This Sunday, WWE makes history* as they present the first** all-women’s Pay-Per-View, WWE Evolution! With the intense focus on the top of the card rivalries and the return of some of the most popular Attitude-Era stars, how will the divisions shake out? Will the inclusion of the NXT Women’s Championship match and the finals of the Mae Young Classic bring hardcore fans into the fold? Will Brie Bella botch something in Nikki’s match that causes Ronda Rousey to snap? Is Becky Lynch the second-coming of Stone Cold Steve Austin? These questions and more answered by our panel in WWE Evolution predictions!
Women’s Battle Royal
Brian: Who cares? Honestly, this is technically the third of these we’ve had this year alone. Asuka made history by winning the first Women’s Royal Rumble, only to fall to Charlotte at Wrestlemania and into the comedic mid-card with Naomi. Naomi who, by the way, won the first ever Women’s Battle Royal at the aforementioned Mania and never got her promised title shot. With this field packed with current talent as well as returning figures from eras recently past, who wins is up in the air. The bigger question, though, is whether or not this really matters.
Winner: Ember Moon, because why not
Patrick: This is kind of a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation for WWE. They obviously want every woman on the roster to be a part of this historic show, and have some legends back as well. But there are already seven other matches on the card — as much as it sucks for people like Naomi and Lana, there just isn’t any more room on the card if they don’t do something like this. That said, having someone like Asuka in this battle royal is a crime and further evidence of her unfortunate irrelevance in WWE’s future plans. As far as who wins, I’ll go Ember Moon because she was featured on the poster more prominently than someone who doesn’t have an actual match should be.
Winner: Ember Moon
JJ: I’ll have everyone know that Pat took the words out of my mouth. Listen to our wrestling podcast, Poor Taste Wrestling, and you’ll see what I mean. You put all the women in a battle royal and people are pissed because it’s typically a garbage match, but otherwise they don’t get on the card, because there simply isn’t room. So either way, people aren’t going to be happy about this. Normally I’d say Asuka would win something like this, but after WWE took her historic NXT run and ground it into the ground, I’ve given up on them using her correctly. Ember Moon is the only talent that comes close to Asuka and she’s been positioned fairly well during her matches on RAW.
Winner: Ember Moon
Sasha Banks, Bayley and Natalya vs. The Riott Squad
Brian: With the Boss and Hug Connection back on track and adding in the perennial third wheel, Natalya, this match has the potential to be either overwhelmingly mediocre or a disaster. Ruby Riott is good, no doubt. Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan have potential, but just aren’t there yet. I enjoy the trio quite a bit and their faction is keeping them all on TV and under the learning tree. In the future, Riott will hold one of the Women’s Titles, no doubt. It’s just that – at this point – I don’t see any reason why the face team will lose this match.
Winners: The Boss and Hug and Cat Lady Connection
Patrick: I’m glad Sasha made it to Evolution — she was just saying in an interview that she was off TV for concussion-like symptoms, so it’s great to see she’s healthy enough to participate in a show she helped create. Unfortunately, we have seen some combination of this match on Raw what feels like dozens of times, so I couldn’t care less despite really liking four of the six participants (I’ll let you figure out the odd two out). I think the faces won last time? So I’ll invoke the law of opposite momentum on this one.
Winners: The Riott Squad
JJ: Sarah Logan and Natalya are the weak links here, so as long as they aren’t leaned on for any of the heavy lifting, this match has the potential to show why the women’s division deserves to have their own tag team championship belts. Sasha and Bayley will almost definitely be the first team to hold the titles when they finally make an appearance, but they don’t need Natalya’s help. With The Riott squad being the less established of the two teams and Ruby Riott possessing the potential to be a main event star, I think this way goes their way.
Winners: The Riott Squad
Toni Storm vs. Io Shirai (Mae Young Classic finals)
Brian: I am so looking forward to this match. I’m not a big indie wrestling guy, so seeing Toni Storm last year at the Mae Young Classic, I was amazed at what raw talent she has. The past year has only raised the bar for Storm. Shirai, on the other hand, must be considered in the top 25 wrestlers in the world, gender be damned. She is so smooth and so brutal. With the psychology that Storm gets and Shirai’s vicious offense, this one could steal the show.
