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Tuesday, September 19th 2017.
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WWE Mae Young Classic- Round 1

by Scrooge McSuck

Mae Young Classic

- Instead of breaking it down into the official episodes, I thought I'd save time by lumping each round together, at least for the first two rounds. Jim Ross and Lita call all the action, and for the most part, do a decent job, although there's times where they seem a bit forced and fail to get something over. I do appreciate the dimming of the lights for the matches, taking away the visual of the audience and letting the matches stand alone. For reference sake, every four matches represents an episode. Matches 1-4 is episode #1, Matches 5-8 is episode #2, Matches 9-12 is episode #3, and Matches 13-16 are episode #4.

Princesa Sugehit vs. Kay Lee Ray:

Sugehit represents Mexico, and Kay Lee Ray represents Scotland. First match, and it already looks like we're getting a styles clash. KLR shows off her height on a test-of-strength tease, so Sugehit lays into her with kicks. Crisscross and Lee Ray trips Sugehit up. Sugehit with a leg trip and cover for only a one count. School boy roll up for two. Sugehit escapes a Gordy Special with a Code Red for two. Sugehit with a slam and a series of twisting elbow drops for another two count. Lee Ray rolls away from a slingshot senton and lands a forearm to the side of the head for two. Sugehit comes back with slaps and kicks, but Kay Lee catches her with a running knee and DDT for two. She transitions into a modified triangle, but gets stacked up into a cover, forcing a break. Sugehit with more strikes and a spinning head scissors, followed by a seated atomic drop and rolling cradle around the ring for two. Roundhouse kick for two. Kay Lee catches a kick and hits the Gory Special, but it only gets two. Kay Lee to the top, but she misses a senton and Sugehit wins with the Fujiwara arm-bar at 5:58. *** Good opener for the limited time allotted.

Serena Deeb vs. Vanessa Borne:

Borne is a former Arizona Cardinals cheerleader and Phoenix Suns dancer. She qualified in a dog ugly match featured on NXT television, defeating Jayme Hachey. Her trainers are credited as Rikishi and Gangrel. Serena Deeb worked for WWE years ago, notably as part of CM Punk's Straight Edge Society, but was released for substance abuse problems. Both represent the United States. Jessika Carr is our referee, the first full-time female referee in WWE history (ignoring Rita Chatterton, although it can be argued her "full-time" status). Lockup, and they take it to the canvas with nobody having the advantage. Borne finally uses a leverage move to break it up. Serena with a waist-lock takedown, followed by a pair of arm drags. Borne sends Serena to the apron and lays her out with a headbutt. Borne with a series of forearms to the chest, followed by a headbutt for two. Serena escapes a chin-lock with a back suplex and unloads with left jabs. She plants Borne with a slam and follows with a hangman's neck breaker, but they somehow botch a pin attempt. Serena with a fireman's carry into a gut-buster. She misses a charge to the corner at full speed and Borne hits a modified swinging neck breaker for two. Samoan drop for two. Serena rolls away from a splash and finishes with a spear at 6:06. *1/2 Not bad, but Borne's lack of experience was obvious, and their transitions weren't the best.

Zeda vs. Shayna Baszler:

Zeda represents China and Baszler represents the USA and the Four Horsewomen of MMA. God, I f*cking hate the whole "Four Horsewomen" name, whether it's for the MMA group or the imaginary group that WWE has labeled Bayley, Sasha, Becky, and Charlotte. Baszler's the first to refuser a handshake. Zeda with a single leg trip into a grapevine. Baszler easily stands up and goes for a cross arm-breaker, but Zeda counters with a rear choke. Baszler with strikes and another attempt at the arm-breaker. Baszler with more strikes, backing Zeda into the corner. Zeda avoids a knee and takes her over with a monkey flip for two. Zeda with a guillotine choke, but Baszler counters with a Falcon Arrow into a rear naked choke for the tap-out at 2:23. That was quick. Not going to give a star rating here, but it worked for what they were going for.

