The second episode of the Mae Young Classic was… a thing, I guess?! Some good matches, and one that felt at half speed…
Mauro Ranallo voices over the opening recap video highlighting Princesa Sugehit, Shayna Baszler, Serena Deeb and Abbey Laith’s progression, and after the opening spiel with JR and Lita, it’s off to the videos for our first match!
Mae Young Classic – First Round: Mercedes Martinez vs. Xia Li
Another “opposite ends of the scales” match, with Martinez being a long-time veteran of the indies, whilst Li – as Scott Stanford’s pre-match video explained – is a developmental signee after impressing in a try-out in Shanghai.
Martinez mocks Li at the bell, and instantly takes down Xia with a headlock takedown as she threatens to make light work of her Chinese opponent. Xia responds with some kicks, before a big snapmare gets her a near-fall… but all that looks to just rile Martinez, who ends up getting taken down with a roundhouse kick for another near-fall.
Li throws some more kicks before running into a spinebuster for a near-fall, which Martinez follows up with a heavily-torqued Dragon Sleeper for the win. Quick, and brutal – but one of those matches that laid the foundations for Li in the months and years to come. **½
Martinez faces Princesa Sugehit in the second round…
Ahead of the next match we get a video package of Rachel Evers (nee Ellering, a name that she’s not using in WWE), where she reveals that her dad wouldn’t take her to shows he was on.
Mae Young Classic – First Round: Marti Belle vs. Rachel Evers
Belle was most recently in TNA/GFW, whilst Evers has had a few appearances on NXT in amongst her run in the indies.
Belle instantly backs into the corner as she tries to play mind games early on, and I kinda think that may have been the better option. Something resembling a shoulder block leads to a suplex as the crowd falls silent… and hey, that pump kick from Evers wakes them up momentarily.
A back heel trip leads to a corkscrew legdrop out of the corner from Evers, who then has to try and drag Belle back in from the apron by her hair. Belle drops Evers on the top rope to get some retaliation, then lands a rolling neckbreaker before a series of strikes led to an awkward clothesline for a near-fall.
Belle keeps up the offence, but this feels like it’s almost at half speed, at least until Evers mounts a comeback, throwing plenty of right hands ahead of a crushing back senton! Evers gets off a spinebuster for a near-fall, before a hanging fisherman’s suplex turned into a slam for another near-fall.
Marti tries to come back by pulling Rachel into the ropes, before spiking her with a Skull Crushing Finale variation… but Evers kicked out at two. Straight from the kick-out, Evers rolls up Belle for the win, and that’s a mercy killing. If you believe the dirt sheets, they switched the finish on this mid-match. I’m not surprised… It just felt so slow-paced with a lot of stuff that you’d not expect to see on any major league TV. ½*
Evers has Abbey Laith in the second round.
They announce Shadia Bseiso and Kacy Catanzaro as new signees to the Performance Centre. Cataranzo’s a gymnast who’s achieved some notoriety from American Ninja Warrior, whilst Bseiso has a background in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu… and will probably get a new name to boot.
Mae Young Classic – First Round: Rhea Ripley vs. Miranda Salinas
Ripley’s a 20-year old from Australia who’s in WWE’s latest crop of young ‘uns signed to a deal… whilst Salinas isn’t under contract (yet) having been trained by Booker T’s Reality of Wrestling.
We actually get a respect handshake at the bell, and we start with Salinas losing a headlock as Ripley reverses it. Salinas uses the hair to reverse the headlock back, but she runs into a vicious dropkick from the Aussie! Ripley charges at Salinas when she gets back in, but gets tripped into the middle rope as Salinas claims a couple of near-falls, but the Aussie comes back with some stiff chops.
Salinas tries to deliver some receipts, but they’re blocked too as another dropkick comes Miranda’s way ahead of a Yakuza kick into the corner! A brutal diving dropkick into the corner follows, and somehow Salinas kicks out before hitting a tiltawhirl small package for a near-fall. More kicks from Ripley lead to a full nelson slam, and that’s all folks. A showcase for the Aussie in a match that wouldn’t have been out of place in the days of squash match shows. Fun, pretty one-sided… but hey, Ripley’s got a lot of upside, and Salinas looked decent too. More time can only help these two’s careers! **
Rhea will wrestle either Kavita Devi or Dakota Kai in the next round.
Mae Young Classic – First Round: Sarah Logan vs. Mia Yim
JR voicing over some SHIMMER footage in Mia Yim’s inspirational promo piece was quite bizarre.
Yim starts off by grabbing an arm as she starts working over Logan with armdrags and dropkicks for an early near-fall, before being rocked into the ropes with a headbutt. Some mounted punches follow from Logan, who picks up some two-counts before trapping Yim with a modified triangle armbar, which nearly leads to her downfall.
Live action continues during a replay as Yim blasts Logan with a Pele kick for a two-count, before catching Logan in the corner with a Tarantula! Another missile dropkick takes us even closer, as Yim eventually rolls Logan into the middle of the ring with a guillotine choke… which she fights out of!
Some back-and-forth strikes leave both women down, but Logan prevails with a running knee strike that gets her another two-count. Yim replies with a couple of German suplexes for a near-fall, before unleashing with some kicks as Logan tries to snatch it with a roll-up. A Mountain Bomb gets Logan another two, before a Fisherman’s suplex out of the corner garnered a similar result…
Yim dodges a moonsault knee strike and sneaks in the Eat Defeat… and that’s enough to get the win! A really good main event to the third show, with Yim prevailing in a hard-fought battle. Good stuff, and the loss does no harm to Logan. ***¼
Oh dear. Mia Yim’s got Shayna Baszler in the next round. Good luck!
Last year’s Cruiserweight Classic had quite a varied mix of matches, and whilst these first round bouts aren’t showcasing as many people, they’re already setting up for some enticing second round bouts!