On Monday night, Stephanie McMahon, flanked by Vince McMahon and Triple H, opened Raw by announcing a women’s only PPV event called Evolution, which will take place on October 28. The entire locker room stood on the stage for the announcement and everyone was appropriately excited about the new event and how it will shine a light on the women’s division.
The general tone and reaction from outside WWE was positive as well, with most recognizing this as an important step in continuing to elevate women’s wrestling. As our Brandon Stroud has noted, the PPV will hopefully be used to further develop storylines within the women’s division over the coming months as a build up to the event.
However, it was hard not to question whether the timing of the announcement — three months after the Greatest Royal Rumble — had anything to do with the reaction to women not being allowed on WWE’s giant Saudi Arabia show. There was backlash to the GRR and WWE accepting the request to have the massive show in a place where the entire women’s division had to be left at home.
Triple H responded to those critiques in the build up to the event, and doubled down on that statement when asked by ESPN’s Tim Fiorvanti as to whether Evolution had anything to do with women not being able to compete in the Greatest Royal Rumble.
“Let’s take the Saudi Arabia show off the table, and let’s just say it never happened — would anybody question that they deserve this opportunity?” Levesque asked. “To me, it’s a ridiculous statement, the timing of it.
“You cannot effect change in a region that, culturally, is trying to change, you cannot help them affect that change without being there.”
The company line has clearly been to sell the Greatest Royal Rumble as a point of entry to eventually bring some change that could see women participating in an event in Saudi Arabia. That very well may be genuine, but the optics remained less than stellar and they have to understand that. Beyond that, while this may be the goal, they’ll have to deliver on this promise of creating change eventually or else it will look even worse in hindsight.
As for Evolution, it very well could have been something that’s been in the works for some time, as they’ve been steadily building the women’s division to the point where it’s deep enough to fill out a full PPV card. Whether it’s consciously a move to appease those upset by the exclusion of women from the GRR or simply a coincidence, Evolution is still a big step for WWE and an important moment for the women’s division — especially if it leads to the introduction of tag titles and gives non-title matches a significant stage that is rarely afforded to the division.