RAW 10/22/18: Final Swings for Evolution

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The ‘Road of Evolution’ has felt more like a 10-second drag race (and not the fun kind). The event was announced over three months ago and now we’re just days away from the ‘historic’ event… surely I’m not the only one who is feeling underwhelmed? Well, it’s the last RAW and that last chance for WWE to change our minds and at least give us something exciting. So, did they? Let’s have a look in this week’s review.

Prior to this week’s RAW, it’s announced that a new ‘epic’ match will be taking place at Evolution: Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Natalya taking on the Riott Squad; Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan and Sarah Logan. Yes… who didn’t see that coming?

Anyway, to warm up for this ‘epic’ encounter, we had the returning Sasha Banks taking on Ruby Riott. Of course, both teams were flanked by their Evolution teammates and to be fair, it was a strong match. Despite being jobbers, the Riott Squad are starting to get decent heat and Sasha Banks is still a mainstay face on the roster. Match ends when Banks locks the Banks Statement on Riott, only for Bayley to jump Logan who tries to break it up. Morgan and Natalya get into it outside, causing Banks to lay them both out. As she heads into the ring, Riott kicks her into the turnbuckle and finishes her off with a Riott Kick.

Backstage, the Riott Squad once again celebrate their victory and talk some more hype. Ladies, I live the acting and Riott is a great speaker, but we know y’all doing the job.

Next up, we got the final developments of our headlining feud – the contract signing for the RAW Women’s Championship match between undefeated Champion Ronda Rousey and the veteran Nikki Bella.

Immediately, Nikki and Brie jump out the ring as soon as Rousey steps in. Rousey “gives her word” that she won’t attack them, so the Bellas reluctantly enter the ring. We went from slut-shaming last week, to insulting Moms this week. Nikki brings up Rousey’s losses at UFC and claims that a ‘Diva’ will beat her for her title. Nikki signs the contract and slaps Rousey across the face, oh yes – classic Rousey scowl follows. Rousey laughs it off and signs the contract, but threatens that she will “end” Nikki, once again “giving her word”. Rousey walks off as the Bella Twins look on confused.

Next up, we got a preview of sorts for the Wrestlemania 25… I mean Evolution Battle Royal. Dana Brooke, Ember Moon, Tamina, and Nia Jax faced off in a fatal-4-way match.

Those who guessed if the returning Tamina got another jobber entrance, guessed correctly. An updated match graphic for the battle royal appears, showing that Zelina Vega has also been added to the lineup of 20 other women in the match.

Super quick here with a very fresh combination of talent. To develop on last week, Tamina and Nia Jax is the underlying encounter we want to build in this match. Nia Jax takes Brooke out the match with a rolling senton, Tamina takes Jax out with a Superkick, only to get wiped out by an Eclipse by Moon. Ember Moon catches the victory and the momentum going into Evolution.

Finally, Charly Caruso interviews Trish Stratus and Lita backstage ahead of their Evolution tag match. The self-proclaimed ‘Team Bestie’ are confident that they can bring out the best in each other until their interview is interrupted by Alicia Fox. The distraction allows Mickie James to jump them from behind. Fox throws Stratus into the set, while James and Lita are pulled apart by referees. James calls back Caruso to start her own interview, but they get a taste of their own medicine when Stratus and Lita jump them. They throw James and Fox into the sets and remind them, this is how “they do it in the Attitude Era”.

Thoughts: Before I kick off the review, it’s very important to address the heartbreaking news that Roman Reigns has had to relinquish the Universal Championship and take some time out to battle leukemia. I’ve never seen a crowd do a 360 like that in a while and it’s a strong testament to how much work he has put in over the last few years. Cancer is a horrible thing to have to deal with and we here a the DivaDirt team hope he can pull through and be back fighting on our screens.

The reason why I bring it up is that you can see that it was tough for many of the Superstars. Sasha and Ruby seemed a little more tamed down, you could see Renee fighting back tears, so it’s good to see these guys all pulling together to continue the show.

So switching gears to the development of Evolution and the ‘take home RAW’, I guess most of us have really just had to bite the bullet. With the card finalizing, I feel a lot of us have vented enough and we’re just going to have to settle for what we’re going to get. I could sit here and rant about my fantasy card or other ways to book it, but we’re getting what we’re getting and there’s no way of changing that. The only way I can describe this is like buying tickets for Disneyland, you finally get there and half the rides are closed.

The 6 woman tag team match is a mess. It’s a combination we’ve seen on RAW several times and the Riott Squad are not credible opponents. They’ve literally just jobbed out to Ronda and the Bellas, this will be no different. We all knew Ruby would get a win because we all know they’re all going to lose at Evolution. I would have much rather seen this slot go to the SmackDown women and see them get a nice tag match. However, the SmackDown side has forgotten how to give airtime to their women in the lead up to the only all-women’s pay-per-view, but let me not digress…

The same goes for that Fatal 4-Way, if you blinked you would have missed it. We have all said our gripes about their terrible Battle Royal: the rushed booking, zero build up and absolute waste of talent. This match seemed like a scary precursor for what the Battle Royal will be: rushed spots, forgettable, winner who doesn’t need the victory. I mean, I like Ember Moon, but this win would have done way more for someone like Tamina.

Next up, the contract signing. As I said in the preview, we went from slut-shaming to insulting Moms… this is supposed to be the headline feud of a groundbreaking movement for women and gender equality in WWE and this is what they give us. You know what, the mic work has been strong. Rousey is easing up on the mic and Nikki has come a long way from her stale 2014 monotone promos. They just had the potential to do so much more (much like the rest of the PPV). Nikki should have been reeling off names as she did in her Instagram post, Ronda should have been talking about her career accolades really making this feel like a big feel clash of two wrestling titans. Instead, we’ve got a really rushed and watered down angle that just screams petty.

The only good bit of build up was Trish Stratus and Lita showing Mickie James and Alicia Fox what it was like to be in the ‘Attitude Era’. Now, this is what it’s all about, the backstage brawl just felt like old classic build up – kind of like when they brawled backstage before WrestleMania 17. The only thing that was weird was how Alexa Bliss wasn’t featured? Either way, this simple segment did it all – added intensity to the feud, broke away from doing another stiff promo and added a nostalgia feel. It’s so easy, but they couldn’t think to do it with all the other feuds.

Heading into Evolution, I go back to my analogy of it being like Disneyland, but with only some of the rides working. The potential was there, the talent is there and I’m sure we’ll still enjoy it, but it’s still a complete shell of what it could have been… and that’s the most disappointing thing.

What did you think of the take-home RAW? Did this hype you up for Evolution or was it like being served up a stale bread and butter sandwich for lunch? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!