Previously on the Mae Young Classic: Lacy Lane won the right to be murdered by Meiko Satomura, who had the match of the tournament so far with Mercedes Martinez.
You can keep up with the Mae Young Classic on the WWE Network! And you can keep up With Spandex on Twitter and Facebook. Also, we have a podcast! Also, you can follow me on Twitter @emilyofpratt, where I mostly just talk about wrestling some more.
As you probably noticed from the headline and/or my previous MYC reviews, I’m departing from our usual Best/Worst format for this column for something I’m calling a Ranked Review. Each MYC episode consists of four straight-up wrestling matches and almost nothing else for about an hour, and I’m going to talk about each match in worst-to-best order. As always, I welcome your thoughts on the format and rankings, as well as the rest of the review and the episode it talks about, in the comments section.
And now, my review of season 2, episode 6 of the Mae Young Classic, from October 10, 2018.
4. Tegan Nox def. Nicole Matthews
I thought this was an all-around good episode of the MYC, but Nox vs. Matthews was its weakest match. Part of this was the Nicole Matthews gear situation. It wasn’t because the all-over flannel wasn’t flattering, because it never seems like that’s something she’s going for. I admire that in a heel, especially in one who’s also a woman in an industry with a lot of pressure to be hot! But man, Matthews adjusting the top of her gear so much was distracting and gave me flashbacks to high school formal dances. I know there have been more extreme cuts of tops on the main WWE roster over the years, but those ladies have access to main roster boob science. I feel like this must have been some kind of last-minute costume change that didn’t quite work out.
Aside from that, this match is pretty good! Matthews is the most mean-spirited of jerks and takes issue with bright-eyed, bushy-tailed Nox’s very positive ACL-tear comeback story. She dominates most of the beginning of the match with strikes, kicks, and chops. After a certain point, Nox has had enough. She counters the set up for the Lion Tamer with a rollup, goes on an offensive streak, and hits a Shining Wizard for the win. And that Shining Wizard includes her basically nailing Matthews right in the head with the knee brace she mocked at the beginning of the match. Maybe Nox should have Juice Robinson cast rules for that thing!
This was an alright match, but not super satisfying. Now Nox’s next opponent is Rhea Ripley, who has Matthew’s bad attitude and bruiser tendencies amped up by recently-turned-to-heel rookie ambition and being jacked AF.
3. Deonna Purrazzo def. Xia Li
We also see our the kung fu master face our submission expert (of one specific submission, but she’s really good at it!) in a straightforward match that’s more two intense athletes than heel vs. face. Li and Purrazzo’s chemistry, for me, makes up for anything lost by the foregoing of a morality tale.
Both women go for several early nearfalls after not especially flashy moves, and then Purrazzo starts working on softening up Li’s elbow for the armbar. Li is able to reverse her opponent’s first attempt in a rollup pin for another nearfall, but the sequence still makes Deonna’s Fujiwara look like a serious threat. Li’s wrestling moves aren’t as smooth as those of her opponent or a lot of other wrestlers, but they’re always reminiscent of real fighting, which makes sense, given her background, and means her wrestling makes me think of Ronda Rousey’s. Both competitors only get more passionate as the match goes on, but Purrazzo catches a jumping… something from Li into a way more definitive Fujiwara armbar in the center of the ring for the win.
2. Mia Yim def. Kaitlyn
Kaitlyn’s second match in her WWE return has the same theme as the first, but more explicitly stated. She was the most powerful of her generation of Divas, but it’s unclear if she can hang with the perceived tougher, hard-hitting women wrestlers who occupy the spotlight on the indies and in WWE in 2018. Her first MYC match was against an accomplished powerlifter, but now she faces Mia Yim, both a tough woman and way more experienced wrestler, and also the ideal Mixed Match Challenge partner for Tomohiro Ishii because they both have banging theme songs with siren noises at the beginning.
Yim’s hand is taped up from her match with Allysin Kay, which soon becomes a factor here. She apparently didn’t check how much it would hurt to chop people with it before getting in the ring, and it looks like her first chop might hurt her more than Kaitlyn.
