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

Watch: WWE Network

After a long week, we have reached the fourth and final episode of the Mae Young Classic that has released so far. This episode has two indie darlings (Candice and Nicole) plus everyone’s favorite Joshi wrestler (Kairi Sane, formally Kairi Hojo), so I have hopes that the Mae Young Classic first round is ending on a high note. Check out my reviews of Episode #1Episode #2, and Episode #3 if you need to catch up, and if you want to learn more about the great world of Joshi, be sure to check out my website Joshi City.

Official Standard Disclaimer: 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.

Candice LeRae def. Renee Michelle

This episode begins with one of Wrestling Twitter’s favorite wrestlers: Candice LeRae.

Candice has been wrestling since 2002, she is best known for teaming with Joey Ryan as The World’s Cutest Tag Team however she has had big singles matches in SHIMMER, PROGRESS, and AAW as well. Renee Michelle is a four year pro but has mostly stayed in smaller promotions, her most successful run thus far in her career was as MCW Women’s Champion in 2016.

The match was way too slow paced for a five minute match. I know these are clipped, but I can only give an opinion on what the WWE presents, if they choose to leave in rest holds and slow rope running then that’s all I have to go off of. Aside from the pacing, Candice looked really good while Renee had some good kicks but looked like she was running in quicksand. Which was a bit distracting. When they stayed with strikes, it was solid, it was just everything else that was a bit awkward at times. The right wrestler definitely won here, this was a good intro for Candice but not much more than that.

Lacey Evans def. Taynara Conti

Every episode has a match that is a complete mystery to me, and for Episode 4 this is that match. I have never seen either of these wrestlers (since they have rarely if ever been on TV, I am in good company) so I am going in with an open mind. Lacey Evans is a WWE Performance Center wrestler, however she has been wrestling in NXT (mostly house shows) since late 2016 so she has some in-ring experience. Taynara joined the Performance Center after Lacey did so she is even less experienced, she has been wrestling on NXT house shows since May.

All things considered, this was better than I was expecting. Since both came from the Performance Center I assume this match was more ‘practiced’ than usual, but I have no issue with that, as long as the match is good I don’t care how they got there. Evan’s attire is unique but once I got used to it, she shows a lot of early ability as a sympathetic babyface and while not everything was hit perfectly they kept the match moving. Taynara showed good power and both show a lot of promise. As a fan of Stardom, I watch a lot of Rookie vs. Rookie matches, and this was one of the better ones I’ve seen recently.

Nicole Savoy def. Reina Gonzalez

It is great to see Nicole Savoy back, she missed almost a year due to injury but returned just in time to make it in the tournament. She debuted in 2011 and came into the tournament with two titles – the AWS Women’s Championship and the Heart of SHIMMER Championship. Reina is a second generation wrestler that joined WWE in 2016. She had her first match in January and had about ten matches under her belt coming into the match.

I really don’t know what they were doing here. Nicole Savoy is a suplexing ass kicker, that’s what she does well. She isn’t underdog babyface extraordinaire, but that is what they asked her to do here as she worked from the bottom and was mostly dominated by Reina. Granted, Reina had the size advantage and in WWE world, size = power which explains the layout. But Reina is still too green to know how to use her size effectively and Nicole wasn’t allowed to do what she does best. I really hope Nicole gets more of a chance to shine in the next round, as just by watching this match I wouldn’t know how good she really is.

Kairi Sane def. Tessa Blanchard

Since I primarily watch Joshi, it is safe to say that this was the match I was most looking forward to.

Kairi Sane is better known to wrestling fans as Kairi Hojo, the name she used in Stardom since debuting for the promotion in 2012. In Stardom, Kairi became one of the top wrestlers in the promotion in 2015 and was one of the biggest fan favorites. She held four different titles in Stardom, including the top two singles titles, and improved at an impressive rate as her career progressed.

Tessa Blanchard is no slouch either, as the daughter of Tully Blanchard has won over half a dozen titles in her three year career and also has continued to improve each time I’ve seen her wrestle.

Kairi is the star and she knows she is the star, I love seeing how confident she is as in Stardom she was always overshadowed by Io Shirai. In regards to connecting with the crowd and getting reactions, Kairi was second to none in this tournament. Kairi is great, very crisp and she knows how to bump around to make her opponent look good. Tessa looked solid too, she played a quality foil to Kairi and this was one of the best pairings of the tournament thus far. I am sure that was intentional, Kairi is coming out of this the biggest star and they are going to put her in the best situations to succeed. My favorite match of the tournament, Kairi is going to be very successful in WWE if this match is any indication.

Final Thoughts

All in all, I think this was my favorite episode of the first four. Kairi Sane vs. Tessa Blanchard is my favorite match thus far, Kairi really came across as a star but Tessa kept up with her, making it an entertaining match from start to finish. Taynara Conti and Lacey Evans both show potential for rookies, which I wasn’t expecting, and throughout the card it felt like the ‘right’ person won each match. The only disappointment was Nicole Savoy, not due to anything she did, it was just a rough pairing for her and I look forward to seeing what she can do in the next round against a better opponent.

That’s it for me for Mae Young Classic reviews, I hope you enjoyed following along, I am passing on the baton for the rest of the tournament. More of my reviews on women’s wrestling can be found over on my website Joshi City, including match recommendations for Kairi Sane if you want to see more of her. Judging by who advanced, I have high expectations for the rest of the tournament, and hopefully they continue to deliver.