WWE Evolution: Preview, predictions and full card
Ronda Rousey faces Nikki Bella in the main event of Evolution – the first all-women’s pay-per-view in WWE history.
The UFC icon will defend the Raw Women’s Championship against the longest-reigning Divas Champion – with Nikki’s sister Brie at ringside.
The bout headlines a card featuring female legends past and present, who have all helped pave the way for the historic show in New York.
Former best friends collide when Charlotte Flair challenges SmackDown Women’s Champion Becky Lynch in a Last Woman Standing Match.
Two Attitude Era legends return as Trish Stratus and Lita partner up to tackle Mickie James and Alicia Fox, accompanied by Alexa Bliss.
The final of the 2018 Mae Young Classic sees Toni Storm battle Io Shirai and Kairi Sane defends the NXT women’s title versus Shayna Baszler.
Meanwhile, Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Natalya face The Riott Squad, and a star-studded battle royal will grant the winner a future title shot.
Here is a match-by-match breakdown of tonight’s show.
Six-woman tag team match
Sasha Banks, Bayley and Natalya vs. The Riott Squad (Liv Morgan, Sarah Logan and Ruby Riott)
Sasha Banks returned to action two weeks ago after an injury layoff due to post-concussion syndrome, in order to help her longtime friend Bayley and division veteran Natalya even the numbers against The Riott Squad’s Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan. It’s only right that The Boss will be part of WWE Evolution, as she has been one of the key driving forces in the progress made by the company’s female stars.
Banks and Bayley made history when they headlined NXT TakeOver: Respect in October 2015 – the first women’s match to ever headline a major WWE event, the first women’s Iron Man match, and the longest women’s match in WWE history at the time. She then went on to become a four-time Raw Women’s Champion and in October 2016, she and Charlotte Flair became the first women to headline a WWE pay-per-view event and to compete in a Hell in a Cell match.
While Sasha’s career has suffered some false starts since then, it’s time she got back on track, accompanied by the woman who shared her early success, and Natalya, an ever-reliable wrestler who carries the legacy of the Hart and Neidhart families. Morgan and Logan are still relatively green, but independent wrestling standout Riott is a top worker with a strong look who leads the faction admirably.
With the two sides being so familiar with each other having feuded for many months, but not normally being given this amount of time or exposure, expect those involved to bring their A game and deliver a good bout.
Predicted winners: Sasha Banks, Bayley and Natalya
Women’s Battle Royal
The women’s battle royal for a future title match should be loads of fun, given the unpredictable nature of these contests and the wide range of talents booked, including a who’s who of yesteryear. Names confirmed to appear so far include Raw quintet Tamina, Ember Moon, Nia Jax, Dana Brooke and Maria Kanellis, plus SmackDown stars Billie Kay, Peyton Royce, Asuka, Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville, Carmella, Lana, Naomi and Zelina Vega. They will be rejoined by returning greats Torrie Wilson, Michelle McCool, Alundra Blayze, Ivory, Kelly Kelly and Molly Holly.
Of the Raw entrants, Nia Jax has to be the obvious pick and she will surely dominate much of proceedings, eliminating five or six opponents at the very least. But don’t overlook her recent tag team partner, Ember Moon, who is yet to show main roster crowds the full extent of the talent that made her NXT Women’s Champion.
From SmackDown, Asuka, Carmella and Naomi should all flourish, with many expecting Asuka to reassert herself as the Empress of Tomorrow who laid waste to all before her this time last year. It will be fascinating to see what the outspoken trailblazer Alundra Blayze brings to the ring at the age of 54, but could an unlikely winner emerge from the group of past stars? If anyone, my money would be on Michelle McCool, the accomplished four-time world champion, who may fancy one last run to coincide with her husband The Undertaker’s final days in sports entertainment.
Predicted winner: Ember Moon
Singles match for the NXT Women’s Championship
Kairi Sane (c) vs. Shayna Baszler
A rematch of last year’s Mae Young Classic final sees Kairi Sane defend the NXT Women’s Championship versus the deadly Shayna Baszler. Sane won the title from Baszler in a great bout at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn 4 in August, when she survived a brutal onslaught from the former MMA star. Shayna twisted her rival’s arms and legs in ungodly ways, before the Japanese high flyer rallied with everything in her locker, ahead of a thrilling finish when Sane recorded a shock pinfall with a clever roll up. This should be another cracking contest and the title could well be heading back in the other direction.
Predicted winner: Shayna Baszler
2018 Mae Young Classic tournament final match
Io Shirai vs. Toni Storm
This year’s Mae Young Classic has been a mesmerising contest and the final should be no different – a showdown between Australia’s adopted Brit, Toni Storm, and stellar Japanese star Io Shirai. Storm earned her spot with impressive victories over Jinny, Hiroyo Matsumoto, Mia Yim and the ultimate veteran of women’s wrestling – Japan’s Meiko Satomura – in arguably the best match of the tournament.
