Rarely have I gone into an event with lower expectations and less enthusiasm. And yet, rarely have I been more wrong.
Andy Datson is a serviceable podcast host. Trust me, I’m as shocked as you are.
Woefully under-promoted, the one thing we were told about Sunday’s pay-per-view was that it would go down in history as a historic night of history-making historicalness.
And truthfully, investor-friendly hyperbole aside, WWE wasn’t wrong. When confronted with the excellence on display at Evolution though, it’s easy to overlook just how dramatically WWE’s attitude towards women’s wrestling has changed over the last decade.
For some perspective, almost ten years ago to the day, WWE held its fifth and final Cyber Sunday pay-per-view. The card on that night featured exactly ONE women’s match: a 16-Diva Halloween costume battle royal. There were no eliminations; no woman even stepped foot into the ring. Instead, in line with the show’s concept, the winner was determined by online poll. All told, the “match” was so wholly forgettable that it isn’t even recorded on the event’s Wikipedia page.
Sunday night felt like a lifetime removed from that debacle. Evolution represented the culmination of years of effort, guts and determination from a supremely talented cast of women. It was deserved (and long overdue) recognition of a roster that has transformed itself from teenage boy pin-up material to one of the most technically-gifted and capable divisions in all of wrestling.
With that in mind, my question may seem contradictory. Do we need another Evolution next year?
A follow-up event was heavily teased by Michael Cole throughout the broadcast and of course the temptation is to hold another – presumably equally excellent – all-women’s event. And while I certainly appreciate the enormity of the moment and enjoyed every match on Sunday’s card (yes, even the battle royal), I simply don’t know if a regular women-only pay-per-view should be the end goal.
Trying to find words to explain the feelings of last night. The feeling in the building, in the ring, backstage. It was like the first Takeover, or a Wrestlemania. To see everyone come together to create this magic was something so real & so special. But, you fans are our heroes.
— Bayley (@itsBayleyWWE) October 29, 2018
It’s hard to escape the idea, at least in my cynical mind, that Evolution only came about as a direct response to the controversy created by the male-exclusive Crown Jewel. A notion that WWE has done nothing to dispel by scheduling the respective events less than a week apart.
And that grimy undertone is perhaps why Evolution doesn’t quite sit well with me. Is it a way to elevate women to the point where they share the spotlight with their male counterparts? Or is it simply an annual reward with little build, which conveniently also covers up WWE‘s Saudi Arabian venture?
Per usual, the answer was probably best articulated by Becky Lynch during a Reddit AMA she held on Saturday. When asked about her vision of the future of women’s wrestling, the champ had the following response:
“I see it getting to a point where we no longer differentiate between genders and everything flows seamlessly.”
That should be the goal. Not to segregate WWE‘s roster along gender lines, but rather to make it feel like a dynamic, inter-connected world where men and women interact on equal footing. On a related note, Becky is still the GOAT:
She tried. pic.twitter.com/roO56ylSAJ
— The Man (@BeckyLynchWWE) October 29, 2018
Holding an all-woman pay-per-view is unquestionably a landmark moment. Prioritising women’s storylines, giving them meaningful exposure on weekly television and elevating their feuds to top billing on major pay-per-views is true evolution.
That said, this weekend has left us with two inescapable conclusions:
Evolution was awesome.
Andy-lution was fine.
So how did all the goodwill generated through Evolution play into Raw last night? And was WWE able to string together consecutive nights of good content? Our WrestleTalk writers are chomping at the bit to take you through their best and worst segments from Raw, and share their overall rating of the show. Read on to find out what they thought.