Winner: Io Shirai in a nail-biter
Patrick: This match should be awesome. I’ve been a fan of Toni Storm since she entered PROGRESS Wrestling, and while I don’t know a lot about Io Shirai, she has been sufficiently hyped up to make me really excited for this one. I think WWE has huge plans for Toni, especially with NXT UK just getting off the ground, so having her win could be a good opportunity for some cross promotion.
Winner: Toni Storm
JJ: I’ve been a big Toni Storm fan for some time now, even more so when one of my best friends was during her music while she was still at Progress. I see Toni’s face everywhere that women’s independent wrestling is discussed and now that she’s a star of NXT UK, it feels like she has a huge future ahead of her. I don’t know anything about Io Shirai, but I’ve heard she’s very talented. Sadly after Asuka, I can’t have faith in WWE to book a Japanese star properly.
Winner: Toni Storm
Trish Stratus and Lita vs. Alexa Bliss and Mickie James
Brian: It’s the Attitude Era vs the Ladies with Attitude. Mickie James being in this match is so odd, considering how much a part of Trish’s story she was. Well, if rumors are true and Alexa has to miss the match we’ll get Alicia Fox instead! Really?! We couldn’t have had Sasha/Bayley v Trish/Lita in an amazing passing of the torch moment? Ball dropped.
Winners: Attitude Era
Patrick: Snore. Look, I loved Trish Stratus and Lita back in the day (what teenage boy in the early 2000s didn’t?), and I love Alexa Bliss now. But this match just feels so empty. And totally the type of match that the nostalgic babyfaces will come away from with the victory.
Winners: Trish Stratus and Lita
JJ: I wish I cared about this match, I really do. But it went from what felt like a passing of the torch match, a la Cena Rock, to a hastily thrown together “We need star power” match. If anyone in this feud has heat, it’s Mickie and Trish — but that’s essentially been completely ignored, which makes me feel like everyone in the front office either doesn’t care, or thinks the fans are idiots. Going to hit the snooze button on this one.
Winners: Trish and Lita
Rhea Ripley vs. Isla Dawn (NXT UK Women’s Championship)
Brian: Some of these matches are really lowering my word count. How is this the match?
Winner: Rhea Ripley
Patrick: I really like Rhea Ripley, especially her complete 180 in attitude since around the time of last year’s Mae Young Classic. She’s gone from a bubbly, blonde Charlotte clone to a bitter punk, and I love it. She’s extremely young too, so the sky’s the limit for her. I don’t know much about Isla Dawn though. I need to catch up on NXT UK. But she’s from the United Kingdom, so going on nothing but that, I’ll go with her.
Winner: Isla Dawn
JJ: Sorry everyone I’ve been slacking on NXT UK. I know its great, but when you watch RAW, Smackdown, NXT and record a wrestling podcast, things slip by. I’m going to have to go with Rhea Ripley simply because I don’t know a single thing about Isla Dawn. I’m pretty sure I have no idea what she looks like. Though I will say, this isn’t a knock on Rhea Ripley — she’s an incredible talent and I’ve really enjoy her work in the MYC and how revamped her style is.
Winner: Rhea Ripley
Kairi Sane (c) vs. Shayna Baszler (NXT Women’s Championship)
Brian: A rematch from the last Takeover, this is a rivalry a year in the offing, pitting the 1st MYC winner, Sane, with the bruiser, Baszler. Both women are known quantities and have good history with each other. I’m expecting a hard hitting match with a pep talk backstage from Papa Haitch himself to go out and steal the show. While I’m not 100% on Baszler being a show-stealer, Kairi Sane is something special. I really, really want to see her, Asuka, and Io Shirai together to go up against the Riott Squad, Boss and Hug and Whoever, and any other trio to step in their way. Shayna wins by submission knockout after catching Kairi mid-elbow drop.
Winner: Shayna Baszler
Patrick: Man, this card is actually pretty damn awesome. These two have a great match last time around and I have no reason to believe it won’t be the same case here. It’s rare anyone becomes a two time champion in NXT, and I could see them calling Shayna up to the main roster to terrorize SmackDown despite not being completely ready yet.
Winner: Kairi Sane
JJ: I can’t wait to see this rematch. I believed Kairi would beat Shayna when almost no one else did (looking at you wrestling group chat). Kairi has the best looking elbow drop in the business, it’s a thing of beauty. I love watching this woman wrestle, she is truly a special talent and man do I fear for her when she heads up to the main roster. But I don’t think it’s her time yet, I think it’s Shayna’s time. While she still has work to do on the mic, she’s one of the few women in WWE that would be a legitimate threat in the ring to Ronda Rousey, and I think that’s exactly where she’s headed after this.
