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Review of the Mae Young Classic(Episodes 1-4)

This week marked the airing of WWE’s Mae Young Classic, a 32 Women tournament featuring competitors from all over the world. Over the last year the WWE under Triple H’s vision has had the Cruiserweight Classic and the UK Championship Tournament. I have been concerned about this tournament going into it because of how badly the long term plan has been for the Cruiserweights and the UK Division. I hope that this tournament changes things for women in pro wrestling and that the long term plan works out better then the previous two tournaments did. There was a lot of excitement and hype going into this tournament and the first four episodes showed why. These women have been honing their craft and were ready to show it on a bigger stage. Before I begin with my thoughts on the Mae Young Classic’s first four episodes here are the results.

Episode 1
-Princesa Sugehit defeated Kay Lee Ray
-Serena Deeb defeated Vanessa Borne
-Shayna Baszler defeated Zeda
-Abbey Laith defeated Jazzy Gabert

Episode 2
-Mercedes Martinez defeated Xia Li
-Rachel Evers defeated Marti Belle
-Rhea Ripley defeated Miranda Salinas
-Mia Yim defeated Sarah Logan

Episode 3
-Toni Storm defeated Ayesha Raymond
-Dakota Kai defeated Kavita Devi
-Bianca Belair defeated Sage Beckett
-Piper Niven defeated Santana Garrett

Episode 4
-Candice Larae defeated Renee Michelle
-Lacey Evans defeated Taynara Conti
-Nicole Savoy defeated Reina González
-Kairi Sane defeated Tessa Blanchard

Episode One started off with two veterans in Kay Lee Ray and Princesa Sugehit. Both women come from different backgrounds with Ray coming from Scotland and Sugehit is a Luchador from Mexico. Both backgrounds and styles made for an awesome opening contest in the tournament. I loved some of the unique moves by Ray but it was the high flying and submission skills of Princesa Sugehit that got her the victory. It was great to see Serena Deeb back in the WWE with this tournament. I always felt Serena got a raw deal with her association with the Straight Edge Society. She has got her personal and professional life under control and it showed in her victory over Vanessa Borne. I really did love Borne’s attitude and the fact she was trained by Rikishi and Gangrel is a plus. I don’t you’ve the last of the former Cardinals and Suns cheerleader.  The third match was between two women involved in significant experience in MMA. Shayna Baszler and Zeda are both tough individuals but Shayna is a part of the Four Horsewomen and an elite competitor. I also thought it was pretty cool to see Ronda Rousey, Marina Shafir, and Jessamyn Duke in the crowd supporting Shayna. The final match of episode one was between Jazzy Gabert and Abbey Laith and it seemed like it was a no brainer. Gabert looks so intimidating and fierce it’s hard to imagine her being beat but she was and it was shocking. I thought this was a great first episode that really set the tone for things to come.

The second episode of the Classic started off with Xia Li and Mercedes Martinez which was surprising because this was Li’s first match and Mercedes has been in the ring for sixteen years. I thought it was odd putting someone with no experience in a tournament like this. You could tell the experience difference between the two and that’s why Mercedes is moving on. I love second generation star Rachel Evers because of her attitude and the fact that Paul Ellering is her dad. Marti Belle who is a former TNA Knockout is someone who will shine if given the chance. Evers has a great wrestling pedigree and the skills she learned from Lance Storm to go very far in WWE and in pro wrestling in general. Speaking of training with legends, Miranda Salinas was trained by Booker T while Rhea Ripley is just a natural talented athlete. Salinas reminds me of another Alexa Bliss with her fiery that makes up for her height. Rhea Ripley really impressed me with her strength and agility. At 20 years old she has a bright future ahead of her. One of the familiar faces in this tournament is Sarah Logan who has an awesome personality. I love her backwoods Kentucky background and her desire to be the best. Mia Yim in an incredible performer with an incredible story. She has been the victim of domestic abuse and over came it to be a successful woman in pro wrestling. This match was a great way to end the second episode of the Classic.

In the third episode the show began with Toni Storm and Ayesha Raymond. Storm is from Australia and is a great performer but she had the difficult task of taking on the most powerful woman in the tournament in Ayesha Raymond. Toni Storm definitely looked the veteran in the match while Ayesha seemed to struggle for most of the match. I think Ayesha’s strength she could do some great things but she needs work on her in ring skills and psychology. The Mae Young Classic featured the first Indian Woman in Kavita Devi, but she had to take on the dynamic Dakota Kai. Devi is another one in this tournament that has a ton of power and will be great someday once she learns he craft more. I also was impressed with Devi’s agility and how she moved around the ring. At the end of the day veteran experience prevailed over a future potential star in Devi. Two of the more confident women in the tournament were Sage Beckett and Bianca Belair. Beckett was trained by the Dudley Boys while Blair is just starting out and has raw athletic talent thats going to take her a long way. I was actually surprised that Belair went over on Beckett but that’s what tournament time is all about. Upsets can happen all the time. The final match of the third episode was between Piper Niven and Santan Garrett. Before I saw this episode I saw a lot of nasty comments being made about Piper Niven and those people should be ashamed of themselves. You don’t have to look like a supermodel to be a great wrestler and in my opinion Piper Niven proved that in her victory against Santana Garrett. Even though I love watching Santana Garrett I am glad Niven is getting the opportunity to shine.

For the final episode of round one we started off with Renee Michelle and “Mrs. Johnny Wrestling” Candice Larae. I absolutely love watching Candice’s work and have been following her for a long time. I think whether Gargano is in NXT or not she deserves a WWE contract. Renee Michelle with a little more experience could be a game changer and I expect to see her back on WWE television someday. One of NXT’s familiar faces Lacey Evans has an incredible story and I am personally glad she is in this tournament so she could show her skill off. Taynara Conti has an impressive Judo background and actually made it to the Olympic tryouts. We go from Judo throws to the “Queen of Suplexes” in Nicole Savoy. She took on 2nd generation star Reina González who a stand out collegiate athlete. Reina showed a lot of aggression which didn’t allow Nicole Savoy to hit many of her suplexes like she normally would. Savoy ended up winning by submission so hopefully in the second round we will see some suplexes. The final match of the first round was between Kairi Sane and third generation star Tessa Blanchard. I love Tessa Blanchard and the roots she brings to the ring. I personally would love to see her align with Charlotte due to the Four Horsemen connection with their fathers. Kairi Sane is neck and neck with Asuka as being the best female competitor from Japan. Sane and Blanchard reminded me of Ciampa and Gargano from the Cruiserweight Classic in the fact the best match from the first round was saved for last.

The first round is complete and it was very impressive. All the women should be proud of their efforts and their work. The one negative I will say is that you definitely tell which ones have experience and which one do not. I hope the ones that don’t have much experience will learn from this and carry it on forward. This tournament is a great step to making women’s wrestling better. I personally cannot wait for rounds two and three next year that will air next week on the WWE Network. Until then I hope you enjoyed the first round of the Mae Young Classic as much as I did.

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