SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
KELLER’S WWE EVOLUTION PPV REPORT
OCTOBER 28, 2018
UNIONDALE, N.Y. AT NASSAU VETERANS MEMORIAL COLISEUM
AIRED LIVE ON WWE NETWORK
KICKOFF SHOW NOTES
Panel: Renee Young, Beth Phoenix, Paige
-Charly Caruso interviewed Alexa Bliss and Sasha Banks. Banks said their match at Abu Dhabi was “bigger than wrestling.” She said they are changing the game.
-Michael Cole joined the panel. Young gave him credit for helping her career. He said he’s honored to be part of this broadcast and said he can’t quantify how important this is.
-Caruso interviewed Trish Stratus. She said her era laid the foundation for this generation to build on. She said it’s great she gets to team with her friend Lita on this historic event.
-Kayla Braxton interviewed Natalya on the red carpet. She said she’s going to put Riott Squad in their place later. She also said everything the women of the past have done led to this moment.
-R-Truth joined the panel and said he looked forward to competing in the battle royal. Carmella told him he wasn’t in the battle royal because it’s only fro women. They had a dance break.
-A video package aired recapped the Mae Young Classic.
-Charlie Caruso interviewed Maria Menounos spoke backstage about what a “huge moment” it is for the women of the past and those who have worked hard in recent years. She said it’s emotional to see “the girls on the marquee.” (Would they call the male wrestlers such as Braun Strowman, Undertaker, Triple H, Seth Rollins, Drew McIntyre, and A.J. Styles “boys” in the same situation? Or “men”? #NotThereYet #WordChoiceMatters)
-Young interviewed Eve Tores on the panel. She said she’s excited to watch Ronda Rousey. She said she gets chills thinking about Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte. Renee asked how it felt when Stephanie McMahon announced the first-ever all-women’s WWE PPV. Paige answered and said it felt great and everyone deservers it. Phoenix said they felt a moment of vindication. She also complimented the men who fought for the women to get their chance. “There’s unsung heroes of men out there who have fought just as much,” Phoenix said. “We had a sign a relief. We fought and ended up where we should be.”
-Braxton interviewed Stephanie McMahon backstage. “What emotions am I not feeling right now?” she said. She said she woke up with tears in her eyes and goosebumps and said this feels like Evolution right now. She said she appreciates all of the women and is so proud of each of them. She thanked every woman who has stepped foot inside the wrestling ring. She said it took their fans and people behind the scenes, too. She in particular thanked fans who started the #GiveDivasAChance hashtag. She said the audiences at NXT were a big factor by chanting “This is wrestling!” She credit “Paul, as I call him at home” (Triple H) for recruiting great women from around the globe for NXT. “Our women started to steal the show, and that’s exactly what they’re going to do tonight.” She said she wants fans to love the event and demand more afterward.
-Caruso interviewed Rousey, who said she’s never felt this kind of camaraderie before because she’s been part of individual competition before. She said there will never be another first-time, and her heart feels more full than the Grinch at the end seeing this sellout crowd arrive. She said she looks forward to starting a family soon “and I look forward to my daughters dealing with less b.s. than I did,” as her mom did for her. Regarding her mindset going into the match, she said the best thing would be finish her off quickly. “Being that she is a backstabbing betrayer, I’m going to be not so nice and make sure she leaves the ring looking different than she walked in,” she said, noting it might be PG.
How close are Vince McMahon and Donald Trump? What bonds them, and how they are remarkably differently?
A history of the McMahon-Trump business partnerships and personal kinship discussed with author of “TrumpMania” Lavie Margolin on a recent Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast. Check it out!…
Announcers: Michael Cole, Renee Young, Beth Phoenix
-After a video package aired previewing the event, WWE took cues from the NWA last Sunday night and had the wrong mic turned on at the start. You couldn’t hear Cole introduce the show, but you could hear a producer tell them something about their mic settings.
-In the ring, there was a live performance of a song with a high ratio of the word “Evolution” being repeated.
-On camera, Cole, Young, and Phoenix introduced the show and noted that the first 40 minutes were being streamed on Twitter free. The lights were low in the arena, indicating there likely were pockets of empty seats.
