Welcome to another edition of WWE Heat Index, wherein we discuss the interest level for the various feuds heading into the pay-per-view events. This time around, we’re focusing on Evolution 2018 coming this Sunday night.
The way this works is a pretty simple three-way breakdown of Hot, Lukewarm and Cold. If you like something and you’re very interested in how WWE is setting up the program, it’s Hot (aka Good). If you’re a bit on the fence about it and see some problems, but it’s not awful, then it’s just Okay or Lukewarm. The ones that are the most problematic that you have no interest in are Cold (aka Bad).
SmackDown Women’s Championship Last Woman Standing Match: Becky Lynch (c) vs. Charlotte Flair = Hot
Admittedly, I’m a bit worn out of this feud. I think it’s gone on long enough and this would have been better had Super Show-Down not happened, as that was a bump in the road that just made this a little less interesting, having seen it one more extra time on top of every other time in the past.
However, Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair have the best actual feud going on for this card, and they’re two of the best in-ring performers of the women’s division’s past X number of years. If I’m going to give anyone the benefit of the doubt, it’s going to be those two.
The Last Woman Standing Match stipulation is a HUGE helper in spicing things up and allowing them more freedom to play around with elements we haven’t seen in their previous matches to keep it from just being a repeat of what we’ve seen before. I don’t expect them to be battling like Mick Foley or anything, but I didn’t see the spear through the LED panel coming either, so maybe that’s what we’re actually in store for.
There is more than a solid chance this is the best match of the night and I’m looking forward to it, and I hope it is the main event.
Prediction: Becky Lynch retains the title through some sort of underhanded tactic.
Raw Women’s Championship Match: Ronda Rousey (c) vs. Nikki Bella = Cold
Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking this match is going to be amazing. It won’t be. It’ll just be better than what would have happened if Ronda Rousey was facing Brie Bella.
Nikki Bella is the better in the ring of The Bella Twins, but she’s still someone who has never had the reputation of being super smooth and skilled in the ring. Ronda Rousey has impressed quite a bit with her natural athleticism, but she can often get lost without someone who is more of a ring general to help guide her and keep things focused, which is not something Nikki Bella will be able to do on par with how someone like Natalya or Charlotte Flair could.
This match is on the card because of how it looks on paper, not how it’ll actually be. Nikki Bella is a reality star and one of the biggest names in WWE’s women’s division, and Ronda Rousey has her popularity to equal or even surpass The Bella Twins, so this is going down simply because it’s a marquee thing to sell.
Don’t get swept up in the glitz, negatively or positively, when all things are done. By all means, if it ends up being surprisingly good, don’t deprive yourself the privilege of enjoying it and admitting you were wrong just because you didn’t think it had much hope. However, if it ends up being awful, don’t make excuses and act like it’s significantly better than it was just because you don’t want to criticize anything on this card for fear of looking like a jerk.
Open and honest is the only way to go, and if I’m open and honest about this match, I’m not looking forward to it whatsoever.
Prediction: Ronda Rousey retains the title by submission.
NXT Women’s Championship Match: Kairi Sane (c) vs. Shayna Baszler = Hot/Lukewarm
In terms of whether or not I think this match will be good, it gets a Hot. In terms of whether or not I’m invested in the feud, Lukewarm.
The reason is simple: they’ve wrestled a few times, so I know they have the proper chemistry to pull off a solid segment together, but since it’s old news and there isn’t anything more to the story than a series of wins and losses, there isn’t more for me to latch onto to make this a full-on Hot.
More than anything, I’m interested in where the NXT Women’s Championship goes from here, as the latest tapings have given absolutely no indication of what will be booked for NXT TakeOver: WarGames. Does that mean the Mae Young Classic winner will get a title shot, or will Shayna Baszler win and Kairi Sane get her auto-rematch, or will they just film some extraneous backstage segment stuff to set up a match instead? Hm. Either way, this will be good.
Prediction: Kairi Sane retains the title as Shayna Baszler gets prepped for a main roster call-up.
Mae Young Classic Finals: Toni Storm vs. Io Shirai = Hot
Whether this was the planned finals or not, I’m still interested to see what’s going on with WWE’s plans for the Mae Young Classic.
Last time around, the winner Kairi Sane received an NXT Women’s Championship shot, but it took a few months until she gained enough momentum to actually win the title. Toni Storm has what it takes to go straight to a title, but that may not be in the cards. Io Shirai has a lot of steam behind her popularity, so she might be the way they go instead, and I frankly have no idea which one will win, especially when factoring in how some rumors suggest Tegan Nox was supposed to, before she suffered her injury.
This could be the best match of the night and a true showstopper, so I’m 100% down.
Prediction: Toni Storm wins.
Trish Stratus and Lita vs. Alexa Bliss and Mickie James = Lukewarm
Forgive me for being cynical, but I can’t shake the feeling that this will be one of those matches that seems like it has all the promise in the world, but when push comes to shove, it’ll end up being underwhelming and we’ll look back on it and go “meh, well, that happened” and nothing else.
Mickie James is criminally underrated and one of the best ever. Lita and Trish Stratus are trailblazers and Hall of Famers, but they aren’t exactly impervious to ring rust.
I think this will be fine, but I don’t think it’ll be anything special. The names involved are interesting to me, but I’m hesitant to get too hyped for it.
Prediction: Trish Stratus and Lita win by pinfall.
Battle Royal Match = Lukewarm
This is a double-edged sword. It would be bad if they couldn’t fit all the women on the card, but obviously, if you’re stuck in a battle royal, it means you’re not noteworthy enough for WWE to feel like they should invest in having a special spot for you on the card. It’s arguable WWE could have planned things out much better, but as soon as this event was announced, I was of the camp that immediately called that a battle royal would happen. It is what it is.
Thankfully, there are plenty of talented women involved, some returning legends to spice things up, and there are actual stakes. I’m really hoping we get some NXT women in the mix for this, too. This could be fun.
Prediction: Asuka wins.
The Riott Squad vs. Bayley, Natalya and Sasha Banks = Cold
When this was rumored to be Ivory instead of Natalya, I still didn’t care about it, but I was at least seeing some value to making this something that highlights GLOW or whatever. Instead, WWE did the absolute cheapest, easiest, simplest cop-out of an idea by just putting Natalya with Bayley and Sasha Banks and suddenly, they’re in a feud with The Riott Squad—a team I’ve never liked from the start and see even more diminishing value in as time goes on.
At this point, I’d rather just see these six women thrown in the battle royal and give that more time. Screw it. It’s not like this means anything in the slightest bit anyway.
Prediction: The babyfaces win.