I’m a little worried about the stipulation getting in Becky and Charlotte’s way; the last man/woman standing gimmick tends to make for an overproduced performance that creates a clunky or trotting match. That said, the Last Man Standing match between AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura a few months back was neither overproduced nor clunky so perhaps there’s a chance this match continues that trend. While this stipulation lends itself to the blow-off of the feud, I don’t see that happening here. I think there’s plenty more story to tell between these two. I keep waiting for a Four Horsewomen versus Four Horsewomen angle and with Survivor Series around the corner (though you’d never know it since WWE has been promoting every show under the sun lately except for Survivor Series) I can’t help but think it’s at least a possibility. For that reason I’m going out on a limb with my prediction; neither Lynch or Flair will be able to answer the ten count, opening the door for a truce that will set the table for the Battle of the Horsewomen. Prediction: No Contest

WWE Raw Women’s Championship
Ronda Rousey © vs. Nikki Bella

Suit Williams: While I have no interest in Nikki Bella, nor do I understand her appeal, she is undeniably one of the biggest women’s stars in the company. The show sold out once this match was announced, so this match is of some interest to that Total Divas crowd. My biggest fear for this is that we get another match where Ronda Rousey, who won 5 straight UFC fights in 3:08 combined, sells for Nikki Bella for 10 minutes. I can see some twin magic nonsense getting Nikki a short advantage, but this should be a showcase for Ronda and a clean, definitive win for her. Prediction: Ronda Rousey

Lawson Leong: Well, this could be something! I’m not sure how much offense I want Nikki to get in this match. Nikki’s had some pretty good matches before, and Ronda at her best is one of the best rookie pro wrestlers I’ve ever seen. Plus, Ronda’s never disappointed in her big matches, so I don’t know how, but this could end up being really good. Prediction: Ronda Rousey

Barry Hess: I’d be lying if I said I was excited to see this match when it was first announced, but I’ll be damned if this didn’t turn into a compelling story pretty quickly. This feels like a big fight worthy of the main event of an important show. I’ve really enjoyed how the conflict has been framed as the best of the Diva’s era meeting the face of the Revolution era. It’s a little refreshing to see WWE not shying away from its flawed past for once, but in a way that makes sense within the story being told. Nikki Bella isn’t the heel because she epitomizes the Diva days, she’s the heel because she tried to manipulate and take advantage of Ronda’s position within the female roster. The polarizing ‘breaking down doors’ segment went a long way in adding another layer of depth to this match. Sure, Rousey went low, but she has no respect for Bella or the regime she represents. Rousey is not a pure white meat babyface character, she’s a badass with a short fuse and a hot temper. Modern pro wrestling fans need to be more comfortable with being made to feel uncomfortable. You’re allowed to feel uncomfortable, embrace it; allow it to add to the drama of the story you’re being told. You can acknowledge Rousey’s low brow jab and still want to see Bella get her comeuppance in the end. The two feelings are not mutually exclusive, especially at a time when wrestling fans claim to want non-binary storytelling more than ever. This is what that looks like. In terms of the match, Rousey is cleary underestimating Bella, which will probably play a major role in the way the match is structured. The crowd will have to buy that Bella has a chance to actually win, which will be a hard sell, but based on the television, the emotional investment is there from the audience. If the performers deliver the crowd will play along. I hope they do, it would make for a really fun match. Prediction: Ronda Rousey