Abbey Laith vs. Jazzy Gabert:

Gabert represents Germany and Laith represents the USA. Laith has been under contract, working for NXT, working under her real name Kimberly Frankele before the IP name change. Judging strictly physically, Gabert seems like a lock to win, but one of Frankele's signature spots (The Alligator Clutch) is inspired by Mae Young. They shake hands and Gabert pulls Laith in for a stare down. Laith comes in with strikes, but Gabert throws her back and both women roar at each other. She slams Laith face-first to the canvas and flings her across the ring by the hair. Gabert blocks a boot, but Laith does a splits and catches Gabert with a jaw breaker. Whip reversed and Gabert completely stiffs Laith on an arm drag attempt. Gabert with clubbering strikes across the chest for two. She slaps on the Anaconda Vice, but Laith hangs on and counters with a head scissors. Gabert powers out, transitioning into a rear naked choke. Gabert with shoulders to the midsection and a flurry of strikes to the body. Laith fights out of a chin-lock but gets rocked with a forearm. Gabert catches a body press and slams her down for two. Laith slips out of a powerbomb and traps Gabert in a modified tarantula. She lays into Gabert with kicks, including an enzuigiri. Gabert catches Laith on the top rope, but she takes Gabert down with an arm drag. Laith with a scissors kick and basement dropkick, knocking her into the corner. Laith with a senton splash for two. Gabert recovers, takes her head off with a clothesline, and mounts her with more strikes. She goes for the dominator, but Laith counters and rolls her into the Alligator Clutch for three at 7:11. Post-match, Gabert gives Laith respect with a hug. How sweet. ***1/4 This was a surprisingly competitive match based on the opening moments, and one of the best of the first round, pulling off a successful David vs. Goliath.

Xia Li vs. Mercedes Martinez:

Li represents China and Jim Ross is pushing this as her first match EVER. Well, that gives away the finish. Martinez represents the USA and is pushed as a veteran who's going to be a huge jerk to everyone. Martinez is a jerk when it comes to the handshake, surprising nobody. Martinez with a quick waist-lock takedown into a side headlock. Martinez showboats, and Li responds with a variety of kicks. Li tosses Martinez and hooks a crucifix cradle for a one count. Li blocks some strikes and hits a pair of roundhouse kicks for two. Martinez catches Li off the ropes with a spine-buster for two, and finishes with a surfboard transitioned into a dragon sleeper at 3:06. * Martinez winning with little effort was the right move considering the comparison of experience.

Rachel Evers vs. Marti Belle:

Evers, daughter of Paul Ellering and taking the name of her trainer (Lance Evers, a.k.a Lance Storm), represents the USA, and Belle represents the Dominican Republic. Belle's another in a long line of jerks when it comes to handshakes. Belle stalls, hiding in the corner. Lockup and a clean break. They trade headlocks. Belle with an ugly knee to the midsection and sorta-suplex for a one-count. Evers with a waist-lock takedown and bicycle kick for two. Evers with a leg sweep and springboard leg drop for two. Belle hangs Evers across the top rope and hits a floating neck snap for two. Belle with strikes and a short clothesline for two. Evers comes back, showing Belle how to properly ram someone's head into the turnbuckle. Evers with another bicycle kick and running senton. Whip and Evers with a spine-buster for two. Evers with a unique fisherman suplex into a forward slam for two. Belle comes back with the forward leg sweep (Jarrett's Stroke) for two. Evers with the small package out of nowhere for three at 6:10. I guess an audible was called late to change the finish to Evers winning. DUD This wasn't good, and was easily the weakest match of the entire 1st-round.

Rhea Ripley vs. Miranda Salinas:

Ripley is representing Australia and Salinas is representing the USA. Ripley is tall and a former Soccer player, and Salinas is 5-feet tall standing on her toes. Yet another match where we get handshake shenanigans. Salinas grabs a headlock, but Ripley throws her off. Whip to the ropes and Ripley knocks Salinas out of the ring with a dropkick. Salinas with a drop toe hold into the ropes for a two count. They trade strikes in the corner. Salinas with a snap mare and sliding knee to the chest for two. Ripley blocks an overhead strike and connects with a forearm to the chest. Salinas' strike has no effect and Ripley drops her with a running boot to the face. She loads up in the corner and hits a running basement dropkick for two. Salinas turns a spinning head scissors into a cradle for two. Ripley with a high kick and a full nelson slam for three at 3:52. *1/2 The experience level of both was obvious, but not an embarrassment.

