Powell’s WWE Mae Young Classic Review: Episode Five featuring second round tournament matches

By Jason Powell

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

A video focussed on the first round of the tournament… The narrator hyped Rachel Evers vs. Abbey Laith, Serena Deeb vs. Piper Niven, Mercedes Martinez vs. Princesa Sugehit, and Bianca Belair vs. Kairi Sane for this episode…

A shot aired of the Mae Young Classic tournament trophy, which sits on a stand on the stage, as the broadcast team of Jim Ross and Lita checked in… The sixteen remaining tournament entrants stood on the stage and the broadcast team discussed the tournament brackets…

Rachel Evers and Abbey Laith were featured in a video package. They focussed on the power of Evers with Ross saying there was no one stronger in the tournament than her. Laith said she would scratch and claw, and do whatever it takes to win…

1. Rachel Evers vs. Abbey Laith in a second round match. Kassius Ohno was shown applauding in the crowd as Evers made her entrance. Ross noted that Laith studied dance for 24 of her 27 years. There were dueling chants for the women as they shook hands the bell rang to start the match. Laith performed an early suicide dive and then rolled Evers back inside the ring for a two count. Evers came back and got a two count of her own.

Evers connected with a big boot. Laith got up and they both let out primal screams before performing simultaneous big boots that resulted in both women selling on the mat. A “this is wrestling” chant broke out. Laith connected with some punch and kick strikes, then went to the top rope where Evers cut her off. Evers stood on the second rope and performed a powerslam for a good near fall. Laith came right back with a powerslam/ Alligator Clutch and scored the pin. The women shook hands afterward. Laith will face Princesa Sugehit or Mercedes Martinez in the quarterfinals….

Abbey Laith defeated Rachel Evers to advance in the tournament.

Powell’s POV: As mentioned in the first round coverage, Evers is the daughter of Paul Ellering, while Laith is better known as Kimber Lee. This was a nice match with Evers using her power, while Laith connected with the crowd by playing to them and showing heart within the match. I continue to enjoy the way they dim the lights once the bell rings, as it puts the spotlight on the ring and reminds me of the territory days.

A video package focussed on Serena Deeb and Piper Niven. They focussed on the plus-sized Niven’s girth and Deeb’s comeback attempt…

2. Serena Deeb vs. Piper Niven in a second round match. Ross noted that Niven debuted in 2008 yet is only 25. Deeb stopped and clutched the trophy on the stage before heading to the ring. The women shook hands before the bell. Serena went for an early bodyslam, but collapsed under Niven’s weight for a two count. She tried to put her up in Samoan drop position later in the match, but that backfired as well. Deeb performed a nice snapmare and covered Niven for two. Deeb did a fantastic job of expressing frustration with her facial expressions.

Niven performed an Avalanche for a good near fall. Niven followed up by going for a top rope splash, but Deeb moved out of the way. Deeb waited for Niven to stand up and then charged toward her for a move, but Niven caught her with a Michinoku Driver and scored the clean pin. Niven will face the winner of Toni Storm vs. Lacey Evans in the quarterfinals…

Piper Niven beat Serena Deeb to advance in the tournament.

Powell’s POV: A nice match with the story of Niven’s size and power winning out in the end. It will be a shame if Deeb doesn’t get a full-time gig out of this if that’s what she’s looking for. She definitely has something to offer and would be a nice veteran presence in NXT or even on the main roster.

A video package set up the Mercedes Martinez vs. Princesa Sugehit match… Kalisto was shown sitting in the crowd and playing to the fans…

3. Mercedes Martinez vs. Princesa Sugehit in a second round match. Ross noted that the match featured the two most experienced women in the tournament. Ross noted that Martinez is a star of the Shimmer promotion. Sugehit did a nice rollup that drove the back of Martinez’s head into the middle turnbuckle.

Later, Martinez went for a superplex, but Sugehit shoved her off and then performed a tornado DDT. Sugehit applied a nice arm bar, but Martinez escaped it and hit her fisherman’s buster for the win. Martinez will face Abbey Laith in the quarterfinals…

Mercedes Martinez defeated Princesa Sugehit to advance to the quarterfinals.

Powell’s POV: A nice match. The broadcast team pointed out that Martinez was selling her shoulder from the armbar afterward. She even winced when the referee went to raise her hand. It will be interesting to see if she carries that over to the next round or if it’s just forgotten about.

Backstage, Charly Caruso stood in front of the bracket board and hyped this episode’s main event… A video package set up the Kairi Sane vs. Bianca Belair match. Sane said she wants to give passion and power to people all over the world. Belair said she doesn’t see Sane as a threat and added that she’s merely another competitor…

4. Kairi Sane vs. Bianca Belair in a second round match. Ross noted that Belair only had one year of experience. The women shook hands before the match. Belair accepted, but was a bit aggressive in terms of the release. Sane threw a series of forearm shots that knocked Belair down. Belair came back by whipping Sane with her long braid several times. The fans booed. Belair put Sane up for a suplex and then did squats before slamming her down and getting a two count.

Sane raised her knees when Belair went for a splash. Sane came back with some chops and let out a scream before throwing more in the corner. Sane connected with a Superman Punch off the middle rope for a two count. Belair fought back and performed a 450 splash from the top rope for a near fall. Belair showed good frustration when she failed to get the pin. Lita actually displayed some emotion on commentary. Sane came back and performed a running forearm onto a seated Belair, then stood her up and dropped her with a spinning back fist. Sane went up top and performed an elbow drop for the win. Sane will face the winner of Dakota Kai vs. Rhea Ripley in the quarterfinals. Belair and Sane shook hands and hugged afterward…

Kairi Sane beat Bianca Belair to advance to the quarterfinals.

Caruso narrated a video recap of this event, then hyped more sweet 16 action for the next episode…

Powell’s POV: My favorite match of the tournament thus far. The Belair braid spot worked nicely in terms of draw heat from the live crowd. She’s still a work in progress, but she has major upside if this match is any indication. Meanwhile, Sane was a star for many in the crowd when she arrived, and it seems like she’s already won over the live crowd fans who were not familiar with her. Sane was the heavy favorite, yet they did a very nice job of having her work from underneath and had the fans rallying behind her. She’s already established that top rope elbow drop as the big move of the tournament after only two matches. Overall, a very enjoyable hour with the tournament getting better in the ring and because we’re becoming more familiar with the personalities.



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