I was really excited when the WWE announced the Mae Young Classic as I am a big fan of women’s wrestling. The WWE are developing a nice habit of producing great quality programmes on the Network that are radically different from what they broadcast on their mainstream shows. I dipped into the Cruiserweight Classic and I was impressed by the talent they had amassed for that programme, and I was hoping they would be able to capture the same magic for this tournament.
I’ll be the first to admit that despite my fondness for women’s wrestling I was not familiar with many of the competitors in this tournament. This meant that each match was refreshing because I had no real idea what to expect from those involved and was blown away by the talent on show. Thankfully they did a nice job of introducing all the talent on the Mae Young Classic Bracketology pre-show. Mixing in interviews and non-WWE footage, surprising from the likes of Shimmer, you got a good feel for the women involved and their characters.
This setup the start of the tournament which was oddly released in 4 episode chunks on a Monday. Great for the first rounds as it landed on a UK bank holiday which resulted in a good binge watch from yours truly. Hindsight being a wonderful thing though, maybe they should’ve spread the episodes out. You could speculate that this tournament was a first for them in terms of women’s wrestling and maybe they were nervous of the response, or maybe it was just an experiment for experiments sake, who knows?
So with the episodes stacked up, an idea who my pre-tournament favourites were, I jumped right in.
Episode 1 – The Card
- Kay Lee Ray vs Princesa Sugehit
- Serena Deeb vs Vanessa Borne
- Shayna Baszler vs Zeda
- Jazzy Gabert vs Abbey Laith
Kay Lee Ray vs Princess Sugehit
The first match of the tournament was always going to be a difficult one, but with an interesting blend of styles this one was a pleasant surprise.
I was impressed by Kay Lee Ray. Maybe I was a little bias as she was from the UK, but she has a lot of potential for the future. She reminded me of Ruby Riot, not just in her look but also the way she carried herself in the ring. If she continues to develop her style as a daredevil and mixes it up with more from her hard hitting move set then she definitely has the potential to make a return to NXT someday.
It was given really that the veteran from Mexico was going to go over in this match. But there were times when I did think it could either way. Princesa Sugehit has a nice smooth style in the ring and despite this match being a short affair you could see that shine through as the match progressed.
A nice win for Princesa Sugehit and a good start to the tournament. I was disappointed for Kay Lee Ray but I’ll certainly be looking for more of her matches online.
Serena Deeb vs Vanessa Borne
This was all about the re-introduction of Serena Deeb to the WWE. Previously known as just Serena of the Straight Edge Society alongside CM Punk, we were treated to the brief history of her journey through WWE and beyond. A great montage from the production team there, really highlighting how far she has come. The Mae Young Classic was all about redemption for Serena folks.
Vanessa Borne is one of the crop of new inductees into NXT. She came across as very green in the ring, but there’s certainly promise as she has a great look and is currently exhibiting a good heel persona.
A simple win for Deeb was what was expected and that’s what we got. It was a good start for her return and was a good showing for Vanessa Borne as she starts her WWE journey too.
Shayna Baszler vs Zeda
Shayna Baszler. Ok, so mixed feelings here. Across the the tournament she was presented as a monster badass and there is no denying that for a second. I’m sorry to have to say it, but can she actually wrestle? Her MMA background gives her an edge and she definitely plays to that strength. However, I was left feeling that there should be more.
Never-the-less WWE presented her here as a big star from the get go and you got the feeling the match could end quickly at any point, which in fact it did. That uncertainty as a viewer is always exciting, as the not knowing what will happen is sometimes better than expecting the same formulaic matches.
I was disappointed not to see more of Zeda though. She had an interesting background in MMA and they were actually well matched. I need to check whether she’s signed to WWE or not.
Four Horsewomen plug complete, Shayna moved on.
Abbey Laith vs Jazzy Gabert
Great match. A spot on choice of underdog versus monster with a good story told in the ring and the best match of the first episode.
Jazzy Gabert aka Alpha Female came off well even though she lost this match. I did think she was going to get the win here to eventually set her up with a match against someone like Shayna Baszler or Mercedes Martinez. So the upset came a little out of nowhere.
With the short time they had available they told a great story and the crowd really go into it. A little cliché that Abbey won with her first match of the Mae Young Classic with Mae Young’s own finisher, the alligator clutch. But hey, it was an upset of sorts and I should’ve seen that one coming right?
The opening episode of the Mae Young Classic didn’t really go with a bang more a mild whimper. You could tell that they had saved some of the more exciting talent for the next couple of episodes. That being said, all the matches were good and for the time they had, everyone involved used the opportunity given to showcase their talent.