@thewadekeller Old school barricades, minimal light rig, darkened arena… Style choice to seem more serious, or more important to get the good equipment down south for Raw & Smckdown?
— Noel Aronson (@longawayy) October 28, 2018
(1) TRISH STRATUS & LITA vs. ALICIA FOX & MICKIE JAMES (w/Alexa Bliss)
Trish came out first. Lita second. Bliss came out onto the stage and said she knows it’s past Trish and Lita’s bed times, but turn up their hearing aids for the “true pioneers of the Women’s Evolution.” All three matched to the ring. Cole said Fox is the longest tenured women on the roster. Phoenix said she wrestled Fox in Fox’s first match way back in OVW. Fans were riled up with a loud “Lita” chant at the start. She shoved Mickie into the corner. Mickie reversed Lita, but Lita head scissored Mickie. It felt like slo-mo, but that’s understandable all things considered. Mickie tagged in Fox. Lita grabber her head for a DDT, so Fox pulled back. Lita yanked her over the top rope into the ring. Fox early bumped on a clothesline in the corner, flinging her legs up long before Mickie made contact. Stratus got on all fours and leap leaped off of her back with a clothesline on both heel opponents in the corner.
When Trish tagged in against Mickie, there was a rise in the crowd. They jawed at each other. It got intense. Mickie poked Trish’s chest. Trish forearmed her. Mickie fired back. The crowd chanted along with each strike. Trish landed a These Press and threw a barrage of punches. Mickie caught a charging Trish with a knee. Trish went for a head scissors in the corner, but Mickie tried to counter. Trish sat up and set up a top rope huracanrana, which drew a big pop. She got the first near fall of the match.
Mickie rolled to the floor to regroup with Fox and Bliss. They threatened to walk out. Trish and Lita chased them down in the aisle and threw Mickie back into the ring. Fox mistakenly kicked Mickie. Lita then set up a moonsault, but Bliss yanked her off the top rope. The referee didn’t see it, dealing with a Fox distraction. The heel duo isolated Lita for a while. Renee said, “You never know what you’re going to get with Fox, she’s got limbs all the place and come at you from all angles.” Fans loudly chanted “Let’s Go Lita!” Phoenix talked about how Lita and Trish just aren’t fully able to replicate the cardio needed in a match when training, so that’s a factor as the match progresses.
Trish eventually got a hot tag and went to work on Mickie. Trish licked her hand and slapped Mickie across her chest Mickie rolled up Trish for a near fall. Trish signaled for a Stratusfaction and delivered for a near fall. Fox was late getting in the ring for the break up of the count, so the ref just stopped counting. What a disappointment, as it deflated the crowd. The camera was focused on Mickie who yelled “Foxy!” to try to get her to hurry up. Cole wondered if she was there in time, and said, “I guess she was.” Mickie should have just kicked out before the three count. Lita hit a Twist of Fate and then landed a top rope moonsault onto both Fox and Micke. Mickie popped up like Austin Aries, but Trish kicked her right back down with a roundkick for the win.
WINNERS: Lita & Trish in 11:00. (**)
(Keller’s Analysis: What was Fox thinking? Geesh. Talk about living down to your reputation. It was solid. The crowd ate it up. It was clunky at spots, but overall worked. It’s just unfortunate the finish fell apart a little.)
RELATED: Why Bliss sidelined for Evolution is a such a big disappointment, Baszler on missing scheduled Raw
-Kayla interviewed the Bellas backstage. There was more of a bad mix with the mics as the ambient crowd noise was louder than the Bellas, who were echoey until some adjustments were made mid-interview. Nikki dedicated the match to Ronda Rousey’s mother because she’s gone through so much heartbreak every time Ronda broke her word to her. She announced that Ronda’s mom was the first member of the Bella Army. Nikki vowed to end Rousey’s title reign and closed with, “You have my word.”
-Cole threw to a video package with Asuka, Kelly Kelly, Lilian Garcia, and Sasha Banks talking about what Evolution means to them. Garcia said she remembers PPVs where she was the only woman in the ring the entire night. Sasha said they weren’t handed this, they kicked down the door.
