Sunday, July 21, 2024

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Raw 07/23/18: Celebration of an Evolution

Last week’s RAW was a bit of a drag for the women on the red brand, with slow storyline progression across the board. However, with the announcement on Friday that Stephanie McMahon would be making a special announcement, the internet wrestling community sparked into a frenzy wondering what the announcement would be about, with multiple sources hinting that the women would be a part of the news.

Opening the show is WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, with the male and female RAW Superstars, but also darted in between are SmackDown female Superstars Billie Kay, Peyton Royce, Zelina Vega, Asuka, Lana, Naomi, Becky Lynch, SmackDown Women’s Champion Carmella and NXT star Nikki Cross! McMahon introduces Stephanie McMahon and Triple H who begin their announcement.

Triple H starts by praising all of the Superstars for their hard work, blood, sweat, and tears. He then asks the women of the roster to step forward, acknowledging how the men behind them and the WWE Universe have supported them through all their accomplishments: Elimination Chamber, Hell in a Cell, Main Events… telling them that they have stolen the show again and that they are proud of them. Stephanie mentions how this women’s evolution has happened following the ‘#GiveDivasAChance’ movement, with the WWE Universe demanding better chances for the women. She makes the announcement, that over 50 women ‘then, now and forever’ will take place at Evolution in October, a first-ever ALL WOMEN’S PAY-PER-VIEW!

Several women react to the news: Becky Lynch is proud of her journey over three years, Carmella celebrates the success of NXT’s division, a tearful Sasha Banks throws a cheeky hint to face Trish Stratus while Bayley seeks out Lita, Alexa Bliss speaks about why they deserve the opportunity, Ember Moon says that she can’t wait to steal the show and finally Stephanie McMahon discusses the importance of Evolution for women across the world.

So back to business!

Backstage, Charly Caruso asks Bayley and Sasha Banks about their freshly rekindled friendship. Bayley says that they’ve spoken and settled their differences, with Banks mentioning that they want to be on the same page for Evolution. The two go off smiling into their tag team match.

In a bit of a squash match, OG besties Sasha Banks and Bayley defeat the team of local talent Samantha Simon and Karen Lundy. By my understanding, that is WWE’s first female tag team ‘enhancement talents’ – truly a night of firsts! The Boss’n’Hug connection confirm that they’re on the same page with the easy victory, eventually sharing a hug in the center of the ring! So… looks like they’re cool again… yeah thoughts section below!

Next up, Natalya takes on Mickie James, who is accompanied by RAW Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss. James is mainly in control of the match until Natalya hits an electric chair drop. After a failed interference by Bliss, Natalya takes her eye off the ball for just long enough that James takes her out with a superkick to pick up the victory.

Finally, we have a grudge match of sorts, with Liv Morgan taking on Ember Moon… for the third time. This time, Riott Squad member Sarah Logan is barred from ringside, so Moon has a chance to get retribution. So yeah, you guessed it, Moon picked up the win over Morgan with the Eclipse… just like the other two times, she did last month…

Thoughts: Right, so I’ll start with the positive – the announcement of ‘Evolution’: what a moment! Sure we’ve had this before with the Royal Rumble, but this is still an amazing development. Years ago, I remember being that ‘Diva’ fan who waited through PPVs just to watch T&A crap or matches that took the death slot. Waiting two hours to see Molly Holly and Victoria have a five-minute match that the crowd didn’t care about? Seeing women like Gail Kim and Katie Lea Burchill shoved to the side for Santina to win the WrestleMania 25 Battle Royal? Women like AJ Lee having to be managers and unable to wrestle on PPVs? Having an all-women’s PPV seemed like something so out of reach.

Sure places like Impact have done Knockouts Knockdown and there are Indy platforms like EVE and Shimmer, but there’s no denying that WWE is still the biggest company. Making this decision is a dramatic statement to their traditional audience, a statement to their sponsors, a statement to even their old employees who feel that wrestling is just ‘a man’s world’. I’m so happy that this is happening, so let’s really hope that they can pull it off. Who wants a Fast Five of Diva-Dirt’s top 5 dream matches!?

So now that I’ve been positive, let me switch gears because all the RAW action tonight was absolutely terrible. Once again, we have three angles going on with absolutely no useful progress whatsoever. No one wants to see Sasha Banks and Bayley take on jobbers. No one cares about the Riott Squad VS Ember Moon for the third time. No one cares about Natalya’s friendship with Ronda Rousey.

Do you know what makes this worse? How Stephanie McMahon was out there talking about making those 30-second matches a thing of the past, but then they give us 3 squash matches that barely went 5 minutes each!

As I said, Riott Squad VS Ember Moon does nothing for me and the crowd can see that too. Why are these new talents feuding with each other when the crowd has no investment in either side? That dead crowd reaction added to how this match has already happened twice already is just a sign that this feud needs to stop. I’d honestly rather have these guys off TV for a week instead of having a pointless match.

The Mickie/Natalya match was only good because Mickie James finally got a win, but it was still pointless. Yes, they’re playing an angle where Natalya will be at Ronda Rousey’s side at Summerslam, but without Rousey, everyone can see through this thrown together friendship. I’m sure things will pick up next week, but I’m not invested.

Then finally… wtf. Sasha Banks and Bayley aren’t lesbians anymore, but they’re best friends again. Hugging, smiling and squashing jobbers. Sure this could go back to a feud again, but I’m done. It has been drawn out now, to the point where another turn would just piss off the crowd. Sure this could be a big red herring for a big pay off match at Evolution, but I think I’m finally over it after about 8 months of this yo-yoing. In the words of the iconic Gemma Collins, I’m gamed out:

What did you think of this week’s RAW? Did you enjoy any of the matches? Did you also love how we had tag team female jobbers? Send in those comments below!

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