WWE Evolution Is Historic, But Is It Revolutionary?

Image courtesy of NYCB Live

On the July 23 episode of Monday Night Raw, Raw Commissioner Stephanie McMahon announced the first ever all women pay-per-view “Evolution” scheduled for October 28, 2018 in Long Island, NY.

The card includes championship defense matches for the Raw, Smackdown, NXT, & NXT UK women titles, the Mae Young Classic final match, as well as other matches including ones with hall-of-famers Lita and Trish Stratus.

Although this event is the first of its kind, many wonder if women’s events like this and the first all female Royal Rumble and Battle Royale this year could be deemed revolutionary. While women in WWE have fought for years to be seen as more than “Divas,” is this PPV headed in the right direction?

It’s important to note that on November 2, 2018, just five days after “Evolution,” WWE will host “Crown Jewel” in Saudi Arabia. This is the second major event hosted this year in Saudi Arabia as part their multi-million dollar, multi-year deal with the WWE.

Like the “Greatest Royal Rumble” event on April 27, “Crown Jewel” will be an all-male pay-per-view as women are not allowed to perform and will not be shown in WWE commercials.

It is telling that the WWE, in the midst of their “women’s revolution,” hosted not one but two all-male pay-per-views —with one airing merely five days following their first all-female PPV. Are women really getting their own PPV or are they just receiving half of what the men do?

When looking at the women’s matches this year, they have been sub-par. Major feuds have revolved around friendships. In this year alone, friendship feuds have involved Sasha Banks/Bailey, Nia Jax/Alexa Bliss, Nia Jax/Ember Moon and Becky Lynch/Charlotte Flair. One can only wonder how long Asuka and Naomi will remain best buds before they feud. It can’t be long with their imminent mixed-match challenge match.

Beyond being a tired cliche, matches like these are boring. Months long matches about former best friends bore audiences and devalue women’s wrestlers. These strong capable women deserve more than a former best friend storyline.

While most of these feuds are played-out, some have been worthwhile. Nia Jax and Alexa Bliss’s feud surrounding WrestleMania focused on themes of body image and bullying with the bullied (Nia) prevailing by slinging her bully (Alexa) around a ring and earning her first championship title.

Image courtesy of WWE YouTube

When looking at the men’s major feuds this year, there’s Seth Rollins and Dolph Ziggler who battled not over friendship but to prove to the other that he’s the better Intercontinental Champion. There was also the Shinsuke Nakumura and AJ Styles months-long feud to show which New Japan star could overpower the other while also turning Shinsuke heel.

Although some male feuds happen over friendship like Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn’s little fallout or Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho’s feud last year, that isn’t the bulk of men’s wrestling. Their matches mainly focus on showing who’s dominant — or can at least outsmart their competition — in the quest for a championship title. Women are more than capable of having these matches like Asuka and Charlotte Flair at Wrestlemania, but those matches are far and few between.

One can only hope that there will be a higher quality of matches at “Evolution.” Even with the addition of the first ever Last Woman Standing match between two amazing competitors, Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch, the main event features formerly aligned Ronda Rousey and Nikki Bella— referencing back to the “former best friends feud” formula that WWE has overplayed this year.

Image courtesy of Sportskeeda

The addition of the NXT Women’s Division and the Mae Young Classic has strengthened the women’s brand over the past few years focusing more on wrestling instead of friendships as well as funneling their top talent to the main brands. Their participation in “Evolution” will definitely help freshen up a lot of the stale storylines from Raw and Smackdown.

Overall, a pay-per-view focusing solely on professional women wrestling is definitely a step in the right direction, but it’s far from revolutionary. There’s more that WWE needs to do to truly showcase the talent of their female superstars.

Hiring more women writers to write better-serving stories for their women wrestlers or improving the quality of the PPV women’s matches should take priority. A women’s pay-per-view is great, but when will there be a women’s main event with quality wrestling?

Hopefully, WWE will continue to focus on and improve the talent of their female superstars, but there’s still more to do before women’s wrestling reaches the caliber and respect of men’s wrestling.

WWE “Evolution” will air on October 28, 2018 at 7 PM ET on the WWE Network.

To read my latest, follow me on Twitter. @leahnwhitcomb

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