Craig Wilson, Jamie Lithgow, Benjamin Trecroci, Brian Damage and Padraic Toolan
So, Evolution, the WWE’s first ever all-female PPV, is in the bag and from an in-ring perspective, it was very good. However, today’s Sunday Sermon won’t focus on just that, we’ll also look at the presentation and whether or not there’s a lot the WWE can adapt to other PPVs.
Craig: Well, first things first, I enjoyed Evolution and there was a lot to enjoy. As described in yesterday’s This Week in Wrestling (by the time this goes to print, anyway…), Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch stood out and shone the brightest from an in-ring perspective.
But there was a whole lot else to love here. The fact that unlike virtually every other PPV, it didn’t last forever and didn’t feel like it did. The card was a lot shorter than most and none of the matches felt like it was being crammed in just for the sake of it – a definite plus. And the arena set up was simple yet effective.
Should the WWE look at Evolution, perhaps realise that PPVs don’t need to last five/six hours and strip things back or is that just wishful thinking?
Jamie: These days I see WWE as being a bit like food. NXT and NXT UK provide me with, generally, tasty nibbles that usually leave me wanting more. Meanwhile, pretty much any main roster show is a massive serving of pointless carbs with no distinct flavour or goodness. Evolution, on the other hand, was like a thoroughly satisfying three-course meal; no too much, not too little, featuring plenty of interesting flavours while also having a distinct beginning, middle and end. This was the first main roster WWE show, never mind pay per view, I’ve seen in ages and it reminded me of a simpler time when WWE actually appeared to concentrate on producing a wrestling show. Evolution seemed to illustrate exactly why, for 30 years, WWE’s big shows hovered around the three-hour mark; it’s what fans want because it’s what WWE themselves have conditioned us to expect.
Brian: I’ll be the first to admit that I fell asleep watching Evolution. It was more about me being tired than it was boring. I did rewatch the Becky Lynch/Charlotte match and Ronda Rousey/Nikki Bella matches. Both were good to excellent as far as I’m concerned. I agree that WWE should make their pay per views shorter. More is indeed less. I liked the feel of Evolution, the arena was dark, no real big flashy sets. It is what all WWE shows should be like with of course the exception being Wrestlemania.
Benjamin: Definitely agree with Jamie that Evolution seemed like a throwback PPV to simpler times. Personally wasn’t very excited about the show, mostly because of the card. The moment of them having an All-Women’s show was not lost on me, however, but the build and card wasn’t anything special.
Noticed right away that the lights were dimmed, the barricades were different and made me pay more attention to the show. Saw some comments online that some people felt like it was a “glorified house show” but for me, I liked that it had a different look and feel.
Not sure if this was just a one-time deal with Evolution, but it really worked and would love if this what they would do for future non-major PPVs or Special Events on the Network.
Jamie: Totally agree regarding the aesthetic and look of the show. Yes, it was fairly basic looking but if you want to make something look and feel different to every other WWE show that features bright lights and massive LED screens everywhere, what else would you do exactly?! There were no distractions here, the focus for people’s attention was the ring, as it really should be.
Something else I noticed, without noticing too much, was the crowd. They were hot, but did not try to hijack the show as some audiences tend to do. I wonder if plunging them into darkness and focusing their attention on the ring had anything to do with that? Or maybe it was just a crowd that actually got the concept of professional wrestling.
Brian: All good points made by Jamie. It makes sense to simplify the look of the show to put the focus on the women. I read that Vince was indeed running this show and not Triple H which tells you something right there. Maybe Vince actually still knows how to properly book shows without the extra bells and whistles that go with a usual WWE event.
Pat: Vince still has it, when he wants to. Shameless plug time: IN MY EVOLUTION REVIEW AT ITSDAMNTRUE.BLOG
Ahem. In my review, I had the only bad match as The Riott Squad losing to the Boss/Hug/Cat team. I felt Sasha and Ruby were way off on their timing/chemistry. Besides that, the show was an absolute 10 for me, with the Charlotte/Becky match getting my coveted 20 Gold Medals rating. To be honest, I was so focused on the matches that I didn’t even realize how bare bones it was until Charlotte and Becky went outside the ring and there was a small barricade with almost no room to work. And Jamie is right about the crowd not hijacking the show, I don’t think people realize how much of an effect that has. It pisses me off to no end when it happens. I think the message is that WWE should take from the response to this show is that pageantry and over-the-top production is great when it fits the moment, but that’s not what the fans come for. Fans want to see great wrestling, great psychology, and great storytelling, and that’s what made this show terrific. I can even excuse the faces and heels standing together at the end because they all deserved their moment for crushing the opportunity that was afforded to them.
Benjamin: Seemed like the crowd was really there for the show and not to become part of the show.
Noticed the Mae Young Final, as well as the NXT championship, wasn’t met with the most cheers but both delivered especially Shayna Baszler and Kairi Sane.
Pat: I know this is about Evolution, but I love Benjamin’s idea of showcasing NXT matches on the main roster shows. Not even just network shows, but have a match on Raw and SmackDown each week, the way they did for 205 Live in the beginning. I had more than one friend who never watched NXT until I said to them you have to watch this match, and now they’re regular watchers. And the one match was the Nikki Cross-Asuka Last Woman Standing match. If the main roster crowd gets exposed to it, I guarantee it will grow.
Wouldn’t mind if a special event show on the network had an NXT match or two to further the brand to wider audiences.
Brian: I will respectfully disagree about putting NXT matches on Raw or Smackdown. While it certainly would give their roster more exposure, the bottom line is that it is still a developmental brand. Yes, I realize that a majority of the NXT roster can hang or even eclipse some of the main roster in talent, but there should be something to strive for when you are down there.
Pat: Touche Brian.
You can read all previous Sunday Sermons here.