(2) BATTLE ROYAL – 20 WOMEN
Lilian introduced the rules. Then Naomi made her way out first with a full ring introduction. Then came Michelle McCool, Sonya Deville, Alundra Blayze (Phoenix called it a surreal moment for her), Carmella (they cut to R-Truth standing and yelling encouragement for her), Zelina Vega, Kelly Kelly, Tamina, Ember Moon (Cole said Braun Strowman, her Mixed Match Challenge partner, said she’s winning tonight and going on to win the gold), Lana, Maria Kanellis (they cut to Mike Kanellis with their baby in the crowd), Mandy Rose, Molly Holly, Dana Brooke, Nia Jax (during her entrance, Cole told Twitter viewers to go sign up for WWE Network now to see the rest of the event), Ivory, Asuka (they cut to a smiling Miz with Maryse cheering her on), Torrie Wilson (Renee said she does Torrie’s exercise programs and Phoenix was surprised and said she’d try it too), and finally The IIconics. They did some mic work degrading Long Island as the location for this historic event and then told the legends to enjoy these few seconds because soon it will all be over and they can get back “to doing whatever losers do with no purpose in life do.”
The IIconics entered the ring and danced obnoxiously, but were immediately ganged up on and dumped over the top rope the floor. Fans actually booed. The legends were happy with themselves, but soon found themselves surrounded by today’s wrestlers. Everyone began fighting everyone. Deville and Rose eliminated Kelly. Rose eliminated Deville. Deville was fuming mad. Rose looked like she knocked over the wedding cake by mistake. Jax eliminated Blaze. Jax eliminated Kanellis. Tamina and Jax had an intense staredown about five minutes in. They ended up working together to eliminate others rather than going after each other. They knocked everyone down, then turned back to each other. Lana got up and tried to be peacemaker. She yelled, “Happy Lana Day!” Tamina slapped her. Lana slapped her. Tamina no-sold her. When she went after Jax, Jax no-sold her. They head-butted her and then Jax threw Lana over the top rope. Jax went after Tamina next, but Asuka and Naomi went after Jax. A group of four women suplexed Tamina, Asuka, and Naomi. Renee said she can’t believe the ring didn’t just fall apart. Carmella stood mid-ring and took a dance break. She did the floss. Ivory joined in. Mandy threw Ivory over the top, but Ivory landed on the ring apron. Carmella then knocked Mandy to the floor.
The action picked up again. Tamina eliminated Naomi. It came down to Jax, Moon, Carmella, Tamina, Asuka, and Ivory. Moon lifted Carmella for a side slam, it appeared, and then spun around and lost her balance and grip. It didn’t go over well wit the crowd or announcers. Ivory leaped off the top rope and landed on Tamina. The fans chanted “You still got it!” She ate up the crowd reaction and got knocked off the top rope by Asuka. Asuka then leg whipped her over the middle rope and then knocked her to the floor with a butt-butt. The crowd yelled “NXT!” as Asuka and Moon battled. Moon threw Asuka over the top and eliminated her. Next, Tamina waited for moon to turn round, but Moon caught her boot and dove at her. Tamina caught her and then spun and slammed her. Fans loudly chanted “Let’s go Ember!” Moon landed a handspring elbow onto Tamina, then climbed to the top rope. She landed the Eclipse on Tamina next, then dumped her. It came down to Moon and Jax. Cole said they’re friends. Jax tossed Ember around. Moon came back and tried to pry Nia over the top rope with her legs. Suddenly Zelina Vega returned to the ring after apparently hanging out under the ring or at ringside, but not eliminated officially. She celebrated, but both Moon and Jax actually landed on the ring apron. Jax then grabbed her by her hair. Zelina raked her face and leaped onto her back. She choked her, but Jax flung her onto her shoulder and then pressed her above. She walked around the ring and then tossed her to the floor onto Tamina. Jax then beat up Moon for a few seconds and threw her over the top to the floor to win. They showed Ata Johnson, mother of The Rock, applauding the victory by her niece.
WINNER: Nia Jax.
(Keller’s Analysis: That was a very good battle royal. Lots of smaller stories told throughout and a fun mix of dramatic moments near the end. Who had their money on Ivory being the legend who got the most play in the match?)
