Over a month after it was taped, the Mae Young Classic finally came to the WWE Network yesterday and brought with it a swell of expectation. The Cruiserweight Classic was a highlight of last year and the pressure is on this tournament to compete. It’s also an important part of WWE’s attempts to alter history by convincing us that they’ve always liked women and that it wasn’t their fault there needed to be a ‘women’s revolution’ in the first place. Anyway, let’s not get too bitchy and instead have a look at how things went down during the first two episodes of this tournament.
Princesa Sugehit defeated Kay Lee Ray
I’ll be honest, I love Kay Lee Ray. I’ve been watching her for years in ICW and therefore I am incapable of not being biased. It also means I’m a bit gutted to see her go out early. She’s a fantastic wrestler and hopefully, this doesn’t signal the end of her chance to impress. That disappointment aside, this was a solid opening contest. It wasn’t spectacular, but then it didn’t have the time to be spectacular and they fit a lot into what they had. I’ve never seen Sugehit work before but she brought the Lucha vibes and both women came out of this looking decent.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
Serena Deeb defeated Vanessa Borne
Stepping into the Brian Kendrick role in this year’s tournament is Serena Deeb and it’s great to see her overcome her demons and return to the big stage. She was tasked with getting a match out of the very green Borne and, all things considered, did a decent job. Borne is far from the finished article but she seems to be building a character, and in the world of WWE, that is almost as important as getting the in-ring stuff down. Again, the lack of time prevented this from being anything special but it was a solid encounter and the right woman won.
Verdict: Two And A Half Stars
Shayna Baszler defeated Zeda
This match stood out as being unlike anything else on the show. Both women come from an MMA background and they embraced that. It’s not going to be to everyone’s taste, but I enjoyed it a lot and I like the fact that Baszler ended up going over quite quickly. It makes her look like a legit badass and the way she plucked Zeda out of that suplex into a choke was really cool. There’s going to be a lot of wrestling over the course of this tournament, so mixing it up a bit will never be a bad thing.
Verdict: Three Stars
Abbey Laith defeated Jazzy Gabert
The second Abbey Laith (formally known as Kimber Lee) mentioned that she was using the Alligator Clutch, you had to know how this match was going. It was a lot of fun until we got there though as Laith showed fire against the bigger woman. Thirty years ago, Gabert would have been thrust into the Ivan Drago role and dominated this tournament. Christ, the way the main roster is going we might see her do that somewhere down the line anyway. It all added up to a plucky underdog versus a monster heel and while that is wrestling storytelling 101, it was done well.
Verdict: Three Stars
This was all in the three-star range and bore a lot of similarities to the way the Cruiserweight Classic kicked off. These early rounds are all about introducing the players and establishing the favourites. The wrestling was unspectacular but that’s to be expected. The only real downside was the absolutely atrocious commentary. JR has stated that this was recorded in post, and with that in mind, they should be ashamed of themselves. Lita and Ross have no chemistry and it sounded like they were reading out people’s Wikipedia pages. It hurts my heart every time I have to insult Old JR but fuck me, enough is enough.
Mercedez Martinez defeated Xia Li
If this was actually Li’s first match, then she did a decent job. She was obviously green as grass but to go out on TV in front of a pretty unforgiving crowd and not completely fuck up is impressive. Compare her to Ho Ho Lun and it’s night and day. It helped that the match was built around establishing Martinez and she looked good in victory, while at least some credit has to go to her for presumably guiding Li through this. You’re never going to watch it again but considering the circumstances it’s hard to be mean about it.
Verdict: Two Stars
Rachel Evers defeated Marti Bell
This wasn’t good. It was sloppy and both women looked like they weren’t entirely sure what they were supposed to be doing. Bell has looked decent in the past while Evers obviously has the second generation thing going on, but these two need a bit of work before they are anywhere near being ready for regular action.
Verdict: One And A Half Stars
Rhea Ripley defeated Miranda Salinas
“I’m one of those mosh kids, I like to go to heavy metal concerts and get in the circle of death.” Maybe Rhea Ripley is into metal and that sentence came purely from nervousness, but I’ve never heard someone sound less convinced about something they apparently like. That aside, this was fine. Ripley has a look that WWE are obviously into and Salinas did a good job of putting her over. Again, Ripley is ridiculously early into her career, but if she’s at this stage already, then nothing is stopping her from going on to become an outstanding wrestler.
Verdict: Two Stars (although I’m tempted to dock a half star for “circle of death”.)
Mia Yim defeated Sarah Logan
At this point, this was looking like it was going to be a bit of a drop off from the first show. However, they were intelligent enough to include two of the more experienced wrestlers in the main event and they put on the best match yet. The only question is, why did this happen in the first round? They surely could have let Logan go a bit further into the tournament? That aside these two women went out and put on a great show. Yim is an inspirational figure and it’s great to see WWE allowing her to talk about the things that have happened to her. (Which by the way, after all the complaints about Sexy Star, I discovered that that cunt still works in the indies too. Don’t book or support Jay Rios.) In a perfect world, we will see this one again someday when they have a bit more time.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
The undercard of this show was a big drop off from the first day as it felt like WWE put a lot of rookies out there. However, the main event made up for that as we had the best match yet. At this point, no one is going out and giving it all they’ve got but everyone is getting at least a little bit of time to shine. If, like the CWC, they up the gears as they head through the rounds, then the Mae Young Classic could live up to its name yet.