WWE Mae Young Classic – Finals
September 12, 2017
Las Vegas, NV
Watch: WWE Network
Meet our reviewers
Kelly Harrass: This might not be a WWE pay per view, but Kelly is going to review it anyways. Find him on Twitter @comicgeekelly where he is probably talking about My Hero Academia or Monster Hunter Stories.
Jeremy Sexton: As Voices of Wrestling’s resident MMA guru, it’s only proper he make an appearance for the Queen of Spades’s big moment. You can find him on Twitter on @jeremysexton occasionally talking wrestling or MMA, but most likely posting pictures of his corgis.
Sean Flynn: One of the underrated benefits of this tournament has been the chance for the world to see him in various states of beardyness over the years thanks to all the SHIMMER footage. He’s on Twitter @spiffie6123 and sometimes even says things on there.
WWE Mae Young Classic Finals
Kairi Sane def. Shayna Baszler
Kelly Harrass: The largest ever women’s tournament in WWE was concluded with a match that didn’t feel like anything else to take place in front of a Smackdown crowd in quite some time. Shayna came off like a monster in this, using her catch wrestling to toss around Kairi like it was nothing. Outside of a select few moments, like Kairi’s jumping nothing into the choke from Baszler, this felt rooted in reality. There was no wackiness to be found here, just two women that were going to hit each other until the other couldn’t get back up. Sane targeting Baszler’s ribs was an incredibly smart move, giving her a way out of the choke and softening Shayna up for the elbow drop. It says a lot about the current WWE product that I’m praising a match for simply making sense, but here we are. Sane and Baszler are both awesome workers and they were given a chance to showcase it here. Sadly, this match wasn’t given enough time to push it into MOTY territory, but I still enjoyed it quite a bit. Sane came out of this looking like an absolute star and Shayna looked like a legitimate threat even in loss. Hopefully WWE can capitalize on these two finalists and they don’t end up like Gran Metalik and TJP. ****
Jeremy Sexton: The way this was presented made this match truly feel like something special. Compared to last year’s Cruiserweight Classic, the Mae Young Classic Finale felt like a much bigger deal. For all the times WWE has tried to tell us that something the women were doing was special and important, as with the Wrestlemania 32 title debut, this time it really felt genuine.
To see the entire crowd stick around, which absolutely was not a given (especially in Las Vegas), and to see them as into the match as they were boosted it even farther. Despite the trappings around the match like the guests in the crowd and red carpet interviews, the focus still felt like it was on Baszler and Saine. WWE had a chance to have Ronda Rousey not only appear, but talk on their program and they still kept the focus on the two women in the match.
As a match, it felt better than it actually was. If you wanted to nitpick the work, it would would not be difficult. At times the two did not gel, at times it was clunky, at times awkward. Ironically, I thought Shayna’s offense at times looked weak. I don’t know if she had a problem walloping people for real earlier in her wrestling career, but her strikes and even some of her slams and holds looked like she was holding back. If there’s anyone I would think would have no problem laying their stuff in, it’s an MMA pioneer and icon like Baszler.
That said, these women both play their roles phenomenally well. Baszler feels like a cold blooded killer, which I’m sure she has an absolute blast with and it shows. Saine is an incredible babyface in peril. The emotion they were able to convey was easy to be sucked in by here on my couch and also there live in the building. The crowd was hot through the whole match and it helped lift it up a level.
Even Lita’s commentary really worked for me tonight. While JR was calling the WWE women’s roster “fans at ringside” and identifying someone as Marina Shafir that most definitely is not Marina Shafir, Lita did the work of actually telling the story of the match. It wasn’t a complicated story, but it didn’t have to be. It worked and Lita helped that with her commentary.
Ultimately, I think the right woman won and I’d expect Saine to be the next to hold the NXT women’s title. If you add Baszler, Candice Lerae, Piper Niven, Toni Storm, Bianca Belair to that division, I honestly think you might have something on your hands that is a hot ticket once again.
As a rating I have to go four stars here because, while the match itself in a vacuum wouldn’t have been that impressive, the entire package here is something you absolutely should go out of your way to see. ****
Sean Flynn: Really good job by WWE with the video packages and presentation, making it seem like a big deal. This match was a fitting ending for the tournament, where so many of the matches had solid internal logic and built off of each prior round. Baszler came in looking to grind Sane down, and spent the early part of the match doing so. Sane had to keep moving to survive, but in order to have a chance she needed to find some weak point in Baszler’s armor. Focusing on Baszler’s ribs after using her speed to deliver a huge spear gave Sane that little extra room she needed. Both women came into the match with insta-death finishers, so when Sane used the work on the ribs to escape Baszler’s rear naked choke it was a major surprise. Baszler nailed some nasty strikes to try and keep Sane reeled in, but she could never quite wrap Sane up. The final sequence was tense back and forth on the top rope until once more Sane took advantage of Baszler’s ribs with a double stomp leading to the big elbow. While there was a certain urgency that was possibly missing from the match, both women looked very good. Baszler has a badass aura that simply can’t be taught, and Sane is a great babyface foil. The biggest surprise of the night may have been the lack of any post-match shenanigans. I think there’s a better match in these two given more time, but for tonight it gave the MYC an ending it could be proud of. ***1/4
— WWE (@WWE) September 13, 2017