Mia Yim vs. Sarah Logan:

Yim represents South Korea, and Logan represents the USA. Logan has been under contract, working under her real name (Sarah Bridges) before the name-change, and has worked Indy's as Crazy Mary Dobson. Her character is basically a country girl from Kentucky. I wonder how they came up with that. They shake hands without controversy. Yim grabs a headlock and transitions to a wrist-lock. Logan escapes a waist-lock with an elbow and runs Yim over with a shoulder tackle. Crisscross and Yim with an arm drag followed by a dropkick for two. Logan shrugs off some kicks and lands a lunging headbutt. Logan with ground and pound for two. Basement dropkick for one. Yim comes back with strikes, including a Pele Kick to the back of the head for two. Logan roars in the face of being kicked, so Yim kicks her some more and traps Logan in a Tarantula. Missile dropkick for two. Yim hops on with a guillotine choke, but Logan muscles out. They trade forearms and slaps from a seated position. Logan with rights and chops, followed by a shining wizard for two. Yim blocks a whip and takes Logan over with a German Suplex for two. Yim with a second German Suplex for two. Logan with a rolling cradle out of nowhere for two. Northern lights suplex for two. Running double knees knocks Yim into the corner and Logan with a Fisherman Suplex for two. She misses a cartwheel knee drop, and Yim finishes with Eat Defeat (inverted stomp face-breaker) at 7:17. **3/4 Good match, but it felt like it was missing a little something.

Toni Storm vs. Ayesha Raymond:

Storm represents Australia, and Raymond represents England. Storm's tiny top hat instantly makes her one of my favorites. Raymond's attire seems gladiator inspired. Raymond is the next in the line of non-handshaking. Storm ducks a big left hand and grabs a waist-lock. Raymond counters with a side headlock takedown. Storm escapes another offers another handshake, but this time pulls it back. Storm escapes a wrist-lock, but gets clobbered with strikes. Storm with a snap mare and series of "hip attacks" that I'm sure got her a little more over with the male audience. Raymond gets a boot up in the corner and takes her down with a side slam. Raymond with a slam for two. Whip to the corner and she crushes Storm with an avalanche. Storm escapes a choke lift with a well-placed headbutt. Raymond misses a second avalanche and Storm connects with a rope-assisted back stabber. Storm with a running knee and Northern Lights Suplex. She climbs the ropes, but Raymond recovers in time to slam her down. Raymond to the middle rope, but she stops to yell at fans. She climbs up again, but misses a splash, and Storm with an Oklahoma Roll for three at 4:29. ** Fine work, but the crowd seemed uninterested in Raymond.

Dakota Kai vs. Kavita Devi:

Kai (formerly known on the Independent scene as Evie) is representing New Zealand, and Devi represents India. She has very little experience, but smart money says she gets the Jinder Mahal push. Devi with an aggressive handshake. Lockup and she shoves Kai into the corner. Kai surprises Devi with a roll-up for two. Devi grabs the arm and walks the ropes for a takedown. She keeps working the arm, including another rope walk arm-drag. Kai with kicks to the side and Devi responds with forearms. Whip and Kai with a sunset flip for two. Devi shrugs off a dropkick, then swipes away a second attempt. Devi with a fireman's carry into a press slam. Kai with a charge to the corner, followed by a hip throw. Kai avoids another charge, hits the Mafia Kick, and finishes with the coup de grace at 3:57. *1/2 Devi looking strong early was a clear sign of putting Kai over in the end. Not as bad as I expected, considering Devi's limited experience. Another match where the more experienced worker didn't showcase much offense, but still won without a cheap roll-up.

