WWE Evolution 2018 is only one week away and already fans are anticipating which matches on the current card have the highest chance of stealing the show. While it isn't a complete bill just yet, the bouts that are on tap as of now have the WWE Universe buzzing heading into the event.
Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch have been embroiled in a heated rivalry over the SmackDown Women's Championship since SummerSlam and will do battle one more time at Evolution in a Last Women's Standing match. Who will walk out of the historic pay-per-view with the gold in their grasp?
For the first time in many years, Trish Stratus and Lita will be joining forces in tag team action to take on the dastardly duo of Alexa Bliss and Mickie James. Can the pair of WWE Hall of Famers prove they are still capable of hanging with the talent of today?
Nikki Bella recently emerged as a threat to Ronda Rousey's Raw Women's Championship after she and sister Brie betrayed the former UFC star on Raw. How will Rowdy be able to overcome the odds and topple the longest-reigning Divas champion of all time?
Let's look at the latest card and offer early predictions for who will reign supreme Sunday. The only outing that will be excluded will be the finals of the 2018 Mae Young Classic, which won't be officially set until after the final episode of the show airs on Wednesday on the WWE Network.
Last Woman Standing SmackDown Women's Championship Match
The roll Becky Lynch has been on as a heel for the past two months cannot be denied. It was a smart decision on WWE's part to have her capture the SmackDown Women's Championship at Hell in a Cell, considering she has more momentum than almost anyone else in the company right now.
Meanwhile, Charlotte Flair has struggled to earn the sympathy of the WWE Universe over the course of this rivalry through no fault of her own. WWE should have realized from the get-go she would have been a better fit in the heel role than Lynch, especially since that has always been her strong suit.
Despite that, their feud has been among the recurring highlights on WWE's weekly programming, and their matches never cease to amaze viewers. Their upcoming encounter at Evolution should be no different, and neither should the result of Lynch going over and successfully retaining her title.
The story they've told up to this point would seem to suggest Charlotte will finally get her retribution against Lynch at the pay-per-view. However, nothing would be accomplished from The Irish Lass Kicker dropping the strap so soon, not to mention there aren't any obvious feuds for The Queen once she wraps up her rivalry with her former friend.
Lynch, on the other hand, could always transition into a feud with either Asuka or Naomi in the coming months, and so she is a much more logical choice to have as champion coming out of Evolution.
Prediction: Becky Lynch retains the SmackDown Women's Championship.
Women's Battle Royal
Similar to WrestleMania 34, Evolution 2018 will host a women's Battle Royal, in which the winner will earn a future opportunity at a championship of her choosing.
Of course, this match is merely designed to get everyone from the Raw, SmackDown Live and NXT women's rosters on the card without having them be involved in anything important. In other words, it's a sign of laziness from WWE because it couldn't find anything better to do for the likes of Asuka, Naomi, Ember Moon and others.
On the bright side, it will feature a number of familiar faces, including Molly Holly, Ivory, Kelly Kelly, Maria Kanellis and Michelle McCool. None of them have a chance of winning, but it will fun to see them mix it up with the talent of today.
The only women who would actually make sense as potential victors are Asuka, Naomi, Moon and Nia Jax. Ronda Rousey facing either Jax or Moon at any point in the foreseeable future would seem strange, so that leaves Asuka and Naomi as the best possible choices.
Between the two, Asuka needs the victory much more, considering how far she has fallen since she suffered her first defeat at WrestleMania 34. Regardless of whether it's Becky Lynch or Charlotte Flair she's going up against, The Empress of Tomorrow must return to SmackDown Women's Championship contention soon.
Prediction: Asuka wins.
Kairi Sane vs. Shayna Baszler (NXT Women's Championship Match)
The bad blood between Kairi Sane and Shayna Baszler dates all the way to the finals of last year's Mae Young Classic, where the former emerged victorious.
Baszler never forgot that devastating loss and used it as fuel to pursue and eventually capture the NXT Women's Championship.