Kaitlyn’s initial streak of offense is so fast that the moves don’t have much time to sink in, but the sequence of Yim trying to escape the bodyscissors is more engaging. The transition from Kaitlyn’s baseball slide to Yim slamming her knee against the ring apron is again a bit awkard, but I think the match picks up after this.
Now Yim is selling her hand and Kaitlyn her knee, and both women look winded. They’re both clearly in this to win this and focus on each other’s injured body parts, Kaitlyn with a way more brutal submission than I expected from her. Yim fights dirty too, faking begging for mercy after Kaitlyn gets another offensive streak only to take a swing at her opponent.
Kaitlyn kicks out of Sole Food, how Yim won her round one match, and the TNA/indie vet looks stumped and angry. Then Yim kicks out of the spear, the way Kaitlyn won her first round match, and the former Diva is equally shocked. Rather than go for their finishers again, both women return to what they know is their opponent’s weakest point. Kaitlyn goes to stomp Yim’s injured hand, but Yim dodges and locks on a knee bar that gets Kaitlyn screaming and wins her the match by submission. I appreciated that while both wrestlers here had similar strategies, Yim’s superior technical prowess earned her the win.
Backstage, Kaitlyn talks about the very positive experience she’s had so far since returning to WWE and says she doesn’t think it’ll be another four and a half years until she’s back again. So… Evolution battle royal?
1. Io Shirai def. Zeuxis
The show’s opener is what commentary puts over as a “dream match,” Io Shirai vs. Zeuxis. Both women are still absent of that Happy To Be Here attitude, which I appreciate from such seasoned wrestlers, especially Shirai, since she’ll be continuing on with this company. She enters and plays to the crowd like she knows they’re going to love her because she’s awesome. She’s more displaying than proving her awesomeness. And one her second match, this has already gotten her pretty over!
Shirai lands the first blow of the match with a really nice dropkick that sends Zeuxis outside the ring. But a basement dropkick from Zeuxis very soon afterward knocks Shirai out of the ring. This apparently happens in the worst possible way and makes her sell her shoulder like crazy. Zeuxis shows that she’s a smart wrestler as well as a bruiser by IMMEDIATELY zeroing in on that shoulder, working it in the ropes and with a submission.
Shirai soon starts shining, knocking Zeuxis into a corner and delivering those killer double knees whose set up we can already recognize from her match with Brookside. But it looks like that early blow to her shoulder has made her just a bit slower, like when she sells it after hitting the suicide dive. Zeuxis is able to escape the crossface and land a Michinoku Driver and each woman dodges or prevents a moonsault. The game changer arrives when Shirai prevents the Spanish Fly. She counters with a top rope hurricanrana and puts the luchadora away with another fantastic moonsault.
This match passed really quickly for me! It was exciting and had a solid, basic story that was established early. It was all so well-executed that, even though some of the other matches this episode were more dramatic, it still ended up being my favorite of the night. And Io comes out of it looking strong, but after more interesting booking than two squashes in a row.
Backstage, when she’s asked about Purrazzo, Shirai says she beat her in Japan and knows her strategy needs to be “stop the armbar,” which I feel like is an English phrase you pick up early only in a few specific professions.
Since Deonna’s on this same episode, we actually get promos from both parties to hype an MYC match a week before it happens! The Virtuosa says she’s been crying all week (with happiness??? Yikes???) and shrugs off the past [Stardom] loss, saying “I don’t care who it is. I’m going to win and I’m going to break their arm.” We got a good look at her armbar this episode, and it looked pretty nasty! But, let’s be real, RIP next week, Deonna Purrazzo!
Our full final four lineup is now established as:
- Meiko Satomura vs. Lacey Lane
- Toni Storm vs. Mia Yim
- Rhea Ripley vs. Tegan Nox
- Io Shirai vs. Deonna Purrazzo
Based on Lane’s previous performance in this tournament, it looks like it might actually be possible for Satomura to have the weakest match of the show. But it also might just be the least competitive! Or it could be a huge breakout for Lane! I’ll see you back here next week to discuss!