It’s been a long road to get here, but on Tuesday night, the WWE Mae Young Classic tournament finally came to an end. WWE’s first all-woman tournament has been highly anticipated pretty much from the moment the company wrapped up its last summer-long tournament, last year’s Cruiserweight Classic.
32 women — some contracted by WWE, some not, several of whom where reigning champions of other companies while participating in the tournament — took part in the tapings of the initial rounds back in July. Those preliminary rounds were released in two batches of four episodes each on WWE Network, and the tournament itself was extremely well-received by fans and insiders alike.
In the end, the tournament boiled down to two competitors: Kairi Sane, who formerly wrestled in Japan as the extremely popular Kairi Hojo, and Shayna Baszler, one of Ronda Rousey’s “Four Horsewomen” of MMA, all of them gigantic wrestling fans, and all of them seemingly in line for an in-ring feud with WWE’s own Four Horsewomen.
On Tuesday night in Las Vegas, following the airing of Smackdown Live, WWE Network presented the finals of the Mae Young Classic, live, where Baszler and Sane fought to determine who would take home the massive trophy. There was also rampant speculation about whether this match would end up being for the NXT Women’s Championship, which was recently vacated by the undefeated Asuka.
Unlike the Cruiserweight Classic finals, this match was the only bout on the live WWE Network special. The battle waged back and forth, and Sane became the first person to escape from Baszler’s rear naked choke. She managed to battle back, attacking Baszler’s ribs, and finally hit her massive elbow drop off the top rope to get the three-count and become the first-ever winner of the Mae Young Classic. (Much to the disappointment of Ronda Rousey, who was watching from the front row.)
Triple H, Stephanie McMahon and Sara Amato presented Sane with the massive Mae Young Classic but, at least as of right now, there was no mention of the NXT Women’s Championship in relation to the tournament.