Yesterday I wrote a take down of what I thought was the general vibe of what we were going to see building to the Ronda Rousey and Nikki Bella title match at WWE Evolution.
Already, I have to follow up to it because it has already gotten so, so much worse. On Raw, Ronda Rousey cut a promo that began with talking about how the Divas era made her sick, ripped on the Bellas for capitalizing on their husband and ex-boyfriend’s fame and success and then dive bombed into full on rudeness and slut shaming.
And this is who I am supposed to be rooting for in a little over a week. This is who the Philly crowd was cheering on the whole time. And this is the most clear sign I’ve seen that there hasn’t been any actual evolution for women in the WWE where it matters most.
Rousey’s whole promo was cringeworthy, both because it was unoriginal and because she’s just not very good on the mic. But the worst of it came after Nikki and Brie claimed to have broken down doors for women in the WWE.
Instead of Ronda firing back on how Nikki and Brie had actually closed doors for women, how they guarded those doors fiercely, she chose to go another direction: claiming the only door Nikki had kicked down “was the door to John Cena’s bedroom.” And then mocking her because he “threw [her] out the exact same door.”
I am sure the line was cleared with Nikki beforehand. I’m sure she knew it was coming. I’m actually going to say I’m sure Ronda Rousey didn’t come up with that line and was fed it by a backstage writing team. None of this makes it okay, because you are still taking the top feud for your historic all-woman show and making it the worst possible stereotype of how women, especially competitive women, interact. It was catty, it dragged in someone’s sex life and relationship status for no reason, it was built on cruelty and jealousy, it was a bad parody of how women actually interact.
It is empowerment being written by men who hate women and think all women do secretly hate each other. It is a shuddering image given what we’ve seen especially in writing in NXT where women are allowed to dislike each other but still recognize each other’s athletic prowess and agency. It is painful to see when compared to Charlotte and Becky who are doing one of the most emotionally involving feuds where there is mutual respect alongside all of their anger and frustration. It is airing alongside the Mae Young Classic where women are allowed to be fierce and competitive and nasty…but keep it all based in wrestling, in their desire to achieve, in wanting to be the best.
I’d compare what happened on Raw to an episode of Total Divas, but based on what I’ve seen of that show it’s not a fair comparison. It was more like something from a particularly bad episode of a Real Housewives show. Even worse: it felt pulled straight from the Divas era it’s meant to be a change from, and the woman lambasting the concept of Divas was the one most guilty of acting like one in the moment.
Many people threw back to a line from AJ Lee during her long ongoing feud with Nikki: “Talent is not sexually transmitted.” For many it was bad enough when she said it, for those of us who will still defend the line the difference is in AJ’s point being mildly ironic (at the time she was already involved with CM Punk) and that it was a single line in a single promo whereas Ronda went after Nikki several times about her relationship with John Cena.
It was difficult to watch and even harder to see a crowd full of people supposedly supporting an Evolution cheer for regressive and awful verbal catfighting. This isn’t how we move forward. This is the same crap being fed back to you but now with an impressive UFC record and more muscles attached. It isn’t revolutionary in the slightest.
Beyond all of this was the announcement that the WWE is so clueless on what to do with other women they’re just throwing them into a Battle Royal. Rather than capitalizing on Asuka and Naomi’s great new team dynamic? Battle Royal. The Iiconics, who are a smash as a tag team? Battle Royal. Ember Moon and Nia Jax, who seemed headed to a potential singles feud after last week’s Raw? Battle Royal. While I figured there was going to be one if only to involve as many women current, former and NXT as possible, I didn’t think we’d see WWE be so damn lazy as to throw it together last minute and forgo actually interesting potential feuds and matches just because they don’t feature the verbal wit of threatening to eviscerate Nikki Bella like smallpox.
Fun note for whoever was responsible for flubbing that line: smallpox is a disease. Evisceration is the act of removing internal organs from a living creature. You cannot eviscerate smallpox. You can eradicate it, but that’s a very different word. And when you try to use big words that you don’t understand to sound smart, you actually end up sounding incredible stupid. I don’t know if it was a writer who gave Ronda the incorrect word or if Ronda herself got confused but it doesn’t matter. It was bad.
I am still excited for the show’s undercard for the most part. Spoilers for the MYC finals and the UK Women’s title defense are promising, but I won’t share them here. Shayna and Kairi put on strong matches together. Charlotte and Becky will burn the place down. Tamina is back and seems to be on the path to a hoss fight with Nia, which I welcome fully. Sasha made her return and I’m hoping she, Bayley and Nattie will be facing the Riott Squad in what should be a pretty great fight.
But the show still revolves around the main event. And the main event now revolves around, essentially, “You’re a jealous bitch and I’m going to break your arm.”
I guess for WWE’s writing staff, Evolution is still a mystery, huh? Yeah, ha ha, funny joke, fuck you.