Shirai meanwhile, was all set to join WWE last year, before a neck injury threw a spanner in the works. Now ‘The Genius of the Sky’, renowned for her incredible suplexes and high-flying attacks, is set to show why she was considered the best young performer on the planet, having already dispatched Xia Brookside, Zeuxis, Deonna Purrazzo and the NXT UK Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley in a barnstorming semi-final.
Storm is another member of the NXT UK roster and at the age of 23, is perhaps not yet ready to make the leap to NXT in the U.S. full time. For that reason, along with her astonishing prowess, the 28-year-old Shirai has to be the favourite here.
Predicted winner: Io Shirai
Tag team match
Trish Stratus and Lita vs. Mickie James and Alicia Fox (with Alexa Bliss)
One of the most hotly-anticipated matches at WWE Evolution was the first match confirmed for the pay-per-view – Alexa Bliss against Trish Stratus. WWE bookers have long seen something of their most successful ever diva, Stratus, in Little Miss Bliss, and she has confessed that Trish was her role model. A singles match pitting Mickie James against Lita was also originally scheduled for the event, but then allies Bliss and James were scheduled to team up to face the Attitude Era ‘besties’ in a match full of history. James retired Lita back in 2006, while she made her name in matches against Stratus.
Now however, Bliss has sadly been forced to withdraw from the match, due to an injury sustained at the hands of Ronda Rousey at Hell in a Cell. So instead, the underrated Alicia Fox has stepped in to fill the void, with Bliss having to settle for a place at ringside.
It’s a real shame that Bliss versus Stratus won’t be part of tonight’s proceedings, but I’d still expect WWE to give us that match further down the line. A clash between the two wouldn’t look out of place at WrestleMania and with that being said, one obvious set-up could be Alexa interfering to hand James and Fox and unlikely win this evening.
Predicted winners: Mickie James and Alicia Fox
Last Woman Standing match for the WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship
Becky Lynch (c) vs. Charlotte Flair
At SummerSlam, Charlotte Flair defeated Becky Lynch and former champion Carmella in a triple threat match to become a two-time SmackDown Women’s Champion, by pinning Lynch. Frustrated, Lynch then viciously attacked her best friend Flair, turning heel, despite fans still cheering for the Lasskicker, who had been hard done by yet again. Lynch then defeated Flair to win the championship in an engaging match at Hell in a Cell, then retained it via disqualification in a superior contest at Super Show-Down.
The two had a rematch on SmackDown, but it ended in a double countout, resulting in Becky again walking out with the title. Now they will clash in a last woman standing match, which could well steal the show. They will probably be given up to half an hour with entrances to showcase the very best WWE’s women have to offer. Lynch’s character is on fire, as shown in a searing interview segment with Edge on SmackDown 1000, so taking the title off her at this stage would not make sense. Their brawl at the WWE Performance Center was another innovative touch – this feud has plenty of gas left in the tank.
Predicted winner: Becky Lynch
Singles match for the WWE Raw Women’s Championship
Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Nikki Bella (with Brie Bella)
The Bella Twins teamed with Ronda Rousey to help the Raw Women’s Champion overcome the Riott Squad at Super Show-Down in Australia earlier this month. But on the following episode of Raw, after they partnered up again to win a rematch, Nikki and Brie Bella attacked Rousey, turning heel. A title match between Rousey and Nikki was then scheduled for Evolution. Can the longest reigning Divas Champion in WWE history topple The Baddest Woman On The Planet?
They have held nothing back in their verbal confrontations to hype this clash, with Ronda claiming Nikki and Brie only succeeded in WWE by living off their partners – John Cena and Daniel Bryan respectively – and stealing their moves, before reminding supporters of her classic ‘Do Nothing B*****s" speech in UFC, branding them ‘Do Nothing Bellas’. She even said the only door Nikki knocked down in WWE was Cena’s bedroom, which he then threw her back out of! Not to be outdone, Nikki spent the contract signing this week trying to rile Rousey by saying her mother would be disappointed in her Olympic and UFC failures – the latter which until now had been a ‘no-go’ subject for the famously sensitive Ronda’s opponents in WWE.
Those expecting Ronda to make an example of Nikki may underestimate how highly the most dominant Bella is regarded by Vince McMahon – her record-breaking reign as Divas Champion attests to that and she brings mainstream appeal due to the success of Total Divas and Total Bellas, plus the high profile relationship she had with Cena. In fact, it may well be that she takes Rousey’s title, with the help of her sister of course.
Predicted winner: Nikki Bella
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