-Charly Caruso interviewed Nia Jax who cried as she celebrated. Fans chanted “You deserve it!” When asked who she’d rather face, Jax said she hopes they have a great match, but whoever wins should enjoy the moment because it won’t last long.
-Cole threw to a video package on Charlotte, Dana Warrior, and Stephanie McMahon were part of launching a new partnership with WWE and Girl Up clubs to help promote women in sports.
-Cole then threw to a video package on the Mae Young Classic. They showed images of Wendy Richter, Alundra Blaze, Chyna, Jacqueline, a d then rapid fire more stars leading to Ronda Rousey. Then ran through the tournament results over the last eight weekly episodes. Toni Storm introduced herself as being from Australia. She talked about making it to the semi-finals last year and losing to Kairi Sane in the semi-finals. They showed media comments touting Storm’s potential. Then Io Shirai who said she is from Tokyo, Japan.
(3) TONI STORM vs. IO SHIRAI (ee-oh shuh-rye)
The crowd applauded sportsmanship by Storm early. Phoenix said it might be mind games. They started slow with moves and counter-moves mid-ring. Strom opened fire with rapid-fire strikes and a basement dropkick for the first two count of the match. Cole said these two are the future off the women’s division. Storm landed a nasty looking released back suplex. Cole said she’s known for her suplexes. Storm climbed to the top rope., but Shirai springboard dropkicked her off the top rope. Shirai then landed a leaping moonsault onto Storm at ringside. Storm delivered a German suplex on Shirai onto the edge of the ring apron. Phoenix talked about that being the hardest part of the ring. Shirai came back a minute later with a series of strikes mid-ring. Storm stopped her momentum with a clothesline to stop her. Storm then hit the Storm Zero finisher for a near fall. Storm looked around disappointed as Shirai rolled to the ring apron. Shirai snapped Storm’s neck over the top rope, then hit a 619. Cole said Rey Mysterio is her hero. Shirai landed a springboard into a sunset flip for a very near fall. Shirai went for an Asai moonsault, but Storm lifted her knees. Storm then landed another Storm Zero (sitout powerbomb). Cole said Storm will be a bona fide star. “She has it all,” he said. “She has charisma, tremendous athleticism.” Renee said, “She oozes cool, too.” Cole talked up Shirai, too. Afterward, Triple H and Stephanie hugged Storm and presented her with the Trophy. (That’s a damn dangerous looking trophy, by the way. Keep that away from any household with toddlers or cats.)
WINNER: Storm in 11:00 to win the Mae Young Classic tournament. (***)
(Keller’s Analysis: Good match. The crowd seemed to be “quietly into it,” meaning not a ton of heel/face heat but they were reacting to the moves at the points you’d want if you were the wrestlers and seemed to be respecting the competitiveness and athleticism.)
-A Crown Jewel ad aired, and still zero mention of Saudi Arabia as the host country either verbally or on the graphic despite confirming last Thursday WWE is holding the event there despite widespread belief that the Crown Prince ordered the murder of a U.S. based columnist who was critical of the regime.
(4) SASHA BANKS & BAYLEY & NATALYA vs. RIOTT SQUAD (Ruby Riott & Liv Morgan & Sarah Logan)
Phoenix talked about how loyal Riott Squad are to one another, even getting tattoos to signify their unity as a team. Renee talked up the wardrobes of the women, saying everyone was bringing it. Phoenix agreed. Few minutes in the match settled into the Squad isolating Bayley. Cole said there were times Liv growing up wasn’t sure she could go on, but she has a great outlook on life now, and that’s why her (wrestling) name is Liv. Cole said he’s had “a lot of different conversations with her” and said she’s a unique individual. Phoenix said she’s doing a great job inspiring the WWE Universe now. (How is any of this helping tell the story of the babyface team overcoming the cheating and bad attitude of the Riott Squad?) Bayley eventually hot-tagged Sasha which got a nice pop. She rallied against Ruby and scored a near fall. Sasha looked frustrated momentarily.
