The inaugural Mae Young Classic, a tournament featuring only female competitors, begins…
Kay Lee Ray
(Winner via submission: Princesa Sugehit)
(Winner via pinfall: Serena Deeb)
(Winner via submission: Shayna Baszler)
(Winner via pinfall: Abbey Laith)
The Mae Young Classic is absolutely a big deal in professional wrestling, and WWE have been right to present it as such. What they’ve somewhat ignored, however, is that women’s wrestling has been getting taken very seriously around the world for a while now, it’s just WWE itself that has undervalued its female talent until now. Anyone with any knowledge of the past 20 years in wrestling will know that WWE themselves share most of the blame in how poor the genre of women’s wrestling became, even if you’ll never see them acknowledge it during this tournaments press and such.
That said, good on WWE for doing this. They’ve put a lot of work into this tournament, and WWE‘s presentation as a whole always adds so much more to a product than what you might see on the indies. Much like NXT‘s TakeOver events, this hasn’t been over produced, and the lighting and set is very minimal, allowing for the focus to be on the talent.
My only real disappointment, going in, is that this was a taped tournament rather than a live airing. I feel they did it to allow them time to cover up any roughness in the matches that they believed may occur, which in itself betrays the faith they were publicly saying they had in women’s wrestling, but that’s genuinely why I feel this was taped. The taped aspect did cause some issues for me in episode one, as it felt very obvious when we were being delivered segments that weren’t taped live at the time, such as the “command centre,” or whatever they are calling that green screen area where they run the brackets. Commentary clips also have been inserted when clearly recorded afterwards, but that’s an issue I have of NXT too, to be fair.
On the subject of commentary, Lita is absolutely horrible. Whoever made the decision to put her on commentary, when she constantly stumbles over her words when she does pre-show appearances, really deserves to be ejected from the company. She’s got this gig through her name power and it’s relevance to the content, but she absolutely brings nothing to the table other than a distracting voice that actually grates on the ears somewhat too. Jury is still out on my favourite commentator of all time, Jim Ross, who might take a few shows to settle in.
What’s important here, though, are the matches. Kay Lee Ray losing the opening match was insane, given her international credibility, but a nice little surprise to set the scene for the rest of the tournament. I felt her and Princesa Sugehit had good chemistry that would make me want to see them face each other again. I’ve no idea if they’ve ever wrestled each other before, but one hopes that they do, as better familiarity with each other could lead to some great stuff.
Serena Deeb looks fantastic, and I’m happy they aren’t milking her comeback story. I was actually pleasantly surprised to see her win, but you could tell just by looking at her how much this all meant to her.
I’m not a massive fan of Shayna Baszler, and never have been. Something about her in wrestling ring doesn’t quite click for me yet, but I can’t fault her work ethic and she’s certainly improved from when I first saw her wrestle last year. I was familiar with her from her UFC days too, so I’ve seen her for a number of years, but something is just missing for me. Her match wasn’t great, and if she’s going to use the whole MMA gimmick to carry her through her matches, she needs to still inject something more into them. Brock Lesnar does the MMA thing, but his matches are often bloody exciting spectacles. Baszler versus Zeda was not.
The main event was a really good match, however. Abbey Laith was over as the overpowered babyface, and Jazzy Gabert was over as the monster heel. Gabert has a superb look, and WWE will be nuts not to sign her to a deal. She could do some great work in NXT.
Laith felt like the first proper babyface on the show, and her opening flurry of attacks on Gabert were wonderfully done. Her flawless Swanton was a great moment, and I think many were surprised that the match didn’t end there and then. I was slightly disappointed that it finished with a roll up, but what we got prior to that was great entertainment and felt big. Imagine what they could have done with an extra five minutes…
Decent start for the show, but we all know that the really good talent is yet to appear…
Match of the Night
Abbey Laith vs. Jazzy Gabert