As one wrestling tournament ends, another one begins. I’ve had a rest after the G1 Climax and I’m ready for the Mae Young Classic.
For those who don’t know, the Mae Young Classic is a WWE women’s tournament where the winner gets a title shot at the NXT Women’s Title. Last year’s tournament was the first Mae Young Classic and I really got into it, watching it as quickly as I could. It was women’s wrestling that got me back into wrestling properly in 2015 – I loved NXT’s Women’s Division with Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch, Bayley and Charlotte – so I have a bit of a soft spot for women’s wrestling.
As this is a weekly TV show, not a big ‘Pay Per View’ show I’m not gonna use the usual system. I don’t think it’s fair to judge TV matches the same as PPV matches as they have less time to shine. So, I’m just going to use a simple thumbs up/in the middle/down system. Let’s get started….
- Firstly, the commentary team here is Michael Cole, Renee Young and Beth Phoenix. I’ll just say it…I’m really not a fan of Michael Cole or three person commentary booths. I don’t feel like Michael Cole has any credibility any more and wish they had just gone with Renee and Beth to be honest. I personally find that three person commentary booths get a little crowded and commentators get left out or the commentary becomes a shouting match. That said, Cole was OK here, if a little out of place and no-one talked over each other or bickered for no reason, so I can’t complain.
- I think the Mae Young Classic graphics and video packages are fantastic. The show looks very distinct from other WWE shows and the pre-recorded interviews and highlight footage is great at introducing performers who I imagine most fans (be included) haven’t seen wrestle before.
Tegan Nox vs Zatara was the opening match of the tournament and I thought it was a decent start. There was nothing complicated here, just a simple story of Nox having her previously injured knee attacked and having to fight back to get the win. This was straightforward and logical match and it got the crowd behind Nox so a Thumbs Up from me.
Rhea Ripley vs. MJ Jenkins was a Thumbs In The Middle for me. I personally thought this match dragged a bit towards the middle. However, I like both wrestlers and thought it was maybe just one of those things. Ripley’s new look and attitude is fantastic and I like Jenkins’ energy, thought I spent a good minute wondering where I had seen her before (at a TNA One Night Stand Show taking on Rosemary)
Lacey Lane vs Vanessa Kraven was a good effort, but I thought it was a bit sloppy in places and pretty short too. It was a good attempt at a David vs Goliath story (Kraven is 6’2”) and to their credit, both wrestlers recovered well from Lane’s botched armdrag from the top. I thought the commentary team did a good job with covering the error too, the best way to cover an in-ring mistake in my opinion is to quietly acknowledge it and move on. I’ll go Thumbs In The Middle for this match.
The main event of Episode 1, Meiko Satomura vs. Killer Kelly was a fine match, a hard hitting battle designed to make Satomura look like a machine. It worked for me, I thought Satomura looked superb here and I was impressed with Killer Kelly too. The story here was great – young badass (Kelly) meets veteran badass (Satomura) and gets a taste of her own medicine. Satomura was in control for most of the match and hit hard strikes, some nasty looking holds and survived a top rope dragon sleeper from Kelly before winning with a Death Valley Driver. Thumbs up and bonus points for a great nearfall from a Killer Kelly Fisherman Suplex. I genuinely thought that was the end of the match.
Overall, Episode 1 was a decent start. Maybe not the smoothest selection of matches, but I was entertained throughout and am looking forward to next week’s episode.