A Ranked Review Of The Mae Young Classic, S2 E03: Big D Energy


Previously on the Mae Young Classic: A tiny American Ninja Warrior flipped her way into our hearts, Zeuxis made a kid cry, and Mercedes Martinez stepped into the role Gedo vacated and became the Rayne-taker.

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 3 of the Mae Young Classic, from September 19, 2018.

4. Kaitlyn def. Kavita Devi

To me, this third installment of the 2018 MYC was a lot more entertaining than the second. Along with the variety of women and wrestling styles, we had more of a variety of stories being told in the ring, and some of them had actual history behind them!

The wrestler with the by far the most onscreen WWE history in this tournament is Kaitlyn. The former Divas Champion and Chickbuster hasn’t been in this company since 2014. Back in that pre-Revolutionary era, she was one of the few muscular female wrestlers on the roster, so she had storylines that involved stupid fat jokes, including a next-level terrible photoshop gag. But nowadays WWE is teeming with jacked ladies, so Kaitlyn’s return match is a full-on Hoss Fight against a former powerlifter, the Performance Center and India’s Kavita Devi.

Devi gets in the first takedown after a strong lockup, but Kaitlyn soon gets to shine, and she looks great. I mean, her offensive moves are well-executed and exciting to watch, and also she looks great.


There’s a weird moment where there’s confusion with the referee as to whether she’s tapping out or not, which probably should not have happened, but the Full Sail crowd is very forgiving and gives her the “You still got it.” And her spear finisher she uses to pin Devi for the win is still extremely It!

It was so fun and heartwarming to see this former Diva crush it on several levels in this match. The response to Kaitlyn’s return has been so positive that I’d be very surprised if we don’t see her on WWE programming again soon, I’m guessing as an entrant in the inevitable Get Everyone On The Card Battle Royal at Evolution or the Royal Rumble at latest.

3. Xia Li def. Karen Q

The show’s third match also featured a swole babyface we haven’t seen in a while: Xia Li. Like Devi, she gets Extremely Her Nationality packaging, and I was unsure if it was meant to show cultural pride and appeal to people in her own country or to present her as exotic to the American audience. Maybe both! Thinking about that did not prevent me from being extremely into the energy of her entrance, and her being like “Here’s some kung fu!” as soon as she got into the ring, and the Full Sail audience responding like, “Hell yeah, kung fu!”

Her opponent is indie wrestler Karen Q, whose identity as a Chinese-American person from Queens is presented in contrast to Li’s as a Chinese national. Q is an ex-gymnast with a Master’s degree, and also teaches P.E. to elementary school students, several of whom definitely have crushes on her. Her very peppy theme song instantly reminded me of one part of the Taka Taichi theme song, “Rowdy,” because my brain is broken in such a way that I constantly think about the Taka Taichi theme song, “Rowdy.”

The opening sequence of the match with the immediate kung fu fighting is really fun and different, and even more entertaining because of the delighted crowd reactions. There’s that argument that WWE homogenizes people’s wrestling styles in the Performance Center, but Li’s statement about “bringing martial arts to in-ring style” is clearly true so far.

Q and Li do a great job of telling a solid story, and Li gets over as a babyface who’s far from a pushover. Q gets in a lot more offense and shows off her strength and gymnastic ability while she does it, but Li picks up the win after a very cool flipping ax kick. This was another first-round MYC match that ended after the babyface got a very short comeback to advance to the next round, and I really hope we get fewer matches with that dynamic in the second.

Bonus thing I have to shout out: a reason this match will be memorable for me besides the mini-Matrix Minute opening was the WWE debut of referee Aubrey Edwards! She refs as Gearl Hebner at 3-2-1 Battle!, my most beloved local indie when I lived in the Seattle area! Get it, Gearl! I hope this is a sign we’ll get a few more female refs in this company. Maybe one can replace that dummy who wouldn’t count the pin on a no-DQ match because he was too concerned for Jeff Hardy’s old raver body!

2. Toni Storm def. Jinny

Toni Storm vs. Jinny was a matchup between “a pair of NXT UK Superstars,” which is technically true, but still such a weird thing to hear come out of Michael Cole’s mouth! These two have wrestled many times before, mostly in Progress (the promotion my mind still automatically associates them both with) and Germany’s wXw.

These two couldn’t be more different, and this seems like a match designed to set up a long-running rivalry. Since we last saw Toni in WWE, she’s gotten better in the ring and ditched the terrible tiny top hat for a backwards baseball cap, for which I am extremely grateful. She has seemingly effortless punk rock babyface charisma, the type that lets her pull off Stone Cold antics with Strong Zero in Stardom. She interacts with some iconic fellow Australians in the crowd cheering her on, and I believe if I didn’t include the gif if that I would be fired from With Spandex.

Jinny [Couture], in contrast, has ring gear “personally designed by Alexander McQueen” and brings fashion-industry ruthlessness to in-ring competition. The way commentary talks about her high society connections basically sets her up as the Bad Janet version of Tahani from The Good Place. One of her finishers is the Rainmaker, which we HEAR CALLED AS THAT in her intro video, so are they going to keep calling it that in NXT UK or are they going to be like, “and the lariat by Jinny!”? Please DM me about this, NXT UK people I know are reading this, because this is important information that I need to know ASAP.

Jinny dominates most of this match, which I thought was an odd decision because Storm made the semi-finals last year. A sizable fraction of the match is Jinny putting Storm in a submission that immobilizes her arms and legs, and I thought the selling from both women here was odd at times. After Storm finally makes it to the ropes, this ends up being another match in which the babyface endures a lot and then wins after a very short comeback, here a hip attack and her Storm Zero Tiger Bomb for the win. Storm looks so shocked to have won that it made me wonder if they’ll try to make her an underdog in the second round, or if the dynamic of the match might have more to do with the new UK territory.

1. Mia Yim def. Allysin Kay

Where Storm vs. Jinny set up a new rivalry, Mia Yim vs. Allysin Kay (who Cole calls “Sienna the Savage,” her name and nickname in all other companies, at one point) continues a years-long one. I really liked the personality in this match, and how both women just wanted to throw down and fight and hurt each other. The match starts heated, with both women punching each other on the ground, and is the only one this episode to go outside. Moments like Kay getting so mad when Yim blocks her kick that she yells, “YOU WANNA GO?” and they start shoving each other could stand to happen more in heated wrestling rivalries because that’s like 75 percent of what people do when they actually want to fight each other in real life.

This wasn’t just a brawl though, and we saw some quality wrestling from both women. We haven’t seen a lot of good counters in the MYC so far, but Yim escaping the Gory special to hit a sunset powerbomb was cool, and her later transition to hit Seoul Food (the inverted stomp facebreaker adapted from Gail Kim’s Eat Defeat) off the second rope was a surprising end to the match. I wish we could see both wrestlers from this advance, but it’s a single elimination tournament, and now we’re getting Yim vs. Kaitlyn in the second round, which will at least be interesting.

I’ll see you back here next week for IO, FINALLY! And hey, we’re doing an open discussion thread for the Wednesday night WWE programming block now, so make sure to stop by and hang out in our comments if you’re watching new episodes of the MYC and/or NXT and/or 205 Live when they’re streaming on the Network!