The Riott Squad eventually took over on Sasha, too. They caught Sasha after she flip dove over the ring apron and landed with a thud on the ring apron. Then they threw her into the ringside barricade. (WWE doesn’t have the main set with them tonight, as that’s on location where Raw is, apparently, so they actually have the old metal fence barricade up with just soft WWE banners covering them.) Eventually Banks avoided a double-team spot and tagged in Natalya. She got a nice pop as she went to work on Logan with a flurry of offense. Logan caught her with an elbow. Natalya, though, slammed Ruby onto Logan and set up a double-sharpshooter on both at once. She applied it. Liv, though, blind-tagged in and dropped Natalya to score a near fall. Bayley tagged in and hit a top rope elbow. She dove through the ropes onto Ruby and Morgan at ringside as Sasha landed an Eddie Guerrero-style frog splash mid-ring for the win.
WINNERS: Natalya & Banks & Bayley in 13:00. (**3/4)
(Keller’s Analysis: Good match. A little formulaic to a fault in terms of isolating Bayley for a long time, then Sasha, and then the finishing sequence, but ultimately solid.)
-Another video package aired on Evolution and what it means to women’s wrestling with Molly Holly, Nia Jax, Stephanie McMahon, and Alicia Fox soundbites.
(5) KAIRI SANE vs. SHAYNA BASZLER – NXT Women’s Title match
Kayla Braxton did ring announcing for this match. The referee is NXT’s female referee Jessika Carr. Cole noted this is the first NXT Title defense on a WWE event. Renee noted #WWEEvolution was the number one trend on Twitter. A few minutes in, Baszler worked over Kairi’s arm. Young talked about Baszler and Rousey being good friends, and it comes across in their wrestling style. Kairi eventually showed some fire and they exchanged blows mid-ring. Baszler got the better of these trucking, but Sane caught her charging with a spinning backfist, which dropped Baszler. Kairi applied a submission mid-ring, but Baszler quickly escaped and then hit her damaged arm to take over again.
A few minutes later Kairi took over and signaled for a top rope move, but Baszler intervened and hung Kairi by her arm, dangling her over the top rope while she stood on the second rope. Phoenix said Baszler dropped her to the floor like a sack of potatoes. Kairi countered Baszler back in the ring with a DDT. She quickly climbed to the top rope and signaled for the Insane Elbow, but Baszler rolled to the floor. Kairi then leaped onto her with a diving body press. Jessamyn Duke grabbed at Kairi from the front row. Kairi gave her backfists, but it gave Baszler time to recover. Marina Shafir then jumped onto the ring apron and distracted Kairi. Baszler then applied her Kirifuda Clutch. Kairi flipped over and leveraged Baszler’s shoulders down for a near fall. Kairi rolled up Baszler again. When Baszler kicked out and sent Kairi into the ropes, Duke kicked her. Baszler then applied her Kirifuda Clutch for the win. Phoenix got Shafir’s name wrong on replay, calling her “Schaffer,” it sounded like. He said Baszler being joined by Shifir and Duke doesn’t bode well for the rest of the NXT roster.
WINNER: Baszler to capture the NXT Title in 12:00. (***1/2)
(Keller’s Analysis: It seemed like a surprise when Kairi beat Baszler for the NXT Title, but if they were booking this far ahead and wanted to put heel heat on Baszler, Duke, and Shifir in this setting, it was ultimately part of a story with a payoff. The match was the best of the night so far. Lots of foundation being laid here for something later with Rousey, as the announcers talked a lot about Rousey being part of these Four Horsewomen of MMA.)
-Another video package aired on Evolution and what it means to women’s wrestling with Ata Johnson, Vickie Guerrero, Ember Moon, and Maryse.
-Cole threw a video package recapping the Becky Lynch-Charlotte feud.
When you shop at AMAZON, you can support PWTORCH at the same time. Just start your shopping session here: www.pwtorch.com/amazon and clicking the giant Amazon logo. We receive a referral commission on every purchase you make on that session. Thank you for your extra support! We really appreciate it.
