2018 will forever have a landmark in wrestling, as for the first time in company history, WWE presented an all-female pay-per-view event, Evolution.
Set to rebroadcast today (Tuesday, June 9) on FOX Sports 1 (FS1), the event featured past, present and future WWE female Superstars entangled in action.
James will be joining the WWE Backstage team (also on FS1) following the broadcast to talk about the important pay-per-view, which kicked off with the multi-time Women’s Champion teaming with Alicia Fox against Trish Stratus and Lita.
The match was widely heralded for its action, and for her part, Mickie enjoyed and embraced the pressure that comes with kicking off such a monumental event. "I think we had one of the best matches on the card," she said. "The reaction was organic. They (the fans in attendance) were genuinely reacting and were truly excited about the moment. Going on first I feel we had a real opportunity to set not only the the stage for the rest of the PPV, but also to really set the bar for the rest of the ladies to follow."
For the six-time Women's Champion, coming into the match at the landmark event saw her face two of her most storied rivals in Trish and Lita. James was Trish's last opponent on Raw during her fully active time in the ring. James was also victorious winning the championship back from her long time friend and rival Lita in the high-flying Hall of Famer’s retirement match. Mickie, of course, went on to have an extremely successful career in WWE herself and at this point was early in her return to the company after spending several years with TNA.
"Facing two women I always admired, and attributed so much of my success to felt like my career was coming full circle," James said. "I still feel so privileged to have started my career against these incredible athletes, and to have competed against them as I was redefining my career in WWE was amazing."
The sentiment around the match and the moment for these four increidble competitors to work together once again was shared around the table. “What an absolute honour to be a part of the first ever all women’s PPV. Not only did I get to tag team with my bestie Amy “Lita’ Dumas, I had the opportunity to face off once again with my long time rival Mickie James!” said Trish Stratus. “We felt the electricity from the crowd when we faced off at Royal Rumble and this gave the fans (and us) some closure to that feeling. That intangible feeling that translated beautifully as our match kicked off the show that was one for the books!”
James, originally, was to team with Alexa Bliss in the match; however, injury sidelined the "Goddess of WWE". Alicia Fox quickly came in and added an enthralling dynamic to the match. Fox, one of Mickie’s closest friends, was stoked to be competing in the match, particularly because she didn’t get the chance to compete against Trish or Lita before the future WWE Hall of Famers retired. "It was amazing for Fox, who is still in my humble opinion pretty underappreciated for her 13-14 year career in the company for the talent and raw ability she has as a performer. For us to share such a special moment, as a real friend and colleague, with women who I adore & deem as the foundation of breaking the mold, was truly something special." she said.
James was excited both for the opportunity to team with her friend, and was touched as Fox delivered a very memorable speech prior to the match. "It touched me because that promo was real. It was real tears," she recalled. "Foxy told me many times that weekend that it was the greatest match of her career. She'd say, 'you don't know how much this means to me. I can't tell you how excited I am. If I was to retire tomorrow I could totally walk away completely content.”
Bliss was able to participate in the festivities as well as an outside support for James and Fox. Going into the night, the trio were hard at work planning to make an impression, and as fans would see. The three former Champions came out with a tribute cosplay to Alice in Wonderland. James recounts the origin of the unique setup.
"We always try to go all out for pay-per-views," she said. "We sat as a team, and Lexi said 'what if we could do Alice in Wonderland?' Foxy had a Mad Hatter tea party for one of her birthdays, so she had the hat. I went with the Queen of Hearts (though I made sure it didn't look like the Hart Foundation). I wanted to make it look like a queen of hearts cape. I needed to also make sure that if I lost the cape and makeup, I would still look badass.
"It was such a special moment for us. we wanted it to feel like our WrestleMania. That's why we went all out. It wasn't just a typical PPV - it was super special for us. This was a first ever and what we’d hope to become a first of many to come. This was special for every woman in that locker room that night and we all wanted to give everything we had. It was Ladymania! " James jokingly added.
What made the play work was the reception the women received. "We don't give enough credit to fans for taking the opportunity to make something magical and standout from the rest," James said. "It's one thing to put on a cosplay. It’s one thing to go out there and have a match. But there is another thing to fully commit on every level, which we aimed to do, and I feel like from the response we more than succeeded.”
Check local listings on FS1 for air time for Evolution and WWE Backstage, or relive the incredible pay-per-view event on the WWE Network!
(All photos courtesy wwe.com)