Bianca Belair vs. Sage Beckett:

Belair represents the USA and her gimmick is using her hair extension ponytail as a whip. She defeated Aliyah to earn a spot in the tournament. Beckett (formerly Mary-Kate) also represents the USA, and her gimmick appears to be a Shaman wannabe. Lockup and neither with an advantage. Belair grabs a side headlock, but gets bulldozed on a shoulder tackle. Beckett with a slam and elbow drop for a one-count. She misses a charge to the corner and Belair knocks her down with a dropkick for two. Belair with a series of strikes in the corner. Beckett with a slam, but gets tripped up and slammed face-first to the canvas. Belair with an elevated leg drop and splash for two. Becket fights out of a double chicken-wing and connects with the Bubba Dudley sit-out full-nelson slam for two. Beckett with overhead strikes and a running single-leg dropkick for two. She comes off the ropes with a running knee lift and traps Belair in a tree of woe. Beckett to the middle rope, but she misses the Vader Bomb. Belair whips her with the hair and hits a spear for three at 5:33. That came out of nowhere. *1/2 Another OK match, but it didn't seem to have much rhythm.

Santana Garrett vs. Piper Niven:

Garrett represents the USA, and has been used occasionally as enhancement talent on NXT. She's almost got a superhero look to her. Niven represents Scotland and is probably double Garrett's size. Niven with an aggressive handshake, because we haven't had enough of them in this tournament already. Lockup to the corner, Niven's smug behavior is repaid with a hard shove. Garrett works the arm, but Niven easily over-powers her and takes her to the canvas for two. Garrett goes back to the arm and applies an Octopus Lock. Niven misses a seated splash and Garrett comes off the ropes with a kick for two. Niven doesn't budge on a whip attempt. Garrett avoids a charge to the corner and spins Niven around the ring for a head scissors. Crisscross and Niven comes off the ropes with a "massive" crossbody press for two. Niven with a front chin-lock, "very UK like fish and chips." Garrett with body blows to escape, but runs into an elbow. Niven grabs a camel clutch and lays her out with a short clothesline for two. Niven with a whip to the corner, but meets a boot charging in. Garrett with a boot to the side of the head, followed by a springboard tornado DDT for a near fall. She comes off the ropes with a dropkick and hits the Eat Defeat we saw from Mia Yim not too long ago. Garrett with the handspring elbow, but the bulldog is blocked and Niven crushes her with a running body-press splash for two. Garrett surprises Niven on the top rope with a right hand, followed by a hurricanrana for two. Garrett with a super-kick, but she misses a handspring moonsault. Niven with aa running senton, and the Michinoku Driver finishes at 7:10. ***1/2 Another solid "David vs. Goliath" formula, with a different outcome. Everything looked smooth and they had good chemistry.

Candice LeRae vs. Rene Michelle:

Both women represent the USA, and LeRae is married to Johnny Gargano, so I'm sure smart fans will instantly want to cheer for Mrs. Wrestling. A friendly handshake, for once. They start by trading wrist-locks. Michelle comes off the ropes with a shoulder tackle and blows LeRae a kiss. Crisscross and LeRae with a rolling cradle for two, followed by a sequence of counters for more pin attempts. LeRae escapes a headlock with a jaw breaker and springs off the ropes with an arm drag. She catches Michelle with a knee to the jaw and comes off the top with a missile dropkick for two. Michelle with a knee to the face, shin kick, and roundhouse to the side of the head for two. Inverted neck breaker for two. LeRae counters a roundhouse kick with a Code Breaker. LeRae with a clothesline, elbow, and jumping neck breaker for two. Michelle avoids a corner charge and follows in with a superman punch. LeRae comes back, meeting Michelle in the ropes with a big forearm, followed by a basement dropkick. Michelle recovers quickly, hitting a spinning heel kick for two. She misses a springboard moonsault and LeRae connects with a sliding knee for two. LeRae sets Michelle up across the top and finishes with a swinging neck breaker at 5:38. **1/2 Never got into the next gear, but this was solid action.

Lacey Evans vs. Taynara Conti:

Evans represents the USA (and a former Marine) and is currently working in NXT. Conti represents Brazil, and has minimal experience. Conti bows instead of accepting the handshake. She grabs a waist-lock and takes Evans over with a snap mare for two. Evans fights Conti off from the apron and springs back in with a kick for two. Evans with an arm-bar into a cover for two. Conti with some telegraphed strikes and a hair snap. Evans with a kick to the midsection for two. Whip to the ropes and Conti with an overhead throw for two. Evans with a takedown and strike to the chest. Conti with a takeover into a sidewalk slam for two. Evans with clotheslines and a swinging neck breaker. Conti escapes a fireman's carry, but gets caught in a seated slam for three at 4:42. With them pushing Evans wanting to win for her daughter, they had to advance her at least one round. * To no surprise, this wasn't good. The experience level for both just isn't there and lacked rhythm.