Their last one-on-one outing against each other at TakeOver: Brooklyn 4 saw Sane knock off Baszler for the belt, but The Queen of Spades has been determined since then to get the gold back in her grasp.
Aside from maybe Ronda Rousey, there aren't any women more intimidating in WWE/NXT at the moment than Baszler, so Sane will have her work cut out for her at Evolution when they clash in a championship rematch.
Before losing the title to Sane, Baszler had beaten almost everyone in NXT's women's division from Nikki Cross to Candice LeRae to Dakota Kai. That said, there is no reason for her to regain the gold at Evolution, and a main roster call-up might be in her future.
After all, Rousey will need someone to feud with over the Raw Women's Championship in the remainder of 2018, and Baszler would be the perfect person to challenge her for the title.
In the meantime, Sane can continue to elevate NXT's women's scene to new heights and work with the plethora of talent the brand currently has to offer.
Sane and Baszler have had amazing in-ring chemistry in the past, so even if you aren't familiar with their feud, look for this to be one of the better bouts of the night.
Prediction: Kairi Sane retains the NXT Women's Championship.
Trish Stratus and Lita vs. Alexa Bliss and Mickie James
Originally, Trish Stratus and Alexa Bliss were scheduled to go one-on-one at Evolution, while Lita and Mickie James were supposed to have a match of their own.
However, on the Oct. 8 edition of Raw, the bouts were merged into one star-studded tag team affair after Bliss and James invited the legends to join forces and they accepted.
Beyond that, though, this match has surprisingly lacked buzz and interest from fans. Sure, it will be cool to see Stratus and Lita on the same side of the ring again for the first time in over a dozen years, but with nothing at stake and no real animosity between the two teams, the WWE Universe has virtually zero reason to care.
Bliss has already failed to beat Ronda Rousey for the Raw Women's Championship twice, so it would be damaging to her credibility to lose a high-profile match for the third straight month. Then again, Stratus and Lita coming up short to Bliss and James could be viewed as an illogical outcome given their long list of accolades.
Either way, Stratus and Lita emerging as the winners would do nothing to help Bliss, James or anyone on the current roster, which is most important. Evolution will be a fun trip down memory lane, but it should also aim to showcase the talent of today, and having them suffer a defeat to two women who won't be around going forward would be a short-sighted move.
Expect Stratus and Lita to dominate a majority of the matchup with their signature crowd-pleasing offense, only for Bliss and James to find a way to win.
Prediction: Alexa Bliss and Mickie James win.
Ronda Rousey vs. Nikki Bella (Raw Women's Championship Match)
For the first time since January's Royal Rumble, Nikki Bella will be in action on a WWE pay-per-view. Coincidentally, the Rumble also happened to be the same night Ronda Rousey arrived on the WWE scene and made an immediate impact by confronting the likes of Charlotte Flair, Alexa Bliss and Asuka.
A Rousey vs. Nikki feud was inevitable based on speculation at the onset of 2018 that The Bella Twins and other current WWE talent were envious of the former UFC star taking a spot on the roster without having to work her way up the ladder. They were also positioned as friends on WWE TV recently, so Nikki's betrayal of her felt that much more personal.
There are a few other matches on the Evolution card that will likely be better than this from an in-ring standpoint, but at least it will have a big-fight feel and feature two women many non-WWE fans are aware of and are familiar with.
That said, Rousey retaining her title is all but a guarantee, if only because it would make little sense to have Nikki be the one to end her reign of dominance. Besides, there has been no indication that the Bellas will be around after Evolution, so the chances of Nikki becoming Raw women's champion are slim to none.
There are plenty of women Rousey has yet to clash with, including Sasha Banks and Bayley. Here's hoping they eventually enter championship contention, assuming Shayna Baszler isn't called up from NXT to feud with Rousey post-Evolution.
Prediction: Ronda Rousey retains the Raw Women's Championship.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is an Endicott College alumnus and aspiring journalist. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.