Ronda Rousey emerged from the main event of WWE’s first-ever all-women’s pay-per-view with a swollen face, a scratch on her cheek and a title defense she could be proud of, having withstood every single thing Nikki Bella threw at her. And make no mistake: Nikki Bella threw quite a bit at her.
It was truly vintage Nikki in the final match of WWE Evolution. The pushups, the sequined snapback, especially the interference from her sister Brie. For a “Do Nothing Bella,” the longest-reigning Divas Champion in history certainly did a lot in her longshot bid for the Raw Women’s Championship, and for a while, it seemed like she did enough.
Thanks in large part to Brie’s constant interference, Nikki halted Ronda’s momentum each time The Baddest Woman on the Planet began to pull away, and as the match progressed, the idea of Nikki Bella handing Ronda Rousey her first WWE lost didn’t just seem possible, but probable. Nikki dedicating the match to Rousey’s mother, AnnMaria De Mars, only further salted the champion’s wounds, as The Fearless One continued an offensive press that brought her to the brink of winning the title.
Rousey, who made a show of refusing to end the match in its opening moments — the implication being that the punishment would continue for as long as she wanted it to — found herself in an unusually defensive posture as a result, booting Nikki away from her in a guard against the ropes. Once she dispatched Brie by throwing her over the announce table, however, The Baddest Woman on the Planet fought her way back into the match. And after she hauled Nikki off the top turnbuckle via a small package in a truly creative display, Rousey finally decided she’d had enough.
The champion locked in her signature Armbar and Nikki submitted almost immediately, bringing an end to one of the more unlikely, but impressive, challenges Rousey has fielded thus far. (Pointedly, Battle Royal winner and future challenger Nia Jax was watching on a monitor backstage). The Baddest Woman on the Planet did not skimp on the reveling after the fact, slapping skin with the WWE Universe as she did laps around the ring and eventually celebrating with the entire Women’s division at the top of the ramp as Evolution went off the air.
One unspoken question going into Evolution was whether other all-women’s events would follow in its footsteps. Given the success of the event, there was clearly little doubt that this show was just the first of many. The only question now is whether Ronda Rousey will be champion for the next one, too.
“I’m defeated, and I just feel like the Divas Era is officially over. I’m done, but you know what? With Ronda, it’s not over. When I come back here, I’m going to be a brand new woman that every woman in this women’s division will need to fear.”