Evolution thoughts

The first all women’s WWE pay per view is in the books and from most accounts it was a hit. There’s going to be a lot said about it over the coming weeks, so here’s my first crack at it.

Winners

  • The crowd – best in building crowd at a WWE main roster pay per view all year, maybe in several years. Supportive, happy to be there, came to see the show and not be the show. If we can get those folks tickets and travel for every show, it would be great.
  • The ladies – everyone who worked on the show did great. There wasn’t a bad match on the show, and everyone involved got a moment or two to shine. There were concerns going in that a lot of women were being underutilized because of the match lineup but that proved to be unfounded in my book by show’s end. You may not have liked all the choices as far as winners and losers but I think everyone at least came away looking like they had something to build on for the future.

As far as losers I got only one really……..

The trolls – I’m including everyone here from random clowns on the internet all the way up to Dave Meltzer himself. All the dirtsheet reports that it wasn’t going to sell out, that the matches had no story behind them, that it was a throwaway show, that Vince didn’t give a crap about it (he produced the show himself so he had to care a little bit) were proven wrong. They did a full media blitz over the weekend, had a red carpet, a live music intro, and everything. Whatever doubts real or perceived that Vince may have about the viability of women’s wrestling as a product, he managed to put them aside for a time to make this show work. The idea that this was some kind of evil sorcery on his part – give the women a pay per view and let it tank so that his perceived disdain/disinterest for women’s wrestling would be vindicated – was next level tinfoil hat lunacy. Vince is a man for the arena – even if he’s not high on something when it’s go time he goes.

OK, what else do I have to say about it? Well, I figured it would be best to just highlight people who really stood out to me and earned some praise. So here goes:

Nikki Bella – If y’all don’t give her your respect now then just shut down whatever accounts you have and go live in a cave already. Remember once again she is working with a broken neck and took all the throws, slams, and everything that Ronda Rousey is know for doing. Even took one from the top rope. Stop dismissing her as a product of the Divas era and give Nikki her due. At a point where she does not have to do this anymore she is in there going full tilt for your entertainment and y’all better recognize that whether you like her or not. As for the match itself it was way better than I thought it would be and she deserves as much credit for that as anyone. However much longer she keeps at this, she’s earned her place alongside the names we all hold in high esteem.

Charlotte and Becky – They had the match of the night, and in some estimations the match of the year. What’s important for me here is not so much all the stuff they did but the intangible stuff. The match had real, believable heat between the competitors that punctuated every spot, every move, every attempt at a 10 knockout. And the story behind it all, Becky throwing everything including the kitchen sink at her former friend to put her down only for Charlotte to keep getting up until that final time when she couldn’t, was the best in any match I’ve watched all year. That is what makes a match truly great and truly memorable, not the number of moves each person does or how long it goes. The trust between the two ladies is another thing that made this possible. You just cannot do some of the things they did in that match without a dance partner you feel 100 percent confident in.

The other thing I think needs to be stated is that this match is living proof of the need to make someone a big deal, and not just roll them out there with the hope that we’ll choose for ourselves on whatever our own criteria is. The entire story between the two women is given life by the fact that Charlotte has been the dominant figure in the women’s division since 2015. That she’s won so much, to the point that some think she’s been given everything, made this match that much more special. It’s what made Becky’s turn matter, it’s what made people invest in her character more than ever before, and it’s what put the drama into this match. Every time Charlotte rose up after being laid out and even buried under a pile of chairs brought that impending sense of doom that she was going to win the match, because we are used to her winning these things, so when she finally didn’t get up it was a big deal. It mattered in a way that made this match something truly great and not just another good match with a bunch of spots.

And that’s what’s special about watching this stuff, moments that matter. Not the displays of technical proficiency or the crazy highspots. There are people who will remember this match well beyond this year, even over matches that were worked better technically or went longer or had more crazy stunts. Because of all the building blocks along the way, the emotional connection, and the way it ended. This was essentially an almost three year story with all kinds of inflection points along the way that culminated here, and wouldn’t had been as big of deal without any of them. We believe that Charlotte wins all the time, and we believe that Becky was an uncrowned, underappreciated people’s champion even after she won the actual title. So her getting a victory where she literally had to put Charlotte down and not just get a three count represented a struggle and not just a sporting contest. It was a fight for legitimacy more than a fight for over a title, and that’s quite often the bigger hill to climb in life.

Shayna Baszler – Baszler has become a favorite of mine this year. Her in ring style is a complete departure – more cold, more deliberate, and brutal in a subtle, calculating kind of way. The way she worked over Kari Sane’s arm throughout their match looked downright painful at times. She has a personality to go along with it, just pure meanness and evil towards her opponents that I hope will do her well once she gets called up to the main roster (I recommend feeding her a string of local jobbers to get this over after she arrives). And she added an element to the package Sunday when her MMA mates Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir interfered to help her get the victory. Mean, nasty, brutal, and willing to break the rules to win – makes for a potentially great heel run that would be a welcome next step in the progression of the women’s division.

The Battle Royal – One of the main points of contention a lot of people had going into the show was this match, and rightfully so. Battle Royals have largely devolved into throwaway matches that serve no other purpose than to get a bunch of people on the show without putting them in a match of their own. So even though it was an expected addition to the card, it was still deflating to hear that Naomi, Asuka, Ember, and a few others were going to be thrown in this match instead of getting their own thing. But thank God somebody was paying attention and decided to book the entire thing and not just the ending. The dance break with Carmella and Ivory, Tamina and Nia Jax’s callout to Roman Reigns, Zelina Vega’s disappearing act/near victory, Ember’s valiant effort in defeat, and then Nia winning the way a dominant big person should in this kind of match all made this a match worth having and watching.

Final Thoughts (not really but whatever)

Was this show long overdue? Of course. Not going to argue that point one bit. I am glad that it happened now before legends like Trish Stratus, Lita, Ivory, and Alundra Blayze could still get in a ring and go. Could it have been booked differently? Yes, but the way it turned out was fine to me. Most importantly they picked the right winner (Becky) in the match that had the biggest potential to turn sentiment against the show. But for a show that a lot of people were worried about right up until it started, the end result was way above all expectations and probably the most easily rewatchable and enjoyable pay per view of the year in any company. Kudos to everyone involved, and let’s all get those viewership numbers up so high that they have to do it again next year.

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