Our final batch of second round matches keeps up the consistency as we start to lose some more of the bigger names in this year’s Mae Young Classic.

You know the score: Mauro Ranallo video package. Michael Cole, Renee Young and Beth Phoenix at ringside…

Second Round: Zeuxis vs. Io Shirai
Given how easily Shirai breezed past Xia Brookside in the first round, this ought to be a bit more competitive.

Shirai’s the crowd favourite, but she’s taken into the ropes as Zeuxis tried to overpower her. A dropkick takes Zeuxis outside after a spot of rope-running, but the luchadora hits back with a baseball slide dropkick as Shirai took an awkward spill off the apron. Shirai rolls back in, but Zeuxis keeps up on offence, grabbing Io’s arm for a grounded hammerlock, but Shirai fought back, taking her into the corner for some boot choking and a slingshot knee strike.

The running Meteora into the corner’s neck, but Zeuxis grabs onto the ropes and rolls to the outside… where she’s caught with a huge tope that saw Shirai crash into the ramp!

Back in the ring, Zeuxis catches Shirai with a half-nelson driver for a near-fall, before she whiffed on a moonsault off the top… allowing Io to hit a dropkick, only for her moonsault attempt to get stuffed. Instead, Io’s caught up top as Zeuxis went for a Spanish Fly, but that’s punched away as Shirai lands a top rope ‘rana, then a Meteora to the back of the head as the top rope moonsault again barely catches its mark… but proves to be enough for the win. A nice, energetic match… but we’re 0 for 2 on those Io moonsaults! ***¼

Second Round: Deonna Purrazzo vs. Xia Li
Li had a shockingly good outing against Karen Q in the first round, and she doesn’t start out gunshy here, going for Purrazzo’s arm, perhaps tempting fate.

A side headlock takedown’s quickly escaped, as was the headscissors as Purrazzo looked for an early roll-up, then an armbar as Xia was kept on the back foot. Some kicks and a spinning backfist caught Purrazzo unawares, before a splits legdrop helped Li on her way to a two-count.

Purrazzo starts to hit back with a KUSHIDA-like hiptoss and low dropkick for a near-fall, before she snapped Li’s arm between her feet… and we all know what this is building up to. A clothesline’s good for a near-fall, before a side Russian legsweep led to a floatover and a Fujiwara armbar… but Li counters with a roll-up for a two-count! More focus followed on the arm, with some strikes for good measure, including a nice head kick from Li for a near-fall. A boot in the corner from Xia misses, before she leapt off the middle rope and was caught in a double armbar for the quick submission. Given she’s not been on NXT TV, Li’s shown a tonne of progression since last year’s tournament and is definitely on track… I just wish she were on our screens more! ***

It’s Purrazzo vs. Shirai in the quarter-finals…

Second Round: Nicole Matthews vs. Tegan Nox
There’s been one prior meeting between these two, back in September 2016 in SHIMMER. Matthews took the win that night.

Matthews points out Nox’s knee brace, and it’s a quick distraction as Tegan’s forced to fight back, sending Nicole to the outside as we’ve an early dive… but a forearm swats it away. Matthews keeps up with some kicks as Nox was in the ropes, before chops had the former Nixon Newell reeling in the corners. A dropkick sends Nox down for a two-count as they’re racing through things. Matthews keeps up with a snapmare and a kick to the back, before some Bryan Danielson elbows looked to finish the job… but Matthews keeps up with a clothesline and a Northern Lights that almost led to the win (and a wardrobe malfunction).

Nox finally fights back with forearms, but a dropkick’s caught… only for a Boston crab to be countered with a roll-up, as Matthews ends up getting cracked with a headbutt and a Wild Boar-like cannonball in the corner! From there, Matthews wanders into the path of a Shining Wizard, and Nox is in the quarter finals, facing Rhea Ripley. This was alright, but far, far too short – a match that got over Nox’s final flurry of offence, but really didn’t do much. **¼

Second Round: Mia Yim vs. Kaitlyn
Our final match in the second round sees a newly-signed NXT star take on a former Divas champion – but there’s an injury story from the first round as Mia Yim’s hand is taped up from the match “several weeks ago”.

The winner of this one faces Toni Storm in the quarters, and we start with Yim taking Kaitlyn into the ropes… with a chop almost doing as much damage to Mia as it did Kaitlyn. The former Divas’ champion is back with a clothesline and a trio of legdrops for just a one count, before some leg scissors and roll-throughs almost had Yim down for the count. Kaitlyn pushes her outside, but a baseball slide dropkick’s caught as Mia throws her legs into the apron – giving Mia a body part to work over. A DDT to the leg gets a near-fall, as Kaitlyn remained on the mat, with an Indian deathlock adding to the pain as Kaitlyn looked in danger.

Yim releases the hold and begins some ground and pound, only to get caught as Kaitlyn went after the taped wrist, torquing it as we almost had a stoppage… but again, the hold’s released as Kaitlyn changes tactic. A slam goes awry as Yim fell on her for a near-fall after Kaitlyn’s leg gave out, and it looks pretty elementary from here… despite Kaitlyn finding a second wind with a pair of bodyslams.

Mia tries to beg off, and instead gets caught with a spin-out slam for a near-fall, before a charge into the corner comes up short, allowing Yim to hit Seoul Food for a two-count. After escaping a German suplex, Kaitlyn manages to land a spear for a two-count, before a bid to go back to the injured arm saw her stomp… and miss as Yim catches her in a knee bar for the eventual submission. Despite injury, Mia Yim’s in the quarter finals, but you’d have to expect that that may become a bridge too far for her? ***

Another solid show here, with the only “bad match” being the virtual squash… but now we’re into the quarter finals, I’m fully expecting things to have time to breathe. Problem is, with just two shows until the Evolution PPV – where the Mae Young Classic finals will take place – I’m also expecting next week to be quarter finals week, with the semis in the following show. It’d have been nicer for these to have had more time… but it is what it is.