Nicole Savoy vs. Reina Gonzalez:

Both represent the USA. Savoy is the self-proclaimed "Queen of suplexes" and Gonzalez is the daughter of former wrestler Ricky Gonzalez. Gonzalez is deceptively large, standing nearly 6-feet tall. Lockup to the corner and a clean break. Savoy goes for the arm, but Gonzalez counters with a slam. Savoy with a side headlock, but shoulder tackles don't work. She takes Gonzalez over with a hurricanrana, but gets yanked down by the hair trying to run the ropes, and Gonzalez lays her out with a clothesline. Gonzalez with kicks to her grounded opponent, followed by rights and a side slam for two. Gonzalez turns her over with a reverse Boston Crab, but Savoy rolls through and picks the left leg. Savoy hits the ropes and gets run over with a shoulder tackle. Savoy fights out of a fireman's carry and turns it into a cross arm-breaker for the tap-out at 4:26. *1/2 Not enough time to get going, but maybe that's a good thing.

Kairi Sane vs. Tessa Blanchard:

Final match of the 1st-round. Sane is the lone representative for Japan. She has a background in yachting, and adopted that into her character. As someone unfamiliar with her, I'd call her a modern-day Pirate, but what do I know? Blanchard is a third-generation wrestler, daughter of Tully and granddaughter of Joe. Lockup and a clean break. Lockup into the ropes and Blanchard misses a cheap shot. They lock knuckles for a test of strength, with Blanchard eventually getting the better of it. Blanchard with chain wrestling into a headlock. Whip to the ropes and Sane with a cradle for two. Sane comes off the ropes with a blockbuster. Whip reversed and Blanchard meets her in the ropes with a forearm, followed by a neck breaker for two. Blanchard meets a boot in the corner, but recovers to hit a rope assisted Code Breaker for a near fall. Sane fights out of an abdominal stretch, taking Blanchard over with a hip toss. Blanchard with forearms to the chin, knocking Sane into the corner. She charges, but Sane meets her mid-way with a spear. Sane with chops, backing Blanchard up. She marches across the ring and charges in with a sliding forearm to the chest. Sane from the top rope with a loaded forearm for two. Kairi with an Octopus Lock, but Blanchard makes it to the ropes to force a break. Blanchard side-steps a charge, trapping Sane in the ropes. She comes off the ropes with a dropkick and elbow to the lower back, followed by a pair of short-arm clotheslines and a drifting back suplex for a near fall. Sane cuts off Blanchard's ascending the ropes. Blanchard fights her down and hits an explosive senton for a near fall. Sane blocks a hammer-lock DDT and cradles Blanchard for two. Sliding forearm is countered and Blanchard cradles her for two. Sane picks the leg, blocking a kick, and plants her with the Alabama Slam. Sane to the top rope, and she hits a vicious flying elbow drop for three at 8:38. Post-match, they give each other respect. ***3/4 Would've been rated higher with more time, but this was the best match of the 1st-round, and justifiably went on last.

- With the 1st-round in the books, we've got the following matches set for the Second Round...

  • Abbey Laith vs. Rachel Evers
  • Princesa Sugehit vs. Mercedes Martinez
  • Nicole Savoy vs. Candice LeRae
  • Mia Yim vs. Shayna Baszler
  • Kairi Sane vs. Bianca Belair
  • Dakota Kai vs. Rhea Ripley
  • Serena Deeb vs. Piper Niven
  • Lacey Evans vs. Toni Storm
Some of those matches definitely have predictable outcomes, but at least most of the inexperienced workers have been eliminated.

Final Thoughts: No, the wrestling isn't as good as the Cruiserweight Classic, but there were a few matches that stood out that are worth watching, notably Sane/Blanchard, Niven/Garrett, and Laith/Gabert. The rest was a collection of hit and misses, with only a handful of matches standing out for poor performance or a lack of experience. With four episodes featuring four matches each, it's an easy show to binge watch in 3-hours.

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