Winner: Kairi Sane
Becky Lynch (c) vs. Charlotte Flair (Last Woman Standing Match — SmackDown Women’s Championship)
Brian: Becky Lynch is the most well-rounded, dynamic, and engaging character on ALL of WWE television. Charlotte has really stepped up her promo game as well, and this feud is going to be the Rock-Austin of the Women’s Evolution. This should be the match of the night with both women putting on a clinic and showing that they can hang with anyone on the roster, regardless of gender. Lynch wins clean, pushing this feud down the line towards Mania or even later. I do think that Charlotte v Rousey is the eventual Women’s main event at Mania with Becky taking on Asuka or in a 3-4 person match.
Winner: Becky Balboa
Patrick: Becky really is one of the best characters on television, and has taken the ball that is this heel turn and really run with it. I really hope by now WWE sees the magic she’s able to create and put a lot more weight behind her. I get their obsession with Charlotte, I really do — there’s the obvious lineage, and the fact that she’s a blonde goddess and excellent in the ring — but Becky is just more of a complete package in my opinion. Plus, look at UFC — Irish trash talkers obviously draw money. They’d be dumb not to keep the title on the Lass Kicker.
Winner: Becky Lynch
JJ: Becky is the best women’s wrestler in the world and arguably the best talent WWE has on television right now. Her character has grown beyond what I think anyone expected and she’s blown away the front office and the fans. Who is more over than Becky right now? Who is more beloved by the fans? No one! Her feud with Charlotte is one of the best stories WWE has told in a long time and I’m with Brian, I think they have the potential to main event mania. Don’t get me wrong, Charlotte has a huge hand in the success of this story, but Becky is the primary reason it’s as good as it is. The champ ain’t done yet.
Winner: The great women’s champion of all-time, Becky Lynch
Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Nikki Bella (Raw Women’s Championship)
Brian: The collective sigh from the IWC over this match was heard around the digital world. Ronda Rousey is the best multi-sport athlete in WWE since Kurt Angle. She is and exceptionally talented fighter, especially with how vicious her judo throws and submissions look. She is one of the few people on the WWE roster that I absolutely believe could do serious bodily harm to her opponent should she want to. And then there’s Nikki Bella. Nikki and Brie have the distinction of being the women who stuck around and sold some merch, straddling the end of the Divas era and the beginning of the Women’s Evolution, but there really isn’t a place for them in today’s wrestling world. At least a dozen women in the Mae Young Classic this year could out wrestle and outclass both of the Bellas. They don’t even rank at this point. For some reason, this match will be longer than it should, Brie will interfere, and Ronda will win against the odds, when she should win in 8 seconds with a punch to the face and an armbar. Ronda is Goldberg and I just want to know: Who’s next?
Winner: Ronda Rousey
Patrick: I’m really looking forward to this match and actually really enjoy watching both of these women in the ring. Don’t @ me. Nikki is very underrated — yes, she sucked for many years. But she’s improved a lot and while she’s not in the top 5 women in the company or anything by any stretch, she’s more than capable of putting together a compelling, believable match. And like it or not, the Bellas bring in a lot of eyes to the product that otherwise wouldn’t be there, and continue to sell merchandise. This is pro wrestling; the only true measure of success is whether or not you can draw, and Nikki Bella is a draw whether smart marks around the world want to admit it or not. As for Ronda, she’s a freak who has taken to pro wrestling every bit as fast as Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar did, and is the rightful face of the division. She’ll overcome the NUMBERS GAME the Bella Twins provide and keep the title to close out the show.
Winner: Ronda Rousey
JJ: The Bellas don’t belong in this feud, let alone in the same ring as Ronda Rousey. They know it and we know it. But having said that, there’s no denying that the twins work on Total Divas and Total Bellas has brought a lot of new eyes to the product, and for that they have my respect. Nikki is worlds better than she used to be in the ring and because of that I think she will manage a passable match. The Bellas can’t hang much longer in this new world of women’s wrestling, they simply don’t have the talent, especially Brie. I think this is their last big hurrah.
Winner: Ronda Rousey