— VistaWay HTTM (@VistaWayHTTM) October 29, 2018
(6) BECKY LYNCH vs. CHARLOTTE – WWE Smackdown Women’s Title match
Charlotte came out first. Becky got a big pop. When her song stopped, fans kept singing it. Charlotte was booed when Jo Jo introduced her. Becky got a big pop and all cheers. Lots of cheers for Becky at the start. Cole said Becky has alienated the entire locker room with her Twitter posts. Renee said Becky feels that she’s been wronged by everyone. Becky knocked Charlotte down and mocked the Flair Strut before dropping an elbow and then a leg drop with a rapid-fire series of offense. Charlotte took four seconds to stand. Cole explained if the ref counted to ten, Becky would be the winner. Phoenix said Becky’s heartbreak and pain has turned into just resentment and anger at this point. (The Machine is sticking with their storyline that Becky should be booed, but fans aren’t having it at all.)
Becky took it to Charlotte at ringside including kendo stick shots. She threw around a dozen chairs into the ring, then smashed Charlotte across the back with a chair at ringside. She threw her into the ring and the ref began to count. He got to five before she stood. Becky threw her onto the pile of chairs in the ring. Charlotte made a comeback by back suplexing Becky onto the pile of chairs. (Yikes. That didn’t seem Concussion Protocol Compliant.) Charlotte shoved a table into the ring, but Becky kicked her off the apron and then set up the table herself. Becky then chokeslammed Charlotte onto the pile of chairs mid-ring. The counted to eight before standing. Becky moved in immediately. She glanced at the table and then slammed Charlotte face-first into it. Becky set Charlotte on the table, then climbed to the top rope, but Charlotte knocked her off balance.
Charlotte then moonsaulted Becky, but overshot her and tumbled onto the ground. Becky landed hard on her. That did not look intentional. Charlotte set the table up again. She looked determined. She climbed to the top again. She decided to flip splash onto Becky, and this time she landed more square and broke the table. Both were down for the ref to start counting. Charlotte slid a ladder into the ring next. Becky intervened and knocked over the ladder. “This is awesome!” rang out. Becky slammed Charlotte onto the ladder. Cole called it “spine-buckling.” Charlotte stood and seemed to set up a figure-four leg lock. Charlotte, though, put one of Becky’s legs through the ladder. She stomped on it over and over, then went for an actual figure-four. It was sloppy and awkward, but did look potentially painful. She bridged to add leverage into a figure-eight. Becky tapped, but it didn’t matter in this match. Becky grabbed a chair within her reach and jabbed Charlotte’s shin bone to force a break. Fans chanted for Becky.
They fought at ringside. Becky grabbed her title belt and tried to leave. Charlotte chased her down. She chopped away at her chest in the aisle. They fought back to ringside. Charlotte cleared an announce table and then rammed Becky’s head into the table. Charlotte set up a ladder. Becky hit Charlotte with her title belt to stop her. Becky sat on top fo the ladder and then leaped off with a leg drop onto Charlotte on the table. Both were down and slow to move, much less stand. Becky stood. Charlotte looked up and yelled, “Is that all you got!?” Becky buried Charlotte under chairs. The ref wasn’t counting as Charlotte put more things on Charlotte. Cole said he wishes the ref would just count to get this over with. When Becky backed off, the count began. Cole said at five that there was no movement. Charlotte did stand, although, it seemed the ref had to stop at nine before Charlotte actually stood and say she was standing before she was. Becky looked intimidated and begged off. Charlotte beat up Becky with repeated kendo stick shots.
Charlotte beat up Becky on the floor and then dragged her over to another table at ringside that was tipped over. She stood it up and placed Becky on it. Charlotte climbed to the top rope. Becky stood and powerbombed Charlotte off the top rope through the table. Right on target. Charlotte almost stood, but collapsed on the verge of standing and was counted down. The crowd cheered. Cole said many fans believe Becky was held back and didn’t have the royal lineage to be a Superstar in WWE and deserved moments like these. He said she has a moment here and is Smackdown Champion.
WINNER: Lynch in 29:00 to retain the WWE Smackdown Title. (****1/4)
(Keller’s Analysis: Tremendous match. They did a really good job with the format and pulled off some big spots that added to the drama and built to the finish.)
