We’re into the semi-finals and it’s time for the Mae Young Classic to step up. Through no fault of the women involved and every fault of the minutes they’ve been given, the first few rounds have been good but unspectacular. All four of these wrestlers have equipped themselves well, but just needed a little bit more time to really show what they could do. With only two matches on this show, it should be their moment. Let’s hand out those stars.
Shayna Baezler defeated Mercedes Martinez
I questioned why they went for Martinez to face off against Baezler rather than Laith, but I have to admit that I was unaware Martinez has been something of a mentor for Shayna. With that in mind, it makes a bit more sense. WWE is setting Baezler up for success and having her in there with someone she knows will aid that.
This started with Martinez apparently out to teach Baezler a couple of lessons. She leaned into her strikes early on and it gave this a big fight feel. When Baezler is a badass, she’s great. Her submissions look fantastic and when they were exchanging blows on their knees, her facial expressions were spot on. It’s the other stuff that is the problem. This was the first time I’ve seen her have a longer match and she looked a bit one dimensional as Martinez carried the action. You’d expect that from the veteran, but if WWE wants to make Baezler into a star, she’s going to have to add a few more strings to her bow.
Despite that, this is the fourth match of hers I’ve enjoyed. I feel like I’m probably a bit harsh on her, but I’m going to put that down to me seeing enough there to think she could be a star. She just needs to add that little bit more to her game before she gets there.
Verdict: Three And a Half Stars
As an aside before we move onto the other semi, I wish Triple H would quit it with the flowers, in particular with someone like Baezler. Could you imagine if he’d presented Pete Dunne with flowers after the UK tournament semi? The wee bastard would have eaten them.
Kairi Sane defeated Toni Storm
It’s a small thing, but Toni Storm’s entrance for this match was a little more serious than what we’ve seen before. Not enough wrestlers do that. If you’re bouncing down to the ring with a smile on your face before a big fight, then it is harder for me to take it seriously.
We started slow which was a nice contrast to the strikes of the first match. They did a good job of establishing that Storm was able to use her strength to dominate Kairi and it was when distance was created that Sane came into her own. She’s a joy to watch when she’s on the attack as she moves with purpose, but everything has a touch of flair to it. Storm meanwhile actually got a chance to show what she could do and stepped up to the challenge. The armbar was one of the spots of the match as it looked like she was genuinely ripping Sane’s arm out of the socket.
The only downside was that despite the added time, the finish seemed a bit abrupt. With another five minutes, this could have been truly special, as it was it was only great, which all things said, ain’t too shabby.
Verdict: Three And A Half Stars
This was more like it. I’ve called in nearly every review for these women to be given the time to actually have proper matches and while it’s taken to the semis for it to happen, I finally got my wish. Neither match was perfect, but both of them were very good and if worked in the right style Baezler vs. Sane could be a fantastic final.