TAPED 7/13/17, RELEASED 8/28/17

Watch: WWE Network

And we are back with another episode of the Mae Young Classic! Even though the first four episodes are already available, it seemed excessive to review all of them at the same time so I’ll be dropping one review a day until we have completed the first round. I recap the tournament and release structure in the Episode #1 review, so you may want to catch up there first if this is your first time checking in on the Mae Young Classic. If you enjoy women’s wrestling and want to learn more about the action in Japan, stop by my website Joshi City, lots of content there for both new fans and long time fans of  Joshi wrestling.

But I will repeat this from my last review—I won’t mention the commentary of Jim Ross and lita throughout since I don’t like sounding like a broken record, but it ranges from average to dull. It didn’t take away from the action for me, but it didn’t enhance it either. If you are someone that is easily distracted by so-so commentary, it may be worse for you, I generally just tune it out and focus on the action itself.

Mercedes Martinez def. Xia Li

The show kicks off with an extremely lopsided match between one of the most respected veterans on the current indie scene against a virtually unknown wrestler from WWE’s Performance Center.

Mercedes has done it all in women’s wrestling, she is a 16 year veteran with titles in over half a dozen promotions in her career. She is best known for her success in SHIMMER, where she is a two time SHIMMER Champion. Xia Li was signed by WWE last year and has been in training since, she has a background in martial arts but this is her first foray into professional wrestling. Like we saw in a few matches in the first episode, this match is more about introducing new wrestlers to the WWE Universe than anything else.

Even though it was a four minute match, it still surprised me a bit how much offense Xia got in. I’m a sucker for martial arts incorporated into my pro wrestling, so naturally I approve of Xia’s variety of kicks, and I think all things considered she looked pretty good. The recurring theme of likely the entire first round is the veteran winning very quickly once they take control, I can see the long term benefit as it saves them for future rounds, but in a vacuum I’d preferred Mercedes do more than two moves to get the win. About as fun as a short opening match can be, looking forward to more of Mercedes in the tournament.

Rachel Evers def. Marti Belle

Up to this point, WWE has mostly been pairing less experienced wrestlers with veterans, and that theme continues here. Rachel Evers, better known by most fans as Rachael Ellering, trained under Lance Storm and made her professional wrestling debut in late 2015. She made a few NXT appearances last year, however she is still a Freelancer and has not signed with the promotion. Marti Belle is only 29 but has been wrestling since 2008, she recently had a two year run in TNA (now GFW) and is best known for tag team with Jade (Mia Yim) as The Dollhouse.

Most of the matches in the tournament have been short, but none had been bad. Until I saw this match. What really scares me is that this is the clipped version, I can’t imagine what it looks like in full if this is the best they could do with it. The main issue here was Rachel, her offense isn’t very smooth and even the inside cradle that ended the match was rough. Marti wasn’t much better, I haven’t seen enough of her to form a conclusion on how she is as a wrestler overall, but it just wasn’t a good pairing. They had utterly no chemistry and it felt like just a series of awkward moves until the end. Not a good showing by either wrestler.

Rhea Ripley def. Miranda Salinas

Let’s hope these two can get the show back on track. Rhea is only 20 years old but has been wrestling for several years under the name Demi Bennett. Her most success came while wrestling for RCW in Australia, she signed with WWE earlier this year. Miranda started wrestling in 2014 and for much of her career has wrestled in Reality of Wrestling, based in Texas.

While the match was really short, they managed to actually tell a story anyway which I greatly appreciate. So many times when wrestlers know they will be in a short match, they just kinda trade moves until the planned finish, but Rhea and Miranda didn’t do that here. This is the first full match I’ve seen of Rhea but she seems pretty damn good, she hit her moves crisply and has an attitude to her that makes you pay attention. Miranda did a good job playing into that, her role was to make Rhea look impressive and she did that well by standing up to her and fighting back. Rhea is still early in her career so she has room to grow, but I’m looking forward to seeing what else she can do in the tournament.

Mia Yim def. Sarah Logan

Main event time!

Like the last episode, they end this one with two accomplished wrestlers that fans of women’s wrestling are probably familiar with. Mia Yim almost needs no introduction – she is an eight year pro with championship victories in SHINE and GFW (as Jade) in her career. Sarah Logan is better known to fans as Crazy Mary Dobson, she signed with WWE earlier this year but has mostly been wrestling in dark matches and on house shows.

This was a quality TV match and probably my favorite match of the tournament thus far. Mia and Sarah have great chemistry, as Lita pointed out they have wrestled before but not often enough to have built in spots so it all felt natural. I always love me a good heated strike exchange, and they were putting a lot of effort into making their match memorable. I am sad that Sarah lost, not because I don’t like Mia but I wish both of them were going into the next round as they have that fire that can elevate just about any match they are in. Really enjoyed it, this is a match worth seeking out if you are just cherry picking the first round matches.

Final Thoughts

Top to bottom, this episode wasn’t quite as good as episode 1 when looking at the matches themselves, even though I think it had the best match of the tournament thus far. Really, with the match lengths, you have to look at the first round as being more about highlighting certain wrestlers than expecting high end matches as the time just isn’t there to put on a classic (no pun intended). In that regard the show was mostly successful, as I came away impressed with the majority of the wrestlers. Rhea and Sarah were the standouts (I already knew Mia and Mercedes could deliver so no surprises there), it’s a shame that Sarah is out of the tournament but I am sure we will see more of her soon enough. Worth a watch if you want to be introduced to a few new wrestlers that may be making an impact in WWE in the near future, and the main event was a really solid match.