— Michael McGivern (@McGive_It_To_Me) October 29, 2018
-After a jewelry store commercial for engagement rings, they went to the announcers on camera. They hyped Crown Jewel. Huge boos when the logo came up. Wow. The announcers seemed to try not to react, and thus it was clear they were surprised by that. No mention of it being in Saudi Arabia. They did advertise both Daniel Bryan and John Cena, so next week is their last chance to “write them off the show” if either of them (or any others) push to be left off the trip to Saudi Arabia.
— VistaWay HTTM (@VistaWayHTTM) October 29, 2018
— VistaWay HTTM (@VistaWayHTTM) October 29, 2018
CHECK OUT THE “WWE EVOLUTION” POST-GAME CALL-IN SHOW WITH GREG PARKS
(7) RONDA ROUSEY vs. NIKKI BELLA (w/Brie Bella) – WWE Raw Women’s Championship match
The Bellas waved a “Bellavolution” flag in the ring. Renee agreed they were part of initiating the #GiveDivasAChance hashtag. Ronda got a big pop when her music started. Nikki’s reaction was great. Understated, and pitch-perfect: cocky fear. Fans chanted “Cena left you!” Rousey took Nikki down at the start and seemed to be toying with her. Nikki turned her back to Rousey, and Rousey waited for her to stand. She judo threw Nikki again, then grabbed her wrist to signify she had the opening to finish her there, but was choosing not to. Instead, she told her again to stand. Nikki did. Rousey took her down and continued to toy with her. “It’s not that hard, fight,” Rousey said. Rousey laughed as Nikki as Nikki had a brief conference with Brie at ringside. Rousey threw Nikki again, so Nikki rolled to the floor. Brie distracted Rousey, then Nikki shoved her into the post.
Back in the ring Nikki took it to Rousey before throwing her out of the ring. Cole said this match means so much to the Bella Brand. Nikki applied a leg lock around Rousey’s neck. Nikki taunted Rousey with some push-ups while having Rousey’s neck locked up with her legs. Rousey rolled out to escape. Brie hit Rousey from ringside. Nikki wrapped Rousey into the ringpost. Cole said Rousey is in trouble. Nikki landed a springboard round kick for a two count on Rousey. Rousey blocked a superplex. Then she shoved Nikki to the mat. When Rousey went for a top rope splash, Nikki moved. Nikki stood and went for a slidekick, but Rousey lifted herself up to avoid her. Brie checked on Nikki at ringside. Nikki returned and went for a roundkick, but Ronda blocked it and took Nikki down. She rolled through and lifted Nikki onto her shoulders. Brie jumped at Rousey, and Rousey lifted her onto her shoulders, too. She carried both women and gave them both spinning Samoan drops at once.
Rousey stood and pounded her chest and called for Nikki to stand up. Nikki charged, but Rousey kicked her. Rousey then threw a barrage of strikes in the corner, then catapulted her to mid-ring. She lifted her and arm-whipped her and then yelled at her to get up again. Nikki stood and begged off. Rousey stopped briefly, then slapped her. Rousey overhead tossed her. Nikki rolled to the floor. Rousey threw Brie over the announce table. Back in the ring, Nikki recovered enough to surprise Rousey with an Alabama Slam. Both were slow to get up again. Nikki side-stepped a charging Rousey and delivered the Rack Attack 2.0 for a near fall. Nikki protested to the ref, begging for him to change the reality of the kickoff. Rousey ran up to Nikki on the top rope and dropped her with a flying small package. She then applied the armbar mid-ring and Nikki promptly tapped out.
WINNER: Rousey in 14:00 via tapout to retain the Raw Women’s Title. (***1/4)
(Keller’s Analysis: I think that was at the higher end of expectations and definitely good enough to seem worthy of the main event spot, even though obviously the show-stealer preceded it. The Bellas using double-teaming moves to gain the advantage “protected” Rousey. Rousey’s early cockiness did seem to draw some fans into cheering the Bellas, especially females in the crowd.)
-Rousey celebrated on the stage with the crowd of women wrestlers.
NOW CHECK OUT THIS RELATED STORY: 10/28 WWE Evolution On-Site Report: How did the crowd react to the Bellas differently at ring entrance compared to ring intros, legends who got biggest pops, crowd interest variance, crowd size