Last Monday was the debut of the first women’s tournament in WWE history, The Mae Young Classic. A highly anticipated series, this competition features 32 female superstars from around the globe. A few additions made this event even more special: the first female referee in a WWE ring, the introduction to the tournament by Stephanie McMahon, and female Hall of Famer, Lita, on commentary alongside Jim Ross. The formatting of the show is highly reminiscent of the hugely popular Cruiserweight Classic. With so many new faces, each competitor is introduced with a mini-biography before coming out to the ring, allowing fans to form a connection to the characters in a short time. We have a whopping 16 matches to talk about, so without further adieu, here are our thoughts on first 4 episodes of the historic Mae Young Classic:
Round 1, Episode 1
Princesa Sugehit vs. Kay Lee Ray
These ladies had a big responsibility with the very first match of the tournament and they put on a good show. One spot that caught our attention, in particular, was the false finish where Kay Lee Ray slammed Princesa Sugehit with her Gory Bomb.
Winner: Princesa Sugehit
Serena Deeb vs. Vanessa Borne
This bout was kept fairly vanilla, but we got glimpses of Serena Deeb’s talent here and there and, after being beaten down in classic babyface fashion, she was the one to advance.
Winner: Serena Deeb
Zeda vs. Shayna Baszler
This was a fun match as both ladies are highly believable competitors: Zeda has a background in Jiu Jitsu and Shayna Baszler is one of the four horsewomen of the UFC. Baszler gives off a Pete Dunne vibe and we wouldn’t be surprised to see her take on the same ultra-aggressive heel role as the tournament progresses.
Winner: Shayna Baszler
Jazzy Gabert vs. Abbey Laith
I thought for sure Jazzy would walk away with the victory. She’s big, scary, and super over (kind of like a female Brock Lesnar). But nope, after getting absolutely demolished for several minutes, Abbey Laith somehow pulled off a win.
Winner: Abbey Laith
Round 1, Episode 2
Mercedes Martinez vs. Xia Li
Although new to wrestling, Xia Li brought a wealth of martial arts skills to the ring, making her style far from boring, but in the end, it was no match for the veteran moves of Mercedes Martinez, who claimed her ticket to the sweet 16 with a modified Dragon Sleeper.
Winner: Mercedes Martinez
Marti Belle vs. Rachel Evers
Can we agree that Marti Belle told the backstage guys she wanted to come out to Kevin Owens’ music? Way too similar to be a coincidence. Probably the weakest match of the bunch, Rachel Evers didn’t exactly impress us, but you get a little extra nudge when you’re Paul Ellering’s kid.
Winner: Rachel Evers
Rhea Ripley vs. Miranda Salinas
Both of these girls showed big personalities, but Rhea Ripley won me over almost immediately as she seemed incredibly comfortable in the ring/in front of the crowd (the heavy metal background didn’t hurt either). Here’s my issue: the referee checked everyone before their matches, but let Miranda Salinas wrestle with rings on her fingers? What are we checking them for if not for potentially hazardous accessories??
Winner: Rhea Ripley
Sarah Logan vs. Mia Yim
Decisive movements and intensity in the ring from both women made this match the best of the episode. With an even back and forth from bell to bell, this was one of the few we were unsure about in regards to who would advance and who would go home.
Winner: Mia Yim
Round 1, Episode 3
Ayesha Raymond vs. Toni Storm
Toni Storm was an instant favorite with the crowd, drawing one of the biggest reactions thus far, and Ayesha Raymond played an excellent heel. She wasn’t afraid to be aggressive, which was nice to see, as bigger competitors are sometimes afraid to throw their weight around.
Winner: Toni Storm
Dakota Kai vs. Kavita Devi
Kavita Devi impressed us with an unexpected level of athleticism. Another dominant heel, she threw Dakota Kai around like it was nothing until the very last moments, when the New Zealander would deliver a Kaio Kick followed by a diving double foot stomp to win the match.
Winner: Dakota Kai
Bianca Belair vs. Sage Beckett
Bianca Belair’s hair made me so nervous. Especially when Sage Beckett was carrying her upside down, I could just see her tripping over that braid and dropping Belair on her neck. But, hair anxieties aside, this was a good show. Despite being considerably smaller than Beckett, Belair remained dominant throughout the match and eventually took the victory.
Winner: Bianca Belair
Piper Niven vs. Santana Garrett
This bout featured two of the bigger names in the tournament and they did not disappoint. Piper Niven used her size to her advantage and Santana Garrett pulled off some cool spots, including one where she flung Niven from the top rope with a modified head scissors.
Winner: Piper Niven
Round 1, Episode 4
Renee Michelle vs. Candice LeRae
Candice LeRae was obviously on a different level than Renee Michelle, but she carried the match well. The “Candice Wrestling” chants that echoed through the arena before the match even started were a clear indication that she is by far the most over wrestler in the tournament next to Kairi Sane.
Winner: Candice LeRae
Taynara Conti vs. Lacey Evans
From the very beginning, Lacey Evans was not shy at all about showing off her athletic ability. Taynara Conti made a solid effort but was unable to beat the former Marine.
Winner: Lacey Evans
Nicole Savoy vs. Reina González
We’re not really sure what Reina González was trying to do with her gear, but whatever it was, it wasn’t working for her. Hopefully, Nicole Savoy does better paired against Candice LeRae in the next round; we had high hopes for her, but this was not her finest moment.
Winner: Nicole Savoy
Tessa Blanchard vs. Kairi Sane
The most highly anticipated match/debut, the ‘main event’ of the first round was a fitting spot for this bout. Kairi Sane lived up to every expectation with her exciting move set and endearing charm. Although we were disappointed that this didn’t allow for Tessa Blanchard to advance further in the tournament, it was far from a one-sided fight and it was clear that she was paired with Sane to produce the strongest performance possible for the future champion.
Winner: Kairi Sane
How do you feel about the Mae Young Classic so far? Tell us on Twitter, @TheRumbleRamble.