Powell’s WWE Mae Young Classic Review: Episode One featuring first-round matches (spoilers)

By Jason Powell

WWE Mae Young Classic
Aired on WWE Network
Taped on July 13-14 in Winter Park, Florida at Full Sail University

The show opened with a Stephanie McMahon narrated video package that showcased legends, today’s women’s talent, and some of the women in the 32-woman tournament…

Jim Ross and Lita introduced the show from a desk on the stage. Ross noted that there were 32 entrants from 13 countries. They showed the brackets for the tournament briefly…

Powell’s POV: Ross has noted in his blogs/podcasts that the commentary was actually done in post production.

Ross set up video packages on the Kay Lee Ray vs. Princesa Sugehit match. The Mexican masked Sugehit spoke in Spanish and stated that her first name is for being the only female who trained at her gym, while the last name is for “queen of the stars.” The Scottish Ray said she is the hardcore daredevil. The video focussed on her high spots, but she said her strikes and submissions are on par with her high flying ability…

1. Kay Lee Ray vs. Princesa Sugehit in a first round match. Ross noted that it’s a single elimination tournament, meaning only the winners advance and the losers are out of the tournament. Lita noted that Sugehit (pronounced soo-hey) is the most experienced woman in the tournament. Sugehit performed a sunset flip powerbomb out of a submission hold for a two count. Later, Ray caught Sugehit in the same position on her back and ended up slamming her face first onto the mat for a two count. Sugehit avoided a Swanton, then applied an armbar for the win…

Princesa Sugehit defeated Kay Lee Ray via submission to advance in the tournament.

Powell’s POV: A solid match, yet not the big attention grabbing opener that one might expect. The video package helped tell the story of Ray being a daredevil, so I had a suspicion that she would either hit a big high spot and win or miss one that would cost her the match. Sugehit is the Mexican legend, so you had to assume this would be more than a one and done for her. The brackets showed that Sugehit will face the winner of Xia Li vs. Mercedes Martinez in round two.

A video package aired on Serena Deeb vs. Vanessa Borne. The latter is a former Arizona Cardinals cheerleader. She was cocky in her video package. “I’m a superstar, so I have to win,” she said. Meanwhile, Deeb spoke about how she had the intention of becoming the greatest superstar in the world when she started her career. She spoke about being with the Straight Edge Society. She noted that she used alcohol irresponsibly and the consequences were handed to her. She said the tournament is redemption for her and she will outwork everyone else…

Powell’s POV: Borne won a qualifying match over Jayme Hachey to earn a spot in the tournament. It was one of two qualifying matches for the tournament.

Naomi was shown standing and clapping in the crowd. Ross noted that Naomi was an Orlando Magic cheerleader and called her a great athlete…

2. Serena Deeb vs. Vanessa Borne in a first round match. Female referee Jessika Carr worked this match. The women shook hands before the bell. Ross noted that Deeb has been on a two-year hiatus and added that he’s proud of her for having her life together. Borne got a two count off a neckbreaker. She also performed a Samoan drop for another two count. Deep avoided a splash and came back with a spear for the win…

Serena Deeb defeated Vanesa Borne to advance in the tournament.

Powell’s POV: Borne (Danielle Kamela) signed with WWE in April 2016, so she is still very green. However, she showed some personality in her video package and this was a decent match. I was surprised to see Borne shake hands given that she heeled it up during her video package. Deeb’s video package made her easy to root for. She will face the winner of Piper Niven vs. Santana Garrett in round two.

Charly Caruso checked in from the control center, which featured a giant bracket board behind her. She hyped the Shayna Baszler vs. Zeda as the next match, then a video package aired on both women. Zeda spoke about being bullied most of her life and never having a superhero to look up to. She said she took up martial arts as self defense with the goal of becoming that superhero. “Don’t underestimate me,” she said. “I’m not afraid to fight.” Baszler spoke about her MMA history and said her style from MMA won’t change, it’s just a different ruleset. She said she would show the other women that there’s a legitimate badass in the tournament…

3. Shayna Baszler vs. Zeda in a first round match. Ronda Rousey and Marina Shafir were shown applauding their fellow Four Horsewomen of MMA buddy Baszler, who passed on the pre-match handshake. Baszler slapped Zeda early. Zeda performed a monkey flip out of the corner for a two count. Some in the crowd chanted for Zeda, who applied a submission hold briefly. Baszler escaped and performed a suplex neckbreaker and applied a chokehold on the way down. The referee quickly called for the bell…

Shayna Baszler beat Zeda to advance in the tournament.

Powell’s POV: Baszler carries herself like a badass because, well, she is one. She gave up some offense to Zeda, but this match was mostly about showcasing Baszler.

A video package aired on the Jazzy Gabert vs. Abbey Laith match. Jazzy spoke about being from Germany and having to work hard. The footage of her showed her training in the WWE Performance Center. Laith noted that she is from Seattle. There was footage of her wrestling in Shimmer. She said the Alligator Clutch she uses was passed down from Mae Young…

Powell’s POV: Gabbert worked all over the world as Alpha Female outside WWE. She had a brief run in TNA and also has a 1-1 record in MMA. Meanwhile, Laith works as Kimber Lee independently and has appeared on NXT television in the past.

4. Jazzy Gabert vs. Abbey Laith in a first round match. Gabert shook hands with Laith, but pulled her in and intimidated her. Laith threw punches to start, but Gabert no-sold the shots and shoved her down. Gabert let out a primal scream and the crowd erupted with their biggest non-finish pop of the night thus far. Gabert dominated and slammed Laith before putting her foot on her for a cocky cover, but Laith kicked out. Laith applied a submission hold on the ropes. She also applied a Swanton for a two count. Gabert came right back with a big lariat clothesline and then threw repeated punches on Laith. Gabert picked up Laith for a power move, but Laith rolled her up and scored the pin…

Abbey Laith defeated Jazzy Gabert to advance in the tournament.

After the match, the referee brought the women together and raised the hand of Laith, who was emotional. Gabert approached Laith and looked menacing, but she pulled her in for a hug, then raised Laith’s arm and pointed at her. The graphic showed that Laith will face the winner of Marti Bell vs. Rachel Evers in round two…

Caruso narrated a video package that mentioned the winners on this show, then hyped the following matches for the second episode: Sarah Logan vs. Mia Yim, Mercedes Martinez vs. Xia Li, Miranda Salinas vs. Rhea Ripley, and Marti Bell vs. Rachel Evers…

Powell’s POV: They did a good job of establishing Gabert as a dominant wrestler only to have Laith pull off the upset. The formula worked and this was the most entertaining match of the first episode. Episode one was solid and featured an approach that was very similar to the WWE Cruiserweight Classic. The big difference thus far is the lack of standout matches, but that’s more likely to occur as we get deeper in the tournament. I will be back later today with my review of the second episode.


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